Interwoven: A Pioneer Chronicle (Revised: 4th Edition)


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When taking vengeance of an enemy, there is no cruelty which can be exercised, no species of torture, which their ingenuity can devise, too severe to be inflicted. To those who have excited a spirit of resentment in the bosom of an Indian, the tomahawk and scalping knife are instruments of mercy.

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Death by the faggot——by splinters of the most combustible wood, stuck in the flesh and fired——maiming and disemboweling, tortures on which the soul sickens but to reflect, are frequently practiced. To an enemy of their own color, they are perhaps more cruel and severe, than to the whites. In requiting upon him, every refinement of torture is put in requisition, to draw forth a sigh or a groan, or cause him to betray some symptom of human sensibility. This they never effect.


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An Indian neither shrinks from a knife, nor 33 winces at the stake; on the contrary he seems to exult in his agony, and will mock his tormentors for the leniency and mildness of their torture. Such is their fondness for spirit of any kind that they are rarely known to be sober, when they have it in their power to be otherwise. Neither a sense of honor or of shame has been able to overcome their propensity for its use; and when drunk, the ties of race, of friendship and of kindred are too weak, to bind their ferocious tempers.

In gambling they manifest the same anxiety, which we see displayed at the card table of the whites. The great difference seems to be, that we depend too frequently on sleight and dexterity; whereas while they are shaking their gourd neck of half whited plumbstones, they only use certain tricks of conjuration, which in their simplicity they believe will ensure them success. To this method of attaining an object, they have frequent recourse. Superstition is the concomitant of ignorance. The most enlightened, are rarely altogether exempt from its influence——with the uninformed it is a master passion, swaying and directing the mind in all its operations.

In their domestic economy, Indians are, in some respects, like the rude of all countries. They manifest but little respect for the female; imposing on her not only the 34 duties of the hut, but also the more laborious operations of husbandry; and observing towards them the hauteur and distance of superior beings. There are few things, indeed, which mark with equal precision, the state of civilization existing in any community, as the rank assigned in it to females.

In the rude and barbarous stages of society, they are invariably regarded as inferior beings, [31] instruments of sensual gratification, and unworthy the attention and respect of men. As mankind advance to refinement, females gradually attain an elevation of rank, and acquire an influence in society, which smoothes the asperities of life and produces the highest polish, of which human nature is susceptible.

Among the Indians there is, however rude they may be in other respects, a great respect always paid to female chastity. Instances in which it has been violated by them, if to be found at all, are extremely few. However much the passion of revenge may stimulate to acts of cruelty, the propensities of nature never lead them to infringe the virtue of women in their power. The general character of the Indians, was more estimable, when they first became known to Europeans, than it is at present.

This has been ascribed to the introduction of ardent spirits among them——other causes however, have conspired to produce the result. The cupidity of those who were engaged in commerce with the natives, too frequently prompted them to take every advantage, for self aggrandizement, which they could obtain over the Indians.

In the lucrative traffic carried on with them, the influence of honesty was not predominant——the real value of the commodity procured, was never allowed; while upon every article given in exchange, extortion alone affixed the price. These examples could not fail to have a deteriorating effect upon their untutored minds; and we find them accordingly losing their former regard for truth, honesty and fidelity; and becoming instead deceitful, dishonest and treacherous. Many of their ancient virtues however, are still practised by them.

The rights of hospitality are accorded to those who go among them, with a liberality and sincerity which would reflect credit on civilized man. And although it has been justly said that they rarely forgive an enemy, yet is it equally true that they never forsake their friends; to them they are always kind, generous and beneficent.

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After the ceremony of introduction is over, [3] a captive enemy, [32] who is adopted by them, is also treated with the utmost humanity and attention. An Indian cheerfully divides his last morsel with an adopted son or brother; and will readily risk life in his defence. Such indeed, is the kindness which captives thus situated invariably receive, that they frequently regret the hour of their redemption, and refuse to leave their red brethren, to return and mingle with the whites.

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As members of a community, they are at all times willing to devote their every faculty, for the good of the whole. The honor and welfare of their respective tribes, are primary considerations with them. To promote these, they cheerfully encounter every privation, endure every hardship, and face every danger. Their patriotism is of the most pure and disinterested character; and of those who have made us feel so sensibly, the horrors of savage warfare, many were actuated by motives which would reflect honor on the citizens of any country.

