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Ertent and Boundaries of the Country.— The line which separates the Sac and Fox country from that of the Sioux on the north, commences about twenty miles above Prairie du Chien, near the Mississippi river, and extends west indefinitely; on the southwest and south their country is bounded by the Missouri river and the State of Missouri; and on the east it is now bounded by a narrow tract of land, 40 or 50 miles wide, extending along the west bank of the Mississippi river, and which was purchased from them by the United States in 1832. Most of the country is prairie, the soil is fertile, and the climate healthful; the latitude being from forty and a half to forty-three degrees. Population.—Almost the whole population is collected into villages consisting of from 12 to 40 or 50 lodges each. The whole number embraced in these bands is variously estimated at from 2,000 to 6,000. It does not probably exceed 3,000; but as they so frequently change their residence, and wander about for purposes of hunting or war, it is extremely difficult to determine their number. Habits and Employments–Condition of Females.—From their winter hunt they return to their villages about the first of April, where they remain till the end of June, when, the planting and working of their fields being over, they start on their summer's hunt, (which lasts about forty days,) leaving a part of the old men and women to take care of their fields and villages. They then return, and the time from roasting corn till harvesting, they spend in feasting, dancing, and amusements. Having their corn gathered, dried, and packed, they bury a part for future use, and carry the remainder with them on their winter hunt, which lasts till January, when they assemble at some place and spend the time till April in idleness or revelry. They are generally strongly attached to their pagan rites and superstitions, and guard with jealous care against any change. The great object of their pursuit, and their principal employments are war and hunting. In the former they glory, and it is a distinction highly enviable, to which the young and ambitious strive to attain, to rank among the braves, so as to be able to wear the pole-cat's tail upon the calves of the legs and the shan-no-e-hun (small bells), and strike the post in the wardance, and tell over the number of enemies which they have killed or wounded in battle. While at their villages they spend the time in idleness or amusements. The women build the lodges, cultivate the ground, take charge of the corn and meat, bear the burdens in travelling, make mats, and perform all kinds of drudgery; which they do with much diligence, submitting with silence and apparent cheerfulness to their hard lot. Polygamy is common, every Indian having as many wives as he can purchase and maintain. Sometimes five or six horses are given to the parents for a wife, the daughter being never consulted. They have no idea of the sacredness of the marriage relation. And as Some years ago a white man seeing one hang upon a tree, was led by curiosity to take it down and examine it in the absence of the Indians. As soon as he took it down and opened it the children began to cry to see their father's Meshaum profaned in such a manner. When the Indians returned and found out what had been done, they pursued after the man, and he was obliged to leave the country in order to save his life. The names of their gods are We-sa-kah, god of the earth; Nah-pat-tay, brother of We-sa-kah, who being slain by the gods of the sea, We-sa-kah sent him to the land of shades, or Che-pah-munk, where he still exists as chief of the shades; Mah-she-ken-a-peck and Nah-me-pa-she are gods who inhabited both land and water. The Ai-yam-woy are men of terrible size or giants, a race of supernatural beings descended from the gods of the sea. Besides these inferior deities they recognise a supreme being whom they call Ka-shuhmah-na-too, Great Spirit. The Meshaum contains the following tradition respecting the early period of the world. In process of time the Great Spirit addressed the spirits on earth in the following manner. “Spirits of my breath, I have created you all to enjoy the earth and wide-spreading waters, and with you I shall now make a division of them. We-sa-kah shall possess the dry land, and Nah-me-pa-she and Mah-she-ken-a-peck the waters. But We-sa-kah shall be chief, and you shall obey him in all things, for to him I have given my terrestrial sphere to make war and peace with whomsoever he will.” The Meshaum gives the following account of the flood. The Ai-yam-woy, or giants, having slain the brother of We-sa-kah, he prepared himself with the great spear, and went with the speed of an eagle to fight the murderers of his brother. He met and slew them. This occasioned a war with the gods, which lasted for a long time. The gods of the sea having the great deep at their disposal, resolved upon destroying We-sa-kah and his race, even at the loss of their own lives. A great council therefore was called for the purpose, and all the chiefs were assembled and agreed upon the destruction of the world by a flood. We-sa-kah hearing of this fasted for ten days. At the end of the tenth day his voice reached the Great Spirit; his prayer was heard and answered; and mankind, the beasts, and birds, etc., were preserved. Then the waters began to overflow the plains, and We-sa-kah fled before them with his family until he reached a high mountain. But the water soon overtook them, and he built a great raft, upon which he put all kinds of creatures, and then let it loose, so it floated upon the surface of the great waters. After a long time We-sa-kah began to be sorry and fasted ten days. At the end of the tenth day he dreamed that he saw dry land. Awaking out of sleep he sent down the tortoise, but he returned without any clay; he then sent down
it is with them merely a matter of interest or convenience, the husband and wife separate when either party becomes disaffected, the wife taking the children. The wives of the same husband cook, eat, and sleep at separate places in the same lodge; and, instead of having any mutual interest or affection, they clerish envy and jealousy which often end in quarrelling, fighting, and expelling one or more of the number from the lodge. In these things the husband seems to take little or no interest. Probably not nore than one third of the children survive the period of infancy. The men often cherish the most cruel jealousy toward their wives. While at Wah-pee-los, one of the principal villages, says Mr. Marsh, I learned that a man in cool blood murdered his wife a few days before and then cut off her nose and ears. The Indians are exceedingly prone to be jealous of their wives; and if at such times the Indian cuts off the nose or ears of his wife, as is sometimes the case. no notice is taken of it; for they have no laws for the punishment of any crime, and even murder may be expiated by money or presents to the friends, which seems with them to alone for all crimes. Religious Notions and Rites.—They are, says Mr. Marsh, very scrupulous with regard to their religious rites and ceremonies. Their most sacred thing is called meshaum, or great medicine bag; and consists of a parcel or bundle, in which are recorded by knots in strings, by stones, and other objects, and also by hieroglyphical figures, the names and wars of their gods in ancient times; also their religious belief or revelation, which they suppose was at first delivered to their ancestors, by Wesa-kah, their tutelary god.” We-sa-kah is regarded in their mythology as the creator of the new world, after it had been destroyed by a flood. The Meshaum is held in high veneration; none are permitted to open or inspect it, except the one having particular charge of it. It is opened only in cases of invocations to the Great Spirit, in which dogs are often slain and offered in sacrifice.f. Some of the ordinances of the Meshaum are, To fast every morning in the winter season. To fast ten days to obtain signal revenge upon an enemy. To invoke and sacrifice every time a man has killed a bear or some choice game. To give away property to the poor for the good of a relative gone to the land of shades. It teaches also that the Great Spirit gave them the wild beasts for their sustenance; and requires them to be forgiving towards those belonging to their own family or nation, if they have received any injury, but that revenge must be taken upon an enemy. These are some of the most important things required by the Meshaum. It was formerly considered so sacred that it was death for a white man to open and examine it.
* We•sa kah is very probably Noah.
* The dog-feast is one of the most sacred feasts, and no Indian not belonging to the Meshaum or white person can witness it.
the muskrat, and he brought up clay between his claws, out of which We-sa-kah formed the dry land. Then mankind and all the creatures which had been preserved were spread abroad upon the face of it. They now lived in peace and happiness because there were no Ai-yamwoy, or any spirits of destruction, to trouble them, having all been exterminated by the flood. We-sa-kah was now sole chief of the earth and mankind were his children. At length the people became very numerous and unable to remain together. They then separated under their fathers Sauke, Mask-qua-ke, (Red Fox,) and Ash-e-kan. The two former are the fathers of what are now called the Sac and Fox bands. Future State.—If an Indian fulfils during his life-time the requirements of the Meshaum, he believes that at death he shall go to Chepah-inunk, or the happy land; but if bad he will not be able to cross the bridge which is no wider than a man's foot and leads over the Mah-na-sa-no-ah, or river of death. This is a bottomless river; and if the man has been wicked, he is attracted by it and plunges in; but if good, it has no power over him, he passes in safety, where he enjoys everlasting happiness. But let it ever be remembered that holiness never enters into the Indian's idea of goodness; and with regard to badness, it is not impurity in the sight of him who cannot look on sin. Che-pah-munk, or the happy land, is situated far at the west, and abounds in game of all kinds and whatsoever is pleasing to the sight or taste. Manner of Treating the Dead.—When a person dies, his face is painted red, his best clothes are put on, and all is prepared the same as for a journey. With the corpse is buried the implements of hunting, etc., as the Indians suppose that all of these things are needed in the future world. About two years ago Ke-o-kuck, the head chief, lost his nephew. A paling of stakes was made around the place where the remains were to be deposited. The corpse was then placed in a sitting posture, after having been dressed in the usual style, (but was not buried) with his rifle, knife, etc., all by his side. Ke-o-kuck then led up one of his best horses, put the reins into the hands of the dead, and shot the horse. A white man being present, asked him why he did that? “Because,” said he, “I do not want to have him go on foot,” meaning to the west. They have no idea of a judgment after death or a future resurrection. Their dead are buried with the head towards the west. Unlike the Ottawas they believe that the soul leaves the body immediately after death, but that it cannot pass the narrow bridge until the friends have thrown goods for the dead, as it is called, i. e. made a feast and given away goods to the poor; but that it wanders round in a state of unhappiness, or comes back and troubles the friends—perhaps is the occasion of the death of other friends or else of misfortunes. After this is done it passes the bridge in safety, if good during life, and enters the happy land. The land of shades, Che-pahmunk, where Nah-pah-tay is chief, is not the dwelling of the Great Spirit; nor do they suppose that they shall ever dwell in his immediate presence, but in a terrestrial paradise. They are also taught from childhood that the soul of a departed relative who has been murdered cannot rest until his friends has revenged his death. This, therefore, is constantly present to their minds, and regard for that friend and desire for the rest of his soul keeps them in a constant state of disquietude, until revenge is taken. To forgive an injury done by an enemy is no part of their religion. Sacred Time.—The Sac and Fox Indians have no knowledge of the Sabbath, nor tradition respecting it; or that any one portion of time is to be regarded as more sacred than another. But wice a year, in the winter and autumn, the precise time to be ascertained by inspecting the entrails of the deer, they have sacred feasts, at which the most choice things are sought for and reserved to eat, and the most sacred songs to be sung, such as are not used on other occasions. There is also a feast of thanksgiving after the corn becomes fit for roasting. So scrupulous are they in respect to it, that even a child will not eat corn or beans, although he may be hungry, till after the feast is held. Their feasts are attended with great formality and seriousness, and are regarded as religious worship, offered to the Great Spirit. Still they exert no perceptible moral influence, either to restrain from doing wrong, or to lead to do what is right in the sight of God. One Indian seen intoxicated the day before, went in, a welcome guest, and partook of a feast which Mr. Marsh witnessed, and was extremely scrupulous in the observance of all the ceremonies. Virtues and Vices —They are kind and generous to strangers and friends, always dividing their food with them, if it is the last fowl, when they come to visit them. The more temperate and steady regard lying as very bad. Many of them are honest and trust worthy, especially when any thing is committed to their charge. Generally they are addicted to intemperance both old and young. A few years ago it was seldom that any were seen drunk, excepting some of the old men; but at the present time there is little difference in respect to old or young, men or women. This vice is evidently gaining ground among them.—Many are addicted to lying, stealing, and dishonesty. They are licentious, and the men are extremely indolent, excepting the three or four months occupied in their fall hunts. They are also extremely proud and haughty, particularly the braves, who are highly esteemed, and are vain and extravagantly fond of amusements of all kinds, such
