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Title: First Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution - 1879-1880, Government Printing Office 1881
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "First Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution - 1879-1880, Government Printing Office 1881" ***

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by the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF/Gallica) at
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[This e-text includes characters that will only display in UTF-8
(Unicode) text readers:

  Ē ā ē ī ō ū (vowel with macron or “long” mark)
  Ă Ĕ Ĭ ă ĕ ĭ ŏ (vowel with breve or “short” mark)
  Ś ś ć (s, c with “acute”:
    mainly in Recording Indian Languages article)
  ⁿ (small raised n, representing nasalized vowel)
  ɔ ʞ ʇ (inverted letters)
  ‖ (double vertical line

There are also a handful of Greek words.

Some compromises were made to accommodate font availability:

  The ordinary “cents” sign ¢ was used in place of the correct form ȼ,
    and bracketed [¢] represents the capital letter Ȼ.
  Turned c is represented by ɔ (technically an open o).
  Bracketed [K] and [T] represent upside-down (turned) capital K and T.
  Inverted V (described in text) is represented by the Greek letter Λ.

If your computer has a more appropriate character, feel free to replace
letters globally.

Syllable stress is represented by an acute accent either on the main
vówel or after the syl´lable; inconsistencies are unchanged. Except
for special characters noted above, and obvious insertions such as
[Illustration] and [Footnote], brackets are in the original. Note that
in the Sign Language article, hand positions identified by letter
(A, B ... W, Y) are descriptive; they do not represent a “finger

Italics are shown with _lines_. Boldface (rare) is shown with +marks+;
in some articles the same notation is used for +small capitals+.

The First Annual Report includes ten “Accompanying Papers”, all
Yarrow’s “Mortuary Customs”, updated shortly before the present text,
the separate articles were released between late 2005 and late 2007. For
this combined e-text they have been re-formatted for consistency. Some
articles have been further modified to include specialized characters
shown above, and a few more typographical errors have been corrected.

For consistency with later Annual Reports, a full List of Illustrations
has been added after the Table of Contents, and each article has been
given its own Table of Contents. In the original, the Contents were
printed _only_ at the beginning of the volume, and Illustrations were
listed _only_ with their respective articles.

Errors and inconsistencies are listed separately at the end of each
article and after the combined Index. Differences in punctuation or
hyphenization between the Table of Contents, Index, or List of
Illustrations, and the item itself, are not noted.]

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *

               FIRST ANNUAL REPORT

                     of the


                     to the

    Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution



                 J. W. POWELL


           Government Printing Office

    _Washington, D.C., July, 1880._

    _Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution_,
      _Washington, D.C._:

SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith the first annual report of
the operations of the Bureau of Ethnology.

By act of Congress, an appropriation was made to continue researches in
North American anthropology, the general direction of which was confided
to yourself. As chief executive officer of the Smithsonian Institution,
you entrusted to me the immediate control of the affairs of the Bureau.
This report, with its appended papers, is designed to exhibit the
methods and results of my administration of this trust.

If any measure of success has been attained, it is largely due to
general instructions received from yourself and the advice you have ever
patiently given me on all matters of importance.

I am indebted to my assistants, whose labors are delineated in the
report, for their industry; hearty co-operation, and enthusiastic love
of the science. Only through their zeal have your plans been executed.

Much assistance has been rendered the Bureau by a large body of
scientific men engaged in the study of anthropology, some of whose names
have been mentioned in the report and accompanying papers, and others
will be put on record when the subject-matter of their writings is fully

I am, with respect, your obedient servant,




  Introductory                                                    xi
  Bibliography of North American philology, by J. C. Pilling      xv
  Linguistic and other anthropologic researches,
      by J. O. Dorsey                                           xvii
  Linguistic researches, by S. R. Riggs                        xviii
  Linguistic and general researches among the Klamath
      Indians, by A. S. Gatschet                                 xix
  Studies among the Iroquois, by Mrs. E. A. Smith               xxii
  Work by Prof. Otis T. Mason                                   xxii
  The study of gesture speech, by Brevet Lieut. Col.
      Garrick Mallery                                          xxiii
  Studies on Central American picture writing,
      by Prof. E. S. Holden                                      xxv
  The study of mortuary customs, by Dr. H. C. Yarrow            xxvi
  Investigations relating to cessions of lands by Indian
      tribes to the United States, by C. C. Royce              xxvii
  Explorations by Mr. James Stevenson                            xxx
  Researches among the Wintuns, by Prof. J. W. Powell          xxxii
  The preparation of manuals for use in American research      xxxii
  Linguistic classification of the North American tribes      xxxiii



  Process by combination                                           3
  Process by vocalic mutation                                      5
  Process by intonation                                            6
  Process by placement                                             6
  Differentiation of the parts of speech                           8


  The genesis of philosophy                                       19
  Two grand stages of philosophy                                  21
  Mythologic philosophy has four stages                           29
  Outgrowth from mythologic philosophy                            33
  The course of evolution in mythologic philosophy                38
  Mythic tales                                                    43
    The Cĭn-aú-äv Brothers discuss matters of importance
      to the Utes                                                 44
    Origin of the echo                                            45
    The So´-kûs Wai´-ûn-ats                                       47
    Ta-vwots has a fight with the sun                             52


  The family                                                      59
  The gens                                                        59
  The phratry                                                     60
  Government                                                      61
    Civil government                                              61
    Methods of choosing councillors                               61
    Functions of civil government                                 63
    Marriage regulations                                          63
    Name regulations                                              64
    Regulations of personal adornment                             64
    Regulations of order in encampment                            64
    Property rights                                               65
    Rights of persons                                             65
    Community rights                                              65
    Rights of religion                                            65
    Crimes                                                        66
    Theft                                                         66
    Maiming                                                       66
    Murder                                                        66
    Treason                                                       67
    Witchcraft                                                    67
    Outlawry                                                      67
    Military government                                           68
    Fellowhood                                                    68


  Archæology                                                      73
  Picture writing                                                 75
  History, customs, and ethnic characteristics                    76
  Origin of man                                                   77
  Language                                                        78
  Mythology                                                       81
  Sociology                                                       83
  Psychology                                                      83


  List of illustrations                                           89
  Introductory                                                    91
  Classification of burial                                        92
  Inhumation                                                      93
    Pit burial                                                    93
    Grave burial                                                 101
    Stone graves or cists                                        113
    Burial in mounds                                             115
    Burial beneath or in cabins, wigwams, or houses              122
    Cave burial                                                  126
  Embalmment or mummification                                    130
  Urn burial                                                     137
  Surface burial                                                 138
    Cairn burial                                                 142
  Cremation                                                      143
    Partial cremation                                            150
  Aerial sepulture                                               152
    Lodge burial                                                 152
    Box burial                                                   155
    Tree and scaffold burial                                     158
    Partial scaffold burial and ossuaries                        168
    Superterrene and aerial burial in canoes                     171
  Aquatic burial                                                 180
  Living sepulchers                                              182
  Mourning, sacrifice, feasts, etc.                              183
    Mourning                                                     183
    Sacrifice                                                    187
    Feasts                                                       190
    Superstition regarding burial feasts                         191
    Food                                                         192
    Dances                                                       192
    Songs                                                        194
    Games                                                        195
    Posts                                                        197
    Fires                                                        198
    Superstitions                                                199


  List of illustrations                                          206
  Introductory                                                   207
  Materials for the present investigation                        210
  System of nomenclature                                         211
  In what order are the hieroglyphs read?                        221
  The card catalogue of hieroglyphs                              223
  Comparison of plates I and IV (Copan)                          224
  Are the hieroglyphs of Copan and Palenque identical?           227
  Huitzilopochtli, Mexican god of war, etc.                      229
  Tlaloc, or his Maya representative                             237
  Cukulcan or Quetzalcoatl                                       239
  Comparison of the signs of the Maya months                     243


  Character of the Indian title                                  249
  Indian boundaries                                              253
  Original and secondary cessions                                256


  Introductory                                                   269
  Divisions of gesture speech                                    270
  The origin of sign language                                    273
    Gestures of the lower animals                                275
    Gestures of young children                                   276
    Gestures in mental disorder                                  276
    Uninstructed deaf-mutes                                      277
    Gestures of the blind                                        278
    Loss of speech by isolation                                  278
    Low tribes of man                                            279
    Gestures as an occasional resource                           279
    Gestures of fluent talkers                                   279
    Involuntary response to gestures                             280
    Natural pantomime                                            280
  Some theories upon primitive language                          282
    Conclusions                                                  284
  History of gesture language                                    285
  Modern use of gesture speech                                   293
    Use by other peoples than North American Indians             294
    Use by modern actors and orators                             308
  Our Indian conditions favorable to sign language               311
  Theories entertained respecting Indian signs                   313
    Not correlated with meagerness of language                   314
    Its origin from one tribe or region                          316
    Is the Indian system special and peculiar?                   319
    To what extent prevalent as a system                         323
    Are signs conventional or instinctive?                       340
    Classes of diversities in signs                              341
  Results sought in the study of sign language                   346
    Practical application                                        346
    Relations to philology                                       349
    Sign language with reference to grammar                      359
    Gestures aiding archæologic research                         368
  Notable points for further researches                          387
    Invention of new signs                                       387
    Danger of symbolic interpretation                            388
    Signs used by women and children                             391
    Positive signs rendered negative                             391
    Details of positions of fingers                              392
    Motions relative to parts of the body                        393
    Suggestions for collecting signs                             394
  Mode in which researches have been made                        395
  List of authorities and collaborators                          401
    Algonkian                                                    403
    Dakotan                                                      404
    Iroquoian                                                    405
    Kaiowan                                                      406
    Kutinean                                                     406
    Panian                                                       406
    Piman                                                        406
    Sahaptian                                                    406
    Shoshonian                                                   406
    Tinnean                                                      407
    Wichitan                                                     407
    Zuñian                                                       407
    Foreign correspondence                                       407
  Extracts from dictionary                                       409
  Tribal signs                                                   458
  Proper names                                                   476
  Phrases                                                        479
  Dialogues                                                      486
    Tendoy-Huerito Dialogue.                                     486
    Omaha Colloquy.                                              490
    Brulé Dakota Colloquy.                                       491
    Dialogue between Alaskan Indians.                            492
    Ojibwa Dialogue.                                             499
  Narratives                                                     500
    Nátci’s Narrative.                                           500
    Patricio’s Narrative.                                        505
    Na-wa-gi-jig’s Story.                                        508
  Discourses                                                     521
    Address of Kin Chē-Ĕss.                                      521
    Tso-di-a´-ko’s Report.                                       524
    Lean Wolf’s Complaint.                                       526
  Signals                                                        529
    Signals executed by bodily action                            529
    Signals in which objects are used in connection with
      personal action                                            532
    Signals made when the person of the signalist
      is not visible                                             536
  Scheme of illustration                                         544
  Outlines for arm positions in sign language                    545
  Types of hand positions in sign language                       547
  Examples                                                       550


  Introductory                                                   555
  List of manuscripts                                            562


  How the rabbit caught the sun in a trap, by J. O. Dorsey       581
  Details of a conjurer’s practice, by A. S. Gatschet            583
  The relapse, by A. S. Gatschet                                 585
  Sweat-Lodges, by A. S. Gatschet                                586
  A dog’s revenge, by S. R. Riggs                                587




BY J. W. POWELL, _Director._


The exploration of the Colorado River of the West, begun in 1869 by
authority of Congressional action, was by the same authority
subsequently continued as the second division of the Geographical and
Geological Survey of the Territories, and, finally, as the Geographical
and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region.

By act of Congress of March 3, 1879, the various geological and
geographical surveys existing at that time were discontinued and the
United States Geological Survey was established.

In all the earlier surveys anthropologic researches among the North
American Indians were carried on. In that branch of the work finally
designated as the Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky
Mountain Region, such research constituted an important part of the
work. In the act creating the Geological Survey, provision was made to
continue work in this field under the direction of the Smithsonian
Institution, on the basis of the methods developed and materials
collected by the Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky
Mountain Region.

Under the authority of the act of Congress providing for the
continuation of the work, the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
intrusted its management to the former director of the Survey of the
Rocky Mountain Region, and a bureau of ethnology was thus practically

In the Annual Report of the Geographical and Geological Survey of the
Rocky Mountain Region for 1877, the following statement of the condition
of the work at that time appears:


  During the same office season the ethnographic work was more
  thoroughly organized, and the aid of a large number of volunteer
  assistants living throughout the country was secured. Mr. W. H.
  Dall, of the United States Coast Survey, prepared a paper on the
  tribes of Alaska, and edited other papers on certain tribes of
  Oregon and Washington Territory. He also superintended the
  construction of an ethnographic map to accompany his paper,
  including on it the latest geographic determination from all
  available sources. His long residence and extended scientific labors
  in that region peculiarly fitted him for the task, and he has made a
  valuable contribution both to ethnology and geography.

  With the same volume was published a paper on the habits and customs
  of certain tribes of the State of Oregon and Washington Territory,
  prepared by the late Mr. George Gibbs while he was engaged in
  scientific work in that region for the government. The volume also
  contains a Niskwalli vocabulary with extended grammatic notes, the
  last great work of the lamented author.

  In addition to the map above mentioned and prepared by Mr. Dall,
  a second has been made, embracing the western portion of Washington
  Territory and the northern part of Oregon. The map includes the
  results of the latest geographic information and is colored to show
  the distribution of Indian tribes, chiefly from notes and maps left
  by Mr. Gibbs.

  The Survey is indebted to the following gentlemen for valuable
  contributions to this volume: Gov. J. Furujelm, Lieut. E. De Meulen,
  Dr. Wm. F. Tolmie, and Rev. Father Mengarini.

  Mr. Stephen Powers, of Ohio, who has spent several years in the
  study of the Indians of California, had the year before been engaged
  to prepare a paper on that subject. In the mean time at my request
  he was employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to travel among
  these tribes for the purpose of making collections of Indian arts
  for the International Exhibition. This afforded him opportunity of
  more thoroughly accomplishing his work in the preparation of the
  above-mentioned paper. On his return the new material was
  incorporated with the old, and the whole has been printed.

  At our earliest knowledge of the Indians of California they were
  divided into small tribes speaking diverse languages and belonging
  to radically different stocks, and the whole subject was one of
  great complexity and interest. Mr. Powers has successfully unraveled
  the difficult problems relating to the classification and affinities
  of a very large number of tribes, and his account of their habits
  and customs is of much interest.

  In the volume with his paper will be found a number of vocabularies
  collected by himself, Mr. George Gibbs, General George Crook,
  U.S.A., General W. B. Hazen, U.S.A., Lieut. Edward Ross, U.S.A.,
  Assistant Surgeon Thomas F. Azpell, U.S.A., Mr. Ezra Williams, Mr.
  J. R. Bartlett, Gov. J. Furujelm, Prof. F. L. O. Roehrig, Dr.
  William A. Gabb, Mr. H. B. Brown, Mr. Israel S. Diehl, Dr. Oscar
  Loew, Mr. Albert S. Gatschet, Mr. Livingston Stone, Mr. Adam
  Johnson, Mr. Buckingham Smith, Padre Aroyo; Rev. Father Gregory
  Mengarini, Padre Juan Comelias, Hon. Horatio Hale, Mr. Alexander S.
  Taylor, Rev. Antonio Timmeno, and Father Bonaventure Sitjar.

  The volume is accompanied by a map of the State of California,
  compiled from the latest official sources and colored to show the
  distribution of linguistic stocks.

  The Rev. J. Owen Dorsey, of Maryland, has been engaged for more than
  a year in the preparation of a grammar and dictionary of the Ponka
  language. His residence among these Indians as a missionary has
  furnished him favorable opportunity for the necessary studies, and
  he has pushed forward the work with zeal and ability, his only hope
  of reward being a desire to make a contribution to science.

  Prof. Otis T. Mason, of Columbian College, has for the past year
  rendered the office much assistance in the study of the history and
  statistics of Indian tribes.

  On June 13, Brevet Lieut. Col. Garrick Mallery, U.S.A., at the
  request of the Secretary of the Interior, joined my corps under
  orders from the honorable Secretary of War, and since that time has
  been engaged in the study of the statistics and history of the
  Indians of the western portion of the United States.

  In April last, Mr. A. S. Gatschet was employed as a philologist to
  assist in the ethnographic work of this Survey. He had previously
  been engaged in the study of the languages of various North American
  tribes. In June last at the request of this office he was employed
  by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to collect certain statistics
  relating to the Indians of Oregon and Washington Territory, and is
  now in the field. His scientific reports have since that time been
  forwarded through the honorable Commissioner of Indian Affairs to
  this office. His work will be included in a volume now in course of

  Dr. H. O. Yarrow, U.S.A., now on duty at the Army Medical Museum, in
  Washington, has been engaged during the past year in the collection
  of material for a monograph on the customs and rites of sepulture.
  To aid him in this work circulars of inquiry have been widely
  circulated among ethnologists and other scholars throughout North
  America, and much material has been obtained which will greatly
  supplement his own extended observations and researches.

  Many other gentlemen throughout the United States have rendered me
  valuable assistance in this department of investigation. Their
  labors will receive due acknowledgment at the proper time, but I
  must not fail to render my sincere thanks to these gentlemen, who
  have so cordially and efficiently co-operated with me in this work.

  A small volume, entitled “Introduction to the Study of Indian
  Languages,” has been prepared and published. This book is intended
  for distribution among collectors. In its preparation I have been
  greatly assisted by Prof. W. D. Whitney, the distinguished
  philologist of Yale College. To him I am indebted for that part
  relating to the representation of the sounds of Indian languages;
  a work which could not be properly performed by any other than a
  profound scholar in this branch.

  I complete the statement of the office-work of the past season by
  mentioning that a tentative classification of the linguistic
  families of the Indians of the United States has been prepared. This
  has been a work of great labor, to which I have devoted much of my
  own time, and in which I have received the assistance of several of
  the gentlemen above mentioned.

  In pursuing these ethnographic investigations it has been the
  endeavor as far as possible to produce results that would be of
  practical value in the administration of Indian affairs, and for
  this purpose especial attention has been paid to vital statistics,
  to the discovery of linguistic affinities, the progress made by the
  Indians toward civilization, and the causes and remedies for the
  inevitable conflict that arises from the spread of civilization over
  a region previously inhabited by savages. I may be allowed to
  express the hope that our labors in this direction will not be void
  of such useful results.

In 1878 no report of the Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region was
published, as before its completion the question of reorganizing all of
the surveys had been raised, but the work was continued by the same
methods as in previous years.

The operations of the Bureau of Ethnology during the past fiscal year
will be briefly described.

In the plan of organization two methods of operation are embraced:

First. The prosecution of research by the direct employment of scholars
and specialists; and

Second. By inciting and guiding research immediately conducted by
collaborators at work throughout the country.

It has been the effort of the Bureau to prosecute work in the various
branches of North American anthropology on a systematic plan, so that
every important field should be cultivated, limited only by the amount
appropriated by Congress.

With little exception all sound anthropologic investigation in the lower
states of culture exhibited by tribes of men, as distinguished from
nations, must have a firm foundation in language Customs, laws,
governments, institutions, mythologies, religions, and even arts can not
be properly understood without a fundamental knowledge of the languages
which express the ideas and thoughts embodied therein. Actuated by these
considerations prime attention has been given to language.

It is not probable that there are many languages in North America
entirely unknown, and in fact it is possible there are none; but of many
of the known languages only short vocabularies have appeared. Except for
languages entirely unknown, the time for the publication of short
vocabularies has passed; they are no longer of value. The Bureau
proposes hereafter to publish short vocabularies only in the exceptional
cases mentioned above.

The distribution of the Introduction to the Study of Indian Languages is
resulting in the collection of a large series of chrestomathies, which
it is believed will be worthy of publication. It is also proposed to
publish grammars and dictionaries when those have been thoroughly and
carefully prepared. In each case it is deemed desirable to connect with
the grammar and dictionary a body of literature designed as texts for
reference in explaining the facts and principles of the language. These
texts will be accompanied by interlinear translations so arranged as
greatly to facilitate the study of the chief grammatic characteristics.


There is being prepared in the office a bibliography of North American
languages. It was originally intended as a card catalogue for office
use, but has gradually assumed proportions which seem to justify its
publication. It is designed as an author’s catalogue, arranged
alphabetically, and is to include titles of grammars, dictionaries,
vocabularies, translations of the scriptures, hymnals, doctrinæ
christianæ, tracts, school-books, etc., general discussions, and reviews
when of sufficient importance; in short, a catalogue of authors who have
written in or upon any of the languages of North America, with a list of
their works.

It has been the aim in preparing this material to make not only full
titles of all the works containing linguistics, but also to exhaust
editions. Whether full titles of editions subsequent to the first will
be printed will depend somewhat on the size of the volume it will make,
there being at present about four thousand five hundred cards, probably
about three thousand titles.

The bibliography is based on the library of the Director, but much time
has been spent in various libraries, public and private, the more
important being the Congressional, Boston Public, Boston Athenæum,
Harvard College, Congregational of Boston, Massachusetts Historical
Society, American Antiquarian Society of Worcester, the John Carter
Brown at Providence, the Watkinson at Hartford, and the American Bible
Society at New York. It is hoped that Mr. Pilling may find opportunity
to visit the principal libraries of New York and Philadelphia,
especially those of the historical societies, before the work is

In addition to personal research, much correspondence has been carried
on with the various missionaries and Indian agents throughout the United
States and Canada, and with gentlemen who have written upon the subject,
among whom are Dr. H. Rink, of Copenhagen, Dr. J. C. E. Buschman, of
Berlin, and the well-known bibliographers, Mr. J. Sabin, of New York,
Hon. J. R. Bartlett, of Providence, and Señor Don J. G. Icazbalceta, of
the City of Mexico.

Mr. Pilling has not attempted to classify the material linguistically.
That work has been left for a future publication, intended to embody the
results of an attempt to classify the tribes of North America on the
basis of language, and now in course of preparation by the Director.


For a number of years Mr. Dorsey has been engaged in investigations
among a group of cognate Dakotan tribes embracing three languages:
[¢]egiha, spoken by the Ponkas and Omahas, with a closely related
dialect of the same, spoken by the Kansas, Osage, and Kwapa tribes; the
[T]ɔiwere, spoken by the Iowa, Oto, and Missouri tribes; and the
Hotcañgara, spoken by the Winnebago.

In July, 1878, he repaired to the Omaha reservation, in the neighborhood
of which most of these languages are spoken, for the purpose of
continuing his studies.

Mr. Dorsey commenced the study of the [¢]egiha in 1871, and has
continued his researches in the group until the present time. He has
collected a very large body of linguistic material, both in grammar and
vocabulary, and when finally published a great contribution will be made
to North American linguistics.

These languages are excessively complex because of the synthetic
characteristics of the verb, incorporated particles being used in an
elaborate and complex scheme.

In these languages six general classes of pronouns are found:

  1st. The free personal.
  2d. The incorporated personal.
  3d. The demonstrative.
  4th. The interrogative.
  5th. The relative.
  6th. The indefinite.

One of the most interesting features of the language is found in the
genders or particle classifiers. The genders or classifiers are
_animate_ and _inanimate_, and these are again divided into the
_standing_, _sitting_, _reclining_, and _moving_; but in the Winnebago
the _reclining_ and _moving_ constitute but one class. They are suffixed
to nouns, pronouns, and verbs. When nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and
prepositions are used as predicants, _i.e._, to perform the function of
verbs, these classifiers are also suffixed. The classifiers point out
with particularity the gender or class of the subject and object. When
numerals are used as nouns the classifiers are attached.

In nouns and pronouns case functions are performed by an elaborate
system of postpositions in conjunction with the classifiers.

The verbs are excessively complex by reason of the use of many
incorporated particles to denote _cause_, _manner_, _instrument_,
_purpose_, _condition_, _time_, etc. Voice, mode, and tense are not
systematically differentiated in the morphology, but voices, modes, and
tenses, and a great variety of adverbial qualifications enter into the
complex scheme of incorporated particles.

Sixty-six sounds are found in the [¢]egiha; sixty-two in the
[T][c]iwere; sixty-two in the Hotcañgara; and the alphabet adopted by
the Bureau is used successfully for their expression.

While Mr. Dorsey has been prosecuting his linguistic studies among these
tribes he has had abundant opportunity to carry on other branches of
anthropologic research, and he has collected extensive and valuable
materials on sociology, mythology, religion, arts, customs, etc. His
final publication of the [¢]egiha will embrace a volume of literature
made up of mythic tales, historical narratives, letters, etc., in the
Indian, with interlinear translations, a selection from which appears in
the papers appended to this report. Another volume will be devoted to
the grammar and a third to the dictionary.


In 1852 the Smithsonian Institution published a grammar and dictionary
of the Dakota language prepared by Mr. Riggs. Since that time Mr. Riggs,
assisted by his sons, A. L. and T. L. Riggs, and by Mr. Williamson, has
been steadily engaged in revising and enlarging the grammar and
dictionary; and at the request of the Bureau he is also preparing a
volume of Dakota literature as texts for illustration to the grammar and
dictionary. He is rapidly preparing this work for publication, and it
will soon appear.

The work of Mr. Riggs and that of Mr. Dorsey, mentioned above, with the
materials already published, will place the Dakotan languages on record
more thoroughly than those of any other family in this country.

The following is a table of the languages of this family now recognized
by the Bureau:


  1. Dakóta (Sioux), in four dialects:
      (_a_) Mdéwakaⁿtoⁿwaⁿ and Waqpékute.
      (_b_) Waqpétoⁿwaⁿ (Warpeton) and Sisítoⁿwaⁿ (Sisseton).
    These two are about equivalent to the modern Isaⁿ´yati (Santee).
      (_c_) Ihañk´toⁿwaⁿ (Yankton), including the Assiniboins.
      (_d_) Títoⁿwaⁿ (Teton).

  2. [¢]egiha, in two (?) dialects:
      (_a_) Umaⁿ´haⁿ (Omaha), spoken by the Omahas and Ponkas.
      (_b_) Ugáqpa (Kwapa), spoken by the Kwapas, Osages, and Kansas.

  3. [T]ɔiwére, in two dialects:
      (_a_) [T]ɔiwére, spoken by the Otos and Missouris.
      (_b_) [T]ɔéʞiwere, spoken by the Iowas.

  4. Hotcañ´gara, spoken by the Winnebagos.

  5. Númañkaki (Mandan), in two dialects:
      (_a_) Mitútahañkuc.
      (_b_) Ruptári.

  6. Hi¢átsa (Hidatsa), in two (?) dialects:
    (_a_) Hidátsa or Minnetaree.
    (_b_) Absároka or Crow.

  7. Tútelo, in Canada.

  8. Katâ´ba (Catawba), in South Carolina.


Of the Klamath language of Oregon there are two dialects--one spoken by
the Indians of Klamath Lake and the other by the Modocs--constituting
the Lutuami family of Hale and Gallatin.

Mr. Gatschet has spent much time among these Indians, at their
reservation and elsewhere, and has at the present time in manuscript
nearly ready for the printer a large body of Klamath literature,
consisting of mythic, ethnic, and historic tales, a grammar and a
dictionary. The stories were told by the Indians and recorded by
himself, and constitute a valuable contribution to the subject. Some
specimens will appear in the papers appended to this report.

The grammatic sketch treats of both dialects, which differ but slightly
in grammar but more in vocabulary. The grammar is divided into three
principal parts: Phonology, Morphology, and Syntax.

In Phonology fifty different sounds are recognized, including simple and
compound consonants, the vowels in different quantities, and the

A characteristic feature of this language is described in explaining
syllabic reduplication, which performs iterative and distributive
functions. Reduplication for various purposes is found in most of the
languages of North America. In the Nahuatl, Sahaptin, and Selish
families it is most prominent. Mr. Gatschet’s researches will add
materially to the knowledge of the functions of reduplication in tribal

The verbal inflection is comparatively simple, for in it the subject and
object pronouns are not incorporated. In the verb Mr. Gatschet
recognizes ten general forms, a part of which he designates as
_verbals_, as follows:

  1. Infinitive in -a.
  2. Durative in -ota.
  3. Causative in -oga.
  4. Indefinite in -ash.
  5. Indefinite in -uĭsh.
  6. Conditional in -asht.
  7. Desiderative in -ashtka.
  8. Intentional in -tki.
  9. Participle in -ank.
 10. Past participle and verbal adjectives in -tko.

Tense and mode inflection is very rudimentary and is mostly accomplished
by the use of particles. The study of the prefixes and suffixes of
derivation is one of the chief difficulties of the language, for they
combine in clusters, and are not easily analyzed, and their functions
are often obscure.

The inflection of nouns by case endings and postpositions is rich in
forms; that of the adjective and numeral less elaborate.

Of the pronouns, only the demonstrative show a complexity of forms.

Another feature of this language is found in verbs appended to certain
numerals, and thus serving as numerical classifiers. These verbs express
methods of counting and relate to form; that is, in each case they
present the Indian in the act of counting objects of a particular form
and placing them in groups of tens.

The appended verbs used as classifiers signify _to place_, but in Indian
languages we are not apt to find a word so highly differentiated as
_place_, but in its stead a series of words with verbs and adverbs
undifferentiated, each signifying _to place_, with a qualification, as
_I place upon_, _I lay alongside of_, _I stand up, by_, etc. Thus we get
classifiers attached to numerals in the Klamath, analogous to the
classifiers attached to verbs, nouns, numerals, etc., in the Ponka, as
mentioned above.

These classifiers in Klamath are further discriminated as to form; but
these form discriminations are the homologues of attitude
discriminations in the Ponka, for the form determines the attitude.

It is interesting to note how often in these lower languages attitude or
form is woven into the grammatic structure. Perhaps this arises from a
condition of expression imposed by the want of the verb _to be_, so that
when existence in place is to be affirmed, the verbs of attitude,
_i.e._, _to stand_, _to sit_, _to lie_, and sometimes _to move_, are
used to predicate existence in place, and thus the mind comes habitually
to consider all things as in the one or the other of these attitudes.
The process of growth seems to be that verbs of attitude are primarily
used to affirm existence in place until the habit of considering the
attitude is established; thus participles of attitude are used with
nouns, &c., and finally, worn down by the law of phonic change, for
economy, they become classifying particles. This view of the origin of
classifying particles seems to be warranted by studies from a great
variety of Indian sources.

The syntactic portion is divided into four parts:

1st. On the predicative relation;

2d. On the objective relation;

3d. On the attributive relation; and the

4th. Exhibits the formation of simple and compound sentences, followed
by notes on the incorporative tendency of the language, its rhetoric,
figures, and idioms.

The alphabet adopted by Mr. Gatschet differs slightly from that used by
the Bureau, particularly in the modification of certain Roman characters
and the introduction of one Greek character. This occurred from the fact
that Mr. Gatschet’s material had been partly prepared prior to the
adoption of the alphabet now in use.

Mr. Gatschet has collected much valuable material relating to
governmental and social institutions, mythology, religion, music,
poetry, oratory, and other interesting matters. The body of Klamath
literature, or otherwise the text previously mentioned, constitutes the
basis of these investigations.


Mrs. Smith, of Jersey City, has undertaken to prepare a series of
chrestomathies of the Iroquois language, and has already made much
progress. Three of them are ready for the printer, and that on the
Tuscarora language has been increased much beyond the limits at first
established. She has also collected interesting material relating to the
mythology, habits, customs, &c., of these Indians, and her contributions
will be interesting and important.


On the advent of the white man in America a great number of tribes were
found. For a variety of reasons the nomenclature of these tribes became
excessively complex. Names were greatly multiplied for each tribe and a
single name was often inconsistently applied to different tribes.
Several important reasons conspired to bring about this complex state of

1st. A great number of languages were spoken, and ofttimes the first
names obtained for tribes were not the names used by themselves, but the
names by which they were known to some other tribes.

2d. The governmental organization of the Indians was not understood, and
the names for gentes, tribes, and confederacies were confounded.

3d. The advancing occupancy of the country by white men changed the
habitat of the Indians, and in their migrations from point to point
their names were changed.

Under these circumstances the nomenclature of Indian tribes became
ponderous and the synonymy complex. To unravel this synonymy is a task
of great magnitude. Early in the fiscal year the materials already
collected on this subject were turned over to Professor Mason and
clerical assistance given him, and he has prepared a card catalogue of
North American tribes, exhibiting the synonymy, for use in the office.
This is being constantly revised and enlarged, and will eventually be

Professor Mason is also engaged in editing a grammar and dictionary of
the Chata language, by the late Rev. Cyrus Byington, the manuscript of
which was by Mrs. Byington turned over to the Bureau of Ethnology. The
dictionary is Chata-English, and Professor Mason has prepared an
English-Chata of about ten thousand words. He has also undertaken to
enlarge the grammar by a further study of the language among the Indians


The growth of the languages of civilized peoples in their later stages
may be learned from the study of recorded literature; and by comparative
methods many interesting facts may be discovered pertaining to periods
anterior to the development of writing.

In the study of peoples who have not passed beyond the tribal condition,
laws of linguistic growth anterior to the written stage may be
discovered. Thus, by the study of the languages of tribes and the
languages of nations, the methods and laws of development are discovered
from the low condition represented by the most savage tribe to the
highest condition existing in the speech of civilized man. But there is
a development of language anterior to this--a prehistoric condition--of
profound interest to the scholar, because in it the beginnings of
language--the first steps in the organization of articulate speech--are

On this prehistoric stage, light is thrown from four sources:

1st. Infant speech, in which the development of the language of the race
is epitomized.

2d. Gesture speech, which, among tribal peoples, never passes beyond the
first stages of linguistic growth; and these stages are probably
homologous to the earlier stages of oral speech.

3d. Picture writing, in which we again find some of the characteristics
of prehistoric speech illustrated.

4th. It may be possible to learn something of the elements of which
articulate speech is compounded by studying the inarticulate language of
the lower animals.

The traits of gesture speech that seem to illustrate the condition of
prehistoric oral language are found in the synthetic character of its
signs. The parts of speech are not differentiated, and the sentence is
not integrated; and this characteristic is more marked than in that of
the lowest oral language yet studied. For this reason the facts of
gesture speech constitute an important factor in the philosophy of
language. Doubtless, care must be exercised in its use because of the
advanced mental condition of the people who thus express their thought,
but with due caution it may be advantageously used. In itself,
independent of its relations to oral speech, the subject is of great

In taking up this subject for original investigation, valuable published
matter was found for comparison with that obtained by Colonel Mallery.
His opportunities for collecting materials from the Indians themselves
were abundant, as delegations of various tribes are visiting Washington
from time to time, by which the information obtained during his travels
was supplemented.

Again, the method of investigation by the assistance of a number of
collaborators is well illustrated in this work, and contributions from
various sources were made to the materials for study. The methods of
obtaining these contributions will be more fully explained hereafter.
One of the papers appended to this report was prepared by Colonel
Mallery and relates to this subject.

During the continuance of the Survey of the Colorado River, and of the
Rocky Mountain Region, the Director and his assistants made large
collections of pictographs. When Colonel Mallery joined the corps these
collections were turned over to him for more careful study. From various
sources these pictographs are rapidly accumulating, and now the subject
is assuming large proportions, and valuable results are expected.

An interesting relation between gesture speech and pictography consists
in the discovery that to the delineation of natural objects is added the
representation of gesture signs. Materials in America are very abundant,
and the prehistoric materials may be studied in the light given by the
practices now found among Indian tribes.


In Central America and Mexico, picture writing had progressed to a stage
far in advance of anything discovered to the northward. Some of the most
interesting of these are the rock inscriptions of Yucatan, Copan,
Palenque, and other ruins of Central America.

Professor Holden has devoted much time to the study of these
inscriptions, for the purpose of discovering the characteristics of the
pictographic method and deciphering the records, and the discoveries
made by him are of great interest.

The Bureau has given him clerical assistance and such other aid as has
been found possible, and a paper by him on this subject appears with
this volume.


The tribes of North America do not constitute a homogeneous people. In
fact, more than seventy distinct linguistic stocks are discovered, and
these are again divided by important distinctions of language. Among
these tribes varying stages of culture have been reached, and these
varying stages are exhibited in their habits and customs; and in a
territory of such vast extent the physical environment affecting culture
and customs is of great variety. Forest lands on the one hand, prairie
lands on the other, unbroken plains and regions of rugged mountains, the
cold, naked, desolate shores of sea and lake at the north and the dense
chaparral of the torrid south, the valleys of quiet rivers and the
cliffs and gorges of the cañon land--in all a great diversity of
physical features are found, imposing diverse conditions for obtaining
subsistence, in means and methods of house-building, creating diverse
wants and furnishing diverse ways for their supply. Through diversities
of languages and diversities of environment, diversity of traditions and
diversity of institutions have been produced; so that in many important
respects one tribe is never the counterpart of another.

These diversities have important limitations in the unity of the human
race and the social, mental, and moral homogeneity that has everywhere
controlled the progress of culture. The way of human progress is one
road, though wide.

From the interesting field of research cultivated by Dr. Yarrow an
abundant harvest will be gathered. The materials already accumulated are
large, and are steadily increasing through his vigorous work. These
materials constitute something more than a record of quaint customs and
abhorrent rites in which morbid curiosity may revel. In them we find the
evidences of traits of character and lines of thought that yet exist and
profoundly influence civilization. Passions in the highest culture
deemed most sacred--the love of husband and wife, parent and child, and
kith and kin, tempering, beautifying, and purifying social life and
culminating at death, have their origin far back in the early history of
the race and leaven the society of savagery and civilization alike. At
either end of the line bereavement by death tears the heart and mortuary
customs are symbols of mourning. The mystery which broods over the abbey
where lie the bones of king and bishop, gathers over the ossuary where
lie the bones of chief and shamin; for the same longing to solve the
mysteries of life and death, the same yearning for a future life, the
same awe of powers more than human, exist alike in the mind of the
savage and the sage.

By such investigations we learn the history of culture in these
important branches, and in a paper appended to this report Dr. Yarrow
presents some of the results of his studies.


When civilized man first came to America the continent was partially
occupied by savage tribes, who obtained subsistence by hunting, by
fishing, by gathering vegetal products, and by rude garden culture in
cultivating small patches of ground. Semi-nomadic occupancy for such
purposes was their tenure to the soil.

On the organization of the present government such theories of natural
law were entertained that even this imperfect occupancy was held to be
sufficient title. Publicists, jurists, and statesmen agreed that no
portion of the waste of lands between the oceans could be acquired for
the homes of the incoming civilized men but by purchase or conquest in
just war. These theories were most potent in establishing practical
relations, and controlling governmental dealings with Indian tribes.
They were adjudged to be dependent domestic nations.

Under this theory a system of Indian affairs grew up, the history of
which, notwithstanding mistakes and innumerable personal wrongs, yet
demonstrates the justice inherent in the public sentiment of the nation
from its organization to the present time.

The difficulties subsisting in the adjustment of rights between savage
and civilized peoples are multiform and complex. Ofttimes the virtues of
one condition are the crimes of the other; happiness is misery; justice,
injustice. Thus, when the civilized man would do the best, he gave the
most offense. Under such circumstances it was impossible for wisdom and
justice combined to avert conflict.

One chapter in the history of Indian affairs in America is a doleful
tale of petty but costly and cruel wars; but there are other chapters
more pleasant to contemplate.

The attempts to educate the Indians and teach them the ways of
civilization have been many; much labor has been given, much treasure
expended. While to a large extent all of these efforts have disappointed
their enthusiastic promoters, yet good has been done, but rather by the
personal labors of missionaries, teachers, and frontiersmen associating
with Indians in their own land than by institutions organized and
supported by wealth and benevolence not immediately in contact with

The great boon to the savage tribes of this country, unrecognized by
themselves, and, to a large extent, unrecognized by civilized men, has
been the presence of civilization, which, under the laws of
acculturation, has irresistibly improved their culture by substituting
new and civilized for old and savage arts, new for old customs--in
short, transforming savage into civilized life. These unpremeditated
civilizing influences have had a marked effect. The great body of the
Indians of North America have passed through stages of culture in the
last hundred years achieved by our Anglo-Saxon ancestors only by the
slow course of events through a thousand years.

The Indians of the continent have not greatly diminished in numbers, and
the tribes longest in contact with civilization are increasing. The
whole body of Indians is making rapid progress toward a higher culture,
notwithstanding the petty conflicts yet occurring where the relations of
the Indian tribes to our civilization have not yet been adjusted by the
adoption upon their part of the first conditions of a higher life.

The part which the General Government, representing public sentiment,
has done in the extinguishment of the vague Indian title to lands in the
granting to them of lands for civilized homes on reservations and in
severalty, in the establishment and support of schools, in the endeavors
to teach them agriculture and other industrial arts--in these and many
other ways justice and beneficence have been shown. Thus the history of
the tribes of America from savagery to civilization is a history of

First. The history of acculturation--the effect of the presence of
civilization upon savagery.

Second. The history of Indian wars that have arisen in part from the
crimes and in part from the ignorance of either party.

Third. The history of civil Indian affairs. This last is divided into a
number of parts:

1st. The extinguishment of the Indian title.

2d. The gathering of Indians upon reservations.

3d. The instrumentalities used to teach the Indians civilized
industries; and

4th. The establishment and operation of schools.

From the organization of the Government to the present time these
branches of Indian affairs have been in operation; lands have been
bought and bought again; Indian tribes have been moved and moved again;
reservations have been established and broken up. The Government has
sought to give lands in severalty to the Indians from time to time along
the whole course of the history of Indian affairs. Every experiment to
teach the Indians the industries of civilization that could be devised
has been tried, and from all of these there has resulted a mixture of
failure and success.

A review of the century’s history abundantly demonstrates that there is
no short road to justice and peace; but a glance at the present state of
affairs exhibits the fact that these tribal communities will speedily be
absorbed in the citizenship of the republic. No new method is to be
adopted; the work is almost done; patient and persistent effort for a
short future like that of the long past will accomplish all. It remains
for us but to perfect the work wisely begun by the founders of the

The industries and social institutions of the pristine Indians have
largely been destroyed, and they are groping their way to civilized
life. To the full accomplishment of this, three things are necessary:

1st. The organization of the civilized family, with its rules of
inheritance in lineal descent.

2d. The civilized tenure of property in severalty must be substituted
for communal property.

3d. The English language must be acquired, that the thoughts and ways of
civilization may be understood.

To the history of Indian affairs much time has been given by the various
members of the Bureau of Ethnology. One of the more important of these
studies is that prosecuted by Mr. Royce in preparing a history of the
cessions of lands by Indian tribes to the Government of the United
States. A paper by him appended to this report illustrates the character
of these investigations.


In the early exploration of the southwestern portion of the United
States by Spanish travelers and conquerors, about sixty pueblos were
discovered. These pueblos were communal villages, with architecture in
untooled stone. In the conquest about half of the pueblos were
destroyed. Thirty-one now remain, and two of these are across the line,
on Mexican territory. The ruins of the pueblos yet remain, and some of
them have been identified.

The Navajos, composed of a group of tribes of the Athabascan family, and
the Coaninis, who live on the south side of the Grand Cañon of the
Colorado, are now known to be the people, or part of them at least, who
were driven from the pueblos.

In addition to the ruins that have been made in historic times, others
are found scattered throughout New Mexico, Arizona, Southern California,
Utah, and Colorado. Whether the ancient inhabitants of these older ruins
are represented by any of the tribes who now occupy the territory is not
known. These pueblo people were not homogeneous. Among the pueblos now
known at least five linguistic families are represented, but in their
study a somewhat homogeneous stage of culture is presented.

In a general way the earlier or older ruins represent very rude
structures, and the progress of development from the earlier to the
later exhibits two classes of interesting facts. The structures
gradually increase in size and improve in architecture. As the sites for
new villages were selected, more easily defensible positions were
chosen. The cliff dwellings thus belong to the later stage.

From the organization of the exploration of the Colorado River to the
present time, the pueblos yet inhabited, as well as those in ruins, have
been a constant subject of study, and on the organization of the Bureau
much valuable matter had already been collected. Early in the fiscal
year a party was organized to continue explorations in this field, and
placed under the direction of Mr. James Stevenson. The party left
Washington on the first of August last.

Mr. Frank H. Cushing, of the Smithsonian Institution, and Mr. J. K.
Hillers, photographer of the Bureau, with a number of general
assistants, accompanied Mr. Stevenson. The party remained in the field
until early winter, studying the ruins and making large and valuable
collections of pottery, stone implements, etc., and Mr. Hillers
succeeded in making an excellent suite of photographs.

When Mr. Stevenson returned with his party to Washington, Mr. Cushing
remained at Zuñi to study the language, mythology, sociology, and art of
that the most interesting pueblo. An illustrated catalogue of the
collections made by Mr. Stevenson has been printed. It was intended to
form an appendix to this report, but the volume has grown to such a size
that it is thought best to issue it with the next report.


During the fall the Director made an expedition into Northern California
for the purpose of studying the Wintuns. Much linguistic, sociologic,
and technologic material was collected, and more thorough anthropologic
researches initiated among a series of tribes heretofore neglected.


In the second plan of operations adopted by the Bureau, that of
promoting the researches of collaborators, aid in publication and, to
some extent, in preparation of scientific papers, has been given, and by
various ways new investigations and lines of research have been
initiated. For this latter purpose a series of manuals with elementary
discussions and schedules of interrogatories have been prepared.

The first is entitled Introduction to the Study of Indian Languages, by
J. W. Powell.

This has been widely distributed throughout North America, and the
collection of a large body of linguistic material has resulted

A second volume of this character is entitled Introduction to the Study
of Mortuary Customs, by Dr. H. C. Yarrow.

This also has been widely circulated with abundant success.

A third hand-book of the same character is entitled Introduction to the
Study of Sign Language, by Colonel Mallery.

This was circulated in like manner with like results.

A second edition of the Introduction to the Study of Indian Languages,
enlarged to meet the advanced wants of the time, has been prepared.

The papers by Dr. Yarrow and Colonel Mallery, and the catalogue of
manuscripts in the Bureau, prepared by Mr. Pilling, appended to this
volume, will illustrate the value of these agencies.

It is proposed in the near future to prepare similar volumes, as

Introduction to the Study of Medicine Practices of the North American

Introduction to the Study of the Tribal Governments of North America;

Introduction to the Study of North American Mythology.

These additional manuals are nearly ready. Still others are projected,
and it is hoped that the field of North American anthropology will be
entirely covered by them. The series will then be systematically
combined in a Manual of Anthropology for use in North America.


There is in course of preparation by the Bureau a linguistic
classification of North American tribes, with an atlas exhibiting their
priscan homes, or the regions inhabited by them at the time they were
discovered by white men.

       *       *       *       *       *

The foregoing sketch of the Bureau, for the first fiscal year of its
existence, is designed to set forth the plan on which it is organized
and the methods of research adopted, and the papers appended thereto
will exhibit the measure of success attained.

It is the purpose of the Bureau of Ethnology to organize anthropologic
research in America.

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *

_Errors and Inconsistencies: Introductory Section_

In the Table of Contents under Sign Language, entries for the individual
Dialogues, Narratives and Discourses were added by the transcriber for

    Witchcraft  67  [Withcraft]
    Sweat-Lodges, by A. S. Gatschet  586  [_added by transcriber_]
  Linguistic Researches (Gatschet):
    2. Durative in -ota.  [_hyphen invisible_]
  STUDIES AMONG THE IROQUOIS, BY MRS. E. A. SMITH.  [_final . missing_]
  Gesture Speech (Mallery):
    ... the representation of gesture signs.  [_final . missing_]
  Mortuary Customs (Yarrow):
    ... savagery and civilization alike.  [_final . invisible_]
    ... the bones of chief and shamin; [_spelling unchanged_]
  Classification of Tribes:
    anthropologic research in America.  [_final . missing_]

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *


            J. W. Powell, Director.


                As Exhibited In

 The Specialization of the Grammatic Processes,
  the Differentiation of the Parts of Speech,
     and the Integration of the Sentence;
       From a Study of Indian Languages.


                 J. W. POWELL.


  Process by combination                                           3
  Process by vocalic mutation                                      5
  Process by intonation                                            6
  Process by placement                                             6
  Differentiation of the parts of speech                           8

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *

Possible ideas and thoughts are vast in number. A distinct word for
every distinct idea and thought would require a vast vocabulary. The
problem in language is to express many ideas and thoughts with
comparatively few words.

Again, in the evolution of any language, progress is from a condition
where few ideas are expressed by a few words to a higher, where many
ideas are expressed by the use of many words; but the number of all
possible ideas or thoughts expressed is increased greatly out of
proportion with the increase of the number of words.

And still again, in all of those languages which have been most
thoroughly studied, and by inference in all languages, it appears that
the few original words used in any language remain as the elements for
the greater number finally used. In the evolution of a language the
introduction of absolutely new material is a comparatively rare
phenomenon. The old material is combined and modified in many ways to
form the new.

How has the small stock of words found as the basis of a language been
thus combined and modified?

The way in which the old materials have been used gives rise to what
will here be denominated THE GRAMMATIC PROCESSES.


Two or more words may be united to form a new one, or to perform the
office of a new one, and four methods or stages of combination may be

_a._ By _juxtaposition_, where the two words are placed together and yet
remain as distinct words. This method is illustrated in Chinese, where
the words in the combination when taken alone seldom give a clew to
their meaning when placed together.

_b._ By _compounding_, where two words are made into one, in which case
the original elements of the new word remain in an unmodified condition,
as in _house-top_, _rain-bow_, _tell-tale_.

_c._ By _agglutination_, in which case one or more of the elements
entering into combination to form the new word is somewhat changed--the
elements are fused together. Yet this modification is not so great as to
essentially obscure the primitive words, as in _truthful_, where we
easily recognize the original words _truth_ and _full_; and _holiday_,
in which _holy_ and _day_ are recognized.

_d._ By _inflection_. Here one or more of the elements entering into the
compound has been so changed that it can scarcely be recognized. There
is a constant tendency to economy in speech by which words are gradually
shortened as they are spoken by generation after generation. In those
words which are combinations of others there are certain elements that
wear out more rapidly than others. Where some particular word is
combined with many other different words the tendency to modify by wear
this oft-used element is great. This is more especially the case where
the combined word is used in certain categories of combinations, as
where particular words are used to denote tense in the verb; thus, _did_
may be used in combination with a verb to denote past time until it is
worn down to the sound of _d_. The same wear occurs where particular
words are used to form cases in nouns, and a variety of illustrations
might be given. These categories constitute conjugations and
declensions, and for convenience such combinations may be called
paradigmatic. Then the oft-repeated elements of paradigmatic
combinations are apt to become excessively worn and modified, so that
the primitive words or themes to which they are attached seem to be but
slightly changed by the addition. Under these circumstances combination
is called inflection.

As a morphologic process, no well-defined plane of demarkation between
these four methods of combination can be drawn, as one runs into
another; but, in general, words may be said to be juxtaposed when two
words being placed together the combination performs the function of a
new word, while in form the two words remain separate.

Words may be said to be compound when two or more words are combined to
form one, no change being made in either. Words maybe said to be
agglutinated when the elementary words are changed but slightly, _i.e._,
only to the extent that their original forms are not greatly obscured;
and words may be said to be inflected when in the combination the
oft-repeated element or formative part has been so changed that its
origin is obscured. These inflections are used chiefly in the
paradigmatic combinations.

In the preceding statement it has been assumed that there can be
recognized, in these combinations of inflection, a theme or root, as it
is sometimes called, and a formative element. The formative element is
used with a great many different words to define or qualify them; that
is, to indicate mode, tense, number, person, gender, etc., of verbs,
nouns, and other parts of speech.

When in a language juxtaposition is the chief method of combination,
there may also be distinguished two kinds of elements, in some sense
corresponding to themes and formative parts. The theme is a word the
meaning of which is determined by the formative word placed by it; that
is, the theme is a word having many radically different meanings; with
which meaning it is to be understood is determined only by the formative
word, which thus serves as its label. The ways in which the theme words
are thus labeled by the formative word are very curious, but the subject
cannot be entered into here.

When words are combined by compounding, the formative elements cannot so
readily be distinguished from the theme; nor for the purposes under
immediate consideration can compounding be well separated from

When words are combined by agglutination, theme and formative part
usually appear. The formative parts are affixes; and affixes may be
divided into three classes, prefixes, suffixes, and infixes. These
affixes are often called incorporated particles.

In those Indian languages where combination is chiefly by agglutination,
that is, by the use of affixes, _i.e._, incorporated particles, certain
parts of the conjugation of the verb, especially those which denote
gender, number, and person, are effected by the use of article pronouns;
but in those languages where article pronouns are not found the verbs
are inflected to accomplish the same part of their conjugation. Perhaps,
when we come more fully to study the formative elements in these more
highly inflected languages, we may discover in such elements greatly
modified, _i.e._, worn out, incorporated pronouns.


Here, in order to form a new word, one or more of the vowels of the old
word are changed, as in _man--men_, where an _e_ is substituted for _a_;
_ran--run_, where _u_ is substituted for _a_; _lead--led_, where _e_,
with its proper sound, is substituted for _ea_ with its proper sound.
This method is used to a very limited extent in English. When the
history of the words in which it occurs is studied it is discovered to
be but an instance of the wearing out of the different elements of
combined words; but in the Hebrew this method prevails to a very large
extent, and scholars have not yet been able to discover its origin in
combination as they have in English. It may or may not have been an
original grammatic process, but because of its importance in certain
languages it has been found necessary to deal with it as a distinct and
original process.


In English, new words are not formed by this method, yet words are
intoned for certain purposes, chiefly rhetorical. We use the rising
intonation (or inflection, as it is usually called) to indicate that a
question is asked, and various effects are given to speech by the
various intonations of rhetoric. But this process is used in other
languages to form new words with which to express new ideas. In Chinese
eight distinct intonations are found, by the use of which one word may
be made to express eight different ideas, or perhaps it is better to say
that eight words may be made of one.


The place or position of a word may affect its significant use. Thus in
English we say _John struck James_. By the position of those words to
each other we know that John is the actor, and that James receives the

       *       *       *       *       *

By the grammatic processes language is organized. Organization
postulates the differentiation of organs and their combination into
integers. The integers of language are sentences, and their organs are
the parts of speech. Linguistic organization, then, consists in the
differentiation of the parts of speech and the integration of the
sentence. For example, let us take the words _John_, _father_, and
_love_. _John_ is the name of an individual; _love_ is the name of a
mental action, and _father_ the name of a person. We put them together,
John loves father, and they express a thought; _John_ becomes a noun,
and is the subject of the sentence; _love_ becomes a verb, and is the
predicant; _father_ a noun, and is the object; and we now have an
organized sentence. A sentence requires parts of speech, and parts of
speech are such because they are used as the organic elements of a

The criteria of rank in languages are, first, grade of organization,
_i.e._, the degree to which the grammatic processes and methods are
specialized, and the parts of speech differentiated; second, sematologic
content, that is, the body of thought which the language is competent to

The grammatic processes may be used for three purposes:

First, for _derivation_, where a new word to express a new idea is made
by combining two or more old words, or by changing the vowel of one
word, or by changing the intonation of one word.

Second, for _modification_, a word may be qualified or defined by the
processes of combination, vocalic mutation or intonation.

It should here be noted that the plane between derivation and
qualification is not absolute.

Third, for _relation_. When words as signs of ideas are used together to
express thought, the relation of the words must be expressed by some
means. In English the relation of words is expressed both by placement
and combination, _i.e._, inflection for agreement.

It should here be noted that paradigmatic inflections are used for two
distinct purposes, qualification and relation. A word is qualified by
inflection when the idea expressed by the inflection pertains to the
idea expressed by the word inflected; thus a noun is qualified by
inflection when its number and gender are expressed. A word is related
by inflection when the office of the word in the sentence is pointed out
thereby; thus, nouns are related by case inflections; verbs are related
by inflections for gender, number, and person. All inflection for
agreement is inflection for relation.

In English, three of the grammatic processes are highly specialized.

_Combination_ is used chiefly for derivation, but to some slight extent
for qualification and relation in the paradigmatic categories. But its
use in this manner as compared with many other languages has almost

_Vocalic mutation_ is used to a very limited extent and only by
accident, and can scarcely be said to belong to the English language.

_Intonation_ is used as a grammatic process only to a limited
extent--simply to assist in forming the interrogative and imperative
modes. Its use here is almost rhetorical; in all other cases it is
purely rhetorical.

_Placement_ is largely used in the language, and is highly specialized,
performing the office of exhibiting the relations of words to each other
in the sentence; _i.e._, it is used chiefly for syntactic relation.

Thus one of the four processes does not belong to the English language;
the others are highly specialized.

The purposes for which the processes are used are _derivation_,
_modification_, and _syntactic relation_.

_Derivation_ is accomplished by combination.

_Modification_ is accomplished by the differentiation of adjectives and
adverbs, as words, phrases, and clauses.

_Syntactic relation_ is accomplished by placement. Syntactic relation
must not be confounded with the relation expressed by prepositions.
Syntactic relation is the relation of the parts of speech to each other
as integral parts of a sentence. Prepositions express relations of
thought of another order. They relate words to each other as words.

Placement relates words to each other as parts of speech.

In the Indian tongues combination is used for all three purposes,
performing the three different functions of derivation, modification,
and relation. Placement, also, is used for relation, and for both lands
of relation, syntactic and prepositional.

With regard, then, to the processes and purposes for which they are
used, we find in the Indian languages a low degree of specialization;
processes are used for diverse purposes, and purposes are accomplished
by diverse processes.


It is next in order to consider to what degree the parts of speech are
differentiated in Indian languages, as compared with English.

Indian nouns are extremely connotive, that is, the name does more than
simply denote the thing to which it belongs; in denoting the object it
also assigns to it some quality or characteristic. Every object has many
qualities and characteristics, and by describing but a part of these the
true office of the noun is but imperfectly performed. A strictly
denotive name expresses no one quality or character, but embraces all
qualities and characters.

In _Ute_ the name for bear is _he seizes_, or _the hugger_. In this case
the verb is used for the noun, and in so doing the Indian names the bear
by predicating one of his characteristics. Thus noun and verb are
undifferentiated. In _Seneca_ the north is _the sun never goes there_,
and this sentence may be used as adjective or noun; in such cases noun,
adjective, verb, and adverb are found as one vocable or word, and the
four parts of speech are undifferentiated. In the _Pavänt_ language a
school-house is called _pó-kûnt-în-îñ-yî-kän_. The first part of the
word, _pó-kûnt_, signifies _sorcery is practiced_, and is the name given
by the Indians to any writing, from the fact that when they first
learned of writing they supposed it to be a method of practicing
sorcery; _în-îñ-yî_ is the verb signifying _to count_, and the meaning
of the word has been extended so as to signify _to read_; _kän_
signifies wigwam, and is derived from the verb _küri_, _to stay_. Thus
the name of the school-house literally signifies _a staying place where
sorcery is counted_, or where papers are read. The _Pavänt_ in naming a
school-house describes the purpose for which it is used. These examples
illustrate the general characteristics of Indian nouns; they are
excessively connotive; a simply denotive name is rarely found. In
general their name-words predicate some attribute of the object named,
and thus noun, adjective, and predicant are undifferentiated.

In many Indian languages there is no separate word for _eye_, _hand_,
_arm_, or other parts and organs of the body, but the word is found with
an incorporated or attached pronoun signifying _my_ hand, _my_ eye;
_your_ hand, _your_ eye; _his_ hand, _his_ eye, etc., as the case may
be. If the Indian, in naming these parts, refers to his own body, he
says _my_; if he refers to the body of the person to whom he is
speaking, he says _your_, &c. If an Indian should find a detached foot
thrown from the amputating-table of an army field hospital, he would say
something like this: I have found somebody _his foot_. The linguistic
characteristic is widely spread, though not universal.

Thus the Indian has no command of a fully differentiated noun expressive
of _eye_, _hand_, _arm_, or other parts and organs of the body.

In the pronouns we often have the most difficult part of an Indian
language. Pronouns are only to a limited extent independent words.

Among the free pronouns the student must early learn to distinguish
between the personal and the demonstrative. The demonstrative pronouns
are more commonly used. The Indian is more accustomed to say _this_
person or thing, _that_ person or thing, than _he_, _she_, or _it_.
Among the free personal pronouns the student may find an equivalent of
the pronoun _I_, another signifying _I and you_; perhaps another
signifying _I and he_, and one signifying _we, more than two_, including
the speaker and those present; and another including the speaker and
persons absent. He will also find personal pronouns in the second and
third person, perhaps with singular, dual, and plural forms.

To a large extent the pronouns are incorporated in the verbs as
prefixes, infixes, or suffixes. In such cases we will call them article
pronouns. These article pronouns point out with great particularity the
person, number, and gender, both of subject and object, and sometimes of
the indirect object. When the article pronouns are used the personal
pronouns may or may not be used; but it is believed that the personal
pronouns will always be found. Article pronouns may not always be found.
In those languages which are characterized by them they are used alike
when the subject and object nouns are expressed and when they are not.
The student may at first find some difficulty with these article
pronouns. Singular, dual, and plural forms will be found. Sometimes
distinct incorporated particles will be used for subject and object, but
often this will not be the case. If the subject only is expressed, one
particle may be used; if the object only is expressed, another particle;
but if subject and object are expressed an entirely different particle
may stand for both.

But it is in the genders of these article pronouns that the greatest
difficulty may be found. The student must entirely free his mind of the
idea that gender is simply a distinction of sex. In Indian tongues,
genders are usually methods of classification primarily into animate and
inanimate. The animate may be again divided into male and female, but
this is rarely the case. Often by these genders all objects are
classified by characteristics found in their attitudes or supposed
constitution. Thus we may have the animate and inanimate, one or both,
divided into the _standing_, the _sitting_, and the _lying_; or they may
be divided into the _watery_, the _mushy_, the _earthy_, the _stony_,
the _woody_, and the _fleshy_. The gender of these article pronouns has
rarely been worked out in any language. The extent to which these
classifications enter into the article pronouns is not well known. The
subject requires more thorough study. These incorporated particles are
here called _article_ pronouns. In the conjugation of the verb they take
an important part, and have by some writers been called _transitions_.
Besides pointing out with particularity the person, number, and gender
or the subject and object, they perform the same offices that are
usually performed by those inflections of the verb that occur to make
them agree in gender, number, and person with the subject. In those
Indian languages where the article pronouns are not found, and the
personal pronouns only are used, the verb is usually inflected to agree
with the subject or object, or both, in the same particulars.

The article pronouns as they point out person, number, gender, and case
of the subject and object, are not simple particles, but are to a
greater or lesser extent compound; their component elements may be
broken apart and placed in different parts of the verb. Again, the
article pronoun in some languages may have its elements combined into a
distinct word in such a manner that it will not be incorporated in the
verb, but will be placed immediately before it. For this reason the term
_article pronoun_ has been chosen rather than _attached pronoun_. The
older term, _transition_, was given to them because of their analogy in
function to verbal inflections.

Thus the verb of an Indian language contains within itself incorporated
article pronouns which point out with great particularity the gender,
number, and person of the subject and object. In this manner verb,
pronoun, and adjective are combined, and to this extent these parts of
speech are undifferentiated.

In some languages the article pronoun constitutes a distinct word, but
whether free or incorporated it is a complex tissue of adjectives.

Again, nouns sometimes contain particles within themselves to predicate
possession, and to this extent nouns and verbs are undifferentiated.

The verb is relatively of much greater importance in an Indian tongue
than in a civilized language. To a large extent the pronoun is
incorporated in the verb as explained above, and thus constitutes a part
of its conjugation.

Again, adjectives are used as intransitive verbs, as in most Indian
languages there is no verb _to be_ used as a predicant or copula. Where
in English we would say _the man is good_, the Indian would say _that
man good_, using the adjective as an intransitive verb, _i.e._, as a
predicant. If he desired to affirm it in the past tense, the
intransitive verb _good_, would be inflected, or otherwise modified, to
indicate the tense; and so, in like manner, all adjectives when used to
predicate can be modified to indicate mode, tense, number, person, &c.,
as other intransitive verbs.

Adverbs are used as intransitive verbs. In English we may say _he is
there_; the Indian would say _that person there_ usually preferring the
demonstrative to the personal pronoun. The adverb _there_ would,
therefore, be used as a predicant or intransitive verb, and might be
conjugated to denote different modes, tenses, numbers, persons, etc.
Verbs will often receive adverbial qualifications by the use of
incorporated particles, and, still further, verbs may contain within
themselves adverbial limitations without our being able to trace such
meanings to any definite particles or parts of the verb.

Prepositions are intransitive verbs. In English we may say _the hat is
on the table_; the Indian would say _that hat on table_; or he might
change the order, and say _that hat table on_; but the preposition _on_
would be used as an intransitive verb to predicate, and may be
conjugated. Prepositions may often be found as particles incorporated in
verbs, and, still further, verbs may contain within themselves
prepositional meanings without our being able to trace such meanings to
any definite particles within the verb. But the verb connotes such ideas
that something is needed to complete its meaning, that something being a
limiting or qualifying word, phrase, or clause. Prepositions may be
prefixed, infixed, or suffixed to nouns, _i.e._, they may be particles
incorporated in nouns.

Nouns may be used as intransitive verbs under the circumstances when in
English we would use a noun as the complement of a sentence after the
verb _to be_.

The verb, therefore, often includes within itself subject, direct
object, indirect object, qualifier, and relation-idea. Thus it is that
the study of an Indian language is, to a large extent, the study of its

Thus adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and nouns are used as
intransitive verbs; and, to such extent, adjectives, adverbs,
prepositions, nouns and verbs are undifferentiated.

From the remarks above, it will be seen that Indian verbs often include
within themselves meanings which in English are expressed by adverbs and
adverbial phrases and clauses. Thus the verb may express within itself
direction, manner, instrument, and purpose, one or all, as the verb _to
go_ may be represented by a word signifying _go home_; another, _go away
from home_; another, _go to a place other than home_; another, _go from
a place other than home_; one, _go from this place_, with reference to
home; one, to _go up_; another, to _go down_; one, _go around_; and,
perhaps, there will be a verb _go up hill_; another, _go up a valley_;
another, _go up a river_, etc. Then we may have _to go on foot_, _to go
on horseback_, _to go in a canoe_; still another, _to go for water_;
another _for wood_, etc. Distinct words may be used for all these, or a
fewer number used, and these varied by incorporated particles. In like
manner, the English verb _to break_ may be represented by several words,
each of which will indicate the manner of performing the act or the
instrument with which it is done. Distinct words may be used, or a
common word varied with incorporated particles.

The verb _to strike_ may be represented by several words, signifying
severally _to strike with the fist_, _to strike with a club_, _to strike
with the open hand_, _to strike with a whip_, _to strike with a switch_,
to strike with a flat instrument, etc. A common word may be used with
incorporated particles or entirely different words used.

Mode in an Indian tongue is a rather difficult subject. Modes analogous
to those of civilized tongues are found, and many conditions and
qualifications appear in the verb which in English and other civilized
languages appear as adverbs, and adverbial phrases and clauses. No plane
of separation can be drawn between such adverbial qualifications and
true modes. Thus there may be a form of the verb, which shows that the
speaker makes a declaration as certain, _i.e._, an _indicative_ mode;
another which shows that the speaker makes a declaration with doubt,
_i.e._, a _dubitative_ mode; another that he makes a declaration on
hearsay, _i.e._, a _quotative_ mode; another form will be used in making
a command, giving an _imperative_ mode; another in imploration, _i.e._,
an _implorative_ mode; another form to denote permission, _i.e._, a
_permissive_ mode; another in negation, _i.e._, a _negative_ mode;
another form will be used to indicate that the action is simultaneous
with some other action, _i.e._, a _simulative_ mode; another to denote
desire or wish that something be done, _i.e._, a _desiderative_ mode;
another that the action ought to be done, _i.e._, an _obligative_ mode;
another that action is repetitive from time to time, _i.e._, a
_frequentative_ mode; another that action is caused, _i.e._, a
_causative_ mode, etc.

These forms of the verb, which we are compelled to call modes, are of
great number. Usually with each of them a particular modal particle or
incorporated adverb will be used; but the particular particle which
gives the qualified meaning may not always be discovered; and in one
language a different word will be introduced, wherein another the same
word will be used with an incorporated particle.

It is stated above that incorporated particles may be used to indicate
direction, manner, instrument, and purpose; in fact, any adverbial
qualification whatever may be made by an incorporated particle instead
of an adverb as a distinct word.

No line of demarkation can be drawn between these adverbial particles
and those mentioned above as modal particles. Indeed it seems best to
treat all these forms of the verb arising from incorporated particles as
distinct modes. In this sense, then, an Indian language has a
multiplicity of modes. It should be further remarked that in many cases
these modal or adverbial particles are excessively worn, so that they
may appear as additions or changes of simple vowel or consonant sounds.
When incorporated particles are thus used, distinct adverbial words,
phrases, or clauses may also be employed, and the idea expressed twice.

In an Indian language it is usually found difficult to elaborate a
system of tenses in paradigmatic form. Many tenses or time particles are
found incorporated in verbs. Some of these time particles are
excessively worn, and may appear rather as inflections than as
incorporated particles. Usually rather distinct present, past, and
future tenses are discovered; often a remote or ancient past, and less
often an immediate future. But great specification of time in relation
to the present and in relation to other time is usually found.

It was seen above that adverbial particles cannot be separated from
modal particles. In like manner tense particles cannot be separated from
adverbial and modal particles.

In an Indian language adverbs are differentiated only to a limited
extent. Adverbial qualifications are found in the verb, and thus there
are a multiplicity of modes and tenses, and no plane of demarcation can
be drawn between mode and tense. From preceding statements it will
appear that a verb in an Indian tongue may have incorporated with it a
great variety of particles, which can be arranged in three general
classes, _i.e._, pronominal, adverbial, and prepositional.

The pronominal particles we have called article pronouns; they serve to
point out a variety of characteristics in the subject, object, and
indirect object of the verb. They thus subserve purposes which in
English are subserved by differentiated adjectives as distinct parts of
speech. They might, therefore, with some propriety, have been called
adjective particles, but these elements perform another function; they
serve the purpose which is usually called _agreement in language_; that
is, they make the verb agree with the subject and object, and thus
indicate the syntactic relation between subject, object, and verb. In
this sense they might with propriety have been called relation
particles, and doubtless this function was in mind when some of the
older grammarians called them transitions.

The adverbial particles perform the functions of voice, mode, and tense,
together with many other functions that are performed in languages
spoken by more highly civilized people by differentiated adverbs,
adverbial phrases, and clauses.

The prepositional particles perform the function of indicating a great
variety of subordinate relations, like the prepositions used as distinct
parts of speech in English.

By the demonstrative function of some of the pronominal particles, they
are closely related to adverbial particles, and adverbial particles are
closely related to prepositional particles, so that it will be sometimes
difficult to say of a particular particle whether it be pronominal or
adverbial, and of another particular particle whether it be adverbial or

Thus the three classes of particles are not separated by absolute planes
of demarkation.

The use of these particles as parts of the verb; the use of nouns,
adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions as intransitive verbs; and the
direct use of verbs as nouns, adjectives, and adverbs, make the study of
an Indian tongue to a large extent the study of its verbs.

To the extent that voice, mode, and tense are accomplished by the use of
agglutinated particles or inflections, to that extent adverbs and verbs
are undifferentiated.

To the extent that adverbs are found as incorporated particles in verbs,
the two parts of speech are undifferentiated.

To the extent that prepositions are particles incorporated in the verb,
prepositions and verbs are undifferentiated.

To the extent that prepositions are affixed to nouns, prepositions and
nouns are undifferentiated.

In all these particulars it is seen that the Indian tongues belong to a
very low type of organization. Various scholars have called attention to
this feature by describing Indian languages as being holophrastic,
polysynthetic, or synthetic. The term synthetic is perhaps the best, and
may be used as synonymous with undifferentiated.

Indian tongues, therefore, may be said to be highly synthetic in that
their parts of speech are imperfectly differentiated.

In these same particulars the English language is highly organized, as
the parts of speech are highly differentiated. Yet the difference is one
of degree, not of kind.

To the extent in the English language that inflection is used for
qualification, as for person, number, and gender of the noun and
pronoun, and for mode and tense in the verb, to that extent the parts of
speech are undifferentiated. But we have seen that inflection is used
for this purpose to a very slight extent.

There is yet in the English language one important differentiation which
has been but partially accomplished. Verbs as usually considered are
undifferentiated parts of speech; they are nouns and adjectives, one or
both, and predicants. The predicant simple is a distinct part of speech.
The English language has but one, the verb _to be_, and this is not
always a pure predicant, for it sometimes contains within itself an
adverbial element when it is conjugated for mode and tense, and a
connective element when it is conjugated for agreement. With adjectives
and nouns this verb is used as a predicant. In the passive voice also it
is thus used, and the participles are nouns or adjectives. In what is
sometimes called the progressive form of the active voice nouns and
adjectives are differentiated in the participles, and the verb “to be”
is used as a predicant. But in what is usually denominated the active
voice of the verb, the English language has undifferentiated parts of
speech. An examination of the history of the verb _to be_ in the English
language exhibits the fact that it is coming more and more to be used as
the predicant; and what is usually called the common form of the active
voice is coming more and more to be limited in its use to special

The real active voice, indicative mode, present tense, first person,
singular number, of the verb to eat, is _am eating_. The expression _I
eat_, signifies _I am accustomed to eat_. So, if we consider the common
form of the active voice throughout its entire conjugation, we discover
that many of its forms are limited to special uses.

Throughout the conjugation of the verb the auxiliaries are predicants,
but these auxiliaries, to the extent that they are modified for mode,
tense, number, and person, contain adverbial and connective elements.

In like manner many of the lexical elements of the English language
contain more than one part of speech: _To ascend_ is _to go up_; _to
descend_ is _to go down_; and _to depart_ is _to go from_.

Thus it is seen that the English language is also synthetic in that its
parts of speech are not completely differentiated. The English, then,
differs in this respect from an Indian language only in degree.

In most Indian tongues no pure predicant has been differentiated, but in
some the verb _to be_, or predicant, has been slightly developed,
chiefly to affirm, existence in a place.

It will thus be seen that by the criterion of organization Indian
tongues are of very low grade.

It need but to be affirmed that by the criterion of sematologic content
Indian languages are of a very low grade. Therefore the
frequently-expressed opinion that the languages of barbaric peoples have
a more highly organized grammatic structure than the languages of
civilized peoples has its complete refutation.

It is worthy of remark that all paradigmatic inflection in a civilized
tongue is a relic of its barbaric condition. When the parts of speech
are fully differentiated and the process of placement fully specialized,
so that the order of words in sentences has its full significance, no
useful purpose is subserved by inflection.

Economy in speech is the force by which its development has been
accomplished, and it divides itself properly into economy of utterance
and economy of thought. Economy of utterance has had to do with the
phonic constitution of words; economy of thought has developed the

All paradigmatic inflection requires unnecessary thought. In the clause
_if he was here_, _if_ fully expresses the subjunctive condition, and it
is quite unnecessary to express it a second time by using another form
of the verb _to be_. And so the people who are using the English
language are deciding, for the subjunctive form is rapidly becoming
obsolete with the long list of paradigmatic forms which have

Every time the pronoun _he_, _she_, or _it_ is used it is necessary to
think of the sex of its antecedent, though in its use there is no reason
why sex should be expressed, say, one time in ten thousand. If one
pronoun non-expressive of gender were used instead of the three, with
three gender adjectives, then in nine thousand nine hundred and
ninety-nine cases the speaker would be relieved of the necessity of an
unnecessary thought, and in the one case an adjective would fully
express it. But when these inflections are greatly multiplied, as they
are in the Indian languages, alike with the Greek and Latin, the speaker
is compelled in the choice of a word to express his idea to think of a
multiplicity of things which have no connection with that which he
wishes to express.

A _Ponka_ Indian, in saying that a man killed a rabbit, would have to
say the man, he, one, animate, standing, in the nominative case,
purposely killed, by shooting an arrow, the rabbit, he, the one,
animate, sitting, in the objective case; for the form of a verb to kill
would have to be selected, and the verb changes its form by inflection
and incorporated particles to denote person, number, and gender as
animate or inanimate, and gender as standing, sitting, or lying, and
case; and the form of the verb would also express whether the killing
was done accidentally or purposely, and whether it was by shooting or by
some other process, and, if by shooting, whether by bow and arrow, or
with a gun; and the form of the verb would in like manner have to
express all of these things relating to the object; that is, the person,
number, gender, and case of the object; and from the multiplicity of
paradigmatic forms of the verb to kill this particular one would have to
be selected. Perhaps one time in a million it would be the purpose to
express all of these particulars, and in that case the Indian would have
the whole expression in one compact word, but in the nine hundred and
ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine cases all of these
particulars would have to be thought of in the selection of the form of
the verb, when no valuable purpose would be accomplished thereby.

In the development of the English, as well as the French and German,
linguistic evolution has not been in vain.

Judged by these criteria, the English stands alone in the highest rank;
but as a written language, in the way in which its alphabet is used, the
English has but emerged from a barbaric condition.

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *


            J. W. Powell, Director.


                     of the



                 J. W. POWELL.


  The genesis of philosophy                                       19
  Two grand stages of philosophy                                  21
  Mythologic philosophy has four stages                           29
  Outgrowth from mythologic philosophy                            33
  The course of evolution in mythologic philosophy                38
  Mythic tales                                                    43
    The Cĭn-aú-äv Brothers discuss matters of importance
      to the Utes                                                 44
    Origin of the echo                                            45
    The So´-kûs Wai´-ûn-ats                                       47
    Ta-vwots has a fight with the sun                             52

       *       *       *       *       *


                     of the


       *       *       *       *       *


The wonders of the course of nature have ever challenged attention. In
savagery, in barbarism, and in civilization alike, the mind of man has
sought the explanation of things. The movements of the heavenly bodies,
the change of seasons, the succession of night and day, the powers of
the air, majestic mountains, ever-flowing rivers, perennial springs, the
flight of birds, the gliding of serpents, the growth of trees, the
blooming of flowers, the forms of storm-carved rocks, the mysteries of
life and death, the institutions of society--many are the things to be
explained. The yearning to know is universal. _How_ and _why_ are
everlasting interrogatories profoundly instinct in humanity. In the
evolution of the human mind, the instinct of cosmic interrogation
follows hard upon the instinct of self-preservation.

In all the operations of nature, man’s weal and woe are involved. A cold
wave sweeps from the north--rivers and lakes are frozen, forests are
buried under snows, and the fierce winds almost congeal the life-fluids
of man himself, and indeed man’s sources of supply are buried under the
rocks of water. At another time the heavens are as brass, and the clouds
come and go with mockery of unfulfilled promises of rain, the fierce
midsummer sun pours its beams upon the sands, and blasts heated in the
furnace of the desert sear the vegetation; and the fruits, which in more
congenial seasons are subsistence and luxury, shrivel before the eyes of
famishing men. A river rages and destroys the adjacent valley with its
flood. A mountain bursts forth with its rivers of fire, the land is
buried and the people are swept away. Lightning shivers a tree and rends
a skull. The silent, unseen powers of nature, too, are at work bringing
pain or joy, health or sickness, life or death, to mankind. In like
manner man’s welfare is involved in all the institutions of society.
_How_ and _why_ are the questions asked about all these
things--questions springing from the deepest instinct of

In all stages of savage, barbaric, and civilized inquiry, every question
has found an answer, every _how_ has had its _thus_, every _why_ its
_because_. The sum of the answers to the questions raised by any people
constitute its philosophy; hence all peoples have had philosophies
consisting of their accepted explanation of things. Such a philosophy
must necessarily result from the primary instincts developed in man in
the early progress of his differentiation from the beast. This I
postulate: if demonstration is necessary, demonstration is at hand. Not
only has every people a philosophy, but every stage of culture is
characterized by its stage of philosophy. Philosophy has been unfolded
with the evolution of the human understanding. The history of philosophy
is the history of human opinions from the earlier to the later
days--from the lower to the higher culture.

In the production of a philosophy, phenomena must be _discerned_,
_discriminated_, _classified_. Discernment, discrimination, and
classification are the processes by which a philosophy is developed. In
studying the philosophy of a people at any stage of culture, to
understand what such a people entertain as the sum of their knowledge,
it is necessary that we should understand what phenomena they saw,
heard, felt, discerned; what discriminations they made, and what
resemblances they seized upon as a basis for the classification on which
their explanations rested. A philosophy will be higher in the scale,
nearer the truth, as the discernment is wider, the discrimination nicer,
and the classification better.

The sense of the savage is dull compared with the sense of the civilized
man. There is a myth current in civilization to the effect that the
barbarian has highly developed perceptive faculties. It has no more
foundation than the myth of the wisdom of the owl. A savage sees but few
sights, hears but few sounds, tastes but few flavors, smells but few
odors; his whole sensuous life is narrow and blunt, and his facts that
are made up of the combination of sensuous impressions are few. In
comparison, the civilized man has his vision extended away toward the
infinitesimal and away toward the infinite; his perception of sound is
multiplied to the comprehension of rapturous symphonies; his perception
of taste is increased to the enjoyment of delicious viands; his
perception of smell is developed to the appreciation of most exquisite
perfumes; and his facts that are made up of the combination of sensuous
impressions are multiplied beyond enumeration. The stages of discernment
from the lowest savage to the highest civilized man constitute a series
the end of which is far from the beginning.

If the discernment of the savage is little, his discrimination is less.
All his sensuous perceptions are confused; but the confusion of
confusion is that universal habit of savagery--the confusion of the
objective with the subjective--so that the savage sees, hears, tastes,
smells, feels the imaginings of his own mind. Subjectively determined
sensuous processes are diseases in civilization, but normal, functional
methods in savagery.

The savage philosopher classifies by obvious resemblances--analogic
characters. The civilized philosopher classifies by essential
affinitives--homologic characteristics--and the progress of philosophy
is marked by changes from analogic categories to homologic categories.


There are two grand stages of philosophy--the mythologic and scientific.
In the first, all phenomena are explained by analogies derived from
subjective human experiences; in the latter, phenomena are explained as
orderly successions of events.

In sublime egotism, man first interprets the cosmos as an extension of
himself; he classifies the phenomena of the outer word by their
analogies with subjective phenomena; his measure of distance is his own
pace, his measure of time his own sleep, for he says, “It is a thousand
paces to the great rock,” or, “It is a hundred sleeps to the great
feast.” Noises are voices, powers are hands, movements are made afoot.
By subjective examination discovering in himself will and design, and by
inductive reason discovering will and design in his fellow men and in
animals, he extends the induction to all the cosmos, and there discovers
in all things will and design. All phenomena are supposed to be the acts
of some one, and that some one having will and purpose. In mythologic
philosophy the phenomena of the outer physical world are supposed to be
the acts of living, willing, designing personages. The simple are
compared with and explained by the complex. In scientific philosophy,
phenomena are supposed to be children of antecedent phenomena, and so
far as science goes with its explanation they are thus interpreted. Man
with the subjective phenomena gathered about him is studied from an
objective point of view, and the phenomena of subjective life are
relegated to the categories established in the classification of the
phenomena of the outer world; thus the complex is studied by resolving
it into its simple constituents.

There is an unknown known, and there is a known unknown. The unknown
known is the philosophy of savagery; the known unknown is the philosophy
of civilization. In those stages of culture that we call savagery and
barbarism, all things are known--supposed to be known; but when at last
something is known, understood, explained, then to those who have that
knowledge in full comprehension all other things become unknown. Then is
ushered in the era of investigation and discovery; then science is born;
then is the beginning of civilization. The philosophy of savagery is
complete; the philosophy of civilization fragmentary. Ye men of science,
ye wise fools, ye have discovered the law of gravity, but ye cannot tell
what gravity is. But savagery has a cause and a method for all things;
nothing is left unexplained.

In the lower stages of savagery the cosmos is bounded by the great plain
of land and sea on which we tread, and the firmament, the azure surface
above, set with brilliants; and beyond is an abyss of--nothing. Within
these bounds all things are known, all things are explained; there are
no mysteries but the whims of the gods. But when the plain on which we
tread becomes a portion of the surface of a great globe, and the domed
firmament becomes the heavens, stretching beyond Alcyone and Sirius,
with this enlargement of the realm of philosophy the verity of
philosophy is questioned. The savage is a positive man; the scientist is
a doubting man.

The opinions of a savage people are childish. Society grows! Some say
society develops; others that society evolves; but, somehow, I like to
say it grows. The history of the discovery of growth is a large part of
the history of human culture. That individuals grow, that the child
grows to be a man, the colt a horse, the scion a tree, is easily
recognized, though with unassisted eye the processes of growth are not
discovered. But that races grow--races of men, races of animals, races
of plants, races or groups of worlds--is a very late discovery, and yet
all of us do not grasp so great a thought. Consider that stage of
culture where the growth of individuals is not fully recognized. That
stage is savagery. To-day the native races of North America are agitated
by discussions over that great philosophic question, “Do the trees grow
or were they created?” That the grass grows they admit, but the orthodox
philosophers stoutly assert that the forest pines and the great
_sequoias_ were created as they are.

Thus in savagery the philosophers dispute over the immediate creation or
development of individuals--in civilization over the immediate creation
or development of races. I know of no single fact that better
illustrates the wide difference between these two stages of culture. But
let us look for other terms of comparison. The scalping scene is no more
the true picture of savagery than the bayonet charge of civilization.
Savagery is sylvan life. Contrast _Ka-ni-ga_ with New York. _Ka-ni-ga_
is an Indian village in the Rocky Mountains. New York is, well--New
York. The home in the forest is a shelter of boughs; the home in New
York is a palace of granite. The dwellers in _Ka-ni-ga_ are clothed in
the skins of animals, rudely tanned, rudely wrought, and colored with
daubs of clay. For the garments of New York, flocks are tended, fields
are cultivated, ships sail on the sea, and men dig in the mountains for
dye-stuffs stored in the rocks. The industries of _Ka-ni-ga_ employ
stone knives, bone awls, and human muscle; the industries of New York
employ the tools of the trades, the machinery of the manufactories, and
the power of the sun--for water-power is but sunshine, and the coal mine
is but a pot of pickeled sunbeams.

Even the nursery rhymes are in contrast; the prattler in New York says:

  Daffy down dilly
  Has come up to town,
  With a green petticoat
  And a blue gown;

but in savagery the outer and nether garments are not yet
differentiated; and more: blue and green are not differentiated, for the
Indian has but one name for the two; the green grass and the blue
heavens are of the same hue in the Indian tongue. But the nursery tales
of _Ka-ni-ga_ are of the animals, for the savages associate with the
animals on terms of recognized equality; and this is what the prattler
in _Ka-ni-ga_ says:

  The poor little bee
  That lives in the tree,
  The poor little bee
  That lives in the tree,
  Has only one arrow
  In his quiver.

The arts and industries of savagery and civilization are not in greater
contrast than their philosophy. To fully present to you the condition of
savagery, as illustrated in their philosophy, three obstacles appear.
After all the years I have spent among the Indians in their mountain
villages, I am not certain that I have sufficiently divorced myself from
the thoughts and ways of civilization to properly appreciate their
childish beliefs. The second obstacle subsists in your own knowledge of
the methods and powers of nature, and the ways of civilized society; and
when I attempt to tell you what an Indian thinks, I fear you will never
fully forget what you know, and thus you will be led to give too deep a
meaning to a savage explanation; or, on the other hand, contrasting an
Indian concept with your own, the manifest absurdity will sound to you
as an idle tale too simple to deserve mention, or too false to deserve
credence. The third difficulty lies in the attempt to put savage
thoughts into civilized language; our words are so full of meaning,
carry with them so many great thoughts and collateral ideas.

Some examples of the philosophic methods belonging to widely separated
grades of culture may serve to make the previous statements clearer.

_Wind._--The _Ute_ philosopher discerns that men and animals breathe. He
recognizes vaguely the phenomena of the wind, and discovers its
resemblance to breath, and explains the winds by relegating them to the
class of breathings. He declares that there is a monster beast in the
north that breathes the winter winds, and another in the south, and
another in the east, and another in the west. The facts relating to
winds are but partially discerned; the philosopher has not yet
discovered that there is an earth-surrounding atmosphere. He fails in
making the proper discriminations. His relegation of the winds to the
class of breathings is analogic, but not homologic. The basis of his
philosophy is personality, and hence he has four wind-gods.

The philosopher of the ancient Northland discovered that he could cool
his brow with a fan, or kindle a flame, or sweep away the dust with the
wafted air. The winds also cooled his brow, the winds also swept away
the dust and kindled the fire into a great conflagration, and when the
wind blew he said, “Somebody is fanning the waters of the fiord,” or
“Somebody is fanning the evergreen forests,” and he relegated the winds
to the class of fannings, and he said, “The god Hræsvelger, clothed with
eagle-plumes, is spreading his wings for flight, and the winds rise from
under them.”

The early Greek philosopher discovered that air may be imprisoned in
vessels or move in the ventilation of caves, and he recognized wind as
something more than breath, something more than fanning, something that
can be gathered up and scattered abroad, and so when the winds blew he
said, “The sacks have been untied,” or “The caves have been opened.”

The philosopher of civilization, has discovered that breath, the
fan-wafted breeze, the air confined in vessels, the air moving in
ventilation, that these are all parts of the great body of air which
surrounds the earth, all in motion, swung by the revolving earth, heated
at the tropics, cooled at the poles, and thus turned into
counter-currents and again deflected by a thousand geographic features,
so that the winds sweep down valleys, eddy among mountain crags, or waft
the spray from the crested billows of the sea, all in obedience to
cosmic laws. The facts discerned are many, the discriminations made are
nice, and the classifications based on true homologies, and we have the
science of meteorology, which exhibits an orderly succession of events
even in the fickle winds.

_Sun and Moon._--The _Ute_ philosopher declares the sun to be a living
personage, and explains his passage across the heavens along an
appointed way by giving an account of a fierce personal conflict between
_Tä-vi_, the sun-god, and _Ta-wăts_, one of the supreme gods of his

In that long ago, the time to which all mythology refers, the sun roamed
the earth at will. When he came too near with his fierce heat the people
were scorched, and when he hid away in his cave for a long time, too
idle to come forth, the night was long and the earth cold. Once upon a
time _Ta-wăts_, the hare-god, was sitting with his family by the
camp-fire in the solemn woods, anxiously waiting for the return of
_Tä-vi_, the wayward sun-god. Wearied with long watching, the hare-god
fell asleep, and the sun-god came so near that he scorched the naked
shoulder of _Ta-wăts_. Foreseeing the vengeance which would be thus
provoked, he fled back to his cave beneath the earth. _Ta-wăts_ awoke in
great anger, and speedily determined to go and fight the sun-god. After
a long journey of many adventures the hare-god came to the brink of the
earth, and there watched long and patiently, till at last the sun-god
coming out he shot an arrow at his face, but the fierce heat consumed
the arrow ere it had finished its intended course; then another arrow
was sped, but that was also consumed; and another, and still another,
till only one remained in his quiver, but this was the magical arrow
that had never failed its mark. _Ta-wăts_, holding it in his hand,
lifted the barb to his eye and baptized it in a divine tear; then the
arrow was sped and struck the sun-god full in the face, and the sun was
shivered into a thousand fragments, which fell to the earth, causing a
general conflagration. Then _Ta-wăts_, the hare-god, fled before the
destruction he had wrought, and as he fled the burning earth consumed
his feet, consumed his legs, consumed his body, consumed his hands and
his arms--all were consumed but the head alone, which bowled across
valleys and over mountains, fleeing destruction from the burning earth
until at last, swollen with heat, the eyes of the god burst and the
tears gushed forth in a flood which spread over the earth and
extinguished the fire. The sun-god was now conquered, and he appeared
before a council of the gods to await sentence. In that long council
were established the days and the nights, the seasons and the years,
with the length thereof, and the sun was condemned to travel across the
firmament by the same trail day after day till the end of time.

In this same philosophy we learn that in that ancient time a council of
the gods was held to consider the propriety of making a moon, and at
last the task was given to Whippoorwill, a god of the night, and a frog
yielded himself a willing sacrifice for this purpose, and the
Whippoorwill, by incantations, and other magical means, transformed the
frog into the new moon. The truth of this origin of the moon is made
evident to our very senses; for do we not see the frog riding the moon
at night, and the moon is cold, because the frog from which it was made
was cold?

The philosopher of _Oraibi_ tells us that when the people ascended by
means of the magical tree which constituted the ladder from the lower
world to this, they found the firmament, the ceiling of this world, low
down upon the earth--the floor of this world. _Matcito_, one of their
gods, raised the firmament on his shoulders to where it is now seen.
Still the world was dark, as there was no sun, no moon, and no stars. So
the people murmured because of the darkness and the cold. _Matcito_
said, “Bring me seven maidens,” and they brought him seven maidens; and
he said, “Bring me seven baskets of cotton-bolls,” and they brought him
seven baskets of cotton-bolls; and he taught the seven maidens to weave
a magical fabric from the cotton, and when they had finished it he held
it aloft, and the breeze carried it away toward the firmament, and in
the twinkling of an eye it was transformed into a beautiful full-orbed
moon, and the same breeze caught the remnants of flocculent cotton which
the maidens had scattered during their work, and carried them aloft, and
they were transformed into bright stars. But still it was cold and the
people murmured again, and _Matcito_ said, “Bring me seven buffalo
robes,” and they brought him seven buffalo robes, and from the densely
matted hair of the robes he wove another wonderful fabric, which the
storm carried away into the sky, and it was transformed into the
full-orbed sun. Then _Matcito_ appointed times and seasons and ways for
the heavenly bodies, and the gods of the firmament have obeyed the
injunctions of _Matcito_ from the day of their creation to the present.

The Norse philosopher tells us that Night and Day, each, has a horse and
a car, and they drive successively one after the other around the world
in twenty-four hours. Night rides first with her steed named Dew-hair,
and every morning as he ends his course he bedews the earth with foam
from his bit. The steed driven by Day is Shining-hair. All the sky and
earth glisten with the light of his mane. Jarnved, the great iron-wood
forest lying to the east of Midgard, is the abode of a race of witches.
One monster witch is the mother of many sons in the form of wolves, two
of which are Skol and Hate. Skol is the wolf that would devour the
maiden Sun, and she daily flies from the maw of the terrible beast, and
the moon-man flies from the wolf Hate.

The philosopher of Samos tells us that the earth is surrounded by hollow
crystalline spheres set one within another, and all revolving at
different rates from east to west about the earth, and that the sun is
set in one of these spheres and the moon in another.

The philosopher of civilization tells us that the sun is an incandescent
globe, one of the millions afloat in space. About this globe the planets
revolve, and the sun and planets and moons were formed from nebulous
matter by the gradual segregation of their particles controlled by the
laws of gravity, motion, and affinity.

The sun, traveling by an appointed way across the heavens with the
never-ending succession of day and night, and the ever-recurring train
of seasons, is one of the subjects of every philosophy. Among all
peoples, in all times, there is an explanation of these phenomena, but
in the lowest stage, way down in savagery, how few the facts discerned,
how vague the discriminations made, how superficial the resemblances by
which the phenomena are classified! In this stage of culture, all the
daily and monthly and yearly phenomena which come as the direct result
of the movements of the heavenly bodies are interpreted as the doings of
some one--some god acts. In civilization the philosopher presents us the
science of astronomy with all its accumulated facts of magnitude, and
weights, and orbits, and distances, and velocities--with all the nice
discriminations of absolute, relative, and apparent motions; and all
these facts he is endeavoring to classify in homologic categories, and
the evolutions and revolutions of the heavenly bodies are explained as
an orderly succession of events.

_Rain._--The _Shoshoni_ philosopher believes the domed firmament to be
ice, and surely it is the very color of ice, and he believes further
that a monster serpent-god coils his huge back to the firmament and with
his scales abrades its face and causes the ice-dust to fall upon the
earth. In the winter-time it falls as snow, but in the summer-time it
melts and falls as rain, and the Shoshoni philosopher actually sees the
serpent of the storm in the rainbow of many colors.

The _Oraibi_ philosopher who lives in a _pueblo_ is acquainted with
architecture, and so his world is seven-storied. There is a world below
and five worlds above this one. _Muĭñwa_, the rain-god, who lives in the
world immediately above, dips his great brush, made of feathers of the
birds of the heavens, into the lakes of the skies and sprinkles the
earth with refreshing rain for the irrigation of the crops tilled by
these curious Indians who live on the cliffs of Arizona. In winter,
_Muĭñwa_ crushes the ice of the lakes of the heavens and scatters it
over the earth, and we have a snow-fall.

The Hindoo philosopher says that the lightning-bearded Indra breaks the
vessels that hold the waters of the skies with his thunder-bolts, and
the rains descend to irrigate the earth.

The philosopher of civilization expounds to us the methods by which the
waters are evaporated from the land and the surface of the sea, and
carried away by the winds, and gathered into clouds to be discharged
again upon the earth, keeping up forever that wonderful circulation of
water from the heavens to the earth and from the earth to the
heavens--that orderly succession of events in which the waters travel by
river, by sea, and by cloud.

_Rainbow._--In _Shoshoni_, the rainbow is a beautiful serpent that
abrades the firmament of ice to give us snow and rain. In Norse, the
rainbow is the bridge Bifrost spanning the space between heaven and
earth. In the Iliad, the rainbow is the goddess Iris, the messenger of
the King of Olympus. In Hebrew, the rainbow is the witness to a
covenant. In science, the rainbow is an analysis of white light into its
constituent colors by the refraction of raindrops.

_Falling stars._--In _Ute_, falling stars are the excrements of dirty
little star-gods. In science--well, I do not know what falling stars are
in science. I think they are cinders from the furnace where the worlds
are forged. You may call this mythologic or scientific, as you please.

_Migration of birds._--The _Algonkian_ philosopher explains the
migration of birds by relating the myth of the combat between
_Ka-bĭ-bo-no-kĭ_ and _Shiñgapis_, the prototype or progenitor of the
water-hen, one of their animal gods. A fierce battle raged between
_Ka-bĭ-bo-no-kĭ_ and _Shiñgapis_, but the latter could not be conquered.
All the birds were driven from the land but _Shiñgapis_; and then was it
established that whenever in the future Winter-maker should come with
his cold winds, fierce snows, and frozen waters, all the birds should
leave for the south except _Shiñgapis_ and his friends. So the birds
that spend their winters north are called by the _Algonkian_
philosophers “the friends of _Shiñgapis_.”

In contrast to this explanation of the flight of birds may be placed the
explanation of the modern evolutionist, who says that the birds migrate
in quest of abundance of food and a genial climate, guided by an
instinct of migration, which is an accumulation of inherited memories.

_Diversity of languages._--The _Kaibäbĭt_ philosopher accounts for the
diversity of languages in this manner: _Sĭ-tcom´-pa Ma-só-ĭts_, the
grandmother goddess of the sea, brought up mankind from beneath the
waves in a sack, which she delivered to the _Cĭn-aú-äv_ brothers, the
great wolf-gods of his mythology, and told them to carry it from the
shores of the sea to the Kaibab Plateau, and then to open it; but they
were by no means to open the package ere their arrival, lest some great
disaster should befall. The curiosity of the younger _Cĭn-aú-äv_
overcame him, and he untied the sack, and the people swarmed out; but
the elder _Cĭn-aú-äv_, the wiser god, ran back and closed the sack while
yet not all the people had escaped, and they carried the sack, with its
remaining contents, to the plateau, and there opened it. Those that
remained in the sack found a beautiful land--a great plateau covered
with mighty forests, through which elk, deer, and antelope roamed in
abundance, and many mountain-sheep were found on the bordering crags;
_piv_, the nuts of the edible pine, they found on the foot-hills, and
_us_, the fruit of the yucca, in sunny glades; and _nänt_, the meschal
crowns, for their feasts; and _tcu-ar_, the cactus-apple, from which to
make their wine; reeds grew about the lakes for their arrow-shafts; the
rocks were full of flints for their barbs and knives, and away down in
the cañon they found a pipe-stone quarry, and on the hills they found
_är-a-ûm-pĭv_, their tobacco. O, it was a beautiful land that was given
to these, the favorites of the gods! The descendants of these people are
the present _Kaibäbĭts_ of northern Arizona. Those who escaped by the
way, through the wicked curiosity of the younger _Cĭn-aú-äv_, scattered
over the country and became _Navajos_, _Mokis_, _Sioux_, _Comanches_,
Spaniards, Americans--poor, sorry fragments of people without the
original language of the gods, and only able to talk in imperfect

The Hebrew philosopher tells us that on the plains of Shinar the people
of the world were gathered to build a city and erect a tower, the summit
of which should reach above the waves of any flood Jehovah might send.
But their tongues were confused as a punishment for their impiety.

The philosopher of science tells us that mankind was widely scattered
over the earth anterior to the development of articulate speech, that
the languages of which we are cognizant sprang from innumerable centers
as each little tribe developed its own language, and that in the study
of any language an orderly succession of events may be discovered in its
evolution from a few simple holophrastic locutions to a complex language
with a multiplicity of words and an elaborate grammatic structure, by
the differentiation of the parts of speech and the integration of the

_A cough._--A man coughs. In explanation the _Ute_ philosopher would
tell us that an _u-nú-pĭts_--a pygmy spirit of evil--had entered the
poor man’s stomach, and he would charge the invalid with having whistled
at night; for in their philosophy it is taught that if a man whistles at
night, when the pygmy spirits are abroad, one is sure to go through the
open door into the stomach, and the evidence of this disaster is found
in the cough which the _u-nú-pĭts_ causes. Then the evil spirit must be
driven out, and the medicine-man stretches his patient on the ground and
scarifies him with the claws of eagles from head to heel, and while
performing the scarification a group of men and women stand about,
forming a chorus, and medicine-man and chorus perform a fugue in gloomy
ululation, for these wicked spirits will depart only by incantations and

In our folk-lore philosophy a cough is caused by a “cold,” whatever that
may be--a vague entity--that must be treated first according to the
maxim “Feed a cold and starve a fever,” and the “cold” is driven away by
potations of bitter teas.

In our medical philosophy a cough may be the result of a clogging of the
pores of the skin, and is relieved by clearing those flues that carry
away the waste products of vital combustion.

These illustrations are perhaps sufficient to exhibit the principal
characteristics of the two methods of philosophy, and, though they cover
but narrow fields, it should be remembered that every philosophy deals
with the whole cosmos. An explanation of all things is sought--not alone
the great movements of the heavens, or the phenomena that startle even
the unthinking, but every particular which is observed. Abstractly, the
plane of demarkation between the two methods of philosophy can be
sharply drawn, but practically we find them strangely mixed; mythologic
methods prevail in savagery and barbarism, and scientific methods
prevail in civilization. Mythologic philosophies antedate scientific
philosophies. The thaumaturgic phases of mythology are the embryonic
stages of philosophy, science being the fully developed form. Without
mythology there could be no science, as without childhood there could be
no manhood, or without embryonic conditions there could be no ultimate


Mythologic philosophy is the subject with which we deal. Its method, as
stated in general terms, is this: All phenomena of the outer objective
world are interpreted by comparison with those of the inner subjective
world. Whatever happens, some one does it; that some one has a will and
works as he wills. The basis of the philosophy is personality. The
persons who do the things which we observe in the phenomena of the
universe are the gods of mythology--_the cosmos is a pantheon_. Under
this system, whatever may be the phenomenon observed, the philosopher
asks, “Who does it?” and “Why?” and the answer comes, “A god with his
design.” The winds blow, and the interrogatory is answered, “Æolus frees
them from the cave to speed the ship of a friend, or destroy the vessel
of a foe.” The actors in mythologic philosophy are gods.

In the character of these gods four stages of philosophy may be
discovered. In the lowest and earliest stage everything has life;
everything is endowed with personality, will, and design; animals are
endowed with all the wonderful attributes of mankind; all inanimate
objects are believed to be animate; trees think and speak; stones have
loves and hates; hills and mountains, springs and rivers, and all the
bright stars, have life--everything discovered objectively by the senses
is looked upon subjectively by the philosopher and endowed with all the
attributes supposed to be inherent in himself. In this stage of
philosophy everything is a god. Let us call it _hecastotheism_.

In the second stage men no longer attribute life indiscriminately to
inanimate things; but the same powers and attributes recognized by
subjective vision in man are attributed to the animals by which he is
surrounded. No line of demarkation is drawn between man and beast; all
are great beings endowed with wonderful attributes. Let us call this
stage _zoötheism_, when men worship beasts. All the phenomena of nature
are the doings of these animal gods; all the facts of nature, all the
phenomena of the known universe, all the institutions of humanity known
to the philosophers of this stage, are accounted for in the mythologic
history of these zoömorphic gods.

In the third stage a wide gulf is placed between man and the lower
animals. The animal gods are dethroned, and the powers and phenomena of
nature are personified and deified. Let us call this stage
_physitheism_. The gods are strictly anthropomorphic, having the form as
well as the mental, moral, and social attributes of men. Thus we have a
god of the sun, a god of the moon, a god of the air, a god of dawn, and
a deity of the night.

In the fourth stage, mental, moral, and social characteristics are
personified and deified. Thus we have a god of war, a god of love, a god
of revelry, a god of plenty, and like personages who preside over the
institutions and occupations of mankind. Let us call this
_psychotheism_. With the mental, moral, and social characteristics in
these gods are associated the powers of nature; and they differ from
nature-gods chiefly in that they have more distinct psychic

Psychotheism, by the processes of mental integration, developes in one
direction into monotheism, and in the other into pantheism. When the
powers of nature are held predominant in the minds of the philosophers
through whose cogitations this evolution of theism is carried on,
pantheism, as the highest form of psychotheism, is the final result; but
when the moral qualities are held in highest regard in the minds of the
men in whom this process of evolution is carried on, _monotheism_, or a
god whose essential characteristics are moral qualities, is the final
product. The monotheistic god is not nature, but presides over and
operates through nature. Psychotheism has long been recognized. All of
the earlier literature of mankind treats largely of these gods, for it
is an interesting fact that in the history of any civilized people, the
evolution of psychotheism is approximately synchronous with the
invention of an alphabet. In the earliest writings of the Egyptians, the
Hindoos, and the Greeks, this stage is discovered, and Osiris, Indra,
and Zeus are characteristic representatives. As psychotheism and written
language appear together in the evolution of culture, this stage of
theism is consciously or unconsciously a part of the theme of all
written history.

The paleontologist, in studying the rocks of the hill and the cliffs of
the mountain, discovers, in inanimate stones, the life-forms of the
ancient earth. The geologist, in the study of the structure of valleys
and mountains, discovers groups of facts that lead him to a knowledge of
more ancient mountains and valleys and seas, of geographic features long
ago buried, and followed by a new land with new mountains and valleys,
and new seas. The philologist, in studying the earliest writings of a
people, not only discovers the thoughts purposely recorded in those
writings, but is able to go back in the history of the people many
generations, and discover with even greater certainty the thoughts of
the more ancient people who made the words. Thus the writings of the
Greeks, the Hindoos, and the Egyptians, that give an account of their
psychic gods, also contain a description of an earlier theism
unconsciously recorded by the writers themselves. Psychotheism prevailed
when the sentences were coined, physitheism when the words were coined.
So the philologist discovers physitheism in all ancient literature. But
the verity of that stage of philosophy does not rest alone upon the
evidence derived from the study of fossil philosophies through the
science of philology. In the folk-lore of every civilized people having
a psychotheistic philosophy, an earlier philosophy with nature-gods is

The different stages of philosophy which I have attempted to
characterize have never been found in purity. We always observe
different methods of explanation existing side by side, and the type of
a philosophy is determined by the prevailing characteristics of its
explanation of phenomena. Fragments of the earlier are always found side
by side with the greater body of the later philosophy. Man has never
clothed himself in new garments of wisdom, but has ever been patching
the old, and the old and the new are blended in the same pattern, and
thus we have atavism in philosophy. So in the study of any philosophy
which has reached the psychotheistic age, patches of the earlier
philosophy are always seen. Ancient nature-gods are found to be living
and associating with the supreme psychic deities. Thus in anthropologic
science there are three ways by which to go back in the history of any
civilized people and learn of its barbaric physitheism. But of the
verity of this stage we have further evidence. When Christianity was
carried north from Central Europe, the champions of the new philosophy,
and its consequent religion, discovered, among those who dwelt by the
glaciers of the north, a barbaric philosophy which they have preserved
to history in the Eddas and Sagas, and Norse literature is full of a
philosophy in a transition state, from physitheism to psychotheism; and,
mark! the people discovered in this transition state were inventing an
alphabet--they were carving Runes. Then a pure physitheism was
discovered in the Aztec barbarism of Mexico; and elsewhere on the globe
many people were found in that stage of culture to which this philosophy
properly belongs. Thus the existence of physitheism as a stage of
philosophy is abundantly attested. Comparative mythologists are agreed
in recognizing these two stages. They might not agree to throw all of
the higher and later philosophies into one group, as I have done, but
all recognize the plane of demarkation between the higher and the lower
groups as I have drawn it. Scholars, too, have come essentially to an
agreement that physitheism is earlier and older than psychotheism.
Perhaps there may be left a “doubting Thomas” who believes that the
highest stage of psychotheism--that is, monotheism--was the original
basis for the philosophy of the world, and that all other forms are
degeneracies from that primitive and perfect state. If there be such a
man left, to him what I have to say about philosophy is blasphemy.

Again, all students of comparative philosophy, or comparative mythology,
or comparative religion, as you may please to approach this subject from
different points of view, recognize that there is something else; that
there are philosophies, or mythologies, or religions, not included in
the two great groups. All that something else has been vaguely called
_fetichism_. I have divided it into two parts, _hecastotheism_ and
_zoötheism_. The verity of zoötheism as a stage of philosophy rests on
abundant evidence. In psychotheism it appears as _devilism_ in obedience
to a well-known law of comparative theology, viz, that the gods of a
lower and superseded stage of culture oftentimes become the devils of a
higher stage. So in the very highest stages of psychotheism we find
beast-devils. In Norse mythology, we have Fenris the wolf, and
Jormungandur the serpent. Dragons appear in Greek mythology, the bull is
an Egyptian god, a serpent is found in the Zendavesta; and was there not
a scaly fellow in the garden of Eden? So common are these beast-demons
in the higher mythologies that they are used in every literature as
rhetorical figures. So we find, as a figure of speech, the great red
dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with tail that with one brush
sweeps away a third of the stars of heaven. And wherever we find
nature-worship we find it accompanied with beast-worship. In the study
of higher philosophies, having learned that lower philosophies often
exist side by side with them, we might legitimately conclude that a
philosophy based upon animal gods had existed previous to the
development of physitheism; and philologic research leads to the same
conclusion. But we are not left to base this conclusion upon an
induction only, for in the examination of savage philosophies we
actually discover zoötheism in all its proportions. Many of the Indians
of North America, and many of South America, and many of the tribes of
Africa, are found to be zoötheists. Their supreme gods are
animals--tigers, bears, wolves, serpents, birds. Having discovered this,
with a vast accumulation of evidence, we are enabled to carry philosophy
back one stage beyond physitheism, and we can confidently assert that
all the philosophies of civilization have come up through these three

And yet, there are fragments of philosophy discovered which are not
zoötheistic, physitheistic, nor psychotheistic. What are they? We find
running through all three stages of higher philosophy that phenomena are
sometimes explained by regarding them as the acts of persons who do not
belong to any of the classes of gods found in the higher stages. We find
fragments of philosophy everywhere which seem to assume that all
inanimate nature is animate; that mountains and hills, and rivers and
springs, that trees and grasses, that stones, and all fragments of
things are endowed with life and with will, and act for a purpose. These
fragments of philosophy lead to the discovery of hecastotheism.
Philology also leads us back to that state when the animate and the
inanimate were confounded, for the holophrastic roots into which words
are finally resolved show us that all inanimate things were represented
in language as actors. Such is the evidence on which we predicate the
existence of hecastotheism as a veritable stage of philosophy. Unlike
the three higher stages, it has no people extant on the face of the
globe, known to be in this stage of culture. The philosophies of many of
the lowest tribes of mankind are yet unknown, and hecastotheism may be
discovered; but at the present time we are not warranted in saying that
any tribe entertains this philosophy as its highest wisdom.


The three stages of mythologic philosophy that are still extant in the
world must be more thoroughly characterized, and the course of their
evolution indicated. But in order to do this clearly, certain outgrowths
from mythologic philosophy must be explained--certain theories and
practices that necessarily result from this philosophy, and that are
intricately woven into the institutions of mankind.

_Ancientism._--The first I denominate ancientism. Yesterday was better
than to-day. The ancients were wiser that we. This belief in a better
day and a better people in the elder time is almost universal among
mankind. A belief so widely spread, so profoundly entertained, must have
for its origin some important facts in the constitution or history of
mankind. Let us see what they are.

In the history of every individual the sports and joys of childhood are
compared and contrasted with the toils and pains of old age. Greatly
protracted life, in savagery and barbarism, is not a boon to be craved.
In that stage of society where the days and the years go by with little
or no provision for a time other than that which is passing, the old
must go down to the grave through poverty and suffering. In that stage
of culture to-morrow’s bread is not certain, and to-day’s bread is often
scarce. In civilization plenty and poverty live side by side; the palace
and the hovel are on the same landscape; the rich and poor elbow each
other on the same street; but in savagery plenty and poverty come with
recurring days to the same man, and the tribe is rich to-day and poor
to-morrow, and the days of want come in every man’s history; and when
they come the old suffer most, and the burden of old age is oppressive.
In youth activity is joy; in old age activity is pain. So wonder, then,
that old age loves youth, or that to-day loves yesterday, for the
instinct is born of the inherited experiences of mankind.

But there is yet another and more potent reason for ancientism. That
tale is the most wonderful that has been most repeated, for the breath
of speech is the fertilizer of story. Hence, the older the story the
greater its thaumaturgics. Thus, yesterday is greater than to-day by
natural processes of human exaggeration. Again, that is held to be most
certain, and hence most sacred, which has been most often affirmed.
A Brahman was carrying a goat to the altar. Three thieves would steal
it. So they placed themselves at intervals along the way by which the
pious Brahman would travel. When the venerable man came to the first
thief he was accosted: “Brahman, why do you carry a dog?” Now, a dog is
an unclean beast which no Brahman must touch. And the Brahman, after
looking at his goat, said: “You do err; this is a goat.” And when the
old man reached the second thief, again he was accosted: “Brahman, why
do you carry a dog?” So the Brahman put his goat on the ground, and
after narrowly scrutinizing it, he said: “Surely this is a goat,” and
went on his way. When he came to the third thief he was once more
accosted: “Brahman, why do you carry a dog?” Then the Brahman, having
thrice heard that his goat was a dog, was convinced, and throwing it
down, he fled to the temple for ablution, and the thieves had a feast.

The child learns not for himself, but is taught, and accepts as true
that which is told, and a propensity to believe the affirmed is
implanted in his mind. In every society some are wise and some are
foolish, and the wise are revered, and their affirmations are accepted.
Thus, the few lead the multitude in knowledge, and the propensity to
believe the affirmed started in childhood is increased in manhood in the
great average of persons constituting society, and these propensities
are inherited from generation to generation, until we have a cumulation
of effects.

The propagation of opinions by affirmation, the cultivation of the
propensity to believe that which has been affirmed many times, let us
call _affirmatization_. If the world’s opinions were governed only by
the principles of mythologic philosophy, affirmatization would become so
powerful that nothing would be believed but the anciently affirmed. Men
would come to no new knowledge. Society would stand still listening to
the wisdom of the fathers. But the power of affirmatization is steadily
undermined by science.

And, still again, the institutions of society conform to its philosophy.
The explanations of things always includes the origin of human
institutions. So the welfare of society is based on philosophy, and the
venerable sayings which constitute philosophy are thus held as sacred.
So ancientism is developed from accumulated life-experiences; by the
growth of story in repeated narration; by the steadily increasing power
of affirmatization, and by respect for the authority upon which the
institutions of society are based; all accumulating as they come down
the generations. That we do thus inherit effects we know, for has it not
been affirmed in the Book that “the fathers have eaten grapes, and the
children’s teeth are set on edge”? As men come to believe that the “long
ago” was better than the “now,” and the dead were better than the
living, then philosophy must necessarily include a theory of degeneracy,
which is a part of ancientism.

_Theistic Society._--Again, the actors in mythologic philosophy are
personages, and we always find them organized in societies. The social
organization of mythology is always found to be essentially identical
with the social organization of the people who entertain the philosophy.
The gods are husbands and wives, and parents and children, and the gods
have an organized government. This gives us theistic society, and we
cannot properly characterize a theism without taking its mythic society
into consideration.

_Spiritism._--In the earliest stages of society of which we have
practical knowledge by acquaintance with the people themselves, a belief
in the existence of spirits prevails--a shade, an immaterial existence,
which is the duplicate of the material personage. The genesis of this
belief is complex. The workings of the human mind during periods of
unconsciousness lead to opinions that are enforced by many physical

First, we have the activities of the mind during sleep, when the man
seems to go out from himself, to converse with his friends, to witness
strange scenes, and to have many wonderful experiences. Thus the man
seems to have lived an eventful life, when his body was, in fact,
quiescent and unconscious. Memories of scenes and activities in former
days, and the inherited memories of scenes witnessed and actions
performed by ancestors, are blended in strange confusion by broken and
inverted sequences. Now and then the dream-scenes are enacted in real
life, and the infrequent coincidence or apparent verification makes deep
impression on the mind, while unfulfilled dreams are forgotten. Thus the
dreams of sleepers are attributed to their immaterial duplicates--their
spirits. In many diseases, also, the mind seems to wander, to see sights
and to hear sounds, and to have many wonderful experiences, while the
body itself is apparently unconscious. Sometimes, on restored health,
the person may recall these wonderful experiences, and during their
occurrence the subject talks to unseen persons, and seems to have
replies, and to act, to those who witness, in such a manner that a
second self--a spirit independent of the body--is suggested. When
disease amounts to long-continued insanity all of these effects are
greatly exaggerated, and make a deep impression upon all who witness the
phenomena. Thus the hallucinations of fever-racked brains, and mad
minds, are attributed to spirits.

The same conditions of apparent severance of mind and body witnessed in
dreams and hallucinations are often produced artificially in the
practice of _ecstasism_. In the vicissitudes of savage life, while
little or no provision is made for the future, there are times when the
savage resorts to almost anything at hand as a means of subsistence, and
thus all plants and all parts of plants, seed, fruit, flowers, leaves,
bark, roots--anything in times of extreme want--may be used as food. But
experience soon teaches the various effects upon the human system which
are produced by the several vegetable substances with which he meets,
and thus the effect of narcotics is early discovered, and the savage in
the practice of his religion oftentimes resorts to these native drugs
for the purpose of producing an ecstatic state under which divination
may be performed. The practice of ecstasism is universal in the lower
stages of culture. In times of great anxiety, every savage and barbarian
seeks to know of the future. Through all the earlier generations of
mankind, ecstasism has been practiced, and civilized man has thus an
inherited appetite for narcotics, to which the enormous propensity to
drunkenness existing in all nations bears witness. When the great actor
in his personation of Rip Van Winkle holds his goblet aloft and says,
“Here’s to your health and to your family’s, and may they live long and
prosper,” he connects the act of drinking with a prayer, and
unconsciously demonstrates the origin of the use of stimulants. It may
be that when the jolly companion has become a loathsome sot, and his
mind is ablaze with the fire of drink, and he sees uncouth beasts in
horrid presence, that inherited memories haunt him with visions of the
beast-gods worshipped by his ancestors at the very time when the
appetite for stimulants was created.

But ecstasism is produced in other ways, and for this purpose the savage
and barbarian often resorts to fasting and bodily torture. In many ways
he produces the wonderful state, and the visions of ecstasy are
interpreted as the evidence of spirits.

Many physical phenomena serve to confirm this opinion. It is very late
in philosophy when shadows are referred to the interception of the rays
of the sun. In savagery and barbarism, shadows are supposed to be
emanations from or duplicates of the bodies causing the shadows. And
what savage understands the reflection of the rays of the sun by which
images are produced? They also are supposed to be emanations or
duplications of the object reflected. No savage or barbarian could
understand that the waves of the air are turned back, and sound is
duplicated in an echo. He knows not that there is an atmosphere, and to
him the echo is the voice of an unseen personage--a spirit. There is no
theory more profoundly implanted in early mankind than that of

_Thaumaturgics._--The gods of mythologic philosophies are created to
account for the wonders of nature. Necessarily they are a wonder-working
folk, and, having been endowed with these magical powers in all the
histories given in mythic tales of their doings on the earth, we find
them performing most wonderful feats. They can transform themselves;
they can disappear and reappear; all their senses are magical; some are
endowed with a multiplicity of eyes, others have a multiplicity of ears;
in Norse mythology the watchman on the rainbow bridge could hear the
grass grow, and wool on the backs of sheep; arms can stretch out to
grasp the distance, tails can coil about mountains, and all powers
become magical. But the most wonderful power with which the gods are
endowed is the power of will, for we find that they can think their
arrows to the hearts of their enemies; mountains are overthrown by
thought, and thoughts are projected into other minds. Such are the
thaumaturgics of mythologic philosophy.

_Mythic tales._--Early man having created through the development of his
philosophy a host of personages, these gods must have a history. A part
of that history, and the most important part to us as students of
philosophy, is created in the very act of creating the gods themselves.
I mean that portion of their history which relates to the operations of
nature, for the gods were created to account for those things. But to
this is added much else of adventure. The gods love as men love, and go
in quest of mates. The gods hate as men hate, and fight in single combat
or engage in mythic battles; and the history of these adventures
impelled by love and hate, and all other passions and purposes with
which men are endowed, all woven into a complex tissue with their doings
in carrying out the operations of nature, constitutes the web and woof
of mythology.

_Religion._--Again, as human welfare is deeply involved in the
operations of nature, man’s chief interest is in the gods. In this
interest religion originates. Man, impelled by his own volition, guided
by his own purposes, aspires to a greater happiness, and endeavor
follows endeavor, but at every step his progress is impeded; his own
powers fail before the greater powers of nature; his powers are pygmies,
nature’s powers are giants, and to him these giants are gods with wills
and purposes of their own, and he sees that man in his weakness can
succeed only by allying himself with the gods. Hence, impelled by this
philosophy, man must have communion with the gods, and in this communion
he must influence them to work for himself. Hence, religion, which has
to do with the relations which exist between the gods and man, is the
legitimate offspring of mythologic philosophy.

Thus we see that out of mythologic philosophy, as branches of the great
tree itself, there grow ancientism, theistic society, spiritism,
thaumaturgics, mythic tales, and religion.


I shall now give a summary characterization of zoötheism, then call
attention to some of the relics of hecastotheism found therein, and
proceed with a brief statement of the higher stages of theism. The
apparent and easily accessible is studied first. In botany, the trees
and the conspicuous flowering plants of garden, field, and plain were
first known, and then all other plants were vaguely grouped as weeds;
but, since the most conspicuous phenogamous plants were first studied,
what vast numbers of new orders, new genera, and new species have been
discovered, in the progress of research, to the lowest cryptogams!

In the study of ethnology we first recognized the more civilized races.
The Aryan, Hamites, Shemites, and Chinese, and the rest were the weeds
of humanity--the barbarian and savage, sometimes called Turanians. But,
when we come carefully to study these lower people, what numbers of
races are discovered! In North America alone we have more than
seventy-five--seventy-five stocks of people speaking seventy-five stocks
of language, and some single stocks embracing many distinct languages
and dialects. The languages of the Algonkian family are as diverse as
the Indo-European tongues. So are the languages of the Dakotans, the
Shoshonians, the Tinnéans, and others; so that in North America we have
more than five hundred languages spoken to-day. Each linguistic stock is
found to have a philosophy of its own, and each stock as many branches
of philosophy as it has languages and dialects. North America presents a
magnificent field for the study of savage and barbaric philosophies.

This vast region of thought has been explored only by a few adventurous
travelers in the world of science. No thorough survey of any part has
been made. Yet the general outlines of North American philosophy are
known, but the exact positions, the details, are all yet to be filled
in--as the geography of the general outline of North America is known by
exploration, but the exact positions and details of topography are yet
to be filled in as the result of careful survey. Myths of the Algonkian
stock are found in many a volume of _Americana_, the best of which were
recorded by the early missionaries who came from Europe, though we find
some of them, mixed with turbid speculations, in the writings of
Schoolcraft. Many of the myths of the Indians of the south, in that
region stretching back from the great Gulf, are known; some collected by
travelers, others by educated Indians.

Many of the myths of the Iroquois are known. The best of these are in
the writings of Morgan, America’s greatest anthropologist. Missionaries,
travelers, and linguists have given us a great store of the myths of the
Dakotan stock. Many myths of the Tinnéan also have been collected.
Petitot has recorded a number of those found at the north, and we have
in manuscript some of the myths of a southern branch--the Navajos.
Perhaps the myths of the Shoshonians have been collected more thoroughly
than those of any other stock. These are yet unpublished, but the
manuscripts are in the library of the Bureau of Ethnology. Powers has
recorded many of the myths of various stocks in California, and the old
Spanish writings give us a fair collection of the Nahuatlan myths of
Mexico, and Rink has presented an interesting volume on the mythology of
the Innuits; and, finally, fragments of mythology have been collected
from nearly all the tribes of North America, and they are scattered
through thousands of volumes, so that the literature is vast. The brief
description which I shall give of zoötheism is founded on a study of the
materials which I have thus indicated.

All these tribes are found in the higher stages of savagery, or the
lower stages of barbarism, and their mythologies are found to be
zoötheistic among the lowest, physitheistic among the highest, and a
great number of tribes are found in a transition state; for zoötheism is
found to be a characteristic of savagery, and physitheism of barbarism,
using the terms as they have been defined by Morgan. The supreme gods of
this stage are animals. The savage is intimately associated with
animals. From them he obtains the larger part of his clothing, and much
of his food, and he carefully studies their habits and finds many
wonderful things. Their knowledge and skill and power appear to him to
be superior to his own. He sees the mountain-sheep fleet among the
crags, the eagle soaring in the heavens, the humming-bird poised over
its blossom-cup of nectar, the serpents swift without legs, the salmon
scaling the rapids, the spider weaving its gossamer web, the ant
building a play-house mountain--in all animal nature he sees things too
wonderful for him, and from admiration he grows to adoration, and the
animals become his gods.

Ancientism plays an important part in this zoötheism. It is not the
animals of to-day whom the Indians worship, but their progenitors--their
prototypes. The wolf of to-day is a howling pest, but that wolf’s
ancestor--the first of the line--was a god. The individuals of every
species are supposed to have descended from an ancient being--a
progenitor of the race; and so they have a grizzly-bear god, an
eagle-god, a rattlesnake-god, a trout-god, a spider-god--a god for every
species and variety of animal.

By these animal gods all things were established. The heavenly bodies
were created and their ways appointed, and when the powers and phenomena
of nature are personified the personages are beasts, and all human
institutions also were established by the ancient animal-gods.

The ancient animals of any philosophy of this stage are found to
constitute a clan or _gens_--a body of relatives, or _consanguinei_,
with grandfathers, fathers, sons, and brothers. In _Ute_ theism, the
ancient _To-gó-äv_, the first rattlesnake is the grandfather, and all
the animal-gods are assigned to their relationships. Grandfather
_To-gó-äv_, the wise, was the chief of the council, but _Cĭn-aú-äv_, the
ancient wolf, was the chief of the clan.

There were many other clans and tribes of ancient gods with whom these
supreme gods had dealings, of which hereafter; and, finally, each of
these ancient gods became the progenitor of a new tribe, so that we have
a tribe of bears, a tribe of eagles, a tribe of rattlesnakes, a tribe of
spiders, and many other tribes, as we have tribes of Utes, tribes of
Sioux, tribes of Navajos; and in that philosophy tribes of animals are
considered to be coördinate with tribes of men. All of these gods have
invisible duplicates--spirits--and they have often visited the earth.
All of the wonderful things seen in nature are done by the animal-gods.
That elder life was a magic life; but the descendants of the gods are
degenerate. Now and then as a medicine-man by practicing sorcery can
perform great feats, so now and then there is a medicine-bear,
a medicine-wolf, or a medicine-snake that can work magic.

On winter nights the Indians gather about the camp-fire, and then the
doings of the gods are recounted in many a mythic tale. I have heard the
venerable and impassioned orator on the camp-meeting stand rehearse the
story of the crucifixion, and have seen the thousands gathered there
weep in contemplation of the story of divine suffering, and heard their
shouts roll down the forest aisles as they gave vent to their joy at the
contemplation of redemption. But the scene was not a whit more dramatic
than another I have witnessed in an evergreen forest of the Rocky
Mountain region, where a tribe was gathered under the great pines, and
the temple of light from the blazing fire was walled by the darkness of
midnight, and in the midst of the temple stood the wise old man,
telling, in simple savage language, the story of _Ta-wăts_, when he
conquered the sun and established the seasons and the days. In that
pre-Columbian time, before the advent of white men, all the Indian
tribes of North America gathered on winter nights by the shores of the
seas where the tides beat in solemn rhythm, by the shores of the great
lakes where the waves dashed against frozen beaches, and by the banks of
the rivers flowing ever in solemn mystery--each in its own temple of
illumined space--and listened to the story of its own supreme gods, the
ancients of time.

Religion, in this stage of theism, is sorcery. Incantation, dancing,
fasting, bodily torture, and ecstasism are practiced. Every tribe has
its potion or vegetable drug, by which the ecstatic state is produced,
and their venerable medicine-men see visions and dream dreams. No
enterprise is undertaken without consulting the gods, and no evil
impends but they seek to propitiate the gods. All daily life, to the
minutest particular, is religious. This stage of religion is
characterized by fetichism. Every Indian is provided with his charm or
fetich, revealed to him in some awful hour of ecstasy produced by
fasting, or feasting, or drunkenness, and that fetich he carries with
him to bring good luck, in love or in combat, in the hunt or on the
journey. He carries a fetich suspended to his neck, he ties a fetich to
his bow, he buries a fetich under his tent, he places a fetich under his
pillow of wild-cat skins, he prays to his fetich, he praises it, or
chides it; if successful, his fetich receives glory; if he fail, his
fetich is disgraced. These fetiches may be fragments of bone or shell,
the tips of the tails of animals, the claws of birds or beasts, perhaps
dried hearts of little warblers, shards of beetles, leaves powdered and
held in bags, or crystals from the rocks--anything curious may become a
fetich. Fetichism, then, is a religious means, not a philosophic or
mythologic state. Such are the supreme gods of the savage, and such the
institutions which belong to their theism. But they have many other
inferior gods. Mountains, hills, valleys, and great rocks have their own
special deities--invisible spirits--and lakes, rivers, and springs are
the homes of spirits. But all these have animal forms when in proper
_personæ_. Yet some of the medicine-spirits can transform themselves,
and work magic as do medicine-men. The heavenly bodies are either
created personages or ancient men or animals translated to the sky. And,
last, we find that ancestors are worshipped as gods.

Among all the tribes of North America with which we are acquainted
tutelarism prevails. Every tribe and every clan has its own protecting
god, and every individual has his _my god_. It is a curious fact that
every Indian seeks to conceal the knowledge of his _my god_ from all
other persons, for he fears that, if his enemy should know of his
tutelar deity, he might by extraordinary magic succeed in estranging
him, and be able to compass his destruction through his own god.

In this summary characterization of zoötheism, I have necessarily
systematized my statements. This, of course, could not be done by the
savage himself. He could give you its particulars, but could not group
those particulars in any logical way. He does not recognize any system,
but talks indiscriminately, now of one, now of another god, and with him
the whole theory as a system is vague and shadowy, but its particulars
are vividly before his mind, and the certainty with which he entertains
his opinions leaves no room to doubt his sincerity.

But there is yet another phase of theism discovered. Sometimes a
particular mountain, or hill, or some great rock, some waterfall, some
lake, or some spring receives special worship, and is itself believed to
be a deity. This seems to be a relic of hecastotheism. Fetichism, also,
seems to have come from that lower grade, and all the minor deities, the
spirits of mountains and hills and forest, seem to have been derived
from that same stage, but with this development, that the things
themselves are not worshipped, but their essential spirits.

From zoötheism, as described, to physitheism the way is long. Gradually,
in the progress of philosophy, animal gods are dethroned and become
inferior gods or are forgotten; and gradually the gods of the
firmament--the sun, the moon, the stars--are advanced to supremacy; the
clouds, the storms, the winds, day and night, dawn and gloaming, the
sky, the earth, the sea, and all the various phases of nature perceived
by the barbaric mind, are personified and deified and exalted to a
supremacy coordinate with the firmament gods; and all the gods of the
lower stage that remain--animals, demons, and all men--belong to
inferior tribes. The gods of the sky--the shining ones, those that soar
on bright wings, those that are clothed in gorgeous colors, those that
came from we know not where, those that vanish to the unknown--are the
supreme gods. We always find these gods organized in great tribes, with
mighty chieftains who fight in great combats or lead their hosts in
battle, and return with much booty. Such is the theism of ancient
Mexico, such the theism of the Northland, and such the theism discovered
among the ancient Aryans.

From this stage to psychotheism the way is long, for evolution is slow.
Gradually men come to differentiate more carefully between good and
evil, and the ethic character of their gods becomes the subject of
consideration, and the good gods grow in virtue, and the bad gods grow
in vice. Their identity with physical objects and phenomena is gradually
lost. The different phases or conditions of the same object or
phenomenon are severed, and each is personified. The bad gods are
banished to underground homes, or live in concealment, from which they
issue on their expeditions of evil. Still, all powers exist in these
gods, and all things were established by them. With the growth of their
moral qualities no physical powers are lost, and the spirits of the
physical bodies and phenomena become demons, subordinate to the great
gods who preside over nature and human institutions.

We find, also, that these superior gods are organized in societies.
I have said the Norse mythology was in a transition state from
physitheism to psychotheism. The Asas, or gods, lived in Asgard,
a mythic communal village, with its Thing or Council, the very
counterpart of the communal village of Iceland. Olympus was a Greek

Still further in the study of mythologic philosophy we see that more and
more supremacy falls into the hands of the few, until monotheism is
established on the plan of the empire. Then all of the inferior deities
whose characters are pure become ministering angels, and the inferior
deities whose characters are evil become devils, and the differentiation
of good and evil is perfected in the gulf between heaven and hell. In
all this time from zoötheism to monotheism, ancientism becomes more
ancient, and the times and dynasties are multiplied. Spiritism is more
clearly defined, and spirits become eternal; mythologic tales are
codified, and sacred books are written; divination for the result of
amorous intrigue has become the prophecy of immortality, and
thaumaturgics is formulated as the omnipresent, the omnipotent, the
omniscient--the infinite.

Time has failed me to tell of the evolution of idolatry from fetichism,
priestcraft from sorcery, and of their overthrow by the doctrines that
were uttered by that voice on the Mount. Religion, that was fetichism
and ecstasism and sorcery, is now the yearning for something better,
something purer, and the means by which this highest state for humanity
may be reached, the ideal worship of the highest monotheism, is “in
spirit and in truth.” The steps are long from _Cĭn-aú-äv_, the ancient
of wolves, by Zeus, the ancient of skies, to Jehovah, the “Ancient of


In every Indian tribe there is a great body of story lore--tales
purporting to be the sayings and doings, the history, of the gods. Every
tribe has one or more persons skilled in the relation of these
stories--preachers. The long winter evenings are set apart for this
purpose. Then the men and women, the boys and girls, gather about the
camp-fire to listen to the history of the ancients, to a chapter in the
unwritten bible of savagery. Such a scene is of the deepest interest.
A camp-fire of blazing pine or sage boughs illumines a group of dusky
faces intent with expectation, and the old man begins his story, talking
and acting; the elders receiving his words with reverence, while the
younger persons are played upon by the actor until they shiver with fear
or dance with delight. An Indian is a great actor. The conditions of
Indian life train them in natural sign language. Among the two hundred
and fifty or three hundred thousand Indians in the United States, there
are scores of languages, so that often a language is spoken by only a
few hundred or a few score of people; and as a means of communication
between tribes speaking different languages, a sign language has grown
up, so that an Indian is able to talk all over--with the features of his
face, his hands and feet, the muscles of his body; and thus a skillful
preacher talks and acts; and, inspired by a theme which treats of the
gods, he sways his savage audience at will. And ever as he tells his
story he points a moral--the mythology, theology, religion, history, and
all human duties are taught. This preaching is one of the most important
institutions of savagery. The whole body of myths current in a tribe is
the sum total of their lore--their philosophy, their miraculous history,
their authority for their governmental institutions, their social
institutions, their habits and customs. It is their unwritten bible.


Once upon a time the _Cĭn-aú-äv_ brothers met to consult about the
destiny of the _U-ĭn-ká-rĕts_. At this meeting the younger said:
“Brother, how shall these people obtain their food? Let us devise some
good plan for them. I was thinking about it all night, but could not see
what would be best, and when the dawn came into the sky I went to a
mountain and sat on its summit, and thought a long time; and now I can
tell you a good plan by which they can live. Listen to your younger
brother. Look at these pine trees; their nuts are sweet; and there is
the _us_, very rich; and there is the apple of the cactus, full of
juice; on the plain you see the sunflower, bearing many seeds--they will
be good for the nation. Let them have all these things for their food,
and when they have gathered a store they shall put them in the ground,
or hide them in the rocks, and when they return they shall find
abundance, and having taken of them as they may need, shall go on, and
yet when they return a second time there shall still be plenty; and
though they return many times, as long as they live the store shall
never fail; and thus they will be supplied with abundance of food
without toil.” “Not so,” said the elder brother, “for then will the
people, idle and worthless, and having no labor to perform, engage in
quarrels, and fighting will ensue, and they will destroy each other, and
the people will be lost to the earth; they must work for all they
receive.” Then the younger brother answered not, but went away

The next day he met the elder brother and accosted him thus: “Brother,
your words were wise; let the _U-ĭn-ká-rĕts_ work for their food. But
how shall they be furnished with honey-dew? I have thought all night
about this, and when the dawn came into the sky I sat on the summit of
the mountain and did think, and now I will tell you how to give them
honey-dew: Let it fall like a great snow upon the rocks, and the women
shall go early in the morning and gather all they may desire, and they
shall be glad.” “No,” replied the elder brother, “it will not be good,
my little brother, for them to have much and find it without toil; for
they will deem it of no more value than dung, and what we give them for
their pleasure will only be wasted. In the night it shall fall in small
drops on the reeds, which they shall gather and beat with clubs, and
then will it taste very sweet, and having but little they will prize it
the more.” And the younger brother went away sorrowing, but returned the
next day and said: “My brother, your words are wise; let the women
gather the honey-dew with much toil, by beating the reeds with flails.
Brother, when a man or a woman, or a boy or a girl, or a little one
dies, where shall he go? I have thought all night about this, and when
the dawn came into the sky I sat on the top of the mountain and did
think. Let me tell you what to do: When a man dies, send him back when
the morning returns, and then will all his friends rejoice.” “Not so,”
said the elder; “the dead shall return no more.” The little brother
answered him not, but, bending his head in sorrow, went away.

One day the younger _Cĭn-aú-äv_ was walking in the forest, and saw his
brother’s son at play, and taking an arrow from his quiver slew the boy,
and when he returned he did not mention what he had done. The father
supposed that his boy was lost, and wandered around in the woods for
many days, and at last found the dead child, and mourned his loss for a
long time.

One day the younger _Cĭn-aú-äv_ said to the elder, “You made the law
that the dead should never return. I am glad that you were the first to
suffer.” Then the elder knew that the younger had killed his child, and
he was very angry and sought to destroy him, and as his wrath increased
the earth rocked, subterraneous groanings were heard, darkness came on,
fierce storms raged, lightning flashed, thunder reverberated through the
heavens, and the younger brother fled in great terror to his father,
_Ta-vwots´_, for protection.


_I´-o-wi_ (the turtle dove) was gathering seeds in the valley, and her
little babe slept. Wearied with carrying it on her back, she laid it
under the _tĭ-hó-pĭ_ (sage bush) in care of its sister, _O-hó-tcu_ (the
summer yellow bird). Engaged in her labors, the mother wandered away to
a distance, when a _tsó-a-vwĭts_ (a witch) came and said to the little
girl, “Is that your brother?” and _O-hó-tcu_ answered, “This is my
sister,” for she had heard that witches preferred to steal boys, and did
not care for girls. Then the _tsó-a-vwĭts_ was angry and chided her,
saying that it was very naughty for girls to lie; and she put on a
strange and horrid appearance, so that _O-hó-tcu_ was stupefied with
fright; then the _tsó-a-vwĭts_ ran away with the boy, carrying him to
her home on a distant mountain. Then she laid him down on the ground,
and, taking hold of his right foot, stretched the baby’s leg until it
was as long as that of a man, and she did the same to the other leg;
then his body was elongated; she stretched his arms, and, behold, the
baby was as large as a man. And the _tsó-a-vwĭts_ married him and had a
husband, which she had long desired; but, though he had the body of a
man, he had the heart of a babe, and knew no better than to marry a

Now, when _I´-o-wi_ returned and found not her babe under the
_tĭ-hó-pĭ_, but learned from _O-hó-tcu_ that it had been stolen by a
_tsó-a-vwĭts_, she was very angry, and punished her daughter very
severely. Then she went in search of the babe for a long time, mourning
as she went, and crying and still crying, refusing to be comforted,
though all her friends joined her in the search, and promised to revenge
her wrongs.

Chief among her friends was her brother, _Kwi´-na_ (the eagle), who
traveled far and wide over all the land, until one day he heard a
strange noise, and coming near he saw the _tsó-a-vwĭts_ and _U´-ja_ (the
sage cock), her husband, but he did not know that this large man was
indeed the little boy who had been stolen. Yet he returned and related
to _I´-o-wi_ what he had seen, who said: “If that is indeed my boy, he
will know my voice.” So the mother came near to where the _tsó-a-vwĭts_
and _U´-ja_ were living, and climbed into a cedar tree, and mourned and
cried continually. _Kwi´-na_ placed himself near by on another tree to
observe what effect the voice of the mother would have on _U´-ja_, the
_tsó-a-vwĭts_’ husband. When he heard the cry of his mother, _U´-ja_
knew the voice, and said to the _tsó-a-vwĭts_, “I hear my mother, I hear
my mother, I hear my mother,” but she laughed at him, and persuaded him
to hide.

Now, the _tsó-a-vwĭts_ had taught _U´-ja_ to hunt, and a short time
before he had killed a mountain sheep, which was lying in camp. The
witch emptied the contents of the stomach, and with her husband took
refuge within; for she said to herself, “Surely, _I´-o-wi_ will never
look in the paunch of a mountain sheep for my husband.” In this retreat
they were safe for a long time, so that they who were searching were
sorely puzzled at the strange disappearance. At last _Kwi´-na_ said,
“They are hid somewhere in the ground, maybe, or under the rocks; after
a long time they will be very hungry and will search for food; I will
put some in a tree so as to tempt them.” So he killed a rabbit and put
it on the top of a tall pine, from which he trimmed the branches and
peeled the bark, so that it would be very difficult to climb; and he
said, “When these hungry people come out they will try to climb that
tree for food, and it will take much time, and while the _tsó-a-vwĭts_
is thus engaged we will carry _U´-ja_ away.” So they watched some days,
until the _tsó-a-vwĭts_ was very hungry, and her baby-hearted husband
cried for food; and she came out from their hiding place and sought for
something to eat. The odor of the meat placed on the tree came to her
nostrils, and she saw where it was and tried to climb up, but fell back
many times; and while so doing _Kwi´-na_, who had been sitting on a rock
near by and had seen from where she came, ran to the paunch which had
been their house, and taking the man carried him away and laid him down
under the very same _tĭ-hó-pĭ_ from which he had been stolen; and
behold! he was the same beautiful little babe that _I´-o-wi_ had lost.

And _Kwi´-na_ went off into the sky and brought back a storm, and caused
the wind to blow, and the rain to beat upon the ground, so that his
tracks were covered, and the _tsó-a-vwĭts_ could not follow him; but she
saw lying upon the ground near by some eagle feathers, and knew well who
it was that had deprived her of her husband, and she said to herself,
“Well, I know _Kwi´-na_ is the brother of _I´-o-wi_; he is a great
warrior and a terrible man; I will go to _To-go´-a_ (the rattlesnake),
my grandfather, who will protect me and kill my enemies.”

_To-go´-a_ was enjoying his midday sleep on a rock, and as the
_tsó-a-vwĭts_ came near her grandfather awoke and called out to her, “Go
back, go back; you are not wanted here; go back!” But she came on
begging his protection; and while they were still parleying they heard
_Kwi´-na_ coming, and _To-go´-a_ said, “Hide, hide!” But she knew not
where to hide, and he opened his mouth and the _tsó-a-vwĭts_ crawled
into his stomach. This made _To-go´-a_ very sick and he entreated her to
crawl out, but she refused, for she was in great fear. Then he tried to
throw her up, but could not, and he was sick nigh unto death. At last,
in his terrible retchings, he crawled out of his own skin, and left the
_tsó-a-vwĭts_ in it, and she, imprisoned there, rolled about and hid in
the rocks. When _Kwi´-na_ came near he shouted, “Where are you, old
_tsó-a-vwĭts_? where are you, old _tsó-a-vwĭts_?” She repeated his words
in mockery.

Ever since that day witches have lived in snake skins, and hide among
the rocks, and take great delight in repeating the words of passers by.

The white man, who has lost the history of these ancient people, calls
these mocking cries of witches domiciliated in snake skins “echoes,” but
the Indians know the voices of the old hags.

This is the origin of the echo.


_Tûm-pwĭ-nai´-ro-gwĭ-nûmp_, he who had a stone shirt, killed _Sĭ-kor´_,
(the crane,) and stole his wife, and seeing that she had a child, and
thinking it would be an incumbrance to them on their travels, he ordered
her to kill it. But the mother, loving the babe, hid it under her dress,
and carried it away to its grandmother. And Stone Shirt carried his
captured bride to his own land.

In a few years the child grew to be a fine lad, under the care of his
grandmother, and was her companion wherever she went.

One day they were digging flag roots, on the margin of the river, and
putting them in a heap on the bank. When they had been at work a little
while, the boy perceived that the roots came up with greater ease than
was customary, and he asked the old woman the cause of this, but she did
not know; and, as they continued their work, still the reeds came up
with less effort, at which their wonder increased, until the grandmother
said, “Surely, some strange thing is about to transpire.” Then the boy
went to the heap where they had been placing the roots, and found that
some one had taken them away, and he ran back, exclaiming, “Grandmother,
did you take the roots away?” And she answered, “No, my child; perhaps
some ghost has taken them off; let us dig no more; come away.”

But the boy was not satisfied, as he greatly desired to know what all
this meant; so he searched about for a time, and at length found a man
sitting under a tree, whom he taunted with being a thief, and threw mud
and stones at him, until he broke the stranger’s leg, who answered not
the boy, nor resented the injuries he received, but remained silent and
sorrowful; and, when his leg was broken, he tied it up in sticks, and
bathed it in the river, and sat down again under the tree, and beckoned
the boy to approach.

When the lad came near, the stranger told him he had something of great
importance to reveal. “My son,” said he, “did that old woman ever tell
you about your father and mother?” “No,” answered the boy; “I have never
heard of them.” “My son, do you see these bones scattered on the ground?
Whose bones are these?” “How should I know?” answered the boy. “It may
be that some elk or deer has been killed here.” “No,” said the old man.
“Perhaps they are the bones of a bear;” but the old man shook his head.
So the boy mentioned many other animals, but the stranger still shook
his head, and finally said, “These are the bones of your father; Stone
Shirt killed him, and left him to rot here on the ground, like a wolf.”
And the boy was filled with indignation against the slayer of his
father. Then the stranger asked, “Is your mother in yonder lodge?” and
the boy replied, “No.” “Does your mother live on the banks of this
river?” and the boy answered, “I don’t know my mother; I have never seen
her; she is dead.” “My son,” replied the stranger, “Stone Shirt, who
killed your father, stole your mother, and took her away to the shore of
a distant lake, and there she is his wife to-day.” And the boy wept
bitterly, and while the tears filled his eyes so that he could not see,
the stranger disappeared.

Then the boy was filled with wonder at what he had seen and heard, and
malice grew in his heart against his father’s enemy. He returned to the
old woman, and said, “Grandmother, why have you lied to me about my
father and mother?” and she answered not, for she knew that a ghost had
told all to the boy. And the boy fell upon the ground weeping and
sobbing, until he fell into a deep sleep, when strange things were told

His slumber continued three days and three nights, and when he awoke he
said to his grandmother, “I am going away to enlist all nations in my
fight,” and straightway he departed.

(Here the boy’s travels are related with many circumstances concerning
the way he was received by the people, all given in a series of
conversations, very lengthy; so they will be omitted.)

Finally, he returned in advance of the people whom he had enlisted,
bringing with him _Cĭn-au´-äv_, the wolf, and _To-go´-a_, the
rattlesnake. When the three had eaten food, the boy said to the old
woman: “Grandmother, cut me in two.” But she demurred, saying she did
not wish to kill one whom she loved so dearly. “Cut me in two,” demanded
the boy, and he gave her a stone ax which he had brought from a distant
country, and with a manner of great authority he again commanded her to
cut him in two. So she stood before him, and severed him in twain, and
fled in terror. And lo! each part took the form of an entire man, and
the one beautiful boy appeared as two, and they were so much alike no
one could tell them apart.

When the people or natives whom the boy had enlisted came pouring into
the camp, _Cĭn-au´-äv_ and _To-go´-a_ were engaged in telling them of
the wonderful thing that had happened to the boy, and that now there
were two; and they all held it to be an augury of a successful
expedition to the land of Stone Shirt. And they started on their

Now the boy had been told in the dream of his three days’ slumber of a
magical cup, and he had brought it home with him from his journey among
the nations, and the _So´-kûs Wai´-ûn-äts_ carried it between them,
filled with water. _Cĭn-au´-äv_ walked on their right and _To-go´-a_ on
their left, and the nations followed in the order in which they had been
enlisted. There was a vast number of them, so that when they were
stretched out in line it was one day’s journey from the front to the
rear of the column.

When they had journeyed two days and were far out on the desert all the
people thirsted, for they found no water, and they fell down upon the
sand groaning, and murmuring that they had been deceived, and they
cursed the One-Two.

But the _So´-kûs Wai´-ûn-äts_ had been told in the wonderful dream of
the suffering which would be endured and that the water which they
carried in the cup was only to be used in dire necessity, and the
brothers said to each other: “Now the time has come for us to drink the
water.” And when one had quaffed of the magical bowl, he found it still
full, and he gave it to the other to drink, and still it was full; and
the One-Two gave it to the people, and one after another did they all
drink, and still the cup was full to the brim.

But _Cĭn-au´-äv_ was dead, and all the people mourned, for he was a
great man. The brothers held the cup over him, and sprinkled him with
water, when he arose and said: “Why do you disturb me? I did have a
vision of mountain brooks and meadows, of cane where honey-dew was
plenty.” They gave him the cup, and he drank also; but when he had
finished there was none left. Refreshed and rejoicing they proceeded on
their journey.

The next day, being without food, they were hungry, and all were about
to perish; and again they murmured at the brothers, and cursed them. But
the _So´-kûs Wai´-ûn-äts_ saw in the distance an antelope, standing on
an eminence in the plain, in bold relief against the sky; and
_Cĭn-au´-äv_ knew it was the wonderful antelope with many eyes, which
Stone Shirt kept for his watchman; and he proposed to go and kill it,
but _To-go´-a_ demurred, and said: “It were better that I should go, for
he will see you and run away.” But the _So´-kûs Wai´-ûn-äts_ told
Cĭn´-au´-äv to go; and he started in a direction away to the left of
where the antelope was standing, that he might make a long detour about
some hills, and come upon him from the other side. _To-go´-a_ went a
little way from camp, and called to the brothers: “Do you see me?” and
they answered they did not. “Hunt for me;” and while they were hunting
for him, the rattlesnake said: “I can see you; you are doing” --so and
so, telling them what they were doing; but they could not find him.

Then, the rattlesnake came forth, declaring: “Now you know I can see
others, and that I cannot be seen when I so desire. _Cin-au´-äv_ cannot
kill that antelope, for he has many eyes, and is the wonderful watchman
of Stone Shirt; but I can kill him, for I can go where he is and he
cannot see me.” So the brothers were convinced, and permitted him to go;
and he went and killed the antelope. When _Cin-au´-äv_ saw it fall, he
was very angry, for he was extremely proud of his fame as a hunter, and
anxious to have the honor of killing this famous antelope, and he ran up
with the intention of killing _To-go´-a_; but when he drew near, and saw
the antelope was fat, and would make a rich feast for the people, his
anger was appeased. “What matters it,” said he, “who kills the game,
when we can all eat it?”

So all the people were fed in abundance, and they proceeded on their

The next day the people again suffered for water, and the magical cup
was empty; but the _So´-kûs Wai´-ûn-äts_, having been told in their
dream what to do, transformed themselves into doves, and flew away to a
lake, on the margin of which was the home of Stone Shirt.

Coming near to the shore, they saw two maidens bathing in the water; and
the birds stood and looked, for the maidens were very beautiful. Then
they flew into some bushes, near by, to have a nearer view, and were
caught in a snare which the girls had placed for intrusive birds. The
beautiful maidens came up, and, taking the birds out of the snare,
admired them very much, for they had never seen such birds before. They
carried them to their father, Stone Shirt, who said: “My daughters,
I very much fear these are spies from my enemies, for such birds do not
live in our land”; and he was about to throw them into the fire, when
the maidens besought him, with tears, that he would not destroy their
beautiful birds; but he yielded to their entreaties with much misgiving.
Then they took the birds to the shore of the lake, and set them free.

When the birds were at liberty once more, they flew around among the
bushes, until they found the magical cup which they had lost, and taking
it up, they carried it out into the middle of the lake and settled down
upon the water, and the maidens supposed they were drowned.

The birds, when they had filled their cup, rose again, and went back to
the people in the desert, where they arrived just at the right time to
save them with the cup of water, from which each drank; and yet it was
full until the last was satisfied, and then not a drop remained.

The brothers reported that they had seen Stone Shirt and his daughters.

The next day they came near to the home of the enemy, and the brothers,
in proper person, went out to reconnoiter. Seeing a woman gleaning
seeds, they drew near, and knew it was their mother, whom Stone Shirt
had stolen from _Sĭ-kor´_, the crane. They told her they were her sons,
but she denied it, and said she had never had but one son; but the boys
related to her their history, with the origin of the two from one, and
she was convinced. She tried to dissuade them from making war upon Stone
Shirt, and told them that no arrow could possibly penetrate his armor,
and that he was a great warrior, and had no other delight than in
killing his enemies, and that his daughters also were furnished with
magical bows and arrows, which they could shoot so fast that the arrows
would fill the air like a cloud, and that it was not necessary for them
to take aim, for their missiles went where they willed; they _thought_
the arrows to the hearts of their enemies; and thus the maidens could
kill the whole of the people before a common arrow could be shot by a
common person. But the boys told her what the spirit had said in the
long dream, and had promised that Stone Shirt should be killed. They
told her to go down to the lake at dawn, so as not to be endangered by
the battle.

During the night, the _So´-kûs Wai´-ûn-äts_ transformed themselves into
mice, and proceeded to the home of Stone Shirt, and found the magical
bows and arrows that belonged to the maidens, and with their sharp
teeth they cut the sinew on the backs of the bows, and nibbled the
bow-strings, so that they were worthless, while _To-go´-a_ hid himself
under a rock near by.

When dawn came into the sky, _Tûm-pwĭ-nai´-ro-gwĭ-nûmp_, the Stone Shirt
man, arose and walked out of his tent, exulting in his strength and
security, and sat down upon the rock under which _To-go´-a_ was hiding;
and he, seeing his opportunity, sunk his fangs into the flesh of the
hero. Stone Shirt sprang high into the air, and called to his daughters
that they were betrayed, and that the enemy was near; and they seized
their magical bows, and their quivers filled with magical arrows, and
hurried to his defense. At the same time, all the nations who were
surrounding the camp rushed down to battle. But the beautiful maidens,
finding their weapons were destroyed, waved back their enemies, as if
they would parley; and, standing for a few moments over the body of
their slain father, sang the death-song, and danced the death-dance,
whirling in giddy circles about the dead hero, and wailing with despair,
until they sank down and expired.

The conquerers buried the maidens by the shores of the lake; but
_Tûm-pwĭ-nai´-ro-gwĭ-nûmp_ was left to rot, and his bones to bleach on
the sands, as he had left _Sĭ-kor´_.


_Ta-vwots´_, the little rabbit, was wont to lie with his back to the sun
when he slept. One day he thus slept in camp while his children played
around him. After a time they saw that his back was smoking, and they
cried out, “What is the matter with your back, father?” Startled from
his sleep, he demanded to know the cause of the uproar. “Your back is
covered with sores and full of holes,” they replied. Then _Ta-vwots´_
was very angry, for he knew that _Ta´-vĭ_, the sun, had burned him; and
he sat down by the fire for a long time in solemn mood, pondering on the
injury and insult he had received. At last rising to his feet, he said,
“My children I must go and make war upon _Ta´-vĭ_.” And straightway he

Now his camp was in the valley of the Mo-a-pa.[2.1] On his journey he
came to a hill, and standing on its summit he saw in a valley to the
east a beautiful stretch of verdure, and he greatly marveled at the
sight and desired to know what it was. On going down to the valley he
found a corn-field, something he had never before seen, and the ears
were ready for roasting. When he examined them, he saw that they were
covered with beautiful hair, and he was much astonished. Then he opened
the husk and found within soft white grains of corn, which he tasted.
Then he knew that it was corn and good to eat. Plucking his arms full he
carried them away, roasted them on a fire, and ate until he was filled.

Now, when he had done all this, he reflected that he had been stealing,
and he was afraid; so he dug a hole in which to hide himself.

_Cĭn-au´-äv_ was the owner of this field, and when he walked through and
saw that his corn had been stolen, he was exceedingly wroth, and said,
“I will slay this thief _Ta-vwots´_; I will kill him, I will kill him.”
And straightway he called his warriors to him and made search for the
thief, but could not find him, for he was hid in the ground. After a
long time they discovered the hole and tried to shoot _Ta-vwots´_ as he
was standing in the entrance, but he blew their arrows back. This made
_Cĭn-au´-äv_’s people very angry and they shot many arrows, but
_Ta-vwots´_’ breath was a warder against them all. Then, with one
accord, they ran to snatch him up with their hands, but, all in
confusion, they only caught each others fists, for with agile steps
_Ta-vwots´_ dodged into his retreat. Then they began to dig, and said
they would drag him out. And they labored with great energy, all the
time taunting him with shouts and jeers. But _Ta-vwots´_ had a secret
passage from the main chamber of his retreat which opened by a hole
above the rock overhanging the entrance where they were at work.

When they had proceeded with this digging until they were quite under
ground, _Ta-vwots´_, standing on the rock above, hurled the magical ball
which he was accustomed to carry with him, and striking the ground above
the diggers, it caved the earth in, and they were all buried. “Aha,”
said he, “why do you wish to hinder me on my way to kill the Sun?
_A´-nier ti-tĭk´-a-nûmp kwaik-ai´-gar_” (fighting is my eating tool I
say; that’s so!), and he proceeded on his way musing. “I have started
out to kill; vengeance is my work; every one I meet will be an enemy. It
is well; no one shall escape my wrath.”

The next day he saw two men making arrow-heads of hot rocks, and drawing
near he observed their work for a time from a position where he could
not be seen. Then stepping forth, he said: “Let me help you”; and when
the rocks were on the fire again and were hot to redness he said: “Hot
rocks will not burn me.” And they laughed at him. “May be you would have
us believe that you are a ghost?” “I am not a ghost,” said he, “but I am
a better man than you are. Hold me on these hot rocks, and if I do not
burn you must let me do the same to you.” To this they readily agreed,
and when they had tried to burn him on the rocks, with his magic breath
he kept them away at a distance so slight they could not see but that
the rocks did really touch him. When they perceived that he was not
burned they were greatly amazed and trembled with fear. But having made
the promise that he should treat them in like manner, they submitted
themselves to the torture, and the hot rocks burned them until with
great cries they struggled to get free, but unrelenting _Ta-vwots´_ held
them until the rocks had burned through their flesh into their entrails,
and so they died. “Aha,” said _Ta-vwots´_, “lie there until you can get
up again. I am on my way to kill the Sun. _A´-nier ti-tĭk´-a-nûmp
kwaik-ai´-gar._” And sounding the war-whoop he proceeded on his way.

The next day he came to where two women were gathering berries in
baskets, and when he sat down they brought him some of the fruit and
placed it before him. He saw there were many leaves and thorns among the
berries, and he said, “Blow these leaves and thorns into my eyes,” and
they did so, hoping to blind him; but with his magic breath he kept them
away, so that they did not hurt him.

Then the women averred that he was a ghost. “I am no ghost,” said he,
“but a common person; do you not know that leaves and thorns cannot hurt
the eye? Let me show you;” and they consented and were made blind. Then
_Ta-vwots´_ slew them with his _pa-rûm´-o-kwi_. “Aha,” said he, “you are
caught with your own chaff. I am on my way to kill the Sun. This is good
practice. I must learn how. _A´-nier ti-tĭk´-a-nûmp kwaik-ai´-gar._” And
sounding the war-whoop he proceeded on his way.

The next day he saw some women standing on the Hurricane Cliff, and as
he approached he heard them say to each other that they would roll rocks
down upon his head and kill him as he passed; and drawing near he
pretended to be eating something, and enjoying it with great gusto; so
they asked him what it was, and he said it was something very sweet, and
they begged that they might be allowed to taste of it also. “I will
throw it up to you,” said he; “come to the brink and catch it.” When
they had done so, he threw it up so that they could not quite reach it,
and he threw it in this way many times, until, in their eagerness to
secure it, they all crowded too near the brink, fell, and were killed.
“Aha,” said he, “you were killed by your own eagerness. I am on my way
to kill the Sun. _A´-nier ti-tĭk´-a-nûmp kaiwk-ai´-gar._” And sounding
the war-whoop he passed on.

The following day he saw two women fashioning water-jugs, which are made
of willow-ware like baskets and afterwards lined with pitch. When afar
off he could hear them converse, for he had a wonderful ear. “Here comes
that bad _Ta-vwots´_,” said they; “how shall we destroy him?” When he
came near, he said, “What was that you were saying when I came up?” “Oh,
we were only saying, ‘here comes our grandson,’”[2.2] said they. “Is
that all?” replied _Ta-vwots´_, and looking around, he said, “Let me get
into your water-jug”; and they allowed him to do so. “Now braid the
neck.” This they did, making the neck very small; then they laughed with
great glee, for they supposed he was entrapped. But with his magic
breath he burst the jug, and stood up before them; and they exclaimed,
“You must be a ghost!” but he answered, “I am no ghost. Do you not know
that jugs were made to hold water, but cannot hold men and women?” At
this they wondered greatly, and said he was wise. Then he proposed to
put them in jugs in the same manner, in order to demonstrate to them the
truth of what he had said; and they consented. When he had made the
necks of the jugs and filled them with pitch, he said, “Now, jump out,”
but they could not. It was now his turn to deride; so he rolled them
about and laughed greatly, while their half-stifled screams rent the
air. When he had sported with them in this way until he was tired, he
killed them with his magical ball. “Aha,” said he, “you are bottled in
your own jugs. I am on my way to kill the Sun; in good time I shall
learn how. _A´-nier ti-tĭk´-a-nûmp kaiwk-ai´-gar._” And sounding the
war-hoop he passed on.

The next day he came upon _Kwi´-ats_, the bear, who was digging a hole
in which to hide, for he had heard of the fame of _Ta-vwots´_, and was
afraid. When the great slayer came to _Kwi´-ats_ he said, “Don’t fear,
my great friend; I am not the man from whom to hide. Could a little
fellow like me kill so many people?” And the bear was assured. “Let me
help you dig,” said _Ta-vwots´_, “that we may hide together, for I also
am fleeing from the great destroyer.” So they made a den deep in the
ground, with its entrance concealed by a great rock. Now, _Ta-vwots´_
secretly made a private passage from the den out to the side of the
mountain, and when the work was completed the two went out together to
the hill-top to watch for the coming of the enemy. Soon _Ta-vwots´_
pretended that he saw him coming, and they ran in great haste to the
den. The little one outran the greater, and going into the den, hastened
out again through his secret passage.

When _Kwi´-ats_ entered he looked about, and not seeing his little
friend he searched for him for some time, and still not finding him, he
supposed that he must have passed him on the way, and went out again to
see if he had stopped or been killed. By this time _Ta-vwots´_ had
perched himself on the rock at the entrance of the den, and when the
head of the bear protruded through the hole below he hurled his
_pa-rûm´-o-kwi_ and killed him. “Aha,” said _Ta-vwots´_, “I greatly
feared this renowned warrior, but now he is dead in his own den. I am
going to kill the Sun. _A´-nier ti´-tĭk´-a´-nûmp kwaik-ai´-gar._” And
sounding the war-whoop he went on his way.

The next day he met _Ku-mi´-a-pöts_, the tarantula. Now this knowing
personage had heard of the fame of _Ta-vwots´_, and determined to outwit
him. He was possessed of a club with such properties that, although it
was a deadly weapon when used against others, it could not be made to
hurt himself, though wielded by a powerful arm.

As _Ta-vwots´_ came near, _Ku-mi´-a-pöts_ complained of having a
headache; moaning and groaning, he said there was an _u-nu´-pĭts_, or
little evil spirit, in his head, and he asked _Ta-vwots´_ to take the
club and beat it out. _Ta-vwots´_ obeyed, and struck with all his power,
and wondered that _Ku-mi´-a-pöts_ was not killed; but he urged
_Ta-vwots´_ to strike harder. At last _Ta-vwots´_ understood the nature
of the club, and guessed the wiles of _Ku-mi´-a-pöts_, and raising the
weapon as if to strike again, he dexterously substituted his magic ball
and slew him. “Aha,” said he, “that is a blow of your own seeking,
_Ku-mi´-a-pöts_. I am on my way to kill the Sun; now I know that I can
do it. _A´-nier ti´-tĭk´-a´-nûmp kwaik-ai´-gar._” And sounding the
war-whoop he went on his way.

The next day he came to a cliff which is the edge or boundary of the
world on the east, where careless persons have fallen into unknown
depths below. Now to come to the summit of this cliff it is necessary to
climb a mountain, and _Ta-vwots´_ could see three gaps or notches in the
mountain, and he went up into the one on the left; and he demanded to
know of all the trees which where standing by of what use they were.
Each one in turn praised its own qualities, the chief of which in every
case was its value as fuel.[2.3] _Ta-vwots´_ shook his head and went
into the center gap and had another conversation with the trees,
receiving the same answer. Finally he went into the third gap--that on
the right. After he had questioned all the trees and bushes, he came at
last to a little one called _yu´-i-nump_, which modestly said it had no
use, that it was not even fit for fuel. “Good,” said _Ta-vwots´_, and
under it he lay down to sleep.

When the dawn came into the sky _Ta-vwots´_ arose and stood on the brink
overhanging the abyss from which the Sun was about to rise. The instant
it appeared he hurled his _pa-rûm´-o-kwi_, and, striking it full in the
face, shattered it into innumerable fragments, and these fragments were
scattered over all the world and kindled a great conflagration.
_Ta-vwots´_ ran and crept under the _yu´-i-nump_ to obtain protection.
At last the fire waxed very hot over all the world, and soon _Ta-vwots_
began to suffer and tried to run away, but as he ran his toes were
burned off, and then slowly, inch by inch, his legs, and then his body,
so that he walked on his hands, and these were burned, and he walked on
the stumps of his arms, and these were burned, until there was nothing
left but his head. And now, having no other means of progression, his
head rolled along the ground until his eyes, which were much swollen,
burst by striking against a rock, and the tears gushed out in a great
flood which spread out over all the land and extinguished the

The _Uinta Utes_ add something more to this story, namely, that the
flood from his eyes bore out new seeds, which were scattered over all
the world. The _Ute_ name for seed is the same as for eye.

Those animals which are considered as the descendants of _Ta-vwots´_ are
characterized by a brown patch back of the neck and shoulders, which is
attributed to the singeing received by him in the great fire.

The following apothegms are derived from this story:

“You are buried in the hole which you dug for yourself.”

“When you go to war every one you meet is an enemy; kill all.”

“You were caught with your own chaff.”

“Don’t get so anxious that you kill yourself.”

“You are bottled in your own jugs.”

“He is dead in his own den.”

“That is a blow of your own seeking.”

    [Footnote 2.1: A stream in Southeastern Nevada.]

    [Footnote 2.2: This is a very common term of endearment used by
    elder to younger persons.]

    [Footnote 2.3: Several times I have heard this story, and
    invariably the dialogues held by _Ta-vwots´_ with the trees are
    long and tedious, though the trees evince some skill in their own

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *

_Errors and Inconsistencies: Mythology_

  but the confusion of confusion
    [_unchanged: error for “confusion” alone?_]
  that great philosophic question  [philosopic]
  a pot of pickeled sunbeams  [_spelling unchanged_]
  The descendants of these people  [decendents]
  the inner subjective world.  [_final . missing_]
  And wherever we find nature-worship
    [_text has “where-/ever” at line break_]
  and the spirits of the physical bodies  [spirts]
  When the people or natives  [_text unchanged: error for “nations”?]
  The next day, being without food  [The dext day]
  and they cried out, “What is the matter  [_comma missing_]
  but _Ta-vwots´_’ breath was a warder against them all
    [_text reads “breath as a warder”: may be whole missing word_]
  And sounding the war-hoop he passed on.
    [_variant spelling unchanged_]
  “that we may hide together, for I also am fleeing from the great
    [_both quotation marks missing_]

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *


            J. W. Powell, Director.


        A Short Study of Tribal Society.


                 J. W. POWELL.


  The family                                                      59
  The gens                                                        59
  The phratry                                                     60
  Government                                                      61
    Civil government                                              61
    Methods of choosing councillors                               61
    Functions of civil government                                 63
    Marriage regulations                                          63
    Name regulations                                              64
    Regulations of personal adornment                             64
    Regulations of order in encampment                            64
    Property rights                                               65
    Rights of persons                                             65
    Community rights                                              65
    Rights of religion                                            65
    Crimes                                                        66
    Theft                                                         66
    Maiming                                                       66
    Murder                                                        66
    Treason                                                       67
    Witchcraft                                                    67
    Outlawry                                                      67
    Military government                                           68
    Fellowhood                                                    68

       *       *       *       *       *


        A Short Study of Tribal Society.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the social organization of the Wyandots four groups are
recognized--the family, the gens, the phratry, and the tribe.


The family, as the term is here used, is nearly synonymous with the
household. It is composed of the persons who occupy one lodge, or, in
their permanent wigwams, one section of a communal dwelling. These
permanent dwellings are constructed in an oblong form, of poles
interwoven with bark. The fire is placed in line along the center, and
is usually built for two families, one occupying the place on each side
of the fire.

The head of the family is a woman.


The gens is an organized body of consanguineal kindred in the female
line. “The woman carries the gens,” is the formulated statement by which
a Wyandot expresses the idea that descent is in the female line. Each
gens has the name of some animal, the ancient of such animal being its
tutelar god. Up to the time that the tribe left Ohio, eleven gentes were
recognized, as follows:

Deer, Bear, Highland Turtle (striped), Highland Turtle (black), Mud
Turtle, Smooth Large Turtle, Hawk, Beaver, Wolf, Sea Snake, and

In speaking of an individual he is said to be a wolf, a bear, or a deer,
as the case may be, meaning thereby that he belongs to that gens; but in
speaking of the body of people comprising a gens, they are said to be
relatives of the wolf, the bear, or the deer, as the case may be.

There is a body of names belonging to each gens, so that each person’s
name indicates the gens to which he belongs. These names are derived
from the characteristics, habits, attitudes, or mythologic stories
connected with the tutelar god.

The following schedule presents the name of a man and a woman in each
gens, as illustrating this statement:


  Man of Deer gens
      Lean Deer.
  Woman of Deer gens
      Spotted Fawn.
  Man of Bear gens
      Long Claws.
  Woman of Bear gens
      Grunting for her Young.
  Man of Striped Turtle gens
      Going Around the Lake.
  Woman of Striped Turtle gens
      Gone from the Water.
  Man of Mud Turtle gens
      Hard Skull.
  Woman of Mud Turtle gens
      Finding Sand Beach.
  Man of Smooth Large Turtle gens
      Throwing Sand.
  Woman of Smooth Large Turtle gens
      Slow Walker.
  Man of Wolf gens
      One who goes about in the Dark; a Prowler.
  Woman of Wolf gens
      Always Hungry.
  Man of Snake gens
      Sitting in curled Position.
  Woman of Snake gens
      One who Ripples the Water.
  Man of Porcupine gens
      The one who puts up Quills.
  Woman of Porcupine gens


There are four phratries in the tribe, the three gentes Bear, Deer, and
Striped Turtle constituting the first; the Highland Turtle, Black
Turtle, and Smooth Large Turtle the second; the Hawk, Beaver, and Wolf
the third, and the Sea Snake and Porcupine the fourth.

This unit in their organization has a mythologic basis, and is chiefly
used for religious purposes, in the preparation of medicines, and in
festivals and games.

The eleven gentes, as four phratries, constitute the tribe.

Each gens is a body of consanguineal kindred in the female line, and
each gens is allied to other gentes by consanguineal kinship through the
male line, and by affinity through marriage.

To be a member of the tribe it is necessary to be a member of a gens; to
be a member of a gens it is necessary to belong to some family; and to
belong to a family a person must have been born in the family so that
his kinship is recognized, or he must be adopted into a family and
become a son, brother, or some definite relative; and this artificial
relationship gives him the same standing as actual relationship in the
family, in the gens, in the phratry, and in the tribe.

Thus a tribe is a body of kindred.

Of the four groups thus described, the gens, the phratry, and the tribe
constitute the series of organic units; the family, or household as here
described, is not a unit of the gens or phratry, as two gentes are
represented in each--the father must belong to one gens, and the mother
and her children to another.


Society is maintained by the establishment of government, for rights
must be recognized and duties performed.

In this tribe there is found a complete differentiation of the military
from the civil government.


The civil government inheres in a system of councils and chiefs.

In each gens there is a council, composed of four women, called
_Yu-waí-yu-wá-na_. These four women councillors select a chief of the
gens from its male members--that is, from their brothers and sons. This
gentile chief is the head of the gentile council.

The council of the tribe is composed of the aggregated gentile councils.
The tribal council, therefore, is composed one-fifth of men and
four-fifths of women.

The sachem of the tribe, or tribal chief, is chosen by the chiefs of the

There is sometimes a grand council of the gens, composed of the
councillors of the gens proper and all the heads of households and
leading men--brothers and sons.

There is also sometimes a grand council of the tribe, composed of the
council of the tribe proper and the heads of households of the tribe,
and all the leading men of the tribe.

These grand councils are convened for special purposes.


The four women councillors of the gens are chosen by the heads of
households, themselves being women. There is no formal election, but
frequent discussion is had over the matter from time to time, in which a
sentiment grows up within the gens and throughout the tribe that, in the
event of the death of any councillor, a certain person will take her

In this manner there is usually one, two, or more potential councillors
in each gens who are expected to attend all the meetings of the council,
though they take no part in the deliberations and have no vote.

When a woman is installed as councillor a feast is prepared by the gens
to which she belongs, and to this feast all the members of the tribe are
invited. The woman is painted and dressed in her best attire and the
sachem of the tribe places upon her head the gentile chaplet of
feathers, and announces in a formal manner to the assembled guests that
the woman has been chosen a councillor. The ceremony is followed by
feasting and dancing, often continued late into the night.

The gentile chief is chosen by the council women after consultation with
the other women and men of the gens. Often the gentile chief is a
potential chief through a period of probation. During this time he
attends the meetings of the council, but takes no part in the
deliberations, and has no vote.

At his installation, the council women invest him with an elaborately
ornamented tunic, place upon his head a chaplet of feathers, and paint
the gentile totem on his face. The sachem of the tribe then announces to
the people that the man has been made chief of the gens, and admitted to
the council. This is also followed by a festival.

The sachem of the tribe is selected by the men belonging to the council
of the tribe. Formerly the sachemship inhered in the Bear gens, but at
present he is chosen from the Deer gens, from the fact, as the Wyandots
say, that death has carried away all the wise men of the Bear gens.

The chief of the Wolf gens is the herald and the sheriff of the tribe.
He superintends the erection of the council-house and has the care of
it. He calls the council together in a formal manner when directed by
the sachem. He announces to the tribe all the decisions of the council,
and executes the directions of the council and of the sachem.

Gentile councils are held frequently from day to day and from week to
week, and are called by the chief whenever deemed necessary. When
matters before the council are considered of great importance, a grand
council of the gens may be called.

The tribal council is held regularly on the night of the full moon of
each lunation and at such other times as the sachem may determine; but
extra councils are usually called by the sachem at the request of a
number of councilors.

Meetings of the gentile councils are very informal, but the meetings of
the tribal councils are conducted with due ceremony. When all the
persons are assembled, the chief of the Wolf gens calls them to order,
fills and lights a pipe, sends one puff of smoke to the heavens and
another to the earth. The pipe is then handed to the sachem, who fills
his mouth with smoke, and, turning from left to right with the sun,
slowly puffs it out over the heads of the councilors, who are sitting in
a circle. He then hands the pipe to the man on his left, and it is
smoked in turn by each person until it has been passed around the
circle. The sachem then explains the object for which the council is
called. Each person in the way and manner he chooses tells what he
thinks should be done in the case. If a majority of the council is
agreed as to action, the sachem does not speak, but may simply announce
the decision. But in some cases there may be protracted debate, which is
carried on with great deliberation. In case of a tie, the sachem is
expected to speak.

It is considered dishonorable for any man to reverse his decision after
having spoken.

Such are the organic elements of the Wyandot government.


It is the function of government to preserve rights and enforce the
performance of duties. Rights and duties are co-relative. Rights imply
duties, and duties imply rights. The right inhering in the party of the
first part imposes a duty on the party of the second part. The right and
its co-relative duty are inseparable parts of a relation that must be
maintained by government; and the relations which governments are
established to maintain may be treated under the general head of rights.

In Wyandot government these rights may be classed as follows:

  First--Rights of marriage.
  Second--Rights to names.
  Third--Rights to personal adornments.
  Fourth--Rights of order in encampments and migrations.
  Fifth--Rights of property.
  Sixth--Rights of person.
  Seventh--Rights of community.
  Eighth--Rights of religion.

To maintain rights, rules of conduct are established, not by formal
enactment, but by regulated usage. Such custom-made laws may be called


Marriage between members of the same gens is forbidden, but
consanguineal marriages between persons of different gentes are
permitted. For example, a man may not marry his mother’s sister’s
daughter, as she belongs to the same gens with himself; but he can marry
his father’s sister’s daughter, because she belongs to a different gens.

Husbands retain all their rights and privileges in their own gentes,
though they live with the gentes of their wives. Children, irrespective
of sex, belong to the gens of the mother. Men and women must marry
within the tribe. A woman taken to wife from without the tribe must
first be adopted into some family of a gens other than that to which the
man belongs. That a woman may take for a husband a man without the tribe
he must also be adopted into the family of some gens other than that of
the woman. What has been called by some ethnologists endogamy and
exogamy are correlative parts of one regulation, and the Wyandots, like
all other tribes of which we have any knowledge in North America, are
both endogamous and exogamous.

Polygamy is permitted, but the wives must belong to different gentes.
The first wife remains the head of the household. Polyandry is

A man seeking a wife consults her mother, sometimes direct, and
sometimes through his own mother. The mother of the girl advises with
the women councilors to obtain their consent, and the young people
usually submit quietly to their decision. Sometimes the women councilors
consult with the men.

When a girl is betrothed, the man makes such presents to the mother as
he can. It is customary to consummate the marriage before the end of the
moon in which the betrothal is made. Bridegroom and bride make promises
of faithfulness to the parents and women councilors of both parties. It
is customary to give a marriage feast, in which the gentes of both
parties take part. For a short time at least, bride and groom live with
the bride’s mother, or rather in the original household of the bride.

The time when they will set up housekeeping for themselves is usually
arranged before marriage.

In the event of the death of the mother, the children belong to her
sister or to her nearest female kin, the matter being settled by the
council women of the gens. As the children belong to the mother, on the
death of the father the mother and children are cared for by her nearest
male relative until subsequent marriage.


It has been previously explained that there is a body of names, the
exclusive property of each gens. Once a year, at the green-corn
festival, the council women of the gens select the names for the
children born during the previous year, and the chief of the gens
proclaims these names at the festival. No person may change his name,
but every person, man or woman, by honorable or dishonorable conduct, or
by remarkable circumstance, may win a second name commemorative of deed
or circumstance, which is a kind of title.


Each clan has a distinctive method of painting the face, a distinctive
chaplet to be worn by the gentile chief and council women when they are
inaugurated, and subsequently at festival occasions, and distinctive
ornaments for all its members, to be used at festivals and religious


The camp of the tribe is in an open circle or horse-shoe, and the gentes
camp in following order, beginning on the left and going around to the

Deer, Bear, Highland Turtle (striped), Highland Turtle (black), Mud
Turtle, Smooth Large Turtle, Hawk, Beaver, Wolf, Sea Snake, Porcupine.

The order in which the households camp in the gentile group is regulated
by the gentile councilors and adjusted from time to time in such a
manner that the oldest family is placed on the left, and the youngest on
the right. In migrations and expeditions the order of travel follows the
analogy of encampment.


Within the area claimed by the tribe each gens occupies a smaller tract
for the purpose of cultivation. The right of the gens to cultivate a
particular tract is a matter settled in the council of the tribe, and
the gens may abandon one tract for another only with the consent of the
tribe. The women councillors partition the gentile land among the
householders, and the household tracts are distinctly marked by them.
The ground is re-partitioned once in two years. The heads of households
are responsible for the cultivation of the tract, and should this duty
be neglected the council of the gens calls the responsible parties to

Cultivation is communal; that is, all of the able-bodied women of the
gens take part in the cultivation of each household tract in the
following manner:

The head of the household sends her brother or son into the forest or to
the stream to bring in game or fish for a feast; then the able-bodied
women of the gens are invited to assist in the cultivation of the land,
and when this work is done a feast is given.

The wigwam or lodge and all articles of the household belong to the
woman--the head of the household--and at her death are inherited by her
eldest daughter, or nearest of female kin. The matter is settled by the
council women. If the husband die his property is inherited by his
brother or his sister’s son, except such portion as may be buried with
him. His property consists of his clothing, hunting and fishing
implements, and such articles as are used personally by himself.

Usually a small canoe is the individual property of the man. Large
canoes are made by the male members of the gentes, and are the property
of the gentes.


Each individual has a right to freedom of person and security from
personal and bodily injury, unless adjudged guilty of crime by proper


Each gens has the right to the services of all its women in the
cultivation of the soil. Each gens has the right to the service of all
its male members in avenging wrongs, and the tribe has the right to the
service of all its male members in time of war.


Each phratry has the right to certain religious ceremonies and the
preparation of certain medicines.

Each gens has the exclusive right to worship its tutelar god, and each
individual has the exclusive right to the possession and use of a
particular amulet.


The violations of right are crimes. Some of the crimes recognized by the
Wyandots are as follows:

  1. Adultery.
  2. Theft.
  3. Maiming.
  4. Murder.
  5. Treason.
  6. Witchcraft.

A maiden guilty of fornication may be punished by her mother or female
guardian, but if the crime is flagrant and repeated, so as to become a
matter of general gossip, and the mother fails to correct it, the matter
may be taken up by the council women of the gens.

A woman guilty of adultery, for the first offense is punished by having
her hair cropped; for repeated offenses her left ear is cut off.


The punishment for theft is twofold restitution. When the prosecutor and
prosecuted belong to the same gens, the trial is before the council of
the gens, and from it there is no appeal. If the parties involved are of
different gentes, the prosecutor, through the head of his household,
lays the matter before the council of his own gens; by it the matter is
laid before the gentile council of the accused in a formal manner.
Thereupon it becomes the duty of the council of the accused to
investigate the facts for themselves, and to settle the matter with the
council of the plaintiff. Failure thus to do is followed by retaliation
in the seizing of any property of the gens which may be found.


Maiming is compounded, and the method of procedure in prosecution is
essentially the same as for theft.


In the case of murder, if both parties are members of the same gens, the
matter is tried by the gentile council on complaint of the head of the
household, but there may be an appeal to the council of the tribe. Where
the parties belong to different gentes, complaint is formally made by
the injured party, through the chief of his gens, in the following

A wooden tablet is prepared, upon which is inscribed the totem or
heraldic emblem of the injured man’s gens, and a picture-writing setting
forth the offense follows.

The gentile chief appears before the chief of the council of the
offender, and formally states the offense, explaining the
picture-writing, which is then delivered.

A council of the offender’s gens is thereupon called and a trial is
held. It is the duty of this council to examine the evidence for
themselves and to come to a conclusion without further presentation of
the matter on the part of the person aggrieved. Having decided the
matter among themselves, they appear before the chief of the council of
the aggrieved party to offer compensation.

If the gens of the offender fail to settle the matter with the gens of
the aggrieved party, it is the duty of his nearest relative to avenge
the wrong. Either party may appeal to the council of the tribe. The
appeal must be made in due form, by the presentation of a tablet of

Inquiry into the effect of a failure to observe prescribed formalities
developed an interesting fact. In procedure against crime, failure in
formality is not considered a violation of the rights of the accused,
but proof of his innocence. It is considered supernatural evidence that
the charges are false. In trials for all offenses forms of procedure
are, therefore, likely to be earnestly questioned.


Treason consists in revealing the secrets of the medicine preparations
or giving other information or assistance to enemies of the tribe, and
is punished by death. The trial is before the council of the tribe.


Witchcraft is punished by death, stabbing, tomahawking, or burning.
Charges of witchcraft are investigated by the grand council of the
tribe. When the accused is adjudged guilty, he may appeal to
supernatural judgment. The test is by fire. A circular fire is built on
the ground, through which the accused must run from east and west and
from north to south. If no injury is received he is adjudged innocent;
if he falls into the fire he is adjudged guilty. Should a person accused
or having the general reputation of practicing witchcraft become deaf,
blind, or have sore eyes, earache, headache, or other diseases
considered loathsome, he is supposed to have failed in practicing his
arts upon others, and to have fallen a victim to them himself. Such
cases are most likely to be punished.


The institution of outlawry exists among the Wyandots in a peculiar
form. An outlaw is one who by his crimes has placed himself without the
protection of his clan. A man can be declared an outlaw by his own clan,
who thus publish to the tribe that they will not defend him in case he
is injured by another. But usually outlawry is declared only after trial
before the tribal council.

The method of procedure is analogous to that in case of murder. When the
person has been adjudged guilty and sentence of outlawry declared, it is
the duty of the chief of the Wolf clan to make known the decision of the
council. This he does by appearing before each clan in the order of its
encampment, and declaring in terms the crime of the outlaw and the
sentence of outlawry, which may be either of two grades.

In the lowest grade it is declared that if the man shall thereafter
continue in the commission of similar crimes, it will be lawful for any
person to kill him; and if killed, rightfully or wrongfully, his clan
will not avenge his death.

Outlawry of the highest degree makes it the duty of any member of the
tribe who may meet with the offender to kill him.


The management of military affairs inheres in the military council and
chief. The military council is composed of all the able-bodied men of
the tribe; the military chief is chosen by the council from the
Porcupine gens. Each gentile chief is responsible for the military
training of the youth under his authority. There is usually one or more
potential military chiefs, who are the close companions and assistants
of the chief in time of war, and in case of the death of the chief, take
his place in the order of seniority.

Prisoners of war are adopted into the tribe or killed. To be adopted
into the tribe, it is necessary that the prisoner should be adopted into
some family. The warrior taking the prisoner has the first right to
adopt him, and his male or female relatives have the right in the order
of their kinship. If no one claims the prisoner for this purpose, he is
caused to run the gauntlet as a test of his courage.

If at his trial he behaves manfully, claimants are not wanting, but if
he behaves disgracefully he is put to death.


There is an interesting institution found among the Wyandots, as among
some other of our North American tribes, namely, that of fellowhood. Two
young men agree to be perpetual friends to each other, or more than
brothers. Each reveals to the other the secrets of his life, and
counsels with him on matters of importance, and defends him from wrong
and violence, and at his death is chief mourner.

       *       *       *       *       *

The government of the Wyandots, with the social organization upon which
it is based, affords a typical example of tribal government throughout
North America. Within that area there are several hundred distinct
governments. In so great a number there is great variety, and in this
variety we find different degrees of organization, the degrees of
organization being determined by the differentiation of the functions of
the government and the correlative specialization of organic elements.

Much has yet to be done in the study of these governments before safe
generalizations may be made. But enough is known to warrant the
following statement:

Tribal government in North America is based on kinship in that the
fundamental units of social organization are bodies of consanguineal
kindred either in the male or female line; these units being what has
been well denominated “gentes.”

These “gentes” are organized into tribes by ties of relationship and
affinity, and this organization is of such a character that the man’s
position in the tribe is fixed by his kinship. There is no place in a
tribe for any person whose kinship is not fixed, and only those persons
can be adopted into the tribe who are adopted into some family with
artificial kinship specified. The fabric of Indian society is a complex
tissue of kinship. The warp is made of streams of kinship blood, and the
woof of marriage ties.

With most tribes military and civil affairs are differentiated. The
functions of civil government are in general differentiated only to this
extent, that executive functions are performed by chiefs and sachems,
but these chiefs and sachems are also members of the council. The
council is legislature and court. Perhaps it were better to say that the
council is the court whose decisions are law, and that the legislative
body properly has not been developed.

In general, crimes are well defined. Procedure is formal, and forms are
held as of such importance that error therein is _prima facie_ evidence
that the subject-matter formulated was false.

When one gens charges crime against a member of another, it can of its
own motion proceed only to retaliation. To prevent retaliation, the gens
of the offender must take the necessary steps to disprove the crime, or
to compound or punish it. The charge once made is held as just and true
until it has been disproved, and in trial the cause of the defendant is
first stated. The anger of the prosecuting gens must be placated.

In the tribal governments there are many institutions, customs, and
traditions which give evidence of a former condition in which society
was based not upon kinship, but upon marriage.

From a survey of the facts it seems highly probably that kinship
society, as it exists among the tribes of North America, has developed
from connubial society, which is discovered elsewhere on the globe. In
fact, there are a few tribes that seem scarcely to have passed that
indefinite boundary between the two social states. Philologic research
leads to the same conclusion.

Nowhere in North America have a people been discovered who have passed
beyond tribal society to national society based on property, _i.e._,
that form of society which is characteristic of civilization. Some
peoples may not have reached kinship society; none have passed it.

Nations with civilized institutions, art with palaces, monotheism as the
worship of the Great Spirit, all vanish from the priscan condition of
North America in the light of anthropologic research. Tribes with the
social institutions of kinship, art with its highest architectural
development exhibited in the structure of communal dwellings, and
polytheism in the worship of mythic animals and nature-gods remain.

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *

_Errors and Inconsistencies: Wyandot_

    [_type of chapter break adjusted to agree with Table of Contents
    and structure of article_]

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *


            J. W. Powell, Director.

           On Limitations to the Use

                    of some

               ANTHROPOLOGIC DATA.


                 J. W. POWELL.


  Archæology                                                      73
  Picture writing                                                 75
  History, customs, and ethnic characteristics                    76
  Origin of man                                                   77
  Language                                                        78
  Mythology                                                       81
  Sociology                                                       83
  Psychology                                                      83

       *       *       *       *       *



       *       *       *       *       *


Investigations in this department are of great interest, and have
attracted to the field a host of workers; but a general review of the
mass of published matter exhibits the fact that the uses to which the
material has been put have not always been wise.

In the monuments of antiquity found throughout North America, in camp
and village sites, graves, mounds, ruins, and scattered works of art,
the origin and development of art in savage and barbaric life may be
satisfactorily studied. Incidentally, too, hints of customs may be
discovered, but outside of this, the discoveries made have often been
illegitimately used, especially for the purpose of connecting the tribes
of North America with peoples or so-called races of antiquity in other
portions of the world. A brief review of some conclusions that must be
accepted in the present status of the science will exhibit the futility
of these attempts.

It is now an established fact that man was widely scattered over the
earth at least as early as the beginning of the quaternary period, and,
perhaps, in pliocene time.

If we accept the conclusion that there is but one species of man, as
species are now defined by biologists, we may reasonably conclude that
the species has been dispersed from some common center, as the ability
to successfully carry on the battle of life in all climes belongs only
to a highly developed being; but this original home has not yet been
ascertained with certainty, and when discovered, lines of migration
therefrom cannot be mapped until the changes in the physical geography
of the earth from that early time to the present have been discovered,
and these must be settled upon purely geologic and paleontologic
evidence. The migrations of mankind from that original home cannot be
intelligently discussed until that home has been discovered, and,
further, until the geology of the globe is so thoroughly known that the
different phases of its geography can be presented.

The dispersion of man must have been anterior to the development of any
but the rudest arts. Since that time the surface of the earth has
undergone many and important changes. All known camp and village sites,
graves, mounds, and ruins belong to that portion of geologic time known
as the present epoch, and are entirely subsequent to the period of the
original dispersion as shown by geologic evidence.

In the study of these antiquities, there has been much unnecessary
speculation in respect to the relation existing between the people to
whose existence they attest, and the tribes of Indians inhabiting the
country during the historic period.

It may be said that in the Pueblos discovered in the southwestern
portion of the United States and farther south through Mexico and
perhaps into Central America tribes are known having a culture quite as
far advanced as any exhibited in the discovered ruins. In this respect,
then, there is no need to search for an extra-limital origin through
lost tribes for any art there exhibited.

With regard to the mounds so widely scattered between the two oceans, it
may also be said that mound-building tribes were known in the early
history of discovery of this continent, and that the vestiges of art
discovered do not excel in any respect the arts of the Indian tribes
known to history. There is, therefore, no reason for us to search for an
extra-limital origin through lost tribes for the arts discovered in the
mounds of North America.

The tracing of the origin of these arts to the ancestors of known tribes
or stocks of tribes is more legitimate, but it has limitations which are
widely disregarded. The tribes which had attained to the highest culture
in the southern portion of North America are now well known to belong to
several different stocks, and, if, for example, an attempt is made to
connect the mound-builders with the Pueblo Indians, no result beyond
confusion can be reached until the particular stock of these village
peoples is designated.

Again, it is contained in the recorded history of the country that
several distinct stocks of the present Indians were mound-builders and
the wide extent and vast number of mounds discovered in the United
States should lead us to suspect, at least, that the mound-builders of
pre-historic times belonged to many and diverse stocks. With the
limitations thus indicated the identification of mound-building peoples
as distinct tribes or stocks is a legitimate study, but when we consider
the further fact now established, that arts extend beyond the boundaries
of linguistic stocks, the most fundamental divisions we are yet able to
make of the peoples of the globe, we may more properly conclude that
this field promises but a meager harvest; but the origin and development
of arts and industries is in itself a vast and profoundly interesting
theme of study, and when North American archæology is pursued with this
end in view, the results will be instructive.


The pictographs of North America were made on divers substances. The
bark of trees, tablets of wood, the skins of animals, and the surfaces
of rocks were all used for this purpose; but the great body of
picture-writing as preserved to us is found on rock surfaces, as these
are the most enduring.

From Dighton Rock to the cliffs that overhang the Pacific, these records
are found--on bowlders fashioned by the waves of the sea, scattered by
river floods, or polished by glacial ice; on stones buried in graves and
mounds; on faces of rock that appear in ledges by the streams; on cañon
walls and towering cliffs; on mountain crags and the ceilings of
caves--wherever smooth surfaces of rock are to be found in North
America, there we may expect to find pictographs. So widely distributed
and so vast in number, it is well to know what purposes they may serve
in anthropologic science.

Many of these pictographs are simply pictures, rude etchings, or
paintings, delineating natural objects, especially animals, and
illustrate simply the beginning of pictorial art; others we know were
intended to commemorate events or to represent other ideas entertained
by their authors; but to a large extent these were simply mnemonic--not
conveying ideas of themselves, but designed more thoroughly to retain in
memory certain events or thoughts by persons who were already cognizant
of the same through current hearsay or tradition. If once the memory of
the thought to be preserved has passed from the minds of men, the record
is powerless to restore its own subject-matter to the understanding.

The great body of picture-writings is thus described; yet to some slight
extent pictographs are found with characters more or less conventional,
and the number of such is quite large in Mexico and Central America. Yet
even these conventional characters are used with others less
conventional in such a manner that perfect records were never made.

Hence it will be seen that it is illegitimate to use any pictographic
matter of a date anterior to the discovery of the continent by Columbus
for historic purposes; but it has a legitimate use of profound interest,
as these pictographs exhibit the beginning of written language and the
beginning of pictorial art, yet undifferentiated; and if the scholars of
America will collect and study the vast body of this material scattered
everywhere--over the valleys and on the mountain sides--from it can be
written one of the most interesting chapters in the early history of


When America was discovered by Europeans, it was inhabited by great
numbers of distinct tribes, diverse in languages, institutions, and
customs. This fact has never been fully recognized, and writers have too
often spoken of the North American Indians as a body, supposing that
statements made of one tribe would apply to all. This fundamental error
in the treatment of the subject has led to great confusion.

Again, the rapid progress in the settlement and occupation of the
country has resulted in the gradual displacement of the Indian tribes,
so that very many have been removed from their ancient homes, some of
whom have been incorporated into other tribes, and some have been
absorbed into the body of civilized people.

The names by which tribes have been designated have rarely been names
used by themselves, and the same tribe has often been designated by
different names in different periods of its history and by different
names in the same period of its history by colonies of people having
different geographic relations to them. Often, too, different tribes
have been designated by the same name. Without entering into an
explanation of the causes which have led to this condition of things, it
is simply necessary to assert that this has led to great confusion of
nomenclature. Therefore the student of Indian history must be constantly
on his guard in accepting the statements of any author relating to any
tribe of Indians.

It will be seen that to follow any tribe of Indians through
post-Columbian times is a task of no little difficulty. Yet this portion
of history is of importance, and the scholars of America have a great
work before them.

Three centuries of intimate contact with a civilized race has had no
small influence upon the pristine condition of these savage and barbaric
tribes. The most speedy and radical change was that effected in the
arts, industrial and ornamental. A steel knife was obviously better than
a stone knife; firearms than bows and arrows; and textile fabrics from
the looms of civilized men are at once seen to be more beautiful and
more useful than the rude fabrics and undressed skins with which the
Indians clothed themselves in that earlier day.

Customs and institutions changed less rapidly. Yet these have been much
modified. Imitation and vigorous propagandism have been more or less
efficient causes. Migrations and enforced removals placed tribes under
conditions of strange environment where new customs and institutions
were necessary, and in this condition civilization had a greater
influence, and the progress of occupation by white men within the
territory of the United States, at least, has reached such a stage that
savagery and barbarism have no room for their existence, and even
customs and institutions must in a brief time be completely changed, and
what we are yet to learn of these people must be learned now.

But in pursuing these studies the greatest caution must be observed in
discriminating what is primitive from what has been acquired from
civilized man by the various processes of acculturation.


Working naturalists postulate evolution. Zoölogical research is largely
directed to the discovery of the genetic relations of animals. The
evolution of the animal kingdom is along multifarious lines and by
diverse specializations. The particular line which connects man with the
lowest forms, through long successions of intermediate forms, is a
problem of great interest. This special investigation has to deal
chiefly with relations of structure. From the many facts already
recorded, it is probable that many detached portions of this line can be
drawn, and such a construction, though in fact it may not be correct in
all its parts, yet serves a valuable purpose in organizing and directing

The truth or error of such hypothetic genealogy in no way affects the
validity of the doctrines of evolution in the minds of scientific men,
but on the other hand the value of the tentative theory is brought to
final judgment under the laws of evolution.

It would be vain to claim that the course of zoölogic development is
fully understood, or even that all of its most important factors are
known. So the discovery of facts and relations guided by the doctrines
of evolution reacts upon these doctrines, verifying, modifying, and
enlarging them. Thus it is that while the doctrines lead the way to new
fields of discovery, the new discoveries lead again to new doctrines.
Increased knowledge widens philosophy; wider philosophy increases

It is the test of true philosophy that it leads to the discovery of
facts, and facts themselves can only be known as such; that is, can only
be properly discerned and discriminated by being relegated to their
places in philosophy. The whole progress of science depends primarily
upon this relation between knowledge and philosophy.

In the earlier history of mankind philosophy was the product of
subjective reasoning, giving mythologies and metaphysics. When it was
discovered that the whole structure of philosophy was without
foundation, a new order of procedure was recommended--the Baconian
method. Perception must precede reflection; observation must precede
reason. This also was a failure. The earlier gave speculations; the
later give a mass of incoherent facts and falsehoods. The error in the
earlier philosophy was not in the order of procedure between perception
and reflection, but in the method, it being subjective instead of
objective. The method of reasoning in scientific philosophy is purely
objective; the method of reasoning in mythology and metaphysics is

The difference between man and the animals most nearly related to him in
structure is great. The connecting forms are no longer extant. This
subject of research, therefore, belongs to the paleontologists rather
than the ethnologists. The biological facts are embraced in the
geological record, and this record up to the present time has yielded
but scant materials to serve in its solution.

It is known that man, highly differentiated from lower animals in
morphologic characteristics, existed in early Quaternary and perhaps in
Pliocene times, and here the discovered record ends.


In philology, North America presents the richest field in the world, for
here is found the greatest number of languages distributed among the
greatest number of stocks. As the progress of research is necessarily
from the known to the unknown, civilized languages were studied by
scholars before the languages of savage and barbaric tribes. Again, the
higher languages are written and are thus immediately accessible. For
such reasons, chief attention has been given to the most highly
developed languages. The problems presented to the philologist, in the
higher languages, cannot be properly solved without a knowledge of the
lower forms. The linguist studies a language that he may use it as an
instrument for the interchange of thought; the philologist studies a
language to use its data in the construction of a philosophy of
language. It is in this latter sense that the higher languages are
unknown until the lower languages are studied, and it is probable that
more light will be thrown upon the former by a study of the latter than
by more extended research in the higher.

The vast field of unwritten languages has been explored but not
surveyed. In a general way it is known that there are many such
languages, and the geographic distribution of the tribes of men who
speak them is known, but scholars have just begun the study of the

That the knowledge of the simple and uncompounded must precede the
knowledge of the complex and compounded, that the latter may be rightly
explained, is an axiom well recognized in biology, and it applies
equally well to philology. Hence any system of philology, as the term is
here used, made from a survey of the higher languages exclusively, will
probably be a failure. “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit
unto his stature,” and which of you by taking thought can add the
antecedent phenomena necessary to an explanation of the language of
Plato or of Spencer?

The study of astronomy, geology, physics, and biology, is in the hands
of scientific men; objective methods of research are employed and
metaphysic disquisitions find no place in the accepted philosophies; but
to a large extent philology remains in the hands of the metaphysicians,
and subjective methods of thought are used in the explanation of the
phenomena observed. If philology is to be a science it must have an
objective philosophy composed of a homologic classification and orderly
arrangement of the phenomena of the languages of the globe.

Philologic research began with the definite purpose in view to discover
in the diversities of language among the peoples of the earth a common
element from which they were all supposed to have been derived, an
original speech, the parent of all languages. In this philologists had
great hopes of success at one time, encouraged by the discovery of the
relation between the diverse branches of the Aryan stock, but in this
very work methods of research were developed and doctrines established
by which unexpected results were reached.

Instead of relegating the languages that had before been unclassified to
the Aryan family, new families or stocks were discovered, and this
process has been carried on from year to year until scores or even
hundreds of families are recognized, and until we may reasonably
conclude that there was no single primitive speech common to mankind,
but that man had multiplied and spread throughout the habitable earth
anterior to the development of organized languages; that is, languages
have sprung from innumerable sources after the dispersion of mankind.

The progress in language has not been by multiplication, which would be
but a progress in degradation under the now well-recognized laws of
evolution; but it has been in integration from a vast multiplicity
toward a unity. True, all evolution has not been in this direction.
There has often been degradation as exhibited in the multiplicity of
languages and dialects of the same stock, but evolution has in the
aggregate been integration by progress towards unity of speech, and
differentiation (which must always be distinguished from multiplication)
by specialization of the grammatic process and the development of the
parts of speech.

When a people once homogeneous are separated geographically in such a
manner that thorough inter-communication is no longer preserved, all of
the agencies by which languages change act separately in the distinct
communities and produce different changes therein, and dialects are
established. If the separation continues, such dialects become distinct
languages in the sense that the people of one community are unable to
understand the people of another. But such a development of languages is
not differentiation in the sense in which this term is here used, and
often used in biology, but is analogous to multiplication as understood
in biology. The differentiation of an organ is its development for a
special purpose, _i.e._, the organic specialization is concomitant with
functional specialization. When paws are differentiated into hands and
feet, with the differentiation of the organs, there is a concomitant
differentiation in the functions.

When one language becomes two, the same function is performed by each,
and is marked by the fundamental characteristic of multiplication,
_i.e._, degradation; for the people originally able to communicate with
each other can no longer thus communicate; so that two languages do not
serve as valuable a purpose as one. And, further, neither of the two
languages has made the progress one would have made, for one would have
been developed sufficiently to serve all the purposes of the united
peoples in the larger area inhabited by them, and, _cæteris paribus_,
the language spoken by many people scattered over a large area must be
superior to one spoken by a few people inhabiting a small area.

It would have been strange, indeed, had the primitive assumption in
philology been true, and the history of language exhibited universal

In the remarks on the “Origin of Man,” the statement was made that
mankind was distributed throughout the habitable earth, in some
geological period anterior to the present and anterior to the
development of other than the rudest arts. Here, again, we reach the
conclusion that man was distributed throughout the earth anterior to the
development of organized speech.

In the presence of these two great facts, the difficulty of tracing
genetic relationship among human races through arts, customs,
institutions, and traditions will appear, for all of these must have
been developed after the dispersion of mankind. Analogies and homologies
in these phenomena must be accounted for in some other way. Somatology
proves the unity of the human species; that is, the evidence upon which
this conclusion is reached is morphologic; but in arts, customs,
institutions, and traditions abundant corroborative evidence is found.
The individuals of the one species, though inhabiting diverse climes,
speaking diverse languages, and organized into diverse communities, have
progressed in a broad way by the same stages, have had the same arts,
customs, institutions, and traditions in the same order, limited only by
the degree of progress to which the several tribes have attained, and
modified only to a limited extent by variations in environment.

If any ethnic classification of mankind is to be established more
fundamental than that based upon language, it must be upon physical
characteristics, and such must have been acquired by profound
differentiation anterior to the development of languages, arts, customs,
institutions, and traditions. The classifications hitherto made on this
basis are unsatisfactory, and no one now receives wide acceptance.
Perhaps further research will clear up doubtful matters and give an
acceptable grouping; or it may be that such research will result only in
exhibiting the futility of the effort.

The history of man, from the lowest tribal condition to the highest
national organization, has been a history of constant and multifarious
admixture of strains of blood; of admixture, absorption, and destruction
of languages with general progress toward unity; of the diffusion of
arts by various processes of acculturation; and of admixture and
reciprocal diffusion of customs, institutions, and traditions. Arts,
customs, institutions, and traditions extend beyond the boundaries of
languages and serve to obscure them, and the admixture of strains of
blood has obscured primitive ethnic divisions, if such existed.

If the physical classification fails, the most fundamental grouping left
is that based on language; but for the reasons already mentioned and
others of like character, the classification of languages is not, to the
full extent, a classification of peoples.

It may be that the unity of the human race is a fact so profound that
all attempts at a fundamental classification to be used in all the
departments of anthropology will fail, and that there will remain
multifarious groupings for the multifarious purposes of the science; or,
otherwise expressed, that languages, arts, customs, institutions, and
traditions may be classified, and that the human family will be
considered as one race.


Here again America presents a rich field for the scientific explorer. It
is now known that each linguistic stock has a distinct mythology, and as
in some of these stocks there are many languages differing to a greater
or less extent, so there are many like differing mythologies.

As in language, so in mythology, investigation has proceeded from the
known to the unknown--from the higher to the lower mythologies. In each
step of the progress of opinion on this subject a particular phenomenon
may be observed. As each lower status of mythology is discovered it is
assumed to be the first in origin, the primordial mythology, and all
lower but imperfectly understood mythologies are interpreted as
degradations, from this assumed original belief; thus polytheism was
interpreted as a degeneracy from monotheism; nature worship, from
psychotheism; zoölotry, from ancestor worship; and, in order, monotheism
has been held to be the original mythology, then polytheism, then
physitheism or nature worship, then ancestor worship.

With a large body of mythologists nature worship is now accepted as the
primitive religion; and with another body, equally as respectable,
ancestor worship is primordial. But nature worship and ancestor worship
are concomitant parts of the same religion, and belong to a status of
culture highly advanced and characterized by the invention of
conventional pictographs. In North America we have scores or even
hundreds of systems of mythology, all belonging to a lower state of

Let us hope that American students will not fall into this line of error
by assuming that zoötheism is the lowest stage, because this is the
status of mythology most widely spread on the continent.

Mythology is primitive philosophy. A mythology--that is, the body of
myths current among any people and believed by them--comprises a system
of explanations of all the phenomena of the universe discerned by them;
but such explanations are always mixed with much extraneous matter,
chiefly incidents in the history of the personages who were the heroes
of mythologic deeds.

Every mythology has for its basis a theology--a system of gods who are
the actors, and to whom are attributed the phenomena to be
explained--for the fundamental postulate in mythology is “some one does
it,” such being the essential characteristic of subjective reasoning. As
peoples pass from one stage of culture to another, the change is made by
developing a new sociology with all its institutions, by the development
of new arts, by evolution of language, and, in a degree no less, by a
change in philosophy; but the old philosophy is not supplanted. The
change is made by internal growth and external accretion.

Fragments of the older are found in the newer. This older material in
the newer philosophy is often used for curious purposes by many
scholars. One such use I wish to mention here. The nomenclature which
has survived from the earlier state is supposed to be deeply and
occultly symbolic and the mythic narratives to be deeply and occultly
allegoric. In this way search is made for some profoundly metaphysic
cosmogony; some ancient beginning of the mythology is sought in which
mystery is wisdom and wisdom is mystery.

The objective or scientific method of studying a mythology is to collect
and collate its phenomena simply as it is stated and understood by the
people to whom it belongs. In tracing back the threads of its historical
development the student should expect to find it more simple and
childlike in every stage of his progress.

It is vain to search for truth in mythologic philosophy, but it is
important to search for veritable philosphies, that they may be properly
compared and that the products of the human mind in its various stages
of culture may be known; important in the reconstruction of the history
of philosophy; and important in furnishing necessary data to psychology.
No labor can be more fruitless than the search in mythology for true
philosophy; and the efforts to build up from the terminology and
narratives of mythologies an occult symbolism and system of allegory is
but to create a new and fictitious body of mythology.

There is a symbolism inherent in language and found in all philosophy,
true or false, and such symbolism was cultivated as an occult art in the
early history of civilization when picture-writing developed into
conventional writing, and symbolism is an interesting subject for study,
but it has been made a beast of burden to carry packs of metaphysic


Here again North America presents a wide and interesting field to the
investigator, for it has within its extent many distinct governments,
and these governments, so far as investigations have been carried, are
found to belong to a type more primitive than any of the feudalities
from which the civilized nations of the earth sprang, as shown by
concurrently recorded history.

Yet in this history many facts have been discovered suggesting that
feudalities themselves had an origin in something more primitive. In the
study of the tribes of the world a multitude of sociologic institutions
and customs have been discovered, and in reviewing the history of
feudalities it is seen that many of their important elements are
survivals from tribal society.

So important are these discoveries that all human history has to be
rewritten, the whole philosophy of history reconstructed. Government
does not begin in the ascendency of chieftains through prowess in war,
but in the slow specialization of executive functions from communal
associations based on kinship. Deliberative assemblies do not start in
councils gathered by chieftains, but councils precede chieftaincies. Law
does not begin in contract, but is the development of custom. Land
tenure does not begin in grants from the monarch or the feudal lord, but
a system of tenure in common by gentes or tribes is developed into a
system of tenure in severalty. Evolution in society has not been from
militancy to industrialism, but from organization based on kinship to
organization based on property, and alongside of the specializations of
the industries of peace the arts of war have been specialized.

So, one by one, the theories of metaphysical writers on sociology are
overthrown, and the facts of history are taking their place, and the
philosophy of history is being erected out of materials accumulating by
objective studies of mankind.


Psychology has hitherto been chiefly in the hands of subjective
philosophers and is the last branch of anthropology to be treated by
scientific methods. But of late years sundry important labors have been
performed with the end in view to give this department of philosophy a
basis of objective facts; especially the organ of the mind has been
studied and the mental operations of animals have been compared with
those of men, and in various other ways the subject is receiving
scientific attention.

The new psychology in process of construction will have a threefold
basis: A physical basis on phenomena presented by the organ of the mind
as shown in man and the lower animals; a linguistic basis as presented
in the phenomena of language, which is the instrument of mind;
a functional basis as exhibited in operations of the mind.

The phenomena of the third class may be arranged in three subclasses.
First, the operations of mind exhibited in individuals in various stages
of growth, various degrees of culture, and in various conditions, normal
and abnormal; second, the operations of mind as exhibited in technology,
arts, and industries; third, the operations of mind as exhibited in
philosophy; and these are the explanations given of the phenomena of the
universe. On such a basis a scientific psychology must be erected.

       *       *       *       *       *

As methods of study are discovered, a vast field opens to the American
scholar. Now, as at all times in the history of civilization, there has
been no lack of interest in this subject, and no lack of speculative
writers; but there is a great want of trained observers and acute

If we lay aside the mass of worthless matter which has been published,
and consider only the material used by the most careful writers, we find
on every hand that conclusions are vitiated by a multitude of errors of
fact of a character the most simple. Yesterday I read an article on the
“Growth of Sculpture,” by Grant Allen, that was charming; yet, therein I
found this statement:

  So far as I know, the Polynesians and many other savages have not
  progressed beyond the full-face stage of human portraiture above
  described. Next in rank comes the drawing of a profile, as we find
  it among the Eskimos and the bushmen. Our own children soon attain
  to this level, which is one degree higher than that of the full
  face, as it implies a special point of view, suppresses half the
  features, and is not diagrammatic or symbolical of all the separate
  parts. Negroes and North American Indians cannot understand profile;
  they ask what has become of the other eye.

Perhaps Mr. Allen derives his idea of the inability of the Indians to
understand profiles from a statement of Catlin, which I have seen used
for this and other purposes by different anthropologists until it seems
to have become a _favorite fact_.

Turning to Catlin’s _Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and
Condition of the North American Indians_, (vol. 2, page 2) we find him

  After I had painted these, and many more whom I have not time at
  present to name, I painted the portrait of a celebrated warrior of
  the Sioux, by the name of Mah-to-chee-ga (the Little Bear), who was
  unfortunately slain in a few moments after the picture was done by
  one of his own tribe; and which was very near costing me my life,
  for having painted a side view of his face, leaving one-half of it
  out of the picture, which had been the cause of the affray; and
  supposed by the whole tribe to have been intentionally left out by
  me, as “good for nothing.” This was the last picture that I painted
  amongst the Sioux, and the last, undoubtedly, that I shall ever
  paint in that place. So tremendous and so alarming was the
  excitement about it that my brushes were instantly put away, and I
  embarked the next day on the steamer for the sources of the
  Missouri, and was glad to get underweigh.

Subsequently, Mr. Catlin elaborates this incident into the “Story of the
Dog” (vol. 2, page 188 _et seq._).

Now, whatsoever of truth or of fancy there may be in this story, it
cannot be used as evidence that the Indians could not understand or
interpret profile pictures, for Mr. Catlin himself gives several plates
of Indian pictographs exhibiting profile faces. In my cabinet of
pictographs I have hundreds of side views made by Indians of the same
tribe of which Mr. Catlin was speaking.

It should never be forgotten that accounts of travelers and other
persons who write for the sake of making good stories must be used with
the utmost caution. Catlin is only one of a thousand such who can be
used with safety only by persons so thoroughly acquainted with the
subject that they are able to divide facts actually observed from
creations of fancy. But Mr. Catlin must not be held responsible for
illogical deductions even from his facts. I know not how Mr. Allen
arrived at his conclusion, but I do know that pictographs in profile are
found among very many, if not all, the tribes of North America.

Now, for another example. Peschel, in _The Races of Man_ (page 151),

  The transatlantic history of Spain has no case comparable in
  iniquity to the act of the Portuguese in Brazil, who deposited the
  clothes of scarlet-fever or small-pox patients on the hunting
  grounds of the natives, in order to spread the pestilence among
  them; and of the North Americans, who used strychnine to poison the
  wells which the Redskins were in the habit of visiting in the
  deserts of Utah; of the wives of Australian settlers, who, in times
  of famine, mixed arsenic with the meal which they gave to starving

In a foot-note on the same page, Burton is given as authority for the
statement that the people of the United States poisoned the wells of the

Referring to Burton, in _The City of the Saints_ (page 474), we find him

  The Yuta claim, like the Shoshonee, descent from an ancient people
  that immigrated into their present seats from the Northwest. During
  the last thirty years they have considerably decreased, according to
  the mountaineers, and have been demoralized mentally and physically
  by the emigrants. Formerly they were friendly, now they are often at
  war with the intruders. As in Australia, arsenic and corrosive
  sublimate in springs and provisions have diminished their number.

Now, why did Burton make this statement? In the same volume he describes
the Mountain Meadow massacre, and gives the story as related by the
actors therein. It is well known that the men who were engaged in this
affair tried to shield themselves by diligently publishing that it was a
massacre by Indians incensed at the travelers because they had poisoned
certain springs at which the Indians were wont to obtain their supplies
of water. When Mr. Burton was in Salt Lake City he, doubtless, heard
these stories.

So the falsehoods of a murderer, told to hide his crime, have gone into
history as facts characteristic of the people of the United States in
their treatment of the Indians. In the paragraph quoted from Burton some
other errors occur. The Utes and Shoshonis do not claim to have
descended from an ancient people that immigrated into their present
seats from the Northwest. Most of these tribes, perhaps all, have myths
of their creation in the very regions now inhabited by them.

Again, these Indians have not been demoralized mentally or physically by
the emigrants, but have made great progress toward civilization.

The whole account of the Utes and Shoshonis given in this portion of the
book is so mixed with error as to be valueless, and bears intrinsic
evidence of having been derived from ignorant frontiersmen.

Turning now to the first volume of Spencer’s _Principles of Sociology_
(page 149), we find him saying:

  And thus prepared, we need feel no surprise on being told that the
  Zuni Indians require “much facial contortion and bodily
  gesticulation to make their sentences perfectly intelligible;” that
  the language of the Bushman needs so many signs to eke out its
  meaning, that “they are unintelligible in the dark;” and that the
  Arapahos “can hardly converse with one another in the dark.”

When people of different languages meet, especially if they speak
languages of different stocks, a means of communication is rapidly
established between them, composed partly of signs and partly of oral
words, the latter taken from one or both of the languages, but curiously
modified so as hardly to be recognized. Such conventional languages are
usually called “jargons,” and their existence is rather brief.

When people communicate with each other in this manner, oral speech is
greatly assisted by sign-language, and it is true that darkness impedes
their communication. The great body of frontiersmen in America who
associate more or less with the Indians depend upon jargon methods of
communication with them; and so we find that various writers and
travelers describe Indian tongues by the characteristics of this jargon
speech. Mr. Spencer usually does.

The Zuni and the Arapaho Indians have a language with a complex grammar
and copious vocabulary well adapted to the expression of the thoughts
incident to their customs and status of culture, and they have no more
difficulty in conveying their thoughts with their language by night than
Englishmen have in conversing without gaslight. An example from each of
three eminent authors has been taken to illustrate the worthlessness of
a vast body of anthropologic material to which even the best writers

Anthropology needs trained devotees with philosophic methods and keen
observation to study every tribe and nation of the globe almost _de
novo_; and from materials thus collected a science may be established.

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *

_Errors and Inconsistencies: Anthropologic Data_

  objective studies of mankind. [_final . missing_]
  “Story of the Dog” (vol. 2, page 188 _et seq._).
    [_“et seq” without period_]

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *


            J. W. Powell, Director.

             A Further Contribution

                     to the


                     of the

            North American Indians.


               Dr. H. C. YARROW,
            Act. Asst. Surg., U.S.A.

  [Transcriber’s Note (Mortuary Customs):

  Much of this article is quoted from other published sources. The
  resulting inconsistencies in spelling and punctuation are unchanged.

  Most footnotes are bibliographic. Asterisks after a few footnote
  numbers [5.44*] were added by the transcriber to identify those
  notes that give further information.]


  List of illustrations                                           89
  Introductory                                                    91
  Classification of burial                                        92
  Inhumation                                                      93
    Pit burial                                                    93
    Grave burial                                                 101
    Stone graves or cists                                        113
    Burial in mounds                                             115
    Burial beneath or in cabins, wigwams, or houses              122
    Cave burial                                                  126
  Embalmment or mummification                                    130
  Urn burial                                                     137
  Surface burial                                                 138
    Cairn burial                                                 142
  Cremation                                                      143
    Partial cremation                                            150
  Aerial sepulture                                               152
    Lodge burial                                                 152
    Box burial                                                   155
    Tree and scaffold burial                                     158
    Partial scaffold burial and ossuaries                        168
    Superterrene and aerial burial in canoes                     171
  Aquatic burial                                                 180
  Living sepulchers                                              182
  Mourning, sacrifice, feasts, etc.                              183
    Mourning                                                     183
    Sacrifice                                                    187
    Feasts                                                       190
    Superstition regarding burial feasts                         191
    Food                                                         192
    Dances                                                       192
    Songs                                                        194
    Games                                                        195
    Posts                                                        197
    Fires                                                        198
    Superstitions                                                199


  [In the original, Figure 12 was printed before Figure 11 (both
  full-page Plates). Figure 45 (_on_ page 196) was printed before the
  group of plates 34-44 (_between_ pages 196 and 197).]

   1.--Quiogozon or dead house                            94
   2.--Pima burial                                        98
   3.--Towers of silence                                 105
   4.--Towers of silence                                 106
   5.--Alaskan mummies                                   135
   6.--Burial urns                                       138
   7.--Indian cemetery                                   139
   8.--Grave pen                                         141
   9.--Grave pen                                         141
  10.--Tolkotin cremation                                145
  11.--Eskimo lodge burial                               154
  12.--Burial houses                                     154
  13.--Innuit grave                                      156
  14.--Ingalik grave                                     157
  15.--Dakota scaffold burial                            158
  16.--Offering food to the dead                         159
  17.--Depositing the corpse                             160
  18.--Tree-burial                                       161
  19.--Chippewa scaffold burial                          162
  20.--Scarification at burial                           164
  21.--Australian scaffold burial                        166
  22.--Preparing the dead                                167
  23.--Canoe-burial                                      171
  24.--Twana canoe-burial                                172
  25.--Posts for burial canoes                           173
  26.--Tent on scaffold                                  174
  27.--House burial                                      175
  28.--House burial                                      175
  29.--Canoe-burial                                      178
  30.--Mourning-cradle                                   181
  31.--Launching the burial cradle                       182
  32.--Chippewa widow                                    185
  33.--Ghost gamble                                      195
  34.--Figured plum stones                               196
  35.--Winning throw, No. 1                              196
  36.--Winning throw, No. 2                              196
  37.--Winning throw, No. 3                              196
  38.--Winning throw, No. 4                              196
  39.--Winning throw, No. 5                              196
  40.--Winning throw, No. 6                              196
  41.--Auxiliary throw, No. 1                            196
  42.--Auxiliary throw, No. 2                            196
  43.--Auxiliary throw, No. 3                            196
  44.--Auxiliary throw, No. 4                            196
  45.--Auxiliary throw, No. 5                            196
  46.--Burial posts                                      197
  47.--Grave fire                                        198

       *       *       *       *       *

         A Further Contribution to the


         of the North American Indians.

               By H. C. Yarrow.

       *       *       *       *       *


In view of the fact that the present paper will doubtless reach many
readers who may not, in consequence of the limited edition, have seen
the preliminary volume on mortuary customs, it seems expedient to
reproduce in great part the prefatory remarks which served as an
introduction to that work; for the reasons then urged, for the immediate
study of this subject, still exist, and as time flies on become more and
more important.

The primitive manners and customs of the North American Indians are
rapidly passing away under influences of civilization and other
disturbing elements. In view of this fact, it becomes the duty of all
interested in preserving a record of these customs to labor assiduously,
while there is still time, to collect such data as may be obtainable.
This seems the more important now, as within the last ten years an
almost universal interest has been awakened in ethnologic research, and
the desire for more knowledge in this regard is constantly increasing.
A wise and liberal government, recognizing the need, has ably seconded
the efforts of those engaged in such studies by liberal grants, from
the public funds; nor is encouragement wanted from the hundreds of
scientific societies throughout the civilized globe. The public press,
too--the mouth-piece of the people--is ever on the alert to scatter
broadcast such items of ethnologic information as its corps of
well-trained reporters can secure. To induce further laudable inquiry,
and assist all those who may be willing to engage in the good work, is
the object of this further paper on the mortuary customs of North
American Indians, and it is hoped that many more laborers may through it
be added to the extensive and honorable list of those who have already

It would appear that the subject chosen should awaken great interest,
since the peculiar methods followed by different nations and the great
importance attached to burial ceremonies have formed an almost
invariable part of all works relating to the different peoples of our
globe; in fact, no particular portion of ethnologic research has claimed
more attention. In view of these facts, it might seem almost a work of
supererogation to continue a further examination of the subject, for
nearly every author in writing of our Indian tribes makes some mention
of burial observances; but these notices are scattered far and wide on
the sea of this special literature, and many of the accounts, unless
supported by corroborative evidence, may be considered as entirely
unreliable. To bring together and harmonize conflicting statements, and
arrange collectively what is known of the subject, has been the writer’s
task, and an enormous mass of information has been acquired, the method
of securing which has been already described in the preceding volume and
need not be repeated at this time. It has seemed undesirable at present
to enter into any discussion regarding the causes which may have led to
the adoption of any particular form of burial or coincident ceremonies,
the object of this paper being simply to furnish illustrative examples,
and request further contributions from observers; for, notwithstanding
the large amount of material already at hand, much still remains to be
done, and careful study is needed before any attempt at a thorough
analysis of mortuary customs can be made. It is owing to these facts and
from the nature of the material gathered that the paper must be
considered more as a compilation than an original effort, the writer
having done little else than supply the thread to bind together the
accounts furnished.

It is proper to add that all the material obtained will eventually be
embodied in a quarto volume, forming one of the series of Contributions
to North American Ethnology prepared under the direction of Maj. J. W.
Powell, Director of the Bureau of Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution,
from whom, since the inception of the work, most constant encouragement
and advice has been received, and to whom all American ethnologists owe
a debt of gratitude which can never be repaid.

Having thus called attention to the work, the classification of the
subject may be given, and examples furnished of the burial ceremonies
among different tribes, calling especial attention to similar or almost
analogous customs among the peoples of the Old World.

For our present purpose the following provisional arrangement of burials
may be adopted, although further study may lead to some modifications.


1st. By INHUMATION in pits, graves, or holes in the ground, stone graves
or cists, in mounds, beneath or in cabins, wigwams, houses or lodges, or
in caves.

2d. By EMBALMMENT or a process of mummifying, the remains being
afterwards placed in the earth, caves, mounds, boxes on scaffolds, or in

3d. By DEPOSITION of remains in urns.

4th. By SURFACE BURIAL, the remains being placed in hollow trees or
logs, pens, or simply covered with earth, or bark, or rocks forming

5th. By CREMATION, or partial burning, generally on the surface of the
earth, occasionally beneath, the resulting bones or ashes being placed
in pits in the ground, in boxes placed on scaffolds or trees, in urns,
sometimes scattered.

6th. By AERIAL SEPULTURE, the bodies being left in lodges, houses,
cabins, tents, deposited on scaffolds or trees, in boxes or canoes, the
two latter receptacles supported on scaffolds or posts, or placed on the
ground. Occasionally baskets have been used to contain the remains of
children, these being hung to trees.

7th. By AQUATIC BURIAL, beneath the water, or in canoes, which were
turned adrift.

These heads might, perhaps, be further subdivided, but the above seem
sufficient for all practical needs.

The use of the term _burial_ throughout this paper is to be understood
in its literal significance, the word being derived from the Teutonic
Anglo-Saxon “_birgan_,” to conceal or hide away.

In giving descriptions of different burials and attendant ceremonies, it
has been deemed expedient to introduce entire accounts as furnished, in
order to preserve continuity of narrative, and in no case has the
relator’s language been changed except to correct manifest
unintentional, errors of spelling.



The commonest mode of burial among North American Indians has been that
of interment in the ground, and this has taken place in a number of
different ways; the following will, however, serve as good examples of
the process:

One of the simplest forms is thus noted by Schoolcraft:[5.1]

  The Mohawks of New York made a large round hole in which the body
  was placed upright or upon its haunches, after which it was covered
  with timber, to support the earth which they lay over, and thereby
  kept the body from being pressed. They then raised the earth in a
  round hill over it. They always dressed the corpse in all its
  finery, and put wampum and other things into the grave with it; and
  the relations suffered not grass nor any wood to grow upon the
  grave, and frequently visited it and made lamentation.

In Jones[5.2] is the following interesting account from Lawson[5.3] of
the burial customs of the Indians formerly inhabiting the Carolinas:

  Among the Carolina tribes the burial of the dead was accompanied
  with special ceremonies, the expense and formality attendant upon
  the funeral according with the rank of the deceased. The corpse was
  first placed in a cane hurdle and deposited in an outhouse made for
  the purpose, where it was suffered to remain for a day and a night,
  guarded and mourned over by the nearest relatives with disheveled
  hair. Those who are to officiate at the funeral go into the town,
  and from the backs of the first young men they meet strip such
  blankets and matchcoats as they deem suitable for their purpose. In
  these the dead body is wrapped and then covered with two or three
  mats made of rushes or cane. The coffin is made of woven reeds or
  hollow canes tied fast at both ends. When everything is prepared for
  the interment, the corpse is carried from the house in which it has
  been lying into the orchard of peach-trees and is there deposited in
  another hurdle. Seated upon mats are there congregated the family
  and tribe of the deceased and invited guests. The medicine man, or
  conjurer, having enjoined silence, then pronounces a funeral
  oration, during which he recounts the exploits of the deceased, his
  valor, skill, love of country, property, and influence; alludes to
  the void caused by his death, and counsels those who remain to
  supply his place by following in his footsteps; pictures the
  happiness he will enjoy in the land of spirits to which he has gone,
  and concludes his address by an allusion to the prominent traditions
  of his tribe.

Let us here pause to remind the reader that this custom has prevailed
throughout the civilized world up to the present day--a custom, in the
opinion of many, “more honored in the breach than in the observance.”

  At last [says Mr. Lawson], the Corpse is brought away from that
  Hurdle to the Grave by four young Men, attended by the Relations,
  the King, old Men, and all the Nation. When they come to the
  Sepulcre, which is about six foot deep and eight foot long, having
  at each end (that is, at the Head and Foot) a Light-Wood or
  Pitch-Pine Fork driven close down the sides of the Grave firmly into
  the Ground (these two Forks are to contain a Ridge-Pole, as you
  shall understand presently), before they lay the Corps into the
  Grave, they cover the bottom two or three time over with the Bark of
  Trees; then they let down the Corps (with two Belts that the
  _Indians_ carry their Burdens withal) very leisurely upon the said
  Barks; then they lay over a Pole of the same Wood in the two Forks,
  and having a great many Pieces of Pitch-Pine Logs about two Foot and
  a half long, they stick them in the sides of the Grave down each End
  and near the Top thereof, where the other Ends lie in the
  Ridge-Pole, so that they are declining like the Roof of a House.
  These being very thick plac’d, they cover them [many times double]
  with Bark; then they throw the Earth thereon that came out of the
  Grave and beat it down very firm. By this Means the dead Body lies
  in a Vault, nothing touching him.

After a time the body is taken up, the bones cleaned, and deposited in
an ossuary called the Quiogozon.

Figure 1, after De Bry and Lafitau, represents what the early writers
called the Quiogozon, or charnel-house, and allusions will be found to
it in other parts of this volume. Discrepancies in these accounts impair
greatly their value, for one author says that bones were deposited,
another dried bodies.

It will be seen from the following account, furnished by M. B. Kent,
relating to the Sacs and Foxes (_Oh-sak-ke-uck_) of the Nehema Agency,
Nebraska, that these Indians were careful in burying their dead to
prevent the earth coming in contact with the body, and this custom has
been followed by a number of different tribes, as will be seen by
examples given further on.

    [Illustration: FIG. 1.--Quiogozon or Dead House.]

  _Ancient burial._--The body was buried in a grave made about 2½
  feet deep, and was laid always with the head towards the east, the
  burial taking place as soon after death as possible. The grave was
  prepared by putting bark in the bottom of it before the corpse was
  deposited, a plank covering made and secured some distance above the
  body. The plank was made by splitting trees, until intercourse with
  the whites enabled them to obtain sawed lumber. The corpse was
  always enveloped in a blanket, and prepared as for a long journey in
  life, no coffin being used.

  _Modern burial._--This tribe now usually bury in coffins, rude ones
  constructed by themselves, still depositing the body in the grave
  with the head towards the east.

  _Ancient funeral ceremonies._--Every relative of the deceased had to
  throw some article in the grave, either food, clothing, or other
  material. There was no rule stating the nature of what was to be
  added to the collection, simply a requirement that something must be
  deposited, if it were only a piece of soiled and faded calico. After
  the corpse was lowered into the grave some brave addressed the dead,
  instructing him to walk directly westward, that he would soon
  discover moccasin tracks, which he must follow until he came to a
  great river, which is the river of death; when there he would find a
  pole across the river, which, if he has been honest, upright, and
  good, will be straight, upon which he could readily cross to the
  other side; but if his life had been one of wickedness and sin, the
  pole would be very crooked, and in the attempt to cross upon it he
  would be precipitated into the turbulent stream and lost forever.
  The brave also told him if he crossed the river in safety the Great
  Father would receive him, take out his old brains, give him new
  ones, and then he would have reached the happy hunting grounds,
  always be happy and have eternal life. After burial a feast was
  always called, and a portion of the food of which each and every
  relative was partaking was burned to furnish subsistence to the
  spirit upon its journey.

  _Modern funeral ceremonies._--Provisions are rarely put into the
  grave, and no portion of what is prepared for the feast subsequent
  to burial is burned, although the feast is continued. All the
  address delivered by the brave over the corpse after being deposited
  in the grave is omitted. A prominent feature of all ceremonies,
  either funeral or religious, consists of feasting accompanied with
  music and dancing.

  _Ancient mourning observances._--The female relations allowed their
  hair to hang entirely unrestrained, clothed themselves in the most
  unpresentable attire, the latter of which the males also do. Men
  blacked the whole face for a period of ten days after a death in the
  family, while the women blacked only the cheeks; the faces of the
  children were blacked for three months; they were also required to
  fast for the same length of time, the fasting to consist of eating
  but one meal per day, to be made entirely of hominy, and partaken of
  about sunset. It was believed that this fasting would enable the
  child to dream of coming events and prophesy what was to happen in
  the future. The extent and correctness of prophetic vision depended
  upon how faithfully the ordeal of fasting had been observed.

  _Modern mourning observances._--Many of those of the past are
  continued, such as wearing the hair unrestrained, wearing uncouth
  apparel, blacking faces, and fasting of children, and they are
  adhered to with as much tenacity as many of the professing
  Christians belonging to the evangelical churches adhere to their
  practices, which constitute mere forms, the intrinsic value of which
  can very reasonably be called in question.

The Creeks and Seminoles of Florida, according to Schoolcraft,[5.4] made
the graves of their dead as follows:

  When one of the family dies, the relatives bury the corpse about
  four feet deep in a round hole dug directly under the cabin or rock
  wherever he died. The corpse is placed in the hole in a sitting
  posture, with a blanket wrapped about it, and the legs bent under
  and tied together. If a warrior, he is painted, and his pipe,
  ornaments, and warlike appendages are deposited with him. The grave
  is then covered with canes tied to a hoop round the top of the hole,
  then a firm layer of clay, sufficient to support the weight of a
  man. The relations howl loudly and mourn publicly for four days. If
  the deceased has been a man of eminent character, the family
  immediately remove from the house in which he is buried and erect a
  new one, with a belief that where the bones of their dead are
  deposited the place is always attended by goblins and chimeras dire.

Dr. W. C. Boteler, physician to the Otoe Indian Agency, Gage County,
Nebraska, in a personal communication to the writer, furnishes a most
interesting account of the burial ceremonies of this tribe, in which it
may be seen that graves are prepared in a manner similar to those
already mentioned:

  The Otoe and Missouri tribes of Indians are now located in southern
  Gage County, Nebraska, on a reservation of 43,000 acres, unsurpassed
  in beauty of location, natural resources, and adaptability for
  prosperous agriculture. This pastoral people, though in the midst of
  civilization, have departed but little from the rude practice and
  customs of a nomadic life, and here may be seen and studied those
  interesting dramas as vividly and satisfactorily as upon the remote

  During my residence among this people on different occasions, I have
  had the opportunity of witnessing the Indian burials and many quaint
  ceremonies pertaining thereto.

  When it is found that the vital spark is wavering in an Otoe
  subject, the preparation of the burial costume is immediately began.
  The near relatives of the dying Indian surround the humble bedside,
  and by loud lamentations and much weeping manifest a grief which is
  truly commensurate with the intensity of Indian devotion and

  While thus expressing before the near departed their grief at the
  sad separation impending, the Indian women, or friendly braves, lose
  no time in equipping him or her with the most ornate clothes and
  ornaments that are available or in immediate possession. It is thus
  that the departed Otoe is enrobed in death, in articles of his own
  selection and by arrangements of his own taste and dictated by his
  own tongue. It is customary for the dying Indian to dictate, ere his
  departure, the propriety or impropriety of the accustomed
  sacrifices. In some cases there is a double and in others no
  sacrifice at all. The Indian women then prepare to cut away their
  hair; it is accomplished with scissors, cutting close to the scalp
  at the side and behind.

  The preparation of the dead for burial is conducted with great
  solemnity and care. Bead-work, the most ornate, expensive blankets
  and ribbons comprise the funeral shroud. The dead, being thus
  enrobed, is placed in a recumbent posture at the most conspicuous
  part of the lodge and viewed in rotation by the mourning relatives
  previously summoned by a courier, all preserving uniformity in the
  piercing screams which would seem to have been learned by rote.

  An apparent service is then conducted. The aged men of the tribe,
  arranged in a circle, chant a peculiar funeral dirge around one of
  their number, keeping time upon a drum or some rude cooking-utensil.

  At irregular intervals an aged relative will arise and dance
  excitedly around the central person, vociferating, and with wild
  gesture, tomahawk in hand, imprecate the evil spirit, which he
  drives to the land where the sun goes down. The evil spirit being
  thus effectually banished, the mourning gradually subsides, blending
  into succeeding scenes of feasting and refreshment. The burial feast
  is in every respect equal in richness to its accompanying
  ceremonies. All who assemble are supplied with cooked venison, hog,
  buffalo, or beef, regular waiters distributing alike hot cakes
  soaked in grease and coffee or water, as the case may be.

  Frequently during this stage of the ceremony the most aged Indian
  present will sit in the central circle, and in a continuous and
  doleful tone narrate the acts of valor in the life of the departed,
  enjoining fortitude and bravery upon all sitting around as an
  essential qualification for admittance to the land where the Great
  Spirit reigns. When the burial feast is well-nigh completed, it is
  customary for the surviving friends to present the bereaved family
  with useful articles of domestic needs, such as calico in bolt,
  flannel cloth, robes, and not unfrequently ponies or horses. After
  the conclusion of the ceremonies at the lodge, the body is carefully
  placed in a wagon and, with an escort of all friends, relatives, and
  acquaintances, conveyed to the grave previously prepared by some
  near relation or friend. When a wagon is used, the immediate
  relatives occupy it with the corpse, which is propped in a
  semi-sitting posture; before the use of wagons among the Otoes, it
  was necessary to bind the body of the deceased upon a horse and then
  convey him to his last resting place among his friends. In past days
  when buffalo were more available, and a tribal hunt was more
  frequently indulged in, it is said that those dying on the way were
  bound upon horses and thus frequently carried several hundred miles
  for interment at the burial places of their friends.

  At the graveyard of the Indians the ceremony partakes of a double
  nature; upon the one hand it is sanguinary and cruel, and upon the
  other blended with the deepest grief and most heartfelt sorrow.
  Before the interment of the dead the chattels of the deceased are
  unloaded from the wagons or unpacked from the backs of ponies and
  carefully arranged in the vault-like tomb. The bottom, which is
  wider than the top (graves here being dug like an inverted funnel),
  is spread with straw or grass matting, woven generally by the Indian
  women of the tribe or some near neighbor. The sides are then
  carefully hung with handsome shawls or blankets, and trunks, with
  domestic articles, pottery, &c., of less importance, are piled
  around in abundance. The sacrifices are next inaugurated. A pony,
  first designated by the dying Indian, is led aside and strangled by
  men hanging to either end of a rope. Sometimes, but not always,
  a dog is likewise strangled, the heads of both animals being
  subsequently laid upon the Indian’s grave. The body, which is now
  often placed in a plain coffin, is lowered into the grave, and if a
  coffin is used the friends take their parting look at the deceased
  before closing it at the grave. After lowering, a saddle and bridle,
  blankets, dishes, &c., are placed upon it, the mourning ceases, and
  the Indians prepare to close the grave. It should be remembered,
  among the Otoe and Missouri Indians dirt is not filled in upon the
  body, but simply rounded up from the surface upon stout logs that
  are accurately fitted over the opening of the grave. After the
  burying is completed, a distribution of the property of the deceased
  takes place, the near relatives receiving everything, from the
  merest trifle to the tent and homes, leaving the immediate family,
  wife and children or father out-door pensioners.

  Although the same generosity is not observed towards the whites
  assisting in funeral rites, it is universally practiced as regards
  Indians, and poverty’s lot is borne by the survivors with a
  fortitude and resignation which in them amounts to duty, and marks a
  higher grade of intrinsic worth than pervades whites of like
  advantages and conditions. We are told in the Old Testament
  Scriptures, “four days and four nights should the fires burn,” &c.
  In fulfillment of this sacred injunction, we find the midnight vigil
  carefully kept by these Indians four days and four nights at the
  graves of their departed. A small fire is kindled for the purpose
  near the grave at sunset, where the nearest relatives convene and
  maintain a continuous lamentation till the morning dawn. There was
  an ancient tradition that at the expiration of this time the Indian
  arose, and mounting his spirit pony, galloped off to the happy
  hunting-ground beyond.

  Happily, with the advancement of Christianity these superstitions
  have faded, and the living sacrifices are partially continued only
  from a belief that by parting with their most cherished and valuable
  goods they propitiate the Great Spirit for the sins committed during
  the life of the deceased. This, though at first revolting, we find
  was the practice of our own forefathers, offering up as burnt
  offerings the lamb or the ox; hence we cannot censure this people,
  but, from a comparison of conditions, credit them with a more strict
  observance of our Holy Book than pride and seductive fashions permit
  of us.

  From a careful review of the whole of their attendant ceremonies a
  remarkable similarity can be marked. The arrangement of the corpse
  preparatory to interment, the funeral feast, the local service by
  the aged fathers, are all observances that have been noted among
  whites, extending into times that are in the memory of those still

The Pimas of Arizona, actuated by apparently the same motives that led
the more eastern tribes to endeavor to prevent contact of earth with
the corpse, adopted a plan which has been described by Capt. F. E.
Grossman,[5.5] and the account is corroborated by M. Alphonse
Pinart[5.6] and Bancroft.[5.7]

Captain Grossman’s account follows:

  The Pimas tie the bodies of their dead with ropes, passing the
  latter around their neck and under the knees, and then drawing them
  tight until the body is doubled up and forced into a sitting
  position. They dig the graves from four to five feet deep and
  perfectly round (about two feet in diameter), and then hollow out to
  one side of the bottom of this grave a sort of vault large enough to
  contain the body. Here the body is deposited, the grave is filled up
  level with the ground, and poles, trees, or pieces of timber placed
  upon the grave to protect the remains from coyotes.

    [Illustration: FIG. 2.--Pima burial.]

  Burials usually take place at night without much ceremony. The
  mourners chant during the burial, but signs of grief are rare. The
  bodies of their dead are buried if possible, immediately after death
  has taken place and the graves are generally prepared before the
  patients die. Sometimes sick persons (for whom the graves had
  already been dug) recover. In such cases the graves are left open
  until the persons for whom they are intended die. Open graves of
  this kind can be seen in several of their burial grounds. Places of
  burial are selected some distance from the village, and, if
  possible, in a grove of mesquite trees.

  Immediately after the remains have been buried, the house and
  personal effects of the deceased are burned and his horses and
  cattle killed, the meat being cooked as a repast for the mourners.
  The nearest relatives of the deceased as a sign of their sorrow
  remain within their village for weeks, and sometimes months; the men
  cut off about six inches of their long hair, while the women cut
  their hair quite short. * * *

  The custom of destroying all the property of the husband when he
  dies impoverishes the widow and children and prevents increase of
  stock. The women of the tribe, well aware that they will be poor
  should their husbands die, and that then they will have to provide
  for their children by their own exertions, do not care to have many
  children, and infanticide, both before and after birth, prevails to
  a great extent. This is not considered a crime, and old women of the
  tribe practice it. A widow may marry again after a year’s mourning
  for her first husband; but having children no man will take her for
  a wife and thus burden himself with her children. Widows generally
  cultivate a small piece of ground, and friends and relatives (men)
  plow the ground for them.

Fig. 2, drawn from Captain Grossman’s description by my friend Dr. W. J.
Hoffman, will convey a good idea of this mode of burial.

Stephen Powers[5.8] describes a similar mode of grave preparation among
the Yuki of California:

  The Yuki bury their dead in a sitting posture. They dig a hole six
  feet deep sometimes and at the bottom of it “_coyote_” under, making
  a little recess in which the corpse is deposited.

The Comanches of Indian Territory (_Nem_, _we, or us, people_),
according to Dr. Fordyce Grinnell, of the Wichita Agency, Indian
Territory, go to the opposite extreme, so far as the protection of the
dead from the surrounding earth is concerned. The account as received is
given entire, as much to illustrate this point as others of interest.

  When a Comanche is dying, while the death-rattle may yet be faintly
  heard in the throat, and the natural warmth has not departed from
  the body, the knees are strongly bent upon the chest, and the legs
  flexed upon the thighs. The arms are also flexed upon each side of
  the chest, and the head bent forward upon the knees. A lariat, or
  rope, is now used to firmly bind the limbs and body in this
  position. A blanket is then wrapped around the body, and this again
  tightly corded, so that the appearance when ready for burial is that
  of an almost round and compact body, very unlike the composed pall
  of his Wichita or Caddo brother. The body is then taken and placed
  in a saddle upon a pony, in a sitting posture; a squaw usually
  riding behind, though sometimes one on either side of the horse,
  holds the body in position until the place of burial is reached,
  when the corpse is literally tumbled into the excavation selected
  for the purpose. The deceased is only accompanied by two or three
  squaws, or enough to perform the little labor bestowed upon the
  burial. The body is taken due west of the lodge or village of the
  bereaved, and usually one of the deep washes or heads of cañons in
  which the Comanche country abounds is selected, and the body thrown
  in, without special reference to position. With this are deposited
  the bows and arrows; these, however, are first broken. The saddle is
  also placed in the grave, together with many of the personal
  valuables of the departed. The body is then covered over with sticks
  and earth, and sometimes stones are placed over the whole.

  _Funeral ceremonies._--the best pony owned by the deceased is
  brought to the grave and killed, that the departed may appear well
  mounted and caparisoned among his fellows in the other world.
  Formerly, if the deceased were a chief or man of consequence and had
  large herds of ponies, many were killed, sometimes amounting to 200
  or 300 head in number.

  The Comanches illustrate the importance of providing a good pony for
  the convoy of the deceased to the happy-grounds by the following
  story, which is current among both Comanches and Wichitas:

  “A few years since, an old Comanche died who had no relatives and
  who was quite poor. Some of the tribe concluded that almost any kind
  of a pony would serve to transport him to the next world. They
  therefore killed at his grave an old, ill-conditioned, lop-eared
  horse. But a few weeks after the burial of this friendless one, lo
  and behold he returned, riding this same old worn-out horse, weary
  and hungry. He first appeared at the Wichita camps, where he was
  well known, and asked for something to eat, but his strange
  appearance, with sunken eyes and hollow cheeks, filled with
  consternation all who saw him, and they fled from his presence.
  Finally one bolder than the rest placed a piece of meat on the end
  of a lodge-pole and extended it to him. He soon appeared at his own
  camp, creating, if possible, even more dismay than among the
  Wichitas, and this resulted in both Wichitas and Comanches leaving
  their villages and moving _en masse_ to a place on Rush Creek, not
  far distant from the present site of Fort Sill.

  “When the troubled spirit from the sunsetting world was questioned
  why he thus appeared among the inhabitants of earth, he made reply
  that when he came to the gates of paradise the keepers would on no
  account permit him to enter upon such an ill-conditioned beast as
  that which bore him, and thus in sadness he returned to haunt the
  homes of those whose stinginess and greed permitted him no better
  equipment. Since this no Comanche has been permitted to depart with
  the sun to his chambers in the west without a steed which in
  appearance should do honor alike to the rider and his friends.”

  The body is buried at the sunsetting side of the camp, that the
  spirit may accompany the setting sun to the world beyond. The spirit
  starts on its journey the following night after death has taken
  place; if this occur at night, the journey is not begun until the
  next night.

  _Mourning observances._--All the effects of the deceased, the tents,
  blankets, clothes, treasures, and whatever of value, aside from the
  articles which have been buried with the body, are burned, so that
  the family is left in poverty. This practice has extended even to
  the burning of wagons and harness since some of the civilized habits
  have been adopted. It is believed that these ascend to heaven in the
  smoke, and will thus be of service to the owner in the other world.
  Immediately upon the death of a member of the household, the
  relatives begin a peculiar wailing, and the immediate members of the
  family take off their customary apparel and clothe themselves in
  rags and cut themselves across the arms, breast, and other portions
  of the body, until sometimes a fond wife or mother faints from loss
  of blood. This scarification is usually accomplished with a knife,
  or, as in earlier days, with a flint. Hired mourners are employed at
  times who are in no way related to the family, but who are
  accomplished in the art of crying for the dead. These are invariably
  women. Those nearly related to the departed, cut off the long locks
  from the entire head, while those more distantly related, or special
  friends, cut the hair only from one side of the head. In case of the
  death of a chief, the young warriors also cut the hair, usually from
  the left side of the head.

  After the first few days of continued grief, the mourning is
  conducted more especially at sunrise and sunset, as the Comanches
  venerate the sun; and the mourning at these seasons is kept up, if
  the death occurred in summer, until the leaves fall, or, if in the
  winter, until they reappear.

It is a matter of some interest to note that the preparation of the
corpse and the grave among the Comanches is almost identical with the
burial customs of some of the African tribes, and the baling of the body
with ropes or cords is a wide and common usage of savage peoples. The
hiring of mourners is also a practice which has been very prevalent from
remotest periods of time.


The following interesting account of burial among the Pueblo Indians of
San Geronimo de Taos, New Mexico, furnished by Judge Anthony Joseph,
will show in a manner how civilized customs have become engrafted upon
those of a more barbaric nature. It should be remembered that the Pueblo
people are next to the Cherokees, Choctaws, and others in the Indian
Territory, the most civilized of our tribes.

According to Judge Joseph, these people call themselves _Wee-ka-nahs_.

  These are commonly known to the whites as _Piros_. The manner of
  burial by these Indians, both ancient and modern, as far as I can
  ascertain from information obtained from the most intelligent of the
  tribe, is that the body of the dead is and has been always buried in
  the ground in a horizontal position with the flat bottom of the
  grave. The grave is generally dug out of the ground in the usual and
  ordinary manner, being about 6 feet deep, 7 feet long, and about 2
  feet wide. It is generally finished after receiving its occupant by
  being leveled with the hard ground around it, never leaving, as is
  customary with the whites, a mound to mark the spot. This tribe of
  Pueblo Indians never cremated their dead, as they do not know, even
  by tradition, that it was ever done or attempted. There are no
  utensils or implements placed in the grave, but there are a great
  many Indian ornaments, such as beads of all colors, sea-shells,
  hawk-bells, round looking-glasses, and a profusion of ribbons of all
  imaginable colors; then they paint the body with red vermilion and
  white chalk, giving it a most fantastic as well as ludicrous
  appearance. They also place a variety of food in the grave as a wise
  provision for its long journey to the happy hunting-ground beyond
  the clouds.

  The funeral ceremonies of this tribe are very peculiar. First, after
  death, the body is laid out on a fancy buffalo robe spread out on
  the ground, then they dress the body in the best possible manner in
  their style of dress; if a male, they put on his beaded leggins and
  embroidered _saco_, and his fancy dancing-moccasins, and his large
  brass or shell ear-rings; if a female, they put on her best manta or
  dress, tied around the waist with a silk sash, put on her feet her
  fancy dancing-moccasins; her _rosario_ around her neck, her brass or
  shell ear-rings in her ears, and with her tressed black hair tied up
  with red tape or ribbon, this completes her wardrobe for her long
  and happy chase. When they get through dressing the body, they place
  about a dozen lighted candles around it, and keep them burning
  continually until the body is buried. As soon as the candles are
  lighted, the _veloris_, or wake, commences; the body lies in state
  for about twenty-four hours, and in that time all the friends,
  relatives, and neighbors of the deceased or “_difunti_” visit the
  wake, chant, sing, and pray for the soul of the same, and tell one
  another of the good deeds and traits of valor and courage manifested
  by the deceased during his earthly career, and at intervals in their
  praying, singing, &c., some near relative of the deceased will step
  up to the corpse and every person in the room commences to cry
  bitterly and express aloud words of endearment to the deceased and
  of condolence to the family of the same in their untimely

  At about midnight supper is announced, and every person in
  attendance marches out into another room and partakes of a frugal
  Indian meal, generally composed of wild game; Chilé Colorado or
  red-pepper tortillas, and guayaves, with a good supply of mush and
  milk, which completes the festive board of the _veloris_ or wake.
  When the deceased is in good circumstances, the crowd in attendance
  is treated every little while during the wake to alcoholic
  refreshments. This feast and feasting is kept up until the Catholic
  priest arrives to perform the funeral rites.

  When the priest arrives, the corpse is done up or rather baled up in
  a large and well-tanned buffalo robe, and tied around tight with a
  rope or lasso made for the purpose; then six or eight men act as
  pall-bearers, conducting the body to the place of burial, which is
  in front of their church or chapel. The priest conducts the funeral
  ceremonies in the ordinary and usual way of mortuary proceedings
  observed by the Catholic church all over the world. While the
  grave-diggers are filling up the grave, the friends, relatives,
  neighbors, and, in fact, all persons that attend the funeral, give
  vent to their sad feelings by making the whole pueblo howl; after
  the tremendous uproar subsides, they disband and leave the body to
  rest until Gabriel blows his trumpet. When the ceremonies are
  performed with all the pomp of the Catholic church, the priest
  receives a fair compensation for his services; otherwise he
  officiates for the yearly rents that all the Indians of the pueblo
  pay him, which amount in the sum total to about $2,000 per annum.

  These Pueblo Indians are very strict in their mourning observance,
  which last for one year after the demise of the deceased. While in
  mourning for the dead, the mourners do not participate in the
  national festivities of the tribe, which are occasions of state with
  them, but they retire into a state of sublime quietude which makes
  more civilized people sad to observe; but when the term of mourning
  ceases, at the end of the year, they have high mass said for the
  benefit of the soul of the departed; after this they again appear
  upon the arena of their wild sports and continue to be gay and happy
  until the next mortal is called from this terrestrial sphere to the
  happy hunting-ground, which is their pictured celestial paradise.
  The above cited facts, which are the most interesting points
  connected with the burial customs of the Indians of the pueblo San
  Geronimo de Taos, are not in the least exaggerated, but are the
  absolute facts, which I have witnessed myself in many instances for
  a period of more than twenty years that I have resided but a short
  distant from said pueblo, and, being a close observer of their
  peculiar burial customs, am able to give you this true and
  undisguised information relative to your circular on “burial

Another example of the care which is taken to prevent the earth coming
in contact with the corpse may be found in the account of the burial of
the Wichita Indians of Indian Territory, furnished by Dr. Fordyce
Grinnell, whose name has already been mentioned in connection with the
Comanche customs. The Wichitas call themselves _Kitty-ka-tats_, or those
of the tattooed eyelids.

  When a Wichita dies the town-crier goes up and down through the
  village and announces the fact. Preparations are immediately made
  for the burial, and the body is taken without delay to the grave
  prepared for its reception. If the grave is some distance from the
  village, the body is carried thither on the back of a pony, being
  first wrapped in blankets and then laid prone, across the saddle,
  one person walking on either side to support it. The grave is dug
  from three to four feet deep and of sufficient length for the
  extended body. First blankets and buffalo-robes are laid in the
  bottom of the grave, then the body, being taken from the horse and
  unwrapped, is dressed in its best apparel and with ornaments is
  placed upon a couch of blankets and robes, with the head towards the
  west and the feet to the east; the valuables belonging to the
  deceased are placed with the body in the grave. With the man are
  deposited his bows and arrows or gun, and with the woman her cooking
  utensils and other implements of her toil. Over the body sticks are
  placed six or eight inches deep and grass over these, so that when
  the earth is filled in, it need not come in contact with the body or
  its trappings. After the grave is filled with earth, a pen of poles
  is built around it, or as is frequently the case, stakes are driven
  so that they cross each other from either side about midway over the
  grave, thus forming a complete protection from the invasion of wild
  animals. After all this is done, the grass or other _debris_ is
  carefully scraped from about the grave for several feet, so that the
  ground is left smooth and clean. It is seldom the case that the
  relatives accompany the remains to the grave, but they more often
  employ others to bury the body for them, usually women. Mourning is
  similar in this tribe, as in others, and it consists in cutting off
  the hair, fasting, &c. Horses are also killed at the grave.

The Caddoes, _Ascena_, or Timber Indians, as they call themselves,
follow nearly the same mode of burial as the Wichitas, but one custom
prevailing is worthy of mention:

  If a Caddo is killed in battle, the body is never buried, but is
  left to be devoured by beasts or birds of prey, and the condition of
  such individuals in the other world is considered to be far better
  than that of persons dying a natural death.

In a work by Bruhier[5.9] the following remarks, freely translated by
the writer, may be found, which note a custom having great similarity to
the exposure of bodies to wild beasts mentioned above:

  The ancient Persians threw out the bodies of their dead on the
  roads, and if they were promptly devoured by wild beasts it was
  esteemed a great honor, a misfortune if not. Sometimes they
  interred, always wrapping the dead in a wax cloth to prevent odor.

M. Pierre Muret,[5.10] from whose book Bruhier probably obtained his
information, gives at considerable length an account of this peculiar
method of treating the dead among the Persians, as follows:

  It is a matter of astonishment, considering the _Persians_ have ever
  had the renown of being one of the most civilized Nations in the
  world, that notwithstanding they should have used such barbarous
  customs about the Dead as are set down in the Writings of some
  Historians; and the rather because at this day there are still to be
  seen among them those remains of Antiquity, which do fully satisfie
  us, that their Tombs have been very magnificent. And yet
  nevertheless, if we will give credit to _Procopius_ and _Agathias_,
  the _Persians_ were never wont to bury their Dead Bodies, so far
  were they from bestowing any Funeral Honours upon them: But, as
  these Authors tell us, they exposed them stark naked in the open
  fields, which is the greatest shame our Laws do allot to the most
  infamous Criminals, by laying them open to the view of all upon the
  highways: Yea, in their opinion it was a great unhappiness, if
  either Birds or Beasts did not devour their Carcases; and they
  commonly made an estimate of the Felicity of these poor Bodies,
  according as they were sooner or later made a prey of. Concerning
  these, they resolved that they must needs have been very bad indeed,
  since even the beasts themselves would not touch them; which caused
  an extream sorrow to their Relations, they taking it for an ill
  boding to their Family, and an infallible presage of some great
  misfortune hanging over their heads; for they persuaded themselves,
  that the Souls which inhabited those Bodies being dragg’d into Hell,
  would not fail to come and trouble them; and that being always
  accompanied with the Devils, their Tormentors, they would certainly
  give them a great deal of disturbance.

  And on the contrary, when these Corpses were presently devoured,
  their joy was very great, they enlarged themselves in praises of the
  Deceased; every one esteeming them undoubtedly happy, and came to
  congratulate their relations on that account: For as they believed
  assuredly, that they were entered into the _Elysian_ Fields, so they
  were persuaded, that they would procure the same bliss for all those
  of their family.

  They also took a great delight to see Skeletons and Bones scatered
  up and down in the fields, whereas we can scarcely endure to see
  those of Horses and Dogs used so. And these remains of Humane
  Bodies, (the sight whereof gives us so much horror, that we
  presently bury them out of our sight, whenever we find them
  elsewhere than in Charnel-houses or Church-yards) were the occasion
  of their greatest joy; beecause they concluded from thence the
  happiness of those that had been devoured, wishing after their Death
  to meet with the like good luck.

The same author states, and Bruhier corroborates the assertion, that the
Parthians, Medes, Iberians, Caspians, and a few others, had such a
horror and aversion of the corruption and decomposition of the dead, and
of their being eaten by worms, that they threw out the bodies into the
open fields to be devoured by wild beasts, a part of their belief being
that persons so devoured would not be entirely extinct, but enjoy at
least a partial sort of life in their living sepulchers. It is quite
probable that for these and other reasons the Bactrians and Hircanians
trained dogs for this special purpose, called _Canes sepulchrales_,
which received the greatest care and attention, for it was deemed proper
that the souls of the deceased should have strong and lusty frames to
dwell in.

The Buddhists of Bhotan are said to expose the bodies of their dead on
top of high rocks.

According to Tegg, whose work is quoted frequently, in the London Times
of January 28, 1876, Mr. Monier Williams writes from Calcutta regarding
the “Towers of Silence,” so called, of the Parsees, who, it is well
known, are the descendants of the ancient Persians expelled from Persia
by the Mohammedan conquerors, and settled at Surat about 1,100 years
since. This gentleman’s narrative is freely made use of to show how the
custom of the exposure of the dead to birds of prey has continued up to
the present time.

  The Dakhmas, or Parsee towers of silence, are erected in a garden on
  the highest point of Malabar Hill, a beautiful, rising ground on one
  side of Black Bay, noted for the bungalows and compounds of the
  European and wealthier inhabitants of Bombay scattered in every
  direction over its surface.

  The garden is approached by a well-constructed, private road, all
  access to which, except to Parsees, is barred by strong iron gates.

The garden is described as being very beautiful, and he says:

  No English nobleman’s garden could be better kept, and no pen could
  do justice to the glories of its flowering shrubs, cypresses, and
  palms. It seemed the very ideal, not only of a place of sacred
  silence, but of peaceful rest.

The towers are five in number, built of hardest black granite, about 40
feet in diameter and 25 in height, and constructed so solidly as almost
to resist absolutely the ravages of time. The oldest and smallest of the
towers was constructed about 200 years since, when the Parsees first
settled in Bombay, and is used only for a certain family. The next
oldest was erected in 1756, and the three others during the next
century. A sixth tower of square shape stands alone, and is only used
for criminals.

The writer proceeds as follows:

  Though wholly destitute of ornament and even of the simplest
  moldings, the parapet of each tower possesses an extraordinary
  coping, which instantly attracts and fascinates the gaze. It is a
  coping formed not of dead stone, but of living vultures. These
  birds, on the occasion of my visit, had settled themselves side by
  side in perfect order and in a complete circle around the parapets
  of the towers, with their heads pointing inwards, and so lazily did
  they sit there, and so motionless was their whole mien, that except
  for their color, they might have been carved out of the stonework.

    [Illustration: FIG. 3.--Parsee Towers of Silence (interior).]

No one is allowed to enter the towers except the corpse-bearers, nor is
any one permitted within thirty feet of the immediate precincts. A model
was shown Mr. Williams, and from it he drew up this description:

  Imagine a round column or massive cylinder, 12 or 14 feet high and
  at least 40 feet in diameter, built throughout of solid stone except
  in the center, where a well, 5 or 6 feet across, leads down to an
  excavation under the masonry, containing four drains at right angles
  to each other, terminated by holes filled with charcoal. Round the
  upper surface of this solid circular cylinder, and completely hiding
  the interior from view, is a stone parapet, 10 or 12 feet in height.
  This it is which, when viewed from the outside, appears to form one
  piece with the solid stone-work, and being, like it, covered with
  chunam, gives the whole the appearance of a low tower. The upper
  surface of the solid stone column is divided into 72 compartments,
  or open receptacles, radiating like the spokes of a wheel from the
  central well, and arranged in three concentric rings, separated from
  each other by narrow ridges of stone, which are grooved to act as
  channels for conveying all moisture from the receptacles into the
  well and into the lower drains. It should be noted that the number
  “3” is emblematical of Zoroaster’s three precepts, and the number
  “72” of the chapters of his Yasna, a portion of the Zend-Avestá.

  Each circle of open stone coffins is divided from the next by a
  pathway, so that there are three circular pathways, the last
  encircling the central well, and these three pathways are crossed by
  another pathway conducting from the solitary door which admits the
  corpse-bearers from the exterior. In the outermost circle of the
  stone coffins are placed the bodies of males, in the middle those of
  the females, and in the inner and smallest circle nearest the well
  those of children.

  While I was engaged with the secretary in examining the model,
  a sudden stir among the vultures made us raise our heads. At least a
  hundred birds collected round one of the towers began to show
  symptoms of excitement, while others swooped down from neighboring
  trees. The cause of this sudden abandonment of their previous apathy
  soon revealed itself. A funeral was seen to be approaching. However
  distant the house of a deceased person, and whether he be rich or
  poor, high or low in rank, his body is always carried to the towers
  by the official corpse-bearers, called _Nasasalár_, who form a
  distinct class, the mourners walking behind.

  Before they remove the body from the house where the relatives are
  assembled, funeral prayers are recited, and the corpse is exposed to
  the gaze of a dog, regarded by the Parsees as a sacred animal. This
  latter ceremony is called _sagdid_.

  Then the body, swathed in a white sheet, is placed in a curved metal
  trough, open at both ends, and the corpse-bearers, dressed in pure
  white garments, proceed with it towards the towers. They are
  followed by the mourners at a distance of at least 30 feet, in
  pairs, also dressed in white, and each couple joined by holding a
  white handkerchief between them. The particular funeral I witnessed
  was that of a child. When the two corpse-bearers reached the path
  leading by a steep incline to the door of the tower, the mourners,
  about eight in number, turned back and entered one of the
  prayer-houses. “There,” said the secretary, “they repeat certain
  gáthás, and pray that the spirit of the deceased may be safely
  transported, on the fourth day after death, to its final

  The tower selected for the present funeral was one in which other
  members of the same family had before been laid. The two bearers
  speedily unlocked the door, reverently conveyed the body of the
  child into the interior, and, unseen by any one, laid it uncovered
  in one of the open stone receptacles nearest the central well. In
  two minutes they reappeared with the empty bier and white cloth, and
  scarcely had they closed the door when a dozen vultures swooped down
  upon the body and were rapidly followed by others. In five minutes
  more we saw the satiated birds fly back and lazily settle down again
  upon the parapet. They had left nothing behind but a skeleton.
  Meanwhile, the bearers were seen to enter a building shaped like a
  high barrel. There, as the secretary informed me, they changed their
  clothes and washed themselves. Shortly afterwards we saw them come
  out and deposit their cast-off funeral garments in a stone
  receptacle near at hand. Not a thread leaves the garden, lest it
  should carry defilement into the city. Perfectly new garments are
  supplied at each funeral. In a fortnight, or, at most, four weeks,
  the same bearers return, and, with gloved hands and implements
  resembling tongs, place the dry skeleton in the central well. There
  the bones find their last resting-place, and there the dust of whole
  generations of Parsees commingling is left undisturbed for

  The revolting sight of the gorged vultures made me turn my back on
  the towers with ill-concealed abhorrence. I asked the secretary how
  it was possible to become reconciled to such usage. His reply was
  nearly in the following words: “Our prophet Zoroaster, who lived
  6,000 years ago, taught us to regard the elements as symbols of the
  Deity. Earth, fire, water, he said, ought never, under any
  circumstances, to be defiled by contact with putrefying flesh.
  Naked, he said, came we into the world and naked we ought to leave
  it. But the decaying particles of our bodies should be dissipated as
  rapidly as possible and in such a way that neither Mother Earth nor
  the beings she supports should be contaminated in the slightest
  degree. In fact, our prophet was the greatest of health officers,
  and, following his sanitary laws, we build our towers on the tops of
  the hills, above all human habitations. We spare no expense in
  constructing them of the hardest materials, and we expose our
  putrescent bodies in open stone receptacles, resting on fourteen
  feet of solid granite, not necessarily to be consumed by vultures,
  but to be dissipated in the speediest possible manner and without
  the possibility of polluting the earth or contaminating a single
  being dwelling thereon. God, indeed, sends the vultures, and, as a
  matter of fact, these birds do their appointed work much more
  expeditiously than millions of insects would do if we committed our
  bodies to the ground. In a sanitary point of view, nothing can be
  more perfect than our plan. Even the rain-water which washes our
  skeletons is conducted by channels into purifying charcoal. Here in
  these five towers rest the bones of all the Parsees that have lived
  in Bombay for the last two hundred years. We form a united body in
  life and we are united in death.”

It would appear that the reasons given for this peculiar mode of
disposing of the dead by the Parsee secretary are quite at variance with
the ideas advanced by Muret regarding the ancient Persians, and to which
allusion has already been made. It might be supposed that somewhat
similar motives to those governing the Parsees actuated those of the
North American Indians who deposit their dead on scaffolds and trees,
but the theory becomes untenable when it is recollected that great care
is taken to preserve the dead from the ravages of carnivorous birds, the
corpse being carefully enveloped in skins and firmly tied up with ropes
or thongs.

Figures 3 and 4 are representations of the Parsee towers of silence,
drawn by Mr. Holmes, mainly from the description given.

    [Illustration: FIG. 4.--Parsee Towers of Silence.]

George Gibbs[5.11] gives the following account of burial among the
Klamath and Trinity Indians of the Northwest coast, the information
having been originally furnished him by James G. Swan.

  The graves, which are in the immediate vicinity of their houses,
  exhibit very considerable taste and a laudable care. The dead are
  inclosed in rude coffins formed by placing four boards around the
  body, and covered with earth to some depth; a heavy plank, often
  supported by upright head and foot stones, is laid upon the top, or
  stones are built up into a wall about a foot above the ground, and
  the top flagged with others. The graves of the chiefs are surrounded
  by neat wooden palings, each pale ornamented with a feather from the
  tail of the bald eagle. Baskets are usually staked down by the side,
  according to the wealth or popularity of the individual, and
  sometimes other articles for ornament or use are suspended over
  them. The funeral ceremonies occupy three days, during which the
  soul of the deceased is in danger from _O-mah-á_, or the devil. To
  preserve it from this peril, a fire is kept up at the grave, and the
  friends of the deceased howl around it to scare away the demon.
  Should they not be successful in this the soul is carried down the
  river, subject, however, to redemption by _Péh-ho-wan_ on payment of
  a big knife. After the expiration of three days it is all well with

The question may well be asked, is the big knife a “sop to Cerberus”?

To Dr. Charles E. McChesney, acting assistant surgeon, United States
Army, one of the most conscientious and careful of observers, the writer
is indebted for the following interesting account of the mortuary
customs of the


  A large proportion of these Indians being members of the
  Presbyterian church (the missionaries of which church have labored
  among them for more than forty years past), the dead of their
  families are buried after the customs of that church, and this
  influence is felt to a great extent among those Indians who are not
  strict church members, so that they are dropping one by one the
  traditional customs of their tribe, and but few can now be found who
  bury their dead in accordance with their customs of twenty or more
  years ago. The dead of those Indians who still adhere to their
  modern burial customs are buried in the ways indicated below.

  _Warrior._--After death they paint a warrior red across the mouth,
  or they paint a hand in black color, with the thumb on one side of
  the mouth and the fingers separated on the other cheek, the rest of
  the face being painted red. (This latter is only done as a mark of
  respect to a specially brave man.) Spears, clubs, and the
  medicine-bag of the deceased when alive are buried with the body,
  the medicine-bag being placed on the bare skin over the region of
  the heart. There is not now, nor has there been, among these Indians
  any special preparation of the grave. The body of a warrior is
  generally wrapped in a blanket or piece of cloth (and frequently in
  addition is placed in a box) and buried in the grave prepared for
  the purpose, always, as the majority of these Indians inform me,
  with the head towards the _south_. (I have, however, seen many
  graves in which the head of the occupant had been placed to the
  _east_. It may be that these graves were those of Indians who
  belonged to the church; and a few Indians inform me that the head is
  sometimes placed towards the _west_, according to the occupant’s
  belief when alive as to the direction from which his guiding
  medicine came, and I am personally inclined to give credence to this
  latter as sometimes occurring.) In all burials, when the person has
  died a natural death, or had not been murdered, and whether man,
  woman, or child, the body is placed in the grave with the face _up_.
  In cases, however, when a man or woman has been murdered by one of
  their own tribe, the body was, and is always, placed in the grave
  with the face _down_, head to the _south_, and a piece of fat (bacon
  or pork) placed in the mouth. This piece of fat is placed in the
  mouth, as these Indians say, to prevent the spirit of the murdered
  person driving or scaring the game from that section of country.
  Those Indians who state that their dead are always buried with the
  head towards the south say they do so in order that the spirit of
  the deceased may go to the south, the land from which these Indians
  believe they originally came.

  _Women and children._--Before death the face of the person expected
  to die is often painted in a red color. When this is not done before
  death it is done afterwards; the body being then buried in a grave
  prepared for its reception, and in the manner described for a
  warrior, cooking-utensils taking the place of the warrior’s weapons.
  In cases of boys and girls a kettle of cooked food is sometimes
  placed at the head of the grave after the body is covered. Now, if
  the dead body be that of a boy, all the boys of about his age go up
  and eat of the food, and in cases of girls all the girls do
  likewise. This, however, has never obtained as a custom, but is
  sometimes done in cases of warriors and women also.

  Cremation has never been practiced by these Indians. It is now, and
  always has been, a custom among them to remove a lock of hair from
  the top or scalp lock of a warrior, or from the left side of the
  head of a woman, which is carefully preserved by some near relative
  of the deceased, wrapped in pieces of calico and muslin, and hung in
  the lodge of the deceased and is considered the ghost of the dead
  person. To the bundle is attached a tin cup or other vessel, and in
  this is placed some food for the spirit of the dead person. Whenever
  a stranger happens in at meal time, this food, however, is not
  allowed to go to waste; if not consumed by the stranger to whom it
  is offered, some of the occupants of the lodge eat it. They seem to
  take some pains to please the ghost of the deceased, thinking
  thereby they will have good luck in their family so long as they
  continue to do so. It is a custom with the men when they smoke to
  offer the pipe to the ghost, at the same time asking it to confer
  some favor on them, or aid them in their work or in hunting, &c.

  There is a feast held over this bundle containing the ghost of the
  deceased, given by the friends of the dead man. This feast may be at
  any time, and is not at any particular time, occurring, however,
  generally as often as once a year, unless, at the time of the first
  feast, the friends designate a particular time, such, for instance,
  as when the leaves fall, or when the grass comes again. This bundle
  is never permitted to leave the lodge of the friends of the dead
  person, except to be buried in the grave of one of them. Much of the
  property of the deceased person is buried with the body, a portion
  being placed under the body and a portion over it. Horses are
  sometimes killed on the grave of a warrior, but this custom is
  gradually ceasing, in consequence of the value of their ponies.
  These animals are therefore now generally given away by the person
  before death, or after death disposed of by the near relatives. Many
  years ago it was customary to kill one or more ponies at the grave.
  In cases of more than ordinary wealth for an Indian, much of his
  personal property is now, and has ever been, reserved from burial
  with the body, and forms the basis for a gambling party, which will
  be described hereafter. No food is ever buried in the grave, but
  some is occasionally placed at the head of it; in which case it is
  consumed by the friends of the dead person. Such is the method that
  was in vogue with these Indians twenty years ago, and which is still
  adhered to, with more or less exactness, by the majority of them,
  the exceptions being those who are strict church members and those
  very few families who adhere to their ancient customs.

  Before the year 1860 it was a custom, for as long back as the oldest
  members of these tribes can remember, and with the usual tribal
  traditions handed down from generation to generation, in regard to
  this as well as to other things, for these Indians to bury in a tree
  or on a platform, and in those days an Indian was only buried in the
  ground as a mark of disrespect in consequence of the person having
  been murdered, in which case the body would be buried in the ground,
  _face down_, head toward the south and with a piece of fat in the
  mouth. * * * The platform upon which the body was deposited was
  constructed of four crotched posts firmly set in the ground, and
  connected near the top by cross-pieces, upon which was placed
  boards, when obtainable, and small sticks of wood, sometimes hewn so
  as to give a firm resting-place for the body. This platform had an
  elevation of from six to eight or more feet, and never contained but
  one body, although frequently having sufficient surface to
  accommodate two or three. In burying in the crotch of a tree and on
  platforms, the head of the dead person was always placed towards the
  south; the body was wrapped in blankets or pieces of cloth securely
  tied, and many of the personal effects of the deceased were buried
  with it; as in the case of a warrior, his bows and arrows,
  war-clubs, &c., would be placed alongside of the body, the Indians
  saying he would need such things in the next world.

  I am informed by many of them that it was a habit, before their
  outbreak, for some to carry the body of a near relative whom they
  held in great respect with them on their moves, for a greater or
  lesser time, often as long as two or three years before burial.
  This, however, never obtained generally among them, and some of them
  seem to know nothing about it. It has of late years been entirely
  dropped, except when a person dies away from home, it being then
  customary for the friends to bring the body home for burial.

  _Mourning ceremonies._--The mourning ceremonies before the year 1860
  were as follows: After the death of a warrior the whole camp or
  tribe would be assembled in a circle, and after the widow had cut
  herself on the arms, legs, and body with a piece of flint, and
  removed the hair from her head, she would go around the ring any
  number of times she chose, but each time was considered as an oath
  that she would not marry for a year, so that she could not marry for
  as many years as times she went around the circle. The widow would
  all this time keep up a crying and wailing. Upon the completion of
  this the friends of the deceased would take the body to the platform
  or tree where it was to remain, keeping up all this time their
  wailing and crying. After depositing the body, they would stand
  under it and continue exhibiting their grief, the squaws by hacking
  their arms and legs with flint and cutting off the hair from their
  head. The men would sharpen sticks and run them through the skin of
  their arms and legs, both men and women keeping up their crying
  generally for the remainder of the day, and the near relatives of
  the deceased for several days thereafter. As soon as able, the
  warrior friends of the deceased would go to a near tribe of their
  enemies and kill one or more of them if possible, return with their
  scalps, and exhibit them to the deceased person’s relatives, after
  which their mourning ceased, their friends considering his death as
  properly avenged; this, however, was many years ago, when their
  enemies were within reasonable striking distance, such, for
  instance, as the Chippewas and the Arickarees, Gros Ventres and
  Mandan Indians. In cases of women and children, the squaws would cut
  off their hair, hack their persons with flint, and sharpen sticks
  and run them through the skin of the arms and legs, crying as for a

  It was an occasional occurrence twenty or more years ago for a squaw
  when she lost a favorite child to commit suicide by hanging herself
  with a lariat over the limb of a tree. This could not have prevailed
  to any great extent, however, although the old men recite several
  instances of its occurrence, and a very few examples within recent
  years. Such was their custom before the Minnesota outbreak, since
  which time it has gradually died out, and at the present time these
  ancient customs are adhered to by but a single family, known as the
  seven brothers, who appear to retain all the ancient customs of
  their tribe. At the present time, as a mourning observance, the
  squaws hack themselves on their legs with knives, cut off their
  hair, and cry and wail around the grave of the dead person, and the
  men in addition paint their faces, but no longer torture themselves
  by means of sticks passed through the skin of the arms and legs.
  This cutting and painting is sometimes done before and sometimes
  after the burial of the body. I also observe that many of the women
  of these tribes are adopting so much of the customs of the whites as
  prescribes the wearing of black for certain periods. During the
  period of mourning these Indians never wash their face, or comb
  their hair, or laugh. These customs are observed with varying degree
  of strictness, but not in many instances with that exactness which
  characterized these Indians before the advent of the white man among
  them. There is not now any permanent mutilation of the person
  practiced as a mourning ceremony by them. That mutilation of a
  finger by removing one or more joints, so generally observed among
  the Minnetarree Indians at the Fort Berthold, Dak., Agency, is not
  here seen, although the old men of these tribes inform me that it
  was an ancient custom among their women, on the occasion of the
  burial of a husband, to cut off a portion of a finger and have it
  suspended in the tree above his body. I have, however, yet to see an
  example of this having been done by any of the Indians now living,
  and the custom must have fallen into disuse more than seventy years

  In regard to the period of mourning, I would say that there does not
  now appear to be, and, so far as I can learn, never was, any fixed
  period of mourning, but it would seem that, like some of the whites,
  they mourn when the subject is brought to their minds by some remark
  or other occurrence. It is not unusual at the present time to hear a
  man or woman cry and exclaim, “O, my poor husband!” “O, my poor
  wife!” or “O, my poor child!” as the case may be, and, upon
  inquiring, learn that the event happened several years before.
  I have elsewhere mentioned that in some cases much of the personal
  property of the deceased was and is reserved from burial with the
  body, and forms the basis of a gambling party. I shall conclude my
  remarks upon the burial customs, &c., of these Indians by an account
  of this, which they designate as the “ghost’s gamble.”

The account of the game will be found in another part of this paper.

As illustrative of the preparation of the dead Indian warrior for the
tomb, a translation of Schiller’s beautiful burial song is here given.
It is believed to be by Bulwer, and for it the writer is indebted to the
kindness of Mr. Benjamin Drew, of Washington, D.C.:


  See on his mat, as if of yore,
    How lifelike sits he here;
  With the same aspect that he wore
    When life to him was dear.
  But where the right arm’s strength, and where
    The breath he used to breathe
  To the Great Spirit aloft in air,
    The peace-pipe’s lusty wreath?
  And where the hawk-like eye, alas!
    That wont the deer pursue
  Along the waves of rippling grass,
    Or fields that shone with dew?
  Are these the limber, bounding feet
    That swept the winter snows?
  What startled deer was half so fleet,
    Their speed outstripped the roe’s.
  These hands that once the sturdy bow
    Could supple from its pride,
  How stark and helpless hang they now
    Adown the stiffened side!
  Yet weal to him! at peace he strays
    Where never fall the snows,
  Where o’er the meadow springs the maize
    That mortal never sows;
  Where birds are blithe in every brake,
    Where forests teem with deer,
  Where glide the fish through every lake,
    One chase from year to year!
  With spirits now he feasts above;
    All left us, to revere
  The deeds we cherish with our love,
    The rest we bury here.
  Here bring the last gifts, loud and shrill
    Wail death-dirge of the brave
  What pleased him most in life may still
    Give pleasure in the grave.
  We lay the axe beneath his head
    He swung when strength was strong,
  The bear on which his hunger fed--
    The way from earth is long!
  And here, new-sharpened, place the knife
    Which severed from the clay,
  From which the axe had spoiled the life,
    The conquered scalp away.
  The paints that deck the dead bestow,
    Aye, place them in his hand,
  That red the kingly shade may glow
    Amid the spirit land.

The position in which the body is placed, as mentioned by Dr. McChesney,
face upwards, while of common occurrence among most tribes of Indians,
is not invariable as a rule, for the writer discovered at a cemetery
belonging to an ancient pueblo in the valley of the Chama, near Abiquiu,
N. Mex., a number of bodies, all of which had been buried face downward.
The account originally appeared in Field and Forest, 1877, vol. iii,
No. 1, p. 9.

  On each side of the town were noticed two small arroyas or water
  washed ditches, within 30 feet of the walls, and a careful
  examination of these revealed the objects of our search. At the
  bottom of the arroyas, which have certainly formed subsequent to the
  occupation of the village, we found portions of human remains, and
  following up the walls of the ditch soon had the pleasure of
  discovering several skeletons _in situ_. The first found was in the
  eastern arroya, and the grave in depth was nearly 8 feet below the
  surface of the mesa. The body had been placed in the grave face
  downward, the head pointing to the south. Two feet above the
  skeleton were two shining black earthen vases, containing small bits
  of charcoal, the bones of mammals, birds, and partially consumed
  corn, and above these “_ollas_” the earth to the surface was filled
  with pieces of charcoal. Doubtless the remains found in the vases
  served at a funeral feast prior to the inhumation. We examined very
  carefully this grave, hoping to find some utensils, ornaments, or
  weapons, but none rewarded our search. In all of the graves examined
  the bodies were found in similar positions and under similar
  circumstances in both arroyas, several of the skeletons being those
  of children. No information could be obtained as to the probable age
  of these interments, the present Indians considering them as dating
  from the time when their ancestors with Moctezuma came from the

The Coyotero Apaches, according to Dr. W. J. Hoffman,[5.12] in disposing
of their dead, seem to be actuated by the desire to spare themselves any
needless trouble, and prepare the defunct and the grave in this manner:

  The Coyoteros, upon the death of a member of the tribe, partially
  wrap up the corpse and deposit it into the cavity left by the
  removal of a small rock or the stump of a tree. After the body has
  been crammed into the smallest possible space the rock or stump is
  again rolled into its former position, when a number of stones are
  placed around the base to keep out the coyotes. The nearest of kin
  usually mourn for the period of one month, during that time giving
  utterance at intervals to the most dismal lamentations, which are
  apparently sincere. During the day this obligation is frequently
  neglected or forgotten, but when the mourner is reminded of his duty
  he renews his howling with evident interest. This custom of mourning
  for the period of thirty days corresponds to that formerly observed
  by the Natchez.

Somewhat similar to this rude mode of sepulture is that described in the
life of Moses Van Campen,[5.13] which relates to the Indians formerly
inhabiting Pennsylvania:

  Directly after, the Indians proceeded to bury those who had fallen
  in battle, which they did by rolling an old log from its place and
  laying the body in the hollow thus made, and then heaping upon it a
  little earth.

As a somewhat curious, if not exceptional, interment, the following
account, relating to the Indians of New York, is furnished, by Mr.
Franklin B. Hough, who has extracted it from an unpublished journal of
the agents of a French company kept in 1794:


  Saw Indian graves on the plateau of Independence Rock. The Indians
  plant a stake on the right side of the head of the deceased and bury
  them in a bark canoe. Their children come every year to bring
  provisions to the place where their fathers are buried. One of the
  graves had fallen in, and we observed in the soil some sticks for
  stretching skins, the remains of a canoe, &c., and the two straps
  for carrying it, and near the place where the head lay were the
  traces of a fire which they had kindled for the soul of the deceased
  to come and warm itself by and to partake of the food deposited
  near it.

  These were probably the Massasauga Indians, then inhabiting the
  north shore of Lake Ontario, but who were rather intruders here, the
  country being claimed by the Oneidas.

It is not to be denied that the use of canoes for coffins has
occasionally been remarked, for the writer in 1873 removed from the
graves at Santa Barbara, California, an entire skeleton which was
discovered in a redwood canoe, but it is thought that the individual may
have been a noted fisherman, particularly as the implements of his
vocation--nets, fish-spears, &c.--were near him, and this burial was
only an exemplification of the well-rooted belief common to all Indians,
that the spirit in the next world makes use of the same articles as were
employed in this one. It should be added that of the many hundreds of
skeletons uncovered at Santa Barbara the one mentioned presented the
only example of the kind.

Among the Indians of the Mosquito coast, in Central America, canoe
burial in the ground, according to Bancroft, was common, and is thus

  The corpse is wrapped in cloth and placed in one-half of a pitpan
  which has been cut in two. Friends assemble for the funeral and
  drown their grief in _mushla_, the women giving vent to their sorrow
  by dashing themselves on the ground until covered with blood, and
  inflicting other tortures, occasionally even committing suicide. As
  it is supposed that the evil spirit seeks to obtain possession of
  the body, musicians are called in to lull it to sleep while
  preparations are made for its removal. All at once four naked men,
  who have disguised themselves with paint so as not to be recognized
  and punished by _Wulasha_, rush out from a neighboring hut, and,
  seizing a rope attached to the canoe, drag it into the woods,
  followed by the music and the crowd. Here the pitpan is lowered into
  the grave with bow, arrow, spear, paddle, and other implements to
  serve the departed in the land beyond, then the other half of the
  boat is placed over the body. A rude hut is constructed over the
  grave, serving as a receptacle for the choice food, drink, and other
  articles placed there from time to time by relatives.


These are of considerable interest, not only from their somewhat rare
occurrence, except in certain localities, but from the manifest care
taken by the survivors to provide for the dead what they considered a
suitable resting place. In their construction they resemble somewhat, in
the care that is taken to prevent the earth touching the corpse, the
class of graves previously described.

A number of cists have been found in Tennessee, and are thus described
by Moses Fiske:[5.14]

  There are many burying grounds in West Tennessee with regular
  graves. They dug them 12 or 18 inches deep, placed slabs at the
  bottom ends and sides, forming a kind of stone coffin, and, after
  laying in the body, covered it over with earth.

It may be added that, in 1873, the writer assisted at the opening of a
number of graves of men of the reindeer period, near Solutré, in France,
and they were almost identical in construction with those described by
Mr. Fiske, with the exception that the latter were deeper, this,
however, may be accounted for if it is considered how great a deposition
of earth may have taken place during the many centuries which have
elapsed since the burial. Many of the graves explored by the writer in
1875, at Santa Barbara, resembled somewhat cist graves, the bottom and
sides of the pit being lined with large flat stones, but there were none
directly over the skeletons.

The next account is by Maj. J. W. Powell, the result of his own
observation in Tennessee.

  The burial places, or cemeteries are exceedingly abundant throughout
  the State. Often hundreds of graves may be found on a single
  hillside. The same people sometimes bury in scattered graves and in
  mounds--the mounds being composed of a large number of cist graves.
  The graves are increased by additions from time to time. The
  additions are sometimes placed above and sometimes at the sides of
  the others. In the first burials there is a tendency to a concentric
  system with the feet towards the center, but subsequent burials are
  more irregular, so that the system is finally abandoned before the
  place is desired for cemetery purposes.

  Some other peculiarities are of interest. A larger number of
  interments exhibit the fact that the bodies were placed there before
  the decay of the flesh, and in many instances collections of bones
  are buried. Sometimes these bones are placed in some order about the
  crania, and sometimes in irregular piles, as if the collection of
  bones had been emptied from a sack. With men, pipes, stone hammers,
  knives, arrowheads, &c., were usually found, with women, pottery,
  rude beads, shells, &c., with children, toys of pottery, beads,
  curious pebbles, &c.

  Sometimes, in the subsequent burials, the side slab of a previous
  burial was used as a portion of the second cist. All of the cists
  were covered with slabs.

Dr. Jones has given an exceedingly interesting account of the stone
graves of Tennessee, in his volume published by the Smithsonian
Institution, to which valuable work[5.15] the reader is referred for a
more detailed account of this mode of burial.

G. K. Gilbert, of the United States Geological Survey, informs the
writer that in 1878 he had a conversation with an old Moquis chief as to
their manner of burial, which is as follows: The body is placed in a
receptacle or cist of stone slabs or wood, in a sitting posture, the
hands near the knees, and clasping a stick (articles are buried with the
dead), and it is supposed that the soul finds its way out of the grave
by climbing up the stick, which is allowed to project above the ground
after the grave is filled in.

The Indians of Illinois, on the Saline River, according to George Escoll
Sellers,[5.16] inclosed their dead in cists, the description of which is
as follows:

  Above this bluff, where the spur rises at an angle of about 30°, it
  has been terraced and the terrace as well as the crown of the spur
  have been used as a cemetery; portions of the terraces are still
  perfect; all the burials appear to have been made in rude stone
  cists, that vary in size from 13 inches by 3 feet to 2 feet by 4
  feet, and from 18 inches to 2 feet deep. They are made of
  thin-bedded sandstone slabs, generally roughly shaped, but some of
  them have been edged and squared with considerable care,
  particularly the covering slabs. The slope below the terraces was
  thickly strewed with these slabs, washed out as the terraces have
  worn away, and which have since been carried off for door-steps and
  hearth-stones. I have opened many of these cists; they nearly all
  contain fragments of human bones far gone in decay, but I have never
  succeeded in securing a perfect skull; even the clay vessels that
  were interred with the dead have disintegrated, the portions
  remaining being almost as soft and fragile as the bones. Some of the
  cists that I explored were paved with valves of fresh-water shells,
  but most generally with the fragments of the great salt-pans, which
  in every case are so far gone in decay as to have lost the outside
  markings. This seems conclusively to couple the tenants of these
  ancient graves with the makers and users of these salt-pans. The
  great number of graves and the quantity of slabs that have been
  washed out prove either a dense population or a long occupancy, or

W. J. Owsley, of Fort Hall, Idaho, furnishes the writer with a
description of the cist graves of Kentucky, which differ somewhat from
other accounts, inasmuch as the graves appeared to be isolated.

  I remember that when a school-boy in Kentucky, some twenty-five
  years ago, of seeing what was called “Indian graves,” and those that
  I examined were close to small streams of water, and were buried in
  a sitting or squatting posture and inclosed by rough, flat stones,
  and were then buried from 1 to 4 feet from the surface. Those graves
  which I examined, which examination was not very minute, seemed to
  be isolated, no two being found in the same locality. When the
  burials took place I could hardly conjecture, but it must have been,
  from appearances, from fifty to one hundred years. The bones that I
  took out on first appearance seemed tolerably perfect, but on short
  exposure to the atmosphere crumbled, and I was unable to save a
  specimen. No implements or relics were observed in those examined by
  me, but I have heard of others who have found such. In that State,
  Kentucky, there are a number of places where the Indians buried
  their dead and left mounds of earth over the graves, but I have not
  examined them myself. * * *

According to Bancroft,[5.17] the Dorachos, an isthmian tribe of Central
America, also followed the cist form of burial.

  In Veragua the Dorachos had two kinds of tombs, one for the
  principal men, constructed with flat stones laid together with much
  care, and in which were placed costly jars and urns filled with food
  and wine for the dead. Those for the plebians were merely trenches,
  in which were deposited some gourds of maize and wine, and the place
  filled with stones. In some parts of Panama and Darien only the
  chiefs and lords received funeral rites. Among the common people a
  person feeling his end approaching either went himself or was led to
  the woods by his wife, family, or friends, who, supplying him with
  some cake or ears of corn and a gourd of water, then left him to die
  alone or to be assisted by wild beasts. Others, with more respect
  for their dead, buried them in sepulchers made with niches, where
  they placed maize and wine and renewed the same annually. With some,
  a mother dying while suckling her infant, the living child was
  placed at her breast and buried with her, in order that in her
  future state she might continue to nourish it with her milk.


In view of the fact that the subject of mound-burial is so extensive,
and that in all probability a volume by a member of the Bureau of
Ethnology may shortly be published, it is not deemed advisable to devote
any considerable space to it in this paper, but a few interesting
examples may be noted to serve as indications to future observers.

The first to which attention is directed is interesting as resembling
cist burial combined with deposition in mounds. The communication is
from Prof. F. W. Putnam, curator of the Peabody Museum of Archæology,
Cambridge, made to the Boston Society of Natural History, and is
published in volume XX of its proceedings, October 15, 1878:

  * * * He then stated that it would be of interest to the members, in
  connection with the discovery of dolmens in Japan, as described by
  Professor Morse, to know that within twenty-four hours there had
  been received at the Peabody Museum a small collection of articles
  taken from rude dolmens (or chambered barrows, as they would be
  called in England), recently opened by Mr. E. Curtiss, who is now
  engaged, under his direction, in exploration for the Peabody Museum.

  These chambered mounds are situated in the eastern part of Clay
  County, Missouri, and form a large group on both sides of the
  Missouri River. The chambers are, in the three opened by Mr.
  Curtiss, about 8 feet square, and from 4½ to 5 feet high, each
  chamber having a passage-way several feet in length and 2 in width,
  leading from the southern side and opening on the edge of the mound
  formed by covering the chamber and passage-way with earth. The walls
  of the chambered passages were about 2 feet thick, vertical, and
  well made of stones, which were evenly laid without clay or mortar
  of any kind. The top of one of the chambers had a covering of large,
  flat rocks, but the others seem to have been closed over with wood.
  The chambers were filled with clay which had been burnt, and
  appeared as if it had fallen in from above. The inside walls of the
  chambers also showed signs of fire. Under the burnt clay, in each
  chamber, were found the remains of several human skeletons, all of
  which had been burnt to such an extent as to leave but small
  fragments of the bones, which were mixed with the ashes and
  charcoal. Mr. Curtiss thought that in one chamber he found the
  remains of 5 skeletons and in another 13. With these skeletons there
  were a few flint implements and minute fragments of vessels of clay.

  A large mound near the chambered mounds was also opened, but in this
  no chambers were found. Neither had the bodies been burnt. This
  mound proved remarkably rich in large flint implements, and also
  contained well-made pottery and a peculiar “gorget” of red stone.
  The connection of the people who placed the ashes of their dead in
  the stone chambers with those who buried their dead in the earth
  mounds is, of course, yet to be determined.

It is quite possible, indeed probable, that these chambers were used for
secondary burials, the bodies having first been cremated.

In the volume of the proceedings already quoted, the same investigator
gives an account of other chambered mounds which are, like the
preceding, very interesting, the more so as adults only were inhumed
therein, children having been buried beneath the dwelling-floors:

  Mr. F. W. Putnam occupied the rest of the evening with an account of
  his explorations of the ancient mounds and burial places in the
  Cumberland Valley, Tennessee.

  The excavations had been carried on by himself, assisted by Mr.
  Edwin Curtiss, for over two years, for the benefit of the Peabody
  Museum at Cambridge. During this time many mounds of various kinds
  had been thoroughly explored, and several thousand of the singular
  stone graves of the mound builders of Tennessee had been carefully
  opened. * * * Mr. Putnam’s remarks were illustrated by drawings of
  several hundred objects obtained from the graves and mounds,
  particularly to show the great variety of articles of pottery and
  several large and many unique forms of implements of chipped flint.
  He also exhibited and explained in detail a map of a walled town of
  this old nation. This town was situated on the Lundsley estate, in a
  bend of Spring Creek. The earth embankment, with its accompanying
  ditch, encircled an area of about 12 acres. Within this inclosure
  there was one large mound with a flat top, 15 feet high, 130 feet
  long, and 90 feet wide, which was found not to be a burial mound.
  Another mound near the large one, about 50 feet in diameter, and
  only a few feet high, contained 60 human skeletons, each in a
  carefully-made stone grave, the graves being arranged in two rows,
  forming the four sides of a square, and in three layers. * * * The
  most important discovery he made within the inclosure was that of
  finding the remains of the houses of the people who lived in this
  old town. Of them about 70 were traced out and located on the map by
  Professor Buchanan, of Lebanon, who made the survey for Mr. Putnam.
  Under the floors of hard clay, which was in places much burnt, Mr.
  Putnam found the graves of children. As only the bodies of adults
  had been placed in the one mound devoted to burial, and as nearly
  every site of a house he explored had from one to four graves of
  children under the clay floor, he was convinced that it was a
  regular custom to bury the children in that way. He also found that
  the children had undoubtedly been treated with affection, as in
  their small graves were found many of the best pieces of pottery he
  obtained, and also quantities of shell-beads, several large pearls,
  and many other objects which were probably the playthings of the
  little ones while living.[5.18]

This cist mode of burial is by no means uncommon in Tennessee, as it is
frequently mentioned by writers on North American archæology.

The examples which follow are specially characteristic, some of them
serving to add strength to the theory that mounds were for the most part
used for secondary burial, although intrusions were doubtless common.

Caleb Atwater[5.19] gives this description of the


  Near the center of the round fort * * * was a tumulus of earth about
  10 feet in height and several rods in diameter at its base. On its
  eastern side, and extending 6 rods from it, was a semicircular
  pavement composed of pebbles such as are now found in the bed of the
  Scioto River, from whence they appear to have been brought. The
  summit of this tumulus was nearly 30 feet in diameter, and there was
  a raised way to it, leading from the east, like a modern turnpike.
  The summit was level. The outline of the semicircular pavement and
  the walk is still discernible. The earth composing this mound was
  entirely removed several years since. The writer was present at its
  removal and carefully examined the contents. It contained--

  1st. Two human skeletons, lying on what had been the original
  surface of the earth.

  2d. A great quantity of arrow-heads, some of which were so large as
  to induce a belief that they were used as spear-heads.

  3d. The handle either of a small sword or a huge knife, made of an
  elk’s horn. Around the end where the blade had been inserted was a
  ferule of silver, which, though black, was not much injured by time.
  Though the handle showed the hole where the blade had been inserted,
  yet no iron was found, but an oxyde remained of similar shape and

  4th. Charcoal and wood ashes on which these articles lay, which were
  surrounded by several bricks very well burnt. The skeleton appeared
  to have been burned in a large and very hot fire, which had almost
  consumed the bones of the deceased. This skeleton was deposited a
  little to the south of the center of the tumulus; and about 20 feet
  to the north of it was another, with which were--

  5th. A large mirrour about 3 feet in breadth and 1½ inches in
  thickness. This mirrour was of isinglass (_mica membranacea_), and
  on it--

  6th. A plate of iron which had become an oxyde, but before it was
  disturbed by the spade resembled a plate of cast iron. The mirrour
  answered the purpose very well for which it was intended. This
  skeleton had also been burned like the former, and lay on charcoal
  and a considerable quantity of wood ashes. A part of the mirrour is
  in my possession, as well as a piece of brick taken from the spot at
  the time. The knife or sword handle was sent to Mr. Peal’s Museum,
  at Philadelphia.

  To the southwest of this tumulus, about 40 rods from it, is another,
  more than 90 feet in height, which is shown on the plate
  representing these works. It stands on a large hill, which appears
  to be artificial. This must have been the common cemetery, as it
  contains an immense number of human skeletons of all sizes and ages.
  The skeletons are laid horizontally, with their heads generally
  towards the center and the feet towards the outside of the tumulus.
  A considerable part of this work still stands uninjured, except by
  time. In it have been found, besides these skeletons, stone axes and
  knives, and several ornaments, with holes through them, by means of
  which, with a cord passing through these perforations, they could be
  worn by their owners. On the south side of this tumulus, and not far
  from it, was a semicircular fosse, which, when I first saw it, was 6
  feet deep. On opening it was discovered at the bottom a great
  quantity of human bones, which I am inclined to believe were the
  remains of those who had been slain in some great and destructive
  battle: first, because they belonged to persons who had attained
  their full size, whereas in the mound adjoining were found the
  skeletons of persons of all ages; and, secondly, they were here in
  the utmost confusion, as if buried in a hurry. May we not conjecture
  that they belonged to the people who resided in the town, and who
  were victorious in the engagement? Otherwise they would not have
  been thus honorably buried in the common cemetery.

  _Chillicothe mound._--Its perpendicular height was about 15 feet,
  and the diameter of its base about 60 feet. It was composed of sand
  and contained human bones belonging to skeletons which were buried
  in different parts of it. It was not until this pile of earth was
  removed and the original surface exposed to view that a probable
  conjecture of its original design could be formed. About 20 feet
  square of the surface had been leveled and covered with bark. On the
  center of this lay a human skeleton, over which had been spread a
  mat manufactured either from weeds or bark. On the breast lay what
  had been a piece of copper, in the form of a cross, which had now
  become verdigris. On the breast also lay a stone ornament with two
  perforations, one near each end, through which passed a string, by
  means of which it was suspended around the wearer’s neck. On this
  string, which was made of sinews, and very much injured by time,
  were placed a great many beads made of ivory or bone, for I cannot
  certainly say which. * * *

  _Mounds of stone._--Two such mounds have been described already in
  the county of Perry. Others have been found in various parts of the
  country. There is one at least in the vicinity of Licking River, not
  many miles from Newark. There is another on a branch of Hargus’s
  Creek, a few miles to the northeast of Circleville. There were
  several not very far from the town of Chillicothe. If these mounds
  were sometimes used as cemeteries of distinguished persons, they
  were also used as monuments with a view of perpetuating the
  recollection of some great transaction or event. In the former not
  more generally than one or two skeletons are found; in the latter
  none. These mounds are like those of earth, in form of a cone,
  composed of small stones on which no marks of tools were visible. In
  them some of the most interesting articles are found, such as urns,
  ornaments of copper, heads of spears, &c., of the same metal, as
  well as medals of copper and pickaxes of horneblende; * * * works of
  this class, compared with those of earth, are few, and they are none
  of them as large as the mounds at Grave Creek, in the town of
  Circleville, which belong to the first class. I saw one of these
  stone tumuli which had been piled on the surface of the earth on the
  spot where three skeletons had been buried in stone coffins, beneath
  the surface. It was situated on the western edge of the hill on
  which the “walled town” stood, on Paint Creek. The graves appear to
  have been dug to about the depth of ours in the present times. After
  the bottom and sides were lined with thin flat stones, the corpses
  were placed in these graves in an eastern and western direction, and
  large flat stones were laid over the graves; then the earth which
  had been dug out of the graves was thrown over them. A huge pile of
  stones was placed over the whole. It is quite probable, however,
  that this was a work of our present race of Indians. Such graves are
  more common in Kentucky than Ohio. No article, except the skeletons,
  was found in these graves; and the skeletons resembled very much the
  present race of Indians.

The mounds of Sterling County, Illinois, are described by W. C.
Holbrook[5.20] as follows:

  I recently made an examination of a few of the many Indian mounds
  found on Rock River, about two miles above Sterling, Ill. The first
  one opened was an oval mound about 20 feet long, 12 feet wide, and
  7 feet high. In the interior of this I found a _dolmen_ or
  quadrilateral wall about 10 feet long, 4 feet high, and 4½ feet
  wide. It had been built of lime-rock from a quarry near by, and was
  covered with large flat stones. No mortar or cement had been used.
  The whole structure rested on the surface of the natural soil, the
  interior of which had been scooped out to enlarge the chamber.
  Inside of the _dolmen_ I found the partly decayed remains of eight
  human skeletons, two very large teeth of an unknown animal, two
  fossils, one of which is not found in this place, and a plummet. One
  of the long bones had been splintered; the fragments had united, but
  there remained large morbid growths of bone (exostosis) in several
  places. One of the skulls presented a circular opening about the
  size of a silver dime. This perforation had been made during life,
  for the edges had commenced to cicatrize. I later examined three
  circular mounds, but in them I found no dolmens. The first mound
  contained three adult human skeletons, a few fragments of the
  skeleton of a child, the lower maxillary of which indicated it to be
  about six years old. I also found claws of some carnivorous animal.
  The surface of the soil had been scooped out and the bodies laid in
  the excavation and covered with about a foot of earth; fires had
  then been made upon the grave and the mound afterwards completed.
  The bones had not been charred. No charcoal was found among the
  bones, but occurred in abundance in a stratum about one foot above
  them. Two other mounds, examined at the same time, contain no

  Of two other mounds, opened later, the first was circular, about 4
  feet high, and 15 feet in diameter at the base, and was situated on
  an elevated point of land close to the bank of the river. From the
  top of this mound one might view the country for many miles in
  almost any direction. On its summit was an oval altar 6 feet long
  and 4½ wide. It was composed of flat pieces of limestone, which
  had been burned red, some portions having been almost converted into
  lime. On and about this altar I found abundance of charcoal. At the
  sides of the altar were fragments of human bones, some of which had
  been charred. It was covered by a natural growth of vegetable mold
  and sod, the thickness of which was about 10 inches. Large trees had
  once grown in this vegetable mold, but their stumps were so decayed
  I could not tell with certainty; to what species they belonged.
  Another large mound was opened which contained nothing.

The next account relates to the grave-mounds near Pensacola, Fla., and
was originally published by Dr. George M. Sternberg, surgeon United
States Army:[5.21]

  Before visiting the mound I was informed that the Indians were
  buried in it in an upright position, each one with a clay pot on his
  head. This idea was based upon some superficial explorations which
  had been made from time to time by curiosity hunters. Their
  excavations had, indeed, brought to light pots containing fragments
  of skulls, but not buried in the position they imagined. Very
  extensive explorations, made at different times by myself, have
  shown that only fragments of skulls and of the long bones of the
  body are to be found in the mound, and that these are commonly
  associated with earthen pots, sometimes whole, but more frequently
  broken fragments only. In some instances portions of the skull were
  placed in a pot, and the long bones were deposited in its immediate
  vicinity. Again, the pots would contain only sand, and fragments of
  bones would be found near them. The most successful “find” I made
  was a whole nest of pots, to the number of half a dozen, all in a
  good state of preservation, and buried with a fragment of skull,
  which I take, from its small size, to have been that of a female.
  Whether this female was thus distinguished above all others buried
  in the mound by the number of pots deposited with her remains
  because of her skill in the manufacture of such ware, or by reason
  of the unusual wealth of her sorrowing husband, must remain a matter
  of conjecture. I found, altogether, fragments of skulls and
  thigh-bones belonging to at least fifty individuals, but in no
  instance did I find anything like a complete skeleton. There were no
  vertebræ, no ribs, no pelvic bones, and none of the small bones of
  the hands and feet. Two or three skulls, nearly perfect, were found,
  but they were so fragile that it was impossible to preserve them. In
  the majority of instances, only fragments of the frontal and
  parietal bones were found, buried in pots or in fragments of pots
  too small to have ever contained a complete skull. The conclusion
  was irresistible that this was not a burial-place for _the bodies_
  of deceased Indians, but that the bones had been gathered from some
  other locality for burial in this mound, or that cremation was
  practiced before burial, and the fragments of bone not consumed by
  fire were gathered and deposited in the mound. That the latter
  supposition is the correct one I deem probable from the fact that in
  digging in the mound evidences of fire are found in numerous places,
  but without any regularity as to depth and position. These evidences
  consist in strata of from one to four inches in thickness, in which
  the sand is of a dark color and has mixed with it numerous small
  fragments of charcoal.

  My theory is that the mound was built by gradual accretion in the
  following manner: That when a death occurred a funeral pyre was
  erected on the mound, upon which the body was placed. That after the
  body was consumed, any fragments of bones remaining were gathered,
  placed in a pot, and buried, and that the ashes and cinders were
  covered by a layer of sand brought from the immediate vicinity for
  that purpose. This view is further supported by the fact that only
  the shafts of the long bones are found, the expanded extremities,
  which would be most easily consumed, having disappeared; also, by
  the fact that no bones of children were found. Their bones being
  smaller, and containing a less proportion of earthy matter, would be
  entirely consumed. * * *

  At the Santa Rosa mound the method of burial was different. Here I
  found the skeletons complete, and obtained nine well-preserved
  skulls. * * * The bodies were not, apparently, deposited upon any
  regular system, and I found no objects of interest associated with
  the remains. It may be that this was due to the fact that the
  skeletons found were those of warriors who had fallen in battle in
  which they had sustained defeat. This view is supported by the fact
  that they were all males, and that two of the skulls bore marks of
  ante-mortem injuries which must have been of a fatal character.

Writing of the Choctaws, Bartram,[5.22] in alluding to the ossuary, or
bone-house, mentions that so soon as this is filled a general inhumation
takes place, in this manner:

  Then the respective coffins are borne by the nearest relatives of
  the deceased to the place of interment, where they are all piled one
  upon another in the form of a pyramid, and the conical hill of earth
  heaped above.

  The funeral ceremonies are concluded with the solemnization of a
  festival called the feast of the dead.

Florian Gianque, of Cincinnati, Ohio, furnishes an account of a somewhat
curious mound-burial which had taken place in the Miami Valley of Ohio:

  A mound was opened in this locality, some years ago, containing a
  central corpse in a sitting posture, and over thirty skeletons
  buried around it in a circle, also in a sitting posture, but leaning
  against one another, tipped over towards the right, facing inwards.
  I did not see this opened, but have seen the mounds and many
  ornaments, awls, &c., said to have been found near the central body.
  The parties informing me are trustworthy.

As an example of interment, unique, so far as known, and interesting as
being _sui generis_, the following description by Dr. J. Mason
Spainhour, of Lenoir, N.C., of an excavation made by him March 11,
1871, on the farm of R. V. Michaux, esq., near John’s River, in Burke
County, N.C., is given. The author bears the reputation of an observer
of undoubted integrity, whose facts as given may not be doubted:


  In a conversation with Mr. Michaux on Indian curiosities, he
  informed me that there was an Indian mound on his farm which was
  formerly of considerable height, but had gradually been plowed down;
  that several mounds in the neighborhood had been excavated, and
  nothing of interest found in them. I asked permission to examine
  this mound, which was granted, and upon investigation the following
  facts were revealed:

  Upon reaching the place, I sharpened a stick 4 or 5 feet in length
  and ran it down in the earth at several places, and finally struck a
  rock about 18 inches below the surface, which, on digging down, was
  found to be smooth on top, lying horizontally upon solid earth,
  about 18 inches above the bottom of the grave, 18 inches in length,
  and 16 inches in width, and from 2 to 3 inches in thickness, with
  the corners rounded.

  Not finding anything under this rock, I then made an excavation in
  the south of the grave, and soon struck another rock, which, upon
  examination, proved to be in front of the remains of a human
  skeleton in a sitting posture. The bones of the fingers of the right
  hand were resting on this rock, and on the rock near the hand was a
  small stone about 5 inches long, resembling a tomahawk or Indian
  hatchet. Upon a further examination many of the bones were found,
  though in a very decomposed condition, and upon exposure to the air
  soon crumbled to pieces. The heads of the bones, a considerable
  portion of the skull, maxillary bones, teeth, neck bones, and the
  vertebra, were in their proper places, though the weight of the
  earth above them had driven them down, yet the entire frame was so
  perfect that it was an easy matter to trace all the bones; the bones
  of the cranium were slightly inclined toward the east. Around the
  neck were found coarse beads that seemed to be of some hard
  substance and resembled chalk. A small lump of red paint about the
  size of an egg was found near the right side of this skeleton. The
  sutures of the cranium indicated the subject to have been 25 or 28
  years of age, and its top rested about 12 inches below the mark of
  the plow.

  I made a farther excavation toward the west of this grave and found
  another skeleton, similar to the first, in a sitting posture, facing
  the east. A rock was on the right, on which the bones of the right
  hand were resting, and on this rock was a tomahawk which had been
  about 7 inches in length, but was broken into two pieces, and was
  much better finished than the first. Beads were also around the neck
  of this one, but were much smaller and of finer quality than those
  on the neck of the first. The material, however, seems to be the
  same. A much larger amount of paint was found by the side of this
  than the first. The bones indicated a person of large frame, who,
  I think, was about 50 years of age. Everything about this one had
  the appearance of superiority over the first. The top of the skull
  was about 6 inches below the mark of the plane.

  I continued the examination, and, after diligent search, found
  nothing at the north side of the grave; but, on reaching the east,
  found another skeleton, in the same posture as the others, facing
  the west. On the right side of this was a rock on which the bones of
  the right hand were resting, and on the rock was also a tomahawk,
  which had been about 8 inches in length, but was broken into _three_
  pieces, and was composed of much better material, and better
  finished than the others. Beads were also found on the neck of this,
  but much smaller and finer than those of the others. A larger amount
  of paint than both of the others was found near this one. The top of
  the cranium had been moved by the plow. The bones indicated a person
  of 40 years of age.

  There was no appearance of hair discovered; besides, the smaller
  bones were almost entirely decomposed, and would crumble when taken
  from their bed in the earth. These two circumstances, coupled with
  the fact that the farm on which this grave was found was the first
  settled in that part of the country, the date of the first deed made
  from Lord Granville to John Perkins running back about 150 years
  (the land still belonging to the descendants of the same family that
  first occupied it), would prove beyond doubt that it is a very old

  The grave was situated due east and west, in size about 9 by 6 feet,
  the line being distinctly marked by the difference in the color of
  the soil. It was dug in rich, black loam, and filled around the
  bodies with white or yellow sand, which I suppose was carried from
  the river-bank, 200 yards distant. The skeletons approximated the
  walls of the grave, and contiguous to them was a dark-colored earth,
  and so decidedly different was this from all surrounding it, both in
  quality and odor, that the line of the bodies could be readily
  traced. The odor of this decomposed earth, which had been flesh, was
  similar to clotted blood, and would adhere in lumps when compressed
  in the hand.

  This was not the grave of the Indian warriors; in those we find pots
  made of earth or stone, and all the implements of war, for the
  warrior had an idea that after he arose from the dead he would need,
  in the “hunting-grounds beyond,” his bow and arrow, war-hatchet, and

  The facts set forth will doubtless convince every Mason who will
  carefully read the account of this remarkable burial that the
  American Indians were in possession of at least some of the
  mysteries of our order, and that it was evidently the grave of
  Masons, and the three highest officers in a Masonic lodge. The grave
  was situated due east and west; an altar was erected in the center;
  the south, west, and east were occupied--_the north was not_;
  implements of authority were near each body. The difference in the
  quality of the beads, the tomahawks in one, two, and three pieces,
  and the difference in distance that the bodies were placed from the
  surface, indicate beyond doubt that these three persons had been
  buried by Masons, and those, too, that understood what they were

  Will some learned Mason unravel this mystery and inform the Masonic
  world how the Indians obtained so much Masonic information?

  The tomahawks, maxillary bones, some of the teeth, beads, and other
  bones, have been forwarded to the Smithsonian Institution at
  Washington, D.C., to be placed among the archives of that
  institution for exhibition, at which place they may be seen.

Should Dr. Spainhour’s inferences be incorrect, there is still a
remarkable coincidence of circumstances patent to every Mason.

In support of this gentleman’s views, attention is called to the
description of the _Midawan_--a ceremony of initiation for would-be
medicine men--in Schoolcraft’s History of the Indian Tribes of the
United States, 1855, p. 428, relating to the Sioux and Chippewas. In
this account are found certain forms and resemblances which have led
some to believe that the Indians possessed a knowledge of Masonry.


While there is a certain degree of similitude between the above-noted
methods and the one to be mentioned subsequently--_lodge_ burial--they
differ, inasmuch as the latter are examples of surface or aerial burial,
and must consequently fall under another caption. The narratives which
are now to be given afford a clear idea of the former kinds of burial.

Bartram[5.23] relates the following regarding the Muscogulges of the

  The Muscogulges bury their deceased in the earth; they dig a
  four-foot, square, deep pit under the cabin, or couch which the
  deceased laid on in his house, lining the grave with cypress bark,
  when they place the corpse in a sitting posture, as if it were
  alive, depositing with him his gun, tomahawk, pipe, and such other
  matters as he had the greatest value for in his lifetime. His oldest
  wife, or the queen dowager, has the second choice of his
  possessions, and the remaining effects are divided among his other
  wives and children.

According to Bernard Roman,[5.24] the “funeral customs of the Chickasaws
did not differ materially from those of the Muscogulges. They interred
the dead as soon as the breath left the body, and beneath the couch in
which the deceased expired.”

The Navajos of New Mexico and Arizona, a tribe living a considerable
distance from the Chickasaws, follow somewhat similar customs, as
related by Dr. John Menard, formerly a physician to their agency:

  The Navajo custom is to leave the body where it dies, closing up the
  house or hogan or covering the body with stones or brush. In case
  the body is removed, it is taken to a cleft in the rocks and thrown
  in, and stones piled over. The person touching or carrying the body
  first takes off all his clothes and afterwards washes his body with
  water before putting them on or mingling with the living. When a
  body is removed from a house or hogan, the hogan is burned down, and
  the place in every case abandoned, as the belief is that the devil
  comes to the place of death and remains where a dead body is. Wild
  animals frequently (indeed, generally) get the bodies, and it is a
  very easy matter to pick up skulls and bones around old camping
  grounds, or where the dead are laid. In case it is not desirable to
  abandon a place, the sick person is left out in some lone spot
  protected by brush, where they are either abandoned to their fate or
  food brought to them until they die. This is done only when all hope
  is gone. I have found bodies thus left so well inclosed with brush
  that wild animals were unable to get at them; and one so left to die
  was revived by a cup of coffee from our house and is still living
  and well.

Lieut. George E. Ford, Third United States Cavalry, in a personal
communication to the writer, corroborates the account given by Dr.
Menard, as follows:

  This tribe, numbering about 8,000 souls, occupy a reservation in the
  extreme northwestern corner of New Mexico and Northeastern Arizona.
  The funeral ceremonies of the Navajos are of the most simple
  character. They ascribe the death of an individual to the direct
  action of _Chinde_, or the devil, and believe that he remains in the
  vicinity of the dead. For this reason, as soon as a member of the
  tribe dies a shallow grave is dug within the hogan or dwelling by
  one of the near male relatives, and into this the corpse is
  unceremoniously tumbled by the relatives, who have previously
  protected themselves from the evil influence by smearing their naked
  bodies with tar from the piñon tree. After the body has thus been
  disposed of, the hogan (composed of logs and branches of trees
  covered with earth) is pulled down over it and the place deserted.
  Should the deceased have no near relatives or was of no importance
  in the tribe, the formality of digging a grave is dispensed with,
  the hogan being simply leveled over the body. This carelessness does
  not appear to arise from want of natural affection for the dead, but
  fear of the evil influence of _Chinde_ upon the surviving relatives
  causes them to avoid doing anything that might gain for them his
  ill-will. A Navajo would freeze sooner than make a fire of the logs
  of a fallen hogan, even though from all appearances it may have been
  years in that condition. There are no mourning observances other
  than smearing the forehead and under the eyes with tar, which is
  allowed to remain until worn off, and then not renewed. The deceased
  is apparently forgotten, as his name is never spoken by the
  survivors for fear of giving offense to _Chinde_.

J. L. Burchard, agent to the Round Valley Indians, of California,
furnishes an account of burial somewhat resembling that of the Navajos:

  When I first came here the Indians would dig a round hole in the
  ground, draw up the knees of the deceased Indian, and wrap the body
  into as small a bulk as possible in blankets, tie them firmly with
  cords, place them in the grave, throw in beads, baskets, clothing,
  everything owned by the deceased, and often donating much extra; all
  gathered around the grave wailing most pitifully, tearing their
  faces with their nails till the blood would run down their cheeks,
  pull out their hair, and such other heathenish conduct. These
  burials were generally made under their thatch houses or very near
  thereto. The house where one died was always torn down, removed,
  rebuilt, or abandoned. The wailing, talks, &c., were in their own
  jargon; none else could understand, and they seemingly knew but
  little of its meaning (if there was any meaning in it); it simply
  seemed to be the promptings of grief, without sufficient
  intelligence to direct any ceremony; each seemed to act out his own

The next account, taken from M. Butel de Dumont,[5.25] relating to the
Paskagoulas and Billoxis of Louisiana, may be considered as an example
of burial in houses, although the author of the work was pleased to
consider the receptacles as temples.

  Les Paskagoulas et les Billoxis n’enterent point leur Chef,
  lorsqu’il est décédé; mais-ils font sécher son cadavre au feu et à
  la fumée de façon qu’ils en font un vrai squelette. Après l’avoir
  réduit en cet état, ils le portent au Temple (car ils en ont un
  ainsi que les Natchez), et le mettent à la place de son
  prédécesseur, qu’ils tirent de l’endroit qu’il occupoit, pour le
  porter avec les corps de leurs autres Chefs dans le fond du Temple
  où ils sont tous rangés de suite dressés sur leurs pieds comme des
  statues. A l’égard du dernier mort, il est exposé à l’entrée de ce
  Temple sur une espèce d’autel ou de table faite de cannes, et
  couverte d’une natte très-fine travaillée fort proprement en
  quarreaux rouges et jaunes avec la peau de ces mêmes cannes. Le
  cadavre du Chef est exposé au milieu de cette table droit sur ses
  pieds, soutenu par derrière par une longue perche peinte en rouge
  dont le bout passe au dessus de sa tête, et à laquelle il est
  attaché par le milieu du corps avec une liane. D’une main il tient
  un casse-tête ou une petite hache, de l’autre un pipe; et au-dessus
  de sa tête, est attaché au bout de la perche qui le soutient, le
  Calumet le plus fameux de tous ceux qui lui ont été présentés
  pendant sa vie. Du reste cette table n’est guères élevée de terre
  que d’un demi-pied; mais elle a au moins six pieds de large et dix
  de longueur.

  C’est sur cette table qu’on vient tous les jours servir à manger à
  ce Chef mort en mettant devant lui des plats de sagamité, du bled
  grolé ou boucané, &c. C’est-là aussi qu’au commencement de toutes
  les récoltes ses Sujets vont lui offrir les premiers de tous les
  fruits qu’ils peuvent recueillir. Tout ce qui lui est présenté de la
  sorte reste sur cette table; et comme la porte de ce Temple est
  toujours ouverte, qu’il n’y a personne préposé pour y veiller, que
  par conséquent y entre qui veut, et que d’ailleurs il est éloigné du
  Village d’un grand quart de lieue, il arrive que ce sont
  ordinairement des Etrangers, Chasseurs ou Sauvages, qui profitent de
  ces mets et de ces fruits, ou qu’ils sont consommés par les animaux.
  Mais cela est égal à ces sauvages; et moins il en reste lorsqu’ils
  retournent le lendemain, plus ils sont dans la joie, disant que leur
  Chef a bien mangé, et que par conséquent il est content d’eux
  quoiqu’il les ait abandonnés. Pour leur ouvrir les yeux sur
  l’extravagance de cette pratique, on a beau leur représenter ce
  qu’ils ne peuvent s’empêcher de voir eux-mêmes, que ce n’est point
  ce mort qui mange; ils répondent que si ce n’est pas lui, c’est
  toujours lui au moins qui offre à qui il lui plaît ce qui a été mis
  sur la table; qu’après tout c’étoit là la pratique de leur père, de
  leur mère, de leurs parens; qu’ils n’ont pas plus d’esprit qu’eux,
  et qu’ils ne sauroient mieux faire que de suivre leur example.

  C’est aussi devant cette table, que pendant quelques mois la veuve
  du Chef, ses enfans, ses plus proches parens, viennent de tems en
  tems lui rendre visite et lui faire leur harangue, comme s’il étoit
  en état de les entendre. Les uns lui demandent pourquoi il s’est
  laissé mourir avant eux? d’autres lui disent que s’il est mort ce
  n’est point leur faute; que c’est lui même qui s’est tué par telle
  débauche on par tel effort; enfin s’il y a eu quelque défaut dans
  son gouvernement, on prend ce tems-là pour le lui reprocher.
  Cependant ils finissent toujours leur harangue, en lui disant de
  n’être pas fâché contre eux, de bien manger, et qu’ils auront
  toujours bien soin de lui.

Another example of burial in houses may be found in vol. vi of the
publications of the Hakluyt Society, 1849, p. 89, taken from Strachey’s
Virginia. It is given more as a curious narrative of an early writer on
American ethnology than for any intrinsic value it may possess as a
truthful relation of actual events. It relates to the Indians of

  Within the chauncell of the temple, by the Okens, are the
  cenotaphies or the monuments of their kings, whose bodyes, so soon
  as they be dead, they embowell, and, scraping the flesh from off the
  bones, they dry the same upon hurdells into ashes, which they put
  into little potts (like the anncyent urnes): the annathomy of the
  bones they bind together or case up in leather, hanging braceletts,
  or chaines of copper, beads, pearle, or such like, as they used to
  wear about most of their joints and neck, and so repose the body
  upon a little scaffold (as upon a tomb), laying by the dead bodies’
  feet all his riches in severall basketts, his apook, and pipe, and
  any one toy, which in his life he held most deare in his fancy;
  their inwards they stuff with pearle, copper, beads, and such trash,
  sowed in a skynne, which they overlapp againe very carefully in whit
  skynnes one or two, and the bodyes thus dressed lastly they rowle in
  matte, as for wynding sheets, and so lay them orderly one by one, as
  they dye in their turnes, upon an arche standing (as aforesaid) for
  the tomb, and thes are all the ceremonies we yet can learne that
  they give unto their dead. We heare of no sweet oyles or oyntments
  that they use to dresse or chest their dead bodies with; albeit they
  want not of the pretious rozzin running out of the great cedar,
  wherewith in the old time they used to embalme dead bodies, washing
  them in the oyle and licoure thereof. Only to the priests the care
  of these temples and holy interments are committed, and these
  temples are to them as solitary Asseteria colledged or ministers to
  exercise themselves in contemplation, for they are seldome out of
  them, and therefore often lye in them and maynteyne contynuall fier
  in the same, upon a hearth somewhat neere the east end.

  For their ordinary burialls they digg a deepe hole in the earth with
  sharpe stakes, and the corps being lapped in skynns and matts with
  their jewells, they laye uppon sticks in the ground, and soe cover
  them with earth; the buryall ended, the women (being painted all
  their faces with black coale and oyle) do sitt twenty-four howers in
  their howses, mourning and lamenting by turnes, with such yelling
  and howling as may expresse their great passions.

While this description brings the subject under the head before
given--house burial--at the same time it might also afford an example of
embalmment or mummifying.

Figure 1 may be referred to as a probable representation of the temple
or charnel-house described.

The modes of burial described in the foregoing accounts are not to be
considered rare; for among certain tribes in Africa similar practices
prevailed. For instance, the Bari of Central Africa, according to the
Rev. J. G. Wood,[5.26] bury their dead within the inclosure of the
home-stead, fix a pole in the ground, and fasten to it certain emblems.
The Apingi, according to the same author, permit the corpse to remain in
its dwelling until it falls to pieces. The bones are then collected and
deposited on the ground a short distance from the village. The Latookas
bury within the inclosure of a man’s house, although the bones are
subsequently removed, placed in an earthen jar, and deposited outside
the village. The Kaffirs bury their head-men within the cattle
inclosure, the graves of the common people being made outside, and the
Bechuanas follow the same general plan.

The following description of Damara burial, from the work quoted above
(p. 314), is added as containing an account of certain details which
resemble somewhat those followed by North American Indians. In the
narrative it will be seen that house burial was followed only if
specially desired by the expiring person:

  When a Damara chief dies, he is buried in rather a peculiar fashion.
  As soon as life is extinct--some say even before the last breath is
  drawn--the bystanders break the spine by a blow from a large stone.
  They then unwind the long rope that encircles the loins, and lash
  the body together in a sitting posture, the head being bent over the
  knees. Ox-hides are then tied over it, and it is buried with its
  face to the north, as already described when treating of the
  Bechuanas. Cattle are then slaughtered in honor of the dead chief,
  and over the grave a post is erected, to which the skulls and hair
  are attached as a trophy. The bow, arrows, assagai, and clubs of the
  deceased are hung on the same post. Large stones are pressed into
  the soil above and around the grave, and a large pile of thorns is
  also heaped over it, in order to keep off the hyenas, who would be
  sure to dig up and devour the body before the following day. The
  grave of a Damara chief is represented on page 302. Now and then a
  chief orders that his body shall be left in his own house, in which
  case it is laid on an elevated platform, and a strong fence of
  thorns and stakes built round the hut.

  The funeral ceremonies being completed, the new chief forsakes the
  place and takes the whole of the people under his command. He
  remains at a distance for several years, during which time he wears
  the sign of mourning, _i.e._, a dark-colored conical cap, and round
  the neck a thong, to the ends of which are hung two small pieces of
  ostrich-shell. When the season of mourning is over, the tribe
  return, headed by the chief, who goes to the grave of his father,
  kneels over it, and whispers that he has returned, together with the
  cattle and wives which his father gave him. He then asks for his
  parent’s aid in all his undertakings, and from that moment takes the
  place which his father filled before him. Cattle are then
  slaughtered, and a feast held to the memory of the dead chief and in
  honor of the living one, and each person present partakes of the
  meat, which is distributed by the chief himself. The deceased chief
  symbolically partakes of the banquet. A couple of twigs cut from the
  tree of the particular eanda to which the deceased belonged are
  considered as his representative, and with this emblem each piece of
  meat is touched before the guests consume it. In like manner, the
  first pail of milk that is drawn is taken to the grave and poured
  over it.


Natural or artificial holes in the ground, caverns, and fissures in
rocks have been used as places of deposit for the dead since the
earliest periods of time, and are used up to the present day by not only
the American Indians, but by peoples noted for their mental elevation
and civilization, our cemeteries furnishing numerous specimens of
artificial or partly artificial caves. As to the motives which have
actuated this mode of burial, a discussion would be out of place at this
time, except as may incidentally relate to our own Indians, who, so far
as can be ascertained, simply adopt caves as ready and convenient
resting places for their deceased relatives and friends.

In almost every State in the Union burial caves have been discovered,
but as there is more or less of identity between them, a few
illustrations will serve the purpose of calling the attention of
observers to the subject.

While in the Territory of Utah, in 1872, the writer discovered a natural
cave not far from the House Range of mountains, the entrance to which
resembled the shaft of a mine. In this the Gosi-Ute Indians had
deposited their dead, surrounded with different articles, until it was
quite filled up; at least it so appeared from the cursory examination
made, limited time preventing a careful exploration. In the fall of the
same year another cave was heard of, from an Indian guide, near the
Nevada border, in the same Territory, and an attempt made to explore it,
which failed for reasons to be subsequently given. This Indian,
a Gosi-Ute, who was questioned regarding the funeral ceremonies of his
tribe, informed the writer that not far from the very spot where the
party were encamped, was a large cave in which he had himself assisted
in placing dead members of his tribe. He described it in detail and drew
a rough diagram of its position and appearance within. He was asked if
an entrance could be effected, and replied that he thought not, as some
years previous his people had stopped up the narrow entrance to prevent
game from seeking a refuge in its vast vaults, for he asserted that it
was so large and extended so far under ground that no man knew its full
extent. In consideration, however, of a very liberal bribe, after many
refusals, he agreed to act as guide. A rough ride of over an hour and
the desired spot was reached. It was found to be almost upon the apex of
a small mountain apparently of volcanic origin, for the hole which was
pointed out appeared to have been the vent of the crater. This entrance
was irregularly circular in form and descended at an angle. As the
Indian had stated, it was completely stopped up with large stones and
roots of sage brash, and it was only after six hours of uninterrupted,
faithful labor that the attempt to explore was abandoned. The guide was
asked if many bodies were therein, and replied “Heaps, heaps,” moving
the hands upwards as far they could be stretched. There is no reason to
doubt the accuracy of the information received, as it was voluntarily

In a communication received from Dr. A. J. McDonald, physician to the
Los Pinos Indian Agency, Colorado, a description is given of crevice or
rock-fissure burial, which follows:

  As soon as death takes place the event is at once announced by the
  medicine man, and without loss of time the squaws are busily engaged
  in preparing the corpse for the grave. This does not take long;
  whatever articles of clothing may have been on the body at the time
  of death are not removed. The dead man’s limbs are straightened out,
  his weapons of war laid by his side, and his robes and blankets
  wrapped securely and snugly around him, and now everything is ready
  for burial. It is the custom to secure if possible, for the purpose
  of wrapping up the corpse, the robes and blankets in which the
  Indian died. At the same time that the body is being fitted for
  internment, the squaws having immediate care of it, together with
  all the other squaws in the neighborhood, keep up a continued chant
  or dirge, the dismal cadence of which may, when the congregation of
  women is large, be heard for quite a long distance. The death song
  is not a mere inarticulate howl of distress; it embraces expressions
  eulogistic in character, but whether or not any particular formula
  of words is adopted on such occasion is a question which I am
  unable, with the materials at my disposal, to determine with any
  degree of certainty.

  The next duty falling to the lot of the squaws is that of placing
  the dead man on a horse and conducting the remains to the spot
  chosen for burial. This is in the cleft of a rock, and, so far as
  can be ascertained, it has always been customary among the Utes to
  select sepulchers of this character. From descriptions given by Mr.
  Harris, who has several times been fortunate enough to discover
  remains, it would appear that no superstitious ideas are held by
  this tribe with respect to the position in which the body is placed,
  the space accommodation of the sepulcher probably regulating this
  matter; and from the same source I learn that it is not usual to
  find the remains of more than one Indian deposited in one grave.
  After the body has been received into the cleft, it is well covered
  with pieces of rock, to protect it against the ravages of wild
  animals. The chant ceases, the squaws disperse, and the burial
  ceremonies are at an end. The men during all this time have not been
  idle, though they have in no way participated in the preparation of
  the body, have not joined the squaws in chanting praises to the
  memory of the dead, and have not even as mere spectators attended
  the funeral, yet they have had their duties to perform. In
  conformity with a long-established custom, all the personal property
  of the deceased is immediately destroyed. His horses and his cattle
  are shot, and his wigwam, furniture, &c., burned. The performance of
  this part of the ceremonies is assigned to the men; a duty quite in
  accord with their taste and inclinations. Occasionally the
  destruction of horses and other properly is of considerable
  magnitude, but usually this is not the case, owing to a practice
  existing with them of distributing their property among their
  children while they are of a very tender age, retaining to
  themselves only what is necessary to meet every-day requirements.

  The widow “goes into mourning” by smearing her face with a substance
  composed of pitch and charcoal. The application is made but once,
  and is allowed to remain on until it wears off. This is the only
  mourning observance of which I have any knowledge.

  The ceremonies observed on the death of a female are the same as
  those in the case of a male, except that no destruction of property
  takes place, and of course no weapons are deposited with the corpse.
  Should a youth die while under the superintendence of white men, the
  Indians will not as a role have anything to do with the interment of
  the body. In a case of the kind which occurred at this agency some
  time ago, the squaws prepared the body in the usual manner; the men
  of the tribe selected a spot for the burial, and the employee at the
  agency, after digging a grave and depositing the corpse therein,
  filled it up according to the fashion of civilized people, and then
  at the request of the Indians rolled large fragments of rocks on
  top. Great anxiety was exhibited by the Indians to have the employes
  perform the service as expeditiously as possible.

Within the past year Ouray, the Ute chief living at the Los Pinos
agency, died and was buried, so far as could be ascertained, in a rock
fissure or cave 7 or 8 miles from the agency.

An interesting cave in Calaveras County, California, which had been used
for burial purposes, is thus described by Prof. J. D. Whitney:[5.27]

  The following is an account of the cave from which the skulls, now
  in the Smithsonian collection, were taken: It is near the Stanislaus
  River, in Calaveras County, on a nameless creek, about two miles
  from Abbey’s Ferry, on the road to Vallicito, at the house of Mr.
  Robinson. There were two or three persons with me, who had been to
  the place before and knew that the skulls in question were taken
  from it. Their visit was some ten years ago, and since that the
  condition of things in the cave has greatly changed. Owing to some
  alteration in the road, mining operations, or some other cause which
  I could not ascertain, there has accumulated on the formerly clean
  stalagmitic floor of the cave a thickness of some 20 feet of surface
  earth that completely conceals the bottom, and which could not be
  removed without considerable expense. This cave is about 27 feet
  deep at the mouth and 40 to 50 feet at the end, and perhaps 30 feet
  in diameter. It is the general opinion of those who have noticed
  this cave and saw it years ago that it was a burying-place of the
  present Indians. Dr. Jones said he found remains of bows and arrows
  and charcoal with the skulls he obtained, and which were destroyed
  at the time the village of Murphy’s was burned. All the people spoke
  of the skulls as lying on the surface and not as buried in the

The next description of cave burial, by W. H. Dall,[5.28] is so
remarkable that it seems worthy of admittance to this paper. It relates
probably to the Innuits of Alaska.

  The earliest remains of man found in Alaska up to the time of
  writing I refer to this epoch [Echinus layer of Dall]. There are
  some crania found by us in the lowermost part of the Amaknak cave
  and a cranium obtained at Adakh, near the anchorage in the Bay of
  Islands. These were deposited in a remarkable manner, precisely
  similar to that adopted by most of the continental Innuit, but
  equally different from the modern Aleut fashion. At the Amaknak cave
  we found what at first appeared to be a wooden inclosure, but which
  proved to be made of the very much decayed supra-maxillary bones of
  some large cetacean. These were arranged so as to form a rude
  rectangular inclosure covered over with similar pieces of bone. This
  was somewhat less than 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 18 inches deep.
  The bottom was formed of flat pieces of stone. Three such were found
  close together, covered with and filled by an accumulation of fine
  vegetable and organic mold. In each was the remains of a skeleton in
  the last stages of decay. It had evidently been tied up in the
  Innuit fashion to get it into its narrow house, but all the bones,
  with the exception of the skull, were minced to a soft paste, or
  even entirely gone. At Adakh a fancy prompted me to dig into a small
  knoll near the ancient shell-heap, and here we found, in a precisely
  similar sarcophagus, the remains of a skeleton, of which also only
  the cranium retained sufficient consistency to admit of
  preservation. This inclosure, however, was filled with a dense peaty
  mass not reduced to mold, the result of centuries of sphagnous
  growth, which had reached a thickness of nearly 2 feet above the
  remains. When we reflect upon the well-known slowness of this kind
  of growth in these northern regions, attested by numerous Arctic
  travelers, the antiquity of the remains becomes evident.

It seems beyond doubt that in the majority of cases, especially as
regards the caves of the Western States and Territories, the interments
were primary ones, and this is likewise true of many of the caverns of
Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, for in the three States mentioned many
mummies have been found, but it is also likely that such receptacles
were largely used as places of secondary deposits. The many fragmentary
skeletons and loose bones found seem to strengthen this view.


Following and in connection with cave burial, the subject of mummifying
or embalming the dead may be taken up, as most specimens of the kind
have generally been found in such repositories.

It might be both interesting and instructive to search out and discuss
the causes which have led many nations or tribes to adopt certain
processes with a view to prevent that return to dust which all flesh
must sooner or later experience, but the necessarily limited scope of
this work precludes more than a brief mention of certain theories
advanced by writers of note, and which relate to the ancient Egyptians.
Possibly at the time the Indians of America sought to preserve their
dead from decomposition, some such ideas may have animated them, but on
this point no definite information has been procured. In the final
volume an effort will be made to trace out the origin of mummification
among the Indians and aborigines of this continent.

The Egyptians embalmed, according to Cassien, because during the time of
the annual inundation no interments could take place, but it is more
than likely that this hypothesis is entirely fanciful. It is said by
others they believed that so long as the body was preserved from
corruption the soul remained in it. Herodotus states that it was to
prevent bodies from becoming a prey to animal voracity. “They did not
inter them,” says he, “for fear of their being eaten by worms; nor did
they burn, considering fire as a ferocious beast, devouring everything
which it touched.” According to Diodorus of Sicily, embalmment
originated in filial piety and respect. De Maillet, however, in his
tenth letter on Egypt, attributes it entirely to a religious belief,
insisted upon by the wise men and priests, who taught their disciples
that after a certain number of cycles, of perhaps thirty or forty
thousand years, the entire universe became as it was at birth, and the
souls of the dead returned into the same bodies in which they had lived,
provided that the body remained free from corruption, and that
sacrifices were freely offered as oblations to the manes of the
deceased. Considering the great care taken to preserve the dead, and the
ponderously solid nature of the Egyptian tombs, it is not surprising
that this theory has obtained many believers. M. Gannal believes
embalmment to have been suggested by the affectionate sentiments of our
nature--a desire to preserve as long as possible the mortal remains of
loved ones; but MM. Volney and Pariset think it was intended to obviate,
in hot climates especially, danger from pestilence, being primarily a
cheap and simple process, elegance and luxury coming later; and the
Count de Caylus states the idea of embalmment was derived from the
finding of desiccated bodies which the burning sands of Egypt had
hardened and preserved. Many other suppositions have arisen, but it is
thought the few given above are sufficient to serve as an introduction
to embalmment in North America.

From the statements of the older writers on North American Indians, it
appears that mummifying was resorted to, among certain tribes of
Virginia, the Carolinas, and Florida, especially for people of
distinction, the process in Virginia for the kings, according to
Beverly,[5.29] being as follows:

  The _Indians_ are religious in preserving the Corpses of their Kings
  and Rulers after Death, which they order in the following manner:
  First, they neatly flay off the Skin as entire as they can, slitting
  it only in the Back; then they pick all the Flesh off from the Bones
  as clean as possible, leaving the Sinews fastned to the Bones, that
  they may preserve the Joints together; then they dry the Bones in
  the Sun, and put them into the Skin again, which in the mean time
  has been kept from drying or shrinking; when the Bones are placed
  right in the Skin, they nicely fill up the Vacuities, with a very
  fine white Sand. After this they sew up the Skin again, and the Body
  looks as if the Flesh had not been removed. They take care to keep
  the Skin from shrinking, by the help of a little Oil or Grease,
  which saves it also from Corruption. The Skin being thus prepar’d,
  they lay it in an apartment for that purpose, upon a large Shelf
  rais’d above the Floor. This Shelf is spread with Mats, for the
  Corpse to rest easy on, and skreened with the same, to keep it from
  the Dust. The Flesh they lay upon Hurdles in the Sun to dry, and
  when it is thoroughly dried, it is sewed up in a Basket, and set at
  the Feet of the Corpse, to which it belongs. In this place also they
  set up a _Quioccos_, or Idol, which they believe will be a Guard to
  the Corpse. Here Night and Day one or the other of the Priests must
  give his Attendance, to take care of the dead Bodies. So great an
  Honour and Veneration have these ignorant and unpolisht People for
  their Princes even after they are dead.

It should be added that, in the writer’s opinion, this account and
others like it are somewhat apocryphal, and it has been copied and
recopied a score of times.

According to Pinkerton,[5.30] who took the account from Smith’s
Virginia, the Werowance of Virginia preserved their dead as follows:

  In their Temples they have his [their chief God, the Devil’s] image
  euill favouredly carved, and then painted and adorned with chaines
  of copper, and beads, and covered with a skin, in such manner as the
  deformitie may well suit with such a God. By him is commonly the
  sepulchre of their Kings. Their bodies are first bowelled, then
  dried upon hurdles till they be very dry, and so about the most of
  their ioynts and necke they hang bracelets, or chaines of copper,
  pearle, and such like, as they use to wear. Their inwards they
  stuffe with copper beads, hatchets, and such trash. Then lappe they
  them very carefully in white skins, and so rowle them in mats for
  their winding-sheets. And in the Tombe, which is an arch made of
  mats, they lay them orderly. What remaineth of this kind of wealth
  their Kings have, they set at their feet in baskets. These temples
  and bodies are kept by their Priests.

  For their ordinary burials, they dig a deepe hole in the earth with
  sharpe stakes, and the corpse being lapped in skins and mats with
  their Jewels they lay them upon stickes in the ground, and so cover
  them with earth. The buriale ended, the women being painted all
  their faces with blacke cole and oyle doe sit twenty-foure houres in
  the houses mourning and lamenting by turnes with such yelling and
  howling as may expresse their great passions. * * *

  Upon the top of certain red sandy hills in the woods there are three
  great houses filled with images of their Kings and devils and the
  tombes of their predecessors. Those houses are near sixty feet in
  length, built harbourwise after their building. This place they
  count so holey as that but the priests and Kings dare come into
  them; nor the savages dare not go up the river in boates by it, but
  that they solemnly cast some piece of copper, white beads or pocones
  into the river for feare their Okee should be offended and revenged
  of them.

  They think that their Werowances and priests which they also esteeme
  quiyough-cosughs, when they are deade doe goe beyond the mountains
  towards the setting of the sun, and ever remain there in form of
  their Okee, with their bedes paynted rede with oyle and pocones,
  finely trimmed with feathers, and shall have beads, hatchets,
  copper, and tobacco, doing nothing but dance and sing with all their
  predecessors. But the common people they suppose shall not live
  after deth, but rot in their graves like dede dogges.

This is substantially the same account as has been given on a former
page, the verbiage differing slightly, and the remark regarding
truthfulness will apply to it as well as to the other.

Figure 1 may again be referred to as an example of the dead-house

The Congaree or Santee Indians of South Carolina, according to Lawson,
used a process of partial embalmment, as will be seen from the subjoined
extract from Schoolcraft;[5.31] but instead of laying away the remains
in caves, placed them in boxes supported above the ground by crotched

  The manner of their interment is thus: A mole or pyramid of earth is
  raised, the mould thereof being worked very smooth and even,
  sometimes higher or lower according to the dignity of the person
  whose monument it is. On the top thereof is an umbrella, made
  ridgeways, like the roof of a house. This in supported by nine
  stakes or small posts, the grave being about 6 to 8 feet in length
  and 4 feet in breadth, about which is hung gourds, feathers, and
  other such like trophies, placed there by the dead man’s relations
  in respect to him in the grave. The other parts of the funeral rites
  are thus: As soon as the party is dead they lay the corpse upon a
  piece of bark in the sun, seasoning or embalming it with a small
  root beaten to powder, which looks as red as vermillion; the same is
  mixed with bear’s oil to beautify the hair. After the carcass has
  laid a day or two in the sun they remove it and lay it upon crotches
  cut on purpose for the support thereof from the earth; then they
  anoint it all over with the aforementioned ingredients of the powder
  of this root and bear’s oil. When it is so done they cover it over
  very exactly with the bark or pine of the cypress tree to prevent
  any rain to fall upon it, sweeping the ground very clean all about
  it. Some of his nearest of kin brings all the temporal estate he was
  possessed of at his death, as guns, bows and arrows, beads,
  feathers, match-coat, &c. This relation is the chief mourner, being
  clad in moss, with a stick in his hand, keeping a mournful ditty for
  three or four days, his face being black with the smoke of pitch
  pine mixed with bear’s oil. All the while he tells the dead man’s
  relations and the rest of the spectators who that dead person was,
  and of the great feats performed in his lifetime, all that he speaks
  tending to the praise of the defunct. As soon as the flesh grows
  mellow and will cleave from the bone they get it off and burn it,
  making the bones very clean, then anoint them with the ingredients
  aforesaid, wrapping up the skull (very carefully) in a cloth
  artificially woven of opossum’s hair. The bones they carefully
  preserve in a wooden box, every year oiling and cleansing them. By
  these means they preserve them for many ages, that you may see an
  Indian in possession of the bones of his grandfather or some of his
  relations of a longer antiquity. They have other sorts of tombs, as
  when an Indian is slain in that very place they make a heap of
  stones (or sticks where stones are not to be found); to this
  memorial every Indian that passes by adds a stone to augment the
  heap in respect to the deceased hero. The Indians make a roof of
  light wood or pitch-pine over the graves of the more distinguished,
  covering it with bark and then with earth, leaving the body thus in
  a subterranean vault until the flesh quits the bones. The bones are
  then taken up, cleaned, jointed, clad in white-dressed deerskins,
  and laid away in the _Quiogozon_, which is the royal tomb or
  burial-place of their kings and war-captains, being a more
  magnificent cabin reared at the public expense. This Quiogozon is an
  object of veneration, in which the writer says he has known the
  king, old men, and conjurers to spend several days with their idols
  and dead kings, and into which he could never gain admittance.

Another class of mummies are those which have been found in the
saltpetre and other caves of Kentucky, and it is still a matter of doubt
with archæologists whether any special pains were taken to preserve
these bodies, many believing that the impregnation of the soil with
certain minerals would account for the condition in which the specimens
were found. Charles Wilkins[5.32] thus describes one:

  * * * An exsiccated body of a female[5.33] * * * was found at the
  depth of about 10 feet from the surface of the cave bedded in clay
  strongly impregnated with nitre, placed in a sitting posture,
  incased in broad stones standing on their edges, with a flat atone
  covering the whole. It was enveloped in coarse clothes, * * * the
  whole wrapped in deer-skins, the hair of which was shaved off in the
  manner in which the Indians prepare them for market. Enclosed in the
  stone coffin were the working utensils, beads, feathers, and other
  ornaments of dress which belonged to her.

The next description is by Dr. Samuel L. Mitchill.[5.34*]

  AUG. 24th, 1815.

  DEAR SIR: I offer you some observations on a curious piece of
  American antiquity now in New York. It is a human body: found in one
  of the limestone caverns of Kentucky. It is a perfect desiccation;
  all the fluids are dried up. The skin, bones, and other firm parts
  are in a state of entire preservation. I think it enough to have
  puzzled Bryant and all the archæologists.

  This was found in exploring a calcareous cave in the neighborhood of
  Glasgow for saltpetre.

  These recesses, though under ground, are yet dry enough to attract
  and retain the nitrick acid. It combines with lime and potash; and
  probably the earthy matter of these excavations contains a good
  proportion of calcareous carbonate. Amidst them drying and
  antiseptick ingredients, it may be conceived that putrefaction would
  be stayed, and the solids preserved from decay. The outer envelope
  of the body is a deer-skin, probably dried in the usual way, and
  perhaps softened before its application by rubbing. The next
  covering is a deer’s skin, whose hair had been cut away by a sharp
  instrument resembling a batter’s knife. The remnant of the hair and
  the gashes in the skin nearly resemble a sheared pelt of beaver. The
  next wrapper is of cloth made of twine doubled and twisted. But the
  thread does not appear to have been formed by the wheel, nor the web
  by the loom. The warp and filling seem to have been crossed and
  knotted by an operation like that of the fabricks of the northwest
  coast, and of the Sandwich Islands. Such a botanist as the lamented
  Muhlenbergh could determine the plant which furnished the fibrous

  The innermost tegument is a mantle of cloth, like the preceding, but
  furnished with large brown feathers, arranged and fashioned with
  great art, so as to be capable of guarding the living wearer from
  wet and cold. The plumage is distinct and entire, and the whole
  bears a near similitude to the feathery cloaks now worn by the
  nations of the northwestern coast of America. A Wilson might tell
  from what bird they were derived.

  The body is in a squatting posture, with the right arm reclining
  forward, and its hand encircling the right leg. The left arm hangs
  down, with its hand inclined partly under the seat. The individual,
  who was a male, did not probably exceed the age of fourteen at his
  death. There is near the occiput a deep and extensive fracture of
  the skull, which probably killed him. The skin has sustained little
  injury; it is of a dusky colour, but the natural hue cannot be
  decided with exactness, from its present appearance. The scalp, with
  small exceptions, is covered with sorrel or foxey hair. The teeth
  are white and sound. The hands and feet, in their shrivelled state,
  are slender and delicate. All this is worthy the investigation of
  our acute and perspicacious colleague, Dr. Holmes.

  There is nothing bituminous or aromatic in or about the body, like
  the Egyptian mummies, nor are there bandages around any part. Except
  the several wrappers, the body is totally naked. There is no sign of
  a suture or incision about the belly; whence it seems that the
  viscera were not removed.

  It may now be expected that I should offer some opinion as to the
  antiquity and race of this singular exsiccation.

  First, then, I am satisfied that it does not belong to that class of
  white men of which we are members.

  2dly. Nor do I believe that it ought to be referred to the bands of
  Spanish adventurers, who, between the years 1500 and 1600, rambled
  up the Mississippi, and along its tributary streams. But on this
  head I should like to know the opinion of my learned and sagacious
  friend, Noah Webster.

  3dly. I am equally obliged to reject the opinion that it belonged to
  any of the tribes of aborigines, now or lately inhabiting Kentucky.

  4thly. The mantle of the feathered work, and the mantle of twisted
  threads, so nearly resemble the fabricks of the indigines of Wakash
  and the Pacifick Islands, that I refer this individual to that era
  of time, and that generation of men, which preceded the Indians of
  the Green River, and of the place where these relicks were found.
  This conclusion is strengthened by the consideration that such
  manufactures are not prepared by the actual and resident red men of
  the present day. If the Abbe Clavigero had had this case before him,
  he would have thought of the people who constructed those ancient
  forts and mounds, whose exact history no man living can give. But I
  forbear to enlarge; my intention being merely to manifest my respect
  to the society for having enrolled me among its members, and to
  invite the attention of its Antiquarians to further inquiry on a
  subject of such curiousity.

  With respect, I remain yours,


It would appear, from recent researches on the Northwest coast, that the
natives of that region embalmed their dead with much care, as may be
seen from the work recently published by W. H. Dall,[5.35] the
description of the mummies being as follows:

  We found the dead disposed of in various ways; first, by interment
  in their compartments of the communal dwelling, as already
  described; second, by being laid on a rude platform of drift-wood or
  stones in some convenient rock shelter. These lay on straw and moss,
  covered by matting, and rarely have either implements, weapons, or
  carvings associated with them. We found only three or four specimens
  in all in these places, of which we examined a great number. This
  was apparently the more ancient form of disposing of the dead, and
  one which more recently was still pursued in the case of poor or
  unpopular individuals.

    [Illustration: FIG. 5.--Alaskan Mummies.]

  Lastly, in comparatively modern times, probably within a few
  centuries, and up to the historic period (1740), another mode was
  adopted for the wealthy, popular, or more distinguished class. The
  bodies were eviscerated, cleansed from fatty matters in running
  water, dried, and usually placed in suitable cases in wrappings of
  fur and fine grass matting. The body was usually doubled up into the
  smallest compass, and the mummy case, especially in the case of
  children, was usually suspended (so as not to touch the ground) in
  some convenient rock shelter. Sometimes, however, the prepared body
  was placed in a lifelike position, dressed and armed. They were
  placed as if engaged in some congenial occupation, such as hunting,
  fishing, sewing, &c. With them were also placed effigies of the
  animals they were pursuing, while the hunter was dressed in his
  wooden armor and provided with an enormous mask all ornamented with
  feathers, and a countless variety of wooden pendants, colored in gay
  patterns. All the carvings were of wood, the weapons even were only
  fac-similes in wood of the original articles. Among the articles
  represented were drums, rattles, dishes, weapons, effigies of men,
  birds, fish, and animals, wooden armor of rods or scales of wood,
  and remarkable masks, so arranged that the wearer when erect could
  only see the ground at his feet. These were worn at their religious
  dances from an idea that a spirit which was supposed to animate a
  temporary idol was fatal to whoever might look upon it while so
  occupied. An extension of the same idea led to the masking of those
  who had gone into the land of spirits.

  The practice of preserving the bodies of those belonging to the
  whaling class--a custom peculiar to the Kadiak Innuit--has
  erroneously been confounded with the one now described. The latter
  included women as well as men, and all those whom the living desired
  particularly to honor. The whalers, however, only preserved the
  bodies of males, and they were not associated with the paraphernalia
  of those I have described. Indeed, the observations I have been able
  to make show the bodies of the whalers to have been preserved with
  stone weapons and actual utensils instead of effigies, and with the
  meanest apparel, and no carvings of consequence. These details, and
  those of many other customs and usages of which the shell heaps bear
  no testimony * * * do not come within my line.

Figure 5, copied from Dall, represents the Alaskan mummies.

Martin Sauer, secretary to Billings’ Expedition,[5.36] speaks of the
Aleutian Islanders embalming their dead, as follows:

  They pay respect, however, to the memory of the dead, for they
  embalm the bodies of the men with dried moss and grass; bury them in
  their best attire, in a sitting posture, in a strong box, with their
  darts and instruments; and decorate the tomb with various coloured
  mats, embroidery, and paintings. With women, indeed, they use less
  ceremony. A mother will keep a dead child thus embalmed in their hut
  for some months, constantly wiping it dry; and they bury it when it
  begins to smell, or when they get reconciled to parting with it.

Regarding these same people, a writer in the San Francisco Bulletin
gives this account:

  The schooner William Sutton, belonging to the Alaska Commercial
  Company, has arrived from the seal islands of the company with the
  mummified remains of Indians who lived on an island north of
  Ounalaska one hundred and fifty years ago. This contribution to
  science was secured by Captain Henning, an agent of the company who
  has long resided at Ounalaska. In his transactions with the Indians
  he learned that tradition among the Aleuts assigned Kagamale, the
  island in question, as the last resting-place of a great chief,
  known as Karkhayahouchak. Last year the captain was in the
  neighborhood of Kagamale in quest of sea-otter and other furs, and
  he bore up for the island, with the intention of testing the truth
  of the tradition he had heard. He had more difficulty in entering
  the cave than in finding it, his schooner having to beat on and off
  shore for three days. Finally he succeeded in affecting a landing,
  and clambering up the rocks he found himself in the presence of the
  dead chief, his family and relatives.

  The cave smelt strongly of hot sulphurous vapors. With great care
  the mummies were removed, and all the little trinkets and ornaments
  scattered around were also taken away.

  In all there are eleven packages of bodies. Only two or three have
  as yet been opened. The body of the chief is inclosed in a large
  basket-like structure, about four feet in height. Outside the
  wrappings are finely wrought sea-grass matting, exquisitely close in
  texture, and skins. At the bottom is a broad hoop or basket of
  thinly cut wood, and adjoining the center portions are pieces of
  body armor composed of reeds bound together. The body is covered
  with the fine skin of the sea-otter, always a mark of distinction in
  the interments of the Aleuts, and round the whole package are
  stretched the meshes of a fish-net, made of the sinews of the sea
  lion; also those of a bird-net. There are evidently some bulky
  articles inclosed with the chief’s body, and the whole package
  differs very much from the others, which more resemble, in their
  brown-grass matting, consignments of crude sugar from the Sandwich
  Islands than the remains of human beings. The bodies of a pappoose
  and of a very little child, which probably died at birth or soon
  after it, have sea-otter skins around them. One of the feet of the
  latter projects, with a toe-nail visible. The remaining mummies are
  of adults.

  One of the packages has been opened, and it reveals a man’s body in
  tolerable preservation, but with a large portion of the face
  decomposed. This and the other bodies were doubled up at death by
  severing some of the muscles at the hip and knee joints and bending
  the limbs downward horizontally upon the trunk. Perhaps the most
  peculiar package, next to that of the chief, is one which incloses
  in a single matting, with sea-lion skins, the bodies of a man and
  woman. The collection also embraces a couple of skulls, male and
  female, which have still the hair attached to the scalp. The hair
  has changed its color to a brownish red. The relics obtained with
  the bodies include a few wooden vessels scooped out smoothly:
  a piece of dark, greenish, flat stone, harder than the emerald,
  which the Indians use to tan skins; a scalp-lock of jet-black hair;
  a small rude figure, which may have been a very ugly doll or an
  idol; two or three tiny carvings in ivory of the sea-lion, very
  neatly executed; a comb, a necklet made of bird’s claws inserted
  into one another, and several specimens of little bags, and a cap
  plaited out of sea-grass and almost water-tight.

In Cary’s translation of Herodotus (1853, p. 180) the following passage
occurs which purports to describe the manner in which the Macrobrian
Ethiopians preserved their dead. It is added, simply as a matter of
curious interest, nothing more, for no remains so preserved have ever
been discovered.

  After this, they visited last of all their sepulchres, which are
  said to be prepared from crystal in the following manner. When they
  have dried the body, either as the Egyptians do, or in some other
  way, they plaster it all over with gypsum, and paint it, making it
  as much as possible resemble real life; they then put round it a
  hollow column made of crystal, which they dig up in abundance, and
  is easily wrought. The body being in the middle of the column is
  plainly seen, nor does it emit an unpleasant smell, nor is it in any
  way offensive, and it is all visible as the body itself. The nearest
  relations keep the column in their houses for a year, offering to it
  the first-fruits of all, and performing sacrifices; after that time
  they carry it out and place it somewhere near the city.

  NOTE.--The Egyptian mummies could only be seen in front, the back
  being covered by a box or coffin; the Ethiopian bodies could be seen
  all round, as the column of glass was transparent.

With the foregoing examples as illustration, the matter of embalmment
may be for the present dismissed, with the advice to observers that
particular care should be taken, in case mummies are discovered, to
ascertain whether the bodies have been submitted to a regular
preservative process, or owe their protection to ingredients in the soil
of their graves or to desiccation in arid districts.


To close the subject of subterranean burial proper, the following
account of urn-burial in Foster[5.37] may be added:

  Urn-burial appears to have been practiced to some extent by the
  mound-builders, particularly in some of the Southern States. In the
  mounds on the Wateree River, near Camden, S.C., according to Dr.
  Blanding, ranges of vases, one above the other, filled with human
  remains, were found. Sometimes when the mouth of the vase is small
  the skull is placed with the face downward in the opening,
  constituting a sort of cover. Entire cemeteries have been found in
  which urn-burial alone seems to have been practiced. Such a one was
  accidentally discovered not many years since in Saint Catherine’s
  Island, off the coast of Georgia. Professor Swallow informs me that
  from a mound at New Madrid, Mo., he obtained a human skull inclosed
  in an earthen jar, the lips of which were too small to admit of its
  extraction. It must therefore have been molded on the head after

  A similar mode of burial was practiced by the Chaldeans, where the
  funeral jars often contain a human cranium much too expanded to
  admit of the possibility of its passing out of it, so that either
  the clay must have been modeled over the corpse, and then baked, or
  the neck of the jar must have been added subsequently to the other
  rites of interment.[5.38]

It is with regret that the writer feels obliged to differ from the
distinguished author of the work quoted regarding urn-burial, for
notwithstanding that it has been employed by some of the Central and
Southern American tribes, it is not believed to have been customary, but
_to a very limited extent_, in North America, except as a secondary
interment. He must admit that he himself has found bones in urns or
ollas in the graves of New Mexico and California, but under
circumstances that would seem to indicate a deposition long subsequent
to death. In the graves of the ancient peoples of California a number of
ollas were found in long used burying places, and it is probable that as
the bones were dug up time and again for new burials they were simply
tossed into pots, which were convenient receptacles, or it may have been
that bodies were allowed to repose in the earth long enough for the
fleshy parts to decay, and the bones were then collected, placed in
urns, and reinterred. Dr. E. Foreman, of the Smithsonian Institution,
furnishes the following account of urns used for burial:

  I would call your attention to an earthenware burial-urn and cover,
  Nos. 27976 and 27977, National Museum, but very recently received
  from Mr. William McKinley, of Milledgeville, Ga. It was exhumed on
  his plantation, ten miles below that city, on the bottom lands of
  the Oconee River, now covered with almost impassible canebrakes,
  tall grasses, and briers. We had a few months ago from the same
  source one of the covers, of which the ornamentation was different
  but more entire. A portion of a similar cover has been received also
  from Chattanooga, Tenn. Mr. McKinley ascribes the use of these urns
  and covers to the Muscogees, a branch of the Creek Nation.

These urns are made of baked clay, and are shaped somewhat like the
ordinary steatite ollas found in the California coast graves, but the
bottoms instead of being round run down to a sharp apex; on the top was
a cover, the upper part of which also terminated in an apex, and around
the border, near where it rested on the edge of the vessel, are indented
scroll ornamentations.

The burial urns of New Mexico are thus described by E. A. Barber:[5.39]

  Burial-urns * * * comprise vessels or ollas without handles, for
  cremation, usually being from 10 to 15 inches in height, with broad,
  open mouths, and made of coarse clay, with a laminated exterior
  (partially or entirely ornamented). Frequently the indentations
  extend simply around the neck or rim, the lower portion being plain.

So far as is known, up to the present time no burial-urns have been
found in North America resembling those discovered in Nicaragua by Dr.
J. C. Bransford, U.S.N., but it is quite within the range of possibility
that future researches in regions not far distant from that which he
explored may reveal similar treasures. Figure 6 represents different
forms of burial-urns, _a_, _b_, and _e_, after Foster, are from Laporte,
Ind. _f_, after Foster, is from Greenup County, Kentucky; _d_ is from
Milledgeville, Ga., in Smithsonian collection, No. 27976; and _c_ is one
of the peculiar shoe-shaped urns brought from Ometepec Island, Lake
Nicaragua, by Surgeon J. C. Bransford, U.S.N.

    [Illustration: FIG. 6.--Burial Urns.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 7.--Indian Cemetery.]


This mode of interment was practiced to only a limited extent, so far as
can be discovered, and it is quite probable that in most cases it was
employed as a temporary expedient when the survivors were pressed for
time. The Seminoles of Florida are said to have buried in hollow trees,
the bodies being placed in an upright position, occasionally the dead
being crammed into a hollow log lying on the ground. With some of the
Eastern tribes a log was split in half and hollowed out sufficiently
large to contain the corpse; it was then lashed together with withes and
permitted to remain where it was originally placed. In some cases a pen
was built over and around it. This statement is corroborated by R. S.
Robertson, of Fort Wayne, Ind., who states, in a communication received
in 1877, that the Miamis practiced surface burial in two different ways:

  * * * 1st. The surface burial in hollow logs. These have been found
  in heavy forests. Sometimes a tree has been split and the two halves
  hollowed out to receive the body, when it was either closed with
  withes or confined to the ground with crossed stakes; and sometimes
  a hollow tree is used by closing the ends.

  2d. Surface burial where the body was covered by a small pen of logs
  laid up as we build a cabin, but drawing in every course until they
  meet in a single log at the top.

The writer has recently received from Prof. C. Engelhardt, of
Copenhagen, Denmark, a brochure describing the oak coffins of
Borum-Æshœi. From an engraving in this volume it would appear that the
manner employed by the ancient Danes of hollowing out logs for coffins
has its analogy among the North American Indians.

Romantically conceived, and carried out to the fullest possible extent
in accordance with the _ante mortem_ wishes of the dead, were the
obsequies of Blackbird, the great chief of the Omahas. The account is
given by George Catlin:[5.40]

  He requested them to take his body down the river to this his
  favorite haunt, and on the pinnacle of this towering bluff to bury
  him on the back of his favorite war-horse, which was to be buried
  alive under him, from whence he could see, as he said, “the
  Frenchmen passing up and down the river in their boats.” He owned,
  amongst many horses, a noble white steed, that was led to the top of
  the grass-covered hill, and with great pomp and ceremony, in the
  presence of the whole nation and several of the fur-traders and the
  Indian agent, he was placed astride of his horse’s back, with his
  bow in his hand, and his shield and quiver slung, with his pipe and
  his medicine bag, with his supply of dried meat, and his
  tobacco-pouch replenished to last him through the journey to the
  beautiful hunting grounds of the shades of his fathers, with his
  flint, his steel, and his tinder to light his pipe by the way; the
  scalps he had taken from his enemies’ heads could be trophies for
  nobody else, and were hung to the bridle of his horse. He was in
  full dress, and fully equipped, and on his head waved to the last
  moment his beautiful head-dress of the war-eagles’ plumes. In this
  plight, and the last funeral honors having been performed by the
  medicine-men, every warrior of his band painted the palm and fingers
  of his right hand with vermillion, which was stamped and perfectly
  impressed on the milk-white sides of his devoted horse. This all
  done, turfs were brought and placed around the feet and legs of the
  horse, and gradually laid up to its sides, and at last over the back
  and head of the unsuspecting animal, and last of all over the head
  and even the eagle plumes of its valiant rider, where all together
  have smouldered and remained undisturbed to the present day.

Figure 7, after Schoolcraft, represents an Indian burial-ground on a
high bluff of the Missouri River.

According to the Rev. J. G. Wood,[5.41] the Obongo, an African tribe,
buried their dead in a manner similar to that which has been stated of
the Seminoles:

  When an Obongo dies it is usual to take the body to a hollow tree in
  the forest and drop it into the hollow, which is afterwards filled
  to the top with earth, leaves, and branches.

M. de la Potherie[5.42] gives an account of surface burial as practiced
by the Iroquois of New York:

  Quand ce malade est mort, on le met sur son séant, on oint ses
  cheveux et tout son corps d’huile d’animaux, on lui applique du
  vermillon sur le visage; on lui met toutes sortes de beaux plumages
  de la rassade de la porcelaine et on le pare des plus beaux habits
  que l’on peut trouver, pendant que les parens et des vieilles
  continuent toujours à pleurer. Cette cérémonie finie, les alliez
  apportent plusieurs présens. Les uns sont pour essuyer les larmes et
  les autres pour servir de matelas au défunt, on en destine certains
  pour couvrir la fosse, de peur, disent-ils, que la plague ne
  l’incommode, on y étend fort proprement des peaux d’ours et de
  chevreuils qui lui servent de lit, et on lui met ses ajustemens avec
  un sac de farine de bled d’Inde, de la viande, sa cuillière, et
  généralement tout ce qu’il faut à un homme qui veut faire un long
  voyage, avec toux les présens qui lui ont été faits á sa mort, et
  s’il a été guerrier on lui donne ses armes pour s’en servir au pais
  des morts. L’on couvre ensuite ce cadavre d’écorce d’arbres sur
  lesquelles on jette de la terre et quantité de pierres, et on
  l’entoure de pierres pour empêcher que les animaux ne le déterrent.
  Ces sortes de funérailles ne se font que dans leur village.
  Lorsqu’ils meurent en campagne on les met dans un cercueil d’écorce,
  entre les branches des arbres où on les élève sur quatre pilliers.

  On observe ces mêmes funérailles aux femmes et aux filles. Tous ceux
  qui ont assisté aux obsèques profitent de toute la dépouille du
  défunt et s’il n’avoit rien, les parens y supléent. Ainsi ils ne
  pleurent pas en vain. Le deuil consiste à ne se point couper ni
  graisser les cheveux et de se tenir négligé sans aucune parure,
  couverts de méchantes hardes. Le père et la mère portent le deuil de
  leur fils. Si le père meurt les garçons le portent, et les filles de
  leur mère.

Dr. P. Gregg, of Rock Island, Illinois, has been kind enough to forward
to the writer an interesting work by J. V. Spencer,[5.43] containing
annotations by himself. He gives the following account of surface and
partial surface burial occurring among the Sacs and Foxes formerly
inhabiting Illinois:

  Black Hawk was placed upon the ground in a sitting posture, his
  hands grasping his cane. They usually made a shallow hole in the
  ground, setting the body in up to the waist, so the most of the body
  was above ground. The part above ground was then covered by a
  buffalo robe, and a trench about eight feet square was then dug
  about the grave. In this trench they set picketing about eight feet
  high, which secured the grave against wild animals. When I first
  came here there were quite a number of these high picketings still
  standing where their chiefs had been buried, and the body of a chief
  was disposed of in this way while I lived near their village. The
  common mode of burial was to dig a shallow grave, wrap the body in a
  blanket, place it in the grave, and fill it nearly full of dirt;
  then take split sticks about three feet long and stand them in the
  grave so that their tops would come together in the form of a roof;
  then they filled in more earth so as to hold the sticks in place.
  I saw a father and mother start out alone to bury their child about
  a year old; they carried it by tieing it up in a blanket and putting
  a long stick through the blanket, each taking an end of the stick.

    [Illustration: FIG. 8.--Grave Pen.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 9.--Grave Pen.]

  I have also seen the dead bodies placed in trees. This is done by
  digging a trough out of a log, placing the body in it, and covering
  it. I have seen several bodies in one tree. I think when they are
  disposed of in this way it is by special request, as I knew of an
  Indian woman who lived with a white family who desired her body
  placed in a tree, which was accordingly done.[5.44*] Doubtless there
  was some peculiar superstition attached to this mode, though I do
  not remember to have heard what it was.

Judge H. Welch[5.45] states that “the Sauks, Foxes, and Pottawatomies
buried by setting the body on the ground and building a pen around it of
sticks or logs. I think the bodies lay heads to the east.” And C. C.
Baldwin, of Cleveland, Ohio, sends a more detailed account, as follows:

  I was some time since in Seneca County and there met Judge Welch.
  * * * In 1824 he went with his father-in-law, Judge Gibson, to Fort
  Wayne. On the way they passed the grave of an Ottawa or Pottawatomie
  chief. The body lay on the ground covered with notched poles. It had
  been there but a few days and the worms were crawling around the
  body. My special interest in the case was the accusation of
  witchcraft against a young squaw who was executed for killing him by
  her arts. In the Summit County mounds there were only parts of
  skeletons with charcoal and ashes, showing they had been burned.

W. A. Brice[5.46] mentions a curious variety of surface burial not
heretofore met with:

  And often had been seen, years ago, swinging from the bough of a
  tree, or in a hammock stretched between two trees, the infant of the
  Indian mother; or a few little log inclosures, where the bodies of
  adults sat upright, with all their former apparel wrapped about
  them, and their trinkets, tomahawks, &c., by their side, could be
  seen at any time for many years by the few pale-faces visiting or
  sojourning here.

A method of interment so closely allied to surface burial that it may be
considered under that head is the one employed by some of the Ojibways
and Swampy Crees of Canada. A small cavity is scooped out, the body
deposited therein, covered with a little dirt, the mound thus formed
being covered either with split planks, poles, or birch bark.

Prof. Henry Youle Hind, who was in charge of the Canadian Red River
exploring expedition of 1858, has been good enough to forward to the
Bureau of Ethnology two photographs representing the variety of grave,
which he found 15 or 20 miles from the present town of Winnipeg, and
they are represented in the woodcuts, Figures 8 and 9.


The next mode of interment to be considered is that of cairn or rock
burial, which has prevailed and is still common to a considerable extent
among the tribes living in the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevadas.

In the summer of 1872 the writer visited one of these rock cemeteries in
Middle Utah, which had been used for a period not exceeding fifteen or
twenty years. It was situated at the bottom of a rock slide, upon the
side of an almost inaccessible mountain, in a position so carefully
chosen for concealment that it would have been almost impossible to find
it without a guide. Several of the graves were opened, and found to have
been constructed in the following manner: A number of bowlders had been
removed from the bed of the slide until a sufficient cavity had been
obtained; this was lined with skins, the corpse placed therein, with
weapons, ornaments, &c., and covered over with saplings of the mountain
aspen; on the top of these the removed bowlders were piled, forming a
huge cairn, which appeared large enough to have marked the last resting
place of an elephant. In the immediate vicinity of the graves were
scattered the osseous remains of a number of horses which had been
sacrificed, no doubt, during the funeral ceremonies. In one of the
graves, said to contain the body of a chief, in addition to a number of
articles useful and ornamental, were found parts of the skeleton of a
boy, and tradition states that a captive boy was buried alive at this

From Dr. O. G. Given, physician to the Kiowa and Comanche Agency, Indian
Territory, the following description of burial ceremonies was received.
According to this gentleman the Kiowas call themselves _Kaw-a-wāh_, the
Comanches _Nerm_, and the Apaches _Tāh-zee_.

  They bury in the ground or in crevices of rocks. They do not seem to
  have any particular rule with regard to the position. Sometimes
  prone, sometimes supine, but always decumbent. They select a place
  where the grave is easily prepared, which they do with such
  implements as they chance to have, viz, a squaw-axe, or hoe. If they
  are traveling, the grave is often very hastily prepared and not much
  time is spent in finishing. I was present at the burial of Black
  Hawk, an Apache chief, some two years ago, and took the body in my
  light wagon up the side of a mountain to the place of burial. They
  found a crevice in the rocks about four feet wide and three feet
  deep. By filling in loose rocks at either end they made a very nice
  tomb. The body was then put in face downwards, short sticks were put
  across, resting on projections of rock at the sides, brush was
  thrown on this, and flat rocks laid over the whole of it.

  The body of the deceased is dressed in the best clothing, together
  with all the ornaments most admired by the person when living. The
  face is painted with any colored paint they may have, mostly red and
  yellow, as I have observed. The body is then wrapped in skins,
  blankets, or domestic, with the hands laid across the breast, and
  the legs placed upon the thighs. They put into the grave their guns,
  bows and arrows, tobacco, and if they have it a blanket, moccasins,
  and trinkets of various kinds. One or more horses are killed over or
  near the grave. Two horses and a mule were killed near Black Hawk’s
  grave. They were led up near and shot in the head. At the death of a
  Comanche chief, some years ago, I am told about seventy horses were
  killed, and a greater number than that were said to have been killed
  at the death of a prominent Kiowa chief a few years since.

  The mourning is principally done by the relatives and immediate
  friends, although any one of their own tribe, or one of another
  tribe, who chances to be passing, will stop and moan with the
  relatives. Their mourning consists in a weird wail, which to be
  described must be heard, and once heard is never forgotten, together
  with the scarifying of their faces, arms, and legs with some sharp
  instrument, the cutting off of the hair, and oftentimes the cutting
  off of a joint of a finger, usually the little finger (Comanches do
  not cut off fingers). The length of time and intensity of their
  mourning depends upon the relation and position of the deceased in
  the tribe. I have known instances where, if they should be passing
  along where any of their friends had died, even a year after their
  death, they would mourn.

The Shoshones, of Nevada, generally concealed their dead beneath heaps
of rocks, according to H. Butterfield, of Tyho, Nye County, Nevada,
although occasionally they either burn or bury them. He gives as reasons
for rock burial: 1st, to prevent coyotes eating the corpses; 2d, because
they have no tools for deep excavations; and 3d, natural indolence of
the Indians--indisposition to work any more than can be helped.

The Pi-Utes, of Oregon, bury in cairns; the Blackfeet do the same, as
did also the Acaxers and Yaquis, of Mexico, and the Esquimaux; in fact,
a number of examples might be quoted. In foreign lands the custom
prevailed among certain African tribes, and it is said that the ancient
Balearic Islanders covered their dead with a heap of stones, but this
ceremony was preceded by an operation which consisted in cutting the
body in small pieces and collecting in a pot.


Next should be noted this mode of disposing of the dead, a common custom
to a considerable extent among North American tribes, especially those
living on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, although we have
undoubted evidence that it was also practiced, among the more eastern
ones. This rite may be considered as peculiarly interesting from its
great antiquity, for Tegg[5.47] informs us that it reached as far back
as the Theban war, in the account of which mention is made of the
burning of Menœacus and Archemorus, who were contemporary with Jair,
eighth judge of Israel. It was common in the interior of Asia, and among
the ancient Greeks and Romans, and has also prevailed among the Hindoos
up to the present time. In fact, it is now rapidly becoming a custom
among civilized people.

While there is a certain degree of similarity between the performance of
this rite among the people spoken of and the Indians of North America,
yet, did space admit, a discussion might profitably be entered upon
regarding the details of it among the ancients and the origin of the
ceremony. As it is, simple narrations of cremation in the country, with
discursive notes and an account of its origin among the Nishinams of
California, by Stephen Powers,[5.48] seem to be all that is required at
this time:

  The moon and the coyote wrought together in creating all things that
  exist. The moon was good, but the coyote was bad. In making men and
  women, the moon wished to so fashion their souls that when they died
  they should return to the earth after two or three days as he
  himself does when he dies. But the coyote was evil disposed and said
  this should not be; but that when men died their friends should burn
  their bodies and once a year make a great mourning for them and the
  coyote prevailed. So, presently when deer died, they burned his
  body, as the coyote had decreed and after a year they made a great
  mourning for him. But the moon created the rattlesnake and caused it
  to bite the coyote’s son, so that he died. Now, though the coyote
  had been willing to burn the deer’s relations, he refused to burn
  his own son. Then the moon said unto him, “This is your own rule.
  You would have it so, and now your son shall be burned like the
  others.” So he was burned, and after a year the coyote mourned for
  him. Thus the law was established over the coyote also, and, as he
  had dominion over men, it prevailed over men likewise.

  This story is utterly worthless for itself, but it has its value in
  that it shows there was a time when the California Indians did not
  practice cremation, which is also established by other traditions.
  It hints at the additional fact that the Nishinams to this day set
  great store by the moon, consider it their benefactor in a hundred
  ways and observe its changes for a hundred purposes.

