Слике страница
[blocks in formation]


vailed among different tribes. Some laid the body on the ground, and erected over it a little house covered with bark, or dug a grave in the earth in which they placed the corpse in a sitting posture. Other nations deposited the body in a kind of coffin on a high scaffold, or left it hanging from a tree. A

young ther has been seen suspending the body of her deceased child to the pendent branches of the flowering maple, and singing a lament to the object of her love as it waves in the breeze.

The Indian wished every thing that he valued in life to be buried with him, that it might be ready for his use on entering the spirit-land. His tomahawk and knife, his bow and arrows, were placed by his side. This custom is still preserved. His medals and other tokens of distinction are often laid in the hand of the deceased chief, and his favorite dog and horse are killed, to bear him company.

55. Religion. The religion of the Indians closely resembled that which first existed on the earth. They worshipped one God, the creator and preserver of all things. They spoke of him with reverence, and believed that he was everywhere present, that he knew their wants, and aided those who loved and obeyed him. They prayed to him for every



the different modes of burial. What has a young mother been seen to do? What did the Indian wish to have buried with him? How is this custom still carried out ? 55. What is said of the religion of the Indians ? Whom did they worship? What did they believe respecting the Supreme Being ? Explain how

thing they wanted, for health, for courage, and for success in hunting and war.

The American Indians had no idols or temples. These were probably devised after their fathers had separated from the rest of mankind and emigrated to America. They spoke of certain natural objects as inferior divinities, but regarded them merely as symbols or representatives of the Manitou [man'-e-too], or Great Spirit.

With this general idea of the Deity different tribes blended various traditions of their own. The Shawnees, for instance, believed that the Great Spirit was an Indian, and that he made all the races of men, not out of nothing, but out of himself. The Delawares, and indeed Indians generally, thought that the Deity possessed a human form, and was in all respects a man.

56. There were various traditions concerning the Creation, of which that of the Chip'-pe-ways may be mentioned When the first man came into the world they did not pretend to say, but they believed that he appeared in the summer months, and subsisted on berries. In the winter he lived by hunting ; but when a deep snow came, finding it difficult to walk, he tried to make a snow-shoe. He formed the frame of the shoe without difficulty, but when it came to weaving in the web he succeeded poorly, and at last abandoned the work. On returning from hunting, however, every evening, he found that the work had progressed, and finally saw a bird fly away, which he supposed had been engaged upon it. At last he captured the bird by stratagem, and it immediately turned into a beautiful woman.

57. The Red Men generally believed in the existence of good and bad spirits; the former of whom held intercourse with certain persons on earth, and endowed them with superior power. Those who were thus favored were known

medicine-men”, and to them resort was had for advice


it was that the Indians had no idols. What did the various tribes blend with the general idea of the Deity? What did the Shawnees believe? What, the Delawares? 56. Give the Chippeway tradition of the Creation. 57. In what did the Red Men generally believe? Who were the "medicine-men”? When was resort had to them? What did the medicine-man employ? What was thought if



when an important enterprise was about to be undertaken. Besides the herbs whose use he was taught by experience, the medicine-man employed various incantations and magical ceremonies: if successful, he was thought to have gained a victory over the evil spirit; and, if the patient died, this same evil spirit bore the blame.

58. The Indians believed that the soul, freed from the body at death, hastened to the happy hunting-grounds. Before it could reach this blissful region, they thought it had to pass some ordeal by which its worthiness was tested. This was generally represented as a bridge over a dark river. The wicked fell into the stream, and either remained there forever, struggling with the waves, or were borne off to a place of perpetual torture. The good, on the other hand, crossed in safety, and reached the happy hunting-grounds, which were stocked with the choicest game and abounded in all that could render the warrior happy.

59. Character.—The Indian was distinguished by a remarkable want of foresight. This was seen in his neglect to provide food beyond what was needed for the moment. What he suffered one year did not increase his industry the next, or make him more careful to provide against similar distress for the future. The greatest warriors were unable to carry out any far-reaching policy.

Another prominent trait of the Red Men was sleepless caution. Whether among friends or foes, they watched every movement around them with suspicion. They spoke little, and weighed well every word. They showed great firmness in trial, and rarely gave way to their feelings. For the most part, they were true-hearted patriots. The graves of their fathers they defended with the greatest bravery; and, if they displayed cruelty towards their foes, it must be remembered that they were so taught from infancy.

In later times, the Indians have shown a great aversion

he effected a cure? What, if the patient died ? 58. What did the Indians think respecting the soul after death? What ordeal did they believe that it had to pass ? What was their idea of the happy hunting-grounds? 59. By what was the Indian distinguished ? How was this want of foresight shown? What other prominent

to civilization. Strongly attached to their savage mode of life, they will not give it up until obliged to do so. To the restraints of education they are equally opposed. They readily understand simple truths, but their minds seem incapable of any long-continued effort.

trait did the Red Men possess? How did they bear trial and suffering ? What is said of their patriotism? In later times, what have the Indians shown? Of what do their minds seem incapable ?






60. The discovery of America, the most important event of modern times, next demands our attention. On this subject we have conflicting and uncertain accounts. According to Welsh historians, the Atlantic was first crossed in 1170, A. D., by Mad'-oc, a prince and hero of Wales; but the Norwegians, on stronger evidence, claim this honor for one of their adventurous sea-kings. In the ninth century, both Iceland and Greenland were discovered and colonized by Scandinavian navigators; and about the year 1000, A. D., if we may believe Ice-land'-ic manuscripts, a vessel, driven by storms southwest of Greenland, arrived at the continent of America. If this be true, it was no doubt the barren shore of Labrador that was reached; and so unimportant was the discovery considered that it was soon forgotten.

61. In the fifteenth century, nothing was known in Europe of a continent beyond the ocean. The mariner's compass, invented in 1302, had enabled the sailor to push out more boldly from land; yet even the Por'-tu-guese, then

60. For whom do the Welsh claim the honor of first crossing the Atlantic? What people claim it on better grounds ? What discoveries did the Norwegians make in the ninth century? What do the Icelandic manuscripts say? If this be true, what part of the coast was probably reached ? 61. What is said of navigation in the fifteenth century? How far had the Portuguese gone? For whom was

« ПретходнаНастави »