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to indulge their grief. After an interval of some weeksi they visit the grave and repeat their sorrow, new clothe the remains of the body, and act over again ał the solemnities of the funeral.
The most remarkable funeral ceremony is what they call the feast of the dead, or the feast of souls. The day for this ceremony is appointed in the assembly of their chiefs, who give the necessary orders for every thing that may conduce to the pomp and magnificence of its celebration ; and the neighbouring nations are invited to partake of the entertainment. At this time, all who have died since the preceding feast of the kind, are taken out of their graves : even those who have been interred at the greatest distance from the villages, are diligently looked for, and conducted to this general rendezvous of the dead, which exhibits a scene of horror beyond the power of descrip. tion. When the feast is concluded, the bodies are dressed in the finest skins which can be procured, and after being exposed for some time in this pomp, are again committed to the earth, with great solemnity, which is succeeded by funeral-games.
Their taste for war, the most striking characteristic of an Indian, gives a strong bias to their religion. The god of war, whom they call Areskoui, is revered as the great god of their people. Him they invoke before they go into the field. Some nations worship the sun and moon, as symbols of the power of the great spirit. There are among them traditions of the creation of the world, of Noah's flood, &c. Like all rude nations they are strongly addicted to superstition. They believe in the existence of a number of good and bad genii, or spirits, who interfere in the affairs of mortals, and produce all our happiness or misery. It is from the evit genii in particular, they imagine all our diseases proceed ; and it is to the good genii to whom we are indebted for a cure. Their priests or jugglers are supposed to be inspired by the good genii in their dreams, with the knowledge of future events ; they are called in to the assistance of the sick, and are supposed to know the event, and in what way they must be treated. But these spirits appear to be extremely simple in their system of physic; in almost every disease they prescribe the same remedy. The patient is inclosed in a parrow cabin, in the midst of which a large stone is made red hot; on this they throw water, the steam produces a profuse sweat, they then hurry him from this hot bath, and plunge him instantly into the adjacent creek Or river. This method, although it costs many their lives, eften performs very remarkable cures.
They are known, however, to have considerable knowledge in the vegetable kingdom, and the white inhabitants are indebted to them for the knowledge of many powerful plants as restoratives, and antidotes to the poison of reptiles, with which the woods in many parts of America
abound. 3 Although the Indian women generally bear the labori
ous part of domestic economy, their condition, at least among the tribes of North America, is far from being so wretched, so slavish, and depressed, as has been represented by Doctor Robertson and other writers. “Their einployment, (says Dr. Barton,) is chiefly in their houses,
except when they are raising their crops of maize, or In-dian corn, at which times they generally turn out to assist
their husbands and parents, but they are not compelled to do this.” 6. You may depend on my assertion (says the same gentleman, who had ample opportunities of being informed of the customs and manners of the Indians), that there are no people any where who love their women more than these people do, or men of better understanding, in cástinguishing the merits of the opposite sex, or men more faithful in rendering suitable compensation. They are courteous and polite to their women, tender, gentle, and fond even to an appearance of effeminacy. An Inrlian man seldom attempts to use a woman of any descrip. tion with indelicacy, either of action, or language." I wish we could with propriety adopt the same language when speaking of the young men of the present age, who would think it a disparagement to be compared with the untutored savage of the wilderness.
In the hunting seasons, that is in autumn, and in winter when the men are out in the forest, the whole care of the house or family rests upon the women ; at these times they undergo much care and fatigue, such as cutting wood &c. but this labour is in part relieved by the old men whose vigour is so far diminished, as not to be able to sustain the
fatigue of hunting, or the toils of martial achievements. But nothing shows the importance and respectability of the women among the Indians, more than that custom many of the tribes are in, of letting their women preside in the councils of their country : to this we may add, that se. veral of the Florida nations have at different times, been governed by the wisdom, and the prudence of female caziques.
Liberty in its fullest extent, being the darling passion of the Indians, their education is directed in such a man ner as to cherish this disposition to the utmost. Hence their children are never chastised with blows, and they are seldom even reprimanded. Reason, they say, will guide their children when they come to the use of it, and before that time their faults cannot be very great. But blows might damp their fierce and martial spirit ; by the habit of a slavish motive to action. When grown up they experience nothing like command, dependence or subor dination ; even strong persuasion is carefully avoided by those of influence among them. No man is held in great esteem, unless he has increased the strength of his country with a captive, or adorned his hut with a scalp of one of his enemies.