Another myth regarding cremation is given by Adam Johnston in
Schoolcraft[5.49] and relates to the Bonaks, or root-diggers:

  The first Indians that lived were coyotes. When one of their number
  died the body became full of little animals or spirits, as they
  thought then. After crawling over the body for a time they took all
  manner of shapes, some that of the deer, others the elk, antelope,
  etc. It was discovered however, that great numbers were taking wings
  and for a while they sailed about in the air, but eventually they
  would fly off to the moon. The old coyotes or Indians, fearing the
  earth might become depopulated in this way, concluded to stop it at
  once and ordered that when one of their people died the body must be
  burnt. Ever after they continued to burn the bodies of deceased

Ross Cox gives an account of the process as performed by the Tolkotins
of Oregon:[5.50]

  The ceremonies attending the dead are very singular and quite
  peculiar to this tribe. The body of the deceased is kept nine days
  laid out in his lodge and on the tenth it is buried. For this
  purpose a rising ground is selected, on which are laid a number of
  sticks, about 7 feet long, of cypress, neatly split and in the
  interstices, placed a quantity of gummy wood. During these
  operations invitations are dispatched to the natives of the
  neighboring villages requesting their attendance at the ceremony.
  When the preparations are perfected, the corpse is placed on the
  pile, which is immediately ignited and during the process of
  burning, the bystanders appear to be in a high state of merriment.
  If a stranger happen to be present they invariably plunder him, but
  if that pleasure be denied them, they never separate without
  quarreling among themselves. Whatever property the deceased
  possessed is placed about the corpse, and if he happened to be a
  person of consequence, his friends generally purchase a capote,
  a shirt, a pair of trousers, &c, which articles are also laid around
  the pile. If the doctor who attended him has escaped uninjured, he
  is obliged to be present at the ceremony, and for the last time
  tries his skill in restoring the defunct to animation. Failing in
  this, he throws on the body a piece of leather, or some other
  article, as a present, which in some measure appeases the resentment
  of his relatives, and preserves the unfortunate quack from being
  maltreated. During the nine days the corpse is laid out, the widow
  of the deceased is obliged to sleep along side it from sunset to
  sunrise, and from this custom there is no relaxation even during the
  hottest days of summer! While the doctor is performing his last
  operations she must lie on the pile, and after the fire is applied
  to it she cannot stir until the doctor orders her to be removed,
  which, however, is never done until her body is completely covered
  with blisters. After being placed on her legs, she is obliged to
  pass her hands gently through the flame and collect some of the
  liquid fat which issues from the corpse, with which she is permitted
  to wet her face and body. When the friends of the deceased observe
  the sinews of the legs and arms beginning to contract they compel
  the unfortunate widow to go again on the pile, and by dint of hard
  pressing to straighten those members.

    [Illustration: FIG. 10.--Tolkotin cremation.]

  If during her husband’s life time she has been known to have
  committed any act of infidelity or omitted administering to him
  savory food or neglected his clothing, &c. she is now made to suffer
  severely for such lapses of duty by his relations, who frequently
  fling her in the funeral pile, from which she is dragged by her
  friends, and thus between alternate scorching and cooling she is
  dragged backwards and forwards until she falls into a state of

  After the process of burning the corpse has terminated, the widow
  collects the larger bones, which she rolls up in an envelope of
  birch bark and which she is obliged for some years afterwards to
  carry on her back. She is now considered and treated as a slave, all
  the laborious duties of cooking, collecting food, &c. devolve on
  her. She must obey the orders of all the women, and even of the
  children belonging to the village, and the slightest mistake or
  disobedience subjects her to the infliction of a heavy punishment.
  The ashes of her husband are carefully collected and deposited in a
  grave which it is her duty to keep free from weeds, and should any
  such appear, she is obliged to root them out with her fingers.
  During this operation her husband’s relatives stand by and beat her
  in a cruel manner until the task is completed or she falls a victim
  to their brutality. The wretched widows, to avoid this complicated
  cruelty, frequently commit suicide. Should she, however, linger on
  for three or four years, the friends of her husband agree to relieve
  her from the her painful mourning. This is a ceremony of much
  consequence and the preparations for it occupy a considerable time
  generally from six to eight months. The hunters proceed to the
  various districts in which deer and beaver abound and after
  collecting large quantities of meat and fur return to the village.
  The skins are immediately bartered for guns, ammunition, clothing,
  trinkets, &c. Invitations are then sent to the inhabitants of the
  various friendly villages, and when they have all assembled the
  feast commences, and presents are distributed to each visitor. The
  object of their meeting is then explained, and the woman is brought
  forward, still carrying on her back the bones of her late husband,
  which are now removed and placed in a covered box, which is nailed
  or otherwise fastened to a post twelve feet high. Her conduct as a
  faithful widow is next highly eulogized, and the ceremony of her
  manumission is completed by one man powdering on her head the down
  of birds and another pouring on it the contents of a bladder of oil.
  She is then at liberty to marry again or lead a life of single
  blessedness, but few of them, I believe, wish to encounter the risk
  attending a second widowhood.

  The men are condemned to a similar ordeal, but they do not bear it
  with equal fortitude, and numbers fly to distant quarters to avoid
  the brutal treatment which custom has established as a kind of
  religious rite.

Figure 10 is an ideal sketch of the cremation according to the
description given.

Perhaps a short review of some of the peculiar and salient points of
this narrative may be permitted.

It is stated that the corpse is kept nine days after death--certainly a
long period of time, when it is remembered that Indians as a rule
endeavor to dispose of their dead as soon as possible. This may be
accounted for on the supposition that it is to give the friends and
relatives an opportunity of assembling, verifying the death, and of
making proper preparations for the ceremony. With regard to the
verification of the dead person, William Sheldon[5.51] gives an account
of a similar custom which was common among the Caraibs of Jamaica, and
which seems to throw some light upon the unusual retention of deceased
persons by the tribe in question, although it most be admitted that this
is mere hypothesis:

  They had some very extraordinary customs respecting deceased
  persons. When one of them died, it was necessary that all his
  relations should see him and examine the body in order to ascertain
  that he died a natural death. They acted so rigidly on this
  principle, that if one relative remained who had not seen the body
  all the others could not convince that one that the death was
  natural. In such a case the absent relative considered himself as
  bound in honor to consider all the other relatives as having been
  accessories to the death of the kinsman, and did not rest until he
  had killed one of them to revenge the death of the deceased. If a
  Caraib died in Martinico or Guadaloupe and but his relations lived
  in St. Vincents, it was necessary to summon them to see the body,
  and several months sometimes elapsed before it could be finally
  interred. When a Caraib died he was immediately painted all over
  with _roucou_, and had his mustachios and the black streaks in his
  face made with a black paint, which was different from that used in
  their lifetime. A kind of grave was then dug in the _carbet_ where
  he died, about 4 feet square and 6 or 7 feet deep. The body was let
  down in it, when sand was thrown in, which reached to the knees, and
  the body was placed in it in a sitting posture, resembling that in
  which they crouched round the fire or the table when alive, with the
  elbows on the knees and the palms of the hands against the cheeks.
  No part of the body touched the outside of the grave, which was
  covered with wood and mats until all the relations had examined it.
  When the customary examinations and inspections were ended the hole
  was filled, and the bodies afterwards remained undisturbed. The hair
  of the deceased was kept tied behind. In this way bodies have
  remained several months without any symptoms of decay or producing
  any disagreeable smell. The _roucou_ not only preserved them from
  the sun, air, and insects during their lifetime, but probably had
  the same effect after death. The arms of the Caraibs were placed by
  them when they were covered over for inspection, and they were
  finally buried with them.

Again, we are told that during the burning the bystanders are very
merry. This hilarity is similar to that shown by the Japanese at a
funeral, who rejoice that the troubles and worries of the world are over
for the fortunate dead. The plundering of strangers present, it may be
remembered, also took place among the Indians of the Carolinas. As
already mentioned on a preceding page, the cruel manner in which the
widow is treated seems to be a modification of the Hindoo suttee, but,
if the account be true, it would appear that death might be preferable
to such torments.

It is interesting to note that in Corsica, as late as 1743, if a husband
died, women threw themselves upon the widow and beat her severely.
Brohier quaintly remarks that this custom obliged women to take good
care of their husbands.

George Gibbs, in Schoolcraft,[5.52] states that among the Indians of
Clear Lake, California, “the body is consumed upon a scaffold built over
a hole, into which the ashes are thrown and covered.”

According to Stephen Powers,[5.53] cremation was common among the Se-nél
of California. He thus relates it.

  The dead are mostly burned. Mr. Willard described to me a scene of
  incremation that he once witnessed, which was frightful for its
  exhibitions of fanatic frenzy and infatuation. The corpse was that
  of a wealthy chieftain, and as he lay upon the funeral pyre they
  placed in his month two gold twenties, and other smaller coins in
  his ears and hands, on his breast, &c. besides all his finery, his
  feather mantles, plumes, clothing, shell money, his fancy bows,
  painted arrows, &c. When the torch was applied they set up a
  mournful ululation, chanting and dancing about him, gradually
  working themselves into a wild and ecstatic raving, which seemed
  almost a demoniacal possession, leaping, howling, lacerating their
  flesh. Many seemed to lose all self-control. The younger
  English-speaking Indians generally lend themselves charily to such
  superstitious work, especially if American spectators are present,
  but even they were carried away by the old contagious frenzy of
  their race. One stripped off a broadcloth coat, quite new and fine,
  and ran frantically yelling and cast it upon the blazing pile.
  Another rushed up, and was about to throw on a pile of California
  blankets, when a white man, to test his sincerity, offend him $16
  for them, jingling the bright coins before his eyes, but the savage
  (for such he had become again for the moment) otherwise so
  avaricious, hurled him away with a yell of execration and ran and
  threw his offering into the flames. Squaws, even more frenzied,
  wildly flung upon the pyre all they had in the world--their dearest
  ornaments, their gaudiest dresses, their strings of glittering
  shells. Screaming, wailing, tearing their hair, beating their
  breasts in their mad and insensate infatuation, some of them would
  have cast themselves bodily into the flaming ruins and perished with
  the chief had they not been restrained by their companions. Then the
  bright, swift flames, with their hot tongues, licked this “cold
  obstruction” into chemic change, and the once “delighted spirit” of
  the savage was borne up. * * *

  It seems as if the savage shared in Shakspeare’s shudder at the
  thought of rotting in the dismal grave, for it is the one passion of
  his superstition to think of the soul, of his departed friend set
  free and purified by the swift purging heat of the flames not
  dragged down to be clogged and bound in the mouldering body, but
  borne up in the soft, warm chariots of the smoke toward the
  beautiful sun, to bask in his warmth and light, and then to fly away
  to the Happy Western Land. What wonder if the Indian shrinks with
  unspeakable horror from the thought of _burying his friend’s
  soul!_--of pressing and ramming down with pitiless clods that inner
  something which once took such delight in the sweet light of the
  sun! What wonder if it takes years to persuade him to do otherwise
  and follow our custom! What wonder if even then he does it with sad
  fears and misgivings! Why not let him keep his custom! In the
  gorgeous landscapes and balmy climate of California an Indian
  incremation is as natural to the savage as it is for him to love the
  beauty of the sun. Let the vile Esquimaux and the frozen Siberian
  bury their dead if they will; it matters little, the earth is the
  same above as below; or to them the bosom of the earth may seem even
  the better; but in California do not blame the savage if he recoils
  at the thought of going underground! This soft pale halo of the
  lilac hills--ah, let him console himself if he will with the belief
  that his lost friend enjoys it still! The narrator concluded by
  saying that they destroyed full $500 worth of property. “The
  blankets,” said he with a fine Californian scorn of much absurd
  insensibility to such a good bargain, “the blankets that the
  American offered him $16 for were not worth half the money.”

  After death the Se-nél hold that bad Indians return into coyotes.
  Others fall off a bridge which all souls must traverse, or are
  hooked off by a raging bull at the further end, while the good
  escape across. Like the Yokaia and the Konkan, they believe it
  necessary to nourish the spirits of the departed for the space of a
  year. This is generally done by a squaw, who takes pinole in her
  blanket, repairs to the scene of the incremation, or to places
  hallowed by the memory of the dead, when she scatters it over the
  ground, meantime rocking her body violently to and fro in a dance
  and chanting the following chorous:


  This refrain is repeated over and over indefinitely, but the words
  have no meaning whatever.

Henry Gillman[5.54] has published an interesting account of the
exploration of a mound near Waldo, Fla., in which he found abundant
evidence that cremation had existed among the former Indian population.
It is as follows:

  In opening a burial-mound at Cade’s Pond, a small body of water
  situated about two miles northeastward of Santa Fé Lake, Fla., the
  writer found two instances of cremation, in each of which the skull
  of the subject, which was unconsumed, was used as the depository of
  his ashes. The mound contained besides a large number of human
  burials, the bones being much decayed. With them were deposited a
  great number of vessels of pottery, many of which are painted in
  brilliant colors, chiefly red, yellow, and brown, and some of them
  ornamented with indented patterns, displaying not a little skill in
  the ceramic art, though they are reduced to fragments. The first of
  the skulls referred to was exhumed at a depth of 2½ feet. It rested
  on its apex (base uppermost), and was filled with fragments of half
  incinerated human bones, mingled with dark-colored dust, and the
  sand which invariably sifts into crania under such circumstances.
  Immediately beneath the skull lay the greater part of a human tibia,
  presenting the peculiar compression known as a platycnemism to the
  degree of affording a latitudinal index of .512; while beneath and
  surrounding it lay the fragments of a large number of human bones,
  probably constituting an entire individual. In the second instance
  of this peculiar mode in cremation, the cranium was discovered on
  nearly the opposite side of the mound, at a depth of 2 feet, and,
  like the former, resting on its apex. It was filled with a black
  mass--the residuum of burnt human bones mingled with sand. At three
  feet to the eastward lay the shaft of a flattened tibia, which
  presents the longitudinal index of .527. Both the skulls were free
  from all action of fire, and though subsequently crumbling to pieces
  on their removal, the writer had opportunity to observe their strong
  resemblance to the small, orthocephalic crania which he had exhumed
  from mounds in Michigan. The same resemblance was perceptible in the
  other cranium belonging to this mound. The small narrow, retreating
  frontal, prominent parietal protuberances, rather protuberant
  occipital, which was not in the least compressed, the well defined
  supraciliary ridges, and the superior border of the orbits,
  presenting a quadrilateral outline, were also particularly noticed.
  The lower facial bones, including the maxillaries, were wanting. On
  consulting such works as are accessible to him, the writer finds no
  mention of any similar relics having been discovered in mounds in
  Florida, or elsewhere. For further particulars reference may be had
  to a paper on the subject read before the Saint Louis meeting of the
  American Association, August, 1878.

The discoveries made by Mr. Gillman would seem to indicate that the
people whose bones he excavated resorted to a process of partial
cremation, some examples of which will be given on another page. The use
of crania as receptacles is certainly remarkable, if not unique.

The fact is well-known to archæologists that whenever cremation was
practiced by Indians it was customary as a rule to throw into the
blazing pyre all sorts of articles supposed to be useful to the dead,
but no instance is known of such a wholesale destruction of property as
occurred when the Indians of Southern Utah burned their dead, for Dr. E.
Foreman relates, in the American Naturalist for July, 1876, the account
of the exploration of a mound in that Territory, which proves that at
the death of a person not only were the remains destroyed by fire, but
all articles of personal property, even the very habitation which had
served as a home. After the process was completed, what remained
unburned was covered with earth and a mound formed.

A. S. Tiffany[5.55] describes what he calls a cremation-furnace,
discovered within seven miles of Davenport, Iowa.

  * * * Mound seven miles, below the city, a projecting point known as
  Eagle Point. The surface was of the usual black soil to the depth of
  from 6 to 8 inches. Next was found a burnt indurated clay,
  resembling in color and texture a medium-burned brick, and about 30
  inches in depth. Immediately beneath this clay was a bed of charred
  human remains 6 to 18 inches thick. This rested upon the unchanged
  and undisturbed loam of the bluffs, which formed the floor of the
  pit. Imbedded in this floor of unburned clay were a few very much
  decomposed, but unburned, human bones. No implements of any kind
  were discovered. The furnace appears to have been constructed by
  excavating the pit and placing at the bottom of it the bodies or
  skeletons which had possibly been collected from scaffolds, and
  placing the fuel among and above the bodies, with a covering of
  poles or split timbers extending over and resting upon the earth,
  with the clay covering above, which latter we now find resting upon
  the charred remains. The ends of the timber covering, where they
  were protected by the earth above and below, were reduced to
  charcoal, parallel pieces of which were found at right angles to the
  length of the mound. No charcoal was found among or near the
  remains, the combustion there having been complete. The porous and
  softer portions of the bones were reduced to pulverized bone-black.
  Mr. Stevens also examined the furnace. The mound had probably not
  been opened after the burning.

This account is doubtless true, but the inferences may be incorrect.

Many more accounts of cremation among different tribes might be given to
show how prevalent was the custom, but the above are thought to be
sufficiently distinctive to serve as examples.


Allied somewhat to cremation is a peculiar mode of burial which is
supposed to have taken place among the Cherokees, or some other tribe of
North Carolina, and which is thus described by J. W. Foster:[5.56]

  Up to 1819 the Cherokee held possession of this region, when, in
  pursuance of a treaty, they vacated a portion of the lands lying in
  the valley of the Little Tennessee River. In 1821 Mr. McDowell
  commenced farming. During the first season’s operations the
  plowshare, in passing over a certain portion of a field, produced a
  hollow rumbling sound, and in exploring for the cause the first
  object met with was a shallow layer of charcoal, beneath which was a
  slab of burnt clay about 7 feet in length and 4 feet broad, which,
  in the attempt to remove, broke into several fragments. Nothing
  beneath this slab was found, but on examining its under side, to his
  great surprise there was the mould of a naked human figure. Three of
  these burned-clay sepulchers were thus raised and examined during
  the first year of his occupancy, since which time none have been
  found until recently. During the past season, (1878) the plow
  brought up another fragment of one of these moulds, revealing the
  impress of a plump human arm.

  Col. C. W. Jenkes, the superintendent of the Corundum mines, which
  have recently been opened in that vicinity, advises me thus:

  “We have Indians all about us, with traditions extending back for
  500 years. In this time they have buried their dead under huge piles
  of stones. We have at one point the remains of 600 warriors under
  one pile, but a grave has just been opened of the following
  construction: A pit was dug, into which the corpse was placed, face
  upward; then over it was moulded a covering of mortar, fitting the
  form and features. On this was built a hot fire, which formed an
  entire shield of pottery for the corpse. The breaking up of one such
  tomb gives a perfect cast of the form of the occupant.”

  Colonel Jenkes, fully impressed with the value of these
  archeological discoveries, detailed a man to superintend the
  exhumation, who proceeded to remove the earth from the mould, which
  he reached through a layer of charcoal, and then with a trowel
  excavated beneath it. The clay was not thoroughly baked, and no
  impression of the corpse was left, except of the forehead and that
  portion of the limbs between the ankles and the knees, and even
  these portions of the mould crumbled. The body had been placed east
  and west, the head toward the east. “I had hoped,” continues Mr.
  McDowell, “that the cast in the clay would be as perfect as one I
  found 51 years ago, a fragment of which I presented to Colonel
  Jenkes, with the impression of a part of the arm on one side and on
  the other of the fingers, that had pressed down the soft clay upon
  the body interred beneath it.” The mound-builders of the Ohio
  valley, as has been shown, often placed a layer of clay over the
  dead, but not in immediate contact, upon which they builded fires;
  and the evidence that cremation was often resorted to in their
  disposition are too abundant to be gainsaid.

This statement is corroborated by Mr. Wilcox:[5.57]

  Mr. Wilcox also stated that when recently in North Carolina his
  attention was called to an unusual method of burial by an ancient
  race of Indians in that vicinity. In numerous instances burial
  places were discovered where the bodies had been placed with the
  face up and covered with a coating of plastic clay about an inch
  thick. A pile of wood was then placed on top and fired, which
  consumed the body and baked the clay, which retained the impression
  of the body. This was then lightly covered with earth.

It is thought no doubt can attach to the statements given, but the cases
are remarkable as being the only instances of the kind met with in the
extensive range of reading preparatory to a study of the subject of
burial, although it must be observed that Bruhier states that the
ancient Ethiopians covered the corpses of their dead with plaster
(probably mud), but they did not burn these curious coffins.

Another method, embracing both burial and cremation, has been practiced
by the Pitt River or Achomawi Indians of California, who

  Bury the body in the ground in a standing position, the shoulders
  nearly even with the ground. The grave is prepared by digging a hole
  of sufficient depth and circumference to admit the body, the head
  being cut off. In the grave are placed the bows and arrows,
  bead-work, trappings, &c., belonging to the deceased; quantities of
  food, consisting of dried fish, roots, herbs, &c., were placed with
  the body also. The grave was then filled up, covering the headless
  body; then a bundle of fagots was brought and placed on the grave by
  the different members of the tribe, and on these fagots the head was
  placed, the pile fired, and the head consumed to ashes; after this
  was done the female relatives of the deceased, who had appeared as
  mourners with their faces blackened with a preparation resembling
  tar or paint, dipped their fingers in the ashes of the cremated head
  and made three marks on their right cheek. This constituted the
  mourning garb, the period of which lasted until this black substance
  wore off from the face. In addition to this mourning, the blood
  female relatives of the deceased (who, by the way, appeared to be a
  man of distinction) had their hair cropped short. I noticed while
  the head was burning that the old women of the tribe sat on the
  ground, forming a large circle, inside of which another circle of
  young girls were formed standing and swaying their bodies to and fro
  and singing a mournful ditty. This was the only burial of a male
  that I witnessed. The custom of burying females is very different,
  their bodies being wrapped or bundled up in skins and laid away in
  caves, with their valuables and in some cases food being placed with
  them in their mouths. Occasionally money is left to pay for food in
  the spirit land.

This account is furnished by Gen. Charles H. Tompkins, deputy
quartermaster-general, United States Army, who witnessed the burial
above related, and is the more interesting as it seems to be the only
well-authenticated case on record, although E. A. Barber[5.58] has
described what may possibly have been a case of cremation like the one
above noted:

  A very singular case of aboriginal burial was brought to my notice
  recently by Mr. William Klingbeil, of Philadelphia. On the New
  Jersey bank of the Delaware River, a short distance below Gloucester
  City, the skeleton of a man was found buried in a standing position,
  in a high, red, sandy-clay bluff overlooking the stream. A few
  inches below the surface the neck bones were found, and below these
  the remainder of the skeleton, with the exception of the bones of
  the hands and feet. The skull being wanting, it could not be
  determined whether the remains were those of an Indian or of a white
  man, but in either case the sepulture was peculiarly aboriginal.
  A careful exhumation and critical examination by Mr. Klingbeil
  disclosed the fact that around the lower extremities of the body had
  been placed a number of large stones, which revealed traces of fire,
  in conjunction with charred wood, and the bones of the feet had
  undoubtedly been consumed. This fact makes it appear reasonably
  certain that the subject had been executed, probably as a prisoner
  of war. A pit had been dug, in which he was placed erect, and a fire
  kindled around him. Then he had been buried alive, or, at least, if
  he did not survive the fiery ordeal, his body was imbedded in the
  earth, with the exception of his head, which was left protruding
  above the surface. As no trace of the cranium could be found, it
  seems probable that the head had either been burned or severed from
  the body and removed, or else left a prey to ravenous birds. The
  skeleton, which would have measured fully six feet in height, was
  undoubtedly that of a man.

Blacking the face, as is mentioned in the first account, is a custom
known to have existed among many tribes throughout the world, but in
some cases different earths and pigments are used as signs of mourning.
The natives of Guinea smear a chalky substance over their bodies as an
outward expression of grief, and it is well known that the ancient
Israelites threw ashes on their heads and garments. Placing food with
the corpse or in its mouth, and money in the hand, finds its analogue in
the custom of the ancient Romans, who, some time before interment,
placed a piece of money in the corpse’s mouth, which was thought to be
Charon’s fare for wafting the departed soul over the Infernal River.
Besides this, the corpse’s mouth was furnished with a certain cake,
composed of flour, honey, &c. This was designed to appease the fury of
Cerberus, the infernal doorkeeper, and to procure a safe and quiet
entrance. These examples are curious coincidences, if nothing more.



Our attention should next be turned to sepulture above the ground,
including lodge, house, box, scaffold, tree, and canoe burial, and the
first example which may be given is that of burial in lodges, which is
by no means common. The description which follows is by Stansbury,[5.59]
and relates to the Sioux:

  I put on my moccasins, and, displaying my wet shirt like a flag to
  the wind, we proceeded to the lodges which had attracted our
  curiosity. There were five of them pitched upon the open prairie,
  and in them we found the bodies of nine Sioux laid out upon the
  ground, wrapped in their robes of buffalo-skin, with their saddles,
  spears, camp-kettles, and all their accoutrements piled up around
  them. Some lodges contained three, others only one body, all of
  which were more or less in a state of decomposition. A short
  distance apart from these was one lodge which, though small, seemed
  of rather superior pretensions, and was evidently pitched with great
  care. It contained the body of a young Indian girl of sixteen or
  eighteen years, with a countenance presenting quite an agreeable
  expression: she was richly dressed in leggins of fine scarlet cloth
  elaborately ornamented; a new pair of moccasins, beautifully
  embroidered with porcupine quills, was on her feet, and her body was
  wrapped in two superb buffalo-robes worked in like manner; she had
  evidently been dead but a day or two, and to our surprise a portion
  of the upper part of her person was bare, exposing the face and a
  part of the breast, as if the robes in which she was wrapped had by
  some means been disarranged, whereas all the other bodies were
  closely covered up. It was, at the time, the opinion of our
  mountaineers, that these Indians must have fallen in an encounter
  with a party of Crows; but I subsequently learned that they had all
  died of the cholera, and that this young girl, being considered past
  recovery, had been arranged by her friends in the habiliments of the
  dead, inclosed in the lodge alive, and abandoned to her fate, so
  fearfully alarmed were the Indians by this to them novel and
  terrible disease.

It might, perhaps, be said that this form of burial was exceptional, and
due to the dread of again using the lodges which had served as the homes
of those afflicted with the cholera, but it is thought such was not the
case, as the writer has notes of the same kind of burial among the same
tribe and of others, notably the Crows, the body of one of their chiefs
(Long Horse) being disposed of as follows:

  The lodge poles inclose an oblong circle some 18 by 22 feet at the
  base, converging to a point, at least 30 feet high, covered with
  buffalo-hides dressed without hair except a part of the tail switch,
  which floats outside like, and mingled with human scalps. The
  different skins are neatly fitted and sewed together with sinew, and
  all painted in seven alternate horizontal stripes of brown and
  yellow, decorated with various lifelike war scenes. Over the small
  entrance is a large bright cross, the upright being a large stuffed
  white wolf-skin upon his war lance, and the cross-bar of bright
  scarlet flannel, containing the quiver of bow and arrows, which
  nearly all warriors still carry, even when armed with repeating
  rifles. As the cross is not a pagan but a Christian (which Long
  Horse was not either by profession or practice) emblem, it was
  probably placed there by the influence of some of his white friends.
  I entered, finding Long Horse buried Indian fashion, in full war
  dress, paint and feathers, in a rude coffin, upon a platform about
  breast high, decorated with weapons, scalps, and ornaments. A large
  opening and wind-flap at the top favored ventilation, and though he
  had lain there in an open coffin a full month, some of which was hot
  weather, there was but little effluvia; in fact, I have seldom found
  much in a burial-teepee, and when this mode of burial is thus
  performed it is less repulsive than natural to suppose.

This account is furnished by Col. P. W. Norris, superintendent of
Yellowstone National Park, he having been an eye-witness of what he
relates in 1876; and although the account has been questioned, it is
admitted for the reason that this gentleman persists, after a reperusal
of his article, that the facts are correct.

General Stewart Van Vliet, U.S.A., informs the writer that among the
Sioux of Wyoming and Nebraska when a person of consequence dies a small
scaffold is erected inside his lodge and the body wrapped in skins
deposited therein. Different utensils and weapons are placed by his
side, and in front a horse is slaughtered; the lodge is then closed up.

Dr. W. J. Hoffman writes as follows regarding the burial lodges of the
Shoshones of Nevada:

  The Shoshones of the upper portion of Nevada are not known to have
  at any time practiced cremation. In Independence Valley, under a
  deserted and demolished _wickeup_ or “brush tent,” I found the
  dried-up corpse of a boy, about twelve years of age. The body had
  been here for at least six weeks, according to information received,
  and presented a shriveled and hideous appearance. The dryness of the
  atmosphere prevented decomposition. The Indians in this region
  usually leave the body when life terminates, merely throwing over it
  such rubbish as may be at hand, or the remains of their primitive
  shelter tents, which are mostly composed of small branches, leaves,
  grass, &c.

  The Shoshones living on Independence Creek and on the eastern banks
  of the Owyhee River, upper portion of Nevada, did not bury their
  dead at the time of my visit in 1871. Whenever the person died, his
  lodge (usually constructed of poles and branches of _Salix_) was
  demolished and placed in one confused mass over his remains, when
  the band removed a short distance. When the illness is not too
  great, or death sudden, the sick person is removed to a favorable
  place, some distance from their temporary camping ground, so as to
  avoid the necessity of their own removal. Coyotes, ravens, and other
  carnivores soon remove all the flesh so that there remains nothing
  but the bones, and even these are scattered by the wolves. The
  Indians at Tuscarora, Nevada, stated that when it was possible and
  that they should by chance meet the bony remains of any Shoshone,
  they would bury it, but in what manner I failed to discover as the
  were very reticent, and avoided giving any information regarding the
  dead. One corpse was found totally dried and shrivelled, owing to
  the dryness of the atmosphere in this region.

Capt. F. W. Beechey[5.60] describes a curious mode of burial among the
Esquimaux on the west coast of Alaska, which appears to be somewhat
similar to lodge burial. Figure 11, after his illustration, affords a
good idea of these burial receptacles.

  Near us there was a burying ground, which in addition to what we had
  already observed at Cape Espenburg furnished several examples of the
  manner in which this tribe of natives dispose of their dead. In some
  instances a platform was constructed of drift-wood raised about two
  feet and a quarter from the ground, upon which the body was placed,
  with its head to the westward and a double tent of drift-wood
  erected over it, the inner one with spars about seven feet long, and
  the outer one with some that were three times that length. They were
  placed close together, and at first no doubt sufficiently so to
  prevent the depredations of foxes and wolves, but they had yielded
  at last, and all the bodies, and even the hides that covered them,
  had suffered by these rapacious animals.

  In these tents of the dead there were no coffins or planks, as at
  Cape Espenburg, the bodies were dressed in a frock made of eider
  duck skins, with one of deer skin over it, and were covered with a
  sea horse hide, such as the natives use for their _baidars_.
  Suspended to the poles, and on the ground near them, were several
  Esquimaux implements, consisting of wooden trays, paddles, and a
  tamborine, which, we were informed as well as signs could convey the
  meaning of the natives, were placed there for the use of the
  deceased, who, in the next world (pointing to the western sky) ate,
  drank, and sang songs. Having no interpreter, this was all the
  information I could obtain, but the custom of placing such
  instruments around the receptacles of the dead is not unusual, and
  in all probability the Esquimaux may believe that the soul has
  enjoyments in the next world similar to those which constitute their
  happiness in this.

The Blackfeet, Cheyennes, and Navajos also bury in lodges, and the
Indians of Bellingham Bay, according to Dr. J. F. Hammond, U.S.A., place
their dead in carved wooden sarcophagi, inclosing these with a
rectangular tent of some white material. Some of the tribes of the
northwest coast bury in houses similar to those shown in Figure 12.

    [Illustration: FIG. 12.--Burial Houses.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 11.--Eskimo lodge burial.]

Bancroft[5.61] states that certain of the Indians of Costa Rica, when a
death occurred, deposited the body in a small hut constructed of plaited
palm reeds. In this it is preserved for three years, food being
supplied, and on each anniversary of the death it is redressed and
attended to amid certain ceremonies. The writer has been recently
informed that a similar custom prevailed in Demerara. No authentic
accounts are known of analogous modes of burial among the peoples of the
Old World, although quite frequently the dead were interred beneath the
floors of their houses, a custom which has been followed by the Mosquito
Indians of Central America and one or two of our own tribes.


Under this head may be placed those examples furnished by certain tribes
on the northwest coast who used as receptacles for the dead wonderfully
carved, large wooden chests, these being supported upon a low platform
or resting on the ground. In shape they resemble a small house with an
angular roof, and each one has an opening through which food may be
passed to the corpse.

Some of the tribes formerly living in New York used boxes much
resembling those spoken of, and the Creeks, Choctaws, and Cherokees did
the same.

Capt. J. H. Gageby, United States Army, furnishes the following relating
to the Creeks in Indian Territory.

  * * * are buried on the surface, in a box or a substitute made of
  branches of trees, covered with small branches, leaves, and earth.
  I have seen several of their graves, which after a few weeks had
  become uncovered and the remains exposed to view. I saw in one Creek
  grave (a child’s) a small sum of silver, in another (adult male)
  some implements of warfare, bow and arrows. They are all interred
  with the feet of the corpse to the east. In the mourning ceremonies
  of the Creeks the nearer relatives smeared their hair and faces with
  a composition made of grease and wood ashes, and would remain in
  that condition for several days, and probably a month.

Josiah Priest[5.62] gives an account of the burial repositories of a
tribe of Pacific coast Indians living on the Talomeco River, Oregon. The
writer believes it to be entirely unreliable and gives it place as an
example of credulity shown by many writers and readers.

  The corpses of the Caciques were so well embalmed that there was no
  bad smell, they were deposited in large wooden coffins, well
  constructed, and placed upon benches two feet from the ground. In
  smaller coffins, and in baskets, the Spaniards found the clothes of
  the deceased men and women, and so many pearls that they distributed
  them among the officers and soldiers by handsfulls.

In Bancroft[5.63] may be found the following account of the burial boxes
of the Esquimaux.

  The Eskimos do not as a rule bury their dead, but double the body up
  and place it on the side in a plank box which is elevated three or
  four feet from the ground and supported by four posts. The grave-box
  is often covered with painted figures of birds, fishes and animals.
  Sometimes it is wrapped in skins placed upon an elevated frame and
  covered with planks or trunks of trees so as to protect it from wild
  beasts. Upon the frame, or in the grave box are deposited the arms,
  clothing, and sometimes the domestic utensils of the deceased.
  Frequent mention is made by travelers of burial places where the
  bodies lie exposed with their heads placed towards the north.

Frederic Whymper[5.64] describes the burial boxes of the Kalosh of that

  Their grave boxes or tombs are interesting. They contain only the
  ashes of the dead. These people invariably burn the deceased. On one
  of the boxes I saw a number of faces painted, long tresses of human
  hair depending therefrom. Each head represented a victim of the
  (happily) deceased one’s ferocity. In his day he was doubtless more
  esteemed than if he had never harmed a fly. All their graves are
  much ornamented with carved and painted faces and other devices.

W. H. Dall,[5.65] well known as one of the most experienced and careful
of American Ethnologic observers, describes the burial boxes of the
Innuits of Unalaklik, Innuits of Yuka, and Ingaliks of Ulukuk as
follows: Figs. 13 and 14 are after his illustrations in the volume

    [Illustration: FIG. 13.--Innuit Grave.]


  The usual fashion is to place the body doubled up on its side in a
  box of plank hewed out of spruce logs and about four feet long. This
  is elevated several feet above the ground on four posts which
  project above the coffin or box. The sides are often painted with
  red chalk in figures of fur animals, birds, and fishes. According to
  the wealth of the dead man, a number of articles which belonged to
  him are attached to the coffin or strewed around it; some of them
  have kyaks, bows and arrows, hunting implements, snow-shoes, or even
  kettles, around the grave or fastened to it; and almost invariably
  the wooden dish, or “kantág,” from which the deceased was accustomed
  to eat, is hung on one of the posts.

    [Illustration: FIG. 14.--Ingalik grave.]


  The dead are enclosed above ground in a box in the manner previously
  described. The annexed sketch shows the form of the sarcophagus,
  which, in this case, is ornamented with snow-shoes, a reel for
  seal-lines, a fishing-rod, and a wooden dish or kantág. The latter
  is found with every grave, and usually one is placed in the box with
  the body. Sometimes a part of the property of the dead person is
  placed in the coffin or about it; occasionally the whole is thus
  disposed of. Generally the furs, possessions, and clothing (except
  such as has been worn) are divided among the nearer relatives of the
  dead, or remain in possession of his family if he has one; such
  clothing, household utensils, and weapons as the deceased had in
  daily use are almost invariably enclosed in his coffin. If there are
  many deaths about the same time, or an epidemic occurs, everything
  belonging to the dead is destroyed. The house in which a death
  occurs is always deserted and usually destroyed. In order to avoid
  this, it is not uncommon to take the sick person out of the house
  and put him in a tent to die. A woman’s coffin may be known by the
  kettles and other feminine utensils about it. There is no
  distinction between the sexes in method of burial. On the outside of
  the coffin, figures are usually drawn in red ochre. Figures of fur
  animals usually indicate that the dead person was a good trapper; if
  seal or deer skin, his proficiency as a hunter; representation of
  parkies that he was wealthy; the manner of his death is also
  occasionally indicated. For four days after a death the women in the
  village do no sewing; for five days the men do not cut wood with an
  axe. The relatives of the dead must not seek birds’ eggs on the
  overhanging cliffs for a year, or their feet will slip from under
  them and they will be dashed to pieces. No mourning is worn or
  indicated, except by cutting the hair. Women sit and watch the body,
  chanting a mournful refrain until he is interred. They seldom
  suspect that others have brought the death about by shamánism, as
  the Indians almost invariably do.

  At the end of a year from the death, a festival is given, presents
  are made to those who assisted in making the coffin, and the period
  of mourning is over. Their grief seldom seems deep but they indulge
  for a long time in wailing for the dead at intervals. I have seen
  several women who refused to take a second husband, and had remained
  single in spite of repeated offers for many years.


  As we drew near, we heard a low, wailing chant, and Mikála, one of
  my men, informed me that it was women lamenting for the dead. On
  landing, I saw several Indians hewing out the box in which the dead
  are placed. * * * The body lay on its side on a deer skin, the heels
  were lashed to the small of the back, and the head bent forward on
  the chest so that his coffin needed to be only about four feet long.


We may now pass to what may be called aerial sepulture proper, the most
common examples of which are tree and scaffold burial, quite extensively
practiced even at the present time. From what can be learned the choice
of this mode depends greatly on the facilities present, where timber
abounds, trees being used, if absent, scaffolds being employed.

From William J. Cleveland, of the Spotted Tail Agency, Nebraska, has
been received a most interesting account of the mortuary customs of the
Brulé or Teton Sioux, who belong to the Lakotah alliance. They are
called _Sicaugu_, in the Indian tongue _Seechaugas_, or the “burned
thigh” people. The narrative is given in its entirety, not only on
account of its careful attention to details, but from its known
truthfulness of description. It relates to tree and scaffold burial.


  Though some few of this tribe now lay their dead in rude boxes,
  either burying them when implements for digging can be had, or, when
  they have no means of making a grave, placing them on top of the
  ground on some hill or other slight elevation, yet this is done in
  imitation of the whites, and their general custom, as a people,
  probably does not differ in any essential way from that of their
  forefathers for many generations in the past. In disposing of the
  dead, they wrap the body tightly in blankets or robes (sometimes
  both) wind it all over with thongs made of the hide of some animal
  and place it reclining on the back at full length, either in the
  branches of some tree or on a scaffold made for the purpose. These
  scaffolds are about eight feet high and made by planting four forked
  sticks firmly in the ground, one at each corner and then placing
  others across on top, so as to form a floor on which the body is
  securely fastened. Sometimes more than one body is placed on the
  same scaffold, though generally a separate one is made for each
  occasion. These Indians being in all things most superstitious,
  attach a kind of sacredness to these scaffolds and all the materials
  used or about the dead. This superstition is in itself sufficient to
  prevent any of their own people from disturbing the dead, and for
  one of another nation to in any wise meddle with them is considered
  an offense not too severely punished by death. The same feeling also
  prevents them from ever using old scaffolds or any of the wood which
  has been used about them, even for firewood, though the necessity
  may be very great, for fear some evil consequences will follow. It
  is also the custom, though not universally followed, when bodies
  have been for two years on the scaffolds to take them down and bury
  them under ground.

    [Illustration: FIG. 15.--Dakota Scaffold Burial.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 16.--Offering Food to the Dead.]

  All the work about winding up the dead, building the scaffold, and
  placing the dead upon it is done by women only, who, after having
  finished their labor, return and bring the men, to show them where
  the body is placed, that they may be able to find it in future.
  Valuables of all kinds, such as weapons, ornaments, pipes, &c.--in
  short, whatever the deceased valued most highly while living, and
  locks of hair cut from the heads of the mourners at his death, are
  always bound up with the body. In case the dead was a man of
  importance, or if the family could afford it, even though he were
  not, one or several horses (generally, in the former case, those
  which the departed thought most of) are shot and placed under the
  scaffold. The idea in this is that the spirit of the horse will
  accompany and be of use to his spirit in the “happy hunting
  grounds,” or, as these people express it, “the spirit land.”

  When an Indian dies, and in some cases even before death occurs, the
  friends and relatives assemble at the lodge and begin crying over
  the departed or departing one. This consists in uttering the most
  heartrending, almost hideous wails and lamentations, in which all
  join until exhausted. Then the mourning ceases for a time until some
  one starts it again, when all join in as before and keep it up until
  unable to cry longer. This is kept up until the body is removed.
  This crying is done almost wholly by women, who gather in large
  numbers on such occasions, and among them a few who are professional
  mourners. These are generally old women and go whenever a person is
  expected to die, to take the leading part in the lamentations,
  knowing that they will be well paid at the distribution of goods
  which follows. As soon as death takes place, the body is dressed by
  the women in the best garments and blankets obtainable, new ones if
  they can be afforded. The crowd gathered near continue wailing
  piteously, and from time to time cut locks of hair from their own
  heads with knives, and throw them on the dead body. Those who wish
  to show their grief most strongly, cut themselves in various places,
  generally in the legs and arms, with their knives or pieces of
  flint, more commonly the latter, causing the blood to flow freely
  over their persons. This custom is followed to a less degree by the

  A body is seldom kept longer than one day as, besides the desire to
  get the dead out of sight, the fear that the disease which caused
  the death will communicate itself to others of the family causes
  them to hasten the disposition of it as soon as they are certain
  that death has actually taken place.

  Until the body is laid away the mourners eat nothing. After that is
  done, connected with which there seems to be no particular ceremony,
  the few women who attend to it return to the lodge and a
  distribution is made among them and others, not only of the
  remaining property of the deceased, but of all the possessions, even
  to the lodge itself of the family to which he belonged. This custom
  in some cases has been carried so far as to leave the rest of the
  family not only absolutely destitute but actually naked. After
  continuing in this condition for a time, they gradually reach the
  common level again by receiving gifts from various sources.

  The received custom requires of women, near relatives of the dead,
  a strict observance of the ten days following the death, as follows:
  They are to rise at a very early hour and work unusually hard all
  day, joining in no feast, dance, game, or other diversion, eat but
  little, and retire late, that they may be deprived of the usual
  amount of sleep as of food. During this they never paint themselves,
  but at various times go to the top of some hill and bewail the dead
  in loud cries and lamentations for hours together. After the ten
  days have expired they paint themselves again and engage in the
  usual amusements of the people as before. The men are expected to
  mourn and fast for one day and then go on the war-path against some
  other tribe, or on some long journey alone. If he prefers, he can
  mourn and fast for two or more days and remain at home. The custom
  of placing food at the scaffold also prevails to some extent. If but
  little is placed there it is understood to be for the spirit of the
  dead, and no one is allowed to touch it. If much is provided, it is
  done with the intention that those of the same sex and age as the
  deceased shall meet there and consume it. If the dead be a little
  girl, the young girls meet and eat what is provided; if it be a man,
  then men assemble for the same purpose. The relatives never mention
  the name of the dead.


  Still another custom, though at the present day by no means
  generally followed, is still observed to some extent among them.
  This is called _wanagee yuhapee_, or “keeping the ghost.” A little
  of the hair from the head of the deceased being preserved is bound
  up in calico and articles of value until the roll is about two feet
  long and ten inches or more in diameter, when it is placed in a case
  made of hide handsomely ornamented with various designs in different
  colored paints. When the family is poor, however, they may
  substitute for this case blue or scarlet blanket or cloth. The roll
  is then swung lengthwise between two supports made of sticks, placed
  thus × in front of a lodge which has been set apart for the purpose.
  In this lodge are gathered presents of all kinds, which are given
  out when a sufficient quantity is obtained. It is often a year and
  sometimes several years before this distribution is made. During all
  this time the roll containing the hair of the deceased is left
  undisturbed in front of the lodge. The gifts as they are brought in
  are piled in the back part of the lodge, and are not to be touched
  until given out. No one but men and boys are admitted to the lodge
  unless it be a wife of the deceased, who may go in if necessary very
  early in the morning. The men sit inside, as they choose, to smoke,
  eat, and converse. As they smoke they empty the ashes from their
  pipes in the center of the lodge, and they, too, are left
  undisturbed until after the distribution. When they eat, a portion
  is always placed first under the roll outside for the spirit of the
  deceased. No one is allowed to take this unless a large quantity is
  so placed, in which case it may be eaten by any persons actually in
  need of food, even though strangers to the dead. When the proper
  time comes the friends of the deceased and all to whom presents are
  to be given are called together to the lodge and the things are
  given out by the man in charge. Generally this is some near relative
  of the departed. The roll is now undone and small locks of the hair
  distributed with the other presents, which ends the ceremony.

  Sometimes this “keeping the ghost” is done several times, and it is
  then looked upon as a repetition of the burial or putting away of
  the dead. During all the time before the distribution of the hair,
  the lodge, as well as the roll, is looked upon as in a manner
  sacred, but after that ceremony it becomes common again and may be
  used for any ordinary purpose. No relative or near friend of the
  dead wishes to retain anything in his possession that belonged to
  him while living, or to see, hear, or own anything which will remind
  him of the departed. Indeed, the leading idea in all their burial
  customs in the laying away with the dead their most valuable
  possessions, the giving to others what is left of his and the family
  property, the refusal to mention his name, &c., is to put out of
  mind as soon and as effectual as possible the memory of the

  From what has been said, however, it will be seen that they believe
  each person to have a spirit which continues to live after the death
  of the body. They have no idea of a future life in the body, but
  believe that after death their spirits will meet and recognize the
  spirits of their departed friends in the spirit land. They deem it
  essential to their happiness here, however, to destroy as far as
  practicable their recollection of the dead. They frequently speak of
  death as a sleep, and of the dead as asleep or having gone to sleep
  at such a time. These customs are gradually losing their hold upon
  them, and are much less generally and strictly observed than

Figure 15 furnishes a good example of scaffold burial. Figure 16,
offering of food and drink to the dead. Figure 17, depositing the dead
upon the scaffold.

    [Illustration: FIG. 17.--Depositing the Corpse.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 18.--Tree-burial.]

A. Delano,[5.66] mentions as follows an example of tree-burial which he
noticed in Nebraska.

  * * * During the afternoon we passed a Sioux burying-ground, if I
  may be allowed to use an Irishism. In a hackberry tree, elevated
  about twenty feet from the ground, a kind of rack was made of broken
  tent poles, and the body (for there was but one) was placed upon it,
  wrapped in his blanket, and a tanned buffalo skin, with his tin cup,
  moccasins, and various things which he had used in life, were placed
  upon his body, for his use in the land of spirits.

Figure 18 represents tree-burial, from a sketch drawn by my friend Dr.
Washington Matthews, United States Army.

John Young, Indian agent at the Blackfeet Agency, Montana, sends the
following account of tree-burial among this tribe:

  Their manner of burial has always been (until recently) to inclose
  the dead body in robes or blankets, the best owned by the departed,
  closely sewed up, and then, if a male or chief, fasten in the
  branches of a tree so high as to be beyond the reach of wolves, and
  then left to slowly waste in the dry winds. If the body was that of
  a squaw or child, it was thrown into the underbrush or jungle, where
  it soon became the prey of the wild animals. The weapons, pipes,
  &c., of men were inclosed, and the small toys of children with them.
  The ceremonies were equally barbarous, the relatives cutting off,
  according to the depth of their grief, one or more joints of the
  fingers, divesting themselves of clothing even in the coldest
  weather, and filling the air with their lamentations. All the sewing
  up and burial process was conducted by the squaws, as the men would
  not touch nor remain in proximity to a dead body.

The following account of scaffold burial among the Gros Ventres and
Mandans of Dakota is furnished by E. H. Alden, United States Indian
agent at Fort Berthold:

  The Gros Ventres and Mandans never bury in the ground, but always on
  a scaffold, made of four posts about eight feet high, on which the
  box is placed, or, if no box is used, the body wrapped in red or
  blue cloth if able, or, if not, a blanket of cheapest white cloth,
  the tools and weapons being placed directly under the body, and
  there they remain forever, no Indian ever daring to touch one of
  them. It would be bad medicine to touch the dead or anything so
  placed belonging to him. Should the body by any means fall to the
  ground, it is never touched or replaced on the scaffold. As soon as
  one dies he is immediately buried, sometimes within an hour, and the
  friends begin howling and wailing as the process of interment goes
  on, and continue mourning day and night around the grave, without
  food sometimes three or four days. Those who mourn are always paid
  for it in some way by the other friends of the deceased, and those
  who mourn the longest are paid the most. They also show their grief
  and affection for the dead by a fearful cutting of their own bodies,
  sometimes only in part, and sometimes all over their whole flesh,
  and this sometimes continues for weeks. Their hair, which is worn in
  long braids, is also cut off to show their mourning. They seem proud
  of their mutilations. A young man who had just buried his mother
  came in boasting of, and showing his mangled legs.

According to Thomas L. McKenney,[5.67] the Chippewas of Fond du Lac,
Wis., buried on scaffolds, inclosing the corpse in a box. The narrative
is as follows:

  One mode of burying the dead among the Chippewas is to place the
  coffin or box containing their remains on two cross-pieces, nailed
  or tied with wattap to four poles. The poles are about ten feet
  high. They plant near these posts the wild hop or some other kind of
  running vine, which spreads over and covers the coffin. I saw one of
  these on the island, and as I have described it. It was the coffin
  of a child about four years old. It was near the lodge of the sick
  girl. I have a sketch of it. I asked the chief why his people
  disposed of their dead in that way. He answered they did not like to
  put them out of their sight so soon by putting them under ground.
  Upon a platform they could see the box that contained their remains,
  and that was a comfort to them.

Figure 19 is copied from McKenney’s picture of this form of burial.

Keating[5.68] thus describes burial scaffolds:

  On these scaffolds, which are from eight to ten feet high, corpses
  were deposited in a box made from part of a broken canoe. Some hair
  was suspended, which we at first mistook for a scalp, but our guide
  informed us that these were locks of hair torn from their heads by
  the relatives to testify their grief. In the center, between the
  four posts which supported the scaffold, a stake was planted in the
  ground, it was about six feet high, and bore an imitation of human
  figures, five of which had a design of a petticoat indicating them
  to be females; the rest amounting to seven, were naked and were
  intended for male figures; of the latter four were headless, showing
  that they had been slain, the three other male figures were
  unmutilated, but held a staff in their hand, which, as our guide
  informed us designated that they were slaves. The post, which is an
  usual accompaniment to the scaffold that supports a warrior’s
  remains, does not represent the achievements of the deceased, but
  those of the warriors that assembled near his remains danced the
  dance of the post, and related their martial exploits. A number of
  small bones of animals were observed in the vicinity, which were
  probably left there after a feast celebrated in honor of the dead.

  The boxes in which the corpses were placed are so short that a man
  could not lie in them extended at full length, but in a country
  where boxes and boards are scarce this is overlooked. After the
  corpses have remained a certain time exposed, they are taken down
  and burned. Our guide, Renville, related to us that he had been a
  witness to an interesting, though painful, circumstance that
  occurred here. An Indian who resided on the Mississippi, hearing
  that his son had died at this spot, came up in a canoe to take
  charge of the remains and convey them down the river to his place of
  abode but on his arrival he found that the corpse had already made
  such progress toward decomposition as rendered it impossible for it
  to be removed. He then undertook with a few friends, to clean off
  the bones. All the flesh was scraped off and thrown into the stream,
  the bones were carefully collected into his canoe, and subsequently
  carried down to his residence.

Interesting and valuable from the extreme attention paid to details is
the following account of a burial case discovered by Dr. George M.
Sternberg, United States Army, and furnished by Dr. George A. Otis,
United States Army, Army Medical Museum, Washington, D.C. It relates to
the Cheyennes of Kansas.

  The case was found, Brevet Major Sternberg states, on the banks of
  Walnut Creek, Kansas, elevated about eight feet from the ground by
  four notched poles, which were firmly planted in the ground. The
  unusual care manifested in the preparation of the case induced Dr.
  Sternberg to infer that some important chief was inclosed in it.
  Believing that articles of interest were inclosed with the body, and
  that their value would be enhanced if the were received at the
  Museum as left by the Indians, Dr. Sternberg determined to send the
  case unopened.

    [Illustration: FIG. 19.--Chippewa Scaffold Burial.]

  I had the case opened this morning and an inventory made of the
  contents. The case consisted of a cradle of interlaced branches of
  white willow, about six feet long, three feet broad, and three feet
  high, with a flooring of buffalo thongs arranged as a net-work. This
  cradle was securely fastened by strips of buffalo-hide to four poles
  of ironwood and cottonwood, about twelve feet in length. These poles
  doubtless rested upon the forked extremities of the vertical poles
  described by Dr. Sternberg. The cradle was wrapped in two buffalo
  robes of large size and well preserved. On removing these an
  aperture eighteen inches square was found at the middle of the
  right-side of the cradle or basket. Within appeared other buffalo
  robes folded about the remains, and secured by gaudy-colored sashes.
  Five robes were successively removed, making seven in all. Then we
  came to a series of new blankets folded about the remains. There
  were five in all--two scarlet, two blue, and one white. These being
  removed, the next wrappings consisted of a striped white and gray
  sack, and of a United States Infantry overcoat, like the other
  coverings nearly new. We had now come apparently upon the immediate
  envelope of the remains, which it was now evident must be those of a
  child. These consisted of three robes, with hoods very richly
  ornamented with bead-work. These robes or cloaks were of
  buffalo-calf skin about four feet in length, elaborately decorated
  with bead-work in stripes. The outer was covered with rows of blue
  and white bead-work, the second was green and yellow, and the third
  blue and red. All were further adorned by spherical brass bells
  attached all about the borders by strings of beads.

  The remains with their wrappings lay upon a matting similar to that
  used by the Navajo and other Indians of the southern plains, and
  upon a pillow of dirty rags, in which were folded a bag of red
  paint, bits of antelope skin, bunches of straps, buckles, &c. The
  three bead-work hooded cloaks were now removed, and then we
  successively unwrapped a gray woolen double shawl, five yards of
  blue cassimere, six yards of red calico, and six yards of brown
  calico, and finally disclosed the remains of a child, probably about
  a year old, in an advanced stage of decomposition. The cadaver had a
  beaver-cap ornamented with disks of copper containing the bones of
  the cranium, which had fallen apart. About the neck were long wampum
  necklaces, with _Dentalium_, _Unionidæ_, and _Auriculæ_,
  interspersed with beads. There were also strings of the pieces of
  _Haliotis_ from the Gulf of California, so valued by the Indians on
  this side of the Rocky Mountains. The body had been elaborately
  dressed for burial, the costume consisting of a red-flannel cloak,
  a red tunic, and frock-leggins adorned with bead-work, yarn
  stockings of red and black worsted, and deer-skin beadwork
  moccasins. With the remains were numerous trinkets, a porcelain
  image, a China vase, strings of beads, several toys, a pair of
  mittens, a fur collar, a pouch of the skin of _Putorius vison_, &c.

Another extremely interesting account of scaffold-burial, furnished by
Dr. L. S. Turner, United States Army, Fort Peck, Mont., and relating to
the Sioux, is here given entire, as it refers to certain curious
mourning observances which have prevailed to a great extent over the
entire globe:

  The Dakotas bury their dead in the tops of trees when limbs can be
  found sufficiently horizontal to support scaffolding on which to lay
  the body, but as such growth is not common in Dakota, the more
  general practice is to lay them upon scaffolds from seven to ten
  feet high and out of the reach of carnivorous animals, as the wolf.
  These scaffolds are constructed upon four posts set into the ground
  something after the manner of the rude drawing which I inclose. Like
  all labors of a domestic kind, the preparation for burial is left to
  the women, usually the old women. The work begins as soon as life is
  extinct. The face, neck, and hands are thickly painted with
  vermilion, or a species of red earth found in various portions of
  the Territory when the vermilion of the traders cannot be had. The
  clothes and personal trinkets of the deceased ornament the body.
  When blankets are available, it is then wrapped in one, all parts of
  the body being completely enveloped. Around this a dressed skin of
  buffalo is then securely wrapped, with the flesh side out, and the
  whole securely bound with thongs of skins, either raw or dressed;
  and for ornament, when available, a bright-red blanket envelopes all
  other coverings, and renders the general scene more picturesque
  until dimmed by time and the elements. As soon as the scaffold is
  ready, the body is borne by the women, followed by the female
  relatives, to the place of final deposit, and left prone in its
  secure wrappings upon this airy bed of death. This ceremony is
  accompanied with lamentations wild and weird that one must see and
  hear in order to appreciate. If the deceased be a brave, it is
  customary to place upon or beneath the scaffold a few buffalo-heads
  which time has rendered dry and inoffensive; and if he has been
  brave in war some of his implements of battle are placed on the
  scaffold or securely tied to its timbers. If the deceased has been a
  chief, or a soldier related to his chief, it is not uncommon to slay
  his favorite pony and place the body beneath the scaffold, under the
  superstition, I suppose, that the horse goes with the man. As
  illustrating the propensity to provide the dead with the things used
  while living, I may mention that some years ago I loaned to an old
  man a delft urinal for the use of his son, a young man who was
  slowly dying of a wasting disease. I made him promise faithfully
  that he would return it as soon as his son was done using it. Not
  long afterwards the urinal graced the scaffold which held the
  remains of the dead warrior, and as it has not to this day been
  returned I presume the young man is not done using it.

  The mourning customs of the Dakotas, though few of them appear to be
  of universal observance, cover considerable ground. The hair, never
  cut under other circumstances, is cropped off even with the neck,
  and the top of the head and forehead, and sometimes nearly the whole
  body, are smeared with a species of white earth resembling chalk,
  moistened with water. The lodge, teepee, and all the family
  possessions except the few shabby articles of apparel worn by the
  mourners, are given away and the family left destitute. Thus far the
  custom is universal or nearly so. The wives, mother, and sisters of
  a deceased man, on the first, second, or third day after the
  funeral, frequently throw off their moccasins and leggings and gash
  their legs with their butcher-knives, and march through the camp and
  to the place of burial with bare and bleeding extremities, while
  they chant or wail their dismal songs of mourning. The men likewise
  often gash themselves in many places, and usually seek the solitude
  of the higher point on the distant prairie, where they remain
  fasting, smoking, and wailing out their lamentations for two or
  three days. A chief who had lost a brother once came to me after
  three or four days of mourning in solitude almost exhausted from
  hunger and bodily anguish. He had gashed the outer side of both
  lower extremities at intervals of a few inches all the way from the
  ankles to the top of the hips. His wounds had inflamed from
  exposure, and were suppurating freely. He assured me that he had not
  slept for several days or nights. I dressed his wounds with a
  soothing ointment, and gave him a full dose of an effective anodyne,
  after which he slept long and refreshingly, and awoke to express his
  gratitude and shake my hand in a very cordial and sincere manner.
  When these harsher inflictions are not resorted to, the mourners
  usually repair daily for a few days to the place of burial, toward
  the hour of sunset, and chant their grief until it is apparently
  assuaged by its own expression. This is rarely kept up for more than
  four or five days, but is occasionally resorted to, at intervals,
  for weeks, or even months, according to the mood of the bereft.
  I have seen few things in life so touching as the spectacle of an
  old father going daily to the grave of his child, while the shadows
  are lengthening, and pouring out his grief in wails that would move
  a demon, until his figure melts with the gray twilight, when, silent
  and solemn, he returns to his desolate family. The weird effect of
  this observance is sometimes heightened, when the deceased was a
  grown-up son, by the old man kindling a little fire near the head of
  the scaffold, and varying his lamentations with smoking in silence.
  The foregoing is drawn from my memory of personal observances during
  a period of more than six years’ constant intercourse with several
  subdivisions of the Dakota Indians. There may be much which memory
  has failed to recall upon a brief consideration.

    [Illustration: FIG. 20.--Scarification at Burial.]

Figure 20 represents scarification as a form of grief-expression for the

Perhaps a brief review of Dr. Turner’s narrative may not be deemed
inappropriate here.

Supplying food to the dead is a custom which is known to be of great
antiquity; in some instances, as among the ancient Romans, it appears to
have been a sacrificial offering, for it usually accompanied cremation,
and was not confined to food alone, for spices, perfumes, oil, &c., were
thrown upon the burning pile. In addition to this, articles supposed or
known to have been agreeable to the deceased were also consumed. The
Jews did the same, and in our own time the Chinese, Caribs, and many of
the tribes of North American Indians followed these customs. The cutting
of hair as a mourning observance is of very great antiquity, and Tegg
relates that among the ancients whole cities and countries were shaved
(_sic_) when a great man died. The Persians not only shaved themselves
on such occasions, but extended the same process to their domestic
animals, and Alexander, at the death of Hephæstin, not only cut off the
manes of his horses and mules, but took down the battlements from the
city walls, that even towns might seem in mourning and look bald.
Scarifying and mutilating the body has prevailed from a remote period of
time, having possibly replaced, in the process of evolution, to a
certain extent, the more barbarous practice of absolute personal
sacrifice. In later days, among our Indians, human sacrifices have taken
place to only a limited extent, but formerly many victims were
immolated, for at the funerals of the chiefs of the Florida and Carolina
Indians all the male relatives and wives were slain, for the reason,
according to Gallatin, that the hereditary dignity of Chief or Great Sun
descended, as usual, by the female line, and he, as well as all other
members of his clan, whether male or female, could marry only persons of
an inferior clan. To this day mutilation of the person among some tribes
of Indians is usual. The sacrifice of the favorite horse or horses is by
no means peculiar to our Indians, for it was common among the Romans,
and possibly even among the men of the Reindeer period, for at Solutré,
in France, the writer saw horses’ bones exhumed from the graves examined
in 1873. The writer has frequently conversed with Indians upon this
subject, and they have invariably informed him that when horses were
slain great care was taken to select the poorest of the band.

Tree-burial was not uncommon among the nations of antiquity, for the
Colchians enveloped their dead in sacks of skin and hung them to trees;
the ancient Tartars and Scythians did the same. With regard to the use
of scaffolds and trees as places of deposit for the dead, it seems
somewhat curious that the tribes who formerly occupied the eastern
portion of our continent were not in the habit of burying in this way,
which, from the abundance of timber, would have been a much easier
method than the ones in vogue, while the western tribes, living in
sparsely-wooded localities, preferred the other. If we consider that the
Indians were desirous of preserving their dead as long as possible, the
fact of their dead being placed in trees and scaffolds would lead to the
supposition that those living on the plains were well aware of the
desiccating property of the dry air of that arid region. This
desiccation would pass for a kind of mummification.

The particular part of the mourning ceremonies, which consisted in loud
cries and lamentations, may have had in early periods of time a greater
significance than that of a mere expression of grief or woe, and on this
point Bruhier[5.69] seems quite positive, his interpretation being that
such cries were intended to prevent premature burial. He gives some
interesting examples, which may be admitted here:

  The Caribs lament loudly, their wailings being interspersed with
  comical remarks and questions to the dead as to why he preferred to
  leave this world, having everything to make life comfortable. They
  place the corpse on a little seat in a ditch or grave four or five
  feet deep, and for ten days they bring food, requesting the corpse
  to eat. Finally, being convinced that the dead will neither eat nor
  return to life, they throw the food on the head of the corpse and
  fill up the grave.

When one died among the Romans, the nearest relatives embraced the body,
closed the eyes and month, and when one was about to die received the
last words and sighs, and then loudly called the name of the dead,
finally bidding an eternal adieu. This ceremony of calling the deceased
by name was known as the _conclamation_, and was a custom anterior even
to the foundation of Rome. One dying away from home was immediately
removed thither, in order that this might be performed with greater
propriety. In Picardy, as late as 1743, the relatives threw themselves
on the corpse and with loud cries called it by name, and up to 1855 the
Moravians of Pennsylvania, at the death of one of their number,
performed mournful musical airs on brass instruments from the village
church steeple and again at the grave[5.70*]. This custom, however, was
probably a remnant of the ancient funeral observances, and not to
prevent premature burial, or, perhaps, was intended to scare away bad

W. L. Hardisty[5.71] gives a curious example of log-burial in trees,
relating to the Loucheux of British America:

  They inclose the body in a neatly-hollowed piece of wood, and secure
  it to two or more trees, about six feet from the ground. A log about
  eight feet long is first split in two, and each of the parts
  carefully hollowed out to the required size. The body is then
  inclosed and the two pieces well lashed together, preparatory to
  being finally secured, as before stated, to the trees.

The American Indians are by no means the only savages employing
scaffolds as places of deposit for the dead, for Wood[5.72] gives a
number of examples of this mode of burial.

    [Illustration: FIG. 21.--Australian Scaffold Burial.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 22.--Preparing the Dead.]

  In some parts of Australia the natives, instead of consuming the
  body by fire, or hiding it in caves or in graves, make it a
  peculiarly conspicuous object. Should a tree grow favorably for
  their purpose, they will employ it as the final resting place for
  the dead body. Lying in its canoe coffin, and so covered over with
  leaves and grass that its shape is quite disguised, the body is
  lifted into a convenient fork of the tree and lashed to the boughs,
  by native ropes. No farther care is taken of it, and if in process
  of time it should be blown out of the tree, no one will take the
  trouble of replacing it.

  Should no tree be growing in the selected spot, an artificial
  platform is made for the body, by fixing the ends of stout branches
  in the ground and connecting them at their tops by smaller
  horizontal branches. Such are the curious tombs which are
  represented in the illustration. * * * These strange tombs are
  mostly placed among the reeds, so that nothing can be more mournful
  than the sound of the wind as it shakes the reeds below the branch
  in which the corpse is lying. The object of this aerial tomb is
  evident enough, namely, to protect the corpse from the dingo, or
  native dog. That the ravens and other carrion-eating birds should
  make a banquet upon the body of the dead man does not seem to
  trouble the survivors in the least, and it often happens that the
  traveler is told by the croak of the disturbed ravens that the body
  of a dead Australian is lying in the branches over his head.

  The aerial tombs are mostly erected for the bodies of old men who
  have died a natural death; but when a young warrior has fallen in
  battle the body is treated in a very different manner. A moderately
  high platform is erected, and upon this is seated the body of the
  dead warrior with the face toward the rising sun. The legs are
  crossed and the arms kept extended by means of sticks. The fat is
  then removed, and after being mixed with red ochre is rubbed over
  the body, which has previously been carefully denuded of hair, as is
  done in the ceremony of initiation. The legs and arms are covered
  with zebra-like stripes of red, white, and yellow, and the weapons
  of the dead man are laid across his lap.

  The body being thus arranged, fires are lighted under the platform,
  and kept up for ten days or more, during the whole of which time the
  friends and mourners remain by the body, and are not permitted to
  speak. Sentinels relieve each other at appointed intervals, their
  duty being to see that the fires are not suffered to go out, and to
  keep the flies away by waving leafy boughs or bunches of emu
  feathers. When a body has been treated in this manner it becomes
  hard and mummy-like, and the strongest point is that the wild dogs
  will not touch it after it has been so long smoked. It remains
  sitting on the platform for two months or so, and is then taken down
  and buried, with the exception of the skull, which is made into a
  drinking-cup for the nearest relative. * * *

This mode of mummifying resembles somewhat that already described as the
process by which the Virginia kings were preserved from decomposition.

Figs. 21 and 22 represent the Australian burials described, and are
after the original engravings in Wood’s work. The one representing
scaffold-burial resembles greatly the scaffolds of our own Indians.

With regard to the use of scaffolds as places of deposit for the dead,
the following theories by Dr. W. Gardner, United States Army, are given:

  If we come to inquire why the American aborigines placed the dead
  bodies of their relatives and friends in trees, or upon scaffolds
  resembling trees, instead of burying them in the ground, or burning
  them and preserving their ashes in urns, I think we can answer the
  inquiry by recollecting that most if not all the tribes of American
  Indians, as well as other nations of a higher civilization, believed
  that the human soul, spirit, or immortal part was of the form and
  nature of a bird, and as these are essentially arboreal in their
  habits, it is quite in keeping to suppose that the soul-bird would
  have readier access to its former home or dwelling-place if it was
  placed upon a tree or scaffold than if it was buried in the earth;
  moreover, from this lofty eyrie the souls of the dead could rest
  secure from the attacks of wolves or other profane beasts, and guard
  like sentinels the homes and hunting-grounds of their loved ones.

This statement is given because of a corroborative note in the writer’s
possession, but he is not prepared to admit it as correct without
farther investigation.


Under this heading may be placed the burials which consisted in first
depositing the bodies on scaffolds, where they were allowed to remain
for a variable length of time, after which the bones were cleaned and
deposited either in the earth or in special structures, called by
writers “bone-houses.” Roman[5.73] relates the following concerning the

  The following treatment of the dead is very strange. * * * As soon
  as the deceased is departed, a stage is erected (as in the annexed
  plate is represented) and the corpse is laid on it and covered with
  a bear-skin; if he be a man of note, it is decorated, and the poles
  painted red with vermillion and bear’s oil; if a child, it is put
  upon stakes set across; at this stage the relations come and weep,
  asking many questions of the corpse, such as, why he left them? did
  not his wife serve him well? was he not contented with his children?
  had he not corn enough? did not his land produce sufficient of
  everything? was he afraid of his enemies? &c., and this accompanied
  by loud howlings; the women will be there constantly, and sometimes,
  with the corrupted air and heat of the sun, faint so as to oblige
  the bystanders to carry them home; the men will also come and mourn
  in the same manner, but in the night or at other unseasonable times
  when they are least likely to be discovered.

  The stage is fenced round with poles; it remains thus a certain
  time, but not a fixed space; this is sometimes extended to three or
  four months, but seldom more than half that time. A certain set of
  venerable old Gentlemen, who wear very long nails as a
  distinguishing badge on the thumb, fore, and middle finger of each
  hand, constantly travel through the nation (when I was there I was
  told there were but five of this respectable order) that one of them
  may acquaint those concerned, of the expiration of this period,
  which is according to their own fancy; the day being come, the
  friends and relations assemble near the stage, a fire is made, and
  the respectable operator, after the body is taken down, with his
  nails tears the remaining flesh off the bones, and throws it with
  the entrails into the fire, where it is consumed; then he scrapes
  the bones and burns the scrapings likewise; the head being painted
  red with vermillion is with the rest of the bones put into a neatly
  made chest (which for a Chief is also made red) and deposited in the
  loft of a hut built for that purpose, and called bone house; each
  town has one of these; after remaining here one year or thereabouts,
  if he be a man of any note, they take the chest down, and in an
  assembly of relations and friends they weep once more over him,
  refresh the colour of the head, paint the box, and then deposit him
  to lasting oblivion.

  An enemy and one who commits suicide is buried under the earth as
  one to be directly forgotten and unworthy the above ceremonial
  obsequies and mourning.

Jones[5.74] quotes one of the older writers, as follows, regarding the
Natchez tribe:

  Among the Natchez the dead were either inhumed or placed in tombs.
  These tombs were located within or very near their temples. They
  rested upon four forked sticks fixed fast in the ground, and were
  raised some three feet above the earth. About eight feet long and a
  foot and a half wide, they were prepared for the reception of a
  single corpse. After the body was placed upon it, a basket-work of
  twigs was woven around and covered with mud, an opening being left
  at the head, through which food was presented to the deceased. When
  the flesh had all rotted away, the bones were taken out, placed in a
  box made of canes, and then deposited in the temple. The common dead
  were mourned and lamented for a period of three days. Those who fell
  in battle were honored with a more protracted and grievous

Bartram[5.75] gives a somewhat different account from Roman of burial
among the Choctaws of Carolina:

  The Chactaws pay their last duties and respect to the deceased in a
  very different manner. As soon as a person is dead, they erect a
  scaffold 18 or 20 feet high in a grove adjacent to the town, where
  they lay the corps, lightly covered with a mantle; here it is
  suffered to remain, visited and protected by the friends and
  relations, until the flesh becomes putrid, so as easily to part from
  the bones; then undertakers, who make it their business, carefully
  strip the flesh from the bones, wash and cleanse them, and when dry
  and purified by the air, having provided a curiously-wrought chest
  or coffin, fabricated of bones and splints, they place all the bones
  therein, which is deposited in the bone-house, a building erected
  for that purpose in every town; and when this house is full a
  general solemn funeral takes place; when the nearest kindred or
  friends of the deceased, on a day appointed, repair to the
  bone-house, take up the respective coffins, and, following one
  another in order of seniority, the nearest relations and connections
  attending their respective corps, and the multitude following after
  them, all as one family, with united voice of alternate allelujah
  and lamentation, slowly proceeding on to the place of general
  interment, when they place the coffins in order, forming a
  pyramid;[5.76*] and, lastly, cover all over with earth, which raises a
  conical hill or mount; when they return to town in order of solemn
  procession, concluding the day with a festival, which is called the
  feast of the dead.

Morgan[5.77] also alludes to this mode of burial:

  The body of the deceased was exposed upon a bark scaffolding erected
  upon poles or secured upon the limbs of trees, where it was left to
  waste to a skeleton. After this had been effected by the process of
  decomposition in the open air, the bones were removed either to the
  former house of the deceased, or to a small bark house by its side,
  prepared for their reception. In this manner the skeletons of the
  whole family were preserved from generation to generation by the
  filial or parental affection of the living. After the lapse of a
  number of years, or in a season of public insecurity, or on the eve
  of abandoning a settlement, it was customary to collect these
  skeletons from the whole community around and consign them to a
  common resting-place.

  To this custom, which is not confined to the Iroquois, is doubtless
  to be ascribed the burrows and bone-mounds which have been found in
  such numbers in various parts of the country. On opening these
  mounds the skeletons are usually found arranged in horizontal
  layers, a conical pyramid, those in each layer radiating from a
  common center. In other cases they are found placed promiscuously.

Dr. D. G. Brinton[5.78] likewise gives an account of the interment of
collected bones:

  East of the Mississippi nearly every nation was accustomed at stated
  periods--usually once in eight or ten years--to collect and clean
  the osseous remains of those of its number who had died in the
  intervening time, and inter them in one common sepulcher, lined with
  choice furs, and marked with a mound of wood, stone, or earth. Such
  is the origin of those immense tumuli filed with the mortal remains
  of nations and generations, which the antiquary, with irreverent
  curiosity, so frequently chances upon in all portions of our
  territory. Throughout Central America the same usage obtained in
  various localities, as early writers and existing monuments
  abundantly testify. Instead of interring the bones, were they those
  of some distinguished chieftain, they were deposited in the temples
  or the council-houses, usually in small chests of canes or splints.
  Such were the charnel-houses which the historians of De Soto’s
  expedition so often mention, and these are the “arks” Adair and
  other authors who have sought to trace the decent of the Indians
  from the Jews have likened to that which the ancient Israelites bore
  with them in their migration.

  A widow among the Tahkalis was obliged to carry the bones of her
  deceased husband wherever she went for four years, preserving them
  in such a casket, handsomely decorated with feathers (Rich. Arc.
  Exp., p. 200). The Caribs of the mainland adopted the custom for
  all, without exception. About a year after death the bones were
  cleaned, bleached, painted, wrapped in odorous balsams, placed in a
  wicker basket, and kept suspended from the door of their dwelling
  (Gumilla Hist. del Orinoco I., pp. 199, 202, 204). When the quantity
  of these heirlooms became burdensome they were removed to some
  inaccessible cavern and stowed away with reverential care.

George Catlin[5.79] describes what he calls the “Golgothas” of the

  There are several of these golgothas, or circles of twenty or thirty
  feet in diameter, and in the center of each ring or circle is a
  little mound of three feet high, on which uniformly rest two buffalo
  skulls (a male and female), and in the center of the little mound is
  erected “a medicine pole,” of about twenty feet high, supporting
  many curious articles of mystery and superstition, which they
  suppose have the power of guarding and protecting this sacred

  Here, then, to this strange place do these people again resort to
  evince their further affections for the dead, not in groans and
  lamentations, however, for several years have cured the anguish, but
  fond affection and endearments are here renewed, and conversations
  are here held and cherished with the dead. Each one of these skulls
  is placed upon a bunch of wild sage, which has been pulled and
  placed under it. The wife knows, by some mark or resemblance, the
  skull of her husband or her child which lies in this group, and
  there seldom passes a day that she does not visit it with a dish of
  the best-cooked food that her wigwam affords, which she sets before
  the skull at night, and returns for the dish in the morning. As soon
  as it is discovered that the sage on which the skull rests is
  beginning to decay, the woman cuts a fresh bunch and places the
  skull carefully upon it, removing that which was under it.

  Independent of the above-named duties, which draw the women to this
  spot, they visit it from inclination, and linger upon it to hold
  converse and company with the dead. There is scarcely an hour in a
  pleasant day but more or less of these women may be seen sitting or
  lying by the skull of their child or husband, talking to it in the
  most pleasant and endearing language that they can use (as they were
  wont to do in former days), and seemingly getting an answer back.

    [Illustration: FIG. 23.--Canoe Burial.]

From these accounts it may be seen that the peculiar customs which have
been described by the authors cited were not confined to any special
tribe or area of country, although they do not appear to have prevailed
among the Indians of the northwest coast, so far as known.


The next mode of burial to be remarked is that of deposit in canoes,
either supported on posts, on the ground, or swung from trees, and is
common only to the tribes inhabiting the northwest coast.

The first example given relates to the Chinooks of Washington Territory,
and may be found in Swan.[5.80]

  In this instance old Cartumhays, and old Mahar, a celebrated doctor,
  were the chief mourners, probably from being the smartest scamps
  among the relatives. Their duty was to prepare the canoe for the
  reception of the body. One of the largest and best the deceased had
  owned was then hauled into the woods, at some distance back of the
  lodge, after having been first thoroughly washed and scrubbed. Two
  large square holes were then cut in the bottom, at the bow and
  stern, for the twofold purpose of rendering the canoe unfit for
  further use, and therefore less likely to excite the cupidity of the
  whites (who are but too apt to help themselves to these depositories
  for the dead), and also to allow any rain to pass off readily.

  When the canoe was ready, the corpse, wrapped in blankets, was
  brought out, and laid in it on mats previously spread. All the
  wearing apparel was next put in beside the body, together with her
  trinkets, beads, little baskets, and various trifles she had prized.
  More blankets were then covered over the body, and mats smoothed
  over all. Next, a small canoe, which fitted into the large one, was
  placed, bottom up, over the corpse, and the whole then covered with
  mats. The canoe was then raised up and placed on two parallel bars,
  elevated four or five feet from the ground, and supported by being
  inserted through holes mortised at the top of four stout posts
  previously firmly planted in the earth. Around these holes were then
  hung blankets, and all the cooking utensils of the deceased, pots,
  kettles, and pans, each with a hole punched through it, and all her
  crockery-ware, every piece of which was first cracked or broken, to
  render it useless; and then, when all was done, they left her to
  remain for one year, when the bones would be buried in a box in the
  earth directly under the canoe; but that, with all its appendages,
  would never be molested, but left to go to gradual decay.

  They regard these canoes precisely as we regard coffins, and would
  no more think of using one than we would of using our own graveyard
  relics; and it is, in their view, as much of a desecration for a
  white man to meddle or interfere with these, to them, sacred
  mementoes, as it would be to us to have an Indian open the graves of
  our relatives. Many thoughtless white men have done this, and
  animosities have been thus occasioned.

Figure 23 represents this mode of burial.

From a number of other examples, the following, relating to the Twanas,
and furnished by the Rev. M. Eells, missionary to the Skokomish Agency,
Washington Territory, is selected:

  The deceased was a woman about thirty or thirty-five years of age,
  dead of consumption. She died in the morning, and in the afternoon I
  went to the house to attend the funeral. She had then been placed in
  a Hudson’s Bay Company’s box for a coffin, which was about 3½
  feet long, 1½ wide, and 1½ high. She was very poor when she died,
  owing to her disease, or she could not have been put in this box.
  A fire was burning near by, where a large number of her things had
  been consumed, and the rest was in three boxes near the coffin. Her
  mother sang the mourning song, sometimes with others, and often
  saying, “My daughter, my daughter, why did you die?” and similar
  words. The burial did not take place until the next day, and I was
  invited to go. It was an aerial burial in a canoe. The canoe was
  about 25 feet long. The posts, of old Indian layered boards, were
  about a foot wide. Holes were cut in those, in which boards were
  placed, on which the canoe rested. One thing I noticed while this
  was done which was new to me, but the significance of which I did
  not learn. As fast as the holes were cut in the posts, green leaves
  were gathered and placed over the holes until the posts were put in
  the ground. The coffin-box and the three others containing her
  things were placed in the canoe and a roof of boards made over the
  central part, which was entirely covered with white cloth. The head
  part and the foot part of her bedstead were then nailed on to the
  posts, which front the water, and a dress nailed on each of these.
  After pronouncing the benediction, all left the hull and went to the
  beach except her father, mother, and brother, who remained ten or
  fifteen minutes, pounding on the canoe and mourning. They then came
  down and made a present to those persons who were there--a gun to
  one, a blanket to each of two or three others, and a dollar and a
  half to each of the rest, including myself, there being about
  fifteen persons present. Three or four of them then made short
  speeches, and we came home.

    [Illustration: FIG. 24.--Twana Canoe-Burial.]

  The reason why she was buried thus is said to be because she is a
  prominent woman in the tribe. In about nine months it is expected
  that there will be a “_pot-latch_” or distribution of money near
  this place, and as each tribe shall come they will send a delegation
  of two or three men, who will carry a present and leave it at the
  grave; soon after that shall be done she will be buried in the
  ground. Shortly after her death both her father and mother cut off
  their hair as a sign of their grief.

Figure 24 is from a sketch kindly furnished by Mr. Eells, and represents
the burial mentioned in his narrative.

The Clallams and Twanas, an allied tribe, have not always followed
canoe-burial, as may be seen from the following account, also written by
Mr. Eells, who gives the reasons why the original mode of disposing of
the dead was abandoned. It is extremely interesting, and characterized
by painstaking attention to detail:

  I divide this subject into five periods, varying according to time,
  though they are somewhat intermingled.

  (_a_) There are places where skulls and skeletons have been plowed
  up or still remain in the ground and near together, in such a way as
  to give good ground for the belief which is held by white residents
  in the region, that formerly persons were buried in the ground and
  in irregular cemeteries. I know of such places in Duce Waillops
  among the Twanas, and at Dungeness and Port Angeles among the
  Clallams. These graves were made so long ago that the Indians of the
  present day profess to have no knowledge as to who is buried in
  them, except that they believe, undoubtedly, that they are the
  graves of their ancestors. I do not know that any care has ever been
  exercised by any one in exhuming these skeletons so as to learn any
  particulars about them. It is possible, however, that these persons
  were buried according to the (_b_) or canoe method, and that time
  has buried them where they now are.

    [Illustration: FIG. 25.--Posts for Burial Canoes.]

  (_b_) Formerly when a person died the body was placed in the forks
  of two trees and left there. There was no particular cemetery, but
  the person was generally left near the place where the death
  occurred. The Skokomish Valley is said to have been full of canoes
  containing persons thus buried. What their customs were while
  burying, or what they placed around the dead, I am not informed but
  am told that they did not take as much care then of their dead as
  they do now. I am satisfied, however, that they then left some
  articles around the dead. An old resident informs me that the
  Clallam Indians always bury their dead in a sitting posture.

  (_c_) About twenty years ago gold mines were discovered in British
  Columbia, and boats being scarce in the region, unprincipled white
  men took many of the canoes in which the Indian dead had been left,
  emptying them of their contents. This incensed the Indians and they
  changed their mode of burial somewhat by burying the dead in one
  place, placing them in boxes whenever they could obtain them, by
  building scaffolds for them instead of placing them in forks of
  trees, and in cutting their canoes so as to render them useless,
  when they were used as coffins or left by the side of the dead. The
  ruins of one such graveyard now remain about two miles from this
  agency. Nearly all the remains were removed a few years ago.

  With this I furnish you the outlines of such graves which I have
  drawn. Fig. 25 shows that at present only one pair of posts remains.
  I have supplied the other pair as they evidently were.

    [Illustration: FIG. 26.--Tent on Scaffold.]

  Figure 26 is a recent grave at another place. That part which is
  covered with board and cloth incloses the coffin which is on a

  As the Indians have been more in contact with the whites they have
  learned to bury in the ground, and this is the most common method at
  the present time. There are cemeteries everywhere where Indians have
  resided any length of time. After a person has died a coffin is made
  after the cheaper kinds of American ones, the body is placed in it,
  and also with it a number of articles, chiefly cloth or clothes,
  though occasionally money. I lately heard of a child being buried
  with a twenty-dollar gold piece in each hand and another in its
  month, but I am not able to vouch for the truth of it. As a general
  thing, money is too valuable with them for this purpose and there is
  too much temptation for some one to rob the grave when this is left
  in it.

    [Illustration: FIG. 27.--House-Burial.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 28.--House-Burial.]

  (_d_) The grave is dug after the style of the whites and the coffin
  then placed in it. After it has been covered it is customary though
  not universal, to build some kind of an inclosure over it or around
  it in the shape of a small house, shed, lodge or fence. These are
  from 2 to 12 feet high, from 2 to 6 feet wide, and from 5 to 12 feet
  long. Some of these are so well inclosed that it is impossible to
  see within and some are quite open. Occasionally a window is placed
  in the front side. Sometimes these enclosures are covered with
  cloth, which is generally white, sometimes partly covered, and some
  have none. Around the grave, both outside and inside of the
  inclosure, various articles are placed, as guns, canoes, dishes,
  pails, cloth, sheets, blankets, beads, tubs, lamps, bows, mats, and
  occasionally a roughly-carved human image rudely painted. It is said
  that around and in the grave of one Clallam chief, buried a few
  years ago, $500 worth of such things were left. Most of these
  articles are cut or broken so as to render them valueless to man and
  to prevent their being stolen. Poles are also often erected, from 10
  to 30 feet long, on which American flags, handkerchiefs, clothes,
  and cloths of various colors are hung. A few graves have nothing of
  this kind. On some graves these things are renewed every year or
  two. This depends mainly on the number of relatives living and the
  esteem in which they hold the deceased.

  The belief exists that as the body decays spirits carry it away
  particle by particle to the spirit of the deceased in the spirit
  land, and also as these articles decay they are also carried away in
  a similar manner. I have never known of the placing food near a
  grave. Figures 27 and 28 will give you some idea of this class of
  graves. Figure 27 has a paling fence 12 feet square around it.
  Figure 28 is simply a frame over a grave where there is no

  (_e_) _Civilized mode._--A few persons, of late, have fallen almost
  entirely into the American custom of burying, building a simple
  paling fence around it, but placing no articles around it; this is
  more especially true of the Clallams.


  In regard to the funeral ceremonies and mourning observances of
  sections (_a_) and (_b_) of the preceding subject I know nothing. In
  regard to (_c_) and (_d_), they begin to mourn, more especially the
  women, as soon as a person dies. Their mourning song consists
  principally of the sounds represented by the three English notes mi
  mi, do do, la la; those who attend the funeral are expected to bring
  some articles to place in the coffin or about the grave as a token
  of respect for the dead. The articles which I have seen for this
  purpose have been cloth of some kind; a small piece of cloth is
  returned by the mourners to the attendants as a token of
  remembrance. They bury much sooner after death than white persons
  do, generally as soon as they can obtain a coffin. I know of no
  other native funeral ceremonies. Occasionally before being taken to
  the grave, I have held Christian funeral ceremonies over them, and
  these services increase from year to year. One reason which has
  rendered them somewhat backward about having these funeral services
  is, that they are quite superstitions about going near the dead,
  fearing that the evil spirit which killed the deceased will enter
  the living and kill them also. Especially are they afraid of having
  children go near, being much more fearful of the effect of the evil
  spirit on them than on older persons.


  They have no regular period, so far as I know, for mourning, but
  often continue it after the burial, though I do not know that they
  often visit the grave. If they feel the loss very much, sometimes
  they will mourn nearly every day for several weeks; especially is
  this true when they meet an old friend who has not been seen since
  the funeral, or when they see an article owned by the deceased which
  they have not seen for a long time. The only other thing of which I
  think, which bears on this subject, is an idea they have, that
  before a person dies--it may be but a short time or it may be
  several months--a spirit from the spirit land comes and carries off
  the spirit of the individual to that place. There are those who
  profess to discover when this is done, and if by any of their
  incantations they can compel that spirit to return, the person will
  not die, but if they are not able, then the person will become dead
  at heart and in time die, though it may not be for six months or
  even twelve. You will also find a little on this subject in a
  pamphlet which I wrote on the Twana Indians and which has recently
  been published by the Department of the Interior, under Prof. F. V.
  Hayden, United States Geologist.

George Gibbs[5.81] gives a most interesting account of the burial
ceremonies of the Indians of Oregon and Washington Territory, which is
here reproduced in its entirety, although it contains examples of other
modes of burial besides that in canoes; but to separate the narrative
would destroy the thread of the story:

  The common mode of disposing of the dead among the fishing tribes
  was in canoes. These were generally drawn into the woods at some
  prominent point a short distance from the village, and sometimes
  placed between the forks of trees or raised from the ground on
  posts. Upon the Columbia River the Tsinūk had in particular two very
  noted cemeteries, a high isolated bluff about three miles below the
  mouth of the Cowlitz, called Mount Coffin, and one some distance
  above, called Coffin Rock. The former would appear not to have been
  very ancient. Mr. Broughton, one of Vancouver’s lieutenants, who
  explored the river, makes mention only of _several_ canoes at this
  place; and Lewis and Clarke, who noticed the mount, do not speak of
  them at all, but at the time of Captain Wilkes’s expedition it is
  conjectured that there were at least 3,000. A fire caused by the
  carelessness of one of his party destroyed the whole, to the great
  indignation of the Indians.

  Captain Belcher, of the British ship Sulphur, who visited the river
  in 1839, remarks: “In the year 1836 [1826] the small-pox made great
  ravages, and it was followed a few years since by the ague.
  Consequently Corpse Island and Coffin Mount, as well as the adjacent
  shores, were studded not only with canoes, but at the period of our
  visit the skulls and skeletons were strewed about in all
  directions.” This method generally prevailed on the neighboring
  coasts, as at Shoal Water Bay, &c. Farther up the Columbia, as at
  the Cascades, a different form was adopted, which is thus described
  by Captain Clarke:

  “About half a mile below this house, in a very thick part of the
  woods, is an ancient Indian burial-place; it consists of eight
  vaults, made of pine cedar boards, closely connected, about 8 feet
  square and 6 in height, the top securely covered with wide boards,
  sloping a little, so as to convey off the rain. The direction of all
  these is east and west, the door being on the eastern side, and
  partially stopped with wide boards, decorated with rude pictures of
  men and other animals. On entering we found in some of them four
  dead bodies, carefully wrapped in skins, tied with cords of grass
  and bark, lying on a mat in a direction east and west; the other
  vaults contained only bones, which in some of them were piled to a
  height of 4 feet; on the tops of the vaults and on poles attached to
  them hung brass kettles and frying-pans with holes in their bottoms,
  baskets, bowls, sea-shells, skins, pieces of cloth, hair bags of
  trinkets, and small bones, the offerings of friendship or affection,
  which have been saved by a pious veneration from the ferocity of war
  or the more dangerous temptation of individual gain. The whole of
  the walls as well as the door were decorated with strange figures
  cut and painted on them, and besides these were several wooden
  images of men, some of them so old and decayed as to have almost
  lost their shape, which were all placed against the sides of the
  vault. These images, as well as those in the houses we have lately
  seen, do not appear to be at all the objects of adoration in this
  place; they were most probably intended as resemblances of those
  whose decease they indicate, and when we observe them in houses they
  occupy the most conspicuous part, but are treated more like
  ornaments than objects of worship. Near the vaults which are still
  standing are the remains of others on the ground, completely rotted
  and covered with moss; and as they are formed of the most durable
  pine and cedar timber, there is every appearance that for a very
  long series of years this retired spot has been the depository for
  the Indians near this place.”

  Another depository of this kind upon an island in the river a few
  miles above gave it the name of Sepulcher Inland. The _Watlala_, a
  tribe of the Upper Tsinūk, whose burial place is here described, are
  now nearly extinct; but a number of the sepulchers still remain in
  different states of preservation. The position of the body, as
  noticed by Clarke, is, I believe, of universal observance, the head
  being always placed to the west. The reason assigned to me is that
  the road to the _mé-mel-ūs-illa-hee_, the country of the dead, is
  toward the west, and if they place them otherwise they would be
  confused. East of the Cascade Mountains the tribes whose habits are
  equestrian, and who use canoes only for ferriage or transportation
  purposes, bury their dead, usually heaping over them piles of
  stones, either to mark the spot or to prevent the bodies from being
  exhumed by the prairie wolf. Among the Yakamas we saw many of their
  graves placed in conspicuous points of the basaltic walls which line
  the lower valleys, and designated by a clump of poles planted over
  them, from which fluttered various articles of dress. Formerly these
  prairie tribes killed horses over the graves--a custom now falling
  into disuse in consequence of the teachings of the whites.

  Upon Puget Sound all the forms obtain in different localities. Among
  the Makah of Cape Flattery the graves are covered with a sort of
  box, rudely constructed of boards, and elsewhere on the Sound the
  same method is adopted in some cases, while in others the bodies are
  placed on elevated scaffolds. As a general thing, however, the
  Indians upon the water placed the dead in canoes, while those at a
  distance from it buried them. Most of the graves are surrounded with
  strips of cloth, blankets, and other articles of property. Mr.
  Cameron, an English gentleman residing at Esquimalt Harbor,
  Vancouver Island, informed me that on his place there were graves
  having at each corner a large stone, the interior space filled with
  rubbish. The origin of these was unknown to the present Indians.

  The distinctions of rank or wealth in all cases were very marked;
  persons of no consideration and slaves being buried with very little
  care or respect. Vancouver, whose attention was particularly
  attracted to their methods of disposing of the dead, mentions that
  at Port Discovery he saw baskets suspended to the trees containing
  the skeletons of young children, and, what is not easily explained,
  small square boxes, containing, apparently, food. I do not think
  that any of these tribes place articles of food with the dead, nor
  have I been able to learn from living Indians that they formerly
  followed that practice. What he took for such I do not understand.
  He also mentions seeing in the same place a cleared space recently
  burned over, in which the skulls and bones of a number lay among the
  ashes. The practice of burning the dead exists in parts of
  California and among the Tshimsyan of Fort Simpson. It is also
  pursued by the “Carriers” of New California, but no intermediate
  tribes, to my knowledge, follow it. Certainly those of the Sound do
  not at present.

  It is clear from Vancouver’s narrative that some great epidemic had
  recently passed through the country, as manifested by the quantity
  of human remains uncared for and exposed at the time of his visit,
  and very probably the Indians, being afraid, had buried a house, in
  which the inhabitants had perished with the dead in it. This is
  frequently done. They almost invariably remove from any place where
  sickness has prevailed, generally destroying the house also.

  At Penn Cove Mr. Whidbey, one of Vancouver’s officers, noticed
  several sepulchers formed exactly like a sentry-box. Some of them
  were open, and contained the skeletons of many young children tied
  up in baskets. The smaller bones of adults were likewise noticed,
  but not one of the limb bones was found, which gave rise to an
  opinion that these, by the living inhabitants of the neighborhood,
  were appropriated to useful purposes, such as pointing their arrows,
  spears, or other weapons.

    [Illustration: FIG. 29.--Canoe Burial.]

