Sunday, April 2, 2023

George Catlin (1796–1872) - Comanchee Horsemanship

George Catlin (1796 –1872) Comanchee Horsemanship

by George Catlin (First published in London in 1844)
LETTER--No. 42.


The Village of the Camanchees by the side of which we are encamped, is composed of six or eight hundred skin-covered lodges, made of poles & buffalo skins, in the manner precisely as those of the Sioux & other Missouri tribes, of which I have heretofore given some account. This village with its thousands of wild inmates, with horses & dogs, & wild sports & domestic occupations, presents a most curious scene; & the manners & looks of the people, a rich subject for the brush & the pen.

In the view I have made of it, but a small Portion of the village is shewn; which is as well as to shew the whole of it, inasmuch as the wigwams, as well as the customs, are the same in every part of it. In the foreground is seen the wigwam of the chief; & in various parts, crotches & poles, on which the women are? Drying meat, & "graining" buffalo robes. These people, living in a country where buffaloes are abundant, make their wigwams more easily of their skins, than of anything else; & with them find greater facilities of moving about, as circumstances often require; when they drag them upon the poles attached to their horses, & erect them again with little trouble in their new residence.

We white men, strolling about amongst their wigwams, are looked upon with as much curiosity as if we had come from the moon; & evidently create a sort of chill in the blood of children & dogs, when we make our appearance. I was pleased to-day with the simplicity of a group which came out in front of the chiefs lodge to scrutinize my faithful friend Chadwick & I, as we were strolling about the avenues & labyrinths of their village; upon which I took out my book & sketched as quick as lightning, whilst "Joe" riveted their attention by some ingenious trick or other, over my shoulders, which I did not see, having no time to turn my head. These were the juvenile parts of the chiefs family, & all who at this moment were at home; the venerable old man, & his three or four wives, making a visit, like hundreds of others, to the encampment.

In speaking just above, of the mode of moving their wigwams, & changing their encampments, I should have said a little more, & should also have given to the reader, a sketch of one of these extraordinary scenes, which I have had the good luck to witness; where several thousands were on the march, & furnishing one of those laughable scenes which daily happen, where so many dogs, & so many squaws, are travelling in such a confused mass; with so many conflicting interests, & so many local & individual rights to be pertinaciously claimed & protected. Each horse drags his load, & each dog, (i. e. each dog that will do it & there are many that will not), also dragging his wallet on a couple of poles; & each squaw with her load, & all together (notwithstanding their burthens) cherishing their pugnacious feelings, which often bring them into general conflict, commencing usually amongst the dogs, & sure to result in fisticuffs of the women; whilst the men, riding leisurely on the right or the left, take infinite pleasure in overlooking these desperate conflicts, at which they are sure to have a laugh, & in which, as sure never to lend a hand.

The Camanchees, like the Northern tribes, have many games, & in Pleasant weather seem to be continually practicing more or less of them, on the prairies, back of, & contiguous to, their village.

In their ball-plays, & some other games, they are far behind the Sioux & others of the Northern tribes; but, in racing horses & riding, they are not equalled by any other Indians on the Continent. Racing horses, it would seem, is a constant & almost incessant exercise, & their principal mode of gambling; & perhaps, a more finished set of jockeys are not to be found. The exercise of these people, in a country where horses are so abundant, & the country so fine for riding, is chiefly done on horseback; & it "stands to reason", that such a people, who have been practicing from their childhood, should become exceedingly expert in this wholesome & beautiful exercise. Amongst their feats of riding, there is one that has astonished me more than anything of the kind I have ever seen, or expect to see, in my life -- a stratagem of war, learned & practiced by every young man in the tribe; by which he is able to drop his body upon the side of his horse at the instant he is passing, effectually screened from his enemies' weapons as he lays in a horizontal position behind the body of his horse, with his heel hanging over the horses' back; by which he has the power of throwing himself up again, & changing to the other side of the horse if necessary. In this wonderful condition, he will hang whilst his horse is at fullest speed, carrying with him his bow & his shield, & also his long lance of fourteen feet in length, all or either of which he will wield upon his enemy as he passes; rising & throwing his arrows over the horse's back, or with equal ease & equal success under the horse's neck. This astonishing feat which the young men have bees repeatedly playing off to our surprise as well as amusement, whilst they have been galloping about in front of our tents, completely puzzled the whole of us; & appeared to be the result of magic, rather than of skill acquired by practice. I had several times great curiosity to approach them, to ascertain by what means their bodies could be suspended in this manner, where nothing could be seen but the heel hanging over the horse's back. In these endeavors I was continually frustrated, until one day I coaxed a young fellow up within a little distance of me, by offering him a few plugs of tobacco, & he in a moment solved the difficulty, so far as to render it apparently more feasible than before; yet leaving it one of the most extraordinary results of practice & persevering endeavors. I found on examination, that a shorthair halter was passed around under the neck of the horse, & both ends tightly braided into the mane, on the withers, leaving a loop to hang under the neck, & against the breast, which, being caught up in the hand, makes a sling into which the elbow falls, taking the weight of the body on the middle of the upper arm. Into this loop the rider drops suddenly & fearlessly, leaving his heel to hang over the back of the horse, to steady him, & also to restore him when he wishes to regain his upright position on the horse's back.

Besides this wonderful art, these people have several other feats of horsemanship, which they are continually showing off; which are pleasing & extraordinary, & of which they seem very proud. A people who spend so very great a part of their lives, actually on their horses backs, must needs become exceedingly expert in every thing that pertains to riding-to war, or to the chase; & I am ready, without hesitation, to pronounce the Camanchees the most extraordinary horsemen that I have seen yet in all my travels, & I doubt very much whether any people in the world can surpass them.

The Camanchees are in stature, rather low, & in person, often approaching to corpulency. In their movements, they are heavy & ungraceful; & on their feet, one of the most unattractive & slovenly-looking races of Indians that I have ever seen; but the moment they mount their horses, they seem at once metamorphosed, & surprise the spectator with the ease & elegance of their movements. A Camanchee on his feet is out of his element, & comparatively almost as awkward as a monkey on the ground, without a limb or a branch to cling to; but the moment he lays his hand upon his hone, his face, even becomes handsome, & he gracefully flies away like a different being.

Our encampment is surrounded by continual swarms of old & young-of middle aged -- of male & female -- of dogs, & every moving thing that constitutes their community; & our tents are lined with the chiefs & other worthies of the tribe. So it will be seen there is no difficulty of getting subjects enough for my brush, as well as for my pen, whilst residing in this place.

The head chief of this village, who is represented to us here, as the head of the nation, is a mild & pleasant looking gentleman, without anything striking or peculiar in his looks; dressed in a very humble manner, with very few ornaments upon him, & his hair carelessly falling about his face, & over his shoulders. The name of this chief is Ee-shahko-nee (The Bow & Quiver). The only ornaments to be seen about him were a couple of beautiful shells worn in his ears, & a boar's tusk attached to his neck, & worn on his breast.

For several days after we arrived at this place, there was a huge mass of flesh, Ta-wah-que-nah (The Mountain of Rocks), who was put forward as head chief of the tribe; & all honours were being paid to him by the regiment of dragoons, until the above-mentioned chief arrived from the country, where it seems he was leading a war-party; & had been sent for, no doubt, on the occasion. When he arrived, this huge monster, who is the largest & fattest Indian I ever saw, stepped quite into the background, giving way to this admitted chief, who seemed to have the confidence & respect of the whole tribe.

This enormous man, whose flesh would undoubtedly weigh three hundred pounds or more, took the most wonderful strides in the exercise of his temporary authority; which, in all probability, he was lawfully exercising in the absence of his superior, as second chief of the tribe.

A perfect personation of Jack Falstaff, in size & in figure, with an African face, & a beard on his chin of two or three inches in length. His name, he tells me, he got from having conducted a large party of Camanchees through a secret & subterraneous passage, entirely through the mountain of granite rocks, which lies back of their village; thereby saving their lives from their more powerful enemy, who had "cornered them up" in such a way, that there was no other possible mode for their escape. The mountain under which he conducted them, is called Ta-wah-que-nah (The Mountain of Rocks), & from this he has received his name, which would certainly have been far more appropriate if it had been a mountain of flesh.

Corpulency is a thing exceedingly rare to be found in any of the tribes, amongst the men, owing, probably, to the exposed & active sort of lives they lead; & that in the absence of all the spices of life, many of which have their effect in producing this disgusting, as well as unhandy & awkward extravagance in civilized society.

Ish-a-ro-yeh (He Who Carries A Wolf); & Is-sa-wah-tam-ah (The Wolf Tied With Hair); are also chiefs of some standing in the tribe, & evidently men of great influence, as they were put forward by the head chiefs, for their likenesses to be painted in turn, after their own. The first of the two seemed to be the leader of the war-party which we met, & of which I have spoken; & in escorting us to their village, this man took the lead & piloted us the whole way, in consequence of which Colonel Dodge presented him a very fine gun.

His-oo-san-ches (The Spaniard), a gallant little fellow, is represented to us as one of the leading warriors of the tribe; & no doubt is one of the most extraordinary men at present living in these regions.

