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specified objects. There were none, to record accurately, their arts, and other peculiarities, which now excite intense interest. They died away very fast, whole tribes becoming extinct within a generation or two.
The European fabrics, then introduced, were so much superior to their own, that they, at once, discontinued such rude arts as they practised, at least in our northern latitudes. New adventurers followed in the track of Columbus, Amerigo, Cabot, and their compeers and followers, who, in the lapse of time, picked up, from the soil, pieces of coarse pottery, pestles and such like things, and holding them up, said,—“See these !—here are evidences of very great skill, and very high antiquity.”
It is not the intention by any means, to assert, that there were not antiquities of a far higher era, and nobler caste, but merely to impress upon inquirers, the necessity of discriminating the different eras in the chronology of our antiquities. All Indian pottery, north of the capes of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, is of, or preceding the era of the discovery; but there is found in graves, a species of pottery, and vitrified ware, which was introduced, in the early stages of traffic, by Europeans. Of this transition era between the dying away of the Indian arts, and the introduction of the European, are the rude pastes, enamel and glass beads, and short clay pipes of coarse texture, found in Indian cemeteries, but not in the tumuli. In place of these, our ancient Indians used wrought and unwrcught sea shells of various species, and pipes carved out of seatites and other soft materials.
Mr. Anderson remarks in his biography of Catharine Brown, that “the Cherokees are said to possess a language, which is more precise and powerful than any into which learning has poured richness of thought, or genius breathed the enchantments of fancy and eloquence." David Brown, in one of his letters, in the same volume, terms his
people the Tsallakee, of which we must therefore take “ Cherokee," to be a corruption. It is seen by the Cherokee alphabet, that the sound of r does not occur in that language.
When Chusco was converted to Christianity at the mission of Michilinackinac, he had planted a field of potatoes on one of the neighbouring islands in lake Huron. In the fall he went over in his canoe, with his aged wife, to dig them--a labour which the old woman set unceremoniously about, as soon as they got into the field. “Stop!" cried the little old man, who had a small tenor voice and was bent nearly double by age, “ dare you begin to dig, till we have thanked the Lord for their growth." They then both knelt down in the field, while he lifted up his voice, in his native language, in thanks.
SIINGABA-WOSSINS, OR IMAGE STONES.
The native tribes who occupy the borders of the great lakes, are very ingenious in converting to the uses of superstition, such masses of loose rock, or boulder stones, as have been fretted by the action of water into shapes resembling the trunks of human bodies, or other organic forms.
There appears, at all times, to have been a ready disposition to turn such masses of rude natural sculpture, so to call them, to an idolatrous use ; as well as a most ingenious tact, in aiding the effect of the natural resemblance, by dots or dabs of paint, to denote eyes, and other features, or by rings of red ochre, around their circumference, by way of ornament.
In the following figures, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, some of these masses are represented.
Number 3. was brought to the office of the Indian Agent at Michilimackinac in 1839, and placed among objects of analagous interest to visiters. It consisted of a portion of a vein or mass of gneiss or granite, from which both mica and feldspar were nearly absent, existing only in trace, while the quartzy portion predominated, and had, by its superior hardness, resisted the elemental action. The mode of the formation of such masses is very well known to geologists, resulting, in almost every case, from the unequal degree of hardness of various parts of a mass, submitted to an equal force of attrition, such as is ordinarily given by the upheaving and rolling force of waves on a lake, or ocean beach. To the natives, who are not prone to reason from cause to effect, such productions appear wonderful. All that is past comprehension. or wonderful, is attributed by them to the supernatural agency of spirits. The hunter or
warrior, who is travelling along the coast, and finds one of these selfsculptured stones, is not sure that it is not a direct interposition of his God, or guardian Manito, in his favour. He is habitually a believer in the most subtle forms of mysterious power, which he acknowledges to be often delegated to the native priests, or necromancers.
He is not stag. gered by the most extraordinary stretch of fancy, in the theory of the change or transformation of animate into inanimate objects, and vice versa.
All things, " in heaven and earth," he believes to be subject to this subtle power of metamorphosis. But, whatever be the precise operating cause of the respect he pays to the imitative rolled stones, which he calls Shingaba-wossins, and also by the general phrase of Muz-in-ina-wun, or images, he is not at liberty to pass them without hazarding something, in his opinion, of his chance of success in life, or the fortune of the enterprize in hand.
If the image be small, it is generally taken with him and secreted in the neighborhood of his lodge. If large and too heavy for this purpose, it is set up on the shore, generally in some obscure nook, where an ofiering of tobacco, or something else of less value, may be made to it, or rather through it, to the spirit.
In 1820 one of these stones (No. 2.) was met by an expedition of the government sent north, that year, for the purpose of interior discovery and observation, at the inner Thunder Bay island, in Lake Huron. It was a massy stone, rounded, with a comparatively broad base and entablature but not otherwise remarkable. It was set up, under a tree on the island, which was small, with the wide and clear expanse of the lake in plain view. The island was one of those which were regarded as desert, and was probably but seldom stopped at. It was, indeed, little more than a few acres of boulders and pebbles, accumulated on a limestone reef, and bear. ing a few stunted trees and shrubs. The water of the lake must, in high storms, have thrown its spray over this imaged stone. It was, in fine, one of those private places which an Indian might be supposed to have selected for his secret worship.