  It is hardly necessary to say that such a practice is altogether
  foreign to Indian character. The bones of the adults had probably
  been removed and buried elsewhere. The corpses of children are
  variously disposed of; sometimes by suspending them, at others by
  placing in the hollows of trees. A cemetery devoted to infants is,
  however, an unusual occurrence. In cases of chiefs or men of note
  much pomp was used in the accompaniments of the rite. The canoes
  were of great size and value--the war or state canoes of the
  deceased. Frequently one was inverted over that holding the body,
  and in one instance, near Shoalwater Bay, the corpse was deposited
  in a small canoe, which again was placed in a larger one and covered
  with a third. Among the _Tsinūk_ and _Tsìhalis_ the _tamahno-ūs_
  board of the owner was placed near him. The Puget Sound Indians do
  not make these _tamahno-ūs_ boards, but they sometimes constructed
  effigies of their chiefs, resembling the person as nearly as
  possible, dressed in his usual costume, and wearing the articles of
  which he was fond. One of these, representing the Skagit chief
  Sneestum, stood very conspicuously upon a high bank on the eastern
  side of Whidbey Island. The figures observed by Captain Clarke at
  the Cascades were either of this description or else the carved
  posts which had ornamented the interior of the houses of the
  deceased, and were connected with the superstition of the
  _tamahno-ūs_. The most valuable articles of property were put into
  or hung up around the grave, being first carefully rendered
  unserviceable, and the living family were literally stripped to do
  honor to the dead. No little self-denial must have been practiced in
  parting with articles so precious, but those interested frequently
  had the least to say on the subject. The graves of women were
  distinguished by a cap, a Kamas stick, or other implement of their
  occupation, and by articles of dress.

  Slaves were killed in proportion to the rank and wealth of the
  deceased. In some instances they were starved to death, or even tied
  to the dead body and left to perish thus horribly. At present this
  practice has been almost entirely given up, but till within a very
  few years it was not uncommon. A case which occurred in 1850 has
  been already mentioned. Still later, in 1853, Toke, a Tsinūk chief
  living at Shoalwater Bay, undertook to kill a slave girl belonging
  to his daughter, who, in dying, had requested that this might be
  done. The woman fled, and was found by some citizens in the woods
  half starved. Her master attempted to reclaim her, but was soundly
  thrashed and warned against another attempt.

  It was usual in the case of chiefs to renew or repair for a
  considerable length of time the materials and ornaments of the
  burial-place. With the common class of persons family pride or
  domestic affection was satisfied with the gathering together of the
  bones after the flesh had decayed and wrapping them in a new mat.
  The violation of the grave was always regarded as an offense of the
  first magnitude and provoked severe revenge. Captain Belcher
  remarks: “Great secrecy is observed in all their burial ceremonies,
  partly from fear of Europeans, and as among themselves they will
  instantly punish by death any violation of the tomb or wage war if
  perpetrated by another tribe, so they are inveterate and tenaceously
  bent on revenge should they discover that any act of the kind has
  been perpetrated by a white man. It is on record that part of the
  crew of a vessel on her return to this port (the Columbia) suffered
  because a person who belonged to her (but not then in her) was known
  to have taken a skull, which, from the process of flattening, had
  become an object of curiosity.” He adds, however, that at the period
  of his visit to the river “the skulls and skeletons were scattered
  about in all directions; and as I was on most of their positions
  unnoticed by the natives, I suspect the feeling does not extend much
  beyond their relatives, and then only till decay has destroyed body,
  goods, and chattels. The chiefs, no doubt, are watched, as their
  canoes are repainted, decorated, and greater care taken by placing
  them in sequestered spots.”

  The motive for sacrificing or destroying property on occasion of
  death will be referred to in treating of their religious ideas.
  Wailing for the dead is continued for a long time, and it seems to
  be rather a ceremonial performance than an act of spontaneous grief.
  The duty, of course, belongs to the woman, and the early morning is
  usually chosen for the purpose. They go out alone to some place a
  little distant from the lodge or camp and in a loud, sobbing voice
  repeat a sort of stereotyped formula; as, for instance, a mother, on
  the loss of her child, “_A seahb shed-da bud-dah ah ta bud!
  ad-de-dah_,” “Ah chief!” “My child dead, alas!” When in dreams they
  see any of their deceased friends this lamentation is renewed.

With most of the Northwest Indians it was quite common, as mentioned by
Mr. Gibbs, to kill or bury with the dead a living slave, who, failing to
die within three days, was strangled by another slave; but the custom
has also prevailed among other tribes and peoples, in many cases the
individuals offering themselves as voluntary sacrifices. Bancroft states

  In Panama, Nata, and some other districts, when a cacique died,
  those of his concubines that loved him enough, those that he loved
  ardently and so appointed, as well as certain servants, killed
  themselves and were interred with him. This they did in order that
  they might wait upon him in the land of spirits.

It is well known to all readers of history to what an extreme this
revolting practice has prevailed in Mexico, South America, and Africa.


As a confirmed rite or ceremony, this mode of disposing of the dead has
never been followed by any of our North American Indians, although
occasionally the dead have been disposed of by sinking in springs or
water-courses, by throwing into the sea, or by setting afloat in canoes.
Among the nations of antiquity the practice was not uncommon, for we are
informed that the Ichthyophagi, or fish-eaters, mentioned by Ptolemy,
living in a region bordering on the Persian Gulf, invariably committed
their dead to the sea, thus repaying the obligations they had incurred
to its inhabitants. The Lotophagians did the same, and the Hyperboreans,
with a commendable degree of forethought for the survivors, when ill or
about to die, threw themselves into the sea. The burial of Balder “the
beautiful,” it may be remembered, was in a highly decorated ship, which
was pushed down to the sea, set on fire, and committed to the waves. The
Itzas of Guatemala, living on the islands of Lake Peten, according to
Bancroft, are said to have thrown their dead into the lake for want of
room. The Indians of Nootka Sound and the Chinooks were in the habit of
thus getting rid of their dead slaves, and, according to Timberlake, the
Cherokees of Tennessee “seldom bury the dead, but throw them into the

The Alibamans, as they were called by Bossu, denied the rite of
sepulture to suicides; they were looked upon as cowards, and their
bodies thrown into a river. The Rev. J. G. Wood[5.82] states that the
Obongo or African tribe takes the body to some running stream, the
course of which has been previously diverted. A deep grave is dug in the
bed of the stream, the body placed in it, and covered over carefully.
Lastly, the stream is restored to its original course, so that all
traces of the grave are soon lost.

The Kavague also bury their common people, or wanjambo, by simply
sinking the body in some stream.

Historians inform us that Alaric was buried in a manner similar to that
employed by the Obongo, for in 410, at Cosença, a town of Calabria, the
Goths turned aside the course of the river Vasento, and having made a
grave in the midst of its bed, where its course was most rapid, they
interred their king with a prodigious amount of wealth and riches. They
then caused the river to resume its regular course, and destroyed all
persons who had been concerned in preparing this romantic grave.

A later example of water-burial is that afforded by the funeral of De
Soto. Dying in 1542, his remains were inclosed in a wooden chest well
weighted, and committed to the turbid and tumultuous waters of the

After a careful search for well-authenticated instances of burial,
aquatic and semi-aquatic, among North American Indians, but two have
been found, which are here given. The first relates to the Gosh-Utes,
and is by Capt. J. H. Simpson:[5.83]

  Skull Valley, which is a part of the Great Salt Lake Desert, and
  which we have crossed to-day, Mr. George W. Bean, my guide over this
  route last fall, says derives its name from the number of skulls
  which have been found in it, and which have arisen from the custom
  of the Goshute Indians burying their dead in springs, which they
  sank with stones or keep down with sticks. He says he has actually
  seen the Indians bury their dead in this way near the town of Provo,
  where he resides.

As corroborative of this statement, Captain Simpson mentions in another
part of the volume that, arriving at a spring one evening, they were
obliged to dig out the skeleton of an Indian from the mud at the bottom
before using the water.

This peculiar mode of burial is entirely unique, so far as known, and
but from the well-known probity of the relator might well be questioned,
especially when it is remembered that in the country spoken of water is
quite scarce and Indians are careful not to pollute the streams or
springs near which they live. Conjecture seems useless to establish a
reason for this disposition of the dead, unless we are inclined to
attribute it to the natural indolence of the savage, or a desire to
poison the springs for white persons.

    [Illustration: FIG. 30.--Mourning Cradle.]

The second example is by George Catlin,[5.84] and relates to the

  * * * This little cradle has a strap which passes over the woman’s
  forehead whilst the cradle rides on her back, and if the child dies
  during its subjection to this rigid mode, its cradle becomes its
  coffin, forming a little canoe, in which it lies floating on the
  water in some sacred pool, where they are often in the habit of
  fastening their canoes containing the dead bodies of the old and
  young, or, which in often the case, elevated into the branches of
  trees, where their bodies are left to decay and their bones to dry
  whilst they are bandaged in many skins and curiously packed in their
  canoes, with paddles to propel and ladles to bale them out, and
  provisions to last and pipes to smoke as they are performing their
  “long journey after death to their contemplated hunting grounds,”
  which these people think is to be performed in their canoes.

Figure 30, after Catlin, is a representation of a mourning-cradle.
Figure 31 represents the sorrowing mother committing the body of her
dead child to the mercy of the elements.


This is a term quaintly used by the learned M. Pierre Muret to express
the devouring of the dead by birds and animals or the surviving friends
and relatives. Exposure of the dead to animals and birds has already
been mentioned, but in the absence of any positive proof, it is not
believed that the North American Indians followed the custom, although
cannibalism may have prevailed to a limited extent. It is true that a
few accounts are given by authors, but these are considered apochryphal
in character, and the one mentioned is only offered to show how
credulous were the early writers on American natives.

That such a means of disposing of the dead was not in practice is
somewhat remarkable when we take into consideration how many analogies
been found in comparing old and new world funeral observances, and the
statements made by Bruhier, Lafitau, Muret, and others, who give a
number of examples of this peculiar mode of burial.

For instance, the Tartars sometimes ate their dead, and the Massagetics,
Padæans, Derbices, and Effedens did the same, having previously
strangled the aged and mixed their flesh with mutton. Horace and
Tertullian both affirm that the Irish and ancient Britons devoured the
dead, and Lafitau remarks that certain Indians of South America did the
same, esteeming this mode of disposal more honorable and much to be
preferred than to rot and be eaten by worms.

J. G. Wood, in his work already quoted, states that the Fans of Africa
devour their dead, but this disposition is followed only for the common
people, the kings and chiefs being buried with much ceremony.

The following extract is from Lafitau:[5.85]

  Dans l’Amérique Méridionale quelque Peuples décharnent les corps de
  leurs Guerriers et les mangent leurs chairs, ainsi que je viens de
  le dire, et après les avoir consumées, ils conservent pendant
  quelque temps leurs cadavres avec respect dans leurs Cabanes, et il
  portent ces squeletes dans les combats en guise d’Etendard, pour
  ranimer leur courage par cette vue et inspirer de la terreur à leurs
  ennemis. * * *

    [Illustration: FIG. 31.--Launching the Burial Cradle.]

  Il est vrai qu’il y en a qui font festin des cadavres de leurs
  parens; mais il est faux qu’elles les mettent à mort dans leur
  vieillesse, pour avoir le plaisir de se nourrir de leur chair, et
  d’en faire un repas. Quelques Nations de l’Amérique Méridionale, qui
  ont encore cette coutume de manger les corps morts de leurs parens,
  n’en usent ainsi que par piété, piété mal entenduë à la verité, mais
  piété colorée néanmoins par quelque ombre de raison; car ils croyent
  leur donner une sépulture bien plus honorable.

To the credit of our savages, this barbarous and revolting practice is
not believed to have been practiced by them.


The above subjects are coincident with burial, and some of them,
particularly mourning, have been more or less treated of in this paper,
yet it may be of advantage to here give a few of the collected examples,
under separate heads.


One of the most carefully described scenes of mourning at the death of a
chief of the Crows is related in the life of Beckwourth,[5.86] who for
many years lived among this people, finally attaining great distinction
as a warrior.

  I dispatched a herald to the village to inform them of the head
  chief’s death, and then, burying him according to his directions, we
  slowly proceeded homewards. My very soul sickened at the
  contemplation of the scenes that would be enacted at my arrival.
  When we drew in sight of the village, we found every lodge laid
  prostrate. We entered amid shrieks, cries, and yells. Blood was
  streaming from every conceivable part of the bodies of all who were
  old enough to comprehend their loss. Hundreds of fingers were
  dismembered; hair torn from the head lay in profusion about the
  paths; wails and moans in every direction assailed the ear, where
  unrestrained joy had a few hours before prevailed. This fearful
  mourning lasted until evening of the next day. * * *

  A herald having been dispatched to our other villages to acquaint
  them with the death of our head chief, and request them to assemble
  at the Rose Bud, in order to meet our village and devote themselves
  to a general time of mourning, there met, in conformity to the
  summons, over ten thousand Crows at the place indicated. Such a
  scene of disorderly, vociferous mourning, no imagination can
  conceive nor any pen portray. Long Hair cut off a large roll of his
  hair; a thing he was never known to do before. The cutting and
  hacking of human flesh exceeded all my previous experience; fingers
  were dismembered as readily as twigs, and blood was poured out like
  water. Many of the warriors would cut two gashes nearly the entire
  length of their arm; then, separating the skin from the flesh at one
  end, would grasp it in their other hand, and rip it asunder to the
  shoulder. Others would carve various devices upon their breasts and
  shoulders, and raise the skin in the same manner to make the scars
  show to advantage after the wound was healed. Some of their
  mutilations were ghastly, and my heart sickened to look at them, but
  they would not appear to receive any pain from them.

It should be remembered that many of Beckwourth’s statements are to be
taken _cum grana salis_.

From I. L. Mahan, United States Indian agent for the Chippewas of Lake
Superior, Red Cliff, Wisconsin, the following detailed account of
mourning has been received:

  There is probably no people that exhibit more sorrow and grief for
  their dead than they. The young widow mourns the loss of her
  husband; by day as by night she is heard silently sobbing; she is a
  constant visitor to the place of rest; with the greatest reluctance
  will she follow the raised camp. The friends and relatives of the
  young mourner will incessantly devise methods to distract her mind
  from the thought of her lost husband. She refuses nourishment, but
  as nature is exhausted she is prevailed upon to partake of food; the
  supply is scant, but on every occasion the best and largest
  proportion is deposited upon the grave of her husband. In the mean
  time the female relatives of the deceased have, according to custom,
  submitted to her charge a parcel made up of different cloths
  ornamented with bead-work and eagle’s feathers, which she is charged
  to keep by her side--the place made vacant by the demise of her
  husband--a reminder of her widowhood. She is therefore for a term of
  twelve moons not permitted to wear any finery, neither is she
  permitted to slicken up and comb her head; this to avoid attracting
  attention. Once in a while a female relative of deceased,
  commiserating with her grief and sorrow, will visit her and
  voluntarily proceed to comb out the long-neglected and matted hair.
  With a jealous eye a vigilant watch is kept over her conduct during
  the term of her widowhood, yet she is allowed the privilege to
  marry, any time during her widowhood, an unmarried brother or
  cousin, or a person of the same _Dodem_ [_sic_] (family mark) of her

  At the expiration of her term, the vows having been faithfully
  performed and kept, the female relatives of deceased assemble and,
  with greetings commensurate to the occasion, proceed to wash her
  face, comb her hair, and attire her person with new apparel, and
  otherwise demonstrating the release from her vow and restraint.
  Still she has not her entire freedom. If she will still refuse to
  marry a relative of the deceased and will marry another, she then
  has to purchase her freedom by giving a certain amount of goods and
  whatever else she might have manufactured during her widowhood in
  anticipation of the future now at hand. Frequently, though, during
  widowhood the vows are disregarded and an inclination to flirt and
  play courtship or form an alliance of marriage outside of the
  relatives of the deceased is being indulged, and when discovered the
  widow is set upon by the female relatives, her slick braided hair is
  shorn close up to the back of her neck, all her apparel and trinkets
  are torn from her person, and a quarrel frequently results fatally
  to some member of one or the other side.

Thomas L. McKenney[5.87] gives a description of the Chippewa widow which
differs slightly from the one above:

  I have noticed several women here carrying with them rolls of
  clothing. On inquiring what these imported, I learn that they _are
  widows_ who carry them, and that these are badges of mourning. It is
  indispensable, when a woman of the Chippeway Nation loses her
  husband, for her to take of her best apparel--and the whole of it is
  not worth a dollar--and roll it up, and confine it by means of her
  husband’s sashes; and if he had ornaments, these are generally put
  on the top of the roll, and around it is wrapped a piece of cloth.
  This bundle is called her husband, and it is expected that she is
  never to be seen without it. If she walks out she takes it with her;
  if she sits down in her lodge, she places it by her side. This badge
  of widowhood and of mourning the widow is compelled to carry with
  her until some of her late husband’s family shall call and take it
  away, which is done when they think she has mourned long enough, and
  which is generally at the expiration of a year. She is then, but not
  before, released from her mourning, and at liberty to marry again.
  She has the privilege to take this husband to the family of the
  deceased and leave it, but this is considered indecorous, and is
  seldom done. Sometimes a brother of the deceased takes the widow for
  his wife at the grave of her husband, which is done by a ceremony of
  walking her over it. And this he has a right to do; and when this is
  done she is not required to go into mourning; or, if she chooses,
  she has the right _to go to him_, and he is _bound_ to support her.

    [Illustration: FIG. 32.--Chippewa Widow.]

  I visited a lodge to-day, where I saw one of these badges. The size
  varies according to the quantity of clothing which the widow may
  happen to have. It is expected of her to put up her _best_ and wear
  her _worst_. The “_husband_” I saw just now was 30 inches high and
  18 inches in circumference.

  I was told by the interpreter that he knew a woman who had been left
  to mourn after this fashion for years, none of her husband’s family
  calling for the badge or token of her grief. At a certain time it
  was told her that some of her husband’s family were passing, and she
  was advised to speak to them on the subject. She did so, and told
  them she had mourned long and was poor; that she had no means to buy
  clothes, and her’s being all in the mourning badge, and sacred,
  could not be touched. She expressed a hope that her request might
  not be interpreted into a wish to marry; it was only made that she
  might be placed in a situation to get some clothes. She got for
  answer, that “they were going to Mackinac, and would think of it.”
  They left her in this state of uncertainty, but on returning, and
  finding her faithful still, they took her “husband” and presented
  her with clothing of various kinds. Thus was she rewarded for her
  constancy and made comfortable.

  The Choctaw widows mourn by never combing their hair for the term of
  their grief, which is generally about a year. The Chippeway men
  mourn by painting their faces black.

  I omitted to mention that when presents are going round, the badge
  of mourning, this “_husband_” comes in for an equal share, as if it
  were the living husband.

  A Chippeway mother, on losing her child, prepares an image of it in
  the best manner she is able, and dresses it as she did her living
  child, and fixes it in the kind of cradle I have referred to, and
  goes through the ceremonies of nursing it as if it were alive, by
  dropping little particles of food in the direction of its mouth, and
  giving it of whatever the living child partook. This ceremony also
  is generally observed for a year.

Figure 32 represents the Chippewa widow holding in her arms the
substitute for the dead husband.

The substitution of a reminder for the dead husband, made from rags,
furs, and other articles, is not confined alone to the Chippewas, other
tribes having the same custom. In some instances the widows are obliged
to carry around with them, for a variable period, a bundle containing
the bones of the deceased consort.

Similar observances, according to Bancroft,[5.88] were followed by some
of the Central American tribes of Indians, those of the Sambos and
Mosquitos being as follows:

  The widow was bound to supply the grave of her husband for a year,
  after which she took up the bones and carried them with her for
  another year, at last placing them upon the roof of her house, and
  then only was she allowed to marry again.

  On returning from the grave the property of the deceased is
  destroyed, the cocoa palms being cut down, and all who have taken
  part in the funeral undergo a lustration in the river. Relatives cut
  off the hair, the men leaving a ridge along the middle from the nape
  of the neck to the forehead. Widows, according to some old writers,
  after supplying the grave with food for a year take up the bones and
  carry them on the back in the daytime, sleeping with them at night
  for another year, after which they are placed at the door or upon
  the house-top. On the anniversary of deaths, friends of the deceased
  hold a feast, called _seekroe_, at which large quantities of liquor
  are drained to his memory. Squier, who witnessed the ceremonies on
  an occasion of this kind, says that males and females were dressed
  in _ule_ cloaks fantastically painted black and white, while their
  faces were correspondingly streaked with red and yellow, and they
  performed a slow walk around, prostrating themselves at intervals
  and calling loudly upon the dead and tearing the ground with their
  hands. At no other time is the departed referred to, the very
  mention of his name being superstitiously avoided. Some tribes
  extend a thread from the house of death to the grave, carrying it in
  a straight line over every obstacle. Fröebel states that among the
  Woolwas all property of the deceased is buried with him, and that
  both husband and wife cut the hair and burn the hut on the death of
  either, placing a gruel of maize upon the grave for a certain time.

Benson[5.89] gives the following account of the Choctaws’ funeral
ceremonies, embracing the disposition of the body, mourning feast and

  Their funeral is styled by them “the last cry.”

  When the husband dies the friends assemble, prepare the grave, and
  place the corpse in it, but do not fill it up. The gun, bow and
  arrows, hatchet, and knife are deposited in the grave. Poles are
  planted at the head and the foot, upon which flags are placed; the
  grave is then inclosed by pickets driven in the ground. The funeral
  ceremonies now begin, the widow being the chief mourner. At night
  and morning she will go to the grave and pour forth the most piteous
  cries and wailings. It is not important that any other member of the
  family should take any very active part in the “cry,” though they do
  participate to some extent.

  The widow wholly neglects her toilet, while she daily goes to the
  grave during one entire moon from the date when the death occurred.
  On the evening of the last day of the moon the friends all assemble
  at the cabin of the disconsolate widow, bringing provisions for a
  sumptuous feast, which consists of corn and jerked beef boiled
  together in a kettle. While the supper is preparing the bereaved
  wife goes to the grave and pours out, with unusual vehemence, her
  bitter wailings and lamentations. When the food is thoroughly cooked
  the kettle is taken from the fire and placed in the center of the
  cabin, and the friends gather around it, passing the buffalo-horn
  spoon from hand to hand and from mouth to mouth till all have been
  bountifully supplied. While supper is being served, two of the
  oldest men of the company quietly withdraw and go to the grave and
  fill it up, taking down the flags. All then join in a dance, which
  not unfrequently is continued till morning; the widow does not fail
  to unite in the dance, and to contribute her part to the festivities
  of the occasion. This is the “_last cry_,” the days of mourning are
  ended, and the widow is now ready to form another matrimonial
  alliance. The ceremonies are precisely the same when a man has lost
  his wife, and they are only slightly varied when any other member of
  the family has died. (Slaves were buried without ceremonies.)


Some examples of human sacrifice have already been given in connection
with another subject, but it is thought others might prove interesting.
The first relates to the Natchez of Louisiana.[5.90]

  When their sovereign died he was accompanied in the grave by his
  wives and by several of his subjects. The lesser Suns took care to
  follow the same custom. The law likewise condemned every Natchez to
  death who had married a girl of the blood of the Suns as soon as she
  was expired. On this occasion I must tell you the history of an
  Indian who was noways willing to submit to this law. His name was
  _Elteacteal_; he contracted an alliance with the Suns, but the
  consequences which this honor brought along with it had like to have
  proved very unfortunate to him. His wife fell sick; as soon as he
  saw her at the point of death he fled, embarked in a piragua on the
  _Mississippi_, and came to New Orleans. He put himself under the
  protection of M. de Bienville, the then governor, and offered to be
  his huntsman. The governor accepted his services, and interested
  himself for him with the Natchez, who declared that he had nothing
  more to fear, because the ceremony was past, and he was accordingly
  no longer a lawful prize.

  _Elteacteal_, being thus assured, ventured to return to his nation,
  and, without settling among them, he made several voyages thither.
  He happened to be there when the Sun called the _Stung Serpent_,
  brother to the Great Sun, died. He was a relative of the late wife
  of _Elteacteal_, and they resolved to make him pay his debt. M. de
  Bienville had been recalled to France, and the sovereign of the
  Natchez thought that the protector’s absence had annulled the
  reprieve granted to the protected person, and accordingly he caused
  him to be arrested. As soon as the poor fellow found himself in the
  hut of the grand chief of war, together with the other victims
  destined to be sacrificed to the _Stung Serpent_, he gave vent to
  the excess of his grief. The favorite wife of the late Son, who was
  likewise to be sacrificed, and who saw the preparations for her
  death with firmness, and seemed impatient to rejoin her husband,
  hearing _Elteacteal’s_ complaints and groans, said to him: “Art thou
  no warrior?” He answered, “Yes: I am one.” “However,” said she,
  “thou cryest; life is dear to thee, and as that is the case, it is
  not good that thou shouldst go along with us; go with the women.”
  _Elteacteal_ replied: “True; life is dear to me. It would be well if
  I walked yet on earth till to the death of the Great Sun, and I
  would die with him.” “Go thy way,” said the favorite, “it is not fit
  thou shouldst go with us, and that thy heart should remain behind on
  earth. Once more, get away, and let me see thee no more.”

  _Elteacteal_ did not stay to hear this order repeated to him; he
  disappeared like lightning; three old women, two of which were his
  relatives, offered to pay his debt; their age and their infirmities
  had disgusted them of life; none of them had been able to use their
  legs for a great while. The hair of the two that were related to
  _Elteacteal_ was no more gray than those of women of fifty-five
  years in France. The other old woman was a hundred and twenty years
  old, and had very white hair, which is a very uncommon thing among
  the Indians. None of the three had a quite wrinkled skin. They were
  dispatched in the evening, one at the door of the _Stung Serpent_,
  and the other two upon the place before the temple. * * * A cord is
  fastened round their necks with a slip-knot, and eight men of their
  relations strangle them by drawing, four one way and four the other.
  So many are not necessary, but as they acquire nobility by such
  executions, there are always more than are wanting, and the
  operation is performed in an instant. The generosity of these women
  gave _Elteacteal_ life again, acquired him the degree of
  _considered_, and cleared his honor, which he had sullied by fearing
  death. He remained quiet after that time, and taking advantage of
  what he had learned during his stay among the French, he became a
  juggler and made use of his knowledge to impose upon his countrymen.

  The morning after this execution they made everything ready for the
  convoy, and the hour being come, the great master of the ceremonies
  appeared at the door of the hut, adorned suitably to his quality.
  The victims who were to accompany the deceased prince into the
  mansion of the spirits came forth; they consisted of the favorite
  wife of the deceased, of his second wife, his chancellor, his
  physician, his hired man, that is, his first servant, and of some
  old women.

  The favorite went to the Great Sun, with whom there were several
  Frenchmen, to take leave of him; she gave orders for the Suns of
  both sexes that were her children to appear, and spoke to the
  following effect:

  “Children, this is the day on which I am to tear myself from you
  (_sic_) arms and to follow your father’s steps, who waits for me in
  the country of the spirits; if I were to yield to your tears I would
  injure my love and fail in my duty. I have done enough for you by
  bearing you next to my heart, and by suckling you with my breasts.
  You that are descended of his blood and fed by my milk, ought you to
  shed tears? Rejoice rather that you are _Suns_ and warriors; you are
  bound to give examples of firmness and valor to the whole nation:
  go, my children, I have provided for all your wants, by procuring
  you friends; my friends and those of your father are yours too;
  I leave you amidst them; they are the French; they are
  tender-hearted and generous; make yourselves worthy of their esteem
  by not degenerating from your race; always act openly with them and
  never implore them with meanness.

  “And you, Frenchmen,” added she, turning herself towards our
  officers, “I recommend my orphan children to you; they will know no
  other fathers than you; you ought to protect them.”

  After that she got up; and, followed by her troop, returned to her
  husband’s hut with a surprising firmness.

  A noble woman came to join herself to the number of victims of her
  own accord, being engaged by the friendship she bore the _Stung
  Serpent_ to follow him into the other world. The Europeans called
  her the _haughty_ lady, on account of her majestic deportment and
  her proud air, and because she only frequented the company of the
  most distinguished Frenchmen. They regretted her much, because she
  had the knowledge of several simples with which she had saved the
  lives of many of our sick. This moving sight filled our people with
  grief and horror. The favorite wife of the deceased rose up and
  spoke to them with a smiling countenance: “I die without fear;” said
  she, “grief does not embitter my last hours. I recommend my children
  to you; whenever you see them, noble Frenchmen, remember that you
  have loved their father, and that he was till death a true and
  sincere friend of your nation, whom he loved more than himself. The
  disposer of life has been pleased to call him, and I shall soon go
  and join him; I shall tell him that I have seen your hearts moved at
  the sight of his corps; do not be grieved; we shall be longer
  friends in the _country of the spirits_ than here, because we do not
  die there again.”[5.91*]

  These words forced tears from the eyes of all the French; they were
  obliged to do all they could to prevent the Great Sun from killing
  himself, for he was inconsolable at the death of his brother, upon
  whom he was used to lay the weight of government, he being great
  chief of war of the Natches, _i.e._ generalissimo of their armies;
  that prince grew furious by the resistance he met with; he held his
  gun by the barrel, and the Sun, his presumptive heir, held it by the
  lock, and caused the powder to fall out of the pan; the hut was full
  of Suns, Nobles, and Honorables[5.92*] but the French raised their
  spirits again, by hiding all the arms belonging to the sovereign,
  and filling the barrel of his gun with water, that it might be unfit
  for use for some time.

  As soon as the Suns saw their sovereign’s life in safety, they
  thanked the French, by squeezing their hands, but without speaking;
  a most profound silence reigned throughout, for grief and awe kept
  in bounds the multitude that were present.

  The wife of the Great Sun was seized with fear during this
  transaction. She was asked whether she was ill, and she answered
  aloud, “Yes, I am”; and added with a lower voice, “If the Frenchmen
  go out of this hut, my husband dies and all the Natches will die
  with him; stay, then, brave Frenchmen, because your words are as
  powerful as arrows; besides, who could have ventured to do what you
  have done? But you are his true friends and those of his brother.”
  Their laws obliged the Great Sun’s wife to follow her husband in the
  grave; this was doubtless the cause of her fears; and likewise the
  gratitude towards the French, who interested themselves in behalf of
  his life, prompted her to speak in the above-mentioned manner.

  The Great Sun gave his hand to the officers, and said to them: “My
  friends, my heart is so overpowered with grief that, though my eyes
  were open, I have not taken notice that you have been standing all
  this while, nor have I asked you to sit down; but pardon the excess
  of my affliction.”

  The Frenchmen told him that he had no need of excuses; that they
  were going to leave him alone, but that they would cease to be his
  friends unless he gave orders to light the fires again,[5.93*]
  lighting his own before them; and that they should not leave him
  till his brother was buried.

  He took all the Frenchmen by the hands, and said: “Since all the
  chiefs and noble officers will have me stay on earth, I will do it;
  I will not kill myself; let the fires be lighted again immediately,
  and I’ll wait till death joins me to my brother; I am already old,
  and till I die I shall walk with the French; had it not been for
  them I should have gone with my brother, and all the roads would
  have been covered with dead bodies.”

Improbable as this account may appear, it has nevertheless been credited
by some of the wisest and most careful of ethnological writers, and its
seeming appearance of romance disappears when the remembrance of similar
ceremonies among Old World peoples comes to our minds.

An apparently well-authenticated case of attempted burial sacrifice is
described by Miss A. J. Allen,[5.94] and refers to the Wascopums, of

  At length, by meaning looks and gestures rather than words, it was
  found that the chief had determined that the deceased boy’s friend,
  who had been his companion in hunting the rabbit, snaring the
  pheasant, and fishing in the streams, was to be his companion to the
  spirit land; his son should not be deprived of his associate in the
  strange world to which he had gone; that associate should perish by
  the hand of his father, and be conveyed with him to the dead-house.
  This receptacle was built on a long, black rock in the center of the
  Columbia River, around which, being so near the falls, the current
  was amazingly rapid. It was thirty feet in length, and perhaps half
  that in breadth, completely enclosed and sodded except at one end,
  where was a narrow aperture just sufficient to carry a corpse
  through. The council overruled, and little George, instead of being
  slain, was conveyed living to the dead-house about sunset. The dead
  were piled on each side, leaving a narrow aisle between, and on one
  of these was placed the deceased boy; and, bound tightly till the
  purple, quivering flesh puffed above the strong bark cords, that he
  might die very soon, the living was placed by his side, his face to
  his till the very lips met, and extending along limb to limb and
  foot to foot, and nestled down into his couch of rottenness, to
  impede his breathing as far as possible and smother his cries.

Bancroft[5.95] states that--

  The slaves sacrificed at the graves by the Aztecs and Tarascos were
  selected from various trades and professions, and took with them the
  most cherished articles of the master and the implements of their
  trade wherewith to supply his wants--

while among certain of the Central American tribe death was voluntary,
wives, attendants, slaves, friends, and relations sacrificing themselves
by means of a vegetable poison.

To the mind of a savage man unimpressed with the idea that self-murder
is forbidden by law or custom, there can seem no reason why, if he so
wills, he should not follow his beloved chief, master, or friend to the
“happy other world;” and when this is remembered we need not feel
astonished as we read of accounts in which scores of self immolations
are related. It is quite likely that among our own people similar
customs might be followed did not the law and society frown down such
proceedings. In fact the daily prints occasionally inform us,
notwithstanding the restraints mentioned, that sacrifices do take place
on the occasion of the death of a beloved one.


In Beltrami[5.96] an account is given of the funeral ceremonies of one
of the tribes of the west, including a description of the feast which
took place before the body was consigned to its final resting-place:

  I was a spectator of the funeral ceremony performed in honor of the
  manes of _Cloudy Weather’s_ son-in-law, whose body had remained with
  the Sioux, and was suspected to have furnished one of their repasts.
  What appeared not a little singular and indeed ludicrous in this
  funeral comedy was the contrast exhibited by the terrific
  lamentations and yells of one part of the company while the others
  were singing and dancing with all their might.

  At another funeral ceremony for a member of the _Grand Medicine_,
  and at which as _a man of another world_ I was permitted to attend,
  the same practice occurred. But at the feast which took place on
  that occasion an allowance was served up for the deceased out of
  every article of which it consisted, while others were beating,
  wounding, and torturing themselves, and letting their blood flow
  both over the dead man and his provisions, thinking possibly that
  this was the most palatable seasoning for the latter which they
  could possibly supply. His wife furnished out an entertainment
  present for him of all her hair and rags, with which, together with
  his arms, his provisions, his ornaments, and his mystic medicine
  bag, he was wrapped up in the skin which had been his last covering
  when alive. He was then tied round with the bark of some particular
  trees which they use for making cords, and bonds of a very firm
  texture and hold (the only ones indeed which they have), and instead
  of being buried in the earth was hung up to a large oak. The reason
  of this was that, as his favorite Manitou was the eagle, his spirit
  would be enabled more easily from such a situation to fly with him
  to Paradise.

Hind[5.97] mentions an account of a burial feast by De Brebeuf which
occurred among the Hurons of New York:

  The Jesuit missionary, P. de Brebeuf, who assisted at one of the
  “feasts of the dead” at the village of Ossosane, before the
  dispersion of the Hurons, relates that the ceremony took place in
  the presence of 2,000 Indians, who offered 1,300 presents at the
  common tomb, in testimony of their grief. The people belonging to
  five large villages deposited the bones of their dead in a gigantic
  shroud, composed of forty-eight robes, each robe being made of ten
  beaver skins. After being carefully wrapped in this shroud, they
  were placed between moss and bark. A wall of stones was built around
  this vast ossuary to preserve it from profanation. Before covering
  the bones with earth a few grains of Indian corn were thrown by the
  women upon the sacred relics. According to the superstitious belief
  of the Hurons the souls of the dead remain near the bodies until the
  “feast of the dead”; after which ceremony they become free, and can
  at once depart for the land of spirits, which they believe to be
  situated in the regions of the setting sun.

Ossuaries have not been used by savage nations alone, for the custom of
exhuming the bones of the dead after a certain period, and collecting
them in suitable receptacles, is well known to have been practiced in
Italy, Switzerland, and France. The writer saw in the church-yard of
Zug, Switzerland, in 1857, a slatted pen containing the remains of
hundreds of individuals. These had been dug up from the grave-yard and
preserved in the manner indicated. The catacombs of Naples and Paris
afford examples of burial ossuaries.


The following account is by Dr. S. G. Wright, acting physician to the
Leech Lake Agency, Minnesota:--

  Pagan Indians or those who have not become Christians still adhere
  to the ancient practice of feasting at the grave of departed
  friends; the object is to feast with the departed; that is, they
  believe that while they partake of the visible material the departed
  spirit partakes at the same time of the spirit that dwells in the
  food. From ancient time it was customary to bury with the dead
  various articles, such especially as were most valued in lifetime.
  The idea was that there was a spirit dwelling in the article
  represented by the material article; thus the war-club contained a
  spiritual war-club, the pipe a spiritual pipe, which could be used
  by the departed in another world. These several spiritual implements
  were supposed, of course, to accompany the soul, to be used also on
  the way to its final abode. This habit has now ceased.


This subject has been sufficiently mentioned elsewhere in connection
with other matters and does not need to be now repeated. It has been an
almost universal custom throughout the whole extent of the country to
place food in or near the grave of deceased persons.


Gymnastic exercises, dignified with this name, upon the occasion of a
death or funeral, were common to many tribes. It is thus described by

  An occasional and very singular figure was called the “dance for the
  dead.” It was known as the _O-hé-wä._ It was danced by the women
  alone. The music was entirely vocal, a select band of singers being
  stationed in the center of the room. To the songs for the dead which
  they sang the dancers joined in chorus. It was plaintive and
  mournful music. This dance was usually separate from all councils
  and the only dance of the occasion. It was commenced at dusk or soon
  after and continued until towards morning, when the shades of the
  dead who were believed to be present and participate in the dance
  were supposed to disappear. The dance was had whenever a family
  which had lost a member called for it, which was usually a year
  after the event. In the spring and fall it was often given for all
  the dead indiscriminately, who were believed then to revisit the
  earth and join in the dance.

The interesting account which now follows is by Stephen Powers[5.99] and
relates to the Yo-kaí-a of California, containing other matters of
importance pertaining to burial:

  I paid a visit to their camp four miles below Ukiah, and finding
  there a unique kind of assembly-house, desired to enter and examine
  it, but was not allowed to do so until I had gained the confidence
  of the old sexton by a few friendly words and the tender of a silver
  half dollar. The pit of it was about 50 feet in diameter and 4 or 5
  feet deep, and it was so heavily roofed with earth that the interior
  was damp and somber as a tomb. It looked like a low tumulus, and was
  provided with a tunnel-like entrance about 10 feet long and 4 feet
  high, and leading down to a level with the floor of the pit. The
  mouth of the tunnel was closed with brush, and the venerable sexton
  would not remove it until he had slowly and devoutly paced several
  times to and fro before the entrance.

  Passing in I found the massive roof supported by a number of peeled
  poles painted white and ringed with black and ornamented with rude
  devices. The floor was covered thick and green with sprouting wheat,
  which had been scattered to feed the spirit of the captain of the
  tribe, lately deceased. Not long afterwards a deputation of the
  Senèl come up to condole with the Yo-kaí-a on the loss of their
  chief, and a dance or series of dances was held which lasted three
  days. During this time of course the Senèl were the guests of the
  Yo-kaí-a, and the latter were subjected to a considerable expense.
  I was prevented by other engagements from being present, and shall
  be obliged to depend on the description of an eye-witness, Mr. John
  Tenney, whose account is here given with a few changes:

  There are four officials connected with the building, who are
  probably chosen to preserve order and to allow no intruders. They
  are the assistants of the chief. The invitation to attend was from
  one of them, and admission was given by the same. These four wore
  black vests trimmed with red flannel and shell ornaments. The chief
  made no special display on the occasion. In addition to these four,
  who were officers of the assembly-chamber, there were an old man and
  a young woman, who seemed to be priest and priestess. The young
  woman was dressed differently from any other, the rest dressing in
  plain calico dresses. Her dress was white covered with spots of red
  flannel, cut in neat figure, ornamented with shells. It looked
  gorgeous and denoted some office, the name of which I could not
  ascertain. Before the visitors were ready to enter, the older men of
  the tribe were reclining around the fire smoking and chatting. As
  the ceremonies were about to commence, the old man and young woman
  were summoned, and, standing at the end opposite the entrance, they
  inaugurated the exercises by a brief service, which seemed to be a
  dedication of the house to the exercises about to commence. Each of
  them spoke a few words, joined in a brief chant, and the house was
  thrown open for their visitors. They staid at their post until the
  visitors entered and were seated on one side of the room. After the
  visitors then others were seated, making about 200 in all, though
  there was plenty of room in the center for the dancing.

  Before the dance commented the chief of the visiting tribe made a
  brief speech in which he no doubt referred to the death of the chief
  of the Yo-kaí-a, and offered the sympathy of his tribe in this loss.
  As he spoke, some of the women scarcely refrained from crying out,
  and with difficulty they suppressed their sobs. I presume that he
  proposed a few moments of mourning, for when he stopped the whole
  assemblage burst forth into a bitter wailing, some screaming as if
  in agony. The whole thing created such a din that I was compelled to
  stop my ears. The air was rent and pierced with their cries. This
  wailing and shedding of tears lasted about three or five minutes,
  though it seemed to last a half hour. At a given signal they ceased,
  wiped their eyes, and quieted down.

  Then preparations were made for the dance. One end of the room was
  set aside for the dressing-room. The chief actors wens five men, who
  were muscular and agile. They were profusely decorated with paint
  and feathers, while white and dark stripes covered their bodies.
  They were girt about the middle with cloth of bright colors,
  sometimes with variegated shawls. A feather mantle hung from the
  shoulder, reaching below the knee; strings of shells ornamented the
  neck, while their heads were covered with a crown of eagle feathers.
  They had whistles in their months as they danced, swaying their
  heads, bending and whirling their bodies; every muscle seemed to be
  exercised, and the feather ornaments quivered with light. They were
  agile and graceful as they bounded about in the sinuous course of
  the dance.

  The five men were assisted by a semicircle of twenty women, who only
  marked time by stepping up and down with short step. They always
  took their places first and disappeared first, the men making their
  exit gracefully one by one. The dresses of the women were suitable
  for the occasion. They were white dresses, trimmed heavily with
  black velvet. The stripes were about three inches wide, some plain
  and others edged like saw teeth. This was an indication of their
  mourning for the dead chief, in whose honor they had prepared that
  style of dancing. Strings of haliotis and pachydesma shell beads
  encircled their necks, and around their waists were belts heavily
  loaded with the same material. Their head-dresses were more showy
  than those of the men. The head was encircled with a bandeau of
  otters’ or beavers’ fur, to which were attached short wires standing
  out in all directions, with glass or shell beads strung on them, and
  at the tips little feather flags and quail plumes. Surmounting all
  was a pyramidal plume of feathers, black, gray, and scarlet, the top
  generally being a bright scarlet bunch, waving and tossing very
  beautifully. All these combined gave their heads a very brilliant
  and spangled appearance.

  The first day the dance was slow and funereal, in honor of the
  Yo-kaí-a chief who died a short time before. The music was mournful
  and simple, being a monotonous chant in which only two tones were
  used, accompanied with a rattling of split sticks and stamping on a
  hollow slab. The second day the dance was more lively on the part of
  the men, the music was better, employing airs which had a greater
  range of tune, and the women generally joined in the chorus. The
  dress of the women was not so beautiful, as they appeared in
  ordinary calico. The third day, if observed in accordance with
  Indian custom, the dancing was still more lively and the proceedings
  more gay, just as the coming home from a Christian funeral is apt to
  be much more jolly than the going out.

  A Yo-kaí-a widow’s style of mourning is peculiar. In addition to the
  usual evidences of grief, she mingles the ashes of her dead husband
  with pitch, making a white tar or unguent, with which she smears a
  band about two inches wide all around the edge of the hair (which is
  previously cut off close to the head), so that at a little distance
  she appears to be wearing a white chaplet.

  It is their custom to “feed the spirits of the dead” for the space
  of one year by going daily to places which they were accustomed to
  frequent while living, where they sprinkle pinole upon the ground.
  A Yo-kaí-a mother who has lost her babe goes every day for a year to
  some place where her little one played when alive, or to the spot
  where the body was burned, and milks her breasts into the air. This
  is accompanied by plaintive mourning and weeping and piteous calling
  upon her little one to return, and sometimes she sings a hoarse and
  melancholy chant, and dances with a wild static swaying of the body.


It has nearly always been customary to sing songs at not only funerals,
but for varying periods of time afterwards, although these chants may no
doubt occasionally have been simply wailing or mournful ejaculation.
A writer[5.100] mentions it as follows:

  At almost all funerals there is an irregular crying kind of singing,
  with no accompaniments, but generally all do not sing the same
  melody at the same time in unison. Several may sing the same song
  and at the same time, but each begins and finishes when he or she
  may wish. Often for weeks, or even months, after the decease of a
  dear friend, a living one, usually a woman, will sit by her house
  and sing or cry by the hour, and they also sing for a short time
  when they visit the grave or meet an esteemed friend whom they have
  not seen since the decease. At the funeral both men and women sing.
  No. 11 I have heard more frequently some time after the funeral, and
  No. 12 at the time of the funeral, by the Twanas. (For song see
  p. 251 of the magazine quoted.) The words are simply an exclamation
  of grief, as our word “alas,” but they also have other words which
  they use, and sometimes they use merely the syllable _la_. Often the
  notes are sung in this order, and sometimes not, but in some order
  the notes _do_ and _la_, and occasionally _mi_, are sung.

Some pages back will be found a reference, and the words of a peculiar
death dirge sung by the Senèl of California, as related by Mr. Powers.
It is as follows:


    [Illustration: FIG. 33.--Ghost Gamble.]

Mr. John Campbell, of Montreal, Canada, has kindly called the attention
of the writer to death songs very similar in character; for instance,
the Basques of Spain ululate thus:

  Lelo il Lelo, Lelo dead Lelo,
  Lelo il Lelo,
  Lelo zarat, Lelo zara,
  Il Lelon killed Lelo.

This was called the “ululating Lelo.” Mr. Campbell says:

  This again connects with the Linus or Ailinus of the Greeks and
  Egyptians * * * which Wilkinson connects with the Coptic “ya
  lay-lee-ya lail.” The Alleluia which Lescarbot heard the South
  Americans sing must have been the same wail. The Greek verb
  ὀλολύζω and the Latin ululare, with an English howl and wail,
  are probably derived from this ancient form of lamentation.

In our own time a writer on the manner and customs of the Creeks
describes a peculiar alleluia or hallelujah he heard, from which he
inferred that the American Indians must be the descendants of the lost
tribes of Israel.


It is not proposed to describe under this heading examples of those
athletic and gymnastic performances following the death of a person
which have been described by Lafitau, but simply to call attention to a
practice as a secondary or adjunct part of the funeral rites, which
consists in gambling for the possession of the property of the defunct.
Dr. Charles E. McChesney, U.S.A., who for some time was stationed among
the Wahpeton and Sisseton Sioux, furnishes a detailed and interesting
account of what is called the “ghost gamble.” This is played with marked
wild-plum stones. So far as ascertained it is peculiar to the Sioux.
Figure 33 appears as a fair illustration of the manner in which this
game is played.

  After the death of a wealthy Indian the near relatives take charge
  of the effects, and at a stated time--usually at the time of the
  first feast held over the bundle containing the lock of hair--they
  are divided into many small piles, so as to give all the Indians
  invited to play an opportunity to win something. One Indian is
  selected to represent the ghost and he plays against all the others,
  who are not required to stake anything on the result, but simply
  invited to take part in the ceremony, which is usually held in the
  lodge of the dead person, in which is contained the bundle inclosing
  the lock of hair. In cases where the ghost himself is not wealthy
  the stakes are furnished by his rich friends, should he have any.
  The players are called in one at a time, and play singly against the
  ghost’s representative, the gambling being done in recent years by
  means of cards. If the invited player succeeds in beating the ghost,
  he takes one of the piles of goods and passes out, when another is
  invited to play, &c., until all the piles of goods are won. In cases
  of men only the men play, and in cases of women the women only take
  part in the ceremony.

  Before white men came among these Indians and taught them many of
  his improved vices, this game was played by means of figured
  plum-seeds, the men using eight and the women seven seeds, figured
  as follows, and shown in Figure 34.

  Two seeds are simply blackened on one side, the reverse containing
  nothing. Two seeds are black on one side, with a small spot of the
  color of the seed left in the center, the reverse side having a
  black spot in the center, the body being plain. Two seeds have a
  buffalo’s head on one side and the reverse simply two crossed black
  lines. There is but one seed of this kind in the set used by the
  women. Two seeds have half of one side blackened and the rest left
  plain, so as to represent a half moon; the reverse has a black
  longitudinal line crossed at right angles by six small ones. There
  are six throws whereby the player can win, and five that entitle him
  to another throw. The winning throws are as follows, each winner
  taking a pile of the ghost’s goods:

    [Illustration: FIG. 45.--Auxiliary throw No 5.]

  Two plain ones up, two plain with black spots up, buffalo’s head up,
  and two half moons up wins a pile. Two plain black ones up, two
  black with natural spots up, two longitudinally crossed ones up, and
  the transversely crossed one up wins a pile. Two plain black ones
  up, two black with natural spots up, two half moons up, and the
  transversely crossed one up wins a pile. Two plain black ones, two
  black with natural spots up, two half moons up, and the buffalo’s
  head up wins a pile. Two plain ones up, two with black spots up, two
  longitudinally crossed ones up, and the transversely crossed one up
  wins a pile. Two plain ones up, two with black spots up, buffalo’s
  head up, and two long crossed up wins a pile. The following
  auxiliary throws entitle to another chance to win: two plain ones
  up, two with black spots up, one half moon up, one longitudinally
  crossed one up, and buffalo’s head up gives another throw, and on
  this throw, if the two plain ones up and two with black spots with
  either of the half moons or buffalo’s head up, the player takes a
  pile. Two plain ones up, two with black spots up, two half moons up,
  and the transversely crossed one up entitles to another throw, when,
  if all of the black sides come up, excepting one, the throw wins.
  One of the plain ones up and all the rest with black sides up gives
  another throw, and the same then turning up wins. One of the plain
  black ones up with that side up of all the others having the least
  black on gives another throw, when the same turning up again wins.
  One half moon up, with that side up of all the others having the
  least black on gives another throw, and if the throw is then
  duplicated it wins. The eighth seed, used by the men, has its place
  in their game whenever its facings are mentioned above. I transmit
  with this paper a set of these figured seeds, which can be used to
  illustrate the game if desired. These seeds are said to be nearly a
  hundred years old, and sets of them are now very rare.

    [Illustration: FIG. 34.--Figured Plum Stones.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 35.--Winning Throw No. 1.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 36.--Winning Throw No. 2.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 37.--Winning Throw No. 3.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 38.--Winning Throw No. 4.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 39.--Winning Throw No. 5.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 40.--Winning Throw No. 6.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 41.--Auxiliary Throw No. 1.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 42.--Auxiliary Throw No. 2.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 43.--Auxiliary Throw No. 3.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 44.--Auxiliary Throw No. 4.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 46.--Grave Posts.]

For assisting in obtaining this account Dr. McChesney acknowledges his
indebtedness to Dr. C. C. Miller, physician to the Sisseton Indian

Figures 35 to 45 represent the appearance of the plum stones and the
different throws; these have been carefully drawn from the set of stones
sent by Dr. McChesney.


These are placed at the head or foot of the grave, or at both ends, and
have painted or carved on them a history of the deceased or his family,
certain totemic characters, or, according to Schoolcraft, not the
achievements of the dead, but of those warriors who assisted and danced
at the interment. The northwest tribes and others frequently plant poles
near the graves, suspending therefrom bite of rag, flags, horses’ tails,
&c. The custom among the present Indians does not exist to any extent.
Beltrami[5.101] speaks of it as follows:

  Here I saw a most singular union. One of these graves was surmounted
  by a cross, whilst upon another close to it a trunk of a tree was
  raised, covered with hieroglyphics recording the number of enemies
  slain by the tenant of the tomb and several of his tutelary

The following extract from Schoolcraft[5.102] relates to the burial
posts used by the Sioux and Chippewas. Figure 46 is after the picture
given by this author in connection with the account quoted:

  Among the Sioux and Western Chippewas, after the body had been
  wrapped in its best clothes and ornaments, it is then placed on a
  scaffold or in a tree until the flesh is entirely decayed, after
  which the bones are buried and grave-posts fixed. At the head of the
  grave a tubular piece of cedar or other wood, called the
  _adjedatig_, is set. This grave-board contains the symbolic or
  representative figure, which records, if it be a warrior, his totem,
  that is to say the symbol of his family, or surname, and such
  arithmetical or other devices as seem to denote how many times the
  deceased has been in war parties, and how many scalps he has taken
  from the enemy--two facts from which his reputation is essentially
  to be derived. It is seldom that more is attempted in the way of
  inscription. Often, however, distinguished chiefs have their war
  flag, or, in modern days, a small ensign of American fabric,
  displayed on a standard at the head of their graves, which is left
  to fly over the deceased till it is wasted by the elements. Scalps
  of their enemies, feathers of the bald or black eagle, the
  swallow-tailed falcon, or some carnivorous bird, are also placed, in
  such instances, on the _adjedatig_, or suspended, with offerings of
  various kinds, on a separate staff. But the latter are
  superadditions of a religious character, and belong to the class of
  the Ke-ke-wa-o-win-an-tig (_ante_, No. 4). The building of a funeral
  fire on recent graves is also a rite which belongs to the
  consideration of their religious faith.


It is extremely difficult to determine why the custom of building fires
on or near graves was originated, some authors stating that the soul
thereby underwent a certain process of purification, others that demons
were driven away by them, and again that they were to afford light to
the wandering soul setting out for the spirit land. One writer states

  The Algonkins believed that the fire lighted nightly on the grave
  was to light the spirit on its journey. By a coincidence to be
  explained by the universal sacredness of the number, both Algonkins
  and Mexicans maintained it for four nights consecutively. The former
  related the tradition that one of their ancestors returned from the
  spirit land and informed their nation that the journey thither
  consumed just four days, and that collecting fuel every night added
  much to the toil and fatigue the soul encountered, all of which
  could be spared it.

So it would appear that the belief existed that the fire was also
intended to assist the spirit in preparing its repast.

Stephen Powers[5.103] gives a tradition current among the Yurok of
California as to the use of fires:

  After death they keep a fire burning certain nights in the vicinity
  of the grave. They hold and believe, at least the “Big Indians” do,
  that the spirits of the departed are compelled to cross an extremely
  attenuated greasy pole, which bridges over the chasm of the
  debatable land, and that they require the fire to light them on
  their darksome journey. A righteous soul traverses the pole quicker
  than a wicked one, hence they regulate the number of nights for
  burning a light according to the character for goodness or the
  opposite which the deceased possessed in this world.

Dr. Emil Bessels, of the Polaris expedition, informs the writer that a
somewhat similar belief obtains among the Esquimaux.

Figure 47 is a fair illustration of a grave-fire; it also shows one of
the grave-posts mentioned in a previous section.

    [Illustration: FIG. 47.--Grave Fire.]


An entire volume might well be written which should embrace only an
account of the superstitious regarding death and burial among the
Indians, so thoroughly has the matter been examined and discussed by
various authors, and yet so much still remains to be commented on, but
in this work, which is mainly tentative, and is hoped will be
provocative of future efforts, it is deemed sufficient to give only a
few accounts. The first is by Dr. W. Mathews, United States Army,[5.104]
and relates to the Hidatsa:

  When a Hidatsa dies, his shade lingers four nights around the camp
  or village in which he died, and then goes to the lodge of his
  departed kindred in the “village of the dead.” When he has arrived
  there he is rewarded for his valor, self-denial, and ambition on
  earth by receiving the same regard in the one place as in the other,
  for there as here the brave man is honored and the coward despised.
  Some say that the ghosts of those that commit suicide occupy a
  separate part of the village, but that their condition differs in no
  wise from that of the others. In the next world human shades hunt
  and live in the shades of buffalo and other animals that have here
  died. There, too there are four seasons, but they come in an inverse
  order to the terrestrial seasons. During the four nights that the
  ghost is supposed to linger near his former dwelling, those who
  disliked or feared the deceased, and do not wish a visit from the
  shade, scorch with red coals a pair of moccasins which they leave at
  the door of the lodge. The smell of the burning leather they claim
  keeps the ghost out; but the true friends of the dead man take no
  such precautions.

From this account it will be seen that the Hidatsa as well as the
Algonkins and Mexicans believed that four days were required before the
spirit could finally leave the earth. Why the smell of burning leather
should be offensive to spirits it would perhaps be fruitless to
speculate on.

The next account, by Keating,[5.105] relating to the Chippewas, shows a
slight analogy regarding the slippery-pole tradition already alluded to:

  The Chippewas believe that there is in man an essence entirely
  distinct from the body; they call it _Ochechag_, and appear to
  supply to it the qualities which we refer to the soul. They believe
  that it quits the body it the time of death, and repairs to what
  they term _Chekechekchekawe_; this region is supposed to be situated
  to the south, and on the shores of the great ocean. Previous to
  arriving there they meet with a stream which they are obliged to
  cross upon a large snake that answers the purpose of a bridge; those
  who die from drowning never succeed in crossing the stream; they are
  thrown into it and remain there forever. Some souls come to the edge
  of the stream, but are prevented from passing by the snake, which
  threatens to devour them; these are the souls of the persons in a
  lethargy or trance. Being refused a passage these souls return to
  their bodies and reanimate them. They believe that animals have
  souls, and even that inorganic substances, such as kettles, &c.,
  have in them a similar essence.

  In this land of souls all are treated according to their merits.
  Those who have been good men are free from pain; they have no duties
  to perform, their time is spent in dancing and singing, and they
  feed upon mushrooms, which are very abundant. The souls of bad men
  are haunted by the phantom of the persons or things that they have
  injured; thus, if a man has destroyed much property the phantoms of
  the wrecks of this property obstruct his passage wherever he goes;
  if he has been cruel to his dogs or horses they also torment him
  after death. The ghosts of those whom during his lifetime he wronged
  are there permitted to avenge their injuries. They think that when a
  soul has crossed the stream it cannot return to its body, yet they
  believe in apparitions, and entertain the opinion that the spirits
  of the departed will frequently revisit the abodes of their friends
  in order to invite them to the other world, and to forewarn them of
  their approaching dissolution.

Stephen Powers, in his valuable work so often quoted, gives a number of
examples of superstitions regarding the dead, of which the following
relates to the Karok of California:

  How well and truly the Karok reverence the memory of the dead is
  shown by the fact that the highest crime one can commit is the
  _pet-chi-é-ri_ the mere mention of the dead relative’s name. It is a
  deadly insult to the survivors, and can be atoned for only by the
  same amount of blood-money paid for willful murder. In default of
  that they will have the villain’s blood. * * * At the mention of his
  name the mouldering skeleton turns in his grave and groans. They do
  not like stragglers even to inspect the burial place. * * * They
  believe that the soul of a good Karok goes to the “happy western
  land” beyond the great ocean. That they have a well-grounded
  assurance of an immortality beyond the grave is proven, if not
  otherwise, by their beautiful and poetical custom of whispering a
  message in the ear of the dead. * * * Believe that dancing will
  liberate some relative’s soul from bonds of death, and restore him
  to earth.

According to the same author, when a Kelta dies a little bird flies away
with his soul to the spirit land. If he was a bad Indian a hawk will
catch the little bird and eat him up, soul and feathers, but if he was
good he will reach the spirit land. Mr. Powers also states that--

  The Tolowa share in the superstitious observance for the memory of
  the dead which is common to the Northern Californian tribes. When I
  asked the chief Tahhokolli to tell me the Indian words for “father”
  and “mother” and certain others similar, he shook his head
  mournfully and said, “All dead,” “All dead,” “No good.” They are
  forbidden to mention the name of the dead, as it is a deadly insult
  to the relatives, * * * and that the Mat-tóal hold that the good
  depart to a happy region somewhere southward in the great ocean, but
  the soul of a bad Indian transmigrates into a grizzly bear, which
  they consider, of all animals, the cousin-german of sin.

The same author who has been so freely quoted states as follows
regarding some of the superstitions and beliefs of the Modocs:

  * * * It has always been one of the most passionate desires among
  the Modok, as well as their neighbors, the Shastika, to live, die,
  and be buried where they were born. Some of their usages in regard
  to the dead and their burial may be gathered from an incident that
  occurred while the captives of 1873 were on their way from the Lava
  Beds to Fort Klamath, as it was described by an eye-witness.
  Curly-headed Jack, a prominent warrior, committed suicide with a
  pistol. His mother and female friends gathered about him and set up
  a dismal wailing; they besmeared themselves with his blood and
  endeavored by other Indian customs to restore his life. The mother
  took his head in her lap and scooped the blood from his ear, another
  old woman placed her hand upon his heart, and a third blew in his
  face. The sight of the group--these poor old women, whose grief was
  unfeigned, and the dying man--was terrible in its sadness. Outside
  the tent stood Bogus-Charley, Huka Jim, Shucknasty Jim, Steamboat
  Frank, Curly-headed Doctor, and others who had been the dying man’s
  companions from childhood, all affected to tears. When he was
  lowered into the grave, before the soldiers began to cover the body,
  Huka Jim was seen running eagerly about the camp trying to exchange
  a two-dollar bill of currency for silver. He owed the dead warrior
  that amount of money, and he had grave doubts whether the currency
  would be of any use to him in the other world--sad commentary on our
  national currency!--and desired to have the coin instead. Procuring
  it from one of the soldiers he cast it in and seemed greatly
  relieved. All the dead man’s other effects, consisting of clothing,
  trinkets, and a half dollar, were interred with him, together with
  some root-flour as victual for the journey to the spirit land.

The superstitious fear Indians have of the dead or spirit of the dead
may be observed from the following narrative by Swan.[5.106] It regards
the natives of Washington Territory:

  My opinion about the cause of these deserted villages is this: It is
  the universal custom with these Indians never to live in a lodge
  where a person has died. If a person of importance dies, the lodge
  is usually burned down, or taken down and removed to some other part
  of the bay; and it can be readily seen that in the case of the Palux
  Indians, who had been attacked by the Chehalis people, as before
  stated, their relatives chose at once to leave for some other place.
  This objection to living in a lodge where a person has died is the
  reason why their sick slaves are invariably carried out into the
  woods, where they remain either to recover or die. There is,
  however, no disputing the fact that an immense mortality has
  occurred among these people, and they are now reduced to a mere

  The great superstitious dread these Indians have for a dead person,
  and their horror of touching a corpse, oftentimes give rise to a
  difficulty as to who shall perform the funeral ceremonies; for any
  person who handles a dead body must not eat of salmon or sturgeon
  for thirty days. Sometimes, in cases of small-pox, I have known them
  leave the corpse in the lodge, and all remove elsewhere; and in two
  instances that came to my knowledge, the whites had to burn the
  lodges, with the bodies in them, to prevent infection.

  So, in the instances I have before mentioned, where we had buried
  Indians, not one of their friends or relatives could be seen. All
  kept in their lodges, singing and drumming to keep away the spirits
  of the dead.

According to Bancroft[5.107]--

  The Tlascaltecs supposed that the common people were after death
  transformed into beetles and disgusting objects, while the nobler
  became stars and beautiful birds.

The Mosquito Indians of Central America studiously and superstitiously
avoid mentioning the name of the dead, in this regard resembling those
of our own country.

Enough of illustrative examples have now been given, it is thought, to
enable observers to thoroughly comprehend the scope of the proposed
final volume on the mortuary customs of North American Indians, and
while much more might have been added from the stored-up material on
hand, it has not been deemed advisable at this time to yield to a desire
for amplification. The reader will notice, as in the previous paper,
that discussion has been avoided as foreign to the present purpose of
the volume, which is intended, as has been already stated, simply to
induce further investigation and contribution from careful and
conscientious observers. From a perusal of the excerpts from books and
correspondence given will be seen what facts are useful and needed; in
short, most of them may serve as copies for preparation of similar

To assist observers, the queries published in the former volume are also

_1st._ NAME OF THE TRIBE; present appellation; former, if differing any;
and that used by the Indians themselves.

_2d._ LOCALITY, PRESENT AND FORMER.--The response should give the range
of the tribe and be full and geographically accurate.

_3d._ DEATHS AND FUNERAL CEREMONIES; what are the important and
characteristic facts connected with these subjects? How is the corpse
prepared after death and disposed of? How long is it retained? Is it
spoken to after death as if alive? when and where? What is the character
of the addresses? What articles are deposited with it; and why? Is food
put in the grave, or in or near it afterwards? Is this said to be an
ancient custom? Are persons of the same gens buried together; and is the
clan distinction obsolete, or did it ever prevail?

THE GRAVES; CREMATION.--Are burials usually made in high and dry
grounds? Have mounds or tumuli been erected in modern times over the
dead? How is the grave prepared and finished? What position are bodies
placed in? Give reasons therefor if possible. If cremation is or was
practiced, describe the process, disposal of the ashes, and origin of
custom or traditions relating thereto. Are the dead ever eaten by the
survivors? Are bodies deposited in springs or in any body of water? Are
scaffolds or trees used as burial places; if so, describe construction
of the former and how the corpse is prepared, and whether placed in
skins or boxes. Are bodies placed in canoes? State whether they are
suspended from trees, put on scaffolds or posts, allowed to float on the
water or sunk beneath it, or buried in the ground. Can any reasons be
given for the prevalence of any one or all of the methods? Are burial
posts or slabs used, plain, or marked, with flags or other insignia of
position of deceased. Describe embalmment, mummification, desiccation,
or if antiseptic precautions are taken, and subsequent disposal of
remains. Are bones collected and reinterred; describe ceremonies, if
any, whether modern or ancient. If charnel houses exist or have been
used, describe them.

_5th._ MOURNING OBSERVANCES.--Is scarification practiced, or personal
mutilation? What is the garb or sign of mourning? How are the dead
lamented? Are periodical visits made to the grave? Do widows carry
symbols of their deceased children or husbands, and for how long? Are
sacrifices, human or otherwise, voluntary or involuntary, offered? Are
fires kindled on graves; why, and at what time, and for how long?

_6th._ BURIAL TRADITIONS AND SUPERSTITIONS.--Give in full all that can
be learned on these subjects, as they are full of interest and very

In short, every fact bearing on the disposal of the dead; and
correlative customs are needed, and details should be as succinct and
full as possible.

One of the most important matters upon which information is needed is
the “why” and “wherefore” for every rite and custom; for, as a rule,
observers are content to simply state a certain occurrence as a fact,
but take very little trouble to inquire the reason for it.

Any material the result of careful observation will be most gratefully
received and acknowledged in the final volume; but the writer must here
confess the lasting obligation he is under to those who have already
contributed, a number so large that limited space precludes a mention of
their individual names.

Criticism and comments are earnestly invited from all those interested
in the special subject of this paper and anthropology in general.
Contributions are also requested from persons acquainted with curious
forms of burial prevailing among other tribes of savage men.

The lithographs which illustrate this paper have been made by Thos.
Sinclair & Son, of Philadelphia, Pa., after original drawings made by
Mr. W. H. Holmes, who has with great kindness superintended their

    [Footnote 5.1: Hist. Ind. Tribes of U.S., 1853, pt. 3, p. 193.]

    [Footnote 5.2: Antiq. of Southern Indians, 1873, pp. 108-110.]

    [Footnote 5.3: Hist. of Carolina, 1714, p. 181.]

    [Footnote 5.4: Hist. Ind. Tribes of U.S., 1855, pt. 5, p. 270.]

    [Footnote 5.5: Rep. Smithsonian Institution, 1871, p. 407.]

    [Footnote 5.6: Voy. dans l’Arizona, in Bull. Soc. de Géographie,

    [Footnote 5.7: Nat. Races Pacif. States 1874, vol. 1, p. 555.]

    [Footnote 5.8: Cont. to N. A. Ethnol., 1877, vol. iii, p. 133.]

    [Footnote 5.9: L’incertitude des Signes de la Mort, 1749, t. 1,
    p. 439.]

    [Footnote 5.10: Rites of Funeral, Ancient and Modern, 1683,
    p. 45.]

    [Footnote 5.11: Schoolcraft Hist. Ind. Tribes of the United
    States, 1853, Pt. 3, p. 140.]

    [Footnote 5.12: U.S. Geol. Surv. of Terr. 1876, p. 473.]

    [Footnote 5.13: Life and adventures of Moses Van Campen, 1841,
    p. 252.]

    [Footnote 5.14: Trans. Amer. Antiq. Soc., 1830, vol i, p. 302.]

    [Footnote 5.15: Antiquities of Tennessee. Smith. Inst. Cont. to
    Knowledge. No. 259, 1876. Pp. 1, 8, 37, 52, 55, 82.]

    [Footnote 5.16: Pop. Sc. Month., Sept., 1877, p. 577.]

    [Footnote 5.17: Nat. Races of the Pacific States, 1874, vol. i,
    p. 780.]

    [Footnote 5.18: A detailed account of this exploration, with many
    illustrations, will be found in the Eleventh Annual Report of the
    Peabody Museum, Cambridge, 1878.]

    [Footnote 5.19: Trans. Amer. Antiq. Soc., 1820, vol. i, p. 174 _et

    [Footnote 5.20: American Naturalist, 1877, xi, No. 11, p. 688.]

    [Footnote 5.21: Proc. Am. Ass. Adv. of Science, 1875, p. 288.]

    [Footnote 5.22: Bartram’s Travels, 1791, p. 513.]

    [Footnote 5.23: Bartram’s Travels, 1791, p. 515.]

    [Footnote 5.24: A Concise Nat. Hist. of East and West Florida,

    [Footnote 5.25: Mem. Hist. sur la Louisiane, 1753, vol. i, pp.

    [Footnote 5.26: Uncivilized Races of the World, 1870, vol i,
    p. 464.]

    [Footnote 5.27: Rep. Smithsonian Inst., 1867, p. 406.]

    [Footnote 5.28: Contrib. to N. A. Ethnol., 1877, vol. 1, p. 62.]

    [Footnote 5.29: Hist. of Virginia, 1722, p. 185.]

    [Footnote 5.30: Collection of Voyages, 1812, vol. xiii, p. 39.]

    [Footnote 5.31: Hist. Ind. Tribes United States, 1854, Part IV,
    pp. 155 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 5.32: Trans. Amer. Antiq. Soc., 1820, vol. 1, p. 360.]

    [Footnote 5.33: Letter to Samuel M. Burnside, in Trans. and Coll.
    Amer. Antiq. Soc., 1820, vol. 1, p. 318.]

    [Footnote 5.34: A mummy of this kind, of a person of mature age,
    discovered in Kentucky, is now in the cabinet of the American
    Antiquarian Society. It is a female. Several human bodies were
    found enwrapped carefully in skins and cloths. They were inhumed
    below the floor of the cave; _inhumed_, and not lodged in

    [Footnote 5.35: Cont. to N. A. Ethnol., 1877, vol. i, p. 89.]

    [Footnote 5.36: Billings’ Exped., 1802, p. 161.]

    [Footnote 5.37: Pre-historic Races, 1873, p. 199.]

    [Footnote 5.38: Rawlinson’s Herodotus, Book i, chap. 198, _note_.]

    [Footnote 5.39: Amer. Naturalist, 1876, vol. x, p. 455 et seq.]

    [Footnote 5.40: Manners, Customs, &c., of North American Indians,
    1844, vol. ii, p. 5.]

    [Footnote 5.41: Uncivilized Races of the World, 1870, vol. i,
    p. 483.]

    [Footnote 5.42: Hist. de l’Amérique Septentrionale, 1753, tome ii,
    p. 43.]

    [Footnote 5.43: Pioneer Life, 1872.]

    [Footnote 5.44: I saw the body of this woman in the tree. It was
    undoubtedly an exceptional case. When I came here (Rock Island)
    the bluffs on the peninsula between Mississippi and Rock River
    (three miles distant) were thickly studded with Indian grave
    mounds, showing conclusively that subterranean was the usual mode
    of burial. In making roads, streets, and digging foundations,
    skulls, bones, trinkets, beads, etc., in great numbers, were
    exhumed, proving that many things (according to the wealth or
    station of survivors) were deposited in the graves. In 1836 I
    witnessed the burial of two chiefs in the manner stated.
    --P. GREGG.]

    [Footnote 5.45: Tract No. 50, West. Reserve and North. Ohio Hist.
    Soc. (1879?), p. 107.]

    [Footnote 5.46: Hist. of Ft. Wayne, 1868, p. 284.]

    [Footnote 5.47: The Last Act, 1876.]

    [Footnote 5.48: Cont. to N. A. Ethnol., 1877, vol. iii, p. 341.]

    [Footnote 5.49: Hist. Indian Tribes of the United States, 1854,
    part IV, p. 224.]

    [Footnote 5.50: Adventures on the Columbia River, 1831, vol. ii,
    p. 387.]

    [Footnote 5.51: Trans. Am. Antiq. Soc., 1820, vol. i, p. 377.]

    [Footnote 5.52: Hist. Indian Tribes of the United States, 1853,
    part iii, p. 112.]

    [Footnote 5.53: Contrib. to N. A. Ethnol., 1877, vol iii, p. 169.]

    [Footnote 5.54: Amer. Naturalist, November, 1878, p. 753.]

    [Footnote 5.55: Proc. Dav. Acad. Nat. Sci., 1867-’76, p. 64.]

    [Footnote 5.56: Pre-historic Races, 1873, p. 149.]

    [Footnote 5.57: Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila., Nov. 1874, p. 168.]

    [Footnote 5.58: Amer. Naturalist, Sept., 1878, p. 629.]

    [Footnote 5.59: Explorations of the Valley of the Great Salt Lake
    of Utah, 1852, p. 43.]

    [Footnote 5.60: Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific, 1831,
    vol. i, p. 332.]

    [Footnote 5.61: Nat. Races of Pac. States, 1871, vol. i, p. 780.]

    [Footnote 5.62: Am. Antiq. and Discov., 1838, p. 286.]

    [Footnote 5.63: Nat. Races of Pac. States, 1874 vol. i, p. 69.]

    [Footnote 5.64: Travels in Alaska, 1869, p. 100.]

    [Footnote 5.65: Alaska and its Resources, 1870, pp. 19, 132, 145.]

    [Footnote 5.66: Life on the Plains, 1854, p. 68.]

    [Footnote 5.67: Tour to the Lakes, 1827, p. 305.]

    [Footnote 5.68: Long’s Exped. to the St. Peter’s River, 1824,
    p. 332.]

    [Footnote 5.69: L’incertitude des signes de la Mort, 1742, tome i,
    p. 475, _et seq._]

    [Footnote 5.70: The writer is informed by Mr. John Henry Boner
    that the custom still prevails not only in Pennsylvania, but at
    the Moravian settlement of Salem, N.C.]

    [Footnote 5.71: Rep. Smithsonian Inst., 1866, p. 319.]

    [Footnote 5.72: Uncivilized Races of the World, 1874, v. ii,
    p. 774, _et seq._]

    [Footnote 5.73: Hist. of Florida, 1775, p. 88.]

    [Footnote 5.74: Antiquities of the Southern Indians, 1873,
    p. 105.]

    [Footnote 5.75: Bartram’s Travels, 1791, p. 516.]

    [Footnote 5.76: “Some ingenious men whom I have conversed with
    have given it as their opinion that all those pyramidal artificial
    hills, usually called Indian mounds, were raised on this occasion,
    and are generally sepulchers. However, I am of different

    [Footnote 5.77: League of the Iroquois, 1851, p. 173.]

    [Footnote 5.78: Myths of the New World, 1868, p. 255.]

    [Footnote 5.79: Hist. N. A. Indians, 1844, i, p. 90.]

    [Footnote 5.80: Northwest Coast, 1857, p. 185.]

    [Footnote 5.81: Cont. N. A. Ethnol., 1877, i., p. 200.]

    [Footnote 5.82: Uncivilized Races of the World, 1870, vol. i,
    p. 483.]

    [Footnote 5.83: Exploration Great Salt Lake Valley, Utah, 1859,
    p. 48.]

    [Footnote 5.84: Hist. North American Indians, 1844, vol. ii,
    p. 141.]

    [Footnote 5.85: Mœurs des Sauvages, 1724, tome ii, p. 406.]

    [Footnote 5.86: Autobiography of James Beckwourth, 1856, p. 269.]

    [Footnote 5.87: Tour to the Lakes, 1827, p. 292.]

    [Footnote 5.88: Nat. Races of Pacific States, 1874, vol. i,
    pp. 731, 744.]

    [Footnote 5.89: Life Among the Choctaws, 1860, p. 294.]

    [Footnote 5.90: Bossu’s Travels (Forster’s translation), 1771,
    p. 38.]

    [Footnote 5.91: At the hour intended for the ceremony, they made
    the victims swallow little balls or pills of tobacco, in order to
    make them giddy, and as it were to take the sensation of pain from
    them; after that they were all strangled and put upon mats, the
    favorite on the right, the other wife on the left, and the others
    according to their rank.]

    [Footnote 5.92: The established distinctions among these Indians
    were as follows: The Suns, relatives of the Great Sun, held the
    highest rank; next come the Nobles; after them the Honorables; and
    last of all the common people, who were very much despised. As the
    nobility was propagated by the women, this contributed much to
    multiply it.]

    [Footnote 5.93: The Great Sun had given orders to put out all the
    fires, which is only done at the death of the sovereign.]

    [Footnote 5.94: Ten Years in Oregon, 1850, p. 261.]

    [Footnote 5.95: Nat. Races of Pacif. States, 1875, vol iii,
    p. 513.]

    [Footnote 5.96: Pilgrimage, 1828, vol. ii, p. 443.]

    [Footnote 5.97: Canadian Red River Exploring Expedition, 1860, ii,
    p. 164.]

    [Footnote 5.98: League of the Iroquois, 1851, p. 287.]

    [Footnote 5.99: Cont. to North American Ethnol., 1878, iii,
    p. 164.]

    [Footnote 5.100: Am. Antiq., April, May, June, 1879, p. 251.]

    [Footnote 5.101: Pilgrimage, 1828, ii, p. 308.]

    [Footnote 5.102: Hist. Indian Tribes of the United States, 1851,
    part i, p. 356.]

    [Footnote 5.103: Cont. to N. A. Ethnol., 1877, vol. ii., p. 58.]

    [Footnote 5.104: Ethnol. and Philol. of the Hidatsa Indians. U.S.
    Geol. Surv. of Terr., 1877, p. 409.]

    [Footnote 5.105: Long’s Exped., 1824, vol. ii, p. 158.]

    [Footnote 5.106: Northwest Coast, 1857, p. 212.]

    [Footnote 5.107: Nat. Races Pacif. States, 1875, vol. iii,
    p. 512.]

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *

_Errors and Inconsistencies: Mortuary Customs_

  [List of Illustrations]
  1.--Quiogozon or dead house  [Quiogozeon]

  two small arroyas
    [_spelling “arroya” consistent throughout the quoted passage_]
  chanting the following chorous:
    [_spelling in quoted passage unchanged_]
  the Colchians enveloped their dead  [Colchiens]
  these are considered apochryphal  [_spelling unchanged_]
  Horace and Tertullian both affirm  [Tertulian]
  cum grana salis  [_error unchanged: correct form is “grano”_]
  the same _Dodem_ [_sic_] (family mark) of her husband.
    [_bracketed “sic” in original_]
  Fröebel states that among the Woolwas
    [_spelling unchanged: apparent error for “Froebel” (two letters)
    or “Fröbel” (o-umlaut alone)_]
  tear myself from you (_sic_) arms
    [_error unchanged; parenthetical “sic” in original_]

  [Footnote 5.54]
  Amer. Naturalist, November, 1878, p. 753.  [1878.]

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *


            J. W. Powell, Director.





               EDWARD S. HOLDEN,

Professor Of Mathematics, U.S. Naval Observatory.

  [Transcriber’s Note (Picture-Writing):

  In Plate numbers and glyph references, “a” and “b” were printed
  as superscripts. The notation has been omitted to reduce visual
  clutter. For the same reason, italic marking of the word “See” in
  Plates has been left off.

  For this e-text, a few mechanical changes were made to the
  large diagrams (called Plates) on pages 214-220. Parenthetical
  notations such as (right-hand side) are in the original; bracketed
  and italicized notations such as [_left half_] were added by the

  --Plate LII was printed as a single table, with each long line of
    the original shown as a pair of lines bracketed together. It has
    been separated into left and right halves.
  --Plates LIII and LIV were printed horizontally; each has been split
    in two.
  --Plates XXIV and LVI were each printed in two halves, left and
    right. They have been redivided into three segments. In Plate
    XXIV, the section headed “In the middle of the plate at the top”
    was printed in the empty part of the “left-hand” page; the top
    two rows are continuous across all segments.

  The forms /----\ and \----/ represent horizontal braces.]


  List of illustrations                                          206
  Introductory                                                   207
  Materials for the present investigation                        210
  System of nomenclature                                         211
  In what order are the hieroglyphs read?                        221
  The card catalogue of hieroglyphs                              223
  Comparison of plates I and IV (Copan)                          224
  Are the hieroglyphs of Copan and Palenque identical?           227
  Huitzilopochtli, Mexican god of war, etc.                      229
  Tlaloc, or his Maya representative                             237
  Cukulcan or Quetzalcoatl                                       239
  Comparison of the signs of the Maya months                     243


  Figure 48.--The Palenquean Group of the Cross                  221
         49.--Statue at Copan                                    224
         50.--Statue at Copan                                    225
         51.--Synonymous Hieroglyphs from Copan and Palenque     227
         52.--Yucatec Stone                                      229
         53.--Huitzilopochtli (front)                            232
         54.--Huitzilopochtli (side)                             232
         55.--Huitzilopochtli (back)                             232
         56.--Miclantecutli                                      232
         57.--Adoratorio                                         233
         58.--The Maya War-God                                   234
         59.--The Maya Rain-God                                  234
         60.--Tablet at Palenque                                 234

       *       *       *       *       *


             By Edward S. Holden.

       *       *       *       *       *


Since 1876 I have been familiar with the works of Mr. JOHN L. STEPHENS
on the antiquities of Yucatan, and from time to time I have read works
on kindred subjects with ever increasing interest and curiosity in
regard to the meaning of the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the stones and
tablets of Copan, Palenque, and other ruins of Central America. In
August, 1880, I determined to see how far the principles which are
successful when applied to ordinary cipher-writing would carry one in
the inscriptions of Yucatan. The difference between an ordinary
cipher-message and these inscriptions is not so marked as might at first
sight appear. The underlying principles of deciphering are quite the
same in the two cases.

The chief difficulty in the Yucatec inscriptions is our lack of any
definite knowledge of the nature of the records of the aborigines. The
patient researches of our archæologists have recovered but very little
of their manners and habits, and one has constantly to avoid the
tempting suggestions of an imagination which has been formed by modern
influences, and to endeavor to keep free from every suggestion not
inherent in the stones themselves. I say the stones, for I have only
used the Maya manuscripts incidentally. They do not possess, to me, the
same interest, and I think it may certainly be said that all of them are
younger than the Palenque tablets, and far younger than the inscriptions
at Copan.

I therefore determined to apply the ordinary principles of deciphering,
without any bias, to the Yucatec inscriptions, and to go as far as I
could _certainly_. Arrived at the point where demonstration ceased, it
would be my duty to stop. For, while even the conjectures of a mind
perfectly trained in archæologic research are valuable and may
subsequently prove to be quite right, my lack of familiarity with
historical works forced me to keep within narrow and safe limits.

My programme at beginning was, _first_, to see if the inscriptions at
Copan and Palenque were written in the same tongue. When I say “to see,”
I mean to definitely prove the fact, and so in other cases; _second_, to
see how the tablets were to be read. That is, in horizontal lines, are
they to be read from right to left, or the reverse? In vertical columns,
are they to be read up or down? _Third_, to see whether they were
phonetic characters, or merely ideographic, or a mixture of the
two--rebus-like, in fact.

If the characters turned out to be purely phonetic, I had determined to
stop at this point, since I had not the time to learn the Maya language,
and again because I utterly and totally distrusted the methods which, up
to this time, have been applied by BRASSEUR DE BOURBOURG and others who
start, and must start, from the misleading and unlucky alphabet handed
down by LANDA. I believe that legacy to have been a positive misfortune,
and I believe any process of the kind attempted by BRASSEUR DE BOURBOURG
(for example, in his essay on the _MS. Troano_) to be extremely
dangerous and difficult in application, and to require a degree of
scientific caution almost unique.

Dr. HARRISON ALLEN, in his paper, “The Life Form in Art,” in the
_Transactions of the American Philosophical Society_, is the only
investigator who has applied this method to Central American remains
with success, so it seems to me; and even here errors have occurred.

The process I allude to is something like the following: A set of
characters, say the alphabet of LANDA, is taken as a starting point. The
_variants_ of these are formed. Then the basis of the investigation is
ready. From this, the interpretation follows by identifications of each
new character with one of the standard set or with one of its
_variants_. Theoretically, there is no objection to this procedure.
Practically, also, there is no objection if the work is done strictly in
the order named. In fact, however, the list of _variants_ is filled out
not before the work is begun, but during its progress, and in such a way
as to satisfy the necessities of the interpreter in carrying out some
preconceived idea. With a sufficient latitude in the choice of
_variants_ any MS. can receive any interpretation. For example, the _MS.
Troano_, which a casual examination leads me to think is a _ritual_, and
an account of the adventures of several Maya gods, is interpreted by
BRASSEUR DE BOURBOURG as a record of mighty geologic changes. It is next
to impossible to avoid errors of this nature at least, and in fact they
have not been avoided, so far as I know, except by Dr. ALLEN in the
paper cited.

I, personally, have chosen the stones and not the manuscripts for study
largely because _variants_ do not exist in the same liberal degree in
the stone inscriptions as they have been supposed to exist in the

At any one ruin the characters for the same idea are alike, and alike to
a marvelous degree. At another ruin the type is just a little different,
but the fidelity to this type is equally great. Synonyms exist; that is,
the same idea may be given by two or more utterly different signs. But a
given sign is made in a fixed and definite way. Finally the MSS. are,
I think, later than the stones. Hence the root of the matter is the
interpretation of the stones, or not so much their full interpretation
as the discovery of a _method of interpretation_, which shall be sure.

Suppose, for example, that we know the meaning of a dozen characters
only, and the way a half dozen of these are joined together in a
sentence. The _method_ by which these were obtained will serve to add
others to the list, and progress depends in such a case only on our
knowledge of the people who wrote, and of the subjects upon which they
were writing. Such knowledge and erudition belongs to the archæologists
by profession. A step that might take me a year to accomplish might be
made in an instant by one to whom the Maya and Aztec mythology was
familiar, if he were proceeding according to a sound method. At the
present time we know nothing of the meaning of any of the Maya

It will, therefore, be my object to go as far in the subject as I can
proceed with certainty, every step being demonstrated so that not only
the archæologist but any intelligent person can follow. As soon as the
border-land is reached in which proof disappears and opinion is the only
guide, the search must be abandoned except by those whose cultivated and
scientific opinions are based on knowledge far more profound and various
than I can pretend or hope to have.

If I do not here push my own conclusions to their farthest limit, it
must not be assumed that I do not see, at least in some cases, the
direction in which they lead. Rather, let this reticence be ascribed to
a desire to lay the foundations of a new structure firmly, to prescribe
the method of building which my experience has shown to be adequate and
necessary, and to leave to those abler than myself the erection of the
superstructure. If my methods and conclusions are correct (and I have no
doubts on this point, since each one has been reached in various ways
and tested by a multiplicity of criteria) there is a great future to
these researches. It is not to be forgotten that here we have no Rosetta
stone to act at once as key and criterion, and that instead of the
accurate descriptions of the Egyptian hieroglyphics which were handed
down by the Greek cotemporaries of the sculptors of these inscriptions,
we have only the crude and brutal chronicles of an ignorant Spanish
soldiery, or the bigoted accounts of an unenlightened priesthood. To
CORTEZ and his companions a memorandum that it took one hundred men all
day to throw the idols into the sea was all-sufficient. To the Spanish
priests the burning of all manuscripts was praiseworthy, since those
differing from Holy Writ were noxious and those agreeing with it
superfluous. It is only to the patient labor of the Maya sculptor who
daily carved the symbols of his belief and creed upon enduring stone,
and to the luxuriant growths of semi-tropical forests which concealed
even these from the passing Spanish adventurer, that we owe the
preservation of the memorials of past beliefs and vanished histories.

Not the least of the pleasures of such researches as these comes from
the recollection that they vindicate the patience and skill of forgotten
men, and make their efforts not quite useless. It was no rude savage
that carved the Palenque cross; and if we can discover what his efforts
meant, his labor and his learning have not been all in vain. It will be
one more proof that human effort, even misdirected, is not lost, but
that it comes, later or earlier, “to forward the general deed of man.”



My examination of the works of Mr. J. L. STEPHENS has convinced me that
in every respect his is the most trustworthy work on the _hieroglyphs_
of Central America. The intrinsic evidence to this effect is very
strong, but when I first became familiar with the works of WALDECK I
found so many points of difference that my faith was for a time shaken,
and I came to the conclusion that while the existing representations
might suffice for the study of the general forms of statues, tablets,
and buildings, yet they were not sufficiently accurate in detail to
serve as a basis for the deciphering I had in mind. I am happy to bear
witness, however, that STEPHENS’S work is undoubtedly amply adequate to
the purpose, and this fact I have laboriously verified by a comparison
of it with various representations, as those of DESAIX and others, and
also with a few photographs. The drawings of WALDECK are very beautiful
and artistic, but either the artist himself or his lithographers have
taken singular liberties in the published designs. STEPHENS’S work is
not only accurate, but it contains sufficient material for my purpose
(over 1,500 separate hieroglyphs), and, therefore, I have based my study
exclusively upon his earliest work, “_Incidents of Travel in Central
America, Chiapas, and Yucatan_,” 2 vols., 8vo. New York, 1842 (twelfth
edition). I have incidentally consulted the works on the subject
contained in the Library of Congress, particularly those of BRASSEUR DE
BOURBOURG, KINGSBOROUGH, WALDECK, and others, but, as I have said, the
two volumes above named contain all the material I have been able to
utilize, and much more which is still under examination.

       *       *       *       *       *

One fact which makes the examination of the Central American antiquities
easier than it otherwise would be, has not, I think, been sufficiently
dwelt upon by former writers. This is the remarkable faithfulness of the
artists and sculptors of these statues and inscriptions to a standard.
Thus, at Copan, wherever the same kind of hieroglyph is to be
represented, it will be found that the human face or other object
employed is almost identically the same in expression and character,
wherever it is found. The same characters at different parts of a tablet
do not differ more than the same letters of the alphabet in two fonts of

At Palenque the _type_ (font) changes, but the adherence to this is
equally or almost equally rigid. It is to be presumed that in this
latter case, where work was done both in stone and stucco, the nature of
the material affected the portraiture more or less.

The stone statues at Copan, for example, could not all have been done by
the same artist, nor at the same time. I have elsewhere shown that two
of these statues are absolutely identical. How was this accomplished?
Was one stone taken to the foot of the other and cut by it as a pattern?
This is unlikely, especially as in the case mentioned the _scale_ of the
two statues is quite different. I think it far more likely that each was
cut from a drawing, or series of drawings, which must have been
preserved by priestly authority. The work at any one place must have
required many years, and could not have been done by a single man; nor
is it probable that it was all done in one generation. Separate
hieroglyphs must have been preserved in the same way. It is this rigid
adherence to a type, and the banishment of artistic fancy, which will
allow of progress in the deciphering of the inscriptions or the
comparison of the statues. Line after line, ornament after ornament, is
repeated with utter fidelity. The reason of this is not far to seek.
This, however, is not the place to explain it, but rather to take
advantage of the fact itself. We may fairly say that were it not so, and
with our present data, all advances would be tenfold more difficult.



It is impossible without a special and expensive font of type to refer
pictorially to each character, and therefore some system of nomenclature
must be adopted. The one I employ I could now slightly improve, but it
has been used and results have been obtained by it. It is sufficient for
the purpose, and I will, therefore, retain it rather than to run the
risk of errors by changing it to a more perfect system. I have numbered
the plates in STEPHENS’S _Central America_ according to the following


  Stone Statue, front view, I have called Plate I    _Frontispiece._
  Wall of Copan, Plate II                                        96
  Plan of Copan, Plate III                                      133
  Death’s Head, Plate IIIa                                      135
  Portrait, Plate IIIb                                          136
  Stone Idol, Plate IV                                          138
  Portrait, Plate IVa                                           139
  Stone Idol, Plate V                                           140
  Tablet of Hieroglyphics, Plate Va                             141
  No. 1, Sides of Altar, Plate VI                               142
  No. 2, Sides of Altar, Plate VII                              142
  Gigantic Head, Plate VIII                                     143
  No. 1, Stone Idol, front view, Plate IX                       149
  No. 2, Stone Idol, back view, Plate X                         150
  Idol half buried, Plate XI                                    151
  No. 1, Idol, Plate XII                                        152
  No. 2, Idol, Plate XIII                                       152
  No. 1, Idol, Plate XIV                                        153
  No. 2, Idol, Plate XV                                         153
  Idol and Altar, Plate XVI                                     154
  Fallen Idol, Plate XVII                                       155
  No. 1, Idol, front view, Plate XVIII                          156
  No. 2, Idol, back view, Plate XIX                             156
  No. 3, Idol, side view, Plate XX                              156
  Fallen Idol, Plate XXa                                        157
  Circular Altar, Plate XXb                                     157
  No. 1, Stone Idol, front view, Plate XXI                      158
  No. 2, Stone Idol, back view, Plate XXII                      158
  No. 3, Stone Idol, side view, Plate XXIII                     158
  Great Square of Antigua Guatimala, Plate XXIIIa               266
  Profile of Nicaragua Canal, Plate XXIIIb                      412

  Stone Tablet, Plate XXIV                           _Frontispiece._
  Idol at Quirigua, Plate XXV                                   121
  Idol at Quirigua, Plate XXVI                                  122
  Santa Cruz del Quiché, Plate XXVII                            171
  Place of Sacrifice, Plate XXVIII                              184
  Figures found at Santa Cruz del Quiché, Plate XXIX            185
  Plaza of Quezaltenango, Plate XXX                             204
  Vases found at Gueguetenango, Plate XXXI                      231
  Ocosingo, Plate XXXII                                         259
  Palace at Palenque, Plate XXXIII                              309
  Plan of Palace, Plate XXXIV                                   310
  Stucco Figure on Pier, Plate XXXV                             311
  Front Corridor of Palace, Plate XXXVI                         313
  No. 1, Court-yard of Palace, Plate XXXVIII                    314
  No. 2, Colossal Bas-reliefs in Stone, Plate XXXIX             314
  East side of Court-yard, Plate XXXVII                         314
  No. 1, Bas-relief in Stucco, Plate XL                         316
  No. 2, Bas-relief in Stucco, Plate XLI                        316
  No. 3, Bas-relief in Stucco, Plate XLII                       316
  Oval Bas-relief in Stone, Plate XLIII                         318
  Bas-relief in Stucco, Plate XLIV                              319
  General Plan of Palenque, Plate XLV                           337
  Casa No. 1 in Ruins, Plate XLVI                               338
  Casa No. 1 restored, Plate XLVII                              339
  No. 1, Bas-relief in Stucco, Plate XLVIII                     340
  No. 2, Bas-relief in Stucco, Plate XLIX                       340
  No. 3, Bas-relief in Stucco, Plate L                          340
  No. 4, Bas-relief in Stucco, Plate LI                         340
  No. 1, Tablet of Hieroglyphics, Plate LII                     342
  No. 2, Tablet of Hieroglyphics, Plate LIII                    342
  Tablet on inner Wall, Plate LIV                               343
  Casa di Piedras, No. 2, Plate LV                              344
  Tablet on back Wall of Altar, Casa No. 2, Plate LVI           345
  Stone Statue, Plate LVII                                      349
  Casa No. 3, Plate LVIII                                       350
  Front Corridor, Plate LIX                                     351
  No. 1, Bas-reliefs in Front of Altar, Plate LX                353
  No. 2, Bas-reliefs in Front of Altar, Plate LXI               353
  Adoratorio or Altar, Plate LXII                               354
  Casa No. 4, Plate LXIII                                       355
  House of the Dwarf, Plate LXIV                                420
  Casa del Gobernador, Plate LXV                                428
  Sculptured Front of Casa del Gobernador, Plate LXVI           443
  Egyptian Hieroglyphics, Plate LXVIII                          441
  Top of Altar at Copan, Plate LXVIII = Va                      454
  Mexican Hieroglyphical Writing, Plate LXIX                    454

In each plate I have numbered the hieroglyphs, giving each one its own
number. Thus the hieroglyphs of the Copan altar (vol. i, p. 141) which I
have called plate Va, are numbered from 1 to 36 according to this

   1   2   3   4   5   6
   7   8   9  10  11  12
  13  14  15  16  17  18
  19  20  21  22  23  24
  25  26  27  28  29  30
  31  32  33  34  35  36

And the right hand side of the Palenque Cross tablet, as given by RAU in
his memoir published by the Smithsonian Institution (1880), has the

  2020  2021  2022  2023  2024  2025
  2030  2031  2032  2033  2034  2035
  2040  2041  2042  2043  2044  2045
  2050  2051  2052  2053  2054  2055
    *     *     *     *     *     *
    *     *     *     *     *     *
  3080  3081  3082  3083  3084  3085

These are consecutive with the numbers which I have attached to the
left-hand side, as given by STEPHENS. Whenever I have stated any results
here, I have also given the means by which any one can number a copy of
STEPHENS’S work in the way which I have adopted, and thus the means of
testing my conclusions is in the hands of every one who desires to do

In cases where only a _part_ of a hieroglyphic is referred to, I have
placed its number in a parenthesis, as 1826 _see_ (122), by which I mean
that the character 1826 is to be compared with a part of the character
122. The advantages of this system are many: for example; a memorandum
can easily be taken that two hieroglyphs are alike, thus 2072=2020 and
2073 = 2021. Hence the _pair_ 2020--2021, read horizontally, occurs
again at the point 2072--2073, etc. _Horizontal pairs_ will be known by
their numbers being consecutive, as 2020--2021; _vertical pairs_ will
usually be known by their numbers differing by 10. Thus, 2075--2085 are
one above the other.

