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The Childhood
of Ji-Shi


Albert rnst Jenks





05^4 3599



Borrowers finding this book pencil-marked,
written upon, mutilated or unwarrantably defaced,
re expected to report it to the librarian


^ORK, H.Y. 10019, ... : ,

The Childhood of Ji-shib

The {Story of tl\e Hunt.


of Ji-ShiB


Albert Ernest Jenks

With Illustration; and Decorations^


.;:*. ".'r^5^*\' *>..-.:*.;'.;'


New York

Bush * Company

Chicago - Dallas

Copyright, 1900, by


, LE^OX A!


This Book is Dedicated

to Half a Dozen Groups of Little People Most of Whom are White, but
Some are Black and Some are Red Who Live in the Four States Bordering
on Lake Michigan. Their Acquaintance Has Been Not Alone One of My
Pleasantest Recreations but Also One of My Most Profitable Nature Studies.

M * -




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Words to the Reader

MEMBERS of the Ojibwa tribe of Indians are to-day most commonly
called "Chippewa." The old men of the tribe will tell you, how-
ever, that the word Chippewa is a corruption of their true tribal name
"Ojibwa." Through the efforts of Scientists this latter term is gradually
coming in use again.

Ojibwa Indians would not understand you, if you pronounced "Ji-Shiti"
as it is spelled, for they pronounce it "She-sheeb."

The World of Things does not mean to the Indian what it means to us.
It is difficult, almost impossible, for him to differentiate himself from the other,
so-called, lower animals. He and they both had the same ancestors long,
long ago.

One myth says, "Many, many Winters ago, there were many buffalo;
after four days a part of the buffalo turned to Indians."

In some things the Indian believes himself superior to the other animals,
while in many things he as truly believes himself inferior to them.

The following is a true story, that is, it is all true to the Ojibwa child,
he believes it. The story is written having constantly in mind what the
Ojibwa child believes about the events of his everyday life; the incidents are
taken directly from the common life of the tribe.


University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minn.

The Introduction

FOR ages before the White Man came, America was the home of the
Red Man; and the Red Man and his kindred lived in closer touch
with Nature than his pale-face follower dreams.

When the White Man came there were more than a thousand tribes of
Red Men in America, and they spoke about a hundred different languages,
each more unlike the others than the English is unlike the Russian. The
largest linguistic family lived about the St. Lawrence river and the Great
Lakes, and pushed over the plains southward to Tennessee, northward to
Hudson Bay, and westward to the Rocky mountains in Canada. They are
known as the Algonquian family. In early times there were many tribes and
some confederacies in this family; one of the largest tribes was the Ojibwa, or
Chippewa, whose descendants still live in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada.

Before they learned the White Man's faith, all Indians were nearly alike
in belief; they all believed in animal gods, and they all believed that the ancient
animals were larger and stronger than those now living. Some of the Red
Men believed that the world was created by a Great Ancient Muskrat; and
if asked why, they would say: "Even the little muskrat of today adds to the
world by building his house of mud and grass."

Others believed that the Great Ancient Beaver was the world-maker;
for does not his little grandson build dams and make great meadows ? So the
Red Men held the animals sacred; when they killed one they made a sacrifice
to its kind; and they imputed to all the animals, and to all things that reminded
them of animals, all sorts of mysterious powers. Among some tribes even
now, each person, and especially each warrior, is supposed to have his own
particular animal tutelary or guardian, which he calls his Totem; he believes
that this animal god aids him and protects him in all his comings and goings;
he wears or carries a symbol of this mysterious guardian as a fetish; and he
may even take the name by which the animal is known in his language.

It was partly because of their worship of animals, partly because of their
simple modes of living, that the Red Men stood so close to Nature. Their
eyes were trained to see animals of woodland and prairie, their ears were

trained to catch the sounds of the forest, and their minds were trained to
dwell on those natural sights and sounds; and when they spoke it was usually
on these simple subjects.

The lives of the simple-minded and nature-loving natives of America are
full of interest. Longfellow realized this when he wrote "Hiawatha;" so
did J. Fennimore Cooper in 'The Deerslayer" and other romances and
his knowledge of the character of the Indian was excellent. And now comes
Dr. Jenks with a story of a Red Child, in which he displays deep insight into
Indian character, and describes the Red Child as that interesting person might
have described himself in his own wigwam and to his own grandchildren in
the evening of his life. May many White Children read the story and learn
therein of our Passing Race!


Bureau of American Ethnology,
Washington, D. C.


The Contents

In Which Ji-shiB Is Born Page 15


In Which The Beaver Learns to Know An In-
dian When He Sees Him Page 26


In Which Ji-shiB Becomes A Little Medicine-
Man Page 36


In Which Ji-shiB Uses His Medicines Page 49


In Which Ji-shiB Learns How To Prepare for
War Page 58

In Which Ji-shiB Outgrows His Childhood, Page 78


Childhood of Ji-shIK

In Which Ji-shiK Is Born

TWO hundred and fifty years ago a fat little scamp
of a beaver was swimming around in Chippe-
way river in northern Wisconsin. First he swam
a few feet with his head above the water, then he
dropped his head out of sight and rested it on his
short neck and swam a little distance with only his
broad flat tail lying on the surface of the river
"looking like a mud-turtle," he said to himself.
Presently he took a long deep breath, and rising
high in the water, kicked out with all his feet and
tried to run on top of the river, but he looked like
a lame, short-eared rabbit hopping on the lawn.

This was the most fun A-mi-kons the little
beaver had ever had, for during the night
the ice had broken up in the river and
had nearly vanished by morning.

"It's all water," he said, "here in
the middle, down at the bottom,
and on top."

He dived down to the soft


l6 The Childhood of Ji-shiB

black mud at the bottom of the river and caught up
both his paws full. Next he sat down on his nice fat
tail and watched the river steal the mud out of his
paws as he held them up steal it from him and float
it away and away like a little cloud until it vanished.
But as that was the very thing he had been
doing so often all Winter long, he began to wonder
whether it really was all water, especially on the top
where he had many times bumped his head. Up he
jumped, and kicked with his feet and with his tail,
and before he knew it he had jumped himself nearly
all out of the water.

"Of course it's all water, I knew it was/' he said.
And then he lay over on his side and floated
slowly down stream lay there and floated along like
a baby on a pillow.

He opened his sharp little eyes to look around
him. With one eye he saw some tiny fishes under
him, and with the other he looked at his Great
Father, the Sun. The first thing he knew he winked

at his Father. A-mi-kons
could not explain why he
thought so, but he soon
began to feel that there was
a joke on somebody, and he
actually smiled. He slyly

The Childhood of Ji-shiS

looked up at the Sun, but the Sun was smiling too, and
maybe, yes, sir, maybe he winked at the little beaver.

The water was so soft on top, and the air above
the water so warm and gentle and fragrant that
A-mi-kons could not lie still another minute. He
shut both his eyes tight, and kicked,
and kicked.

"How fast I am going/' he said,
when suddenly bum-m-m-mmm! !

"O dear me!" A-mi-kons said half aloud, "What
is this dreadful noise? O my nose! Perhaps the
water is hard on top after all! O dear! O dear!" and
the little beaver almost cried out loud.

Just then two tears came into his closed eyes.

"A-mi-kons, let us out," they pleaded, "let us
out quick, A-mi-kons." And to please them the
good litttle beaver opened his eyes, and there, right
by his nose, was one of the posts of the great beaver
dam which his father and mother and his aunts and
uncles and everyone who lived in the beaver village
had built the Fall before. That seemed a very long
time ago, for ever since then, until that very morn-
ing, the top of the water had been hard, and the
only places he could go were just in the water, and
down at the bottom of the river to play in the mud,
and all around through the beaver house into every
room and out again.

1 8 The Childhood of Ji-shiB

Thus, thinking of the long sunless Winter which
was ended, A-mi-kons crawled up the post against
which he had bumped himself, and lay down on top

of the dam to think and feel of his nose.
Each time that A-mi-kons bumped his
nose he liked to feel of it every few min-
utes to see whether it still hurt.

My, how his nose hurt when he
touched it! As he lay there combing
the water from his fur with his hind feet
the soft sweet air whispered in his ears:
"I am Seegwung, I am the Spring."
A-mi-kons looked up and again smiled at the Sun,
and the Sun looked down on him and touched him
gently and said, "I am Seewung, I am the Spring."
A-mi-kons felt his own little heart breathe, and
soon he heard it lisping, "I am Seewung, I am the

Spring," and he touched his nose and it did not
hurt at all.

He leaned out over the edge of the post to look
at his face in the water to see whether his nose was
swollen when all at once a shadow flitted under
him, and he looked up. There, poised in the air
like a hummingbird before a flower, he saw O-gish-
ke-mun-ne-sa, the kingfisher. Suddenly the king-
fisher dropped toward the water until he was not
higher than a wild plum tree, and there he poised

The Childhood of Ji-shiti IQ

again and turned his head to one side and peered
into the water looking for little fishes. Down he
dropped again, making the water splash as he dived
into it, and caught a minnow for his breakfast. When
A-mi-kons saw that the kingfisher flew away again
and was not injured the little skeptic caught himself
saying, "Of course it's all water, I knew it was."

Just then five large swans, or some things like
swans, came around the bend of the river above him
and swam silently and swiftly toward the dam.

"Tang-g-g-gh! whshshshsh!" something
shrieked, and A-mi-kons instinctively dodged his
chubby head. Before he could say "Jack Robinson"
the post was nearly knocked from under him and he
felt himself being pulled under the water by his tail.
Presently he knew that his mother was talking to
him through her teeth, still holding his tail in her
mouth and dragging him away.

"Don't you know an Indian when you see him?"
she said.

They stopped underneath the dam
with their heads out of the water where
they might breathe and look out through
the sticks without being seen by the

One of the swans, which were really
birch-bark canoes, came toward them,


The Childhood of Ji-skiB

and an Indian in the canoe pulled his arrow out of
the post on which A-mi-kons had been lying. All
of the canoes were paddled to the shore above the

dam, and the number of Indians and
Squaws and children and dogs which
jumped on shore all at once was fright-
ful. The dogs barked and rolled and
stretched and ran about, and every one
talked and laughed all the time.

Soon they began to unload their
canoes and carry their bundles around
the end of the beaver dam below the
shallow water and the stones. Even
the little girls carried something a pet puppy, or a
small bundle wrapped up in a deer skin, or anything
that they could lug. There were a great many buffalo
robes, and moose skins, and elk skins, and packs of
warm soft beaver furs for Winter clothing. There
were in all about sixty sacks of what the Indians call
pemmican, which is dried buffalo meat torn in small
pieces, pounded fine, and packed in a bag made of
buffalo skin. After it is packed in the bag some
buffalo fat is melted and poured over the meat, and
sometimes they mix in dried huckleberries too. An
Indian prefers pemmican to almost anything else for
Winter food. It certainly is good, and the berries in it
make it taste rather like a nice Thanksgiving pudding.

The Childhood of Ji-shiS


One of the Indians took a small moose skin and
tied the four corners together, like the corners of a
handkerchief, and hung this moose-skin bag over
his arm. He reached into his canoe and took from
it half a dozen whimpering little puppies, and put
them in the bag. They were all blind yet except two,
and all of them were mostly legs. Next he stooped
down, and, fastening the packstrap over his forehead,
raised up with a heavy sack of pemmican on his
back and the puppies on his arm. They wriggled
and squirmed all the time, and A-mi-kons nearly
laughed out loud when he saw how proud and fool-
ish the mother-dog looked as she trotted along beside
the Indian, never once taking her eyes off that
squirming puppy-sack, and never once noticing
where she stepped.

* 'There is Ki-niw, the War Eagle," said A-mi-
kons' mother, pulling his ear partly to attract his
attention but mostly so that he would
not laugh aloud. "If he had shot at
you when you lay day-dreaming on
the dam, you would not be here now.
He never misses what he shoots at/'

A-mi-kons watched the Indian
whose name was War Eagle, and he
liked him, for he carried a larger
load of skins and pemmican than he

fie tar*

22 The Childhood of Ji-shiB

allowed his Squaw to carry. And doubtless he was
a good hunter too, for after all of the other Indians
had carried their packs and canoes below the dam,
Ki-niw had scarcely unloaded half of his. It must
have been almost evening before his canoe was all
unloaded, and A-mi-kons was startled from some
thoughts which little beavers always have, by hearing
an Indian down below the dam calling, "Ki-niw,
are you coming?"

When the little beaver looked, there was Ki-niw
above the dam sitting on his last load, but his Squaw
was nowhere in sight.

Ki-niw got up and walked a short distance until
he could see the other Indians below the dam in
their canoes ready to start, then he answered, "Yes."

"Where is Jin-gwak?" called back the other
Indians (Jin-gwak, meaning Pine-tree, was the name
of Ki-niw's Squaw).

"She has gone into the forest to set a partridge-
snare, I think," Ki-niw answered without a smile.

"A partridge-snare, what is that?" said the
beaver, and down he dived under the water, splash-
ing it all over his mother with his tail
as he went under. He swam up
stream and got among the rushes
r " vc V near the shore, where he looked
out and listened. Scarcely had he



The Childhood of Ji-shiff

raised his head when he heard the faintest little cry.

Then the Squaw came out of the forest and straight

down the river bank to the water's edge. There

she stooped down and opened her

arms and out of the folds of her

buckskin garments she brought a

tiny Indian baby. How rosy and

soft and beautiful it was, and how

gently the mother bathed it in the

cold fresh water as though she

thought it would break; and now

the little beaver was not afraid any

longer but wanted to touch the tiny thing with his

warm soft fur.

As the happy Squaw laid the naked baby next to
her warm mother's breast and folded it about with
her garments and started to walk away the beaver
heard her sing this pretty song:

U O my little Blue Bird,
O my little Blue Bird,
Mother knew that you would come,
Mother knew that you would come!
When the ice lets go the river,
When the wild-geese come again,
When the sugar-maple swells,
When the maple swells its buds,
Then the little blue birds come,
Then my little Blue Bird came."

24 The Childhood of Ji-shifi

The young beaver had never heard anything one
half so sweet. He had never seen anything one half
so beautiful as that little babe. He forgot that he
was a beaver, and came right out of the water and
listened and looked and trembled with joy.

As the Squaw came near Ki-niw, her husband,
she stopped singing, and said, "My husband, I have
brought you an Ojibwa warrior."

When Ki-niw heard this he arose from his seat
and turned and looked at her and went; to meet her.
Together they lifted the garments from her breast
and peeped in at the new-born babe.

"Yes, I see you have," he said. He gently
covered up the babe again, and took the Squaw's
face in his hands and kissed her. Then he stooped
down and lifted onto his own strong back both his
pack of pemmican and hers, and side by side they
started around the dam.

But Ki-niw heard a slight noise behind him,
and whirling around saw the little beaver
almost at his feet. "Tang! whist 1"
hissed his arrow.

As A-mi-kons walked after the
Squaw he was humming to himself:

"O my little Blue Bird,
O my little Blue Bird,
Mother knew that you would come,

The Childhood of Ji-shiK 25

Mother knew that you would come!
When the ice lets go the river,
When the wild-geese come again,
When the sugar-maple swells/

and he scarcely heard the hissing of Ki-niw's arrow,
but suddenly he felt sick. It grew dark, he could
scarcely breathe; he thought that he had fainted, or
anyway he must be asleep.

But it grew light again, and oh, his Father, the
Sun, was so warm and close to him, and the beaver
hummed with perfect joy this little song:

"When the sugar-maple swells,
Then the little blue birds come,
Yes, my little Blue Bird,
I have come, A-mi-kons has come.

Over and over again for days he
softly sang to himself this song, and
when finally he awoke he found that
his warm soft fur was touching the
Indian baby. Presently the Squaw
came and took them both in her
arms and kissed the baby and stroked
with her hand the little beaver's fur.

Thus the beaver had become the
companion of the little babe whose
name was soon to be Ji-shiB.


In Which The Beaver Learns To Know An
Indian When He Sees Him

A3 the days and moons flew by into the past the
little Blue Bird grew rapidly.
One day A-mi-kons tried to think of all the
things which had happened since he fell asleep,
and since he awoke.

And then it came back to him, as though from
a dream, how they went below the dam, he and the
Blue Bird and the Squaw and Ki-niw, and how
they floated down Chippeway river in their birch-
bark canoe; and how they stopped on shore at
night, and Ki-niw helped his Squaw build her
wigwam, while the other Indians sat around and
smoked and left their Squaws to work alone; and
he remembered too that all of the Indians and
Squaws and children came into the wigwam that
night and sat around the fire and smoked a pipe.
Every one ate some venison and ducks which
Ki-niw had shot that day along the river, and each
one had to eat all that was placed before him.

Afterwards they were all
silent until an old Indian
thanked the Good Spirits
for their successful Winter-


The Childhood of Ji-shiK 2?

hunt, which the canoe loads showed had been very
good. Soon the old Indian spoke to little Blue Bird
(just as though he could understand) and told him
that he must be a good baby, so that he would be a
good man. He must become a skillful hunter like
Ki-niw, his father. He must become a great warrior
such as his grandfather and father were. Then they
were all silent and smoked again until the oldest
Indian in the wigwam gave a name to Blue Bird, say-
ing, "His name shall be Ji-shib," the Duck; and so it
was but A-mi-kons and the Squaw always thought
of him and always called him little "Blue Bird."

The beaver laughed when he remembered that
the Blue Bird just lay still and slept all that first even-
ing while the people were in the wigwam and while
they talked and smoked; but Ki-niw and the Squaw
were there and some day they would tell him all.

A-mi-kons knew all this for he was wrapped
around the Blue Bird and his soft fur touched the
baby and kept him warm.

As he thought of all these things he remem-
bered about winking at the Sun and bumping his
nose and splashing water on his mother with his tail.
Instinctively he tried to wriggle his tail again, and
then for the first time he noticed that it was gone.

"But what good is a beaver's tail anyway?" he
said with beaver-like philosophy. >f Of course it is

28 The Childhood of Ji-shiK

nice to sit on when you are tired. It is good to
splash water with, and it is good to spank down the
mud with when you are building the dam, but that
is all. It is not pretty; in fact it is plain-looking. It
would not help to keep the baby warm, for it has
no fur on and is all covered with scales. A beaver
likes his tail because it is his, and he always takes
it with him. I really do not believe that a beaver
ever would cut off his own tail, but yet," said the
beaver-philosopher, ff l would rather have my little
Blue Bird than a string of tails."

A-mi-kons also remembered that they floated
farther and farther down the Chippeway river until
they came to an orchard of sugar-maples, where
they stopped for one whole month while the Squaws
made maple-sugar. And when the leaves began to

peep out on the trees the Indians took
*<> ^ down their wigwams and packed their
\ canoes with pemmican and furs and
'^ sugar, and floated on and on down the
if river. By and by they stopped and un-
l loaded their canoes again. They carried
^ all the things on their backs through
fc the forest and across a beautiful green
meadow, and there in a small creek they
again packed them in their canoes and
started on. Soon the creek got wider

The Childhood of Ji-shiB

and wider still, when all at once their canoes glided
out on a shining lake with a name so long that the
beaver could not pronounce it.

It was a beautiful large lake with forests of pine
holding it in, and all along the shore there were
now and then white-barked trees of the canoe-
birch, which looked like cracks of sunlight among
the dark green pines. Two arms of the pine-
covered shore reached out toward the middle of
the lake and nearly took hold of hands, but yet
the lake stole through between their finger-tips,
so that, in all except the driest weeks of the Sum-
mer, the light-running canoes glided smoothly
over the pebbly bottom from one part of the lake
to the other.

Ji-shilS lived with his father and mother and
grandparents on the east shore of the lake. All
around them were other wigwams, for in the Sum-
mer a large village was built up there, although in
the Autumn the place was nearly deserted, groups


The Childhood of Ji-shif)

of four or five wigwams going away together to
hunt buffalo and moose and beaver during the
Winter months.

The moon of Flowers, which
we call the month of May, was
far along before Ji-shib's mother
had her Summer wigwam built,
and every one had seen every one
else, and learned who had died,
and who had been born since the
village broke up at the beginning
of Winter.

During all of the Summer-
time little Ji-shib was the pet of
the wigwam. At first he lay among the soft furs
at the farther side of the wigwam and slept. Each
forenoon and afternoon his mother or grandmother
tied him into his board cradle for an hour or so,
and there he slept just the same. Sometimes strings
of buckskin were fastened to both ends of his
cradle, and it was hung up across the wigwam
where the puppies could not get tangled up with
the baby, and where he could swing and swing.

In the Fall of the year he used sometimes to
cry if they forgot to tie him in his cradle, for that
was such a nice place to sleep, all tucked and tied
in so that he could not roll off and wake himself up;

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