In No. 3. is figured an object of this kind, which was found in 1832, in the final ascent to the source of the Mississippi, on the right cape, in ascending this stream into lac Traverse-at the distance of about 1000 miles above the falls of St. Anthony. I landed at the point to see it, having heard, from my interpreter, that such an object was set up and dedi. cated to some unknown Manito there. It was a pleasant level point of land shaded with trees, and bearing luxuriant grass and wild shrubbery and flowers. In the middle of this natural parterre the stone was placed, and was overtopped by this growth, and thus concealed by it. A ring of red paint encircled it, at the first narrowed point of its circumference, to give it the resemblance of a human neck; and there were some rude dabs to denote other features. The Indian is not precise in the matter of
proportion, either in his drawing, or in his attempts at statuary. He seizes upon some minute and characteristic trait, which is at once susficient to denote the species, and he is easily satisfied about the rest. Thus a simple cross, with a strait line from shoulder to shoulder, and a dot, or circle above, to serve for a head, is the symbol of the human frame; and without any adjunct of feet, or hands, it could not have been mistaken for any thing else-certainly for any other object in the animal creation.
MNEMONIC SYMBOLS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS.
PRELIMINARY REMARKS-SYMBOLICAL REPRESENTATIONS AND HIEROGL«rnics, ONE OF THE
OBSERVED TRAITS IN THE
CUSTOMS AND ARTS OF THE AMERICAN ABORI
GINES, BUT THIS ART NOT SUSPECTED TO HAVE A SYSTEMATIC FORM AMONG THE RUDE HUNTER TRIBES OF NORTH AMERICA, UNTIL THE YEAR 1820, WHEN IT WAS DISCOVERED ON THE SOURCE OF THE MISSISSIPPI. THIS INSTANCE GIVEN, WITH A DRAWING: THE HINT PURSUED.
The practice of the North American tribes, of drawing figures and pictures on skins, trees, and various other substances, has been noticed by travellers and writers from the earliest times. Among the more northerly tribes, these figures are often observed on that common substitute for the ancient papyrus, among these nations, the bark of the betula papyracea, or white birch: a substance possessing a smooth surface, easily impressed, very flexible, and capable of being preserved in rolls. Often these devi. ces are cut, or drawn in colours on the trunks of trees, more rarely on rocks or boulders. According to Colden and Lafitou records of this rude character were formerly to be seen on the blazed surface of trees, along some of the ancient paths and portages leading from the sources of the Atlantic rivers into the interior, or in the valley of the St. Lawrence ; but these, after satisfying a transient curiosity, have long since yielded to the general fate of these simple and unenduring monuments. Pictures and symbols of this kind are now to be found only on the unreclaimed bor. ders of the great area west of the Alleghanies and the Lakes, in the wide prairies of the west, or along the Missouri and the upper Mississippi. It is known that such devices were in use, to some extent, at the era of the discovery, among most of the tribes, situated between the latitudes of the capes of Florida, and Hudson's Bay, although they have been considered as more particularly characteristic of the tribes of the Algonquin type. In a few instances, these pictorial inscriptions have been found to be painted or stained on the faces of rocks, or on loose boulders, and still more rarely, devices were scratched or pecked into the surface, as is found to be the case still at Dighton and Venango. Those who are intent
on observations of this kind, will find figures and rude hieroglyphics in variably at the present time, on the grave posts which mark the places of Indian-sepulchre at the west and north. The nations who rove over the western prairies, inscribe them on the skins of the buffalo. North of latitude 42°, the bark of the birch, which furnishes at once the material of canoes, tents, boxes, water-dippers, and paper, constitutes the common medium of their exhibition. Tablets of hard wood are confined to such devices as are employed by their priests and prophets, and medicinemen; and these characters uniformly assume a more mystical or sacred import. But the recent discovery, on one of the tributaries of the Susquehanna, of an Indian map, drawn on stone, with intermixed devices, a copy of which appears in the 1st volume of the collections of the Historical Committee of the American Philosophical Society, proves that stone was also employed in that branch of inscription. This discovery was on the area occupied by the Lenapees.
Colden, in his history of the Five Nations, * informs us that when, in 1696, the Count de Frontenac marched a well appointed army into the Iroquois country, with artillery and all other means of regular military offence, he found, on the banks of the Onondaga, now called Oswego river, a tree, on the trunk of which the Indians had depicted the French army, and deposited two bundles of cut rushes at its foot, consisting of 1434 pieces—an act of defiance on their part, which was intended to inform their invaders, that they would have to encounter this number of warriors. In speaking in another passage of the general traits of the Five Nations, he mentions the general custom prevalent among the Mohawks going to war, of painting, with red paint, on the trunk of a tree, such symbols, as might serve to denote the object of their expedition. Among the devices was a canoe pointed towards the enemies' country. On their return, it was their practice to visit the same tree, or precinct, and denote the result: the canoe being, in this case, drawn with its bows in the opposite direction. Lafitou, in his account of the nations of Canada, makes observations on this subject to which we shall more particularly refer hereafter, which denote the general prevalence of the custom in that quarter. Other writers, dating as far back as Smith and de Bre, bear a passing testimony to the existence of this trait among the northern tribes. Few have however done more than notice it, and none are known to have furnished any amount of connected details.
A single element in the system attracted early notice. I allude to the institution of the Totem, which has been well known among the Algonquin tribes from the settlement of Canada. By this device, the early missionaries observed, that the natives marked their division of a tribe into clans, and of a clan into families, and the distinction was thus very clearly preserved. Affinities were denoted and kept up, long after tradi
* London, 1747, p. 190.