Page images
PDF
EPUB

.

are submitted as facts or materials, in the mental condition of the tribes, and not as evidences of attainment in the arts of metre and melody, which will bear to be admitted or even criticised by the side of the refined poetry of civilized nations. And above all, not as efforts to turn Indian sentiments to account, in original composition. No such idea is entertained. If materials be supplied from which some judgment may be formed of the actual state of these songs and rude oral compositions, or improvisations, the extent of the object will have been attained. But even here, there is less, with the exception of a single department, i. e. versification and com position by cultivated natives, than it was hoped to furnish. And this little, has been the result of a species of labour, in the collection, quite disproportionate to the result. It is hoped at least, that it may indicate the mode in which such collections may be made, among the tribes, and be come the means of eliciting materials more worthy of attention.

This much seemed necessary to be said in introducing the following specimens, that there might not appear, to the reader, to be an undue esti. mate placed on the literary value of these contributions, and translations, while the main object is, to exhibit them in the series, as illustrations of the mental peculiarities of the tribes. To dismiss them, however, with a bare, frigid word for word translation, such as is required for the purposes of philological comparison, would by no means do justice to them, nor convey,

in tolerable degree, the actual sentiments in the minds of the Indians. That the opposite error might not, at the same time, be run into, and the reader be deprived altogether of this means of comparison, a number of the pieces are left with literal prose translations, word for word as near as the two languages will permit

. Others exhibit both a literal, and a versified translation.

any

All the North American Indians know that there is a God ; but their priests teach them that the devil is a God, and as he is believed to be very malignant, it is the great object of their ceremonies and sacrifices, to

appease him.

The Indians formerly worshipped the Sun, as the symbol of divine intelligence.

Fire is an unexplained mystery to the Indian ; he regards it as a connecting link between the natural and spiritual world. His traditionary lore denotes this.

Zoroaster says: “ When you behold secret fire, without form, shining flashingly through the depths of the whole world-hear the voice of fire.” One might suppose this to have been uttered by a North Ameri can Indian.

CHANT TO THE FIRE-FLY.

In the hot summer evenings, the children of the Chippewa Algonquins, along the shores of the upper lakes, and in the northern latitudes, frequently assemble before their parents' lodges, and amuse themselves by little chants of various kinds, with shouts and wild dancing. Attracted by such shouts of merriment and gambols, I walked out one evening, to a green lawn skirting the edge of the St. Mary's river, with the fall in full view, to get hold of the meaning of some of these chants. The air and the plain were literally sparkling with the phosphorescent light of the fire-fly. By dint of attention, repeated on one or two occasions, the following succession of words was caught. They were addressed to this insect :

Wau wau tay see!
Wau wau tay see!
E mow e shin
Tshe bwau ne baun-e wee!
Be eghaun-be eghaun-ewee!
Wa Wau tay see !
Wa wau tay see !
Was sa koon ain je gun
Was sa koon ain je gun.

LITERAL TRANSLATION. Flitting-white-fire-insect! waving-white-fire-bug ! give me light before I go to bed I give me light before I go to sleep. Come, little dancing". white-fire-bug! Come little flitting-white-fire-beast! Light me with your bright white-flame-instrument—your little candle t.

Metre there was none, at least, of a regular character : they were the wild improvisations of children in a merry mood.

* In giving the particle wa, the various meanings of "flitting," “ waving,” and " dancing," the Indian idiom is fully preserved. The final particle seè, in the term wa wa tai see, is from the generic root asee, meaning a living creature, or created form, not man. By prefixing Ahw to the root, we have the whole class of quadrupeds, and by pen, the whole class of birds, &c. The Odjibwa Algonquin term for a candle, was sa koon ain gun, is literally rendered from its elements—“ bright-white-famedinstrument." It is by the very concrete character of these compounds that so much meaning results from a few words, and so considerable a latitude in translation is given to Indian words generally.

(+ Fire-fly, fire-fly! bright little thing,

Light me to bed, and my song I will sing.
Give me your light, as you fly o'er my head,
That I may merrily go to my bed.
Give me your light o'er the grass as you creep,
That I may joyfully go to my sleep.
Come little fire-fly-come little beast-
Come! and I'll make you to-morrow a feast.
Come little candle that flies as I sing,
Bright little fairy-bug-night's little king ;
Come, and I'll dance as you guide me along,
Come, and I'll pay you, my bug, with a song.)

ETHNOLOGY.

SCHOOLCRAFT'S AMERICAN CYCLOPÆDIA, OR ETHNOLOGICAL GAZETTEER OF THE INDIAN TRIBES OF THE AMERICAN CONTINENT, NORTH AND SOUTH, COMPRISING THEIR HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY, AND NOMENCLATURE, FROM THE DISCOVERY IN 1492, TO THE PRESENT PERIOD.

ADVERTISEMENT.

A PROSPECTUS for this work was issued in 1842. While the title is slightly modified, the design and plan of its execution have not been essentially changed. The principal object aimed at, under the general idea of the history and geography of the Aboriginal Race, is to furnish a general and standard reference-book, or short encyclopædia of topics relative to the entire race, alphabetically arranged By the insertion of the name of each family of tribes, nation, sub-tribe, or important clan, the occasion will be presented of noticing the leading or characteristic events, in their history, numbers, government, religion, languages, arts or distinctive character.