He is half Spanish, & being a half-breed, for whom they generally have the most contemptuous feelings, he has been all his life thrown into the front of battle & danger; at which posts he has signalized himself, & commanded the highest admiration & respect of the tribe, for his daring & adventurous career. This is the man of whom I have before spoken, who dashed out so boldly from the war-party, & came to us with the white rag raised on the point of his lance, & of whom I have made a sketch in. I have here represented him as he stood for me, with his shield on his arm, with his quiver slung, & his lance of fourteen feet in length in his right hand. This extraordinary little man, whose figure was light, seemed to be all bone & muscle, & exhibited immense power, by the curve of the bones in his legs & his arms. We had many exhibitions of his extraordinary strength, as well as agility; & of his gentlemanly politeness & friendship, we had as frequent evidences. As an instance of this, I will recite an occurrence which took place but a few days since, when we were moving our encampment to a more desirable ground on another side of their village. We had a deep & powerful stream to ford, when we had several men who were sick, & obliged to be carried on litters. My friend "Joe" & I came up in the rear of the regiment, where the litters of the sick were passing, & we found this little fellow up to his chin in the muddy water, wading & carrying one end of each litter on his head, as they were in turn, passed over. After they had all passed, this gallant little fellow beckoned to me to dismount, & take a seat on his shoulders, which I declined; preferring to stick to my horse's back, which I did, as he took it by the bridle & conducted it through the shallowest ford. When I was across, I took from my belt a handsome knife & presented it to him, which seemed to please him very much.

Besides the above-named chiefs & warriors, I painted the portrait of Kots-o-ko-ro-ko (The Hair of The Bull's Neck); & Hah-nee (The Beaver); the first, a chief, & the second, a warrior of terrible aspect, & also of considerable distinction. These & many other paintings, as well as manufactures from this tribe, may be always seen in my Museum, if I have the good luck to get them safe home from this wild & remote region.

From what I have already seen of the Camanchees, I am fully convinced that they are a numerous & very powerful tribe, & quite equal in numbers & prowess, to the accounts generally given of them.

It is entirely impossible at present to make a correct estimate of their numbers; but taking their own account of villages they point to in such numbers, South of the banks of the Red River, as well as those that lie farther West, & undoubtedly North of its banks, they must be a very numerous tribe; & I think I am able to say, from estimates that these chiefs have made me, that they number some 30 or 40,000 -- being able to shew some 6 or 7000 warriors, well-mounted & well-armed. This estimate I offer not as conclusive, for so little is as yet known of these people, that no estimate can be implicitly relied upon other than that, which, in general terms, pronounces them to be a very numerous & warlike tribe.

We shall learn much more of them before we get out of their country; & I trust that it will yet be in my power to give something like a fair census of them before we have done with them.

They speak much of their allies & friends, the Pawnee Picts, living to the West some three or four days' march, whom we are going to visit in a few days, & afterwards return to this village, & then "bend our course" homeward, or, in other words, back to Fort Gibson. Besides the Pawnee Picts, there are the Kiowas & Wicos; small tribes that live in the same vicinity, & also in the same alliance, whom we shall probably see on our march. Every preparation is now making to be off in a few days -- & I shall omit further remarks on the Camanchees, until we return, when I shall probably have much more to relate of them & their customs. So many of the men & officers are getting sick, that the little command will be very much crippled, from the necessity we shall be under, of leaving about thirty sick, & about an equal number of well to take care of & protect them: for which purpose, we are constructing a fort, with a sort of breastwork of timbers & bushes, which will be ready in a day or two; & the sound part of the command prepared to start with several Camanchee leaders, who have agreed to pilot the way.

During the mid-19C, George Catlin created 2 large collections of paintings featuring Indian portraits, genre scenes, & western landscapes. The 1st collection, which he called his "Indian Gallery," included more than 500 works completed during the 1830s. Most of the surviving paintings from this group are now at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. During the 1850s & 1860s, Catlin created a 2nd collection, numbering more than 600 works, which he called his "Cartoon Collection." The surviving works from this collection were acquired by the American Museum of Natural History in New York in 1912. Paul Mellon purchased more than 300 paintings from the Cartoon Collection when they were deaccessioned. In 1965, he gave 351 works from this collection to the National Gallery of Art.

The artist George Catlin (1796–1872), who based his entire body of work—including over 500 paintings done in the 1830s & several books recounting his travels—on the theory of the Vanishing American, provided a vivid description of the process at work: "In traversing the immense regions of the Classic West, the mind of a Philanthropist is filled to the brim with feelings of admiration; but to reach this country, one is obliged to descend from the light & glow of civilized atmosphere, through the different grades of civilization, which gradually sink to the most deplorable vice & darkness along our frontier; thence through the most pitiable misery & wretchedness of savage degradation, where the genius of natural liberty & independence have been blasted & destroyed by the contaminating vices & dissipations of civilized society. Through this dark & sunken vale of wretchedness one hurries as through a pestilence, until he gradually rises again into the proud & heroic elegance of savage society, in a state of pure & original nature, beyond the reach of civilized contamination … Even here, the predominant passions of the savage breast, of treachery & cruelty, are often found, yet restrained & frequently subdued by the noblest traits of honor & magnanimity,—a race of men who live & enjoy life & its luxuries, & practice its virtues, very far beyond the usual estimations of the world … From the first settlements of our Atlantic coast to the present day, the bane of this blasting frontier has regularly crowded upon them, from the northern to the southern extremities of our country, &, like the fire in a mountain, which destroys every thing where it passes, it has blasted & sunk them, & all but their names, into oblivion, wherever it has traveled."

New Jersey born George Catlin (1796-1872) is reknowned for his extensive travels across the American West, recording the lives of Native Americans. In 1818, Catlin practiced law in Connecticut & Pennsylvania, but he abandoned his practice in 1821 to pursue painting. Catlin enjoyed modest success painting portraits & miniatures, but he longed to be a history painter. In 1828, after seeing a delegation of western Indians in the east, he had wrote that he had found a subject, "on which to devote a whole life-time of enthusiasm." In 1830, Catlin made his initial pilgrimage to St. Louis to meet William Clark & learn from him all he could of the western lands he hoped to visit. Catlin traveled the frontier from 1830 to 1836, visiting 50 tribes west of the Mississippi, from present-day North Dakota to Oklahoma, creating an astonishing visual record of Native American life. He had only a short time to accomplish his goal—to capture with canvas & paint the essence of Indian life & culture. In that same year, the Indian Removal Act commenced the 12-year action that would remove the remaining Indians from land east of the Mississippi. Within a few years, the they would be decimated by smallpox; with in a few decades, the number of buffalo would drop from millions to a few thousand, & the Native Americans' high prairies would be crosshatched by the plow & the railroad.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Food - Buffalo Tongues

"By the time the wagon trains reached buffalo (bison) country, most of the emigrants longingly anticipated a meal of freshly cooked meat. Salted meat had its place, but it could not replace the fresh for weary travelers. The emigrants eagerly devoured the buffalo that had already been so generous in providing fuel for baking bread and cooking beans. The enticing fresh meat with its assertive flavor was just what they thought they wanted...testimonies from pleased diners indicated that after indulging in this gastronomic treat, almost everyone became an instant aficionado. 

"I think there is no beef in the world equal to a fine buffalo cow--such flavor so rich, so juicy, it makes the mouth water to think of it," noted Charles Stanton...According to Edwin Bryant, the choicest cuts of a young fat buffalo cow were the rump, tenderloin, liver, heart, tongue, hump, and "and intestinal vessel or organ, commonly called by hunters the marrow-gut,' which anatomically speaking, is the chylo-poetic duct...Bryant was describing the intestine that mountain cooks used for making sausage...Buffalo meat, darker and coarser than beef, was either fried in a pan or broiled directly over the hot coals. 

Bones and other parts were added to the soup pot. The hump was cut up to eat immediately or made into jerky. Oner part reported that they buried the large bones in the coals of buffalo chips and in an hour had some delicious baked marrow. Tongues were smoked or pickled. Buffalo tongue became a gourmet food and was shipped to restaurants throughout the country, its popularity contributing to the demise of the buffalo. 

Patty Sessions gathered dry weeds to place on the dung before broiling her family's buffalo steaks. Carvalho's companions copied the Indians: "They cut the buffalo meat in strips about an inch thick, four wide, and twelve to fifteen long. The stick is then inserted in the meat, as boys to a kite stick; one end of the stick is then stuck in the ground, near the fire, and the process of roasting is complete--the natural juice of the meat is retained, in the this manner, and I think it the most preferable way to cook game." During the meal the men would simply cut a slice off the piece roasting on the stick. 

Buffalo meat was so versatile that Narcissa Whitman boasted that her husband had a different way of preparing each piece of meat. Unfortunately, she did not record the recipes; she did, however, observe that her husband liked the taste of buffalo so much that he now began to do most of the cooking. 

Yet there were dissenters. "While here we had buffalo meat. We did not like it very well. It is much coarser than beef," wrote Lucia Williams...Knowing that they must always plan ahead, emigrants preserved the buffalo meat by "jerking" it. In that process the meat is cut into long strips about one inch wide and then dried in the sun or over a fire."

Wagon Wheel Kitchens: Food on the Oregaon Trail, Jacqueline Williams [University Press of Kansas: Lawrence KS] 1993 (p. 150-3)

Monday, February 20, 2023

Spain & Portugal Claim the Lands of the Natives in South America?


The Treaty of Tordesillas June 7 1494

King John of Portugal was not satisfied with the provisions of the Bull Inter Caetera, and by the Treaty of Tordesillas persuaded the Spanish crown to consent to moving the line of demarcation 370 leagues west from the Cape Verde Islands. This change gave Portugal a claim to Brazil. John II (1455-1495), was King of Portugal from 1481 until his death in 1495. He is known for re-establishing the power of the Portuguese monarchy, reinvigorating the Portuguese economy, and renewing his country's colonization in the Americas, Africa and Asia.

Map of Approval for The Treaty of Tordesillas June 7 1494

The Treaty of Tordesillas. . . Whereas a certain controversy exists between the said lords, their constituents, as to what lands, of all those discovered in the ocean sea up to the present day, the date of this treaty, pertain to each one of the said parts respectively; therefore, for the sake of peace and concord, and for the preservation of the relationship and love of the said King of Portugal for the said King and Queen of Castile, Aragon, etc. it being the pleasure of their Highnesses, they . . . covenanted and agreed that a boundary or straight line be determined and drawn north and south, from pole to pole, on the said ocean sea, from the Arctic to the Antarctic pole. This boundary or line shall be drawn straight, as aforesaid, at a distant of three hundred and seventy leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands, being calculated by degrees. . . . And all lands, both islands and mainlands, found and discovered already, or to be found and discovered hereafter, by the said King of Portugal and by his vessels on this side of the said line and bound determined as above, toward the east, in either north or south latitude, on the eastern side of the said bound, provided the said bound is not crossed, shall belong to and remain in the possession of, and pertain forever to, the said King of Portugal and his successors. And all other lands, both islands and mainlands, found or to be found hereafter. . . . by the said King and Queen of Castile, Aragon, etc. and by their vessels, on the western side of the said bound, determined as above, after having passed the said bound toward the west, in either its north or south latitude, shall belong to . . . the said King and Queen of Castile, Leon, etc. and to their successors.

Item, the said representatives promise and affirm . . . that from this date no ships shall be dispatched namely as follows: the said King and Queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon etc. for this part of the bound . . . which pertains to the said King of Portugal . . . nor the said King of Portugal to the other side of the said bound which pertains to the said King and Queen of Castile, Aragon, etc.-for the purpose of discovering and seeking any mainlands or islands, or for the purpose of trade, barter, or conquest of any kind. But should it come to pass that the said ships of the said King and Queen of Castile . . . on sailing thus on this side of the said bound, should discover any mainlands or islands in the region pertaining, as abovesaid, to the said King of Portugal, such mainlands or islands shall belong forever to the said King of Portugal and his heirs, and their Highnesses shall order them to be surrendered to him immediately. And if the said ships of the said King of Portugal discover any islands or mainlands in the regions of the said King and Queen of Castile . . . all such lands shall belong to and remain forever in the possession of the said King and Queen of Castile . . . and their heirs, and the said King of Portugal shall cause such lands to be surrendered immediately. . . .

And by this present agreement, they . . . entreat our most Holy Father that his Holiness be pleased to confirm and approve this said agreement, according to what is set forth therein; and that he order his bulls in regard to it to be issued to the parties or to whichever of the parties may solicit them with the tenor of this agreement incorporated therein, and that he lay his censures upon those who shall violate or oppose it at any time whatsoever. . . .

Friday, February 17, 2023

Richard Hakluyt (1553-1616) to Queen Elizabeth I - England Should Take the Natives' Lands in N America


Richard Hakluyt (1553-1616) was an early proponent of English colonization. This particular document was written to convince Queen Elizabeth I to support the colonization schemes of Sir Walter Raleigh, and to encourage English merchants and gentry to invest in those enterprises.

1. The soil yieldth and may be made to yield all the several commodities of Europe, and of all kingdomes, dominions, and territories that England tradeth with that by trade of merchandise cometh into this realm

2. The passage thither and home is neither to long nor to short but easy and to be made twice in the year. . . .

5. And where England now for certain hundreth years last passed, by the peculiar commodity of wools, and of later years by clothing of the same, hath raised itself from meaner state to greatr wealth and much highr honour, mighty and power than before, to the equaling of the princes of the same to the greatst potentates of this part of the world it cometh now so to passe, that by the great endeavour of the increase of the trade of wools in Spain and in the West Indies, now daily more and more multiplying that the wools of England, and the clothe made of the same, will become base, and every day more base then other; which, prudently weighed yet behoveth this realm if it mean not to return to former olde means and baseness but to stand in present and late former honour, glory, and force, and not negligently and sleepingly to slide into beggery, to foresee and to plant at Norumbega [New England] or some like place, were it not for any thing else but for the hope of the vent of our wool endraped, the principal and in effect the only enriching continuing natural commodity of this realm. And effectually pursuing that course, we shall not only find on that tract of land, and especially in that firm northward (to whom warm clothe shall be right welcome), an ample vent, but also shall, from the north side of that firm, find out known and unknown islands and dominions replenished with people that may fully vent the abundance of that our commodity, that else will in few years wax of none or of small value by foreign abundance &c.; so as by this enterprise we shall shun the imminent mischief hanging over our heads that else must needs fall upon the realm without breach of peace or sword drawn against this realm by any foreign state; and not offer our ancient riches to scornful neighbors at home, nor sell the same in effect for nothing, as we shall shortly, if presently it be not provided for. . . .

6. This enterprise may stay the Spanish King from flowing over all the face of that waste firm of America, if we seat and plant there in time, in time I say, and we by planting shall [prevent] him from making more short and more safe returns out of the noble ports of the purposed places of our planting, then by any possibility he can from the part of the firm that now his navys by ordinary courses come from, in this that there is no comparison between the ports of the coasts that the King of Spain doth now possess and use and the ports of the coasts that our nation is to possess by planting at Norumbega, . . . And England possessing the purposed place of planting, her Majesty may, by the benefit of the seat having won good and royall havens, have plenty of excellent trees for masts of goodly timber to build ships and to make great navys, of pitch, tar, hemp, and all things incident for a navy royall, and that for no price, and without money or request. How easy a matter may yet be to this realm, swarming at this day with valiant youths, rusting and hurtful by lack of employment, and having good makers of cable and of all sorts of cordage, and the best and most cunning shipwrights of the world, to be lords of all those seas, and to spoil Phillip's Indian navy, and to deprive him of yearly passage of his treasure into Europe, and consequently to abate the pride of Spain and of the suporter of the great Anti-Christ of Rome and to pull him down in equality to his neighbour princes, and consequently to cut of the common mischiefs that come to all Europe by the peculiar abundance of his Indian treasure, and this without difficulty.

7. . . . this realm shall have by that mean ships of great burden and of great strength for the defense of this realm, and for the defense of that new seat as need shall require, and with all great increase of perfect seamen, which great princes in time of wars want, and which kind of men are neither nourished in few days nor in few years. . . .

10. No foreign commodity that comes into England comes without payment of custom once, twice, or thrice, before it come into the realm, and so all foreign commodities become dearer to the subjects of this realm; and by this course to Norumbega foreign princes customs are avoided; and the foreign commodities cheaply purchased, they become cheap to the subjects of England, to the common benefit of the people, and to the saving of great treasure in the realm; whereas now the realm become the poor by the purchasing of foreign commodities in so great a mass at so excessive prices.

11. At the first traffic with the people of those parts, the subjects of this realm for many years shall change many cheap commodities of these parts for things of high valor there not esteemed; and this to the great enriching of the realm, if common use fail not.

12. By the great plenty of those regions the merchants and their factors shall lie there cheap, buy and repair their ships cheap, and shall return at pleasure without stay or restraint of foreign prince; whereas upon stays and restraints the merchant raiseth his charge in sale over of his ware; and, buying his wares cheap, he may maintain trade with small stock, and without taking up money upon interest; and so he shall be rich and not subject to many hazards, but shall be able to afford the commodities for cheap prices to all subjects of the realm.

13. By making of ships and by preparing of things for the same, by making of cables and cordage, by planting of vines and olive trees, and by making of wine and oil, by husbandry, and by thousands of things there to be done, infinite numbers of the English nation may be set on work, to the unburdening of the realm with many that now live chargeable to the state at home.

14. If the sea coast serve for making of salt, and the inland for wine, oils, oranges, lemons, figs, &c., and for making of iron, all which with much more is hoped, without sword drawn, we shall cut the comb of the French, of the Spanish, of the Portingal, and of enemies, and of doubtful friends, to the abating of their wealth and force, and to the great saving of the wealth of the realm. . . .

16. Wee shall by planting there enlarge the glory of the gospel, and from England plant sincere religion, and provide a safe and a sure place to receive people from all parts of the world that are forced to flee for the truth of God's word.

17. If frontier wars there chance to arise, and if thereupon we shall fortify, yet will occasion the training up of our youth in the discipline of war, and make a number fit for the service of the wars and for the defense of our people there and at home.