This method of naming the _chiffres_, then, is a quick and safe one, and
we shall see that it lends itself to the uses required of it.

I add here the scheme according to which the principal plates at
Palenque have been numbered.

PLATE XXIV (left-hand side).

  {   37        37         38        39
  {See 1800  See 1800   See 1806
  {   40        40         41        42

    43=1810  43a=46a       44        45

    46=1810  46a=43a       47        48

      49                   50        51

      52     52a=1820?     53        54

      55      56=1840?     57        58
                        See 1802

      59        60         61      62=58?

      63        64         65†       66
                                  See 2025

      67        68         69        70
   See 1911

      71      72=281       73        74
   See 2020

      75      76=67        77        78

      79        80         81        82

      83        84         85      86=56?

      86*       86*        87        88

      89        90         91        92


  [* Accidental error in numbering here.]

  [† Possibly Muluc--a Maya day; the meaning is “reunion.”]

PLATE XXIV. [_center_]

  94    96    98    100    102    104    106

  95    97  99=127  101    103    105    107

                                       See 91

  In the middle of the
  plate at the top.

       109     115

       110     116
     See 2020

       111     117

       112     118

       113     119

       114     120

PLATE XXIV (right-hand side).

      121            122=86?†       123=87          124=88
  See 74, 86*                                    See 61, 1822

      125             126‡          127=99            128
                    See 1940       See 1940      See (44), 64

      129             130           131=147           132
                                                See 50, 58, 62

      133             134             135           136=47?

      137             138             139             140
                  See 39, 91        See 1811

      141             142§            143             144
                    See 54                    See 50, 58, 62, 132

      145             146           147=131           148
                                    See 71

      149             150             151             152
                  See 56, 1882

      153             154             155             156
                    See 53       See 50, 58, 132

      157*            158             159             160
                    See 68          See 38       See 46a, 49a, 52a

     161=50           162          †163=1936          164
  See 58, 62, 132  See 56, 73, 1882  See 57       See 58, 62

      165             166             167             168
                    See 81?

      169             170             171             172
    See 68?

      173             174             175             176
              See 67, 76, 90, 1910  See 57          See 126

      177             178             179             180
                    See 43a                       See 50, 58, 62

      181             182             183             184
              See 57, 163, 1936


  [* Possibly Ymix--a Maya day.]

  [† Possibly Chuen--a Maya day; meaning “a board,” “a tree.”]

  [‡ Possibly Ahau--a Maya day; meaning “king.”]

  [§ Possibly Ezanab--a Maya day.]

PLATE LII. [_left half_]

    200    201    202    203    204    205    206    207    208    209

    220    221    222    223  224=2060 225    226    227    228    229
  See 2030      See 2060                                           See

    240    241 242=2020 243=1951 244   245    246    247    248    249

    260    261    262    263    264    265    266    267    268    269
                                See    See  See 2022
                                2020   2021

    280   281=72  282    283    284    285    286    287    288
  See 1820                                  See 385

    300    301    302  303=360  304    305    306    307
  See 203

    320    321    322    323 324=1824  325    326    327    328    329
                         See   See     See    See
                         203   204     285    305

    340    341    342    343    344    345    346    347    348    349
                See 209       See 322

   360=303 361    362    363    364    365    366    367    368    369
                                            See 351  See
                                                   303, 360

    380    381    382    383    384    385    386    387    388    389
                                     286, 1822

    400    401    402  403=360  404    405    406    407    408    409
                See 326    367                     See 360

    420    421    422    423    424    425    426    427
                                            See 324

  [_right half of Plate LII_]
  [_The 213 column is vacant._]

    210    211    212       214    215     216     217    218     219
                                                               See 2020

    230    231    232       234    235     236     237    238     239
  See 1822

    250    251    252       254    255     256     257    258  259=1943
                See 214

    270    271            274=244  275     276     277    278     279
                                                        See 204

    290                     294    295     296     297    298     299

    310    311              314    315     316     317    318     319

    330    331    332       334    335     336     337    338     339
                See 209

    350    351    352       354    355   356=1822  357    358     359
                            See          See 230
                          267, 298

    370    371                     375     376     377    378     379

    390    391    392       394    395     396     397    398     399

    410    411    412       414    415     416     417    418     419
  See 326                                See 324

    430           432       434    435     436     437    438     439


  [Transcriber’s Note:
  The following bracketed paragraph is in the original.]

[The upper left-hand square is No. 500, the upper right is 519, the
lower left-hand is 720, the lower right is 739. All the squares from 500
to 508, 520 to 528, 530 to 538, etc., up to 720 to 728, are obliterated
(and their numbers omitted here) except a few.]

  [_left half_]

                509      510      511       512
                                          See 1967

                529      530      531       532
              See 3012

                549      550      551       552

                         570      571       572

                589      590      591       592

    604   605   609      610      611       612
                                See 571

          628   629      630      631       632

                649      650      651       652

                669      670    671=324   672=322?
                                See 2042

          688   689      690      691       692

          708   709      710      711       712

                729    730=1845   731       732

  [_right half of Plate LIII_]

     513    514     515     516     517     518     519
                  See 509 See 510

     533    534     535     536     537     538     539

     553    554     555     556     557     558     559
                          See 162

     573    574     575     576     577     578     579
  See 1823

     593    594     595     596     597     598     599

     613    614     615     616     617     618     619

     633    634     635     636     637     638     639
                          See 3054

     653    654     655     656     657     658     659
                 150, 1882

  673=323?  674     675     676     677     678     679
           See 77                 See 1802

     693    694     695     696     697     698     699

  713=1802  714     715     716     717     718     719
                                  See 439

     733    734     735     736     737     738     739
                                  See 2020

PLATE LIV. [_left half_]

     800     801     802     803      804      805      806

     900     901     902     903      904      905      906

    1000    1001    1002  1003=907   1004     1005     1006

    1100    1101  1102=717  1103     1104   1105=2020  1106
                                    See 1820         See 2021

    1200    1201  1202=1110 1203   1204=1008  1205     1206
                   See 3054

    1300    1301    1302  1303=1910  1304     1305    1306

  1400=1823 1401    1402    1403     1404     1405    1406

    1500    1501  1502=1010 1503   1504=717   1505    1506

    1600    1601    1602    1603     1604     1605    1606

    1700    1701  1702=1911 1703     1704     1705    1706

  [_right half of Plate LIV_]

    807      808     809        810        811       812     813
           See 1882                      See 26      See     See
                                                    1940  1941, 3011

 907=1003    908     909        910        911       912     913
           See 2020           See 1310

   1007     1008    1009       1010       1011      1012    1013
                   See 2021   See 3054     See

   1107     1108    1109     1110=1209    1113      1114    1115
  See 1840 See 1841?

   1207     1208  1209=1110    1210       1211      1212    1213

   1307     1308    1309       1310       1311      1312    1313
                              See 910

   1407     1408    1409       1410       1411      1412    1413

   1507     1508    1509       1510       1511      1512    1513

   1607     1608  1609=1304  1610=1305  1611=1010   1612    1613

   1707     1708    1709       1710     1711=1702 1712=1708 1713

PLATE LVI (left-hand side--Palenque Cross).

          {  1801     1802     1803     1804
          {            See
          {        163, 175
    1800  {
          {  1805     1806     1807     1808
          { See 155           See 138

   *1810     1811     1812     1813     1814     1815     1816
   See 150    See      See      See    See 126,
           139, 179  (1852)  131, 146  127, 176

    1820     1821     1822     1823     1824     1825     1826
   See 161           See 124                               See
                                                        122, 160

  1830=1820  1831     1832     1833     1834     1835     1836
  See 161              See    See 121  See 163  See 182  See 123
                    123, 124

    1840     1841     1842     1843     1844  1845=1822   1846
                       See      See            See 124   See 179
                      1835   124, 1836

    1850     1851     1852     1853   1854=1806  1855
                              See 122

    1860     1861     1862     1863     1864   1865=2021  1866
                       See                      See 144    See
                    126, 127                            136?, 184?

  1870=1820  1871   1872=1842?  1873=1803     1874     1875     1876
     See    See 182
  160, 161

    1880     1881     1882     1883   1884=1834  1885
                       See    See 124    See      See
                    150, 162           163, 182  132, 144

    1890     1891     1892     1893   1894=1822  1895
     See      See    See 132?          See 124  See 144
  130, 158  131?, 147?

    1900     1901     1902     1903     1904   1905=1803
   See 146                      See
                             157, 182

    1910     1911     1912   1913=1834  1914     1915
   See 174  See 174  See 141      1884

    1920     1921     1922     1923     1924     1925
                     See 123  See 124

    1930     1931  1932=1811-2?  1933   1934   1935=1884
                                                See 182

  1940=1862 1941     1942     1943    1944=1922 1945=1923
     See                               See 123   See 124
   126, 127

    1950     1951     1952     1953     1954     1955
   See 164

  [* At and after this place, in vertical columns, 1810-1-2, 1820-1-2,
  1830-1-2, 1840-1-2, and 1860-1-2 may be taken as 2 or 3 symbols.
  I have assumed them to be 3.]

  [_center of Plate LVI_]

  1961     1962     1963     1964     1965     1980     1981     1982

                                      1966                       1983

                                      1967                       1984
                                                               131, 147




  [_empty rows omitted from e-text_]

                                             { 1976     1978
                                             { 1977     1979

                                     See 1802



  1975                                1974

PLATE LVI (right-hand side--Palenque Cross).

              2020     2021     2022     2023     2024   2025=123
            See 131,  See 144                             See 163
            147, 150

              2030     2031     2032     2033     2034     2035
            See 132  See 134,   See                       See 124

                     146, 149  1811, 1812

              2040     2041     2042   2043=123   2044     2045
                                                   See      See
                                                131, 147  132, 150

    2000      2050     2051     2052     2053     2054     2055

    2001      2060     2061     2062     2063     2064     2065
   See 182

  2002=122    2070     2071     2072     2073     2074     2075

  2003=2021   2080     2081     2082     2083     2084     2085
   See 130

    2004      2090     2091     2092     2093     2094     2095

    2005      3000     3001     3002     3003     3004     3005

    2006      3010     3011     3012     3013     3014     3015
   See 1902,

    2007      3020     3021     3022     3023     3024     3025
   See 182?

    2008      3030     3031     3032     3033     3034     3035

    2009      3040     3041     3042     3043     3044     3045

    2010      3050     3051     3052     3053     3054     3055
   See 184

    2011      3060     3061     3062     3063     3064     3065
   See 131,

    2012      3070     3071     3072     3073     3074     3075

    2013      3080     3081     3082     3083     3084     3085


  [* These four each side of the main stem of the cross. 1976 =
  _Ezanab_--a Maya day.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 48.--The Palenquean Group of the Cross.]



Before any advance can be made in the deciphering of the hieroglyphic
inscriptions, it is necessary to know in what directions, along what
lines or columns, the verbal sense proceeds.

All the inscriptions that I know of are in rectangular figures. At Copan
they are usually in squares. At Palenque the longest inscriptions are in
rectangles. At Palenque again, there are some cases where there is a
single horizontal line of hieroglyphs over a pictorial tablet. Here
clearly the only question is, do the characters proceed from left to
right, or from right to left? In other cases as in the tablet of the
cross, there are vertical columns. The question here is, shall we read
up or down?

Now, the hieroglyphs must be phonetic or pictorial, or a mixture of the
two. If they are phonetic, it will take more than one symbol to make a
word, and we shall have groups of like characters when the same word is
written in two places. If the signs are pictorial, the same thing will
follow; that is, we shall have groups recurring when the same idea
recurs. Further, we know that the subjects treated of in these tablets
must be comparatively simple, and that _names_, as of gods, kings, etc.,
must necessarily recur.

The _names_, then, will be the first words deciphered. At present no
single name is known. These considerations, together with our system of
nomenclature, will enable us to take some steps.

Take, for example, the right-hand side of the Palenque cross tablet as
given by RAU. _See_ our figure 48, which is Plate LVI of STEPHENS
(vol. ii, p. 345), with the addition of the part now in the National
Museum at Washington.

Our system of numbering is here

  2020  2021  2022  2023  2024  2025
  2030  2031  2032  2033  2034  2035
    *     *     *     *     *     *
    *     *     *     *     *     *
    *     *     *     *     *     *
  3080  3081  3082  3083  3084  3085

Now pick out the duplicate hieroglyphs in this; that is, run through the
tablet, and wherever 2020 occurs erase the number which fills the place
and write in 2020. Do the same for 2021, 2022, etc., down to 3084. The
result will be as follows:


      2020     2021     2022     2023     2024     2025
    \---------------/                       \-----------/

      2030     2031     2032     2033     2034     2035

      2040     2041     2042   { 2025     2020     2021
                               {        \---------------/
      2050     2051     2034   { 2053     2054     2055

      2053     2061     2062     2063     2064     2065

      2070     2071     2020     2021     2022?    2024? }
                      \---------------/                  } ?
      2053     2020     2082     2083     2025     2053  }

      2021     2091     2092   { 2025     2094     2095
      3000     2023     2034   { 2053     2033     3005

      3010     2083     3012     2024     3014     2091

      2053     3021     2023     2020     3024     2024

   {  2024     2025     2021     3033   { 2025     2034*
   {\---------------/                   {        \------
 ? {                                    {
   {  2053*    3021     3042     3043   { 2035     3045

      3050     2083   { 2025     2034     3054     3055
     See 2082         {
    \---------------/ {
      2024     2020   { 2035     3063     2024     2025

      2021     2031     2020     2021     2035     3045

      3080     3081     2091     2093     2020     2021

    14 cases of horizontal pairs; 4 cases of vertical pairs; 102
    characters in all, of which 51 appear more than once, so that
    there are but 51 independent hieroglyphs.

Here the first two lines are unchanged. In the third line we find that
2043 is the same as 2025, 2044 = 2020, 2045 = 2021, and so on, and we
write the smallest number in each case.

After this is done, connect like pairs by braces whenever they are
consecutive, either vertical or horizontal. Take the pair 2020 and 2021
for example; 2020 occurs eight times in the tablet, viz, as 2020, 2044,
2072, 2081, 3023, 3061, 3072, 3084. In five out of the eight cases, it
is followed by 2021, viz, as 2021, 2045, 2073, 3073, 3085.

It is clear this is not the result of accident. The pair 2020 and 2021
means something, and when the two characters occur together they must be
read together. There is no point of punctuation between them. We also
learn that they are not inseparable. 2020 will make sense with 2082,
3024 and 3062. Here it looks as if the writing must be read in _lines_
horizontally. We do not know yet in which direction.

We must examine other cases. This is to be noticed: If the reading is in
horizontal lines from left to right, then the progress is from top to
bottom in columns, as the case of 3035 and 3040 shows. This occurs at
the end of a line, and the corresponding _chiffre_ required to make the
pair is at the other end of the next line. I have marked this case with
asterisks. If we must read in the lines from right to left we must
necessarily read in columns from bottom to top. Thus the _lines_ are

A similar process with all the other tablets in STEPHENS leads to the
conclusion that the reading is in lines horizontally and in columns
vertically. The cases 1835-’45, 1885-’95, 1914-’24, and 1936-’46 should,
however, be examined. We have now to decide at which end of the lines to
begin. The reasons given by Mr. BANCROFT (_Native Races_, vol. ii,
p. 782) appeared to me sufficient to decide the question before I was
acquainted with his statement of them.

Therefore, the sum total of our present data, examined by a rational
method, leads to the conclusion, so far as we can know from these data,
that the verbal sense proceeded in _lines_ from left to right, in
_columns_ from top to bottom; just as the present page is written, in

For the present, the introduction of the method here indicated is the
important step. It has, as yet, been applied only to the plates of
STEPHENS’ work. The definite conclusion should be made to rest on _all
possible_ data, some of which is not at my disposition at present.
Tablets exist in great numbers at other points besides Palenque, and for
the final conclusion these must also be consulted. If each one is
examined in the way I have indicated, it will yield a certain answer.
The direction of reading for that plate can be thus determined. At
Palenque the progress is in the order I have indicated.



It has already been explained how a system of nomenclature was gradually
formed. As I have said, this is not perfect, but it is sufficiently
simple and full for the purpose. By it, every plate in STEPHENS’ work
receives a number and every hieroglyph in each plate is likewise

This was first done in my private copy of the work. I then procured
another copy and duplicated these numbers both for plates and single
_chiffres_. The plates of this copy were then cut up into single
hieroglyphs and each single hieroglyph was mounted on a library card, as

  |            |               |             |
  | No. 2020.  |  Hieroglyph.  |  Plate LVI. |
  |            |_______________|             |
  | Same as Numbers.  |  Similar to Numbers. |
  | ................  |  ................... |
  | ................  |  ................... |
  | ................  |  ................... |
  | ................  |  ................... |
  | ................  |  ................... |

The cards were 6.5 by 4.5 inches. The _chiffre_ was pasted on, in the
center of the top space. Its number and the plate from which it came
were placed as in the cut. The numbers of hieroglyphs which resembled
the one in question could be written on the right half of the card, and
the numbers corresponding to different recurrences of this hieroglyph
occupied the left half.

All this part of the work was most faithfully and intelligently
performed for me by Miss MARY LOCKWOOD, to whom I desire to express the
full amount of my obligations. A mistake in any part would have been
fatal. But no mistakes occurred.

These cards could now be arranged in any way I saw fit. The simple
_chiffres_, for example, could be placed so as to bring like ones
together. A compound hieroglyph could be placed among simple ones
agreeing with any one of its components, and so on.

The expense of forming this card catalogue of about 1,500 single
hieroglyphs was borne by the Ethnological Bureau of the Smithsonian
Institution, and the catalogue is the property of that bureau, forming
only one of its many rich collections of American picture-writings.



In examining the various statues at Copan, as given by STEPHENS, one
naturally looks for points of striking resemblance or striking
difference. Where all is unknown, even the smallest sign is examined, in
the hope that it may prove a clue. The Plate I, Fig. 49, has a twisted
knot (the “square knot” of sailors) of cords over its head, and above
this is a _chiffre_ composed of ellipses, and above this again a sign
like a sea-shell. A natural suggestion was that these might be the signs
for the name of the personage depicted in Plate I. If this is so and we
should find the same sign elsewhere in connection with a figure, we
should expect to find this second figure like the first in every
particular. This would be a rigid test of the theory. After looking
through the Palenque series, and finding no similar figure and sign,
I examined the Copan series, and in Plate IV, our Fig. 50, I found the
same signs exactly; _i.e._, the knot and the two _chiffres_.

    [Illustration: FIG. 49.--Statue at Copan.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 50.--Statue at Copan.]

At first sight there is only the most general resemblance between the
personages represented in the two plates; as STEPHENS says in his
original account of them, they are “in many respects similar.” If he had
known them to be the same, he would not have wasted his time in drawing
them. The scale of the two drawings and of the two statues is different;
but the two personages are the same identically. Figure for figure,
ornament for ornament, they correspond. It is unnecessary to give the
minute comparison here in words. It can be made by any one from the two
plates herewith. Take any part of Plate I, find the corresponding part
of Plate IV, and whether it is human feature or sculptured ornament the
two will be found to be the same.

Take the middle face depending from the belt in each plate. The earrings
are the same; the ornament below the chin, the knot above the head, the
complicated beadwork on each side of this face, all are the same. The
bracelets of the right arms of the main figures have each the forked
serpent tongue, and the left-arm bracelets are ornamented alike. The
crosses with beads almost inclosed in the right hands are alike; the
elliptic ornaments above each wrist, the knots and _chiffres_ over the
serpent masks which surmount the faces, all are the same. In the steel
plates given by STEPHENS there are even more coincidences to be seen
than in the excellent wood-cuts here given, which have been copied from

Here, then, is an important fact. The theory that the _chiffre_ over the
forehead is characteristic, though it is not definitively proved,
receives strong confirmation. The parts which have been lost by the
effects of time on one statue can be supplied from the other. Better
than all, we gain a test of the minuteness with which the sculptors
worked, and an idea of how close the adherence to a type was required to
be. Granting once that the two personages are the same (a fact about
which I conceive there can be no possible doubt, since the chances in
favor are literally thousands to one), we learn what license was
allowed, and what synonyms in stone might be employed. Thus, the
ornament suspended from the neck in Plate IV is clearly a tiger’s skull.
That from the neck of Plate I has been shown to be the derived form of a
skull by Dr. HARRISON ALLEN,[6.1] and we now know that this common form
relates not to the human skull, as Dr. ALLEN has supposed, but to that
of the tiger. We shall find this figure often repeated, and the
identification is of importance. This is a case in regard to synonyms.
The kind of symbolism so ably treated by Dr. ALLEN is well exemplified
in the conventional sign for the _crotalus_ jaw at the mouth of the mask
over the head of each figure. This is again found on the body of the
snake in Plate LX, and in other places. Other important questions can be
settled by comparison of the two plates. For example, at Palenque we
often find a sign composed of a half ellipse, inside of which bars are
drawn. [Illustration (inline, unnumbered)] I shall elsewhere show that
there is reason to believe the ellipse is to represent the concave of
the sky, its diameter to be the level earth, and in some cases at least
the bars to be the descending and fertilizing rain. The bars are
sometimes two, three, and sometimes four in number. Are these variants
of a single sign, or are they synonyms? Before the discovery of the
identity of the personages in these two plates, this question could not
be answered. Now we can say that they are not synonyms, or at least that
they must be considered separately. To show this, examine the bands just
above the wristlets of the two figures. Over the left hands of the
figures the bars are two in number; over the right hands there are four.
This exact similarity is not accidental; there is a meaning in it, and
we must search for its explanation elsewhere, but we now have a valuable
test of what needs to be regarded, and of what, on the other hand, may
be passed over as accidental or unimportant.

One other case needs mentioning here, as it will be of future use. From
the waist of each figure depend nine oval solids, six being hatched over
like pine cones and the three central ones having two ovals, one within
the other, engraved on them. In Plate IV the inner ovals are all on the
right-hand side of the outer ovals. Would they mean the same if they
were on the left-hand side? Plate I enables us to say that they would,
since one of these inner ovals has been put by the artist on that side
by accident or by an allowed caprice. It is by furnishing us with tests
and criteria like these that the proof of the identity of these two
plates is immediately important. In other ways, too, the proof is
valuable and interesting, but we need not discuss them at this time.

These statues, then, are to us a dictionary of synonyms in stone--a test
of the degree of adherence to a prototype which was exacted, and a
criterion of the kind of minor differences which must be noticed in any
rigid study.

I have not insisted more on the resemblances, since the accompanying
figures present a demonstration. Let those who wish to verify these
resemblances compare minutely the ornaments above the knees of the two
figures, those about the waists, above the heads, and the square knots,
etc., etc.



One of the first questions to be settled is whether the same system of
writing was employed at Palenque and at Copan. Before any study of the
meanings of the separate _chiffres_ can be made, we must have our
material properly assorted, and must not include in the figures we are
examining for the detection of a clue, any which may belong to a system
possibly very different.

The opinion of STEPHENS and of later writers is confirmed by my
comparison of the Palenque and the Copan series; that is, it becomes
evident that the latter series is far the older.

In Nicaragua and Copan the statues of gods were placed at the foot of
the pyramid; farther north, as at Palenque, they were placed in temples
at the summit. Such differences show a marked change in customs, and
must have required much time for their accomplishment. In this time did
the picture-writing change, or, indeed, was it ever identical?

To settle the question whether they were written on the same system,
I give here the results of a rapid survey of the card-catalogue of
hieroglyphs. A more minute examination is not necessary, as the present
one is quite sufficient to show that the system employed at the two
places was the same in its general character and almost identical even
in details. The practical result of this conclusion is that similar
characters of the Copan and Palenque series may be used interchangeably.

A detailed study of the undoubted synonyms of the two places will afford
much light on the manner in which these characters were gradually
evolved. This is not the place for such a study, but it is interesting
to remark how, even in unmistakable synonyms, the Palenque character is
always the most conventional, the least pictorial; that is, the latest.
Examples of this are No. 7, Plate Va, and No. 1969, Plate LVI. The
_mask_ in profile which forms the left-hand edge of No. 7 seems to have
been conventionalized into the two hooks and the ball, which have the
same place in No. 1969.

    [Illustration: FIG. 51.--Synonymous hieroglyphs from Copan and

The larger of these two was cut on stone, the smaller in stucco.

The mask has been changed into the ball and hooks; the angular nose
ornament into a single ball, easier to make and quite as significant to
the Maya priest. But to us the older (Copan) figure is infinitely more
significant. The curious rows of little balls which are often placed at
the left-hand edge of the various _chiffres_ are also conventions for
older forms. It is to be noted that these balls always occur on the left
hand of the hieroglyphs, except in one case, the _chiffre_ 1975 in the
Palenque cross tablet, on which the left-hand acolyte stands.

The conclusion that the two series are both written on the same system,
and that like _chiffres_ occurring at the two places are synonyms, will,
I think, be sufficiently evident to any one who will himself examine the
following cases. It is the _nature_ of the agreements which proves the
thesis, and not the number of cases here cited. The reader will remember
that the Copan series comprises Plates I to XXIII, inclusive; the
Palenque series, Plate XXIV and higher numbers.

The sign of the group of Mexican gods who relate to hell, _i.e._, a
circle with a central dot, and with four small segments cut out at four
equally distant points of its circumference, is found in No. 4291, Plate
XXII, and in many of the Palenque plates, as Plate LVI, Nos. 2090, 2073,
2045, 2021, etc. In both places this sign is worn by human figures just
below the ear.

The same sign occurs as an important part of No. 4271, Plate XXII, and
No. 4118, Plate XIII (Copan), and No. 2064, Plate LVI (Palenque), etc.

No. 7, Plate Va, and No. 1969, Plate LVI, I regard as absolutely
identical. These are both human figures. No. 12, Plate Va, and No. 637,
Plate LIII, are probably the same. These probably represent or relate to
the long-nosed divinity, YACATEUCTLI, the Mexican god of commerce, etc.,
or rather to his Maya representative.

The sign of TLALOC, or rather the family of TLALOCS, the gods of rain,
floods, and waters, is an eye (or sometimes a mouth), around which there
is a double line drawn. I take No. 26, Plate Va, of the Copan series,
and Nos. 154 and 165, Plate XXIV, to be corresponding references to
members of this family. No. 4, Plate Va, and No. 155 also correspond.

No. 4242, Plate XXII, is probably related to No. 53, Plate XXIV, and its

Nos. 14 and 34, Plate Va, are clearly related to No. 900, Plate LIV,
Nos. 127 and 176, Plate XXIV, No. 3010, Plate LVI, and many others.

Plate IIIa of Copan is evidently identically the same as the No. 75 of
the Palenque Plate No. XXIV.

The right half of No. 27, Plate Va, is the same as the right half of
Nos. 3020, 3040, and many others of Plate LVI.

No. 17, Plate Va, is related to No. 2051, Plate LVI, and many others
like it.

The major part of No. 4105, Plate XIII, is the same as No. 124, Plate
XXIV, etc.

    [Illustration: FIG. 52.--Yucatec Stone.]

It is not necessary to add a greater number of examples here. The
card-catalogue which I have mentioned enables me to at once pick out all
the cases of which the above are specimens, taken just as they fell
under my eye in rapidly turning over the cards. They therefore represent
the _average_ agreement, neither more nor less. Taken together they show
that the same signs were used at Copan and at Palenque. As the same
symbols used at both places occur in like positions in regard to the
human face, etc., I conclude that not only were the same signs used at
both places, but that these signs had the same meaning; _i.e._, were
truly synonyms. In future I shall regard this as demonstrated.



In the _Congrès des Américanistes, session de Luxembourg_, vol. ii,
p. 283, is a report of a memoir of Dr. LEEMANS, entitled “Description de
quelques antiquités américaines conservées dans le Musée royal
néerlandais d’antiquités à Leide.” On page 299 we find--

  M. G.-H.-BAND, de Arnheim, a eu la bonté de me confier quelques
  antiquités provenant des anciens habitants du Yucatan et de
  l’Amérique Centrale, avec autorisation d’en faire prendre des
  fac-similes pour le Musée, ce qui me permet de les faire connaître
  aux membres du Congrès. Elles ont été trouvées enfouies à une grande
  profondeur dans le sol, lors de la construction d’un canal, vers la
  rivière Gracioza, près de San Filippo, sur la frontière du Honduras
  britannique et de la république de Guatémala par M. S.-A.-van BRAAM,
  ingénieur néerlandais au service de la Guatémala-Company.

From the maps given in STIELER’S Hand-Atlas and in BANCROFT’S Native
Races of the Pacific States I find that these relics were found 308
miles from Uxmal, 207 miles from Palenque, 92 miles from Copan, and 655
miles from the city of Mexico, the distances being in a straight line
from place to place.

The one of these objects with which we are now concerned is figured in
Plate (63) of the work quoted, and is reproduced here as Fig. 52.

Dr. LEEMANS refers to a similarity between this figure and others in
Stephens’ Travels in Central America, but gives no general comparison.

I wish to direct attention to some of the points of this cut. The
_chiffre_ or symbol of the principal figure is, perhaps, represented in
his belt, and is a St. Andrew’s cross, with a circle at each end of it.
Inside the large circle is a smaller one. It may be said, in passing,
that the cross probably relates to the _air_ and the circle to the

The main figure has two hands folded against his breast. Two other arms
are extended, one in front, the other behind, which carry two birds.
Each arm has a bracelet. This second pair of hands is not described by
Dr. LEEMANS. The two birds are exact duplicates, except that the eye of
one is shut, of the other open. Just above the bill of each bird is
something which might be taken as a second bill (which probably is not,
however), and on this and on the back of each bird are five spines or
claws. The corresponding claws are curved and shaped alike in the two
sets. The birds are fastened to the neck of the person represented by
two ornaments, which are alike, and which seem to be the usual
hieroglyph of the _crotalus_ jaw. These jaws are placed similarly with
respect to each bird. In KINGSBOROUGH’S Mexican Antiquities, vol. I,
Plate X, we find the parrot as the sign of TONATIHU, the sun, and in
Plate XXV with NAOLIN, the sun. On a level with the nose of the
principal figure are two symbols, one in front and one behind, each
inclosing a St. Andrew’s cross, and surmounted by what seems to be a
flaming fire. It is probably the _chiffre_ of the wind, as the cross is
of the rain. Below the rear one of these is a head with protruding
tongue (the sign of QUETZALCOATL); below the other a hieroglyph (perhaps
a bearded face). Each of these is upborne by a hand. It is to be
noticed, also, that these last arms have bracelets different from the
pair on the breast.

In passing, it may be noted that the head in rear is under a cross, and
has on its cheek the symbol +U+. These are the symbols of the left-hand
figure in the Palenque cross tablet.

The head hanging from the rear of the belt has an _open_ eye (like that
of the principal figure), and above it is a crotalus mask, with open
eye, and teeth, and forked fangs. The principal figure wears over his
head a mask, with open mouth, and with tusks, and above this mask is the
eagle’s head. This eagle is a sign of TLALOC, at least in Yucatan. In
Mexico the eagle was part of the insignia of TETZCATLIPOCA, “the devil,”
who overthrew the good QUETZALCOATL and reintroduced human sacrifice.

The characteristics of the principal figure, 63, are then briefly as

I. His _chiffre_ is an air-cross with the sun-circle.

II. He has four hands.

III. He bears two birds as a symbol.

IV. The claws or spikes on the backs of these are significant.

V. The mask with tusks over the head.

VI. The head worn at the belt.

VII. The captive trodden under foot.

VIII. The chain from the belt attached to a kind of ornament or symbol.

IX. The twisted flames (?) or winds (?) on each side of the figure.

X. His association with QUETZALCOATL or CUKULCAN, as shown by the mouth
with protruding tongue, and with TLALOC or TETZCATLIPOCA, as shown by
the eagle’s head.

We may note here for reference the signification of one of the
hieroglyphs in the right-hand half of Fig. 52, _i.e._, in that half
which contains only writing. The topmost _chiffre_ is undoubtedly the
name, or part of the name, of the principal figure represented in the
other half. It is in pure picture-writing; that is, it expresses the sum
of his attributes. It has the crotalus mask, with nose ornament, which
he wears over his face; then the cross, with the “five feathers” of
Mexico, and the sun symbol. These are in the middle of the _chiffre_.
Below these the oval may be, and probably is, heaven, with the rain
descending and producing from the surface of the earth (the long axis of
the ellipse), the seed, of which three grains are depicted.

We know by the occurrence of the hieroglyphs on the reverse side of the
stone that this is not of Aztec sculpture. These symbols are of the same
sort as those at Copan, Palenque, etc., and I shall show later that some
of them occur in the Palenque tablets. Hence, we know this engraving to
be Yucatec and not Aztec in its origin. If it had been sculptured on one
side only, and these hieroglyphs omitted, I am satisfied that the facts
which I shall point out in the next paragraphs would have led to the
conclusion that this stone was Mexican in its origin. Fortunately the
native artist had the time to sculpture the Yucatec hieroglyphs, which
are the proof of its true origin. It was not dropped by a traveling
Aztec; it was made by a Yucatec.

In passing, it may be said that the upper left-hand hieroglyph of Plate
XIII most probably repeats this name.

I collect from the third volume of BANCROFT’S _Native Races_, chapter
viii, such descriptions of HUITZILOPOCHTLI as he was represented among
the Mexicans as will be of use to us in our comparisons. No display of
learning in giving the references to the original works is necessary
here, since Mr. BANCROFT has placed all these in order and culled them
for a use like the present. It will suffice once for all to refer the
critical reader to this volume, and to express the highest sense of
obligation to Mr. BANCROFT’S compilation, which renders a survey of the
characteristic features of the American divinities easy.

In Mexico, then, this god had, among other symbols, “five balls of
feathers arranged in the form of a cross.” This was in reference to the
mysterious conception of his mother through the _powers of the air_. The
upper hieroglyph in Fig. 52, and one of the lower ones, contain this
sign: “In his right hand he had an azured staff cutte in fashion of a
waving snake.” (See Plate LXI of STEPHENS.) “Joining to the temple of
this idol there was a piece of less work, where there was another idol
they called TLALOC. These two idolls were alwayes together, for that
they held them as companions and of equal power.”

To his temple “there were foure gates,” in allusion to the form of the
cross. The temple was surrounded by rows of skulls (as at Copan) and the
temple itself was upon a high pyramid. SOLIS says the war god sat “on a
throne supported by a blue globe.” From this, supposed to represent the
heavens, projected four staves with serpents’ heads. (See Plate XXIV,
STEPHENS.) “The image bore on its head a bird of wrought plumes,” “its
right hand rested upon a crooked serpent.” “Upon the left arm was a
buckler bearing five white plumes arranged in form of a cross.” SAHAGUN
describes his device as a dragon’s head, “frightful in the extreme, and
casting fire out of his mouth.”

HERRARA describes HUITZILOPOCHTLI and TETZCATLIPOCA together, and says
they were “beset with pieces of gold wrought like birds, beasts, and
_fishes_.” “For collars, they had ten hearts of men,” “and in their
necks Death painted.”

TORQUEMADA derives the _name_ of the war god in two ways. According to
some it is composed of two words, one signifying “a humming bird” and
the other “a sorcerer that spits fire.” Others say that the last word
means “the left hand,” so that the whole name would mean “the shining
feathered left hand.” “This god it was that led out the Mexicans from
their own land and brought them into Anáhuac.” Besides his regular
statue, set up in Mexico, “there was another renewed every year, made of
different kinds of grains and seeds, moistened with the blood of
children.” This was in allusion to the nature-side of the god, as fully
explained by MÜLLER (_Americanische Urreligionen_).

No description will give a better idea of the general features of this
god than the following cuts from BANCROFT’S _Native Races_, which are
copied from LEON Y GAMA, _Las Dos Piedras_, etc. Figs. 53 and 54 are the
war god himself; Fig. 55 is the back of the former statue on a larger
scale; Fig. 56 is the god of hell, and was engraved on the bottom of the

    [Illustration: FIG. 53.--HUITZILOPOCHTLI (front).]

    [Illustration: FIG. 54.--HUITZILOPOCHTLI (side).]

These three were a trinity well nigh inseparable. It has been doubted
whether they were not different attributes of the same personage. In the
natural course of things the primitive idea would become differentiated
into its parts, and in process of time the most important of the parts
would each receive a separate pictorial representation.

    [Illustration: FIG. 55.--HUITZILOPOCHTLI (back).]

    [Illustration: FIG. 56.--MICLANTECUTLI.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 57.--Adoratorio.]

By referring back a few pages the reader will find summarized the
principal characteristics of the Central American figure represented in
Fig. 52. He will also have noticed the remarkable agreement between the
attributes of this figure and those contained in the cuts or in the
descriptions of the Mexican gods. Thus--

I. The symbol of both was the cross.

II. Fig. 52 and Fig. 55 each have four hands.[6.2]

III. Both have birds as symbols.

It is difficult to regard the bird of Fig. 52 as a humming bird, as it
more resembles the parrot, which, as is well known, was a symbol of some
of the Central American gods. Its occurrence here in connection with the
four arms fixes it, however, as the bird symbol of HUITZILOPOCHTLI. In
the _MS. Troano_, plate xxxi (lower right-hand figure), we find this
same personage with his two parrots, along with TLALOC, the god of rain.

IV. The claws of the Mexican statue may be symbolized by the spikes on
the back of the birds in Fig. 52, but these latter appear to me to
relate rather to the fangs and teeth of the various crotalus heads of
the statues.

V. The mask, with tusks, of Fig. 52, is the same as that at the top of
Fig. 55, where we see that they represent the teeth of a serpent, and
not the tusks of an animal. This is shown by the forked tongue beneath.
The three groups of four dots each on HUITZILOPOCHTLI’S statue are
references to his relationship with TLALOC.

With these main and striking duplications, and with other minor and
corroborative resemblances, which the reader can see for himself, there
is no doubt but that the two figures, Mexican and Yucatec, relate to the
same personage. The Yucatec figure combines several of the attributes of
the various members of the Mexican trinity named above, but we should
not be surprised at this, for, as has been said, some writers consider
that this trinity was one only of attributes and not of persons.

What has been given above is sufficient to show that the personage
represented in Fig. 52 is the Yucatec equivalent of HUITZILOPOCHTLI, and
has relations to his trinity named at the head of this section, and also
to the family of TLALOC. I am not aware that the relationship of the
Yucatec and Aztec gods has been so directly shown, on evidence almost
purely pictorial, and therefore free from a certain kind of bias.

If the conclusions above stated are true, there will be many
corroborations of them, and the most prominent of these I proceed to
give, as it involves the explanation of one of the most important
tablets of Palenque, parts of which are shown in Plates XXIV, LX, LXI,
and LXII, vol. ii, of STEPHENS.

Plate LXII, Fig. 57, represents the “Adoratorio or Alta Casa, No. 3” of
Palenque. This is nothing else than the temple of the god
HUITZILOPOCHTLI and of his equal, TLALOC. The god of war is shown on a
larger scale in Plate LXI, Fig. 58, while TLALOC is given in Plate LX,
Fig. 59, and the tablet inside the temple in Plate XXIV, Fig. 60. The
resemblances of Plate XXIV and of the Palenque cross tablet and their
meanings will be considered farther on.

Returning to Plate LXII, the symbols of the roof and cornice refer to
these two divinities. The faces at the ends of the cornice, with the
double lines for eye and mouth, are unmistakable TLALOC signs. The
association of the two gods in one temple, as at Mexico, is a strong

Let us now take Plate LXI, Fig. 58, which represents HUITZILOPOCHTLI, or
rather, the Yucatec equivalent of this Aztec god. I shall refer to him
by the Aztec appelation, but I shall in future write it in italics; and
in general the Yucatec equivalents of Aztec personages in italics, and
the Aztec names in small capitals.

Compare Fig. 52 and the Plate LXI (Fig. 58). As the two plates are
before the reader, I need only point out the main resemblances, and,
what is more important, the differences.

The sandals, the belt, its front pendant, the bracelets, the neck
ornament, the helmet, should be examined. The four hands of Fig. 52 are
not in LXI, nor the parrots; but if we refer to KINGSBOROUGH, Vol. II,
Plates 6 and 7 of the LAUD manuscript, we shall find figures of
HUITZILOPOCHTLI with a parrot, and of TLALOC with the stork with a fish
in its mouth, as in the head-dress here. The prostrate figure of Fig. 52
is here led by a chain. At Labphak (BANCROFT, Vol. iv., p. 251), he is
held aloft in the air, and he is on what _may be_ a sacrificial yoke.
The _Tlaloc_ eagle is in the head of the staff carried in the hand. This
eagle is found in the second line from the bottom of Fig. 52, we may
remark in passing. Notice also the crescent moon in the ornament back of
the shoulders of the personage of Fig. 58. The twisted cords which form
the bottom of this ornament are in the hieroglyph No. 37, Plate XXIV
(Fig. 60).

Turning now to Plate LX (Fig. 59).

This I take to be the sorcerer _Tlaloc_. He is blowing the wind from his
mouth; he has the eagle in his head-dress, the jaw with grinders, the
peculiar eye, the four TLALOC dots over his ear and on it, the snake
between his legs, curved in the form of a yoke (this is known to be a
serpent by the conventional crotalus signs of jaw and rattles on it in
nine places), the four TLALOC dots again in his head-dress, etc. He has
a leopard skin on his back (the tiger was the earth in Mexico) and his
naked feet have peculiar anklets which should be noticed.

Although I am deferring the examination of the hieroglyphs to a later
section, the _chiffre_ 3201 should be noticed. It is the TLALOC eye
again, and 3203 is the _chiffre_ of the Mexican gods of hell.

    [Illustration: FIG. 58.--Maya War God.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 59.--Maya Rain God.]

In passing I may just refer the reader to p. 164, Vol. ii, of STEPHENS’
book on Yucatan, where a figure occurring at Labphak is given. This I
take to be the same as _Huitzilopochtli_ of Plate LXI. Also in the MS.
_Troano_, published by BRASSEUR DE BOURBOURG, a figure in Plate XXV and
in other plates sits on a hieroglyph like 3201, and is _Tlaloc_. This is
known by the head-dress, the teeth, the air-trumpet, the serpent symbol,
etc. In Plates XXVIII, XXXI, and XXXIII of the same work HUITZILOPOCHTLI
and TLALOC are represented together, in various adventures.

    [Illustration: FIG. 60.--Tablet at Palenque.]

In Plate LX (Fig. 59) notice also the _chiffre_ on the tassels before
and behind the main personage.

Now turn to the Plate XXIV (Fig. 60), which is the main object in the
“Adoratorio” (Fig. 57), where the human figures serve as flankers.

First examine the caryatides who support the central structure. These
are _Tlalocs_. Each has an eagle over his face, is clothed in leopard
skin, has the characteristic eye and teeth, and the wristlets of Plate
LX (Fig. 59).

A vertical line through the center of Plate XXIV (Fig. 60) would
separate the figures and ornaments into two groups. These groups are
very similar, but never identical, and this holds good down to the
minutest particulars and is not the result of accident. One side (the
right-hand) belongs to _Tlaloc_, the other to _Huitzilopochtli_.

The right-hand priest (let us call him, simply for a name and not to
commit ourselves to a theory) has the sandals of Plate LXI; the
left-hand priest the anklets of Plate LX.

The beast on which the first stands and the man who supports the other
are both marked with the tassel symbol of Plate LX. There is a certain
rude resemblance between the supplementary head of this beast and the
pendant in front of the belt of Fig. 52. Four of these beasts supply
rain to the earth with _Tlaloc_ in Plate XXVI of the MS. _Troano_. The
infant offered by the right-hand priest has the _two_ curls on his
forehead which was a necessary mark of the victims for TLALOC’S
sacrifices. The center of the whole plate is a horrid mask with an open
mouth. Behind this are two staves with _different_ ornaments crossed in
the form of the air-cross. On either hand of this the ornaments are
different though similar.

A curious resemblance may be traced between the positions, etc., of
these two staves and those of the figure on p. 563, vol. iv, of
BANCROFT’S _Native Races_, which is a Mexican stone. Again, this latter
figure has at its upper right-hand corner a crouching animal (?) very
similar to the gateway ornament given in the same volume, p. 321. This
last is at Palenque. I quote these two examples in passing simply to
reinforce the idea of similarity between the sacred sculptures of
Yucatan and Mexico.

I take it that the examination of which I have sketched the details will
have left no doubt but that the personage of Fig. 52 is truly
_Huitzilopochtli_, the Yucatec representative of HUITZILOPOCHTLI; that
Plate LXI (Fig. 58) is the same personage; that Plate LX (Fig. 59)
represents TLALOC; and that Plate XXIV (Fig. 60) is a tablet relating to
the service of these two gods.

I have previously shown that the Palenque hieroglyphs are read in order
from left to right. We should naturally expect, then, that the sign for
_Tlaloc_ or for _Huitzilopochtli_ would occupy the upper left-hand
corner of Plate XXIV. In fact it does, and I was led to this discovery
in the way I have indicated.

No. 37 is the Palenque manner of writing the top sign of Fig. 52.
I shall call the signs of Fig. 52 _a_, _b_, _c_, etc., in order

The crouching face in _a_ occupies the lower central part of No. 37.
Notice also that this face occurs below the small cross in the detached
ornament to the left of the central mask of Fig. 60. The crescent moon
of Plate LXI (Fig. 58) is on its cheek; back of this is the sun-sign;
the cross of _a_ is just above its eye; the three signs for the
celestial concave are at the top of 37, crossed with rain bands; the
three seeds (?) are below these. The feathers are in the lower
right-hand two-thirds. This is the sign or part of the sign for
_Huitzilopochtli_. If a Maya Indian had seen either of these signs a few
centuries ago, he would have had the successive ideas--a war-god, with a
feather-symbol, related to sun and moon, to fertilizing rain and
influences, to clouds and seed; that is _Huitzilopochtli_, the companion
of _Tlaloc_. Or if he had seen the upper left-hand symbol of the
Palenque cross tablet (1800), he would have had _related_ ideas, and so

What I have previously said about the faithfulness with which the
Yucatec artist adhered to his prototypes in signs is perfectly true,
although apparently partly contradicted by the identification I have
just made. When a given attribute of a god (or other personage) was to
be depicted, the _chiffres_ expressing this were marvellously alike.
Witness the _chiffres_ Nos. 2090, 2073, 2021, 2045, 3085, 3073, 3070,
3032 of the Palenque cross tablet. But directly afterwards some other
attribute is to be brought out, and the _chiffre_ changes; thus the
hieroglyph 1009 of Plate LIV, or 265, Plate LII, has the same protruding
tongue as 2021, etc., and is the same personage, but the style is quite
changed. In Fig. 52, _Huitzilopochtli_ is the war-god, in Plate XXIV he
is the rain-god’s companion; and while every attribute is accounted for,
prominence is given to the special ones worshipped or celebrated. Scores
of instances of this have arisen in the course of my examination.

Again, we must remember that this was no source of ambiguity to the
Yucatecs, however much it may be to us. Each one of them, and specially
each officiating priest, was entirely familiar with every attribute of
every god of the Yucatec pantheon. The sign of the attribute brought the
idea of the power of the god in that special direction; the full idea of
his divinity was the integral of all these special ideas. The limits
were heaven and earth.

This, then, is the first step. I consider that it is securely based, and
that we may safely say that in proper names, at least, a kind of picture
writing was used which was _not_ phonetic.

From this point we may go on. I must again remark that great familiarity
with the literature of the Aztecs and Yucatecs is needed--a familiarity
to which I personally cannot pretend--and that it is clear that the
method to reach its full success must be applied by a true scholar in
this special field.



Although there is no personage of all the Maya pantheon more easy to
recognize in the form of a _statue_ than _Tlaloc_, there is great
difficulty in being certain of _all_ the hieroglyphs which relate to
him. There is every reason to believe that in Yucatan, as in Mexico,
there was a family of rain-gods, _Tlalocs_, and the distinguishing signs
of the several members are almost impossible of separation, so long as
we know so little of the special functions of each member of this

In Yucatan, as in Mexico, _Tlaloc’s_ main sign was a double line about
the eye or mouth, or about both; and further, some of the _Tlalocs_, at
least, were bearded.[6.3]

CUKULCAN was also bearded, but we have separated out in the next section
the _chiffres_, or certainly most of them, that relate to him. Those
that are left remain to be distributed among the family of rain-gods;
and this, as I have said, can only be done imperfectly, on account of
our slight knowledge of the character of these gods.

If we examine the plates given by STEPHENS, we shall find many pictorial
allusions to _Tlaloc_. These are often used as mere ornaments or
embellishments, as in borders, etc., and probably served only to notify,
in a general way, the fact of the relationship of the personage
represented, to this family, and probably not to convey any specific

Thus, in Plate XXXV of STEPHENS’ work the upper left-hand ornament of
the border is a head of _Tlaloc_ with double lines about eye and mouth,
and this ornament is repeated in a different form at the lower
right-hand corner of the border just back of the right hand of the
sitting figure, and also in the base of the border below the feet of the
principal figure.

Plate XLVIII (of STEPHENS’) is probably CHALCHIHUITLICUE (that is, the
Yucatec equivalent of that goddess), who was the sister of _Tlaloc_. His
sign occurs in the upper left-hand corner of the border, and in Plate
XLIX the same sign occurs in a corresponding position.

Plate XXIV (our Fig. 60) is full of _Tlaloc_ signs. The bottom of the
tablet has a hieroglyph, 93 (_Huitzilopochtli_), at one end and 185
(_Tlaloc_) at the other. The leopard skin, eagle, and the crouching
tiger (?) under the feet of the priest of _Tlaloc_ (the right-hand
figure) are all given. The infant (?) offered by this priest has two
locks of curled hair at its forehead, as was prescribed for children
offered to this god.

In Plate LVI (our Fig. 48) the mask at the foot of the cross is a human
mask, and not a serpent mask, as has been ingeniously proved by Dr.
HARRISON ALLEN in his paper so often quoted. It is the mask of _Tlaloc_,
as shown by the teeth and corroborated (not proved) by the way in which
the eye is expressed. The curved hook within the eyeball here, as in
185, stands for the air--the wind--of which _Tlaloc_ was also god. The
Mexicans had a similar sign for breath, message.

The _chiffre_ 1975, on which _Huitzilopochtli’s_ priest is standing,
I believe to be the synonym of 185 in Plate XXIV. Just in front of
_Tlaloc’s_ priest is a sacrificial yoke (?), at the top of which is a
face, with the eye of the _Tlalocs_, and various decorations. This face
is to be found also at the lower left-hand corner of Plate XLI
(of STEPHENS’), and also (?) in the same position in Plate XLII
(of STEPHENS’). These will serve as subjects for further study.

Notice in Plate LVI (our Fig. 48) how the ornaments in corresponding
positions on either side of the central line are similar, yet never the
same. A careful study of these pairs will show how the two gods
celebrated, differed. A large part, at least, of the attributes of each
god is recorded in this way by antithesis. I have not made enough
progress in this direction to make the very few conclusions of which I
am certain worth recording. The general fact of such an antithesis is
obvious when once it is pointed out, and it is in just such paths as
this that advances must be looked for.

I have just mentioned, in this rapid survey of the plates of vol. ii of
STEPHENS’ work, the principal pictorial signs relating to _Tlaloc_.
There are a number almost equally well marked in vol. i, in Plates VII,
IX, X, XIII, and XV, but they need not be described. Those who are
especially interested can find them for themselves.

The following brief account and plate of a _Tlaloc_ inscription at Kabah
will be useful for future use, and is the more interesting as it is
comparatively unknown.


This hitherto unpublished inscription on a rock at Kabah is given in
_Archives paléographiques_, vol. i, part ii, Plate 20. It deserves
attention on account of its resemblances, but still more on account of
its differences, with certain other Yucatec glyphs.

We may first compare it with the Plate LX of STEPHENS (our Fig. 59).

The head-dress in Plate 20 is quite simple, and presents no resemblance
to the elaborate gear of Plate LX, in which the ornament of a leaf (?),
or more probably feather, cross-hatched at the end and divided
symmetrically by a stem (?) or quill about which four dots are placed,
seems characteristic.

_Possibly_, and only possibly, the square in the rear of the head of
Plate 20, which has two cross-hatchings, may refer to the elaborate
cross-hatchings in Plate LX. The four dots are found twice, once in
front and once in rear of the figure. The heads of the two figures have
only one resemblance, but this is a very important one. The tusks belong
to HUITZILOPOCHTLI and to his trinity, and specially to TLALOC, his

Both Plate 20 and LX have the serpent wand or yoke clearly expressed. In
LX the serpent is decorated with crotalus heads; in 20 by images of the
sun (?), as in the FERJAVARY MS. (KINGSBOROUGH). The front apron or
ornament of Plate 20 is of snake skin, ornamented with sun-symbols.
Comparing Plate 20 with Fig. 52 (_ante_), we find quite other
resemblances. The head-dress of 20 is the same as the projecting arm of
the head-dress of Fig. 52; and the tusks are found in the helmet or mask
of Fig. 52.

These and other resemblances show the Kabah inscription to be a TLALOC.
It is interesting specially on account of its hieroglyphs, which I hope
to examine subsequently. The style of this writing appears to be late,
and may serve as a connecting link between the stones and the
manuscripts, and it is noteworthy that even the style of the drawing
itself seems to be in the manner of the Mexican MS. of LAUD, rather than
in that of the Palenque stone tablets.

From the card catalogue I select the following _chiffres_ as
appertaining to the family of the _Tlalocs_. As I have said, these must
for the present remain in a group, unseparated. Future studies will be
necessary to discriminate between the special signs which relate to
special members of the family. The _chiffres_ are Nos. 3200; 1864; 1403;
811; 1107?; 1943?; 4114??; _b_?; 1893 (bearded faces, or faces with
teeth very prominent); 166?; 4??; 807?; 62?; 155?; 26; 154?; 165?; 164?;
805; 4109; 1915?; 675??; 635?? (distinguished by the characteristic eye
of the TLALOCS).

Here, again, the writing is ideographic, and not phonetic.



The character 2021 occurs many times in Plate LVI (Fig. 48), and
occasionally elsewhere. The personage represented is distinguished by
having a protruding tongue, and was therefore at once suspected to be
QUETZALCOATL. (See BANCROFT’S _Native Races_, vol. iii, p. 280.) The
protruding tongue is probably a reference to his introduction of the
sacrificial acts performed by wounding that member.

The rest of the sign I suppose to be the rebus of his name,
“Snake-plumage”; the part cross-hatched being “snake,” the feather-like
ornament at the upper left-hand corner being “plumage.” It is necessary,
however, to prove this before accepting the theory. To do this I had
recourse to Plates I and IV (Figs. 49, 50), my dictionary of synonyms.

This _cross-hatching_ occurs in Plate I. In the six tassels below the
waist, where the cross-hatching _might_ indicate the serpent skin,
notice the ends of the tassels; these are in a scroll-like form, and as
if rolled or coiled tip. In Plate IV they are the same, naturally. So
far there is but little light.

In Plate IV, just above each wrist, is a sign composed of ellipse and
bars; a little above each of these signs, among coils which may be
serpent coils, and on the horizontal line through the top of the
necklace pendant, are two surfaces cross-hatched all over. What do these
mean? Referring to Plate I, we find, in exactly the same relative
situation, the forked tongue and the rattles of the crotalus. These are,
then, synonyms, and the _guess_ is confirmed. The cross-hatching means
serpent-skin. Is this _always_ so? We must examine other plates to

The same ornament is found in Plates IX, XIV, XVI, XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI,
XXXV (of STEPHENS’), but its situation does not allow us to gain any
additional light.

In Plate XII (STEPHENS’) none of the ornaments below the belt will help
us. At the level of the mouth are four patches of it. Take the upper
right-hand one of these. Immediately to its right is a serpent’s head;
below the curve and above the frog’s (?) head are the rattles. Here is
another confirmation. In Plate XVIII I refer the cross-hatching to the
jaw of the crocodile. In Plate XXII I have numbered the _chiffres_ as

  4201  4202  4203  4204.
  4211  4212  4213  4214.
    *     *     *     *
    *     *     *     *
    *     *     *     *
  4311  4312  4313  4314.

4204 has the cross-hatching at its top, and to its left in 4203 is the
serpent’s head. The same is true in 4233-4. In 4264 we have the same
symbol that we are trying to interpret; it is in its perfect form here
and in No. 1865 of the Palenque series. In the caryatides of Plate XXIV
(Fig. 60) the cross-hatching is included in the spots of the leopard’s
skin; in the ornaments at the base, in and near the masks which they are
supporting, it is again serpent skin. Take the lower mask; its jaws,
forked-tongue, and teeth prove it to be a serpent-mask, as well as the
ornament just above it. In Plate LX (Fig. 59) it is to be noticed that
the leopard spots are not cross-hatched, but that this ornament is given
at the lower end of the leopard robe, which ends moreover in a crotalus
tongue marked with the sign of the jaw (near the top of this ornament)
and of the rattles (near the bottom). This again confirms the theory of
the rebus meaning of the cross-hatching. In Plate XXIV (Fig. 60) the
cross-hatching on the leopard spots probably is meant to _add_ the
serpent attribute to the leopard symbol, and not simply to denote the

Thus an examination of the _whole_ of the material available, shows that
the preceding half of the hieroglyph 2021 and its congeners is nothing
but the _rebus_ for QUETZALCOATL, or rather for CUKULCAN, the Maya name
for this god. BRASSEUR DE BOURBOURG, as quoted in BANCROFT’S _Native
Races_, vol. ii, p. 699, foot note, says CUKULCAN, comes from _kuk_ or
_kukul_, a bird, which appears to be the same as the _quetzal_, and from
_can_, serpent; so that CUKULCAN in Maya is the same as QUETZALCOATL in
Aztec. It is to be noticed how checks on the accuracy of any deciphering
of hieroglyphs occur at every point, if we will only use them.

The Maya equivalents of HUITZILOPOCHTLI and TLALOC are undoubtedly
buried in the _chiffres_ already deciphered, but we have no means of
getting their names in Maya from the rebus of the _chiffres_.

In the cases of these two gods we got the _chiffre_, and the rebus is
still to seek. In the case of _Quetzalcoatl_ or CUKULCAN, the rebus was
the means of getting the name; and if the names of this divinity had not
been equivalent in the two tongues, our results would have led us to the
(almost absurd) conclusion that a god of certain attributes was called
by his Aztec name in the Maya nations.

Thus every correct conclusion confirms every former one and is a basis
for subsequent progress. The results of this analysis are that the Maya
god CUKULCAN is named in each one of the following _chiffres_, viz: Nos.
1009, 265, 2090, 2073, 2021, 3085, 2045, 3073, 3070, 3032, 1865, 265,
268?, 4291? 73?? I give the numbers in the order in which they are
arranged in the card-catalogue. There is, of course, a reason for this

BANCROFT, vol. iii, p. 268, says of QUETZALCOATL that “his symbols were
the bird, the serpent, the cross, and the flint, representing the
clouds, the lightning, the four winds, and the thunderbolt.”

We shall find all of his titles except one, the bird, in what follows.
We must notice here that in the _chiffre_ 2021 and its congeners the
bird appears directly over the head of CUKULCAN. It is plainly shown in
the heliotype which accompanies Professor RAU’S work on the Palenque
cross, though not so well in our Fig. 48.

In what has gone before, we have seen that the characters 2021, 2045,
2073, 3073, 3085, 265, etc., present the portrait and the rebus of
CUKULCAN. It will not be forgotten that in the examination of the
question as to the order in which the stone inscriptions were read we
found a number of _pairs_ in Plate LVI, Fig. 48; the characters 2021,
etc., being one member of each. The other members of the pairs in the
Plate LVI were 2020, 2044, 2072, 3072, 3084, etc. 264-265 is another
example of the same pair elsewhere.

I hoped to find that the name CUKULCAN, or 2021, was associated in these
pairs with some adjective or verb, and therefore examined the other
members of the pair.

In a case like this the card-catalogue is of great assistance; for
example, I wish to examine here the _chiffres_ Nos. 2020, 2044, 2072,
3072, 3084, etc. In the catalogue their cards occur in the same
compartment, arranged so that two cards that are exactly alike are
contiguous. We can often know that two _chiffres_ are alike when one is
in a far better state of preservation than the other. Hence we may
select for study that one in which the lines and figures are best
preserved; or from several characters known to be alike, and of which no
one is entirely perfect, we may construct with accuracy the type upon
which they were founded. In this case the hieroglyph 2020 is well
preserved (see the right-hand side of Plate LVI, Fig. 48, the upper
left-hand glyph). It consists of a _human hand_, with the symbol of the
_sun_ in it; above this is a sign similar to that of the Maya day
_Ymix_; above this again, in miniature, is the rebus “snake plumage” or
_Cukulcan_; and to the left of the hieroglyph are some curved lines not
yet understood. No. 2003 of the same plate is also well preserved. It
has the hand as in 2020, the rebus also, and the sign for _Ymix_ is
slightly different, being modified with a sign like the top of a cross,
the symbol of the _four winds_. The symbol _Ymix_ may be seen, by a
reference to Plate XXVII (lower half) of the MS. _Troano_, to relate to
the _rain_. The figure of that plate is pouring rain upon the earth from
the orifices represented by _Ymix_. The cross of the _four winds_ is
still more plain in Nos. 2072, 3084, and 3072.

The part of this symbol 2020 and its synonyms which consists of curved
lines occupying the left hand one-third of the whole _chiffre_ occurs
only in this set of characters, and thus I cannot say _certainly_ what
this particular part of the hieroglyph means; but if the reader will
glance back over the last one hundred lines he will find that these
_chiffres_ contain the _rebus_ CUKULCAN, the sign of a _human hand_, of
the _sun_, of the _rain_, and of the _four winds_.

In BANCROFT’S _Native Races_, vol. iii, chapter vii, we find that the
titles of QUETZALCOATL (CUKULCAN) were the _air_, the _rattlesnake_, the
_rumbler_ (in allusion to thunder), the _strong hand_, the lord of the
_four winds_. The bird symbol exists in 2021, etc. Now in 2020 and its
congeners we have found every one of these titles, save only that
relating to the _thunder_. And we have found a meaning for every part of
the hieroglyph 2020 save only one, viz, the left-hand one-third,
consisting of concentric half ellipses or circles. It may be said to be
quite _probable_ that the unexplained part of the sign (2020)
corresponds to the unused title, “the rumbler.” But it is not rigorously
proved, although very probable. The thunder would be well represented by
repeating the sign for sky or heaven. This much seems to me certain. The
sign is but another summing up of the attributes and titles of CUKULCAN.
2021 gave his portrait, his bird symbol, made allusion to his
institution of the sacrifice of wounding the tongue, and spelled out his
name in rebus characters. 2020 repeats his name as a rebus and adds the
titles of lord of the four winds, of the sun, of rain, of the strong
hand, etc. It is his biography, as it were.

In this connection, a passing reference to the characters 1810, etc.,
1820, etc., 1830, etc., 1840, etc., 1850, etc., of the left-hand side of
Plate LVI should be made. Among these, all the titles named above are to
be found. These are suitable subjects for future study.

We now see _why_ the pair 2020, 2021 occurs so many times in Plate LVI,
and again as 264, 265, etc. The right-hand half of this tablet has much
to say of CUKULCAN, and whenever his name is mentioned a brief list of
his titles accompanies it. Although it is disappointing to find _both_
members of this well-marked pair to be proper names, yet it is
gratifying to see that the theory of pairs, on which the proof of the
order in which the tablets are to be read must rest, has received such
unexpected confirmation.

To conclude the search for the hieroglyphs of CUKULCAN’S name, it will
be necessary to collect all those faces with “_round_ beards” (see
BANCROFT’S _Native Races_, vol. iii, p. 250). TLALOC was also bearded,
but all the historians refer to QUETZALCOATL as above cited. I refer
hieroglyphs Nos. 658, 651?, 650?, and 249? to this category.

Perhaps also the sign No. 153 is the sign of QUETZALCOATL, as something
very similar to it is given as his sign in the _Codex Telleriano
Remensis_, KINGSBOROUGH, vol. i, Plates I, II, and V (Plate I the best),
where he wears it at his waist.

In Plate LXIII of STEPHENS (vol. ii) is a small figure of CUKULCAN which
he calls “Bas Relief on Tablet.” WALDECK gives a much larger drawing
(incorrect, however, in many details), in which the figure, the “Beau
Relief,” is seen to wear bracelets high up on the arm. This was a
distinguishing sign of QUETZALCOATL (see BANCROFT’S _Native Races_, vol.
iii, pp. 249 and 250), and this figure probably is a representation of
the Maya divinity. He is on a stool with tigers for supports. The tiger
belongs to the attributes which he had in common with TLALOC, and we see
again the intimate connection of these divinities--a connection often

This is the third proper name which has been deciphered. All of them
have been pure picture-writing, except in so far as their rebus
character may make them in a sense phonetic.



We have a set of signs for Maya months and days handed down to us by
LANDA along with his phonetic alphabet. _A priori_ these are more likely
to represent the primitive forms as carved in stone than are the
alphabetic hieroglyphs, which may well have been invented by the
Spaniards to assist the natives to memorize religious formulæ.[6.4]

BRASSEUR DE BOURBOURG has analyzed the signs for the day and month in
his publication on the MS. _Troano_, and the strongest arguments which
can be given for their phonetic origin are given by him.

I have made a set of MS. copies of these signs and included them in my
card-catalogue, and have carefully compared them with the tablets XXIV
and LVI. My results are as follows:

PLATE XXIV (our Fig. 60).

  No. 42 is the Maya month _Pop_, beginning July 16.
  No. 54 is _Zip_??, beginning August 25.
  No. 47 is _Tzoz_??, beginning September 14.
  No. 57 is _Tzec_? beginning October 4.
  No. 44-45 is _Mol_?, beginning December 3.
  No. 39 is _Yax_, _Zac_, or _Ceh_, beginning January 12, February 1,
    February 21, respectively.

PLATE LVI (our Fig. 48).

  No. 1804 is _Uo_????
  No. 1901 is _Zip_????
  No. 1816 is _Tzoz_??
  No. 1814 is _Tzec_?
  No. 1807 is _Mol_?
  No. 1855 is _Yax_, _Zac_, or _Ceh_.
  No. 1844 is _Mac_?

The only sign about which there is little or no doubt is No. 42, which
seems pretty certainly to be the sign of the Maya month _Pop_, which
began July 16.

No. 39, just above it, seems also to be _one_ of the months _Yax_,
_Zac_, or _Ceh_, which began on January 12, February 1, and February 21,
respectively. Which one of these it corresponds to must be settled by
other means than a direct comparison. The signs given by LANDA for these
three months all contain the same radical as No. 39, but it is
impossible to decide with entire certainty to which it corresponds. It,
however, most nearly resembles the sign for _Zac_ (February 1); and it
is noteworthy that it was precisely in this month that the greatest
feast of TLALOC took place,[6.5] and its presence in this tablet, which
relates to _Tlaloc_, is especially interesting.

In connection with the counting of time, a reference to the bottom part
of the _chiffre_ 3000 of the Palenque cross tablet should be made. This
is a _knot_ tied up in a string or scarf; and we know this to have been
the method of expressing the expiration and completion of a cycle of
years. It occurs just above the symbol 3010, the _chiffre_ for a metal.

An examination of the original stone in the National Museum, Washington,
which is now in progress, has already convinced me that the methods
which I have described in the preceding pages promise other interesting
confirmations of the results I have reached. For the time, I must leave
the matter in its present state. I think I am justified in my confidence
that suitable methods of procedure have been laid down, and that certain
important results have already been reached.

I do not believe that the conclusions stated will be changed, but I am
confident that a rich reward will be found by any competent person who
will continue the study of these stones. The proper names now known will
serve as points of departure, and it is probable that some research will
give us the signs for verbs or adjectives connected with them.

It is an immense step to have rid ourselves of the phonetic or
alphabetic idea, and to have found the manner in which the Maya mind
represented attributes and ideas. Their method was that of all nations
at the origin of written language; that is, pure picture-writing. At
Copan this is found in its earliest state; at Palenque it was already
highly conventionalized. The step from the Palenque character to that
used in the Kabah inscription is apparently not greater than the step
from the latter to the various manuscripts. An important research would
be the application of the methods so ably applied by Dr. ALLEN to
tracing the evolution of the latter characters from their earlier forms.
In this way it will be possible to extend our present knowledge

    [Footnote 6.1: The Life Form in Art, Trans. Amer. Phil. Soc.,
    vol. xv, 1873, p. 325.]

    [Footnote 6.2: From KINGSBOROUGH, vol. i, plate 48, it appears
    that TLACLI TONATIO may have had four hands. His name meant
    (?) Let there be light.]

    [Footnote 6.3: See KINGSBOROUGH, vol. ii, Plate I, of the
    LAUD MS.]

    [Footnote 6.4: Since this was written I have seen a paper by Dr.
    VALENTINI, “The LANDA alphabet a Spanish fabrication” (read
    before the American Antiquarian Society, April 28, 1880), and the
    conclusions of that paper seem to me to be undoubtedly correct.
    They are the same as those just given, but while my own were
    reached by a study of the stones and in the course of a general
    examination, Dr. VALENTINI has addressed himself successfully to
    the solution of a special problem.]

    [Footnote 6.5: See BRASSEUR DE BOURBOURG, _Histoire du Mexique_,
    vol. i, p. 328.]

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *

_Errors and Inconsistencies: Picture-Writing_

The variations between “_MS. Troano_” (wholly italicized) and
“MS. _Troano_” (only title italicized), and between “Stephens’s” and
“Stephens’” (with and without possessive “s”) are in the original.

  handed down by the Greek cotemporaries  [_variant spelling unchanged_]
  contain all the material  [all the the material]
  [Plate LIII, left half]
  604  605  609  610  611  612
    [_number 605 printed and positioned as shown_]
  PLATE LVI... 1976 = _Ezanab_--a Maya day.  [_final . missing_]
  there are even more coincidences  [coindences]
  FIG. 51.--Synonymous hieroglyphs  [Synonomous]
  probably related to No. 53, Plate XXIV, and  [Plate XXIV and]
  M. G.-H.-BAND ... M. S.-A.-van BRAAM ...
    [_hyphens in original (quoted passage)_]
  others in Stephens’ Travels in Central America
    [_printed in plain text as shown: expected form is “Stephens”
    in small capitals, book title in italics_]
  His association with QUETZALCOATL or CUKULCAN  [CUCULKAN]
  the upper left-hand hieroglyph of Plate XIII  [left-hand,]
  supported by a blue globe.”  [_close quote missing_]
  a buckler bearing five white plumes  [plums]
  In the _MS. Troano_, plate xxxi  [Ms.]
  a figure occurring at Labphak is given  [Labphax]
  I personally cannot pretend  [pertend]

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *


            J. W. Powell, Director.


                     to the

                 UNITED STATES:

  Illustrated by Those in the State of Indiana.


                  C. C. ROYCE.


  Character of the Indian title                                  249
  Indian boundaries                                              253
  Original and secondary cessions                                256

    [Illustration: Map of the State of Indiana]

       *       *       *       *       *


             TO THE UNITED STATES:


                By C. C. Royce.

       *       *       *       *       *


The social and political relations that have existed and still continue
between the Government of the United States and the several Indian
tribes occupying territory within its geographical limits are, in many
respects, peculiar.

The unprecedentedly rapid increase and expansion of the white population
of the country, bringing into action corresponding necessities for the
acquisition and subjection of additional territory, have maintained a
constant straggle between civilization and barbarism. Involved as a
factor in this social conflict, was the legal title to the land occupied
by Indians. The questions raised were whether in law or equity the
Indians were vested with any stronger title than that of mere tenants at
will, subject to be dispossessed at the pleasure or convenience of their
more civilized white neighbors, and, if so, what was the nature and
extent of such stronger title?

These questions have been discussed and adjudicated from time to time by
the executive and judicial authorities of civilized nations ever since
the discovery of America.

The discovery of this continent, with its supposed marvelous wealth of
precious metals and commercial woods, gave fresh impetus to the ambition
and cupidity of European monarchs.

Spain, France, Holland, and England each sought to rival the other in
the magnitude and value of their discoveries. As the primary object of
each of these European potentates was the same, and it was likely to
lead to much conflict of jurisdiction, the necessity of some general
rule became apparent, whereby their respective claims might be
acknowledged and adjudicated without resort to the arbitrament of arms.
Out of this necessity grew the rule which became a part of the
recognized law of nations, and which gave the preference of title to the
monarch whose vessels should be the first to discover, rather than to
the one who should first enter upon the possession of new lands. The
exclusion under this rule of all other claimants gave to the discovering
nation the sole right of acquiring the soil from the natives and of
planting settlements thereon. This was a right asserted by all the
commercial nations of Europe, and fully recognized in their dealings
with each other; and the assertion, of such a right necessarily carried
with it a modified denial of the Indian title to the land discovered. It
recognized in them nothing but a possessory title, involving a right of
occupancy and enjoyment until such time as the European sovereign should
purchase it from them. The ultimate fee was held to reside in such
sovereign, whereby the natives were inhibited from alienating in any
manner their right of possession to any but that sovereign or his

The recognition of these principles seems to have been complete, as is
evidenced by the history of America from its discovery to the present
day. France, England, Portugal, and Holland recognized them
unqualifiedly, and even Catholic Spain did not predicate her title
solely upon the grant of the Holy See.

No one of these countries was more zealous in her maintenance of these
doctrines than England. In 1496 King Henry VII commissioned John and
Sebastian Cabot to proceed upon a voyage of discovery and to take
possession of such countries as they might find which were then unknown
to Christian people, in the name of the King of England. The results of
their voyages in the next and succeeding years laid the foundation for
the claim of England to the territory of that portion of North America
which subsequently formed the nucleus of our present possessions.

The policy of the United States since the adoption of the Federal
Constitution has in this particular followed the precedent established
by the mother country. In the treaty of peace between Great Britain and
the United States following the Revolutionary war, the former not only
relinquished the right of government, but renounced and yielded to the
United States all pretensions and claims whatsoever to all the country
south and west of the great northern rivers and lakes as far as the

In the period between the conclusion of this treaty and the year 1789 it
was undoubtedly the opinion of Congress that the relinquishment of
territory thus made by Great Britain, without so much as a saving clause
guaranteeing the Indian right of occupancy, carried with it an absolute
and unqualified fee-simple title unembarrassed by any intermediate
estate or tenancy. In the treaties held with the Indians during this
period--notably those of Fort Stanwix, with the Six Nations, in 1784,
and Fort Finney, with the Shawnees, in 1786--they had been required to
acknowledge the United States as the sole and absolute sovereign of all
the territory ceded by Great Britain.

This claim, though unintelligible to the savages in its legal aspects,
was practically understood by them to be fatal to their independence and
territorial rights. Although in a certain degree the border tribes had
been defeated in their conflicts with the United States, they still
retained sufficient strength and resources to render them formidable
antagonists, especially when the numbers and disposition of their
adjoining and more remote allies were taken into consideration. The
breadth, and boldness of the territorial claims thus asserted by the
United States were not long in producing their natural effect. The
active and sagacious Brant succeeded in reviving his favorite project of
an alliance between the Six Nations and the northwestern tribes. He
experienced but little trouble in convening a formidable assemblage of
Indians at Huron Village, opposite Detroit, where they held council
together from November 28 to December 18, 1786.

These councils resulted in the presentation of an address to Congress,
wherein they expressed an earnest desire for peace, but firmly insisted
that all treaties carried on with the United States should be with the
general voice of the whole confederacy in the most open manner; that the
United States should prevent surveyors and others from crossing the Ohio
River; and they proposed a general treaty early in the spring of 1787.
This address purported to represent the Five Nations, Hurons, Ottawas,
Twichtwees, Shawanese, Chippewas, Cherokees, Delawares, Pottawatomies,
and the Wabash Confederates, and was signed with the totem of each

Such a remonstrance, considering the weakness of the government under
the old Articles of Confederation, and the exhausted condition
immediately following the Revolution, produced a profound sensation in
Congress. That body passed an act providing for the negotiation of a
treaty or treaties, and making an appropriation for the purchase and
extinguishment of the Indian claim to certain lands. These preparations
and appropriations resulted in two treaties made at Fort Harmar, January
9, 1789, one with the Six Nations, and the other with the Wiandot,
Delaware, Ottawa, Chippewa, Pottawatima, and Sac Nations, wherein the
Indian title of occupancy is clearly acknowledged. That the government
so understood and recognized this principle as entering into the text of
those treaties is evidenced by a communication bearing date June 15,
1789, from General Knox, then Secretary of War, to President Washington,
and which was communicated by the latter on the same day to Congress, in
which it is declared that--

  The Indians, being the prior occupants, possess the right of soil.
  It cannot be taken from them, unless by their free consent, or by
  right of conquest in case of a just war. To dispossess them on any
  other principle would be a gross violation of the fundamental laws
  of nature, and of that distributive justice which is the glory of a

The principle thus outlined and approved by the administration of
President Washington, although more than once questioned by interested
parties, has almost, if not quite, invariably been sustained by the
legal tribunals of the country, at least by the courts of final resort;
and the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States bear
consistent testimony to its legal soundness. Several times has this
question in different forms appeared before the latter tribunal for
adjudication, and in each case has the Indian right been recognized and
protected. In 1823, 1831, and 1832, Chief Justice Marshall successively
delivered the opinion of the court in important cases involving the
Indian status and rights. In the second of these cases (The Cherokee
Nation _vs._ The State of Georgia) it was maintained that the Cherokees
were a state and had uniformly been treated as such since the settlement
of the country; that the numerous treaties made with them by the United
States recognized them as a people capable of maintaining the relations
of peace and war; of being responsible in their political character for
any violation of their engagements, or for any aggression committed on
the citizens of the United States by any individual of their community;
that the condition of the Indians in their relations to the United
States is perhaps unlike that of any other two peoples on the globe;
that, in general, nations not owing a common allegiance are foreign to
each other, but that the relation of the Indians to the United States is
marked by peculiar and cardinal distinctions which exist nowhere else;
that the Indians were acknowledged to have an unquestionable right to
the lands they occupied until that right should be extinguished by a
voluntary cession to our government; that it might well be doubted
whether those tribes which reside within the acknowledged boundaries of
the United States could with strict accuracy be denominated foreign
nations, but that they might more correctly perhaps be denominated
domestic dependent nations; that they occupied a territory to which we
asserted a title independent of their will, but which only took effect
in point of possession when their right of possession ceased.

The Government of the United States having thus been committed in all of
its departments to the recognition of the principle of the Indian right
of possession, it becomes not only a subject of interest to the student
of history, but of practical value to the official records of the
government, that a carefully compiled work should exhibit the boundaries
of the several tracts of country which have been acquired from time to
time, within the present limits of the United States, by cession or
relinquishment from the various Indian tribes, either through the medium
of friendly negotiations and just compensation, or as the result of
military conquest. Such a work, if accurate, would form the basis of any
complete history of the Indian tribes in their relations to, and
influence upon the growth and diffusion of our population and
civilization. Such a contribution to the historical collections of the
country should comprise:

1st. A series of maps of the several States and Territories, on a scale
ranging from ten to sixteen miles to an inch, grouped in atlas form,
upon which should be delineated in colors the boundary lines of the
various tracts of country ceded to the United States from time to time
by the different Indian tribes.

2d. An accompanying historical text, not only reciting the substance of
the material provisions of the several treaties, but giving a history of
the causes leading to them, as exhibited in contemporaneous official
correspondence and other trustworthy data.

3d. A chronologic list of treaties with the various Indian tribes,
exhibiting the names of tribes, the date, place where, and person by
whom negotiated.

4th. An alphabetic list of all rivers, lakes, mountains, villages, and
other objects or places mentioned in such treaties, together with their
location and the names by which they are at present known.

5th. An alphabetic list of the principal rivers, lakes, mountains, and
other topographic features in the United States, showing not only their
present names but also the various names by which they have from time to
time been known since the discovery of America, giving in each case the
date and the authority therefor.


The most difficult and laborious feature of the work is that involved
under the first of these five subdivisions. The ordinary reader in
following the treaty provisions, in which the boundaries of the various
cessions are so specifically and minutely laid down, would anticipate
but little difficulty in tracing those boundaries upon the modern map.
In this he would find himself sadly at fault. In nearly all of the
treaties concluded half a century or more ago, wherein cessions of land
were made, occur the names of boundary points which are not to be found
on any modern map, and which have never been known to people of the
present generation living in the vicinity.

In many of the older treaties this is the case with a large proportion
of the boundary points mentioned. The identification and exact location
of these points thus becomes at once a source of much laborious
research. Not unfrequently weeks and even months of time have been
consumed, thousands of old maps and many volumes of books examined, and
a voluminous correspondence conducted with local historical societies or
old settlers, in the effort to ascertain the location of a single
boundary point.

To illustrate this difficulty, the case of “Hawkins’ line” may be cited,
a boundary line mentioned in the cession by the Cherokees by treaty of
October 2, 1798. An examination of more than four thousand old and
modern maps and the scanning of more than fifty volumes failed to show
its location or to give even the slightest clue to it. A somewhat
extended correspondence with numerous persons in Tennessee, including
the veteran annalist, Ramsey, also failed to secure the desired
information. It was not until months of time had been consumed and
probable sources of information had been almost completely exhausted
that, through the persevering inquiries of Hon. John M. Lea, of
Nashville, Tenn., in conjunction with the present writer’s own
investigations, the line was satisfactorily identified as being the
boundary line mentioned in the Cherokee treaty of July 2, 1791, and
described as extending from the North Carolina boundary “north to a
point from which a line is to be extended to the river Clinch that shall
pass the Holston at the ridge which divides the waters running into
Little River from those running into the Tennessee.”

It gained the title of “Hawkins’ line” from the fact that a man named
Hawkins surveyed it.

That this is not an isolated case, and as an illustration of the number
and frequency of changes in local geographical names in this country, it
may be remarked that in twenty treaties concluded by the Federal
Government with the various Indian tribes prior to the year 1800, in an
aggregate of one hundred and twenty objects and places therein recited,
seventy-three of them are wholly ignored in the latest edition of
Colton’s Atlas; and this proportion will hold with but little diminution
in the treaties negotiated during the twenty years immediately
succeeding that date.

Another and most perplexing question has been the adjustment of the
conflicting claims of different tribes of Indians to the same territory.
In the earlier days of the Federal period, when the entire country west
of the Alleghanies was occupied or controlled by numerous contiguous
tribes, whose methods of subsistence involved more or less of nomadic
habit, and who possessed large tracts of country then of no greater
value than merely to supply the immediate physical wants of the hunter
and fisherman, it was not essential to such tribes that a careful line
of demarkation should define the limits of their respective territorial
claims and jurisdiction. When, however, by reason of treaty negotiations
with the United States, with a view to the sale to the latter of a
specific area of territory within clearly-defined boundaries, it became
essential for the tribe with whom the treaty was being negotiated to
make assertion and exhibit satisfactory proof of its possessory title to
the country it proposed to sell, much controversy often arose with other
adjoining tribes, who claimed all or a portion of the proposed cession.
These conflicting claims were sometimes based upon ancient and
immemorial occupancy, sometimes upon early or more recent conquest, and
sometimes upon a sort of wholesale squatter-sovereignty title whereby a
whole tribe, in the course of a sudden and perhaps forced migration,
would settle down upon an unoccupied portion of the territory of some
less numerous tribe, and by sheer intimidation maintain such occupancy.

In its various purchases from the Indians, the Government of the United
States, in seeking to quiet these conflicting territorial claims, have
not unfrequently been compelled to accept from two, and even three,
different tribes separate relinquishments of their respective rights,
titles, and claims to the same section of country. Under such
circumstances it can readily be seen, what difficulties would attend a
clear exhibition upon a single map of these various coincident and
overlapping strips of territory. The State of Illinois affords an
excellent illustration. The conflicting cessions in that State may be
briefly enumerated as follows:

1. The cession at the mouth of Chicago River, by treaty of August 3,
1795, was also included within the limits of a subsequent cession made
by treaty of August 24, 1816, with the Ottawas, Chippewas, and

2. The cession at the mouth of the Illinois River, by treaty of 1795,
was overlapped by the Kaskaskia cession of 1803, again by the Sac and
Fox cession of 1804, and a third time by the Kickapoo cession of 1819.

3. The cession at “Old Peoria Fort, or village,” by treaty of 1795, was
also overlapped in like manner with the last preceding one.

4. The cessions of 1795 at Fort Massac and at Great Salt Spring are
within the subsequent cession by the Kaskaskias of 1803.

5. The cession of August 13, 1803, by the Kaskaskias, as ratified and
enlarged by the Kaskaskias and Peorias September 25, 1818, overlaps the
several sessions by previous treaty of 1795 at the mouth of the Illinois
River, at Great Salt Spring, at Fort Massac, and at Old Peoria Fort, and
is in turn overlapped by subsequent cessions of July 30, and August 30,
1819, by the Kickapoos and by the Pottawatomie cession of October 20,

6. The Sac and Fox cession of November 3, 1804 (partly in Missouri and
Wisconsin) overlaps the cessions of 1795 at the mouth of the Illinois
River and at Old Peoria Fort. It is overlapped by two Chippewa, Ottawa,
and Pottawatomie cessions of July 29, 1829, the Winnebago cessions of
August 1, 1829, and September 1, 1832, and by the Chippewa, Ottawa, and
Pottawatomie cession of September 26, 1833.

7. The Piankeshaw cession of December 30, 1805, is overlapped by the
Kickapoo cession of 1819.

8. The Ottawa, Chippewa, and Pottawatomie cession of August 24, 1816,
overlaps the cession of 1795 around Chicago.

9. The cession of October 2, 1818, by the Pottawatomies (partly in
Indiana), is overlapped by the subsequent cession of 1819, by the

10. The combined cessions of July 30, and August 30, 1819, by the
Kickapoos (partly in Indiana), overlap the cessions of 1795 at the mouth
of the Illinois River and at Old Fort Peoria; also the Kaskaskia and
Peoria cessions of 1803 and 1818, the Piankeshaw cession of 1805, and
the Pottawatomie cession of October 2, 1818, and are overlapped by the
subsequent Pottawatomie cession of October 20, 1832.

11. Two cessions were made by the Chippewas, Ottawas and Pottawatomies
by treaty of July 29, 1829 (partly located in Wisconsin), one of which
is entirely and the other largely within the limits of the country
previously ceded by the Sacs and Foxes, November 3, 1804.

12. The Winnebago cession of August 1, 1829 (which is partly in
Wisconsin), is also wholly within the limits of the aforesaid Sac and
Fox cession of 1804.

13. Cession by the Winnebagoes September 15, 1832, which is mostly in
the State of Wisconsin and which was also within the limits of the Sac
and Fox cession of 1804.

14. Pottawatomie cession of October 20, 1832, which overlaps the
Kaskaskia and Peoria cession of August 13, 1803, as confirmed and
enlarged September 25, 1818, and also the Kickapoo cession by treaties
of July 30 and August 30, 1819.

From this it will be seen that almost the entire country comprising the
present State of Illinois was the subject of controversy in the matter
of original ownership, and that the United States, in order fully to
extinguish the Indian claim thereto, actually bought it twice, and some
portions of it three times. It is proper, however, to add in this
connection that where the government at the date of a purchase from one
tribe was aware of an existing claim to the same region by another
tribe, it had the effect of diminishing the price paid.


Another difficulty that has arisen, and one which, in order to avoid
confusion, will necessitate the duplication in the atlas of the maps of
several States, is the attempt to show not only original, but also
secondary cessions of land. The policy followed by the United States for
many years in negotiating treaties with the tribes east of the
Mississippi River included the purchase of their former possessions and
their removal west of that river to reservations set apart for them
within the limits of country purchased for that purpose from its
original owners, and which were in turn retroceded to the United States
by its secondary owners. This has been largely the case in Missouri,
Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, and Indian Territory. The present State of
Kansas, for instance, was for the most part the inheritance of the
Kansas and Osage tribes. It was purchased from them by the provisions of
the treaties of June 2, 1825, with the Osage, and June 3, 1825, with the
Kansas tribe, they, however, reserving in each case a tract sufficiently
large for their own use and occupancy. These and subsequent cessions of
these two tribes must be shown upon a map of “original cessions.”

After securing these large concessions from the Kansas and Osages, the
government, in pursuance of the policy above alluded to, sought to
secure the removal of the remnant of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois tribes
to this region by granting them, in part consideration for their eastern
possessions, reservations therein of size and location suitable to their
wishes and necessities. In this way homes were provided for the
Wyandots, Delawares, Shawnees, Pottawatomies, Sacs and Foxes of the
Mississippi, Kickapoos, the Confederated Kaskaskias, Peorias,
Piankeshaws, and Weas, the Ottawas of Blanchard’s Fork and Roche de
Boeuf, and the Chippewas and Munsees. A few years of occupation again
found the advancing white settlements encroaching upon their domain,
with the usual accompanying demand for more land. Cessions, first; of a
portion and finally of the remnant, of these reservations followed,
coupled with the removal of the Indians to Indian Territory. These
several reservations and cessions must be indicated upon a map of
“secondary cessions.”

Object illustration is much more striking and effective than mere
verbal description. In order, therefore, to secure to the reader the
clearest possible understanding of the subject, there is herewith
presented as an illustration a map of the State of Indiana, upon which
is delineated the boundaries of the different tracts of land within that
State ceded to the United States from time to time by treaty with the
various Indian tribes.

The cessions are as follows:

No. 1. A tract lying east of a line running from opposite the mouth of
Kentucky River, in a northerly direction, to Fort Recovery, in Ohio, and
which forms a small portion of the western end of the cession made by
the first paragraph of article 3, treaty of August 3, 1795, with the
Wyandots, Delawares, Miamis, and nine other tribes. Its boundaries are
indicated by scarlet lines. The bulk of the cession is in Ohio.

No. 2. Six miles square at confluence of Saint Mary’s and Saint Joseph’s
Rivers, including Fort Wayne; also ceded by treaty of August 3, 1795,
and bounded on the map by scarlet lines.

No. 3. Two miles square on the Wabash, at the end of the Portage of the
Miami of the Lake; also ceded by treaty of August 3, 1795, and bounded
on the map by scarlet lines.

No. 4. Six miles square at Outatenon, or Old Wea Towns, on the Wabash;
also ceded by treaty of August 3, 1795, and bounded on the map by
scarlet lines. This tract was subsequently retroceded to the Indians by
article 8, treaty of September 30, 1809, and finally included within the
Pottawatomie session of October 2, 1818, and the Miami cession of
October 6, 1818.

No. 5. Clarke’s grant on the Ohio River; stipulated in deed from
Virginia to the United States in 1784 to be granted to General George
Rogers Clarke and his soldiers. This tract was specially excepted from
the limits of the Indian country by treaty of August 3, 1795, and is
bounded on the map by scarlet lines.

No. 6. “Post of Vincennes and adjacent country, to which the Indian
title has been extinguished.” This tract was specially excluded from the
limits of the Indian country by treaty of August 3, 1795. Doubt having
arisen as to its proper boundaries, they were specifically defined by
treaty of June 7, 1803. It is known as the “Vincennes tract”; is partly
in Illinois, and is bounded on the map by scarlet lines.

No. 7. Tract ceded by the treaties of August 18, 1804, with the
Delawares, and August 27, 1804, with the Piankeshaws. In the southern
part of the State, and bounded on the map by green lines.

No. 8. Cession by the treaty of August 21, 1805, with the Miamis, Eel
Rivers, and Weas, in the southeastern part of the State, and designated
by blue lines.

No. 9. Cession by treaty of September 30, 1809, with the Miami, Eel
River, Delaware, and Pottawatomie tribes, adjoining “Vincennes tract”
(No. 9) on the north, and designated by yellow lines. This cession was
concurred in by the Weas in the treaty of October 26, 1809.

No. 10. Cession by the same treaty of September 30, 1809; in the
southeastern portion of the State; bounded on the map by yellow lines.

No. 11. Cession also by the treaty of September 30, 1809; marked by
crimson lines, and partly in Illinois. This cession was conditional upon
the consent of the Kickapoos, which was obtained by the treaty with them
of December 9, 1809.

No. 12. Cession by the Kickapoos, December 9, 1809, which was
subsequently reaffirmed by them June 4, 1816. It was also assented to by
the Weas October 2, 1818, and by the Miamis October 6, 1818. It is
partly in Illinois, and is bounded on the map by green lines. The
Kickapoos also assented to the cession No. 11 by the Miamis _et al._, of
September 30, 1809.

No. 13. Cession by the Wyandots, September 29, 1817. This is mostly in
Ohio, and is bounded on the map by yellow lines.

No. 14. Cession by the Pottawatomies, October 2, 1818; partly in
Illinois, and is denoted by brown lines. A subsequent treaty of August
30, 1819, with the Kickapoos, cedes a tract of country (No. 16) which
overlaps this cession, the overlap being indicated by a dotted blue

By the treaty of October 2, 1818, the Weas ceded all the land claimed by
them in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, except a small reserve on the
Wabash River. Their claim was of a general and indefinite character, and
is fully covered by more definite cessions by other tribes.

By the treaty of October 3, 1818, the Delawares ceded all their claim to
land in Indiana. This claim, which they held in joint tenancy with the
Miamis, was located on the waters of White River, and it is included
within the tract marked 15, ceded by the Miamis October 6, 1818.

No. 15. Cession by the Miamis, October 6, 1818; bounded on the map by
purple lines. Its general boundaries cover all of Central Indiana and a
small portion of Western Ohio, but within its limits were included the
Wea Reservation of 1818 (No. 17), and six tracts of different dimensions
were reserved for the future use of the Miamis [Nos. 21, 29 (30 and 50),
(31, 48, 53, and 54), 49, and 51]. The Miamis also assented to the
Kickapoo cession of December 9, 1809 (No. 12). The Kickapoos in turn, by
treaty of July 30, 1819, relinquished all claim to country southeast of
the Wabash, which was an indefinite tract, and is covered by the
foregoing Miami cession of 1818.

No. 16. Cession by the Kickapoos, August 30, 1819. This cession is
bounded on the map by blue lines, and is largely in Illinois. It
overlaps the Pottawatomie cession of October 2, 1818 (No. 14), the
overlap being indicated by a dotted blue line. It is inborn overlapped
by the Pottawatomie cession (No. 23) of October 26, 1832.