The unfortunate Tecumseh was a remarkable example of the most ardent and patriotic devotion to his country.

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Possessed of an acute and discerning mind, he witnessed the extending influence of the whites, with painful solicitude. Listening with melancholy rapture, to the traditionary accounts of the former greatness of his nation, and viewing in anticipation the exile or extinction of his race, his noble soul became fired with the hope that he might retrieve the fallen fortune of his country, and restore it to its pristine dignity and grandeur. His attachment to his tribe impelled him to exertion and every nerve was strained in its cause.

Determined if possible to achieve the independence of his nation, and to rid her of those whom he considered her oppressors, he formed the scheme of uniting in hostility against the United States, all the tribes dwelling east of the Mississippi river. In the prosecution of this purpose, he travelled from Mackinaw to Georgia, [4] and with wonderful adroitness practised on the different feelings of his red brethren. Assuming at times the character of a prophet, he wrought powerfully on their credulity and superstition. But all was in vain——His plans were entirely frustrated. He had brought none of his auxiliaries into the field; and was totally unprepared for hostilities, when his brother, the celebrated Shawanese prophet, by a premature attack on the army under Gen.

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Harrison, at an inauspicious moment, precipitated him into a war with the United States. Foiled by this means, Tecumseh joined the standard of Great Britain in the war of ; and as a Brigadier General in her army, lost his life, bravely supporting the cause which he had espoused. To contemplate the Indian character, in a religious point of view, is less gratifying than to consider it in regard to the lesser morals. At the period of the settlement of Western Virginia, excepting the Moravians, and a few others who had been induced by the zeal and exertions of Roman catholic missionaries to wear the cross, the Indians north west of the Ohio river, were truly heathens.

They believed indeed in a First Cause, and worshiped the Good Spirit; but they were ignorant of the great truths of Christianity, and their devotions were but superstitious acts of blind reverence. In this situation they remain 37 generally at the present day, notwithstanding the many laudable endeavors which have been made to christianize them.

Perhaps there was never a tribe in America, but believed in the existence of a Deity; yet were their ideas of the nature and attributes of God, not only obscure, but preposterous and absurd. They believe also in the existence of many inferior deities, whom they suppose to be employed as assistants in managing the affairs of the world, and in inspecting the actions of men. Eagles and Owls are thought by some to have been placed here as observers of the actions of men; and accordingly, when an eagle is seen to soar about them by day, or an owl to perch near them at night, they immediately offer sacrifice, that a good report may be made of them to the Great Spirit.

They are likewise believers in the immortality of the soul; and have such an idea of a future state of existence, as accords with their character and condition here. Strangers to [34] intellectual pleasures, they suppose that their happiness hereafter will consist of mere sensual gratifications; and that when they die, they will be translated to a delightful region, where the flowers never fade, nor the leaves fall from the trees; where the forests abound in game, and the lakes in fish, and where they expect to remain forever, enjoying all the pleasures which delighted them here. In consequence of this belief, when an Indian dies, and is buried, they place in the grave with him, his bow and arrows and such weapons as they use in war, that he may be enabled to procure game and overcome an enemy.

And it has been said, that they grieve more for the death of an infant unable to provide for itself in the world of spirits, than for one who had attained manhood and was capable of taking care of himself. An interesting instance of this is given by Major Carver, and furnishes at once, affecting evidence of their incongruous creed and of their parental tenderness.

Carver says:. The parents were so inconsolable for its loss, and so much affected by its death, that they pursued the usual testimonies of grief with such uncommon vigor, as through the weight of sorrow and loss of blood, to occasion the death of the father. The mother, who had been hitherto absorbed in grief, no sooner beheld her husband expire, than she dried up her tears, and appeared cheerful and resigned.

She replied, that as the child was so young when it died, and unable to support itself in the country of spirits, both she and her husband had been apprehensive that its situation would be far from pleasant; but no sooner did she behold its father depart for the same place, and who not only loved the child with the tenderest affection, but was a good hunter and [35] able to provide plentifully for its support, than she ceased to mourn. She added that she saw no reason to continue her tears, as the child was now happy under the protection of a fond father; and that she had only one wish remaining to be gratified, and that was a wish to be herself with them.

