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Henry Beebee Carrington.

The Dacotah tribes : their beliefs : and our duty to them outlined online

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BANCROFT
LIBRARY

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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA






THE



DACOTAH TRIBES,



THEIR BELIEFS, AND OUR DOTY TO THEM OUTLINED,



BY

HENRY B. CARRINGTON,
COLONEL U. S. A.



SALEM, MASS:

PRINTED AT THE SALEM PRESS.

1881.



THE



DACOTAH TRIBES,



THEIR BELIEFS, AND OUR DUT;Y TO THEM OUTLINED,



HENRY BTCARRINGTON, , I ?
COLONEL U. S. A.



SALEM, MASS:

PRINTED AT THE SALEM PRESS.

1881.



5 ^"7

...OFT
LIBRARY



[From the PROCEEDINGS OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT
OF SCIENCE, Vol. XXIX, Boston Meeting, August, 180.]



THE DACOTAH TRIBES : THEIR BELIEFS, AND OUR DUTY TO THEM
OUTLINED. By HENRY B. CARRINGTON, Colonel U. S. A.

THE pulse of our quick life will brook no check. In the rage
for gold, the white man has held for nought the red man's rights.
How to get all he has and then get rid of him, at the first chance,
and be glad when he is gone, is the sum which we count up, as
fast as we can, to kill his race.

I wish to tell some things which will give him grace at your
hands. I do not tell where he came from, but as he is a man, he
has value, and if the brain force which is here can plan good for
the live red man and let him live, it will be worth as much as to
read what stones and coals say of the dead past. I will not try to
work out the fact as to how he came to be. You who strive to get
at the first start of each old race can do that. He is here, and I
speak for him.

I felt a strange thrill of zeal for him when Irwakura, the chief
of the Japan Legation which visited this country, stated, that u he
asked that his train might stop at Echo Canon, so that he might
look upon the first red man he ever met." I give what he said, for
your thought. It was this : "We have a tradition in our country,
that our people came from the skies in a boat, and we have pic
tures which represent our ancestors. I know enough, now, to
see that people cannot come out of the sky ; but when I see those,
who for the first time remind me of the pictures of our forefathers,
I wonder, with awe, whether America was not their home and the
ocean waves took them to Japan." It was a new thought to me,
and I pass it to you who are adepts in this branch of study, for
further solution.

I speak for the red men of Dacotah, but include all who were
associated with my service on the Plains, principally the Paw
nees, Winnebagoes, Northern Cheyennes, Arapahoes, Ogallalla and
Brule Sioux and the Crows. I do not say that like thought stirs
the brain of all these bands ; but in none have I found words which

(3)



4 THE DACOTAH TRIBES J

curse God. White Horse, an old Cheyenne chief, was aroused
when he heard white men curse, and said, " it was not so bad for
a boy to curse his father and mother, as for a man to curse the
Great Spirit, who gave him air, earth, water and all good things."
One, thus stated his idea, pointing to a child : " Pappoose wiskeat
auteas ? Pappoose wiskeat autrara ?" (Pappoose curse father and
mother)." " The child would have had no father and mother, and
the father and mother would have had no child, but for the Great
Spirit. Why do the white men curse ? " The red man takes up
our strong words to express anger ; but his reverence for the Great
Spirit is above that of some white men who claim to be his master.
Their views as to life after death are no less striking. When
the dead were rescued from the battle-field after Fetterman's mas-
sabre in 1866, when three officers and seventy-eight men were
killed and cut up in thirty minutes, I found that nearly every body
was stripped of the muscles of the arm, breast, back, thigh and
calves of the legs. The bodies were filled with arrows, one hun
dred and sixty-eight having been found in three bodies. I quote
from the Official Report as to these mutilations. " Eyes torn out
and laid on the rocks ; teeth chopped out ; joints of fingers cut off;
brains taken out and placed on rocks, with members of the body ;
entrails taken out and exposed ; hands and feet cut off; arms taken
out from socket ; eyes, ears, mouth and arms penetrated with
spearheads, sticks and arrows ; punctures upon every sensitive
part of the body, even to the soles of the feet and the palms of the
hands." I asked a member of the Red Cloud band, why this was
done ; and the key to these mutilations was startling and impressive.
Their idea of the spirit land is, that it is a physical paradise, but
we enter upon its mysteries just in the condition we hold when we
die. In the Indian paradise every physical taste or longing is
promptly met. If he wants food it is at hand. Water springs up
for ready use. Ponies and game abound. Blossoms, leaves and
fruit never fail. All is perennial and perpetual. But what is the
Indian hell ? It is the same in place and in profusion of mercies ;
but the bad cannot partake. Like Dives who saw, craved and
panted for relief, he cannot enjoy. In the light of this idea, these
tortured bodies had a new significance. With the muscles of the
arms cut out, the victim could not pull a bow-string or trigger ;
with other muscles gone he could not ride in the stirrup or stoop
to drink ; so that while every sense was in agon}' for relief from



BY HENRY B. CARRINGTON. 5

hunger or thirst, there could be no relief at all. The red man does
not have the moral sense which would argue that every vice is
crippling the moral and mental muscles, so that every fault leaves
man less perfect for beginning a grand career beyond the grave ;
but the, germ thought is in his mind, and the white man can give
it better force and activity if he will care half as well for the red
man as he does for Hottentots, Asiatics and strangers of the South
Pacific Isles. Before Chief Joseph of the Nez Perces fled from
his rightful home, in 1877, to fight for his very life, he was asked
if he wanted schools on the Wallowa reservation, he said " No ! "
When asked his reason, he replied that "it would bring churches."
" Don't you want churches?" was the next inquiry. "No, no," he
answered, " it will teach us to quarrel about God, as the Catholics
and Protestants do. We fight each other, but we don't want to
learn to fight about God." When asked to sell his reservation, he
sharply replied : u Do you believe that we came out of the bosom
of the Earth? I know you do. Then the earth is our mother.
Would you sell your mother ? I never will sell my mother."

Their mode of burial by raising the dead upon platforms, above
the reach of wild beasts, until the dust returns to mother earth, is
full of strange fancies. Their dread of being hanged is due to
their fear that as the spirit leaves the body while the feet are above
the earth, it will be doomed to the loss of all capacity for walking
and running hereafter, the most horrible of fates for the red man
whose hope and joy are in physical bliss alone.

One more phase of the red man's life is pertinent to this inquiry.
"What shall we do with and for him?" It seems to me that here
is just the place to speak a word for him, because the work of sci
ence is to bless man ; and we do not push inquiry so far back into
the silent past and into the cold forms of the once igneous trap
and granite, and reconstruct old life from impress and fragment,
that we ignore the living present. It is better to preserve a race
with which our fathers did compete for this fair continent, than to
e'xplain how the red man came here, and what was his pedigree
direct from Adam, or some anterior protoplasm. We call him a
savage, but he can be a friend. The Narragansetts and Dela-
wares were true to the white man. The Pawnees, Winnebagoes
and Crows have been true to the white man. Spotted Tail, with
his ten thousand companions, is true, and he has not failed to
meet pledges made in 1866. Red Cloud and his eleven thousand



6 THE DACOTAH TRIBES J

followers are true, in spite of repeated change of his reservation,
and untold deprivations which the tide of western growth has
brought. I say, plainly, that the red man when he enters into a
fair contract, understandingly, is as faithful to obligation as the
average white man, and that from 1865 until the present time,
there has not been a border campaign which did not have its im
pulse in the aggressions of the white man. When Dull Knife, the
Cheyenne chief, broke out of Camp Robinson, and his braves and
squaws fought until nearly all were killed, it was because they
would rather die than be sent to the Indian Territory, where they
had neither friends nor country. And yet this man, in 1866, re
fused to take the war path with Red Cloud, and suffered much to
prove that he was the white man's friend.

The occupation of the Powder river country, and the valleys of
the Big Horn and Yellowstone, during that year, in the face of
Harney's treaty of 1865, opened up that series of disasters which
has sacrificed so many white men, and exacted so much of ven
geance upon the red man himself. It was time that he was dealt
with as other men are dealt with. Legislation and adjudication
have changed the old theory of our Supreme Court, which held
that the Indians were internal nations, dependent indeed, but ca
pable of contracting by treaty. We must treat them as men,
under law, and punish the red and white men alike and protect
them alike. Then there will be found in America an asylum even
for those whose fathers were here when our fathers sought an asy-
lum, and we shall crown our work of the emancipation of the Afri
can, by the preservation of the Indian.

I was asked j r esterday to explain why the Indians used arrows
so freely upon the bodies of their victims. It is a part of their
superstition. While they will not often use, again, an arrow shot
at an enemy, if it miss him, because the Great Spirit did not wish
it to hit, they count to their credit every act of courage. Thus,
when in single combat, the red man would fail to get a scalp,
unless aided, the friend who has helped him shoots arrows into
the body and keeps the record, to show that while he did not get
the scalp he was the cause of its being secured. This very chief,
Dull Knife, when in 1866, he refused to join Red Cloud, at the first
outbreak of war, was slashed across the shoulders with bows, in
contempt, with the cry of "Coo !" (coward) and these "Coos" are
recorded by knots tied in their ponies' manes, as the next thing to



BY HENRY B. CARRINGTON. 7

victory. So the arrows used upon a body under a state of facts
such as given are so many "Coos" to the credit of a warrior. The
hundreds of arrows found in the bodies after the Fetterman massa
cre, showed that the whole force of the red man was employed to
silence the brave men who fought with desperation against an over
whelming body. It is enough for us to know that white men first
stole their lands, and then sold them arms, and did by every low
passion werk out the scheme by which we should treat the Indian
as a brute to be exterminated, rather than as a man to be saved.
In the horrors of that calamity when loved companions fell so sud
denly after safely passing the ordeal of four years of war, and it
seemed as if there was no salvation for the rest of the small force
in Dacotah, and when our wives and our children were in peril, so
that no one knew what the next hour would bring of toil or trial, I
could not but feel that, if I had been a red man-, I would have
fought as bitterly, if not as cruelly, for my rights and my home, as
the red man fought.

Be it our part to strengthen the hands of those who would save
the red man, so that the eternal disgrace of his extinction shall
not attach to America while Christianity is its strength and its
glory.



[SALEM PRESS, July, 181.]





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Online LibraryHenry Beebee CarringtonThe Dacotah tribes : their beliefs : and our duty to them outlined → online text (page 1 of 1)