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tortuous character of this stream, I will mention that a rocky peninsula, causing a bend which it took my companion some two hours to pass, with the horse, I had crossed in less than twenty minutes, with my hammer and gun. When we had, as we supposed, become familiar with every species of impediment and delay, in descending the valley, a new, and very serious and unexpected one, arose one day, in crossing the stream, from the left to the right bank. It was my turn to be muleteer that day, and I had selected a ford where the river was not wide, and the water, apparently, some two or three feet deep. I judged from the clearness of the pebbles at the bottom, and their apparent nearness to the surface. But such was the transparency of the water, that a wide mistake was made. We had nearly lost the horse, he plunged in over head, could not touch bottom, and when with great ado, we had got him up the steep bank on the other side, he was completely exhausted. But this was not the extent of the evil. Our sugar and salt were dissolved. Our meal, of which a little still remained, was spoiled. Our tea was damaged, our blankets and clothing wetted, our whole pack soaked. The horse had been so long in the water, in our often fruitless efforts to get him to some part of the bank depressed enough, to pull him up, that nothing had escaped its effects. We encamped on the spot, and spent the rest of the day in drying our effects, and expelling from our spare garments the superfluous moisture.
The next day we struck out into the high plains, on the right bank, and made a good day's journey. The country was nearly level, denuded of trees, with sere autumnal grass. Often the prairie hen started up, but we saw nothing in the animal creation beside, save a few hares, as evening came on. To find water for the horse, and ourselves, we were again compelled to approach the valley. We at length entered a dry and desolate gorge, without grass or water. Night came on, but no sound or sight of water occurred. We were sinking deeper and deeper into the rocky structure of the country at every step, and soon found there were high cliffs on either side of us. What we most feared now occurred. It became dark, the clouds had threatened foul weather and it now began to rain. Had it not been for a cavern, which disclosed itself, in one of these calcareous cliffs, we must have passed a miserable night. On entering it, we found a spring of water. It was too high in the cliff to get the horse in, but we carried him water in a vessel. He was afterwards hobbled, and left to shift for himself. On striking a fire, in the cave, its rays disclosed masses of stalactites, and dark avenue into the rocks back. Having made a cup of tea and finished our repast, we determined to explore the cave before lying down to rest, lest we might be intruded on by some wild animal before morning. A torch of pine wood was soon made, which guided our footsteps into the dismal recess, but we found nothing of the kind. On returning to our fire, near the mouth of the cave, we found the rain had increased to a heavy shower, and the vivid flashes of
lightning, illumined with momentary brilliancy, the dark and frowning precipices of this romantic gorge. The excitement and novelty of our position, served to drive away sleep, notwithstanding a long day's march, and it was late before we sought repose.
Morning brought a clear sky, but the horse was gone. He had followed on the back track, up the glen, in search of something to feed upon, and was not found till we reached the skirts of the plains. The whole morning was indeed, lost in reclaiming him, and we then set forward again and returned to the North Fork valley. We found it had assumed a greater ex panse, at the point of our re-entry, which it maintained, and increased, as we pursued it down. Wide open oak plains extended on the left bank, which appeared very eligible for the purposes of settlement. On an oak tree, at this spot, we observed some marks, which had probably been made by some enterprising land explorer. With these improved evidences of its character for future occupation, we found the travelling easier. Within a few miles travel, we noticed a tributary coming in on the left bank, and at a lower point another on the left. The first stream had this peculiarity, that its waters came in at a right angle, with the parent stream, and with such velocity as to pass directly across its channel to the opposite bank. In this vicinity, we saw many of the deserted pole camps of the Osages, none of which appeared, however, to have been recently occupied. So far, indeed, we had met no hindrance, or annoyance from this people; we had not even encountered a single member of the tribe, and felt assured that the accounts we had received of their cruelty and rapacity, had been grossly exaggerated, or if not wholly overcoloured, they must have related to a period in their history, which was now well nigh past. We could not learn that they had hunted on these lands, during late years, and were afterwards given to understand that they had ceded them to the United States by a treaty concluded at St. Louis. From whatever causes, however, the district had been lest free from their roving parties, it was certain that the game
had recovered under such a cessation of the chase. The black bear, deer and elk, were abundant. We also frequently saw signs of the labours of the beaver along the valley. I had the good luck, one day, while in advance with my gun, of beholding two of these animals, at play in the stream, and observing their graceful motions. My position was, within point blank shot of them, but I was screened from their gaze. I sat, with gun cocked, meaning to secure one of them after they came to the shore. Both animals came out together, and sat on the bank at the edge of the river, a ledge of rocks being in the rear of them. The novelty of the sight led me to pause, and admire them, when, all of a sudden, they darted into a crevice in the rock.