Controversies among the Indians are few, and quickly decided. When any criminal matter is so flagrant as to become a national concern, it is brought under the juris diction of the great council ; but in common cases the par ties settle the dispute between themselves. If a murder be committed, the family which has lost a relation prepared to retaliate on that of the offender. They often kill the murderer : and when this happens (which is but seldom the kindred of the last person slain, look upon themselve as much injured, and to have the same right to vengeance as the other party.
It is common, however, for the offender to absent him self; the friends send compliments of condolence to thos of the person who has been murdered. The head of family at length appears, with a number of presents, te delivery of which, he accompanies with a formal speech the whole ends as usual in mutual feastings, in songs, 30 in dances. If the murder is committed by one of the surt family or cabin, that family has the full right of judgma
- Within itself; either to punish the guilty with death, or to
pardon him ; or to oblige him to give some recompense to the wife and children of the deceased. Instances of this kind are very rare, for their attachnient to those of the same family, are so remarkably strong, that it may vie with the most celebrated friendslips of fabulous antiquity.
Such in general, are the customs and manners of the Indians. But almost every tribe has something peculiar to itself. Among the Hurons and the Natchez, the dignity of the chief is said to be hereditary, and the right of succession in the female line. When this happens to be extinct, the most reputable matron of the tribe, we are informed, makes a choice of whom she pleases to succeed.
The Cherokees are governed by several Sachems, or chiefs, elected by the different villages, as are also the Creeks and the Chactaws: the two latter punish adultery in a woman by cutting off her hair ; which they will not suffer to grow, until corn is ripe, the next season ; but the Illinois, for the same, crime, cut off the nose and ears. } The Indians on the upper lakes are formed into a sort of empire. The emperor is elected from the eldest tribe, which is the Ottawawas;- this authority is very considerable. A few years ago, the person who held this rank, formed a design of uniting all the Indian nations under his sovereignty ; but this bold attempt proved unsuccess. ful.
In general, the Indians of America live to a great age, although it is difficult to obtain from them an exact account of the number of their years. It was asked of one who appeared extremely old, what age he was of. I am above twenty, said he; but, upon putting the question in a differ. ent manner, and reminding him of former times, and some particular circumstances, my machce, said he, spoke to me when I was young, of the Incas : and he had seen those princes. According to this reply, there must have elapsed from the date of his machee's or grandfather's remembrance to that time 232 years. The Indian who made this reply, appeared to be 120 years of age : for, besides the whiteness of hair and beard, his body was almost bent to the ground ; without showing any other mark of debility, ór. suffering. This happened in 1764.
This longevity, and state of uninterrupted health, is thought by some to be the consequence in part of their vacancy from all serious thought and employment; joined also with their robust texture, and formation of their bodily organs. Were the Indians to abstain from spirituous li. quors, and their destructive wars, of all races of men who inhabit the globe, they would be the most likely to extend the bounds and enjoyments of animal life to their utmost duration.
Before we take our leave of the Indian natives, let us at. tend to some other accounts which will set their character in a more clear and strong point of view, and rescue it from that degradation and obscurity, in which some Spanish his. torians have endeavoured to envelope it.
Their friendships are strong, and faithful to the last ex. tremity ; of which no further proof need be adduced, than the following anecdote of the late colonel Byrd, of Virginia, who was sent to the Cherokee nation, to transact some business with them. It happened that some of our disorderly people had just killed one or two of that nation. It was therefore proposed in their council, that colonel Byrd should be put to death, in revenge for the loss of their countrymen. Among them was a chief called Silouee, who on some former occasion, had contracted an acquaintance and friendship with colonel Byrd. He came to him every night in his tent, and told him not to be afraid for they should not kill him. After many days deliberation, contrary to Silouee's expectation, the determi. nation of the council was, that Byrd should be put to death, and some warriors were dispatched as executioners. Silouee attended them, and when they entered the tent, he threw himself between them and Byrd, and said to the warriors, « This man is my friend : before you get at « him you must kill me.” On which they returned, and the council respected the principle so much as to recede from their determination.'
Of their bravery and address in war, we have had sufficient proofs ; of their eminence in oratory we have fewer examples, because it is chiefly displayed in their own councils. One, however, we have of superior lustre : the speech of Logan, a Mingoe chief, to Lord Dunmore, when governor of Virginia, at the close of a war in which the Shawa: