Project Canterbury

 The Red Indians of the Plains
Thirty Years' Missionary Experience in the Saskatchewan
by the Rev. John Hines

London: SPCK, 1919.

Chapter VI. The Cree Language, Customs, etc.

PERHAPS this book would not be considered complete without some slight reference to the Indian language, especially that which is spoken by the Cree Indians. This Indian language is very expressive, though there are certain words in English for which there is no equivalent in the Cree tongue, the words "Thank you" being one phrase; but it must not be taken as indicative of their ingratitude. The nearest way they have of expressing their thanks is by saying "Tap-wa Kit-ut-tume-hin" (Truly you have pleased me), but to the English mind this does not convey the idea of returning thanks; they simply state that they are pleased with what you have done for them. The expression is altogether too passive to be appreciated by one who does not understand the mind of the Indian. After they have learned English they become very profuse with their "Tanke, tanke," "th," being a sound not in the Plain Cree, the Indians find it difficult to acquire. The reason why the Indians have no expression equivalent to "Thank you" in English is because they do not expect to be thanked for anything they do spontaneously for another. For instance, when an Indian returns home from a successful hunt he at once begins to think of the poor around him, and he instructs his wife to cut off certain pieces of the meat he has brought home, and then either he or she will distribute them among those for whom they are intended, and on entering a house will say: "How! oma-Ke-pa-me-ye-ten" (See, I have brought you this), and the recipient will reply: "Tap-wa-Kit-ut-tume-hin" (Truly you have pleased me). The feeling among them is this: when a person does anything for another without having been importuned by the one for whom the act is performed, the doer, or giver, as the case may be, having acted on his own initiative, he did according to his own pleasure, and having done it to please himself, he has received his reward. They appear therefore to be actuated by the principle that "It is more blessed to give than to receive"--a lesson many a professing Christian has never learned, though it is a principle taught by Christ and inculcated by St. Paul. When, however, a person supplicates another and receives what he asks for, then the supplicant feels under an obligation to express his pleasure in a more profuse way, because in this instance the giver did not act on his own initiative, and therefore was deprived of the pleasure of so doing. Still, as I have said, they have no single word in their language equivalent to thanks. Of course the way is open for them to show their appreciation of a favour by returning one, which in some cases is done, but when they carry out the Saviour's injunction in Luke xiv. 13-14, it is not. I have heard people say how dreadfully long the words are in the Cree language, and the reason for this is: the Indians are adepts at compounding words, and some of these long strings of syllables stand for a whole sentence in English, and not expressing only the name of the thing, etc., but will at the same time tell its use, and the kind of material of which it is made. Take this as an example: "Too-too-sah-poi-oo-pi-me-oo-se-che-kun-a-tik," which in English is expressed by the short word, churn; but churn is rather indefinite, as the word churn, standing alone, may be either a noun or a verb, and if meant as a noun may be used for a variety of purposes, and may be made of iron, wood or earthenware, but there is no room left for doubt as to what is meant in the Cree word as written above. Now I will write the words separately that are used in compounding this one long word. "Too-too-sah-poi" (milk), "oo" (his), "pi-me" (grease), "oo't" (his), "ah-pu-che-che-Kun" (instrument), "mistik" (wood). The "t" is added for the sake of euphony when followed by a vowel. The first four words, you will notice, are unchanged except for the "t," but the last two are slightly changed, for, instead of "ah-pu-che-che-Kun," "oot" is followed by "se-che-Kun," and this is followed by "ah-tik" instead of "mis-tik." These changes make the compound word sound more euphonious and easily pronounced. The reader will have noticed that the words in the sentence are just the opposite to the way we should put them in English. The Indian says: "Milk his grease, his instrument is wood," which really means a wooden instrument for extracting butter from milk.

"Mut-choos-ta-wa-pin-num-mook," imperative, expresses the phrase: "Cast them into the fire," "Ka oo-Kis-Kun-no-hum-mo-wa-kun-im-im-mit-uk-ook" (Ye shall be My disciples).

In giving names to places their method of compounding words is greatly in evidence; take, for instance, Saskatchewan. This is an Indian word slightly corrupted; the proper way of writing the word in Cree is Kis-sas-Kat-che-wan, which means "rapid-flowing stream."

"Wu-pas-Kwa-yak." Here is another instance. This is the Indian name given to a place in the lower reaches of the Saskatchewan, and it means a strait or narrows passing between two points of land covered with wood. Here, for once at least, the Indian scores one against us for brevity of expression.

The Indians had no written language till the advent of missionaries among them: they, however, sometimes drew a rude picture of an animal with a piece of charcoal on a piece of birch bark. This they would tie to a stake on the banks of a river near the water's edge to notify any of their friends who might by chance pass that way that the animal they had drawn had been killed by them, and that the meat was still lying in the bush, and the passers-by would understand from this, if they were in need of food, they could help themselves. In spite of these unwieldy words which we have just been considering, it will be a surprise to many to hear that the Indian language possesses an unwritten grammar, with declensions and conjugations as perfect as any of the civilised languages of the present day: and if anyone would like to see the flexibility and scope of the Cree verb, I recommend for their perusal Archdeacon Hunter's book on the Cree verb (S.P.C.K.). The adjectives agree with their nouns in number, case, and gender in fact, the whole language is so constructed that each part of a sentence dovetails into the other, and a native cannot use his own tongue ungrammatically without noticing the mistake, and hence it is that the Indian children, as their vocabulary becomes enlarged, speak freely without making grammatical blunders. The Indian language, however, can only boast of two genders, masculine and neuter--or rather animate and inanimate--the feminine being referred to as "he." This is very noticeable among the illiterate half-breeds and Indians who have learned to speak English imperfectly. David, my faithful old friend and co-worker, whose English was very imperfect, used frequently to make this mistake. He knew there was a distinction but was not sure how it came in, and often when speaking to my wife about me he used to refer to me as "she," and when speaking to me about my wife he referred to her as "he," and until one had become familiar with his mistake it was often difficult to follow him in his discourse.

The Indians' method of expressing preference is very similar to that of the ancients, e.g. "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." This seems to contradict the character of God, as revealed in the New Testament, for there we are told God hateth no man, but the phrase is one of preference only. God preferred Jacob to Esau. Now, if you were speaking to an Indian who had two children, and you asked him which he liked the better--if he had a preference--he would say, pointing to one "Owa-ne-sa-Ke-how" (this one I love); then, pointing to the other, he would say: "Owa-ne-puk-wa-tow" (this one I hate); not that the parent really hated the latter as we understand the meaning of the word hate, but that he preferred one before the other.

Again, their method of reckoning time is very similar to that which we find in the New Testament; take, for instance, the time our Saviour was in the grave. It is spoken of as three days, yet in reality, it is not more than two nights and one day; but the length of time during which He was buried linked the first and third days together, and just so do the Indians measure time. In speaking of an event that is past they include the day when the event took place, and the day when they were speaking about it. Here is an example: Supposing an Indian left home on a Monday evening, and you asked his wife on a Wednesday morning how long it was since her husband went off, she would say: "Akwa-nisto-Ke-se-Kow-us-pin Ka sip-wa-tat" (It is now three days since he went off).

The readers will associate this account of the Indian mode of expressing preference and calculating time with what I have said about the home of their ancestors, and form their own conclusions as to whether or no the Indians of North-West Canada had any connection with the people of the East.

The Indians name their children, not necessarily after themselves, but more frequently from some personal mark on their features or some other characteristic, or, perhaps, from some event, celestial or terrestrial, that happened about the time of their birth. I had Indians at Sandy Lake named after the particular shape of their noses, such as "Broken Nose," "Crooked Nose," "Goose Nose," and "Bay Nose." We should regard them as offensive nicknames, but not so the Indians, for they are a matter-of-fact people, and see no reason for taking umbrage at the truth. Very often the name of the child would be changed as it grew up, especially if it developed some characteristic, be it good or bad, cleverness or stupidity. One child, as he grew up, developed very plain features even for an Indian, and he received the name "Ma-ya-tis" (Ugly), and he is known by that name at the present time, and is more proud of it than otherwise. The first man I baptised, of whom I shall have much to say by and by, had his name given to him when a child. His dear old mother told me that when he was a little boy he was very fond of playing hide-and-seek with her, concealing himself in all sorts of places in the tent, and then suddenly reappearing, and so she called him "Ka-Kasoo" (the hider), and as this name was not in any way offensive, he retained it for his surname when he was baptised. One man, owing to his great appetite, acquired the name of "A-ya-mus-kin" (glutton), which among ourselves would be considered offensive. The chief "Mis-to-wa-sis" (Big Child)--why so called I do not know, because he was a very little man, and if big for his age when young he must have stopped growing when quite a youth--had another name among the Indians of the prairie; with them he was known as "Pe-wa-pisk-Moos-toos" (the Iron Buffalo), from the fact that when following hard after a band of buffalo his horse stumbled and threw him on to the horns of a buffalo bull, which proceeded to throw him up into the air, but he eventually escaped without having sustained any great injury, and when his friends discovered that he was alive and unhurt they gave him the name of "Iron Buffalo."

Chief Star Blanket, the one I have already mentioned, also possessed a dual name j his first was given to him when a child from the fact that his mother dressed him in a blanket which was ornamented with stars; his second name, "Mis-se Min-na-hik" (Big Pine), was given to him on account of his size and strength; the latter he displayed in carrying heavy toads across the portages when in company with the voyagers who used to fetch the H. B. Company's freight from York factory on the coast of Hudson's Bay for the interior post.

There are a few more Indian customs I should like to write about before returning again to the subject of my own work among them.

Polygamy was very much in vogue among the plain Indians during the buffalo period, and the cause for this is not difficult to understand. In the patriarchal days the only way they had of showing their wealth was by the increase of their flocks and herds, and the necessary servants to look after them, and the tent life in which they passed their days not being suited for keeping a staff of domestics, for convenience sake, and for the sake of propriety, the lord of the tents took to himself more wives, which gave the women greater freedom in the tent than they otherwise could have enjoyed. Now the Indian in the days when the buffalo were plentiful was similarly situated, and in order to become a successful and prosperous hunter he required to have a number of horses and carts, and the more of these he possessed the more help he required in the shape of young men to chase the buffalo and women to dress the robes, etc., and preserve the meat in the way that has already been explained; and as it was more convenient and more remunerative for a man to be able to carry on his business by members of his own family than by hired help, he took unto himself two or more wives, and reared his own hunters in his own tent. But when the buffalo began to get scarce, and the Indian found it as much as he could do to feed a small family, the practice of having more than one wife at a time began to die out, and at the time I entered upon my missionary career comparatively few of the Indians had more than one wife.

The custom of acquiring wives among the Indians was rather peculiar; of courtship there was little or practically none, and it frequently happened that a woman did not know twenty-four hours before she was declared to be the wife of an Indian that she was likely to be his wife. If an Indian saw a woman that was pleasing to his eye, and in other respects apparently suited to make him a wife, he would speak to her father about her, but more frequently to her elder brother, if she had one, and promise him a horse, or perhaps two, if he would intercede for him with his sister, and if the father or brother was in need of a horse or two, the suitor's claim would be speedily assured, and the girl would be notified of the fact. Girls in those days had practically no say in such matters, they were parted with by their relations as though they were of no more consequence than a horse or an inferior animal. As marriages were thus lightly contracted they were easily dissolved, for as soon as a man became dissatisfied with his wife he put her away, and she was free to marry again. I am sorry to say that this method of giving and receiving daughters in marriage prevails to too great an extent at the present time, even among Indians and half-breeds, who ought, owing to their education and Christian training, to know better; but I am glad to say I have met with young Indian maidens who considered themselves too important to be consigned to a man without their consent, and by asserting their will avoided an unhappy union. I have had many a time to explain to certain of the shallow-minded Indians the different position they are in now with regard to marriage from what they were before embracing Christianity. Then a man put away his wife for any imaginary cause, and no law among themselves could prevent it; but now the law is binding as "long as both shall live." I remember a woman who lived with an Indian at Sandy Lake. Her husband was very far gone in consumption, and knowing that he was not likely to live very long, she refused to be lawfully married to him, although they were both, baptised, because she was under the impression she would not be allowed to marry again after his death; so I read and explained to her Rom. vii. 2-3, and then they were lawfully married.