18. The Spaniards govern in the Indies with all pride and tyranny; and like as when people of contrary nature at the sea enter into gallies, where men are tied as slaves, all yell and cry with one voice, Liberta, liberta, as desirous of liberty and freedom, so no doubt whensoever the Queen of England, a prince of such clemency, shall seat upon that firm of America, and shall be reported throughout all that tract to use the natural people there with all humanity, curtesy, and freedom, they will yield themselves to her government, and revolt clean from the Spaniard, and specially when they shall understand that she hath a noble navy, and that she aboundeth with a people most valiant for their defense. And her Majesty having Sir Frances Drake and other subjects already in credit with the Symerons, a people or great multitude already revolted from the Spanish government, she may with them and a few hundreths of this nation, trained up in the late wars of France and Flanders, bring great things to pass, and that with great ease; and this brought so about, her Majesty and her subjects may both enjoy the treasure of the mines of gold and silver, and the whole trade and all the gain of the trade of merchandisse, that now passeth thither by the Spaniards only hand, of all the commodities of Europe; which trade of merchandise only were of it self sufficient (without the benefit of the rich mine) to enrich the subjects, and by customs to fill her Majesty's coffers to the full. And if it be high policy to maintain the poor people of this realm in work, I dare affirm that if the poor people of England were five times so many as they be, yet all might be set on work in and by working linen, and such other things of merchandise as the trade into the Indies doth require.

19. The present short trades causeth the mariner to be cast of, and often to be idle, and so by poverty to fall to piracy. But this course to Norumbega being longer, and a continuance of the employment of the mariner, doth keep the mariner from idleness and from necessity; and so it cutteth of the principal actions of piracy, and the rather because no riche pray for them to take cometh directly in their course or any thing near their course.

20. Many men of excellent wits and of divers singular gifts, overthrown by . . . by some folly of youth, that are not able to live in England, may there be raised again, and do their country good service; and many needful uses there may (to great purpose) require the saving of great numbers, that for trifles may otherwise be devoured by the gallows.

21. Many soldiers and servitors, in the end of the wars, that might be hurtful to this realm, may there be unladen, to the common profit and quiet of this realm, and to our foreign benefi there, as they may be employed.

22. The frye [children] of the wandering beggars of England, that grow up idly, and hurteful and burdenous to this realm, may there be unladen, better bred up, and may people waste countries to the home and foreign benefit, and to their own more happy state.

23. If England cry out and affirm, that there is so many in all trades that one cannot live for another, as in all places they doe, this Norumbega (if it be thought so good) offereth the remedy.

Source: The Collections of the Maine Historical Society (1831-1906), Series 2, Volume 2, 152-61. 

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Food - 19C = Settlers' Cattle Replace Indians' Bison

The interdependence between Indian and buffalo is exemplified in the words of John Fire Lame Deer (1903–1976), a Lakota holy man, wrote, "The buffalo gave us everything we needed. Without it we were nothing. Our tipis were made of his skin. His hide was our bed, our blanket, our winter coat. It was our drum, throbbing through the night, alive, holy. Out of his skin we made our water bags. His flesh strengthened us, became flesh of our flesh. Not the smallest part of it was wasted. His stomach, a red-hot stone dropped in to it, became our soup kettle. His horns were our spoons, the bones our knives, our women's awls and needles. Out of his sinews we made our bowstrings and thread. His ribs were fashioned into sleds for our children, his hoofs became rattles. His mighty skull, with the pipe leaning against it, was our sacred altar. The name of the greatest of all Sioux was Tatanka Iyotake—Sitting Bull. When you killed off the buffalo you also killed the Indian—the real, natural, "wild" Indian."

Buffalo once roamed from the eastern seaboard to Oregon & California, from Great Slave Lake in northern Alberta down into northern Mexico. Although no one will ever know exactly how many bison once inhabited North America, estimates range from 20 to 40 million.

William Temple Hornaday (1854-1937) a naturalist & a founder of the American conservation movement, who spent considerable time in the West both before & during the most severe years of buffalo slaughter, commented on the seemingly boundless bison population & the impossibility of estimating their quantity: It would have been as easy to count or to estimate the number of leaves in a forest as to calculate the number of buffaloes living at any given time during the history of the species previous to 1870.

The great herds were not decimated overnight. The slaughter was a gradual process, reaching its full momentum in the 1870s. The Native Americans of the Great Plains had relied upon & hunted buffalo for thousands of years. Without the arrival of the Caucasians—& with them the gun, the horse, & the market for bison products—it seems likely the Indians could have lived sustainably with the bison far into the future. 

However, as the plains tribes acquired horses & guns from their southern neighbors—who in turn had received them from the Spanish—the Indians were able to kill buffalo with greater ease. As the market for buffalo (particularly hides) emerged in the 1820s & as more Eastern bison hunters also came westward, the bison population began to decline precipitously.

In the 1870s, more buffalo were killed than in any other decade in history. The years of 1872, '73, & '74 were the worst. One buffalo hunter, who based his calculations on 1st hand accounts & shipping records, 4.5 million buffalo were slaughtered in that 3-year period alone.

See Buffalo Field Campaign 

"The opening up of the American plains transformed cattle farming in the United States. Until the early 1870s Texas ranchers had held great cattle drives of hundreds of thousands of lanky longhorns, urging them along a 700-mile Chisolm Trail from San Antonio direct to the stockyards of Abilene, at a rate of about a dozen miles a day. From Abilene they were taken by rail to the new meat processing plants in Chicago and Kansas City. 

But when the Great Plains were cleared of bison and the Indians who had depended upon them, the new land was opened to range cattle. What happened then was that the land Texans sent their cattle to the plains on the hoof to rest and fatten up before the last, easy journey to the stockyards, while new ranchers went into business on a massive scale, financed by the capital poured into the industry by American and foreign investors. The profits were substantial...In 1880 Kansas had sixteen times as many cattle as twenty years earlier."

Food in History

, Reay Tannahill [Three Rivers Press:New York] 1988 

Food - Duck

Peter Rindisbacher attr (1806-1834) Watercolor of Canadian Prairie Indian at lake's shore with gun in hand and a recently hunted duck on the ground. A dog is at his feet. On the far shoreline is a settlement at the base of hills. This watercolor is part of a collection of original drawings and watercolors, attributed to Peter Rindisbacher, which are owned by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Rindisbacher (1806-1834), who was a Swiss-born immigrant, documented Indian and frontier life in the early American and Canadian West. Rindisbacher was born at Upper Emmenthal, Switzerland, in 1806. He emigrated with his family to the settlements of Lord Selkirk on the North Red River, near the present-day Winnipeg, Canada, in 1821. By 1826 the Rindisbacher family, along with others from the settlement, had moved to southwestern Wisconsin. Rindisbacher eventually settled in St. Louis, Missouri, where he died in 1834.

Certain duck species, the food historians tell us, were indigenous to America. Others were introduced by explorers and enterprising businessmen. "Ducks have been esteemed for their culinary value by most cultures of the world, and it is possible the Indians of Central America domesticated the bird even before the Chinese did. The first European explorers were amazed at the numbers of ducks in American skies and soon commented on the delicious and distinctive flavor of the native Canvasback, whose name figures in every cookbook of the nineteenth century to the extent that no banquet would be considered successful without serving the fowl. On March 13, 1873...the arrival in New York of a Yankee clipper ship with a tiny flock of white Peking ducks--one drake and three females--signaled the beginning of a domestic industry of immense proportions. The birds were introduced to Connecticut and then to eastern Long Island, where they propagated at an encouraging rate. Domestic ducks were bought mostly by newly arrived immigrants...Only in this century did the fowl, by now called "Long Island duckling," attain gastronomic respect...In the nineteenth century wild ducks were usually eaten rare, but today domestic ducks are generally preferred cooked with a very crisp skin and served wither roasted with applesauce or in the classic French manner, with orange sauce...The wild ducks of culinary importance to Americans include the canvasback...the "mallard,"...the "black duck"...the "ring-necked duck"...and the "scooters"...also called "coots.""

Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 116-7)

George Catlin (1796–1872) - Food - Buffalo

Buffalo Hunt, by George Catlin, 1844

 In 1832, Catlin was invited to join members of the Hidatsa tribe on a buffalo hunt in the Knife River in North Dakota.

It was suddenly announced through the village one morning at an early hour, that a herd of buffaloes was in sight, when an hundred or more young men mounted their horses with weapons in hand and steered their course to the prairies. The chief informed me that one of his horses was in readiness for me at the door of his wigwam, and that I had better go and see the curious affair. I accepted his polite offer, and mounting the steed, galloped off with the hunters to the prairies, where we soon descried at a distance, a fine herd of buffaloes grazing, when a halt and a council were ordered, and the mode of attack was agreed upon. I had armed myself with my pencil and my sketch-book only, and consequently took my position generally in the rear, where I could see and appreciate every manoeuvre.