In relation to the Indian antiquities so frequently met 39 with in America, much doubt still exists. When and for what purpose many of those vast mounds of earth, so common in the western country, were heaped up, is matter of uncertainty.

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REYNOLDS, WILLIAM D.

Jefferson has pronounced them to be repositories of the dead; and many of them certainly were designed for that purpose; perhaps all with which he had become acquainted previous to the writing of his notes of Virginia. Jefferson did not deem them worthy the name of monuments. Since the country has been better explored, many have been discovered justly entitled to that appellation, some of which seem to have been constructed for purposes other than inhumation. The most celebrated works of this class, are believed to be those at Circleville in Ohio, which have so frequently been described, and are justly considered memorials of the labor and perseverance of those by whom they were erected.

After a time the emperor of the south built many forts throughout his dominions, and extending them northwardly almost penetrated the lake Erie. This produced much excitement. The people of the north, afraid that they would be deprived of the country on the south side of the great lakes, determined to defend it against the infringement of any foreign people; long and bloody wars ensued which lasted about one 40 hundred years.

The people of the north, being more skillful in the use of bows and arrows, and capable of enduring hardships which proved fatal to those of the south, gained the conquest; and all the towns and forts, which had been erected by their enemy, were totally destroyed and left in a heap of ruins. The most considerable of those tumuli or sepulchral mounds, which are found in Virginia, is that on the bottoms of Grave creek, near its entrance into the Ohio, about twelve miles below Wheeling, and is the only large one in this section of the country.

Its diameter at the base, is said to be one hundred yards, its perpendicular height about eighty feet, and the diameter at its summit, forty-five feet. Trees, of all sizes and of various kinds, are growing on its sides; and fallen [36] and decayed timber, is interspersed among them; a single white oak rises out of a concavity in the centre of its summit.

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Near to Cahokia there is a group of about two hundred of these mounds, of various dimensions. These and the one mentioned as being on Grave creek and many smaller ones in various parts of the country, were no doubt places of inhumation. Others have been examined, in which were the skeletons of men of much greater stature, than that of any of the Indians in America, at the time of its discovery, or of those with whom we have since become acquainted. It is a well known fact, that since the whites became settled in the country, the Indians were in the habit of collecting the bones of their dead and of depositing them in one general cemetery; but the earth and stone used by them, were taken from the adjacent land.

This was not invariably the case, with those ancient heaps of earth found in the west. In regard to many of them, this singular circumstance is said to be a fact, that the earth, of which they are composed, is of an altogether different nature, from that around them; and must, in some instances, have been carried a considerable distance. The tellurine structures at Circleville are of this sort; and the material of which they were constructed, is said to be distinctly different, from the earth any where near to them.


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The immensity of the size of these and many others, would induce the supposition that they could not have been raised by a race of people as indolent as the Indians have been, ever since a knowledge was had of them. Works, the construction of which would now require the concentrated exertions of at least one thousand men, aided by the mechanical inventions of later days, for several months, could hardly have been erected by persons, so subject to lassitude under labor as they are: unless indeed their population was infinitely greater than we now conceive it to have been.

Admitting however, this density of population to have existed, other circumstances would corroborate the belief, that the country once had other inhabitants, than the progenitors of those who have been called, the aborigines of America: one of these circumstances is the uncommon size of many of the skeletons found in the smaller mounds upon the hills.

Interwoven: A Pioneer Chronicle (Revised: 4th Edition) Interwoven: A Pioneer Chronicle (Revised: 4th Edition)
Interwoven: A Pioneer Chronicle (Revised: 4th Edition) Interwoven: A Pioneer Chronicle (Revised: 4th Edition)
Interwoven: A Pioneer Chronicle (Revised: 4th Edition) Interwoven: A Pioneer Chronicle (Revised: 4th Edition)
Interwoven: A Pioneer Chronicle (Revised: 4th Edition) Interwoven: A Pioneer Chronicle (Revised: 4th Edition)
Interwoven: A Pioneer Chronicle (Revised: 4th Edition) Interwoven: A Pioneer Chronicle (Revised: 4th Edition)

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