as card-playing, gambling, frolicking, dancing, etc. In order to attain to a rank among the brares, it is necessary for a young man to kill some person, and the wantonness with which they will take life from a helpless or wounded enemy, or even from a little child, is horrible. A young man having heard much about the satisfaction of being a brave, he thought that as soon as he should kill an enemy he should be very happy. Accordingly, when engaged with a war party, he attacked a little child who run into the bushes to get away from the enemy. He pursued after it; the child earnestly entreated him to spare his life; but disregarding its entreaties, he struck him with a spear in the breast which the little creature endeavored in vain to remove as long as he could, but soon fell and expired. The young man instead of feeling very happy, as he anticipated, after killing the child was exceedingly wretched, and could not free his mind from the dreadful impression. The image of the child seemed constantly before him;-his pleas for life and his efforts to extract the spear constantly haunted his imagination. He went and told the chief his feelings, who replied he well knew how he felt, and that it was the shade of the child that troubled him; and that, on his return home, he must run round the town three times, wash himself, and then the shade would leave him and he would feel better. This it is said is a custom of war, when they return to camp within the town, to go round it three times, and then they suppose that the shades of the enemies whom they have killed will leave them. In some respects, at least, these Indians are ‘without natural affection.” In the fall of 1821, says my informant, who was an eye-witness, a few lodges of Sacs were encamped upon the Des Moines, about ten miles from its mouth. At this place there was an Indian who had an aged, infirm, and blind mother. He said that she was of no use to him, and he had been troubled long enough with her. It was now late in the fall and the weather had become cold. Just before departing on his hunt, he went out upon the bank of the river, set some stakes in the ground, and put a mat against them so as to break off the wind. Here he put his poor old mother, without food or fire, and then put off in his canoe up the river. Whilst in that sad, forlorn condition, she was continually crying for bread, being helpless; but the hearts of the Indians, as hard and unfeeling as that of the undutiful son, were unmoved by her entreaties, and they talked about knocking her in the head, because her cries annoyed them so much. In this condition she remained until she actually starved to death within a few rods of four or five lodges!
What can be done to interest and save these ignorant and wretched Indians? Who will go and follow them in their wanderings, tell them of the God who made them; tell them of their sins, of the judgment, and of an eternal retribution; and lead them
to the Lamb of God wo
taketh away the sins of the world?
March 19, 1834. In the course of a conversation with an intelligent brahmin to-day, I asked him what he meant by the term infidel, which he used. He replied, “One who denies the divine au; thority of the four vedas.”—Do you call Mussulmans, Christians, Jews, Chinese, and all Hindoos who do not receive the vedas, infidels?—“No, they have each their own sacred books, which God gave them. If they follow these they do right.”—Do you believe all these books are of divine origin? “Yes.”—Has God then given contradictory laws to different portions of his creatures? Yes.”—How then is he just and holy? “He does what he will; how do I know the reasons for his conduct? It is the will of God that every man should walk according to his own religion.”—To whom did God originally give Mohammedanism?... “To the Mussulmans, of course.”—Were there any Mussulmans before the days of Mohammed? “Yes they have existed from the beginning.”
After stating to the brahmin the origin of Mohammedanism, and how it was propagated, Mr. Read proceeds—
These facts appeared new and aston. ishing to him. He replied, “We are all agreed in this, that we ought to worship the supreme God.” I said, yes; but as soon as we come to inquire the character of God, and how he ought to be worshipped, we disagree again. You say he
may be worshipped through a stone, or a piece of wood. I say he should only be worshipped in spirit and in truth. You attribute to God sinful qualities; I say he is holy and cannot sin. “No, no;” interrupted he, “I say God is holy.”—But you mean a different thing by the term holy from what I do. You talk of a brahmin’s being holy after he has bathed and gone through a few unmeaning ceremonies, while at the same time he may be a liar or an adulterer. What do you mean when you say God is holy? Please give me your notions of the attributes of God. He answered, “God is possessed of three qualities, viz. truth, passion, and darkness.” In his explanation of these three properties, he said that the first related to the reality and existence of God; from the second proceed several desires, covetousness, pride, falsehood, etc., and from the third, folly, delusion, ignorance, anger, the blindness of lust, etc. I told him these were the attributes of sinful inen but not of God. He insisted they were the attributes of God too, and were represented respectively by Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Such notions of the character of God, said I, are consistent with the actions which you attribute to your gods, whom you profess to be the representatives of the supreme God, it is true; but how can any in an in his senses worship and adore beings who possess such a character? What kind of worship or even respect can you pay to a deity who is said to have been a liar, a thief, or an adulterer? “None among men, but such is the character of the gods as revealed in the shasters; and what else can we believe?” You must examine whether your shasters be the word of God, or only the fabrication of man.—“No, no, never; who will ever at this late day call into question the vera
city of the shasters? Their truth has been established for thousands of years, and who are we, of this degenerate age, that we shall institute such an inquiry?” It is never too late to inquire after the truth, but what do you mean by saying the present is a degenerate age? “I mean that the brahmins have become lax in the performance of the rites imposed on them by the shasters, and the people are negligent of the performance of those duties.”—You say that your shasters are from God—and your only evidence is that your fathers believed so. Do you believe that all your shasters are from God? “Yes.”—Are there not contradictions in them? “No.”—Are there not several different accounts given of the origin of your gods, and no i. than six different accounts given of the ascent of Turkaram into heaven? And are not these contradictory? “To man these appear to be contradictions; but they are not really so, because they are recorded in the shasters, and the testimony of the shasters is above all human testimony. Not only six, but a thousand apparent contradictions may all be true, if found written in the shasters.” Suppose you were to find assertions in your shasters which are directly at war with your senses, as for example, that black is white, that there is no heat in fire, that wormwood is not bitter, that thunder is not attended by a noise, would you believe your shasters or your senses? “I would believe the shasters most assur
Åio 8. I have to-day enjoyed a rare privilege of preaching the gospel to the poor. Nearly a thousand of the halt and the maimed and the blind were collected on a plain near my house, for the purpose of receiving clothes from the hand of captain Molesworth, and mostly from his own purse. I addressed them for three hours, giving myself only short intervals of rest.
31. In conversation with a brahmin who has often told me that the present was a very degenerate age with the Hindoos, I asked him how he reconciled this degeneracy of the present age with
his pretended excellency of the Hindoo
religion, the object of every religion beHe replied
ing to make men better. that this degeneracy is a thing foretold in their sacred writings, and that their fulfilment is a confirmation of their truth, and of the truth of their religion. You believe, said I, that your ancestors were very holy men—they were angels or
demigods; but that they have degenerated from generation to generation, till we
see not one in a hundred who fears to lie, cheat, deceive, and commit almost any sin. If you go on degenerating at this rate you will soon become devils. This is undoubtedly a fault of your religion. “It may be,” said he, “but what can we do? God gave us this religion.” |—This is a point which I do not admit. I do not believe that a merciful and benevolent God gave you a system of re|ligion which can only make you wretcho in this life and entirely miserable in the life to come. If a man is afflicted with some awful disease, and takes some kind of medicine which he finds only lo. the disease, will he continue to take that medicine? “Most certainly not.”—Why then do you? You have tried one remedy for some myriads of years, (according to your account,) and have found no cure, but have, as you confess, waxed worse and worse. Why do you not now seek another remedy? He honestly confessed that he knew not what to answer. 16. Met, a man going to Pundapoor, one hundred and fifty miles, measuring the distance by his own length.
THE extension of the Ceylon mission, so as to embrace a portion of the Tamul people ou the southern part of the peninsula of Hindoostan, and the commencement of a new station at Madura, were mentioned at p. 173.—The whole population speaking the Tamul language is supposed to amount to more thau 10,000,000. Of these about 300,000 are found in the Jaffna district, which constitutes the northern portion of the island of Ceylon. To the population of this district the labors of the American mission in Ceylon have been mostly directed. The mass of the Tamul population is found on the adjacent continent, occupying the southern extremity of Hindoostan, and extending along the Coromandel coast some distance above Madras. Madura, the place at which the new mission is commenced. is a large city of the interior, situated in the midst of this population; and was formerly the seat of the Tainul power, as well as the centre of the literature and religion of the nation. Messrs. Hoisington and Todd, under date of December 24th, 1834, give the following aecount of the city and district in which they are laboring.