The plan of attack, which in this country is familiarly called a ‘surround’ was explicitly agreed upon, and the hunters who were all mounted on their ‘buffalo horses’ and armed with bows and arrows or long lances, divided into two columns, taking opposite directions, and drew themselves gradually around the herd at a mile or more distance from them; thus forming a circle of horsemen at equal distances apart, who gradually closed in upon them with a moderate pace, at a signal given. The unsuspecting herd at length ‘got the wind’ of the approaching enemy and fled in a mass in the greatest confusion. To the point where they were aiming to cross the line, the horsemen were seen at full speed, gathering and forming in a column, brandishing their weapons and yelling in the most frightful manner, by which means they turned the black and rushing mass, which moved off in an opposite direction where they were again met and foiled in a similar manner, and wheeled back in utter confusion; by which time the horsemen had closed in from all directions, forming a continuous line around them, whilst the poor affrighted animals were eddying about in a crowded and confused mass, hooking and climbing upon each other….

In this grand turmoil, a cloud of dust was soon raised, which in parts obscured the throng where the hunters were galloping their horses around and driving the whizzing arrows or their long lances to the hearts of these noble animals; which in many instances, becoming infuriated with deadly wounds in their sides, erected their shaggy manes over their blood-shot eyes and furiously plunged forwards at the sides of their assailants’ horses, sometimes goring them to death at a lunge, and putting their dismounted riders to flight for their lives; sometimes their dense crowd was opened, and the blinded horsemen, too intent on their prey amidst the cloud of dust, were hemmed and wedged in amidst the crowding beasts, over whose backs they were obliged to leap for security, leaving their horses to the fate that might await them in the results of this wild and desperate war. Many were the bulls that turned upon their assailants and met them with desperate resistance; and many were the warriors who were dismounted, and saved themselves by the superior muscles of their legs; some who were closely pursued by the bulls, wheeled suddenly around and snatching the part of a buffalo robe from around their waists, threw it over the horns and the eyes of the infuriated beast, and darting by its side drove the arrow or the lance to its heart. Others suddenly dashed off upon the prairies by the side of the affrighted animals which had escaped from the throng, and closely escorting them for a few rods, brought down their hearts blood in streams, and their huge carcasses upon the green and enamelled turf.

In this way this grand hunt soon resolved itself into a desperate battle; and in the space of fifteen minutes, resulted in the total destruction of the whole herd, which in all their strength and fury were doomed, like every beast and living thing else, to fall before the destroying hands of mighty man.

I had sat in trembling silence upon my horse, and witnessed this extraordinary scene, which allowed not one of these animals to escape out of my sight. Many plunged off upon the prairie for a distance, but were overtaken and killed; and although I could not distinctly estimate the number that were slain, yet I am sure that some hundreds of these noble animals fell in this grand melee.

The scene after the battle was over was novel and curious in the extreme; the hunters were moving about amongst the dead and dying animals, leading their horses by their halters, and claiming their victims by their private marks upon their arrows, which they were drawing from the wounds in the animals’ sides.

Amongst the poor affrighted creatures that had occasionally dashed through the ranks of their enemy, and sought safety in flight upon the prairie (and in some instances, had undoubtedly gained it), I saw them stand awhile, looking back, when they turned, and, as if bent on their own destruction, retraced their steps, and mingled themselves and their deaths with those of the dying throng. Others had fled to a distance on the prairies, and for want of company, of friends or of foes, had stood and gazed on till the battle-scene was over; seemingly taking pains to stay, and hold their lives in readiness for their destroyers, until the general destruction was over, when they fell easy victims to their weapons — making the slaughter complete.

After this scene, and after arrows had been claimed and recovered, a general council was held, when all hands were seated on the ground, and a few pipes smoked; after which, all mounted their horses and rode back to the village.

A deputation of several of the warriors was sent to the chief, who explained to him what had been their success; and the same intelligence was soon communicated by little squads to every family in the village; and preparations were at once made for securing the meat. For this purpose, some hundreds of women and children, to whose lots fall all the drudgeries of Indian life, started out upon the trail, which led them to the battlefield, where they spent the day in skinning the animals, and cutting up the meat, which was mostly brought into the villages on their backs, as they tugged and sweated under their enormous and cruel loads.

I rode out to see this curious scene; and I regret exceedingly that I kept no memorandum of it in my sketch-book. Amidst the throng of women and children that had been assembled, and all of whom seemed busily at work, were many superannuated and disabled nags, which they had brought out to assist in carrying in the meat; and at least, one thousand semi-loup dogs, and whelps, whose keen appetites and sagacity had brought them out, to claim their shares of this abundant and sumptuous supply.   George Catlin, My Life Among the Indians, edited by Mary Gay Humphreys (New York, 1915)

American bison roamed North America from prehistoric times to the 19th century. Some Native Americans depended on this animal for food, shelter, clothing, tools and medicine. When Europeans arrived, they saw this great creature and called it buffalo.American bison roamed North America from prehistoric times to the 19th century. Some Native Americans depended on this animal for food, shelter, clothing, tools and medicine. When Europeans arrived, they saw this great creature and called it buffalo.

"The American bison (Bison bison)is more closely related to cattle than to true buffalo...early European settlers called the unfamiliar animal they encountered in North America a 'buffelo' [sic] and this misnomer has persisted to the present."
"American Bison," Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth . Kiple & Krimehild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000, Volume One

"By the time the wagon trains reached buffalo (bison) country, most of the emigrants longingly anticipated a meal of freshly cooked meat. Salted meat had its place, but it could not replace the fresh for weary travelers. The emigrants eagerly devoured the buffalo that had already been so generous in providing fuel for baking bread and cooking beans. The enticing fresh meat with its assertive flavor was just what they thought they wanted...testimonies from pleased diners indicated that after indulging in this gastronomic treat, almost everyone became an instant aficionado. 

"I think there is no beef in the world equal to a fine buffalo cow--such flavor so rich, so juicy, it makes the mouth water to think of it," noted Charles Stanton...According to Edwin Bryant, the choicest cuts of a young fat buffalo cow were the rump, tenderolin, liver, heart, tongue, hump, and "and intestinal vessel or organ, commonly called by hunters the marrow-gut,' which anatomically speaking, is the chylo-poetic duct...Bryant was describing the intestine that mountain cookes used for making sausage...Buffalo meat, darker and coarser than beef, was either fried in a pan or broiled directly over the hot coals. 

Bones and other parts were added to the soup pot. The hump was cut up to eat immediately or made into jerky. Oner part reported that they buried the large bones in the coals of buffalo chips and in an hour had some delicious baked marrow. Tongues were smoked or pickled. Buffalo tongue became a gourmet food and was shipped to restaurants throughout the country, its popularity contributing to the demise of the buffalo. 

Patty Sessions gathered dry weeds to place on the dung before broiling her family's buffalo steaks. Carvalho's companions copied the Indians: "They cut the buffalo meat in strips about an inch thick, four wide, and twelve to fifteen long. The stick is then inserted in the meat, as boys to a kite stick; one end of the stick is then stuck in the ground, near the fire, and the process of roasting is complete--the natural juice of the meat is retained, in the this manner, and I think it the most preferable way to cook game." During the meal the men would simply cut a slice off the piece roasting on the stick. 

Buffalo meat was so versatile that Narcissa Whitman boasted that her husband had a different way of preparing each piece of meat. Unfortunately, she did not record the recipes; she did, however, observe that her husband liked the taste of buffalo so much that he now began to do most of the cooking. 

Yet there were dissenters. "While here we had buffalo meat. We did not like it very well. It is much coarser than beef," wrote Lucia Williams...Knowing that they must always plan ahead, emigrants preserved the buffalo meat by "jerking" it. In that process the meat is cut into long strips about one inch wide and then dried in the sun or over a fire."

Wagon Wheel Kitchens: Food on the Oregaon Trail, Jacqueline Williams [University Press of Kansas: Lawrence KS] 1993 

"When the European explorers first visited North America, large numbers of bison were present in perhaps 70 percent of the present-day continental United States...the pre-Columbian buffalo population is often estimated at some 60 million members. As a rule, the animals lived in groups of 20 to 40, gathering into larger herds only for rutting or migration. Native Americans long utilized the bison as a food source; archaelogical evidence suggests that buffalo hunting was practiced more than 10,000 years ago...In a physical sense, the animal provided the plains inhabitants with many items essential to survival in this environment, in the form of blood, meat, hide, bone, sinew, and manure, that were used for food, rope, weapons, shelter, blankets, clothing, fuel and medicine. In a spiritual sense, the buffalo provided the first Americans with still more...Native Americans honored it as a siprit that influenced fecundity, happiness, strength, protection, and healing...Methods of preparing bison as food were largely determined by the gender of the cooks. When eaten fresh, the meat was often cooked by the hunters, whereas meat curing and preservation were tasks reserved for women. Hunting parties would sometimes use the hide as a cauldron in which to boil the meat. Variations on this practice included lining a hole in the ground with the animal skin or suspending the hide aboveground on sticks over a fire. In addition to boiling, the meat was frequently roasted by rotating it over an open fire. To cure buffalo meat, Indian women relied on the sun, rather than on salting or smoking--the European methods. Selecting the choicest parts, the women cut the meat into strips, across the grain, in order to maintain alternating layers of lean and fat. These strips were then suspended on elevated racks in full sunlight for several days. The result was a jerky that could be eaten in the dried form or rehydrated by lengthy boiling. When cured, the meat was lightweight and largely imperishable, and ideal staple for a mobile culture. The jerky...could be even further condensed when transformed into pemmican... Native Americans also incorporated buffalo into their diet in several ways other than as a fresh and preserved meat. Various tribes developed methods of preparing blood soups and puddings. Roasted throgh bones were a popular source of tasty marrow, and the tongue was savored."

"American Bison," Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000, Volume One 

Native American Penobscot Myth - The Corn Mother

1590 North American Atlantic Coast Natives by John White (c1540 – c1593). The village of Pomeiooc (Pomeiock) was a Native America settlement, designated on de Bry’s map of Virginia, Americae Pars Nunc Virginia Dicta, between today’s Wyesocking Bay & Lake Landing, North Carolina. John White designates the settlement as Pomeyoo.

When Kloskurbeh, the All-maker, lived on earth, there were no people yet. But one day when the sun was high, a youth appeared and called him “Uncle, brother of my mother.” This young man was born from the foam of the waves, foam quickened by the wind and warmed by the sun. It was the motion of the wind, the moistness of the water, and the sun’s warmth which gave him life—warmth above all, because warmth is life. And the young man lived with Kloskurbeh and became his chief helper.

Now, after these two powerful beings had created all manner of things, there came to them, as the sun was shining at high noon, a beautiful girl. She was born of the wonderful earth plant, and of the dew, and of warmth. Because a drop of dew fell on a leaf and was warmed by the sun, and the warming sun is life, this girl came into being—from the green living plant, from moisture, and from warmth.

“I am love,” said the maiden. “I am a strength giver, I am the nourisher, I am the provider of men and animals. They all love me.”

Then Kloskurbeh thanked the Great Mystery Above for having sent them the maiden. The youth, the Great Nephew, married her, and the girl conceived and thus became First Mother. And Kloskurbeh, the Great Uncle, who teaches humans all they need to know, taught their children how to live. Then he went away to dwell in the north, from which he will return sometime when he is needed.

Now the people increased and became numerous. They lived by hunting, and the more people there were, the less game they found. They were hunting it out, and as the animals decreased, starvation came upon the people. And First Mother pitied them.

The little children came to First Mother and said: “We are hungry. Feed us.” But she hd nothing to give them, and she wept. She told them: “Be patient. I will make some food. Then your little bellies will be full.” But she kept weeping.

Her husband asked: “How can I make you smile? How can I make you happy?”

“There is only one thing that will stop my tears.”

“What is it?” asked her husband.

“It is this: you must kill me.”

“I could never do that.”

“You must, or I will go on weeping and grieving forever.”

Then the husband traveled far, to the end of the earth, to the north he went, to ask the Great Instructor, his uncle Kloskurbeh, what he should do.

“You must do what she wants. You must kill her,” said Kloskurbeh. Then the young man went back to his home, and it was his turn to weep. But First Mother said: “Tomorrow at high noon you must do it. After you have killed me, let two of our sons take hold of my hair and drag my body over that empty patch of earth. Let them drag me back and forth, back and forth, over every part of the patch, until all my flesh has been torn from my body. Afterwards, take my bones, gather them up, and bury them in the middle of this clearing. Then leave that place.”

She smiled and said, “Wait seven moons and then come back, and you will find my flesh there, flesh given out of love, and it will nourish and strengthen you forever and ever.”

So it was done. The husband slew his wife and her sons, praying, dragged her body to and fro as she had commanded, until her flesh covered all the earth. Then they took up her bones and buried them in the middle of it. Weeping loudly, they went away.

When the husband and his children and his children’s children came back to that place after seven moons had passed, the found the earth covered with tall, green, tasseled plants. The plants’ fruit—corn—was First Mother’s flesh, given so that the people might live and flourish. And they partook of First Mother’s flesh and found it sweet beyond words. Following her instructions, they did not eat all, but put many kernels back into the earth. In this way her flesh and spirit renewed themselves every seven months, generation after generation.

And at the spot where they had burned First Mother’s bones, there grew another plant, broad-leafed and fragrant. It was First Mother’s breath, and they heard her spirit talking: “Burn this up and smoke it. It is sacred. It will clear your minds, help your prayers, and gladden your hearts.”

And First Mother’s husband called the first plant Skarmunal, corn, and the second plant utarmur-wayeh, tobacco.

“Remember,” he told the people, “and take good care of First Mother’s flesh, because it is her goodness become substance. Take good of her breath, because it is her love turned into smoke. Remember her and think of her whenever you eat, whenever you smoke this sacred plant, because she has given her life so that you might live. Yet she is not dead, she lives: in undying love she renews herself again and again.”

Richard Erdoes & Alfonso Ortiz, American Indian Myths & Legends, 1984.

Native American Abenaki Myth - Creation & Dreams

1590 North American Atlantic Coast Natives by John White (c1540 – c1593). The village of Pomeiooc (Pomeiock) was a Native America settlement, designated on de Bry’s map of Virginia, Americae Pars Nunc Virginia Dicta, between today’s Wyesocking Bay & Lake Landing, North Carolina. John White designates the settlement as Pomeyoo.

The Great Spirit, in a time not known to us looked about and saw nothing. No colors, no beauty. Time was silent in darkness. There was no sound. Nothing could be seen or felt. The Great Spirit decided to fill this space with light and life. From his great power he commanded the sparks of creation. He ordered Tolba, the Great Turtle to come from the waters and become the land. The Great Spirit molded the mountains and the valleys on turtle's back. He put white clouds into the blue skies. He was very happy. He said, "Everything is ready now. I will fill this place with the happy movement of life." He thought and though about what kind of creatures he would make. Where would they live? What would they do? What would their purpose be? He wanted a perfect plan. He thought so hard that he became very tired and fell asleep. His sleep was filled with dreams of his creation. He saw strange things in his dream. He saw animals crawling on four legs, some on two. Some creatures flew with wings, some swam with fins. There were plants of all colors, covering the ground everywhere. Insects buzzed around, dogs barked, birds sang, and human beings called to each other. Everything seemed out of place. The Great Spirit thought he was having a bad dream. He thought, nothing could be this imperfect. When the Great Spirit awakened, he saw a beaver nibbling on a branch. He realized the world of his dream became his creation. Everything he dreamed about came true. When he saw the beaver make his home, and a dam to provide a pond for his family to swim in, he then knew that every thing has it's place, and purpose in the time to come. It has been told among our people from generation to generation. We must not question our dreams. They are our creation.

Native American Cheyenne Myth - Arrow Boy

1590 North American Atlantic Coast Natives by John White (c1540 – c1593). The village of Pomeiooc (Pomeiock) was a Native America settlement, designated on de Bry’s map of Virginia, Americae Pars Nunc Virginia Dicta, between today’s Wyesocking Bay & Lake Landing, North Carolina. John White designates the settlement as Pomeyoo.

After the Cheyenne had received their corn, and while they were still in the north, a young man and woman of the tribe were married. The woman became pregnant and carried her child in the womb for four years. The people watched with great interest to see what would happen, and when the woman gave birth to a beautiful boy in the fourth year, they regarded him as supernatural.

Before long the woman and her husband died, and the boy was taken in by his grandmother, who lived alone. He learned to walk and talk very quickly. He was given a buffalo calf robe and immediately turned it inside out so that the hair side was outward, the way medicine men wore it.

Among the Cheyenne there were certain medicine men of extraordinary wisdom and superhuman powers. Sometimes they would come together and put up a lodge. Sitting in a large circle, they chanted and went through curious rituals, after which each man rose and performed wonders before the crowd.

One of these magic dances were held when the boy was about ten. He made his grandmother ask if he could take part, and the medicine men let him enter the lodge. “Where do you want to live?” the chief of the medicine men asked, meaning, “Where do you want to sit?” Without ceremony the boy took his seat beside the chief. To the man who had ushered him in, the child gave directions to paint his body red and draw black rings around his face, wrists, and ankles.

The performance began at one end of the circle. When the boy’s turn came, he told the people what he was going to do. He used sweet grass to burn incense. Then he passed his buffalo sinew bowstring east, south, west and north through the smoke. He asked two men to assist him and told them to tie his bowstring around his neck, cover his body with this robe, and pull at the ends of the string. They pulled with all their might, but they could not move him. He told them to pull harder, and as they tugged at the string, his head was severed. It rolled out from under the robe, and the men put it back.

Next the men lifted the robe up. Instead of the boy, a very old man was sitting in his place. They covered the old man with the robe and pulled it away again, this time revealing a pile of human bones with a skull. A third time they placed the robe over the bones and lifted it. Nothing at all was there. But when for a fourth time they spread the robe over the empty space and removed it, the wonderful boy sat in his place as if nothing had happened.

After the magic dance, the Cheyenne moved their came to hunt buffalo. When a kill had been made, the wonderful boy led a crowd of boys who went hunting for calves that might return to the place where they last saw their mothers. The boys found five or six calves, surrounded them, and killed a two-year-old with their arrows. They began to skin it very carefully with bone knives, keeping the hide of the head intact and leaving the hooves on, because the wonderful boy wanted the skin for a robe.

While they worked, a man driving a dog team approached them. It was Young Wolf, head chief of the tribe, who had come to the killing ground to gather what bones had been left. He said, “My children have favored me at last! I’ll take charge of this buffalo; you boys go on off.”

The children obeyed, except for the wonderful boy, who kept skinning as he explained that he wanted only the hide for a robe. The chief pushed him the wonderful boy aside, but the boy returned and resumed skinning. Then the chief jerked the boy away and threw him down. The boy got up and continued his work. Pretending that he was skinning one of the hind legs, he cut the leg off at the knee and left the hoof on. When the chief shouldered the boy out of the way and took over the work, the wonderful boy struck him on the back of the head with the buffalo leg. The chief fell dead.

The boys ran to the camp and told the story, which caused great excitement. The warriors assembled and decided to kill the wonderful boy. They went out to look for him near the body of their chief, but the boy had returned to camp. He was sitting in his grandmother’s lodge while she cooked food for him in an earthen pot, when suddenly the whole tipi was raised by the warriors. Quickly the wonderful boy kicked the pot over, sending the contents into the fire. As the smoke billowed up, the boy rose with it. The old woman was left sitting alone.  

The warriors looked around and saw the boy about a quarter of a mile away, walking off toward the east. They ran after him but could not seem to draw closer. Four times they chased him with no success, and then gave up.

People became afraid of the wonderful boy. Still, they looked for him every day and at least saw him on the top of a nearby hill. The whole camp gathered to watch as he appeared on the summit five times, each time in a different dress. First he came as a Red Shield warrior in a headdress made out of buffalo skin. He had horns, a spear, a red shield, and two buffalo tails tided to each arm. The second time he was a Coyote warrior, with his body painted black and yellow and with two eagle feathers sticking up on his head. The third time he appeared as a Dog Men warrior wearing a feathered headdress and carrying an eagle-bone whistle, a rattle of buffalo hoof, and a bow and arrows. The fourth time he was a Hoof Rattle warrior. His His body was painted, and he had a rattle to sing by and a spear about eight feet long, with a crook at one end and the shaft at the other end bent in a semicircle. The fifth time his body was painted white, and on his forehead he wore a white owl skin.

After this the wonderful boy disappeared entirely. No one knew where he went, people thought him dead, and he was soon forgotten, for the buffalo disappeared and famine came to the Cheyenne.

During this time the wonderful boy traveled alone into the highest ranges of the mountains. As he drew near a certain peak, a door opened in the mountain slope. He passed through into the earth, and the opening closed after him.

There inside the mountain he found a large circle of men. Each represented a tribe and was seated beneath that tribe’s bundle. They welcomed the wonderful boy and pointed out the one empty place under a bundle wrapped in fox skin. “If you take this seat, the bundle will be yours to carry back to the Cheyenne,” the head man said. “But first you will remain here for four years, receiving instruction in order to become your tribe’s prophet and counselor.”

The wonderful boy accepted the bundle, and all the men gave thanks. When his turn came to perform the bundle ceremony, they took it down and showed him its sacred ceremonies, songs, and four medicine arrows, each representing certain powers. Then for four years under the mountain peak, they taught him prophecies, magic, and ceremonies for warfare and hunting.

Meanwhile the Cheyenne were weak with hunger, threatened by starvation. All the animals had died, and the people ate herbs. One day as the tribe was traveling in search of food, five children lagged behind to look for herbs and mushrooms.

Suddenly the wonderful boy, now a young man bearing the name of Arrow Boy, appeared before them. “My poor children, throw away those mushrooms,” he said. “It is I who brought famine among you, for I was angry with your people when they drove me from their camp. I have returned to provide for you; you shall not hunger in the future. Go and gather some dried buffalo bones, and I will feed you.”

The children ran away and picked up buffalo bones, and the wonderful boy, Arrow Boy, made a few passes that turned them into fresh meat. He fed the children with fat, marrow, liver, and other strengthening parts of the buffalo. When they had eaten all they wanted, he gave them fat and meat. “Take this to your people,” he said. “Tell them that I, Motzeyouf, Arrow Boy, have returned.”

Though the boys ran to the camp, Motzeyouf used his magic to reach it first. He entered the lodge of his uncle and lay down to rest, for he was tired. The uncle and his wife were sitting just outside, but they did not see Arrow Boy pass by.

The boys arrived in camp with their tale, which created great excitement. The uncle’s wife went into the lodge to get a pipe, and it was then that she saw Arrow Boy lying covered with a buffalo robe. The robe, and his shirt, leggings, and moccasins, all were painted red. Guessing that he was Motzeyouf, the men went into the lodge, asked the stranger to sit up, and cried over him. They saw his bundle, and knowing that he had power, they asked him what they should do.

Motzeyouf told the Cheyenne to camp in a circle and set up a large tipi in the center. When this had been done, he called all the medicine men to bring their rattles and pipes. Then he went into the tipi and sang the sacred songs that he had learned. It was night before he came to the song about the fourth arrow. In the darkness the buffalo returned with a roar like thunder. The frightened Cheyenne went in to Arrow Boy and asked him what to do. “Go and sleep,” he said, “for the buffalo, your food, has returned to you.” The roar of the buffalo continued through the night as long as he sang.

The next morning the land was covered with buffalo, and the people went out and killed all they wanted. From that time forth, owing to the medicine arrows, the Cheyenne had plenty to eat and great powers.

Richard Erdoes & Alfonso Ortiz, American Indian Myths & Legends, 

Native American Medicinal Plants of the Cherokee


1590 North American Atlantic Coast Natives by John White (c1540 – c1593). The village of Pomeiooc (Pomeiock) was a Native America settlement, designated on de Bry’s map of Virginia, Americae Pars Nunc Virginia Dicta, between today’s Wyesocking Bay & Lake Landing, North Carolina. John White designates the settlement as Pomeyoo.

Extracted from:  The Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees. Seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1885-1886,  Government Printing Office, Washington, 1891.  Oral history recorded by James Mooney (1861-1921) who was an American ethnographer who lived for several years among the Cherokee. 

The following list of twenty plants used in Cherokee practice will give a better idea of the extent of their medical knowledge than could be conveyed by a lengthy dissertation. The names are given in the order in which they occur in the botanic notebook filled on the reservation, excluding names of food plants & species not identified, so that no attempt has been made to select in accordance with a preconceived theory. Following the name of each plant are given its uses as described by the Indian doctors, together with its properties as set forth in the United States Dispensatory, one of the leading pharmacopœias in use in this country. For the benefit of those not versed in medical phraseology it may be stated that aperient, cathartic, & deobstruent are terms applied to medicines intended to open or purge the bowels, a diuretic has the property of exciting the flow of urine, a diaphoretic excites perspiration, & a demulcent protects or soothes irritated tissues, while hæmoptysis denotes a peculiar variety of blood-spitting & aphthous is an adjective applied to ulcerations in the mouth.


1. UNASTE´TSTIYÛ=“very small root”—Aristolochia serpentaria—Virginia or black snakeroot: Decoction of root blown upon patient for fever & feverish headache, & drunk for coughs; root chewed & spit upon wound to cure snake bites; bruised root placed in hollow tooth for toothache, & held against nose made sore by constant blowing in colds. Dispensatory: “A stimulant tonic, acting also as a diaphoretic or diuretic, according to the mode of its application; * * * also been highly recommended in intermittent fevers, & though itself generally inadequate to the cure often proves serviceable as an adjunct to Peruvian bark or sulphate of quinia.” Also used for typhous diseases, in dyspepsia, as a gargle for sore throat, as a mild stimulant in typhoid fevers, & to promote eruptions. The genus derives its scientific name from its supposed efficacy in promoting menstrual discharge, & some species have acquired the “reputation of antidotes for the bites of serpents.”

2. UNISTIL´ÛnISTÎ8=“they stick on”—Cynoglossum Morrisoni—Beggar lice: Decoction of root or top drunk for kidney troubles; bruised root used with bear oil as an ointment for cancer; forgetful persons drink a decoction of this plant, & probably also of other similar bur plants, from an idea that the sticking qualities of the burs will thus be imparted to the memory. From a similar connection of ideas the root is also used in the preparation of love charms. Dispensatory: Not named. C. officinale “has been used as a demulcent & sedative in coughs, catarrh, spitting of blood, dysentery, & diarrhea, & has been also applied externally in burns, ulcers, scrofulous tumors & goiter.”

3. ÛnNAGÉI=“black”—Cassia Marilandica—Wild senna: Root bruised & moistened with water for poulticing sores; decoction drunk for fever & for a disease also called ûnnage´i, or “black” (same name as plant), in which the hands & eye sockets are said to turn black; also for a disease described as similar to ûnnagei, but more dangerous, in which the eye sockets become black, while black spots appear on the arms, legs, & over the ribs on one side of the body, accompanied by partial paralysis, & resulting in death should the black spots appear also on the other side. Dispensatory: Described as “an efficient & safe cathartic, * * * most conveniently given in the form of infusion.”

4. KÂSD´ÚTA=“simulating ashes,” so called on account of the appearance of the leaves—Gnaphalium decurrens—Life everlasting: Decoction drunk for colds; also used in the sweat bath for various diseases & considered one of their most valuable medical plants. Dispensatory: Not named. Decoctions of two other species of this genus are mentioned as used by country people for chest & bowel diseases, & for hemorrhages, bruises, ulcers, etc., although “probably possessing little medicinal virtue.”

5. ALTSA´STI=“a wreath for the head”—Vicia Caroliniana—Vetch: Decoction drunk for dyspepsia & pains in the back, & rubbed on stomach for cramp; also rubbed on ball-players after scratching, to render their muscles tough, & used in the same way after scratching in the disease referred to under ûnnagei, in which one side becomes black in spots, with partial paralysis; also used in same manner in decoction with Kâsduta for rheumatism; considered one of their most valuable medicinal herbs. 

6. DISTAI´YĬ=“they (the roots) are tough”—Tephrosia Virginiana—Catgut, Turkey Pea, Goat’s Rue, or Devil’s Shoestrings: Decoction drunk for lassitude. Women wash their hair in decoction of its roots to prevent its breaking or falling out, because these roots are very tough & hard to break; from the same idea ball-players rub the decoction on their limbs after scratching, to toughen them. Described as a cathartic with roots tonic & aperient.

7. U´GA-ATASGI´SKĬ=“the pus oozes out”—Euphorbia hypericifolia—Milkweed: Juice rubbed on for skin eruptions, especially on children’s heads; also used as a purgative; decoction drunk for gonorrhœa & similar diseases in both sexes, & held in high estimation for this purpose; juice used as an ointment for sores & for sore nipples, & in connection with other herbs for cancer. Dispensatory: The juice of all of the genus has the property of “powerfully irritating the skin when applied to it,” while nearly all are powerful emetics & cathartics. This species “has been highly commended as a remedy in dysentery after due depletion, diarrhea, menorrhagia, & leucorrhea.”

8. GÛ´NĬGWALĬ´SKĬ=“It becomes discolored when bruised”—Scutellaria lateriflora—Skullcap. The name refers to the red juice which comes out of the stalk when bruised or chewed. A decoction of the four varieties of Gûnigwalĭ´skĭ—S. lateriflora, S. pilosa, Hypericum corymbosum, & Stylosanthes elatior—is drunk to promote menstruation, & the same decoction is also drunk & used as a wash to counteract the ill effects of eating food prepared by a woman in the menstrual condition, or when such a woman by chance comes into a sick room or a house under the tabu; also drunk for diarrhea & used with other herbs in decoction for breast pains. Dispensatory: This plant “produces no very obvious effects,” but some doctors regard it as possessed of nervine, antispasmodic & tonic properties. None of the other three species are named.

9. K´GA SKÛnTAGĬ=“crow shin”—Adiantum pedatum—Maidenhair Fern: Used either in decoction or poultice for rheumatism & chills, generally in connection with some other fern. The doctors explain that the fronds of the different varieties of fern are curled up in the young plant, but unroll & straighten out as it grows, & consequently a decoction of ferns causes the contracted muscles of the rheumatic patient to unbend & straighten out in like manner. It is also used in decoction for fever. Dispensatory: The leaves “have been supposed to be useful in chronic catarrh & other pectoral affections.”

10. ANDA´NKALAGI´SKĬ=“it removes things from the gums”—Geranium maculatum—Wild Alum, Cranesbill: Used in decoction with Yânû Unihye´stĭ (Vitis cordifolia) to wash the mouths of children in thrush; also used alone for the same purpose by blowing the chewed fiber into the mouth. Dispensatory: “One of our best indigenous astringents. * * * Diarrhea, chronic dysentery, cholora infantum in the latter stages, & the various hemorrhages are the forms of disease in which it is most commonly used.” Also valuable as “an application to indolent ulcers, an injection in gleet & leucorrhea, a gargle in relaxation of the uvula & aphthous ulcerations of the throat.” The other plant sometimes used with it is not mentioned.

11. Û´nLĔ UKĬ´LTĬ=“the locust frequents it”—Gillenia trifoliata—Indian Physic. Two doctors state that it is good as a tea for bowel complaints, with fever & yellow vomit; but another says that it is poisonous & that no decoction is ever drunk, but that the beaten root is a good poultice for swellings. Dispensatory: “Gillenia is a mild & efficient emetic, & like most substances belonging to the same class occasionally acts upon the bowels. In very small doses it has been thought to be tonic.”

12. SKWA´LĬ=Hepatica acutiloba—Liverwort, Heartleaf: Used for coughs either in tea or by chewing root. Those who dream of snakes drink a decoction of this herb & I´natû Ga´n‘ka=“snake tongue” (Camptosorus rhizophyllus or Walking Fern) to produce vomiting, after which the dreams do not return. The traders buy large quantities of liverwort from the Cherokees, who may thus have learned to esteem it more highly than they otherwise would. The appearance of the other plant, Camptosorus rhizophyllus, has evidently determined its Cherokee name & the use to which it is applied. Dispensatory: “Liverwort is a very mild demulcent tonic & astringent, supposed by some to possess diuretic & deobstruent virtues. It was formerly used in Europe in various complaints, especially chronic hepatic affections, but has fallen into entire neglect. In this country, some years since, it acquired considerable reputation, which, however, it has not maintained as a remedy in hæmoptysis & chronic coughs.” The other plant is not named.

13. DA´YEWÛ=“it sews itself up,” because the leaves are said to grow together again when torn—Cacalia atriplicifolia—Tassel Flower: Held in great repute as a poultice for cuts, bruises, & cancer, to draw out the blood or poisonous matter. The bruised leaf is bound over the spot & frequently removed. The dry powdered leaf was formerly used to sprinkle over food like salt. Dispensatory: Not named.

14. A´TALĬ KÛLĬ´=“it climbs the mountain.”—Aralia quinquefolia—Ginseng or “Sang:” Decoction of root drunk for headache, cramps, etc., & for female troubles; chewed root blown on spot for pains in the side. The Cherokees sell large quantities of sang to the traders for 50 cents per pound, nearly equivalent there to two days’ wages, a fact which has doubtless increased their idea of its importance. Dispensatory: “The extraordinary medical virtues formerly ascribed to ginseng had no other existence than in the imagination of the Chinese. It is little more than a demulcent, & in this country is not employed as a medicine.” The Chinese name, ginseng, is said to refer to the fancied resemblance of the root to a human figure, while in the Cherokee formulas it is addressed as the “great man” or “little man,” & this resemblance no doubt has much to do with the estimation in which it is held by both peoples.

15. ÛTSATĬ UWADSĬSKA=“fish scales,” from shape of leaves—Thalictrum anemonoides—Meadow Rue: Decoction of root drunk for diarrhea with vomiting. 

16. K´KWĔ ULASU´LA=“partridge moccasin”—Cypripedium parviflorum—Lady-slipper: Decoction of root used for worms in children. In the liquid are placed some stalks of the common chickweed or purslane (Cerastium vulgatum) which, from the appearance of its red fleshy stalks, is supposed to have some connection with worms. Dispensatory: Described as “a gentle nervous stimulant” useful in diseases in which the nerves are especially affected. The other herb is not named.

17. A´HAWĬ´ AKĂ´TĂ´=“deer eye,” from the appearance of the flower—Rudbeckia fulgida—Cone Flower: Decoction of root drunk for flux & for some private diseases; also used as a wash for snake bites & swellings caused by (mythic) tsgâya or worms; also dropped into weak or inflamed eyes. This last is probably from the supposed connection between the eye & the flower resembling the eye. 

18. UTĬSTUGĬ´=Polygonatum multiflorum latifolium—Solomon’s Seal: Root heated & bruised & applied as a poultice to remove an ulcerating swelling called tu´stĭ´, resembling a boil or carbuncle. Dispensatory: “This species acts like P. uniflorum, which is said to be emetic. In former times it was used externally in bruises, especially those about the eyes, in tumors, wounds, & cutaneous eruptions & was highly esteemed as a cosmetic. At present it is not employed, though recommended by Hermann as a good remedy in gout & rheumatism.” This species in decoction has been found to produce “nausea, a cathartic effect & either diaphoresis or diuresis,” & is useful “as an internal remedy in piles, & externally in the form of decoction, in the affection of the skin resulting from the poisonous exhalations of certain plants.”

19. ĂMĂDITA‘TÌ=“water dipper,” because water can be sucked up through its hollow stalk—Eupatorium purpureum—Queen of the Meadow, Gravel Root: Root used in decoction with a somewhat similar plant called Ămăditá´tĭ û´tanu, or “large water dipper” (not identified) for difficult urination. Dispensatory: “Said to operate as a diuretic. Its vulgar name of gravel root indicates the popular estimation of its virtues.” The genus is described as tonic, diaphoretic, & in large doses emetic & aperient.

20. YÂNA UTSĔSTA=“the bear lies on it”—Aspidium acrostichoides—Shield Fern: Root decoction drunk to produce vomiting, & also used to rub on the skin, after scratching, for rheumatism—in both cases some other plant is added to the decoction; the warm decoction is also held in the mouth to relieve toothache.