In the days long since past, chiefs and other important Indians were very particular as to whom their daughters married, especially if she was an only daughter. There is a very pretty story told--and it is said to be historic--about a chief, his daughter, and her lover, and I hope it will not be considered too long to be repeated here. It is to this effect. A very great chief, who lived some generations ago, possessed an only daughter, of whom he was very fond; the girl was both good looking and clever, and excelled in the Indian arts; she could preserve meat, and cook it well, make the buffalo hides into leather and robes, and she was Skilled in bead and porcupine quill work; in short, she was a thoroughly accomplished Indian maiden, and in consequence of all these virtues she had many suitors from among the braves. But there was only one she really cared for, but he had not distinguished himself in any particular way, so this young man, in spite of his nonentity, emboldened only by the sentiments of true affection, ventured to approach the chief and ask for his daughter. The old man said it was against the principles of a chief to give his daughter in marriage to one who had not distinguished himself in battle for his skill and bravery, but as his daughter and he appeared really to love each other, he would only place this barrier in the way of their coming together, and if he for his part fulfilled the agreement, he, the chief, would give his consent to the marriage. He then told the young man to make a journey, alone, into their enemy's country and bring back with him a stipulated number of scalps taken by his own hand, and on his return, if successful, he should marry his daughter. The young man, having considered the chief's conditions, thought very little of the risk to his own life, knowing that life meant nothing to him apart from the woman he loved, so he determined to face the risks, and being encouraged by the maiden, and receiving an affectionate embrace, he started on his perilous journey.

That the reader may understand what those risks were it is necessary for him to be told the method to be adopted by the lover in order to get possession of the scalps. First, then, be it understood, there were no guns in use among the Indians at that period; the only weapons they possessed, both for attack and defence, were a bow and arrow, a tomahawk with a stone head, pointed at both ends, a knife-like instrument for removing the scalp, and a shield made from the raw hide of the buffalo, so that warfare in those days was carried on at close quarters. Now, being single-handed, it was not likely that he would attempt to raise the ire of a whole band, and encounter their combined skill and strength, so what he had to do was to resort to stratagem by concealment, and having located a band, lie in wait for stray members, so that he would not be opposed by more than one, or at most two, at a time. Now it may not be uninteresting if I describe what is meant by a scalp, and how it was obtained. The custom among the Indians from time immemorial was for the men to wear long hair just like a. woman--in fact, the longer the hair the more it was prized--and they parted it down the middle, and the hair on either side of the head was braided into a large plait which hung down over the front of their shoulders, and the hair that grew on the back of their head was braided into one large plait, and this hung down the back; this was called the scalp plait, which was so much coveted by their enemy.

In order to get possession of this the owner had to be overcome--not necessarily killed, but knocked down and stunned--and whilst lying in an insensible condition his adversary would rush up, and, seizing the scalp plait in one hand, he would run the point of his knife-like instrument round the back of his head, cutting through the skin, and hen, by a sudden jerk, he would pull the plait from the head with the skin attached. The hair was then tucked under the belt of the victor, and he continued on the warpath; and, as it is understood that no Indian would submit to being scalped without making a desperate effort of resistance, there was great risk of losing one's life in attempting to procure a scalp. This risk the hero of this story had to run, and his risk was increased by the number of scalps he set himself to capture. Having carried out his plan successfully, and having procured the number of scalps asked for by the chief, he commenced his return journey after an absence of some months. When he arrived at the place where the chief was camped when he last saw him, he found he had pitched off to a place several miles further up the river, but being able to borrow a birch bark canoe from another Indian, he started paddling up stream in search of the camp. The day was well advanced when he began the journey, and night came on before he had paddled many miles, but as neither darkness nor fatigue seemed to affect him on this occasion, he continued paddling on. About midnight he came to a part of the river which was bordered on both sides by tall trees, and the darkness became intense, and whilst enveloped in this intense gloom he heard a voice calling from out of the woods, and he stopped paddling and called out, "O-wan-na ka tap-wat" (Who calls?), but as no further sound reached him he began to paddle again; but no sooner was this done than the voice called to him again, and this time the voice seemed to resemble that of his intended. He put ashore and inquired with vehemence who it was, and what was wanted; but, alas, no further sound was forthcoming, and after three such interruptions he continued his journey in silence. At daybreak he reached the end of his journey, and having secured his canoe to a tree, he ascended the banks of the river, and on reaching the top he saw the tents in the distance. As he approached the encampment he heard the sound of weeping, and as he got nearer he saw signs of mourning around the chief's tent, and for the first time since he started on his hazardous journey his heart felt faint. Still, he went on, and having reached the tent went in and this is what he saw. The chief and his wife were sitting there with their hair hanging loosely about their shoulders (a sign of mourning among the heathen Indians), and around the tent sat relations and friends "weeping with those that wept." On one side of the tent a buffalo robe hung suspended from the tent poles, screening off a portion of the tent, and in that portion screened off was lying the remains of some one, but who he could not say. Squatting himself down in the tent he remained silent a few minutes, as is the custom in the presence of death, and then he rose and going over to the chief shook hands with him and presented the tail of scalps, and asked for his daughter. After the salutations the old man, unable to speak for emotion, pointed to the screen, and then the young man knew the worst. After giving way to violent weeping, in which all present joined, he asked the chief what time his loved one ceased to breathe, and if at any time during her last hours she showed signs of remembering him. The chief answered: "Last night just as the moon rose her spirit left her, and just before she died she mentioned your name three times, and called for you to come quickly to her." The young man then related his experiences on the river--how he had heard the voice call to him three times--and then it was understood by all that her spirit had taken up its abode in the woods until the time came for it to enter the spirit world, which would take place after the body was buried. The brave young hero then shook hands with the chief and friends, lifted the screen and planted a kiss on the forehead of his loved one, then, descending the banks of the river, entered his canoe and paddled back to the place where he heard the voice calling to him, and committed suicide by drowning--that his spirit might accompany the spirit of the departed into the spirit world.

Many people have thought that the Red Indian is a very unemotional sort of being, and that he receives pleasure and pain with the same stoical indifference, but there are very fine exceptions among them. In commemoration of this event, so the story runs, the Indians changed the name of the river, and called it "O-wa-na-ka tap-wat oo-se-pe" (Who Calls River), literally "The river of one who calls." Then when the French traders, who were, I believe, the first white people to commence business in that part of "the great lone land," had entered the country, finding this name too difficult for them to pronounce, they inquired the meaning of the word. Having learned this, and not wishing to change the meaning, they gave it its equivalent in French, and called it "Qu'appelle" river. Qu'appelle in French means "who calls?" This name is known far and wide at the I present time, for, apart from the river, there is a station on the C.P.R. called Qu'appelle station, and there is a diocese called Qu'appelle, with a bishop who bears the same name; and when any one, after reading this historic story, speaks of either the district, the diocese or its bishop, perhaps their thoughts will go back across the ages; but more especially will they think of the hero of this imperfectly told story, and in thinking of him will express a hope that both he and his beloved are resting at peace somewhere in the keeping of the Great Father of Spirits, with whom we are; told do live all the spirits of the just. '

Sailing into the cloud land, sailing into the Sun, Into the crimson portals ajar when life is done? O! dear dead race, my spirit too, Would fain sail westward unto you.

(From "Flint and Feather," by Teka-hi-on-wa-ke, the Indian poetess.) There is one more Indian custom I would mention, though I believe it is rapidly dying out; but perhaps, as the Indians become more and more civilised and adopt the white man's customs, they will have cause to regret it; that is, if there be any truth in the eccentricities attributed to the proverbial mother-in-law. It was the custom among the Indians in the days gone by, for a son-in-law and mother-in-law never to speak to each other, and the same custom applied to the daughter-in-law and her father-in-law; not that there was any unkind feeling towards each other--on the contrary, it was a form of etiquette, a method of showing their mutual respect. The general word used by them when speaking of each other was "Ne-mu-na-che-ma-kun" (The one whom I spare). If, as I have said, English relationship of a similar kind is sometimes as troublesome as reported, would it not be well for the peace of such families if they took a leaf from the red man's book and spared each other's feelings by mutual silence! I cannot help thinking that the Indian carried this mark of respect too far. The first time I had an opportunity of seeing it in operation was in the winter of 1875, whilst I was living at White Fish Lake, when an Indian, the eldest son of the old impostor, came to see me about some member of his family who was ill at the time. David and I accompanied him home, and as we. were going along we saw an old Indian woman coming towards us from the direction we were going, and owing to her advanced age, she looked more like an animated bundle of blankets than anything else. The Indian saw who it was at once, and in an instant left the trail and hid himself in the bush, and there he remained until the old woman had passed and was nearly out of sight. David, knowing something of this custom, though at that time it was rather antiquated with him, began to joke the man about his actions when he caught us up, and asked him why he fled into the bush so suddenly, and the man replied, "That was my Mu-na-che-ma-kun" (my mother-in-law) and therefore unbecoming of me to pass near to her on the trail." I have often been in an Indian's house when he returned from some distant place and was the bearer of a message for his mother-in-law, and I have heard him deliver this message to his wife in an audible tone, and the old mother-in-law, sitting on the other side of the room could hear all that was said, but appeared to be taking no notice, and then when the message had been delivered to his wife, she would turn to her mother and say "Ne-ka" (My mother), and the old lady would reply, "Mah! ka-kwi Ne Tan-nis?" (Behold! what is it, my daughter?), meaning that she was all attention. The daughter then repeated the message over again direct to her mother, and after hearing the news through her daughter, if it occurred to the old lady to ask a question, she did so through her daughter, who repeated it to her husband, and so this roundabout way of carrying on the conversation continued until the old lady's curiosity was satisfied. It occurs to my mind that there are two or three more Indian customs I ought to relate, before passing on to the story of my life's work. I will begin by speaking about a law the Indians made for themselves to regulate the method for attacking a herd of buffalo. It is evident that if any single person could begin the attack when he liked there would be the same rivalry that existed among the fur traders referred to on a previous page, as every man would be trying to steal a march on the others, and this would spoil the success of the whole band, for, as soon as one man exposed himself and began the chase, the whole herd of buffalo would at once begin their stampede, and would probably not stop again until they had put thirty or forty miles between themselves and the band of Indians, their pursuers. So the law they made was this. When a herd of buffalo had been sighted, the band of Indians would search for a secluded spot for the purpose of pitching their tents. Then the chief of the party, after consulting his leading men, would name the time for assembling. This would be indicated by the position of the sun in the heavens. In the meantime, every one made the best preparations he could for the chase; his weapons and ammunition would be attended to, so that nothing should be lacking or out of order, and above all, the best horses would be saddled and held in readiness, so that when the exclamation "Akwa, akwa!" (Now, now!) was heard, all the horsemen would mount their steeds and the charge would be made simultaneously. The hunters would be followed with horses and carts accompanied by a noble army of butchers! Once the word was given to start, every man became a law unto himself, he could resort to any methods he liked to get near the buffalo, and was not under any obligation to discontinue the chase, and he only stopped when his horse became exhausted. One thing appeared to me as very remarkable as it proved beyond a doubt the Indian's powers of discernment. If a band was of ordinary size, there would be perhaps twenty horsemen chasing the buffalo at the same time, and each one firing and dropping his animal as they continued the chase. Sometimes if a hunter had a good mount, he would kill six or eight animals before his horse gave out, and these would be lying in different parts of the prairie from a few hundred yards to a mile or more apart, and besides his own animals there would be dozens of others lying about in all directions, yet in spite of this confusion each man would go back and conduct his party with the carts to the very animals he had shot down! In the excitement of the chase one would have thought it impossible for anyone to distinguish one animal from another, as all were of the same colour, but each Indian made a mental note of the exact place the arrow or bullet pierced the animal that caused its death, as well as the condition of the ground where it fell; and all this he did as he went galloping along, loading and firing at the same time. Now, if any man dared to steal off and begin the chase on his own account, the law of the land was that all his carts, harness and tents should be taken from him, and burnt before his eyes. Perhaps some will be inclined to think the penalty was out of proportion to the offence, but it is only ignorance of the facts that would lead them to think so. Take for instance a band of forty or fifty families all going out together to make what was called their "Fall hunt," that is, the final hunt before winter set in. Every one of these families would be hoping to procure sufficient meat, etc., to carry them through the winter without having to return to the plains and expose themselves to the cold biting winds that swept the prairies during the winter months, but if, through the inconsiderate act of one ambitious hunter, all their hopes were frustrated, it meant that all these families would experience very severe hardships during the winter. The Indians knowing this, they made a law that was likely to prevent such inconsiderate acts. Some one may ask, "Was this law ever put into action?" I have been informed by eye-witnesses that it has been, and with good effect!

I have, I think, spoken of the Indians' fear of darkness. It was thought by them that the spirits moved about under the cover of night, and so in order to keep them away, or to distract their attention from such gloomy thoughts, they congregated in certain tents every evening, about sunset, and commenced singing and beating the drum, making a most hideous noise, and this they kept up until daybreak the next morning, when they felt safe in going to sleep; and as they seldom had urgent business to attend to, they did not get up till the day was far advanced.

I remember on one occasion, I think it was my third year at Sandy Lake, a number of Indians were camped about one hundred yards from my house, when about noon we were alarmed by the firing of guns and the crying of women and children, and going over to ascertain the cause of the excitement, in breathless silence they pointed to the sun, and looking up I saw it was undergoing an eclipse, and having asked what that had to do with their shooting, etc., I was told that the women and children were afraid the spirits would steal the sun from the heavens, and so the men were shooting at the sun to frighten the spirits away; another proof of the truth of what I have already said, that the Indians regarded anything, whether in heaven or on the earth, that was beyond their comprehension, as associated in some way or other with spirits.

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