Where the scene or era of their expansion, growth and decay has been so extensive, embracing as it does, the widest bounds and remotest periods, their antiquities have also called for a passing notice. Nor could any thing like a satisfactory accomplishment of the plan be effected, without succinct notices of the lives and achievements of their principal chiefs, rulers, and leading personages.

Language is an important means of denoting the intricate thread of history in savage nations. Mr. Pritchard considers it more important than physiological structure and peculiarities. It is, at least, found often to reveal ethnological affinities, where both the physical type, and the light of tradition, afford but little aid. The words and names of a people, are 80 many clues to their thoughts and intellectual structure; this branch of the subject, indeed, formed the original germ of the present plan, which was at first simply geographical, and has been rather expanded and built upon, than, if we may so say, supplied the garniture of the edifice. In a class of transpositive languages, which are very rich in their combinations, and modes of concentrated description, it must needs happen, that the names of places would often recall both associations and descriptions of deep

[ocr errors]

interest in contemplating the fate and fortunes of this unfortunate race. Without intruding upon the reader disquisitions which would be out of place, no opportunity has been omitted, from the consideration of their names, to throw around the sites of their former or present residence, this species of interest.

But half the work would have been done, it is conceived, to have confined the work to North America, and it must necessarily have lost, by such a limitation, more than half its interest. We are just beginning in truth to comprehend the true character and bearing of that unique type of civilization which existed in Mexico, Peru, and Yucatan. The rude hand with which these embryo kingdoms of the native race were overturned, in consequence of their horrid idolatries, necessarily led to the destruction of much of their monumental, and so far as their picture writing reached, some of their historical materials, of both of which, we now feel the want. It is some relief, to know, as the researches of Mr. Gallatin, which are now in progress, demonstrate that by far the greatest amount of the ancient Mexican picture writings, as they are embraced in the elaborate work of Lord Kingsborough, relate to their mythology and superstitions, and are of no historical value whatever. And if the portions destroyed in the Mexican and Peruvian conquests, were as liberally interspersed with similar evidences of their wild polytheism, shocking manners, and degraded worship, neither chronology nor history have so much to lament.

The early, strong and continued exertions which were made by the conquerors to replace this system of gross superstition and idolatry, by the Romish ritual, filled Mexico and South America with mission: of the Catholic Church, which were generally under the charge of zealous, and sometimes of learned and liberal-spirited superintendants, who have accumulated facts respecting the character and former condition of the

These missions, which were generally spread parallel to the sea coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific, reaching inland along the banks of the great rivers and plains, have confessedly done much to ameliorate the manners and condition of the native race, to foster a spirit of industry, and to enlighten their minds. Still, it is scarcely known, that numerous and powerful tribes, stretching through wide districts of the Andes and the Cordilleras, never submitted to the conqueror, and yet exist in their priginal state of barbarism.

In this department of inquiry, the geographical and historical work of De Alcedo, which, so far as the Spanish and Portuguese missions are concerned, is both elaborate and complete in its details, has been taken as a basis. No one can write of South America and its native tribes, without reference to Humboldt. Other standard writers have been consulted, to give this part of the work as much value as possible, not excepting the latest voyages and travels. The design has been, without aiming at too

race.

much, to compress a body of leading and characteristic facts, in the shortest practicable compass, which should, at the same time, present an ethnological view of the various families and groups of the race.

In each department of inquiry, which admitted of it, the author has availed himself of such sources and opportunities of personal observation and experience, as his long residence in the Indian territories, and his study of the Indian history have afforded. And he is not without the hope, that his inquiries and researches on this head may be found to be such as to merit approval.

A.

AB, often pronounced with the sound of we, before it--a particle which, in geographical names, in the family of the Algonquin dialects, denotes light, or the east. It is also the radix of the verb wab, to see, as well as of the derivatives, a-ab, an eye-ball, and wabishka, a white substance, &c., -ideas which either in their origin or application, are closely allied.

ABACARIS, a settlement of Indians in the Portuguese possessions of the province of Amazon. These people derive their name from a lake, upon which they reside. It is a peculiarity of this lake, that it has its outlet into the river Madiera which, after flowing out of the province turns about and again enters it, forming, in this involution, the large and fertile island of Topanambes. This tribe is under the instruction of the Carmelites. They retain many of their early peculiarities of manners and modes of of life. They subsist by the cultivation of maize, and by taking fish in the waters of the Abacaris; or Abacactes in addition to these means, they rely upon tropical fruits. The latest notices of them come down to 1789. But little is known of their numbers, or present condition.

ABACHES, or Apaches, an erratic tribe of Indians, who infest the prairies of western Texas and New Mexico. They are supposed by some, to consist of not less than 15,000 souls. They are divided into petty bands, known under various names. They are the most vagrant of all the wild hunter tribes of the general area denoted. They do not live in fixed abodes, but shift about in search of game or plunder, and are deemed a pest by the Santa Fe traders. They raise nothing and manufacture nothing. Those of them who are east of the Rio del Norte, subsist on the baked root of the mauguey, and a similar plant called Mezcal, and hence they are called Mezcaleros.

Another division of them, and by far the greatest, rove west of that stream, where they are called Coyoteros, from their habit of eating the coyote, or prairie wolf. They extend west into California and Sonora. They bear a bad character wherever they are known. If on the outskirts

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »