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41. Characteristics. The American aborigine is commonly called the "red man "but he is not really red; the color of his skin resembles dark copper. He has long, coarse, black hair; small, dark eyes; high cheek bones; and is likely to be rather tall and thin. He walks quickly and cautiously, like a wild animal. Wearing his moccasins, he can step so carefully upon the dry twigs and branches of the forest that he makes no more noise than he would if crawling through grass.
In the early days, the Indian was trained from childhood to know intimately the habits of birds and animals, so that he might be successful in hunting and fishing; but especially did he learn how to fight and defend himself against his enemies.
He was polite and hospitable to his friends; but he was merciless to his enemies, and he used to believe that no cruelty was too severe for a captive.1 In council, or when strangers were present, he was dignified and reserved, being too proud to show curiosity or emotion; but around his own fire he was much given to rude talk, joking, and loud laughter.
When living in the wilderness the Indian protected his family from enemies and hunted and fished for their benefit. But when he was neither fighting nor seeking food his life was one of idleness; for all other work fell to his squaws (the women), who built the wigwam, cultivated his small crops, hauled firewood and water, cooked the meals, cared for the wigwam and the children, and, when the tribe was on the march to other hunting-grounds, carried the wigwam and all the other family possessions. Yet women had much power over the councils of the tribe, and they owned both the wigwams and the children.
42. Religion. The Indian supposed that earth, air, sky, and water contain both good and bad spirits, called "mani
1 When, however, as not seldom happened, he took a fancy to his captive and adopted him as a son or brother, to take the place of one that had been killed, the prisoner was kindly treated.
tos," and that these controlled all of his affairs. He thought that the smaller manitos are directed by a "great spirit," who looks after all mankind. In order to please these imaginary manitos and their great spirit, he made sacrifices of food, tobacco, or other articles; and for the same purpose he held dances, feasts, and fasts in their honor.
43. Mounds. Long before the white men came, a few tribes, especially in our North Central States, had a curious custom of erecting large mounds of earth, some of which must have taken years to build. Most of these mounds were round, and were used as burial places; but many others were made in the shapes of birds, beasts, and reptiles, the supposed spirits of which were held in great veneration by the natives; and some were walls for protection against
enemies. At many places these old mounds can still plainly be seen.1
44. Villages and houses. The Indians often built several villages quite near together; these were either in the dense woods or on widespreading prairies, and usually
by the shores of lakes and rivers. Hundreds of our American towns are upon sites first occupied by Indian villages, and many still bear their aboriginal names.2 But for the most
AN INDIAN VILLAGE
The palisade, ten or twelve feet high, incloses numerous cabins (wigwams). Within the inclosure, also, is a water supply and a place for a fire. The outside fields of corn and tobacco are held in common. The
circle of posts surrounding the cabin in the foreground is the scene of
1 Thousands of them may be found throughout the Mississippi Basin, especially along the banks of rivers and lakes. Some of the largest are at Moundsville, West Virginia, and Cahokia, Illinois. Ohio and Wisconsin are noted for their fine "effigies" that is, mounds in the shape of animals, etc.
2 Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Oklahoma City, Topeka, Chicago, Milwaukee
part, the great North American wilderness was unoccupied by permanent dwellings; and over its wide, empty spaces the warriors roamed, hunted, and fought.
An Indian's house was generally a portable tent or hut, called "wigwam,' tepee," or "lodge," made of slender poles placed in a circle, with their points tied together at the top. This frame was covered with skins of animals, rush-mats, or sheets of the bark of certain trees. Some tribes had "long houses" built of heavy straight poles, covered with layers of bark. Such a dwelling would accommodate several families, each of which would gather around its own fire.
45. Food, tools, and clothing. At most of the villages east of the Mississippi, the savages cultivated fields of corn, pumpkins, squashes, beans, watermelons, and sunflowers, the seed of these last being used as food; and in some regions tobacco was grown for smoking. They ate also wild fruits, nuts, edible roots, and wild rice; and the wilderness supplied them plentifully with game and fish.
They made arrowheads, spearheads, axes, knives, and other tools and weapons from stone and copper; they also moulded rude pottery, and wove baskets and mats from rushes and tall grasses. The Indian canoe, made either from the bark of birch or elm, was a light and handsome boat; but some of their boats were logs hollowed out by the use of fire.1
Such clothing as they needed was made mostly from skins* of wild animals. Wampum, or strings of beads made from
Oshkosh, Kalamazoo, Saginaw, Kankakee, Chattanooga, Poughkeepsie, and Pawtucket are examples.
1 The whites called a canoe of this latter kind a "dugout."