On the second day after re-entering the valley, we descried, on descending a long slope of rising ground, a hunter's cabin, covered with narrow
oak boards, split with a frow; and were exhilarated with the idea of finding it occupied. But this turned out a delusive hope. It had been deserted, from appearance, the year before. We found, among the surrounding weeds, a few stems of the cotton plant, which had grown up from seeds, accidentally dropped. The bolls had opened. I picked out the cotton to serve as a material in lighting my camp fires, at night, this being a labour which I had taken the exclusive management of. The site of this camp, had been well chosen. There was a small stream in front, and a heavy rich cane bottom behind it, extending to the banks of the river. A handsome point of woodlands extended north of it, from the immediate door of the camp. And although somewhat early in the day, we determined to encamp, and soon made ourselves masters of the fabric, and sat down before a cheerful fire, with a title to occupancy, which there was no one to dispute.
PERSONAL INCIDENTS AND IMPRESSIONS OF THE INDIAN RACE, DRAWN FROM NOTES OF TRAVEL AND RESIDENCE IN THEIR TERRITORIES.
CHARACTER OF THE RED MAN OF AMERICA.
INQUIRY I.—What kind of a being is the North American Indian ?-Have we judged
rightly of him?-What are his peculiar traits, his affections, and his intellectual qualities ?—Is he much influenced by his religion, his mode of government, and his complicated language.
My earliest impressions of the Indian race, were drawn from the fire. side rehearsals of incidents which had happened during the perilous times of the American revolution; in which my father was a zealous actor, and were all inseparably connected with the fearful ideas of the Indian yell, the tomahawk, the scalping knife, and the fire brand. In these recitals, the Indian was depicted as the very impersonation of evil—a sort of wild demon, who delighted in nothing so much as blood and murder, Whether he had mind, was governed by any reasons, or even had any soul, nobody inquired, and nobody cared. It was always represented as a meritorious act in old revolutionary reminiscences, to have killed one of them in the border wars, and thus aided in ridding the land of a cruel and unnatural race, in whom all feelings of pity, justice, and mercy, were supposed to be obliterated. These early ideas were sustained by printed narratives of captivity and hair-breadth escapes of men and women from their clutches, which, from time to time, fell into my hands, so that long before I was ten years old, I had a most definite and terrific idea impressed on my imagination of what was sometimes called in my native precincts, “ the bow and arrow race."
To give a definite conception of the Indian man, there lived in my na: tive valley, a family of Indians of the Iroquois stock, who often went off
o their people in the west, and as often returned again, as if they were a roop of genii, or the ghosts of the departed, who came to haunt the nut wood forests, and sub-vallies of the sylvan Tawasenthaw, which their ancestors had formerly possessed, and to which they still claimed some right. In this family, which was of the Oneida tribe, and consisted of the husband and wife, with two grown up sons, I first saw those characteristic features of the race,-namely, a red skin, with bright black eyes, and black straight hair. They were mild and docile in their deportment, and were on friendly terms with the whole settlement, whom they furnished with neatly made baskets of the linden wood, split very thin, and coloured to impart variety, and with nice ash brooms. These fabrics made them welcome guests with every good housewife, who had forgotten the horrific stories of the revolution, and who was ever ready to give a chair and a plate, and a lodging place by the kitchen fire, to poor old Isaac and Anna, for so they had been named. What their original names were, nobody knew; they had lived so long in the valley that they spoke the Dutch language, and never made use of their own, except when talking together; and I recollect, we thought it a matter of wonder, when they discoursed in Indian, whether such a guttural jargon, could possibly be the medium of conveying any very definite ideas. It seemed to be one undistinguished tissue of hard sounds, blending all parts of speech together.
Had the boys of my own age, and I may say, the grown people, stopped to reflect, and been led to consider this family and their race in America, independently of their gross acts, under the strong excitements of war and revenge, goaded by wrongs, and led on by the class of revolutionary tories, more implacable than even themselves, we must have seen, in the peaceable lives, quiet manners, and benevolent dispositions of these four people, a contradiction to, at least, some part, of the sweeping conclusions above noticed. But no such thoughts occurred. The word “ Indian," was synonymous then, as perhaps now, with half the opprobrious epithets in the dictionary. I recollect to have myself made a few lines, in early life, on the subject, which ran thus :
Indians they were, ere Colon crossed the sea,
And ages hence, they shall but Indians be. Fortunately I was still young when my sphere of observation was enlarged, by seeing masses of them, in their native forests; and I, after a few years, assumed a position as government agent to one of the leading tribes, at an age when opinions are not too firmly rooted to permit change. My opinions were still, very much however, what they had been in boyhood. I looked upon them as very cannibals and blood-thirsty fellows, who were only waiting a good opportunity to knock one in the head. But I regarded them as a curious subject of observation. The remembrance of poor
old Isaac, had shown me that there was some feeling and humanity in their