No. 17. Cession by the Weas, August 11, 1820, of the tract reserved by
them October 2, 1818. It is on the Wabash River, in the western part of
the State, and is indicated by blue lines. It is within the general
limits of the Miami cession (No. 15) of October 6, 1818.

No. 18. Cession of August 29, 1821, by the Ottowas, Chippewas, and
Pottawatomies, indicated by green lines, and mostly in Michigan.

No. 19. Cession by the Pottawatomies, by first clause of first article
of the treaty of October 16, 1826. It lies north of Wabash River, and is
bounded on the map by blue lines. This and an indefinite extent of
adjoining country was also claimed by the Miamis, who ceded their claim
thereto October 23, 1826, with the exception of sundry small
reservations, four of which [Nos. 26, 27, 32, and 52] were partially or
entirely within the general limits of the Pottawatomie.

No. 20. Cession by the last clause of the first article of the
Pottawatomie treaty of October 16, 1826; in the northwest corner of the
State, and bounded on the map by scarlet lines.

As above stated, the Miamis, by treaty of October 23, 1826, ceded all
their claim to land in Indiana lying north and west of the Wabash and
Miami (Maumee) Rivers, except six small tribal, and a number of
individual reserves and grants. These six tribal, reserves were numbers
23, 27, 32, 52, 25, and 28, the first four of which, as above remarked,
were either partially or entirely within the Pottawatomie cession by the
first clause of the first article of the treaty of October 16, 1826, and
the other two within the Pottawatomie cession of October 27, 1832.

No. 21. Cession by the Eel River Miamis, February 11, 1828, bounded on
the map by green lines. This tract is within the general limits of the
Miami cession (No. 15) of 1818, and was reserved therefrom.

No. 22. Cession by the second clause of the first article of the
Pottawatomie treaty of September 20, 1828, designated by brown lines.

No. 23. Cession by the Pottawatomies, October 26, 1832, is in the
northwest portion of the State, and is indicated by yellow lines. Near
the southwest corner it overlaps the Kickapoo cession (No. 16) of August
30, 1819. Within the general limits of this cession seven tracts were
reserved for different bands of the tribe, which will be found on the
map numbered as follows: 33, 34, 39, 40 (two reserves), 41, and 42.

No. 24. Cession by the Pottawatomies of Indiana and Michigan, October
27, 1832, which in terms is a relinquishment of their claim to any
remaining lands in the States of Indiana and Illinois, and in the
Territory of Michigan south of Grand River. The cession thus made in
Indiana is bounded on the map by scarlet lines. Within the general
limits of this cession, however, they reserved for the use of various
bands of the tribe eleven tracts of different areas, and which are
numbered as follows: 35, 36, 37, 38, 43 (two reserves), 44 (two
reserves), 45, 46, and 47.

Nos. 25 to 32, inclusive. Cession of October 23, 1834, by the Miamis, of
eight small tracts previously reserved to them, all bounded on the map
by green lines. These are located as follows:

  No. 25. Tract of thirty-six sections at Flat Belly’s village,
  reserved by treaty of 1826; in townships 33 and 34 north, ranges 7
  and 8 east.

  No. 26. Tract of five miles in length on the Wabash, extending back
  to Eel River, reserved by treaty of 1826; in townships 27 and 28
  north, ranges 4 and 5 east.

  No. 27. Tract of ten sections at Raccoon’s Village, reserved by the
  treaty of 1826; in townships 29 and 30 north, ranges 10 and 11 east.

  No. 28. Tract of ten sections on Mud Creek, reserved by the treaty
  of 1826; in township 28 north, range 4 east. The treaty of October
  27, 1832, with the Pottawatomies, established a reserve of sixteen
  sections for the bands of Ash-kum and Wee-si-o-nas (No. 46), and one
  of five sections for the band of Wee-sau (No. 47), which overlapped
  and included nearly all the territory comprised in the Mud Creek

  No. 29. Tract of two miles square on Salamanie River, at the mouth
  of At-che-pong-quawe Creek, reserved by the treaty of 1818; in
  township 23 north, ranges 13 and 14 east.

  No. 30. A portion of the tract opposite the mouth of Aboutte River,
  reserved by the treaty of 1818; in townships 29 and 30 north, ranges
  10, 11, and 12 east.

  No. 31. A portion of the tract known as the “Big Reserve,”
  established by the treaty of 1818; in townships 21 to 27, inclusive,
  ranges 1 and 2 east.

  No. 32. Tract of ten sections at the Forks of the Wabash, reserved
  by the treaty of 1826. This cession provides for the relinquishment
  of the Indian title and the issuance of a patent to John B.
  Richardville therefor. In township 28 north, ranges 8 and 9 east.

No. 33. Cession of December 4, 1834, by Com-o-za’s band of
Pottawatomies, of a tract of two sections reserved for them on the
Tippecanoe River by the treaty of October 26, 1832.

No. 34. Cession of December 10, 1834, by Mau-ke-kose’s (Muck-rose) band
of Pottawatomies, of six sections reserved to them by the treaty of
October 26, 1832; in township 32 north, range 2 east, and bounded on the
map by crimson lines.

No. 35. Cession of December 16, 1834, by the Pottawatomies, of two
sections reserved by the treaty of October 27, 1832, to include their
mills on the Tippecanoe River.

No. 36. Cession of December 17, 1834, by Mota’s band of Pottawatomies,
of four sections reserved for them by the treaty of October 27, 1832; in
townships 32 and 33 north, range 5 east, indicated by blue lines.

No. 37. Cession of March 26, 1836, by Mes-quaw-buck’s band of
Pottawatomies, of four sections reserved to them by the treaty of
October 27, 1832; in township 33 north, range 6 east, indicated by
crimson lines.

No. 38. Cession of March 29, 1836, by Che-case’s band of Pottawatomies,
of four sections reserved for them by the treaty of October 27, 1832; in
townships 32 and 33 north, ranges 5 and 6 east, bounded on the map by
yellow lines.

No. 39. Cession of April 11, 1836, by Aub-ba-naub-bee’s band of
Pottawatomies, of thirty-six sections reserved for them, by the treaty
of October 26, 1832. In townships 31 and 32 north, ranges 1 and 2 east,
bounded on the map by blue lines.

No. 40. Cession of April 22, 1836, by the bands of O-kaw-mause,
Kee-waw-nee, Nee-boash, and Ma-che-saw (Mat-chis-jaw), of ten sections
reserved to them by the Pottawatomie treaty of October 26, 1832.

No. 41. Cession of April 22, 1836, by the bands of Nas-waw-kee
(Nees-waugh-gee) and Quash-quaw, of three sections reserved for them by
the treaty of October 26, 1832; in township 32 north, range 1 east,
bounded on the map by scarlet lines.

No. 42. Cession of August 5, 1836, by the bands of Pee-pin-ah-waw,
Mack-kah-tah-mo-may, and No-taw-kah (Pottawatomies), of twenty-two
sections reserved for them and the band of Menom-i-nee (the latter of
which does not seem to be mentioned in the treaty of cession), by treaty
of October 26, 1832; in township 33 north, ranges 1 and 2 east, bounded
on the map by green lines.

No. 43. Cession of September 20, 1836, by the bands of To-i-sas brother
Me-mot-way, and Che-quaw-ka-ko, of ten sections reserved for them by the
Pottawatomie treaty of October 27, 1832, and cession of September 22,
1836, by Ma-sac’s band of Pottawatomies, of four sections reserved for
them by the treaty of October 27, 1832; in township 31 north, range 3
east, bounded on the map by crimson lines.

Nos. 44 to 47, inclusive. Cessions of September 23, 1836, by various
bands of Pottawatomies, of lands reserved for them by the treaty of 1832
(being all of their remaining lands in Indiana), as follows:

  No. 44. Four sections each for the bands of Kin-kash and Men-o-quet;
  in township 33 north, ranges 5 and 6 east, bounded on the map by
  crimson lines.

  No. 45. Ten sections for the band of Che-chaw-kose; in township 32
  north, range 4 east, designated by scarlet lines.

  No. 46. Sixteen sections for the bands of Ash-kum and Wee-si-o-nas;
  in townships 28 and 29 north, range 4 east, bounded on the map by a
  dotted black line, and overlapping No. 28.

  No. 47. Five sections for the band of Wee-sau; in township 28 north,
  range 4 east, adjoining No. 46, bounded on the map by a dotted black
  line, and overlapping Nos. 19 and 28.

A cession for the second time is also made by this treaty of the four
sections reserved for the band of Mota (No. 35), by the treaty of
October 27, 1832.

Nos. 48 to 52, inclusive. Cessions of November 6, 1838, by the Miamis,
as follows:

  No. 48. A portion of the “Big Reserve,” in townships 25, 26, and 27
  north, ranges 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 east, bounded on the map by
  crimson lines, within the limits of which is reserved a tract for
  the band of Me-to-sin-ia, numbered 54.

  No. 49. The reservation by the treaty of 1818, on the Wabash River,
  below the forks thereof; in townships 27 and 28 north, ranges 8 and
  9 east, bounded on the map by scarlet lines.

  No. 50. The remainder of the tract reserved by the treaty of 1818,
  opposite the mouth of Abouette River; in townships 28 and 29 north,
  ranges 10, 11, and 12 east, denoted by crimson lines.

  No. 51. The reserve by the treaty of 1818 at the mouth of Flat Rock
  Creek; in township 27 north, ranges 10 and 11 east, bounded on the
  map by crimson lines.

  No. 52. The reserve at Seek’s Village by the treaty of 1826; in
  townships 31 and 32 north, ranges 9 and 10 east, marked by yellow

No. 53. Cession of November 28, 1840, of the residue of the “Big
Reserve” (except the grant to Me-to-sin-ia’s band No. 54); in townships
21 to 26 north, ranges 2 to 7 east, designated by yellow lines.

No. 54. By the Miami treaty of November 6, 1838, a reserve of ten miles
square was made (out of the general cession) for the band of
Me-to-sin-ia. By the treaty of November 28, 1840, the United States
agreed to convey this tract to Me-shing-go-me-sia, son of Me-to-sin-ia,
in trust for the band.

By act of Congress approved June 10, 1872, this reserve was partitioned
among the members of the band, 63 in number, and patents issued to each
of them for his or her share. It is in townships 25 and 26 north, ranges
6 and 7 east, and is bounded on the map by green lines.

This ended all Indian tribal title to lands within the State of Indiana.

       *       *       *       *       *

The results to accrue from the researches contemplated under the 2d, 3d,
4th, and 5th subdivisions of the work suggested have already been
outlined with sufficient clearness, and need not be farther elaborated

A source of much delay in the collection of facts essential to the
completion of the work is the apparent indifference of librarians and
others in responding to letters of inquiry. Some, however, have entered
most zealously and intelligently into the work of searching musty
records and interviewing the traditional “oldest inhabitant” for light
on these dark spots. Thanks are especially due in this regard to Hon.
John M. Lea, Nashville, Tenn.; William Harden, librarian State
Historical Society, Savannah, Ga.; K. A. Linderfelt, librarian Public
Library, Milwaukee, Wis.; Dr. John A. Rice, Merton, Wis.; Hon. John
Wentworth, Chicago, Ill.; A. Cheesebrough and Hon. J. N. Campbell, of
Detroit, Mich.; D. S. Durrie, librarian State Historical Society,
Madison, Wis.; H. M. Robinson, Milwaukee, Wis.; Andrew Jackson, Sault
Ste. Marie, Mich.; A. W. Rush, Palmyra, Mo.; H. C. Campbell,
Centreville, Mich., and others.

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *


            J. W. Powell, Director.

                 SIGN LANGUAGE



Compared With That Among Other Peoples And Deaf-Mutes.


                GARRICK MALLERY.


  Introductory                                                   269
  Divisions of gesture speech                                    270
  The origin of sign language                                    273
    Gestures of the lower animals                                275
    Gestures of young children                                   276
    Gestures in mental disorder                                  276
    Uninstructed deaf-mutes                                      277
    Gestures of the blind                                        278
    Loss of speech by isolation                                  278
    Low tribes of man                                            279
    Gestures as an occasional resource                           279
    Gestures of fluent talkers                                   279
    Involuntary response to gestures                             280
    Natural pantomime                                            280
  Some theories upon primitive language                          282
    Conclusions                                                  284
  History of gesture language                                    285
  Modern use of gesture speech                                   293
    Use by other peoples than North American Indians             294
    Use by modern actors and orators                             308
  Our Indian conditions favorable to sign language               311
  Theories entertained respecting Indian signs                   313
    Not correlated with meagerness of language                   314
    Its origin from one tribe or region                          316
    Is the Indian system special and peculiar?                   319
    To what extent prevalent as a system                         323
    Are signs conventional or instinctive?                       340
    Classes of diversities in signs                              341
  Results sought in the study of sign language                   346
    Practical application                                        346
    Relations to philology                                       349
    Sign language with reference to grammar                      359
    Gestures aiding archæologic research                         368
  Notable points for further researches                          387
    Invention of new signs                                       387
    Danger of symbolic interpretation                            388
    Signs used by women and children                             391
    Positive signs rendered negative                             391
    Details of positions of fingers                              392
    Motions relative to parts of the body                        393
    Suggestions for collecting signs                             394
  Mode in which researches have been made                        395
  List of authorities and collaborators                          401
    Algonkian                                                    403
    Dakotan                                                      404
    Iroquoian                                                    405
    Kaiowan                                                      406
    Kutinean                                                     406
    Panian                                                       406
    Piman                                                        406
    Sahaptian                                                    406
    Shoshonian                                                   406
    Tinnean                                                      407
    Wichitan                                                     407
    Zuñian                                                       407
    Foreign correspondence                                       407
  Extracts from dictionary                                       409
  Tribal signs                                                   458
  Proper names                                                   476
  Phrases                                                        479
  Dialogues                                                      486
    Tendoy-Huerito Dialogue.                                     486
    Omaha Colloquy.                                              490
    Brulé Dakota Colloquy.                                       491
    Dialogue between Alaskan Indians.                            492
    Ojibwa Dialogue.                                             499
  Narratives                                                     500
    Nátci’s Narrative.                                           500
    Patricio’s Narrative.                                        505
    Na-wa-gi-jig’s Story.                                        508
  Discourses                                                     521
    Address of Kin Chē-Ĕss.                                      521
    Tso-di-a´-ko’s Report.                                       524
    Lean Wolf’s Complaint.                                       526
  Signals                                                        529
    Signals executed by bodily action                            529
    Signals in which objects are used in connection with
      personal action                                            532
    Signals made when the person of the signalist
      is not visible                                             536
  Scheme of illustration                                         544
  Outlines for arm positions in sign language                    545
  Types of hand positions in sign language                       547
  Examples                                                       550


Fig. 61. Affirmation, approving. Old Roman                       286
     62. Approbation. Neapolitan                                 286
     63. Affirmation, approbation. N.A. Indian                   286
     64. Group. Old Greek.  Facing                               289
     65. Negation. Dakota                                        290
     66. Love. Modern Neapolitan                                 290
     67. Group. Old Greek.  Facing                               290
     68. Hesitation. Neapolitan                                  291
     69. Wait. N.A. Indian                                       291
     70. Question, asking. Neapolitan                            291
     71. Tell me. N.A. Indian                                    291
     72. Interrogation. Australian                               291
     73. Pulcinella                                              292
     74. Thief. Neapolitan                                       292
     75. Steal. N.A. Indian                                      293
     76. Public writer. Neapolitan group.  Facing                296
     77. Money. Neapolitan                                       297
     78. “Hot Corn.” Neapolitan Group.  Facing                   297
     79. “Horn” sign. Neapolitan                                 298
     80. Reproach. Old Roman                                     298
     81. Marriage contract. Neapolitan group.  Facing            298
     82. Negation. Pai-Ute sign                                  299
     83. Coming home of bride. Neapolitan group.  Facing         299
     84. Pretty. Neapolitan                                      300
     85. “Mano in fica.” Neapolitan                              300
     86. Snapping the fingers. Neapolitan                        300
     87. Joy, acclamation                                        300
     88. Invitation to drink wine                                300
     89. Woman’s quarrel. Neapolitan Group.  Facing              301
     90. Chestnut vender.  Facing                                301
     91. Warning. Neapolitan                                     302
     92. Justice. Neapolitan                                     302
     93. Little. Neapolitan                                      302
     94. Little. N.A. Indian                                     302
     95. Little. N.A. Indian                                     302
     96. Demonstration. Neapolitan                               302
     97. “Fool.” Neapolitan                                      303
     98. “Fool.” _Ib._                                           303
     99. “Fool.” _Ib._                                           303
    100. Inquiry. Neapolitan                                     303
    101. Crafty, deceitful. Neapolitan                           303
    102. Insult. Neapolitan                                      304
    103. Insult. Neapolitan                                      304
    104. Silence. Neapolitan                                     304
    105. Child. Egyptian hieroglyph                              304
    106. Negation. Neapolitan                                    305
    107. Hunger. Neapolitan                                      305
    108. Mockery. Neapolitan                                     305
    109. Fatigue. Neapolitan                                     305
    110. Deceit. Neapolitan                                      305
    111. Astuteness, readiness. Neapolitan                       305
    112. Tree. Dakota, Hidatsa                                   343
    113. To grow. N.A. Indian                                    343
    114. Rain. Shoshoni, Apache                                  344
    115. Sun. N.A. Indian                                        344
    116. Sun. Cheyenne                                           344
    117. Soldier. Arikara                                        345
    118. No, negation. Egyptian                                  355
    119. Negation. Maya                                          356
    120. Nothing. Chinese                                        356
    121. Child. Egyptian figurative                              356
    122. Child. Egyptian linear                                  356
    123. Child. Egyptian hieratic                                356
    124. Son. Ancient Chinese                                    356
    125. Son. Modern Chinese                                     356
    126. Birth. Chinese character                                356
    127. Birth. Dakota                                           356
    128. Birth, generic. N.A. Indians                            357
    129. Man. Mexican                                            357
    130. Man. Chinese character                                  357
    131. Woman. Chinese character                                357
    132. Woman. Ute                                              357
    133. Female, generic. Cheyenne                               357
    134. To give water. Chinese character                        357
    135. Water, to drink. N.A. Indian                            357
    136. Drink. Mexican                                          357
    137. Water. Mexican                                          357
    138. Water, giving. Egypt                                    358
    139. Water. Egyptian                                         358
    140. Water, abbreviated                                      358
    141. Water. Chinese character                                358
    142. To weep. Ojibwa pictograph                              358
    143. Force, vigor. Egyptian                                  358
    144. Night. Egyptian                                         358
    145. Calling upon. Egyptian figurative                       359
    146. Calling upon. Egyptian linear                           359
    147. To collect, to unite. Egyptian                          359
    148. Locomotion. Egyptian figurative                         359
    149. Locomotion. Egyptian linear                             359
    150. Shuⁿ´-ka Lu´-ta. Dakota                                 365
    151. “I am going to the east.” Abnaki                        369
    152. “Am not gone far.” Abnaki                               369
    153. “Gone far.” Abnaki                                      370
    154. “Gone five days’ journey.” Abnaki                       370
    155. Sun. N.A. Indian                                        370
    156. Sun. Egyptian                                           370
    157. Sun. Egyptian                                           370
    158. Sun with rays. _Ib._                                    371
    159. Sun with rays. _Ib._                                    371
    160. Sun with rays. Moqui pictograph                         371
    161. Sun with rays. _Ib._                                    371
    162. Sun with rays. _Ib._                                    371
    163. Sun with rays. _Ib._                                    371
    164. Star. Moqui pictograph                                  371
    165. Star. Moqui pictograph                                  371
    166. Star. Moqui pictograph                                  371
    167. Star. Moqui pictograph                                  371
    168. Star. Peruvian pictograph                               371
    169. Star. Ojibwa pictograph                                 371
    170. Sunrise. Moqui _do._                                    371
    171. Sunrise. _Ib._                                          371
    172. Sunrise. _Ib._                                          371
    173. Moon, month. Californian pictograph                     371
    174. Pictograph, including sun. Coyotero Apache              372
    175. Moon. N.A. Indian                                       372
    176. Moon. Moqui pictograph                                  372
    177. Moon. Ojibwa pictograph                                 372
    178. Sky. _Ib._                                              372
    179. Sky. Egyptian character                                 372
    180. Clouds. Moqui pictograph                                372
    181. Clouds. _Ib._                                           372
    182. Clouds. _Ib._                                           372
    183. Cloud. Ojibwa pictograph                                372
    184. Rain. New Mexican pictograph                            373
    185. Rain. Moqui pictograph                                  373
    186. Lightning. Moqui pictograph                             373
    187. Lightning. _Ib._                                        373
    188. Lightning, harmless. Pictograph at Jemez, N.M.          373
    189. Lightning, fatal. _Do._                                 373
    190. Voice. “The-Elk-that-hollows-walking”                   373
    191. Voice. Antelope. Cheyenne drawing                       373
    192. Voice, talking. Cheyenne drawing                        374
    193. Killing the buffalo. Cheyenne drawing                   375
    194. Talking. Mexican pictograph                             376
    195. Talking, singing. Maya character                        376
    196. Hearing ears. Ojibwa pictograph                         376
    197. “I hear, but your words are from a bad heart.” Ojibwa   376
    198. Hearing serpent. Ojibwa pictograph                      376
    199. Royal edict. Maya                                       377
    200. To kill. Dakota                                         377
    201. “Killed Arm.” Dakota                                    377
    202. Pictograph, including “kill.” Wyoming Ter.              378
    203. Pictograph, including “kill.” Wyoming Ter.              378
    204. Pictograph, including “kill.” Wyoming Ter.              379
    205. Veneration. Egyptian character                          379
    206. Mercy. Supplication, favor. Egyptian                    379
    207. Supplication. Mexican pictograph                        380
    208. Smoke. _Ib._                                            380
    209. Fire. _Ib._                                             381
    210. “Making medicine.” Conjuration. Dakota                  381
    211. Meda. Ojibwa pictograph                                 381
    212. The God Knuphis. Egyptian                               381
    213. The God Knuphis. _Ib._                                  381
    214. Power. Ojibwa pictograph                                381
    215. Meda’s Power. _Ib._                                     381
    216. Trade pictograph                                        382
    217. Offering. Mexican pictograph                            382
    218. Stampede of horses. Dakota                              382
    219. Chapultepec. Mexican pictograph                         383
    220. Soil. _Ib._                                             383
    221. Cultivated soil. _Ib._                                  383
    222. Road, path. _Ib._                                       383
    223. Cross-roads and gesture sign. Mexican pictograph        383
    224. Small-pox or measles. Dakota                            383
    225. “No thoroughfare.” Pictograph                           383
    226. Raising of war party. Dakota                            384
    227. “Led four war parties.” Dakota drawing                  384
    228. Sociality. Friendship. Ojibwa pictograph                384
    229. Peace. Friendship. Dakota                               384
    230. Peace. Friendship with whites. Dakota                   385
    231. Friendship. Australian                                  385
    232. Friend. Brulé Dakota                                    386
    233. Lie, falsehood. Arikara                                 393
    234. Antelope. Dakota                                        410
    235. Running Antelope. Personal totem                        410
    236. Bad. Dakota                                             411
    237. Bear. Cheyenne                                          412
    238. Bear. Kaiowa, etc.                                      413
    239. Bear. Ute                                               413
    240. Bear. Moqui pictograph                                  413
    241. Brave. N.A. Indian                                      414
    242. Brave. Kaiowa, etc.                                     415
    243. Brave. Kaiowa, etc.                                     415
    244. Chief. Head of tribe. Absaroka                          418
    245. Chief. Head of tribe. Pai-Ute                           418
    246. Chief of a band. Absaroka and Arikara                   419
    247. Chief of a band. Pai-Ute                                419
    248. Warrior. Absaroka, etc.                                 420
    249. Ojibwa gravestone, including “dead”                     422
    250. Dead. Shoshoni and Banak                                422
    251. Dying. Kaiowa, etc.                                     424
    252. Nearly dying. Kaiowa                                    424
    253. Log house. Hidatsa                                      428
    254. Lodge. Dakota                                           430
    255. Lodge. Kaiowa, etc.                                     431
    256. Lodge. Sahaptin                                         431
    257. Lodge. Pai-Ute                                          431
    258. Lodge. Pai-Ute                                          431
    259. Lodge. Kutchin                                          431
    260. Horse. N.A. Indian                                      434
    261. Horse. Dakota                                           434
    262. Horse. Kaiowa, etc.                                     435
    263. Horse. Caddo                                            435
    264. Horse. Pima and Papago                                  435
    265. Horse. Ute                                              435
    266. Horse. Ute                                              435
    267. Saddling a horse. Ute                                   437
    268. Kill. N.A. Indian                                       438
    269. Kill. Mandan and Hidatsa                                439
    270. Negation. No. Dakota                                    441
    271. Negation. No. Pai-Ute                                   442
    272. None. Dakota                                            443
    273. None. Australian                                        444
    274. Much, quantity. Apache                                  447
    275. Question. Australian                                    449
    276. Soldier. Dakota and Arikara                             450
    277. Trade. Dakota                                           452
    278. Trade. Dakota                                           452
    279. Buy. Ute                                                453
    280. Yes, affirmation. Dakota                                456
    281. Absaroka tribal sign. Shoshoni                          458
    282. Apache tribal sign. Kaiowa, etc.                        459
    283. Apache tribal sign. Pima and Papago                     459
    284. Arikara tribal sign. Arapaho and Dakota                 461
    285. Arikara tribal sign. Absaroka                           461
    286. Blackfoot tribal sign. Dakota                           463
    287. Blackfoot tribal sign. Shoshoni                         464
    288. Caddo tribal sign. Arapaho and Kaiowa                   464
    289. Cheyenne tribal sign. Arapaho and Cheyenne              464
    290. Dakota tribal sign. Dakota                              467
    291. Flathead tribal sign. Shoshoni                          468
    292. Kaiowa tribal sign. Comanche                            470
    293. Kutine tribal sign. Shoshoni                            471
    294. Lipan tribal sign. Apache                               471
    295. Pend d’Oreille tribal sign. Shoshoni                    473
    296. Sahaptin or Nez Percé tribal sign. Comanche             473
    297. Shoshoni tribal sign. Shoshoni                          474
    298. Buffalo. Dakota                                         477
    299. Eagle Tail. Arikara                                     477
    300. Eagle Tail. Moqui pictograph                            477
    301. Give me. Absaroka                                       480
    302. Counting. How many? Shoshoni and Banak                  482
    303. I am going home. Dakota                                 485
    304. Question. Apache                                        486
    305. Shoshoni tribal sign. Shoshoni                          486
    306. Chief. Shoshoni                                         487
    307. Cold, winter, year. Apache                              487
    308. “Six.” Shoshoni                                         487
    309. Good, very well. Apache                                 487
    310. Many. Shoshoni                                          488
    311. Hear, heard. Apache                                     488
    312. Night. Shoshoni                                         489
    313. Rain. Shoshoni                                          489
    314. See each other. Shoshoni                                490
    315. White man, American. Dakota                             491
    316. Hear, heard. Dakota                                     492
    317. Brother. Pai-Ute                                        502
    318. No, negation. Pai-Ute                                   503
    319. Scene of Na-wa-gi-jig’s story.  Facing                  508
    320. We are friends. Wichita                                 521
    321. Talk, talking. Wichita                                  521
    322. I stay, or I stay right here. Wichita                   521
    323. A long time. Wichita                                    522
    324. Done, finished. _Do._                                   522
    325. Sit down. Australian                                    523
    326. Cut down. Wichita                                       524
    327. Wagon. Wichita                                          525
    328. Load upon. Wichita                                      525
    329. White man; American. Hidatsa                            526
    330. With us. Hidatsa                                        526
    331. Friend. Hidatsa                                         527
    332. Four. Hidatsa                                           527
    333. Lie, falsehood. Hidatsa                                 528
    334. Done, finished. Hidatsa                                 528
    335. Peace, friendship. Hualpais.  Facing                    530
    336. Question, ans’d by tribal sign for Pani.  Facing        531
    337. Buffalo discovered. Dakota.  Facing                     532
    338. Discovery. Dakota.  Facing                              533
    339. Success of war party. Pima.  Facing                     538
    340. Outline for arm positions, full face                    545
    341. Outline for arm positions, profile                      545
    342a. Types of hand positions, A to L                        547
    342b. Types of hand positions, M to Y                        548
    343. Example. To cut with an ax                              550
    344. Example. A lie                                          550
    345. Example. To ride                                        551
    346. Example. I am going home                                551

       *       *       *       *       *

                 SIGN LANGUAGE



Compared With That Among Other Peoples And Deaf-Mutes.

              By Garrick Mallery.

       *       *       *       *       *


During the past two years the present writer has devoted the intervals
between official duties to collecting and collating materials for the
study of sign language. As the few publications on the general subject,
possessing more than historic interest, are meager in details and vague
in expression, original investigation has been necessary. The high
development of communication by gesture among the tribes of North
America, and its continued extensive use by many of them, naturally
directed the first researches to that continent, with the result that a
large body of facts procured from collaborators and by personal
examination has now been gathered and classified. A correspondence has
also been established with many persons in other parts of the world
whose character and situation rendered it probable that they would
contribute valuable information. The success of that correspondence has
been as great as could have been expected, considering that most of the
persons addressed were at distant points sometimes not easily accessible
by mail. As the collection of facts is still successfully proceeding,
not only with reference to foreign peoples and to deaf-mutes everywhere,
but also among some American tribes not yet thoroughly examined in this
respect, no exposition of the subject pretending to be complete can yet
be made. In complying, therefore, with the request to prepare the
present paper, it is necessary to explain to correspondents and
collaborators whom it may reach, that this is not the comprehensive
publication by the Bureau of Ethnology for which their assistance has
been solicited. With this explanation some of those who have already
forwarded contributions will not be surprised at their omission, and
others will not desist from the work in which they are still kindly
engaged, under the impression that its results will not be received in
time to meet with welcome and credit. On the contrary, the urgent appeal
for aid before addressed to officers of the Army and Navy of this and
other nations, to missionaries, travelers, teachers of deaf-mutes, and
philologists generally, is now with equal urgency repeated. It is,
indeed, hoped that the continued presentation of the subject to persons
either having opportunity for observation or the power to favor with
suggestions may, by awakening some additional interest in it, secure new
collaboration from localities still unrepresented.

It will be readily understood by other readers that, as the limits
assigned to this paper permit the insertion of but a small part of the
material already collected and of the notes of study made upon that
accumulation, it can only show the general scope of the work undertaken,
and not its accomplishment. Such extracts from the collection have been
selected as were regarded as most illustrative, and they are preceded by
a discussion perhaps sufficient to be suggestive, though by no means
exhaustive, and designed to be for popular, rather than for scientific
use. In short, the direction to submit a progress-report and not a
monograph has been complied with.


These are corporeal motion and facial expression. An attempt has been
made by some writers to discuss these general divisions separately, and
its success would be practically convenient if it were always understood
that their connection is so intimate that they can never be altogether
severed. A play of feature, whether instinctive or voluntary,
accentuates and qualifies all motions intended to serve as signs, and
strong instinctive facial expression is generally accompanied by action
of the body or some of its members. But, so far as a distinction can be
made, expressions of the features are the result of emotional, and
corporeal gestures, of intellectual action. The former in general and
the small number of the latter that are distinctively emotional are
nearly identical among men from physiological causes which do not affect
with the same similarity the processes of thought. The large number of
corporeal gestures expressing intellectual operations require and admit
of more variety and conventionality. Thus the features and the body
among all mankind act almost uniformly in exhibiting fear, grief,
surprise, and shame, but all objective conceptions are varied and
variously portrayed. Even such simple indications as those for “no” and
“yes” appear in several differing motions. While, therefore, the terms
sign language and gesture speech necessarily include and suppose facial
expression when emotions are in question, they refer more particularly
to corporeal motions and attitudes. For this reason much of the valuable
contribution of DARWIN in his _Expression of the Emotions in Man and
Animals_ is not directly applicable to sign language. His analysis of
emotional gestures into those explained on the principles of serviceable
associated habits, of antithesis, and of the constitution of the nervous
system, should, nevertheless, always be remembered. Even if it does not
strictly embrace the class of gestures which form the subject of this
paper, and which often have an immediate pantomimic origin, the earliest
gestures were doubtless instinctive and generally emotional, preceding
pictorial, metaphoric, and, still subsequent, conventional gestures
even, as, according to DARWIN’S cogent reasoning, they preceded
articulate speech.

While the distinction above made between the realm of facial play and
that of motions of the body, especially those of the arms and hands, is
sufficiently correct for use in discussion, it must be admitted that the
features do express intellect as well as emotion. The well-known saying
of Charles Lamb that “jokes came in with the candles” is in point, but
the most remarkable example of conveying detailed information without
the use of sounds, hands, or arms, is given by the late President T. H.
Gallaudet, the distinguished instructor of deaf-mutes, which, to be
intelligible, requires to be quoted at length:

“One day, our distinguished and lamented historical painter, Col. John
Trumbull, was in my school-room during the hours of instruction, and, on
my alluding to the tact which the pupil referred to had of reading my
face, he expressed a wish to see it tried. I requested him to select any
event in Greek, Roman, English, or American history of a scenic
character, which would make a striking picture on canvas, and said I
would endeavor to communicate it to the lad. ‘Tell him,’ said he, ‘that
Brutus (Lucius Junius) condemned his two sons to death for resisting his
authority and violating his orders.’

“I folded my arms in front of me, and kept them in that position, to
preclude the possibility of making any signs or gestures, or of spelling
any words on my fingers, and proceeded, as best I could, by the
expression of my countenance, and a few motions of my head and attitudes
of the body, to convey the picture in my own mind to the mind of my

“It ought to be stated that he was already acquainted with the fact,
being familiar with the leading events in Roman history. But when I
began, he knew not from what portion of history, sacred or profane,
ancient or modern, the fact was selected. From this wide range, my
delineation on the one hand and his ingenuity on the other had to bring
it within the division of Roman history, and, still more minutely, to
the particular individual and transaction designated by Colonel
Trumbull. In carrying on the process, I made no use whatever of any
arbitrary, conventional look, motion, or attitude, before settled
between us, by which to let him understand what I wished to communicate,
with the exception of a single one, if, indeed, it ought to be
considered such.

“The usual sign, at that time, among the teachers and pupils, for a
Roman, was portraying an aquiline nose by placing the fore-finger,
crooked, in front of the nose. As I was prevented from using my finger
in this way, and having considerable command over the muscles of my
face, I endeavored to give my nose as much of the aquiline form as
possible, and succeeded well enough for my purpose. * * *

“The outlines of the process were the following:

“A stretching and stretching gaze eastward, with an undulating motion of
the head, as if looking across and beyond the Atlantic Ocean, to denote
that the event happened, not on the western, but eastern continent. This
was making a little progress, as it took the subject out of the range of
American history.

“A turning of the eyes upward and backward, with frequently-repeated
motions of the head backward, as if looking a great way back in past
time, to denote that the event was one of ancient date.

“The aquiline shape of the nose, already referred to, indicating that a
Roman was the person concerned. It was, of course, an old Roman.

“Portraying, as well as I could, by my countenance, attitude, and manner
an individual high in authority, and commanding others, as if he
expected to be obeyed.

“Looking and acting as if I were giving out a specific order to many
persons, and threatening punishment on those who should resist my
authority, even the punishment of death.

“Here was a pause in the progress of events, which I denoted by sleeping
as it were during the night and awakening in the morning, and doing this
several times, to signify that several days had elapsed.

“Looking with deep interest and surprise, as if at a single person
brought and standing before me, with an expression of countenance
indicating that he had violated the order which I had given, and that I
knew it. Then looking in the same way at another person near him as also
guilty. Two offending persons were thus denoted.

“Exhibiting serious deliberation, then hesitation, accompanied with
strong conflicting emotions, producing perturbation, as if I knew not
how to feel or what to do.

“Looking first at one of the persons before me, and then at the other,
and then at both together, _as a father would look_, indicating his
distressful parental feelings under such afflicting circumstances.

“Composing my feelings, showing that a change was coming over me, and
exhibiting towards the imaginary persons before me the decided look of
the inflexible commander, who was determined and ready to order them
away to execution. Looking and acting as if the tender and forgiving
feelings of _the father_ had again got the ascendency, and as if I was
about to relent and pardon them.

“These alternating states of mind I portrayed several times, to make my
representations the more graphic and impressive.

“At length the father yields, and the stern principle of justice, as
expressed in my countenance and manners, prevails. My look and action
denote the passing of the sentence of death on the offenders, and the
ordering them away to execution.

       *       *       *       *       *       *       *

“He quickly turned round to his slate and wrote a correct and complete
account of this story of Brutus and his two sons.”

While it appears that the expressions of the features are not confined
to the emotions or to distinguishing synonyms, it must be remembered
that the meaning of the same motion of hands, arms, and fingers is often
modified, individualized, or accentuated by associated facial changes
and postures of the body not essential to the sign, which emotional
changes and postures are at once the most difficult to describe and the
most interesting when intelligently reported, not only because they
infuse life into the skeleton sign, but because they may belong to the
class of innate expressions.


In observing the maxim that nothing can be thoroughly understood unless
its beginning is known, it becomes necessary to examine into the origin
of sign language through its connection with that of oral speech. In
this examination it is essential to be free from the vague popular
impression that some oral language, of the general character of that now
used among mankind, is “natural” to mankind. It will be admitted on
reflection that all oral languages were at some past time far less
serviceable to those using them than they are now, and as each
particular language has been thoroughly studied it has become evident
that it grew out of some other and less advanced form. In the
investigation of these old forms it has been so difficult to ascertain
how any of them first became a useful instrument of inter-communication
that many conflicting theories on this subject have been advocated.

Oral language consists of variations and mutations of vocal sounds
produced as signs of thought and emotion. But it is not enough that
those signs should be available as the vehicle of the producer’s own
thoughts. They must be also efficient for the communication of such
thoughts to others. It has been, until of late years, generally held
that thought was not possible without oral language, and that, as man
was supposed to have possessed from the first the power of thought, he
also from the first possessed and used oral language substantially as at
present. That the latter, as a special faculty, formed the main
distinction between man and the brutes has been and still is the
prevailing doctrine. In a lecture delivered before the British
Association in 1878 it was declared that “animal intelligence is unable
to elaborate that class of abstract ideas, the formation of which
depends upon the faculty of speech.” If instead of “speech” the word
“utterance” had been used, as including all possible modes of
intelligent communication, the statement might pass without criticism.
But it may be doubted if there is any more necessary connection between
abstract ideas and sounds, the mere signs of thought, that strike the
ear, than there is between the same ideas and signs addressed only to
the eye.

The point most debated for centuries has been, not whether there was any
primitive oral language, but what that language was. Some literalists
have indeed argued from the Mosaic narrative that because the Creator,
by one supernatural act, with the express purpose to form separate
peoples, had divided all tongues into their present varieties, and
could, by another similar exercise of power, obliterate all but one
which should be universal, the fact that he had not exercised that power
showed it not to be his will that any man to whom a particular speech
had been given should hold intercourse with another miraculously set
apart from him by a different speech. By this reasoning, if the study of
a foreign tongue was not impious, it was at least clear that the
primitive language had been taken away as a disciplinary punishment, as
the Paradisiac Eden had been earlier lost, and that, therefore, the
search for it was as fruitless as to attempt the passage of the flaming
sword. More liberal Christians have been disposed to regard the Babel
story as allegorical, if not mythical, and have considered it to
represent the disintegration of tongues out of one which was primitive.
In accordance with the advance of linguistic science they have
successively shifted back the postulated primitive tongue from Hebrew to
Sanscrit, then to Aryan, and now seek to evoke from the vasty deeps of
antiquity the ghosts of other rival claimants for precedence in
dissolution. As, however, the languages of man are now recognized as
extremely numerous, and as the very sounds of which these several
languages are composed are so different that the speakers of some are
unable to distinguish with the ear certain sounds in others, still less
able to reproduce them, the search for one common parent language is
more difficult than was supposed by mediæval ignorance.

The discussion is now, however, varied by the suggested possibility that
man at some time may have existed without any oral language. It is
conceded by some writers that mental images or representations can be
formed without any connection with sound, and may at least serve for
thought, though not for expression. It is certain that concepts, however
formed, can be expressed by other means than sound. One mode of this
expression is by gesture, and there is less reason to believe that
gestures commenced as the interpretation of, or substitute for words
than that the latter originated in, and served to translate gestures.
Many arguments have been advanced to prove that gesture language
preceded articulate speech and formed the earliest attempt at
communication, resulting from the interacting subjective and objective
conditions to which primitive man was exposed. Some of the facts on
which deductions have been based, made in accordance with
well-established modes of scientific research from study of the lower
animals, children, idiots, the lower types of mankind, and deaf-mutes,
will be briefly mentioned.


Emotional expression in the features of man is to be considered in
reference to the fact that the special senses either have their seat in,
or are in close relation to the face, and that so large a number of
nerves pass to it from the brain. The same is true of the lower animals,
so that it would be inferred, as is the case, that the faces of those
animals are also expressive of emotion. There is also noticed among them
an exhibition of emotion by corporeal action. This is the class of
gestures common to them with the earliest made by man, as above
mentioned, and it is reasonable to suppose that those were made by man
at the time when, if ever, he was, like the animals, destitute of
articulate speech. The articulate cries uttered by some animals,
especially some birds, are interesting as connected with the principle
of imitation to which languages in part owe their origin, but in the
cases of forced imitation, the mere acquisition of a vocal trick, they
only serve to illustrate that power of imitation, and are without
significance. Sterne’s starling, after his cage had been opened, would
have continued to complain that he could not get out. If the bird had
uttered an instinctive cry of distress when in confinement and a note of
joy on release, there would have been a nearer approach to language than
if it had clearly pronounced many sentences. Such notes and cries of
animals, many of which are connected with reproduction and nutrition,
are well worth more consideration than can now be given, but regarding
them generally it is to be questioned if they are so expressive as the
gestures of the same animals. It is contended that the bark of a dog is
distinguishable into fear, defiance, invitation, and a note of warning,
but it also appears that those notes have been known only since the
animal has been domesticated. The gestures of the dog are far more
readily distinguished than his bark, as in his preparing for attack, or
caressing his master, resenting an injury, begging for food, or simply
soliciting attention. The chief modern use of his tail appears to be to
express his ideas and sensations. But some recent experiments of Prof.
A. GRAHAM BELL, no less eminent from his work in artificial speech than
in telephones, shows that animals are more physically capable of
pronouncing articulate sounds than has been supposed. He informed the
writer that he recently succeeded by manipulation in causing an English
terrier to form a number of the sounds of our letters, and particularly
brought out from it the words “How are you, Grandmamma?” with
distinctness. This tends to prove that only absence of brain power has
kept animals from acquiring true speech. The remarkable vocal instrument
of the parrot could be used in significance as well as in imitation, if
its brain had been developed beyond the point of expression by gesture,
in which latter the bird is expert.

The gestures of monkeys, whose hands and arms can be used, are nearly
akin to ours. Insects communicate with each other almost entirely by
means of the antennæ. Animals in general which, though not deaf, can not
be taught by sound, frequently have been by signs, and probably all of
them understand man’s gestures better than his speech. They exhibit
signs to one another with obvious intention, and they also have often
invented them as a means of obtaining their wants from man.


The wishes and emotions of very young children are conveyed in a small
number of sounds, but in a great variety of gestures and facial
expressions. A child’s gestures are intelligent long in advance of
speech; although very early and persistent attempts are made to give it
instruction in the latter but none in the former, from the time when it
begins _risu cognoscere matrem_. It learns words only as they are
taught, and learns them through the medium of signs which are not
expressly taught. Long after familiarity with speech, it consults the
gestures and facial expressions of its parents and nurses as if seeking
thus to translate or explain their words. These facts are important in
reference to the biologic law that the order of development of the
individual is the same as that of the species.

Among the instances of gestures common to children throughout the world
is that of protruding the lips, or pouting, when somewhat angry or
sulky. The same gesture is now made by the anthropoid apes and is found
strongly marked in the savage tribes of man. It is noticed by
evolutionists that animals retain during early youth, and subsequently
lose, characters once possessed by their progenitors when adult, and
still retained by distinct species nearly related to them.

The fact is not, however, to be ignored that children invent words as
well as signs with as natural an origin for the one as for the other. An
interesting case was furnished to the writer by Prof. BELL of an infant
boy who used a combination of sounds given as “nyum-nyum,” an evident
onomatope of gustation, to mean “good,” and not only in reference to
articles of food relished but as applied to persons of whom the child
was fond, rather in the abstract idea of “niceness” in general. It is a
singular coincidence that a bright young girl, a friend of the writer,
in a letter describing a juvenile feast, invented the same expression,
with nearly the same spelling, as characteristic of her sensations
regarding the delicacies provided. The Papuans met by Dr. Comrie also
called “eating” _nam-nam_. But the evidence of all such cases of the
voluntary use of articulate speech by young children is qualified by the
fact that it has been inherited from very many generations, if not quite
so long as the faculty of gesture.


The insane understand and obey gestures when they have no knowledge
whatever of words. It is also found that semi-idiotic children who
cannot be taught more than the merest rudiments of speech, can receive a
considerable amount of information through signs, and can express
themselves by them. Sufferers from aphasia continue to use appropriate
gestures after their words have become uncontrollable. It is further
noticeable in them that mere ejaculations, or sounds which are only the
result of a state of feeling, instead of a desire to express thought,
are generally articulated with accuracy. Patients who have been in the
habit of swearing preserve their fluency in that division of their


The signs made by congenital and uninstructed deaf-mutes to be now
considered are either strictly natural signs, invented by themselves, or
those of a colloquial character used by such mutes where associated. The
accidental or merely suggestive signs peculiar to families, one member
of which happens to be a mute, are too much affected by the other
members of the family to be of certain value. Those, again, which are
taught in institutions have become conventional and designedly adapted
to translation into oral speech, although founded by the abbé de l’Épée,
followed by the abbé Sicard, in the natural signs first above mentioned.

A great change has doubtless occurred in the estimation of congenital
deaf-mutes since the Justinian Code, which consigned them forever to
legal infancy, as incapable of intelligence, and classed them with the
insane. Yet most modern writers, for instance Archbishop Whately and Max
Müller, have declared that deaf-mutes could not think until after having
been instructed. It cannot be denied that the deaf-mute thinks after his
instruction either in the ordinary gesture signs or in the finger
alphabet, or more lately in artificial speech. By this instruction he
has become master of a highly-developed language, such as English or
French, which he can read, write, and actually talk, but that foreign
language he has obtained through the medium of signs. This is a
conclusive proof that signs constitute a real language and one which
admits of thought, for no one can learn a foreign language unless he had
some language of his own, whether by descent or acquisition, by which it
could be translated, and such translation into the new language could
not even be commenced unless the mind had been already in action and
intelligently using the original language for that purpose. In fact the
use by deaf-mutes of signs originating in themselves exhibits a creative
action of mind and innate faculty of expression beyond that of ordinary
speakers who acquired language without conscious effort. The thanks of
students, both of philology and psychology, are due to Prof. SAMUEL
PORTER, of the National Deaf Mute College, for his response to the
question, “Is thought possible without language?” published in the
_Princeton Review_ for January, 1880.

With regard to the sounds uttered by deaf-mutes, the same explanation of
heredity may be made as above, regarding the words invented by young
children. Congenital deaf-mutes at first make the same sounds as hearing
children of the same age, and, often being susceptible to vibrations of
the air, are not suspected of being deaf. When that affliction is
ascertained to exist, all oral utterances from the deaf-mute are
habitually repressed by the parents.


The facial expressions and gestures of the congenitally blind are worthy
of attention. The most interesting and conclusive examples come from the
case of Laura Bridgman, who, being also deaf, could not possibly have
derived them by imitation. When a letter from a beloved friend was
communicated to her by gesture-language, she laughed and clapped her
hands. A roguish expression was given to her face, concomitant with the
emotion, by her holding the lower lip by the teeth. She blushed,
shrugged her shoulders, turned in her elbows, and raised her eye-brows
under the same circumstances as other people. In amazement, she rounded
and protruded the lips, opened them, and breathed strongly. It is
remarkable that she constantly accompanied her “yes” with the common
affirmative nod, and her “no” with our negative shake of the head, as
these gestures are by no means universal and do not seem clearly
connected with emotion. This, possibly, may be explained by the fact
that her ancestors for many generations had used these gestures.
A similar curious instance is mentioned by Cardinal Wiseman (_Essays_,
III, 547, _London_, 1853) of an Italian blind man, the appearance of
whose eyes indicated that he had never enjoyed sight, and who yet made
the same elaborate gestures made by the people with whom he lived, but
which had been used by them immemorially, as correctly as if he had
learned them by observation.


When human beings have been long in solitary confinement, been
abandoned, or otherwise have become isolated from their fellows, they
have lost speech either partially or entirely, and required to have it
renewed through gestures. There are also several recorded cases of
children, born with all their faculties, who, after having been lost or
abandoned, have been afterwards found to have grown up possessed of
acute hearing, but without anything like human speech. One of these was
Peter, “the Wild Boy,” who was found in the woods of Hanover in 1726,
and taken to England, where vain attempts were made to teach him
language, though he lived to the age of seventy. Another was a boy of
twelve, found in the forest of Aveyron, in France, about the beginning
of this century, who was destitute of speech, and all efforts to teach
him failed. Some of these cases are to be considered in connection with
the general law of evolution, that in degeneration the last and highest
acquirements are lost first. When in these the effort at acquiring or
re-acquiring speech has been successful, it has been through gestures,
in the same manner as missionaries, explorers, and shipwrecked mariners
have become acquainted with tongues before unknown to themselves and
sometimes to civilization. All persons in such circumstances are obliged
to proceed by pointing to objects and making gesticulations, at the same
time observing what articulate sounds were associated with those motions
by the persons addressed, and thus vocabularies and lists of phrases
were formed.


Apart from the establishment of a systematic language of signs under
special circumstances which have occasioned its development, the
gestures of the lower tribes of men may be generally classed under the
emotional or instinctive division, which can be correlated with those of
the lower animals. This may be illustrated by the modes adopted to show
friendship in salutation, taking the place of our shaking hands. Some
Pacific Islanders used to show their joy at meeting friends by sniffing
at them, after the style of well-disposed dogs. The Fuegians pat and
slap each other, and some Polynesians stroke their own faces with the
hand or foot of the friend. The practice of rubbing or pressing noses is
very common. It has been noticed in the Lapland Alps, often in Africa,
and in Australia the tips of the noses are pressed a long time,
accompanied with grunts of satisfaction. Patting and stroking different
parts of the body are still more frequent, and prevailed among the North
American Indians, though with the latter the most common expression was
hugging. In general, the civilities exchanged are similar to those of
many animals.


Persons of limited vocabulary, whether foreigners to the tongue employed
or native, but not accomplished in its use, even in the midst of a
civilization where gestures are deprecated, when at fault for words
resort instinctively to physical motions that are not wild nor
meaningless, but picturesque and significant, though perhaps made by the
gesturer for the first time. An uneducated laborer, if good-natured
enough to be really desirous of responding to a request for information,
when he has exhausted his scanty stock of words will eke them out by
original gestures. While fully admitting the advice to Coriolanus--

  Action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant
  More learned than the ears--

it may be paraphrased to read that the hands of the ignorant are more
learned than their tongues. A stammerer, too, works his arms and
features as if determined to get his thoughts out, in a manner not only
suggestive of the physical struggle, but of the use of gestures as a
hereditary expedient.


The same is true of the most fluent talkers on occasions when the exact
vocal formula desired does not at once suggest itself, or is
unsatisfactory without assistance from the physical machinery not
embraced in the oral apparatus. The command of a copious vocabulary
common to both speaker and hearer undoubtedly tends to a phlegmatic
delivery and disdain of subsidiary aid. An excited speaker will,
however, generally make a free use of his hands without regard to any
effect of that use upon auditors. Even among the gesture-hating English,
when they are aroused from torpidity of manner, the hands are
involuntarily clapped in approbation, rubbed with delight, wrung in
distress, raised in astonishment, and waved in triumph. The fingers are
snapped for contempt, the forefinger is vibrated to reprove or threaten,
and the fist shaken in defiance. The brow is contracted with
displeasure, and the eyes winked to show connivance. The shoulders are
shrugged to express disbelief or repugnance, the eyebrows elevated with
surprise, the lips bitten in vexation and thrust out in sullenness or
displeasure, while a higher degree of anger is shown by a stamp of the
foot. Quintilian, regarding the subject, however, not as involuntary
exhibition of feeling and intellect, but for illustration and
enforcement, becomes eloquent on the variety of motions of which the
hands alone are capable, as follows:

“The action of the other parts of the body assists the speaker, but the
hands (I could almost say) speak themselves. By them do we not demand,
promise, call, dismiss, threaten, supplicate, express abhorrence and
terror, question and deny? Do we not by them express joy and sorrow,
doubt, confession, repentance, measure, quantity, number, and time? Do
they not also encourage, supplicate, restrain, convict, admire, respect?
and in pointing out places and persons do they not discharge the office
of adverbs and of pronouns?”

Voss adopts almost the words of Quintilian, “_Manus non modo loquentem
adjuvant, sed ipsæ pene loqui videntur_,” while Cresollius calls the
hand “the minister of reason and wisdom * * * without it there is no


Further evidence of the unconscious survival of gesture language is
afforded by the ready and involuntary response made in signs to signs
when a man with the speech and habits of civilization is brought into
close contact with Indians or deaf-mutes. Without having ever before
seen or made one of their signs, he will soon not only catch the meaning
of theirs, but produce his own, which they will likewise comprehend, the
power seemingly remaining latent in him until called forth by necessity.


In the earliest part of man’s history the subjects of his discourse must
have been almost wholly sensuous, and therefore readily expressed in
pantomime. Not only was pantomime sufficient for all the actual needs of
his existence, but it is not easy to imagine how he could have used
language such as is now known to us. If the best English dictionary and
grammar had been miraculously furnished to him, together with the art of
reading with proper pronunciation, the gift would have been valueless,
because the ideas expressed by the words had not yet been formed.

That the early concepts were of a direct and material character is shown
by what has been ascertained of the roots of language, and there does
not appear to be much difficulty in expressing by other than vocal
instrumentality all that could have been expressed by those roots. Even
now, with our vastly increased belongings of external life, avocations,
and habits, nearly all that is absolutely necessary for our physical
needs can be expressed in pantomime. Far beyond the mere signs for
eating, drinking, sleeping, and the like, any one will understand a
skillful representation in signs of a tailor, shoemaker, blacksmith,
weaver, sailor, farmer, or doctor. So of washing, dressing, shaving,
walking, driving, writing, reading, churning, milking, boiling, roasting
or frying, making bread or preparing coffee, shooting, fishing, rowing,
sailing, sawing, planing, boring, and, in short, an endless list.

Max Müller properly calls touch, scent, and taste the palaioteric, and
sight and hearing the neoteric senses, the latter of which often require
to be verified by the former. Touch is the lowest in specialization and
development, and is considered to be the oldest of the senses, the
others indeed being held by some writers to be only its modifications.
Scent, of essential importance to many animals, has with man almost
ceased to be of any, except in connection with taste, which he has
developed to a high degree. Whether or not sight preceded hearing in
order of development, it is difficult, in conjecturing the first
attempts of man or his hypothetical ancestor at the expression either of
percepts or concepts, to connect vocal sounds with any large number of
objects, but it is readily conceivable that the characteristics of their
forms and movements should have been suggested to the eye--fully
exercised before the tongue--so soon as the arms and fingers became free
for the requisite simulation or portrayal. There is little distinction
between pantomime and a developed sign language, in which thought is
transmitted rapidly and certainly from hand to eye as it is in oral
speech from lips to ear; the former is, however, the parent of the
latter, which is more abbreviated and less obvious. Pantomime acts
movements, reproduces forms and positions, presents pictures, and
manifests emotions with greater realization than any other mode of
utterance. It may readily be supposed that a troglodyte man would desire
to communicate the finding of a cave in the vicinity of a pure pool,
circled with soft grass, and shaded by trees bearing edible fruit. No
sound of nature is connected with any of those objects, but the position
and size of the cave, its distance and direction, the water, its
quality, and amount, the verdant circling carpet, and the kind and
height of the trees could have been made known by pantomime in the days
of the mammoth, if articulate speech had not then been established, as
Indians or deaf-mutes now communicate similar information by the same

The proof of this fact, as regards deaf-mutes, will hardly be demanded,
as their expressive pantomime has been so often witnessed. That of the
North American Indians, as distinct from the signs which are generally
its abbreviations, has been frequently described in general terms, but
it may be interesting to present two instances from remote localities.

A Maricopa Indian, in the present limits of Arizona, was offered an
advantageous trade for his horse, whereupon he stretched himself on his
horse’s neck, caressed it tenderly, at the same time shutting his eyes,
meaning thereby that no offer could tempt him to part with his charger.

An A-tco-mâ-wi or Pit River Indian, in Northeastern California, to
explain the cause of his cheeks and forehead being covered with tar,
represented a man falling, and, despite his efforts to save him,
trembling, growing pale (pointing from his face to that of a white man),
and sinking to sleep, his spirit winging its way to the skies, which he
indicated by imitating with his hands the flight of a bird upwards, his
body sleeping still upon the river bank, to which he pointed. The tar
upon his face was thus shown to be his dress of mourning for a friend
who had fallen and died.

Several descriptions of pure pantomime, intermixed with the more
conventionalized signs, will be found in the present paper. In especial,
reference is made to the Address of Kin Chē-ĕss, Nátci’s Narrative, the
Dialogue between Alaskan Indians, and Na-wa-gi-jig’s Story.


Cresollius, writing in 1620, was strongly in favor of giving precedence
to gesture. He says, “Man, full of wisdom and divinity, could have
appeared nothing superior to a naked trunk or block had he not been
adorned with the hand as the interpreter and messenger of his thoughts.”
He quotes with approval the brother of St. Basil in declaring that had
men been formed without hands they would never have been endowed with an
articulate voice, and concludes: “Since, then, nature has furnished us
with two instruments for the purpose of bringing into light and
expressing the silent affections of the mind, language and the hand, it
has been the opinion of learned and intelligent men that the former
would be maimed and nearly useless without the latter; whereas the hand,
without the aid of language, has produced many and wonderful effects.”

Rabelais, who incorporated into his satirical work much true learning
and philosophy, makes his hero announce the following opinion:

“Nothing less, quoth Pantagruel [Book iii, ch. xix], do I believe than
that it is a mere abusing of our understandings to give credit to the
words of those who say that there is any such thing as a natural
language. All speeches have had their primary origin from the arbitrary
institutions, accords, and agreements of nations in their respective
condescendments to what should be noted and betokened by them. An
articulate voice, according to the dialecticians, hath naturally no
signification at all; for that the sense and meaning thereof did totally
depend upon the good will and pleasure of the first deviser and imposer
of it.”

Max Müller, following Professor Heyse, of Berlin, published an ingenious
theory of primitive speech, to the effect that man had a creative
faculty giving to each conception, as it thrilled through his brain for
the first time, a special phonetic expression, which faculty became
extinct when its necessity ceased. This theory, which makes each radical
of language to be a phonetic type rung out from the organism of the
first man or men when struck by an idea, has been happily named the
“ding-dong” theory. It has been abandoned mainly through the destructive
criticisms of Prof. W. D. WHITNEY, of Yale College. One lucid
explanation by the latter should be specially noted: “A word is a
combination of sounds which by a series of historical reasons has come
to be accepted and understood in a certain community as the sign of a
certain idea. As long as they so accept and understand it, it has
existence; when everyone ceases to use and understand it, it ceases to

Several authors, among them Kaltschmidt, contend that there was but one
primitive language, which was purely onomatopœic, that is, imitative of
natural sounds. This has been stigmatized as the “bow-wow” theory, but
its advocates might derive an argument from the epithet itself, as not
only our children, but the natives of Papua, call the dog a “bow-wow.”
They have, however, gone too far in attempting to trace back words in
their shape as now existing to any natural sounds instead of confining
that work to the roots from which the words have sprung.

Another attempt has been made, represented by Professor Noiré, to
account for language by means of interjectional cries. This Max Müller
revengefully styled the “pooh-pooh” theory. In it is included the
rhythmical sounds which a body of men make seemingly by a common impulse
when engaged in a common work, such as the cries of sailors when hauling
on a rope or pulling an oar, or the yell of savages in an attack. It
also derives an argument from the impulse of life by which the child
shouts and the bird sings. There are, however, very few either words or
roots of words which can be proved to have that derivation.

Professor SAYCE, in his late work, _Introduction to the Science of
Language_, _London_, 1880, gives the origin of language in gestures, in
onomatopœia, and to a limited extent in interjectional cries. He
concludes it to be the ordinary theory of modern comparative
philologists that all languages are traced back to a certain number of
abstract roots, each of which was a sort of sentence in embryo, and
while he does not admit this as usually presented, he believes that
there was a time in the history of speech, when the articulate or
semi-articulate sounds uttered by primitive men were made the
significant representations of thought by the gestures with which they
were accompanied. This statement is specially gratifying to the present
writer as he had advanced much the same views in his first publication
on the subject in the following paragraph, now reproduced with greater

“From their own failures and discordancies, linguistic scholars have
recently decided that both the ‘bow-wow’ and the ‘ding-dong’ theories
are unsatisfactory; that the search for imitative, onomatopœic, and
directly expressive sounds to explain the origin of human speech has
been too exclusive, and that many primordial roots of language have been
founded in the involuntary sounds accompanying certain actions. As,
however, the action was the essential, and the consequent or concomitant
sound the accident, it would be expected that a representation or
feigned reproduction of the action would have been used to express the
idea before the sound associated with that action could have been
separated from it. The visual onomatopœia of gestures, which even yet
have been subjected to but slight artificial corruption, would therefore
serve as a key to the audible. It is also contended that in the pristine
days, when the sounds of the only words yet formed had close connection
with objects and the ideas directly derived from them, signs were as
much more copious for communication than speech, as the sight embraces
more and more distinct characteristics of objects than does the sense of


The preponderance of authority is in favor of the view that man, when in
the possession of all his faculties, did not choose between voice and
gesture, both being originally instinctive, as they both are now, and
never, with those faculties, was in a state where the one was used to
the absolute exclusion of the other. The long neglected work of
Dalgarno, published in 1661, is now admitted to show wisdom when he
says: “_non minus naturale fit homini communicare in _Figuris_ quam
_Sonis_: quorum utrumque dico homini _naturale_._” With the voice man at
first imitated the few sounds of nature, while with gesture he exhibited
actions, motions, positions, forms, dimensions, directions, and
distances, and their derivatives. It would appear from this unequal
division of capacity that oral speech remained rudimentary long after
gesture had become an art. With the concession of all purely imitative
sounds and of the spontaneous action of the vocal organs under
excitement, it is still true that the connection between ideas and words
generally depended upon a compact between the speaker and hearer which
presupposes the existence of a prior mode of communication. That was
probably by gesture, which, in the apposite phrase of Professor SAYCE,
“like the rope-bridges of the Himalayas or the Andes, formed the first
rude means of communication between man and man.” At the very least it
may be gladly accepted provisionally as a clue leading out of the
labyrinth of philologic confusion.

For the purpose of the present paper there is, however, no need of an
absolute decision upon the priority between communication of ideas by
bodily motion and by vocal articulation. It is enough to admit that the
connection between them was so early and intimate that gestures, in the
wide sense indicated of presenting ideas under physical forms, had a
direct formative effect upon many words; that they exhibit the earliest
condition of the human mind; are traced from the remotest antiquity
among all peoples possessing records; are generally prevalent in the
savage stage of social evolution; survive agreeably in the scenic
pantomime, and still adhere to the ordinary speech of civilized man by
motions of the face, hands, head, and body, often involuntary, often
purposely in illustration or for emphasis.

It may be unnecessary to explain that none of the signs to be described,
even those of present world-wide prevalence, are presented as precisely
those of primitive man. Signs as well as words, animals, and plants have
had their growth, development, and change, their births and deaths, and
their struggle for existence with survival of the fittest. It is,
however, thought probable from reasons hereinafter mentioned that their
radicals can be ascertained with more precision than those of words.


There is ample evidence of record, besides that derived from other
sources, that the systematic use of gesture speech was of great
antiquity. Livy so declares, and Quintilian specifies that the “_lex
gestus * * * ab illis temporibus heroicis orta est_.” Plato classed its
practice among civil virtues, and Chrysippus gave it place among the
proper education of freemen. Athenæus tells that gestures were even
reduced to distinct classification with appropriate terminology. The
class suited to comedy was called Cordax, that to tragedy Eumelia, and
that for satire Sicinnis, from the inventor Sicinnus. Bathyllus from
these formed a fourth class, adapted to pantomime. This system appears
to have been particularly applicable to theatrical performances.
Quintilian, later, gave most elaborate rules for gestures in oratory,
which are specially noticeable from the importance attached to the
manner of disposing the fingers. He attributed to each particular
disposition a significance or suitableness which are not now obvious.
Some of them are retained by modern orators, but without the same, or
indeed any, intentional meaning, and others are wholly disused.

    [Illustration: FIG. 61.]

The value of these digital arrangements is, however, shown by their use
among the modern Italians, to whom they have directly descended. From
many illustrations of this fact the following is selected. Fig. 61 is
copied from Austin’s _Chironomia_ as his graphic execution of the
gesture described by Quintilian: “The fore finger of the right hand
joining the middle of its nail to the extremity of its own thumb, and
moderately extending the rest of the fingers, is graceful in
_approving_.” Fig. 62 is taken from De Jorio’s plates and descriptions
of the gestures among modern Neapolitans, with the same idea of
approbation--“good.” Both of these may be compared with Fig. 63,
a common sign among the North American Indians to express affirmation
and approbation. With the knowledge of these details it is possible to
believe the story of Macrobius that Cicero used to vie with Roscius, the
celebrated actor, as to which of them could express a sentiment in the
greater variety of ways, the one by gesture and the other by speech,
with the apparent result of victory to the actor who was so satisfied
with the superiority of his art that he wrote a book on the subject.

    [Illustration: FIG. 62.]

Gestures were treated of with still more distinction as connected with
pantomimic dances and representations. Æschylus appears to have brought
theatrical gesture to a high degree of perfection, but Telestes,
a dancer employed by him, introduced the dumb show, a dance without
marked dancing steps, and subordinated to motions of the hands, arms,
and body, which is dramatic pantomime. He was so great an artist, says
Athenæus, that when he represented the _Seven before Thebes_ he rendered
every circumstance manifest by his gestures alone. From Greece, or
rather from Egypt, the art was brought to Rome, and in the reign of
Augustus was the great delight of that Emperor and his friend Mæcenas.
Bathyllus, of Alexandria, was the first to introduce it to the Roman
public, but he had a dangerous rival in Pylades. The latter was
magnificent, pathetic, and affecting, while Bathyllus was gay and
sportive. All Rome was split into factions about their respective
merits. Athenæus speaks of a distinguished performer of his own time
(he died A.D. 194) named Memphis, whom he calls the “dancing
philosopher,” because he showed what the Pythagorean philosophy could do
by exhibiting in silence everything with stronger evidence than they
could who professed to teach the arts of language. In the reign of Nero,
a celebrated pantomimist who had heard that the cynic philosopher
Demetrius spoke of the art with contempt, prevailed upon him to witness
his performance, with the result that the cynic, more and more
astonished, at last cried out aloud, “Man, I not only see, but I hear
what you do, for to me you appear to speak with your hands!”

    [Illustration: FIG. 63.]

Lucian, who narrates this in his work _De Saltatione_, gives another
tribute to the talent of, perhaps, the same performer. A barbarian
prince of Pontus (the story is told elsewhere of Tyridates, King of
Armenia), having come to Rome to do homage to the Emperor Nero, and been
taken to see the pantomimes, was asked on his departure by the Emperor
what present he would have as a mark of his favor. The barbarian begged
that he might have the principal pantomimist, and upon being asked why
he made such an odd request, replied that he had many neighbors who
spoke such various and discordant languages that he found it difficult
to obtain any interpreter who could understand them or explain his
commands; but if he had the dancer he could by his assistance easily
make himself intelligible to all.

While the general effect of these pantomimes is often mentioned, there
remain but few detailed descriptions of them. Apuleius, however, in the
tenth book of his _Metamorphosis_ or “Golden Ass,” gives sufficient
details of the performance of the Judgment of Paris to show that it
strongly resembled the best form of ballet opera known in modern times.
These exhibitions were so greatly in favor that, according to Ammianus
Marcellinus, there were in Rome in the year 190 six thousand persons
devoted to the art, and that when a famine raged they were all kept in
the city, though besides all the strangers all the philosophers were
forced to leave. Their popularity continued until the sixth century, and
it is evident from a decree of Charlemagne that they were not lost, or
at least, had been revived in his time. Those of us who have enjoyed the
performance of the original Ravel troupe will admit that the art still
survives, though not with the magnificence or perfection, especially
with reference to serious subjects, which it exhibited in the age of
imperial Rome.

Early and prominent among the post-classic works upon gesture is that of
the venerable Bede (who flourished A.D. 672-735) _De Loquelâ per Gestum
Digitorum, sive de Indigitatione_. So much discussion had indeed been
carried on in reference to the use of signs for the desideratum of a
universal mode of communication, which also was designed to be occult
and mystic, that Rabelais, in the beginning of the sixteenth century,
who, however satirical, never spent his force upon matters of little
importance, devotes much attention to it. He makes his English
philosopher, Thaumast “The Wonderful” declare, “I will dispute by signs
only, without speaking, for the matters are so abstruse, hard, and
arduous, that words proceeding from the mouth of man will never be
sufficient for unfolding of them to my liking.”

The earliest contributions of practical value connected with the subject
were made by George Dalgarno, of Aberdeen, in two works, one published
in London, 1661, entitled _Ars Signorum, vulgo character universalis et
lingua philosophica_, and the other printed at Oxford, 1680, entitled,
_Didascalocophus, or the Deaf and Dumb Man’s Tutor_. He spent his life
in obscurity, and his works, though he was incidentally mentioned by
Leibnitz under the name of “M. Dalgarus,” passed into oblivion. Yet he
undoubtedly was the precursor of Bishop Wilkins in his _Essay toward a
Real Character and a Philosophical Language_, published in London, 1668,
though indeed the first idea was far older, it having been, as reported
by Piso, the wish of Galen that some way might be found out to represent
things by such peculiar signs and names as should express their natures.
Dalgarno’s ideas respecting the education of the dumb were also of the
highest value, and though they were too refined and enlightened to be
appreciated at the period when he wrote, they probably were used by Dr.
Wallis if not by Sicard. Some of his thoughts should be quoted: “As I
think the eye to be as docile as the ear; so neither see I any reason
but the hand might be made as tractable an organ as the tongue; and as
soon brought to form, if not fair, at least legible characters, as the
tongue to imitate and echo back articulate sounds.” A paragraph
prophetic of the late success in educating blind deaf-mutes is as
follows: “The soul can exert her powers by the ministry of any of the
senses: and, therefore, when she is deprived of her principal
secretaries, the eye and the ear, then she must be contented with the
service of her lackeys and scullions, the other senses; which are no
less true and faithful to their mistress than the eye and the ear; but
not so quick for dispatch.”

In his division of the modes of “expressing the inward emotions by
outward and sensible signs” he relegates to physiology cases “when the
internal passions are expressed by such external signs as have a natural
connection, by way of cause and effect, with the passion they discover,
as laughing, weeping, frowning, &c., and this way of interpretation
being common to the brute with man belongs to natural philosophy. And
because this goes not far enough to serve the rational soul, therefore,
man has invented Sematology.” This he divides into Pneumatology,
interpretation by sounds conveyed through the ear; Schematology, by
figures to the eye, and Haptology, by mutual contact, skin to skin.
Schematology is itself divided into Typology or Grammatology, and
Cheirology or Dactylology. The latter embraces “the transient motions of
the fingers, which of all other ways of interpretation comes nearest to
that of the tongue.”

As a phase in the practice of gestures in lieu of speech must be
mentioned the code of the Cistercian monks, who were vowed to silence
except in religious exercises. That they might literally observe their
vows they were obliged to invent a system of communication by signs,
a list of which is given by Leibnitz, but does not show much ingenuity.

A curious description of the speech of the early inhabitants of the
world, given by Swedenborg in his _Arcana Cœlestia_, published
1749-1756, may be compared with the present exhibitions of deaf-mutes in
institutions for their instruction. He says it was not articulate like
the vocal speech of our time, but was tacit, being produced not by
external respiration, but by internal. They were able to express their
meaning by slight motions of the lips and corresponding changes of the

    [Illustration: FIG. 64.--Group from an ancient Greek vase.]

Austin’s comprehensive work, _Chironomia, or a Treatise on Rhetorical
Delivery_, _London_, 1806, is a repertory of information for all writers
on gesture, who have not always given credit to it, as well as on all
branches of oratory. This has been freely used by the present writer, as
has also the volume by the canon Andrea de Jorio, _La Mimica degli
Antichi investigata nel Gestire Napoletano_, _Napoli_, 1832. The canon’s
chief object was to interpret the gestures of the ancients as shown in
their works of art and described in their writings, by the modern
gesticulations of the Neapolitans, and he has proved that the general
system of gesture once prevailing in ancient Italy is substantially the
same as now observed. With an understanding of the existing language of
gesture the scenes on the most ancient Greek vases and reliefs obtain a
new and interesting significance and form a connecting link between the
present and prehistoric times. Two of De Jorio’s plates are here
reproduced, Figs. 64 and 67, with such explanation and further
illustration as is required for the present subject.

The spirited figures upon the ancient vase, Fig. 64, are red upon a
black ground and are described in the published account in French of the
collection of Sir John Coghill, Bart., of which the following is a free

Dionysos or Bacchus is represented with a strong beard, his head girt
with the credemnon, clothed in a long folded tunic, above which is an
ample cloak, and holding a thyrsus. Under the form of a satyr, Comus, or
the genius of the table, plays on the double flute and tries to excite
to the dance two nymphs, the companions of Bacchus--Galené, Tranquility,
and Eudia, Serenity. The first of them is dressed in a tunic, above
which is a fawn skin, holding a tympanum or classic drum on which she is
about to strike, while her companion marks the time by a snapping of the
fingers, which custom the author of the catalogue wisely states is still
kept up in Italy in the dance of the tarantella. The composition is said
to express allegorically that pure and serene pleasures are benefits
derived from the god of wine.

    [Illustration: FIG. 65.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 66.]

This is a fair example of the critical acumen of art-commentators. The
gestures of the two nymphs are interesting, but on very slight
examination it appears that those of Galené have nothing to do with beat
of drum, nor have those of Eudia any connection with music, though it is
not so clear what is the true subject under discussion. Aided, however,
by the light of the modern sign language of Naples, there seems to be by
no means serenity prevailing, but a quarrel between the ladies, on a
special subject which is not necessarily pure. The nymph at the reader’s
left fixes her eyes upon her companion with her index in the same
direction, clearly indicating, _thou_. That the address is reproachful
is shown from her countenance, but with greater certainty from her
attitude and the corresponding one of her companion, who raises both her
hands in surprise accompanied with negation. The latter is expressed by
the right hand raised toward the shoulder, with the palm opposed to the
person to whom response is made. This is the rejection of the idea
presented, and is expressed by some of our Indians, as shown in Fig. 65.
A sign of the Dakota tribe of Indians with the same signification is
given in Fig. 270, page 441, _infra_. At the same time the upper part of
the nymph’s body is drawn backward as far as the preservation of
equilibrium permits. So a reproach or accusation is made on the one
part, and denied, whether truthfully or not, on the other. Its subject
also may be ascertained. The left hand of Eudia is not mute; it is held
towards her rival with the balls of the index and thumb united, the
modern Neapolitan sign for _love_, which is drawn more clearly in Fig.
66. It is called the kissing of the thumb and finger, and there is ample
authority to show that among the ancient classics it was a sign of
marriage. St. Jerome, quoted by Vincenzo Requena, says: “_Nam et ipsa
digitorum conjunctio, et quasi molli osculo se complectans et fœderans,
maritum pingit et conjugem_;” and Apuleius clearly alludes to the same
gesture as used in the adoration of Venus, by the words “_primore digito
in erectum pollicem residente_.” The gesture is one of the few out of
the large number described in various parts of Rabelais’ great work, the
significance of which is explained. It is made by Naz-de-cabre or Goat’s
Nose (_Pantagruel_, Book III, Ch. XX), who lifted up into the air his
left hand, the whole fingers whereof he retained fistways closed
together, except the thumb and the forefinger, whose nails he softly
joined and coupled to one another. “I understand, quoth Pantagruel, what
he meaneth by that sign. It denotes marriage.” The quarrel is thus
established to be about love; and the fluting satyr seated between the
two nymphs, behind whose back the accusation is furtively made by the
jealous one, may well be the object concerning whom jealousy is
manifested. Eudia therefore, instead of “serenely” marking time for a
“tranquil” tympanist, appears to be crying, “Galené! you bad thing! you
are having, or trying to have, an affair with my Comus!”--an accusation
which this writer verily believes to have been just. The lady’s attitude
in affectation of surprised denial is not that of injured innocence.

       *       *       *       *       *

    [Illustration: FIG. 67.--Group from a vase in the Homeric Gallery.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 68.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 69.]

Fig. 67, taken from a vase in the Homeric Gallery, is rich in natural
gestures. Without them, from the costumes and attitudes it is easy to
recognize the protagonist or principal actor in the group, and its
general subject. The warrior goddess Athené stands forth in the midst of
what appears to be a council of war. After the study of modern gesture
speech, the votes of each member of the council, with the degree of
positiveness or interest felt by each, can be ascertained. Athené in
animated motion turns her eyes to the right, and extends her left arm
and hand to the left, with her right hand brandishing a lance in the
same direction, in which her feet show her to be ready to spring. She is
urging the figures on her right to follow her at once to attempt some
dangerous enterprise. Of these the elderly man, who is calmly seated,
holds his right hand flat and reversed, and suspended slightly above his
knee. This probably is the ending of the modern Neapolitan gesture, Fig.
68, which signifies hesitation, advice to pause before hasty action, “go
slowly,” and commences higher with a gentle wavering movement downward.
This can be compared with the sign of some of our Indians, Fig. 69, for
_wait!_ _slowly!_ The female figure at the left of the group, standing
firmly and decidedly, raises her left hand directed to the goddess with
the palm vertical. If this is supposed to be a stationary gesture it
means, “_wait!_ _stop!_” It may, however, be the commencement of the
last mentioned gesture, “_go slow_.”

    [Illustration: FIG. 70.]

Both of these members of the council advise delay and express doubt of
the propriety of immediate action.

    [Illustration: FIG. 71.]

The sitting warrior on the left of Athené presents his left hand flat
and carried well up. This position, supposed to be stationary, now means
to _ask, inquire_, and it may be that he inquires of the other veteran
what reasons he can produce for his temporizing policy. This may be
collated with the modern Neapolitan sign for _ask_, Fig. 70, and the
common Indian sign for “_tell me!_” Fig. 71. In connection with this it
is also interesting to compare the Australian sign for interrogation,
Fig. 72, and also the Comanche Indian sign for _give me_, Fig. 301, page
480, _infra_. If, however, the artist had the intention to represent the
flat hand as in motion from below upward, as is probable from the
connection, the meaning is _much, greatly_. He strongly disapproves the
counsel of the opposite side. Our Indians often express the idea of
quantity, _much_, with the same conception of comparative height, by an
upward motion of the extended palm, but with them the palm is held
downward. The last figure to the right, by the action of his whole body,
shows his rejection of the proposed delay, and his right hand gives the
modern sign of combined surprise and reproof.

    [Illustration: FIG. 72.]

It is interesting to note the similarity of the merely emotional
gestures and attitudes of modern Italy with those of the classics. The
Pulcinella, Fig. 73, for instance, drawn from life in the streets of
Naples, has the same pliancy and _abandon_ of the limbs as appears in
the supposed foolish slaves of the Vatican Terence.

    [Illustration: FIG. 73.]

In close connection with this branch of the study reference must be made
to the gestures exhibited in the works of Italian art only modern in
comparison with the high antiquity of their predecessors. A good
instance is in the Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci, painted toward the
close of the fifteenth century, and to the figure of Judas as there
portrayed. The gospel denounces him as a thief, which is expressed in
the painting by the hand extended and slightly curved; imitative of the
pilferer’s act in clutching and drawing toward him furtively the stolen
object, and is the same gesture that now indicates _theft_ in Naples,
Fig. 74, and among some of the North American Indians, Fig. 75. The
pictorial propriety of the sign is preserved by the apparent desire of
the traitor to obtain the one white loaf of bread on the table (the
remainder being of coarser quality) which lies near where his hand is
tending. Raffaelle was equally particular in his exhibition of gesture
language, even unto the minutest detail of the arrangement of the
fingers. It is traditional that he sketched the Madonna’s hands for the
Spasimo di Sicilia in eleven different positions before he was

    [Illustration: FIG. 74.]

No allusion to the bibliography of gesture speech, however slight,
should close without including the works of Mgr. D. De Haerne, who has,
as a member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, in addition to
his rank in the Roman Catholic Church, been active in promoting the
cause of education in general, and especially that of the deaf and dumb.
His admirable treatise _The Natural Language of Signs_ has been
translated and is accessible to American readers in the _American Annals
of the Deaf and Dumb_, 1875. In that valuable serial, conducted by Prof.
E. A. FAY, of the National Deaf Mute College at Washington, and now in
its twenty-sixth volume, a large amount of the current literature on the
subject indicated by its title can be found.

    [Illustration: FIG. 75.]


Dr. TYLOR says (_Early History of Mankind_, 44): “We cannot lay down as
a rule that gesticulation decreases as civilization advances, and say,
for instance, that a Southern Frenchman, because his talk is illustrated
with gestures as a book with pictures, is less civilized than a German
or Englishman.” This is true, and yet it is almost impossible for
persons not accustomed to gestures to observe them without associating
the idea of low culture. Thus in Mr. Darwin’s summing up of those
characteristics of the natives of Tierra del Fuego, which rendered it
difficult to believe them to be fellow-creatures, he classes their
“violent gestures” with their filthy and greasy skins, discordant
voices, and hideous faces bedaubed with paint. This description is
quoted by the Duke of Argyle in his _Unity of Nature_ in approval of
those characteristics as evidence, of the lowest condition of humanity.

Whether or not the power of the visible gesture relative to, and its
influence upon the words of modern oral speech are in inverse proportion
to the general culture, it seems established that they do not bear that
or any constant proportion to the development of the several languages
with which gesture is still more or less associated. The statement has
frequently been made that gesture is yet to some highly-advanced
languages a necessary modifying factor, and that only when a language
has become so artificial as to be completely expressible in written
signs--indeed, has been remodeled through their long familiar use--can
the bodily signs be wholly dispensed with. The evidence for this
statement is now doubted, and it is safer to affirm that a common use of
gesture depends more upon the sociologic conditions of the speakers than
upon the degree of copiousness of their oral speech.


The nearest approach to a general rule which it is now proposed to
hazard is that where people speaking precisely the same dialect are not
numerous, and are thrown into constant contact on equal terms with
others of differing dialects and languages, gesture is necessarily
resorted to for converse with the latter, and remains for an indefinite
time as a habit or accomplishment among themselves, while large bodies
enjoying common speech, and either isolated from foreigners, or, when in
contact with them, so dominant as to compel the learning and adoption of
their own tongue, become impassive in its delivery. The ungesturing
English, long insular, and now rulers when spread over continents, may
be compared with the profusely gesticulating Italians dwelling in a maze
of dialects and subject for centuries either to foreign rule or to the
influx of strangers on whom they depended. So common is the use of
gestures in Italy, especially among the lower and uneducated classes,
that utterance without them seems to be nearly impossible. The driver or
boatman will often, on being addressed, involuntarily drop the reins or
oars, at the risk of a serious accident, to respond with his arms and
fingers in accompaniment of his tongue. Nor is the habit confined to the
uneducated. King Ferdinand returning to Naples after the revolt of 1821,
and finding that the boisterous multitude would not allow his voice to
be heard, resorted successfully to a royal address in signs, giving
reproaches, threats, admonitions, pardon, and dismissal, to the entire
satisfaction of the assembled lazzaroni. The medium, though probably not
the precise manner of its employment, recalls Lucan’s account of the
quieting of an older tumult--

  Composuit vultu, dextraque silentia fecit.

This rivalry of Punch would, in London, have occasioned measureless
ridicule and disgust. The difference in what is vaguely styled
temperament does not wholly explain the contrast between the two
peoples, for the performance was creditable both to the readiness of the
King in an emergency and to the aptness of his people, the main
distinction being that in Italy there was in 1821, and still is,
a recognized and cultivated language of signs long disused in Great
Britain. In seeking to account for this it will be remembered that the
Italians have a more direct descent from the people who, as has been
above shown, in classic times so long and lovingly cultivated gesture as
a system. They have also had more generally before their eyes the
artistic relics in which gestures have been preserved.

It is a curious fact that some English writers, notably Addison
(_Spectator_, 407), have contended that it does not suit the genius of
that nation to use gestures even in public speaking, against which
doctrine Austin vigorously remonstrates. He says: “There may possibly be
nations whose livelier feelings incline them more to gesticulation than
is common among us, as there are also countries in which plants of
excellent use to man grow spontaneously; these, by care and culture, are
found to thrive also in colder countries.”

It is in general to be remarked that as the number of dialects in any
district decreases so will the gestures, though doubtless there is also
weight in the fact not merely that a language has been reduced to and
modified by writing, but that people who are accustomed generally to
read and write, as are the English and Germans, will after a time think
and talk as they write, and without the accompaniments still persistent
among Hindus, Arabs, and the less literate of European nations.

The fact that in the comparatively small island of Sicily gesture
language has been maintained until the present time in a perfection not
observed elsewhere in Europe must be considered in connection with the
above remark on England’s insularity, and it must also be admitted that
several languages have prevailed in the latter, still leaving dialects.
This apparent similarity of conditions renders the contrast as regards
use of gestures more remarkable, yet there are some reasons for their
persistence in Sicily which apply with greater force than to Great
Britain. The explanation, through mere tradition, is that the common
usage of signs dates from the time of Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse,
who prohibited meetings and conversation among his subjects, under the
direst penalties, so that they adopted that expedient to hold
communication. It would be more useful to consider the peculiar history
of the island. The Sicanians being its aborigines it was colonized by
Greeks, who, as the Romans asserted, were still more apt at gesture than
themselves. This colonization was also by separate bands of adventurers
from several different states of Greece, so that they started with
dialects and did not unite in a common or national organization, the
separate cities and their territories being governed by oligarchies or
tyrants frequently at war with each other, until, in the fifth century
B.C., the Carthaginians began to contribute a new admixture of language
and blood, followed by Roman, Vandal, Gothic, Herulian, Arab, and Norman
subjugation. Thus some of the conditions above suggested have existed in
this case, but, whatever the explanation, the accounts given by
travelers of the extent to which the language of signs has been used
even during the present generation are so marvelous as to deserve
quotation. The one selected is from the pen of Alexandre Dumas, who, it
is to be hoped, did not carry his genius for romance into a professedly
sober account of travel:

“In the intervals of the acts of the opera I saw lively conversations
carried on between the orchestra and the boxes. Arami, in particular,
recognized a friend whom he had not seen for three years, and who
related to him, by means of his eyes and his hands, what, to judge by
the eager gestures of my companion, must have been matters of great
interest. The conversation ended, I asked him if I might know without
impropriety what was the intelligence which had seemed to interest him
so deeply. ‘O, yes,’ he replied, ‘that person is one of my good friends,
who has been away from Palermo for three years, and he has been telling
me that he was married at Naples; then traveled with his wife in Austria
and in France; there his wife gave birth to a daughter, whom he had the
misfortune to lose; he arrived by steamboat yesterday, but his wife had
suffered so much from sea-sickness that she kept her bed, and he came
alone to the play.’ ‘My dear friend,’ said I to Arami, ‘if you would
have me believe you, you must grant me a favor.’ ‘What is it?’ said he.
‘It is, that you do not leave me during the evening, so that I may be
sure you give no instructions to your friend, and when we join him, that
you ask him to repeat aloud what he said to you by signs.’ ‘That I
will,’ said Arami. The curtain then rose; the second act of Norma was
played; the curtain falling, and the actors being recalled, as usual, we
went to the side-room, where we met the traveler. ‘My dear friend,’ said
Arami, ‘I did not perfectly comprehend what you wanted to tell me; be so
good as to repeat it.’ The traveler repeated the story word for word,
and without varying a syllable from the translation, which Arami had
made of his signs; it was marvelous indeed.

“Six weeks after this, I saw a second example of this faculty of mute
communication. This was at Naples. I was walking with a young man of
Syracuse. We passed by a sentinel. The soldier and my companion
exchanged two or three grimaces, which at another time I should not even
have noticed, but the instances I had before seen led me to give
attention. ‘Poor fellow,’ sighed my companion. ‘What did he say to you?’
I asked. ‘Well,’ said he, ‘I thought that I recognized him as a
Sicilian, and I learned from him, as we passed, from what place he came;
he said he was from Syracuse, and that he knew me well. Then I asked him
how he liked the Neapolitan service; he said he did not like it at all,
and if his officers did not treat him better he should certainly finish
by deserting. I then signified to him that if he ever should be reduced
to that extremity, he might rely upon me, and that I would aid him all
in my power. The poor fellow thanked me with all his heart, and I have
no doubt that one day or other I shall see him come.’ Three days after,
I was at the quarters of my Syracusan friend, when he was told that a
man asked to see him who would not give his name; he went out and left
me nearly ten minutes. ‘Well,’ said he, on returning, ‘just as I said.’
‘What?’ said I. ‘That the poor fellow would desert.’”

After this there is an excuse for believing the tradition that the
revolt called “the Sicilian Vespers,” in 1282, was arranged throughout
the island without the use of a syllable, and even the day and hour for
the massacre of the obnoxious foreigners fixed upon by signs only.
Indeed, the popular story goes so far as to assert that all this was
done by facial expression, without even manual signs.


It is fortunately possible to produce some illustrations of the modern
Neapolitan sign language traced from the plates of De Jorio, with
translations, somewhat condensed, of his descriptions and remarks.

    [Illustration: FIG. 76.--Neapolitan public letter-writer and

    [Illustration: FIG. 77.]

In Fig. 76 an ambulant secretary or public writer is seated at his
little table, on which are the meager tools of his trade. He wears
spectacles in token that he has read and written much, and has one seat
at his side to accommodate his customers. On this is seated a married
woman who asks him to write a letter to her absent husband. The
secretary, not being told what to write about, without surprise, but
somewhat amused, raises his left hand with the ends of the thumb and
finger joined, the other fingers naturally open, a common sign for
_inquiry_. “What shall the letter be about?” The wife, not being ready
of speech, to rid herself of the embarrassment, resorts to the mimic
art, and, without opening her mouth, tells with simple gestures all that
is in her mind. Bringing her right hand to her heart, with a
corresponding glance of the eyes she shows that the theme is to be
_love_. For emphasis also she curves the whole upper part of her body
towards him, to exhibit the intensity of her passion. To complete the
mimic story, she makes with her left hand the sign of _asking_ for
something, which has been above described (see page 291). The letter,
then, is to assure her husband of her love and to beg him to return it
with corresponding affection. The other woman, perhaps her sister, who
has understood the whole direction, regards the request as silly and
fruitless and is much disgusted. Being on her feet, she takes a step
toward the wife, who she thinks is unadvised, and raises her left hand
with a sign of disapprobation. This position of the hand is described in
full as open, raised high, and oscillated from right to left. Several of
the Indian signs have the same idea of oscillation of the hand raised,
often near the head, to express _folly, fool_. She clearly says, “What a
thing to ask! what a fool you are!” and at the same time makes with the
right hand the sign of _money_. This is made by the extremities of the
thumb and index rapidly rubbed against each other, and is shown more
clearly in Fig. 77. It is taken from the handling and counting of coin.
This may be compared with an Indian sign, see Fig. 115, page 344.

So the sister is clearly disapproving with her left hand and with her
right giving good counsel, as if to say, in the combination, “What a
fool you are to ask for his love; you had better ask him to send you
some money.”

       *       *       *       *       *

    [Illustration: FIG. 78.--Neapolitan hot-corn vender.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 79.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 80.]

In Naples, as in American cities, boiled ears of green corn are vended
with much outcry. Fig. 78 shows a boy who is attracted by the local cry
“_Pollanchelle tenerelle!_” and seeing the sweet golden ears still
boiling in the kettle from which steams forth fragrance, has an ardent
desire to taste the same, but is without a _soldo_. He tries begging.
His right open hand is advanced toward the desired object with the sign
of _asking_ or _begging_, and he also raises his left forefinger to
indicate the number _one_--“Pretty girl, please only give me one!” The
pretty girl is by no means cajoled, and while her left hand holds the
ladle ready to use if he dares to touch her merchandise, she replies by
gesture “_Te voglio dà no cuorno!_” freely translated, “I’ll give you
one _in a horn!_” This gesture is drawn, with clearer outline in Fig.
79, and has many significations, according to the subject-matter and
context, and also as applied to different parts of the body. Applied to
the head it has allusion, descending from high antiquity, to a marital
misfortune which was probably common in prehistoric times as well as the
present. It is also often used as an amulet against the _jettatura_ or
evil eye, and misfortune in general, and directed toward another person
is a prayerful wish for his or her preservation from evil. This use is
ancient, as is shown on medals and statues, and is supposed by some to
refer to the horns of animals slaughtered in sacrifice. The position of
the fingers, Fig. 80, is also given as one of Quintilian’s oratorical
gestures by the words “_Duo quoque medii sub pollicem veniunt_,” and is
said by him to be vehement and connected with reproach or argument. In
the present case, as a response to an impertinent or disagreeable
petition, it simply means, “instead of giving what you ask, I will give
you nothing but what is vile and useless, as horns are.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Fig. 81 tells a story which is substantially the foundation of the
slender plot of most modern scenic pantomimes preliminary to the
bursting forth from their chrysalides of Harlequin, Columbine,
Pantaloon, and company. A young girl, with the consent of her parents,
has for some time promised her hand to an honest youth. The old mother,
in despite of her word, has taken a caprice to give her daughter to
another suitor. The father, though much under the sway of his spouse, is
in his heart desirous to keep his engagement, and has called in the
notary to draw the contract. At this moment the scene begins, the actors
of which, for greater perspicuity and brevity, may be provided with
stage names as follows:

  Cecca, diminutive for Francisca, the mother of--
  Nanella, diminutive of Antoniella, the betrothed of--
  Peppino, diminutive of Peppe, which is diminutive of Giuseppe.
  Pasquale, husband of Cecca and father of Nanella.
  Tonno, diminutive of Antonio, favored by Cecca.
  D. Alfonso, notary.

    [Illustration: FIG. 81.--Disturbance at signing of Neapolitan
    marriage contract.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 82.]

Cecca tries to pick a quarrel with Peppino, and declares that the
contract shall not be signed. He reminds her of her promise, and accuses
her of breach of faith. In her passion she calls on her daughter to
repudiate her lover, and casting her arms around her, commands her to
make the sign of breaking off friendship--“_scocchiare_”--which she has
herself made to Peppino, and which consists in extending the hand with
the joined ends of finger and thumb before described, see Fig. 66, and
then separating them, thus breaking the union. This the latter
reluctantly pretends to do with one hand, yet with the other, which is
concealed from her irate mother’s sight, shows her constancy by
continuing with emphatic pressure the sign of _love_. According to the
gesture vocabulary, on the sign _scocchiare_ being made to a person who
is willing to accept the breach of former affection, he replies in the
same manner, or still more forcibly by inserting the index of the other
hand between the index and thumb of the first, thus showing the
separation by the presence of a material obstacle. Simply refraining
from holding out the hand in any responsive gesture is sufficient to
indicate that the breach is not accepted, but that the party addressed
desires to continue in friendship instead of resolving into enmity. This
weak and inactive negative, however, does not suit Peppino’s vivacity,
who, placing his left hand on his bosom, makes, with his right, one of
the signs for emphatic negation. This consists of the palm turned to the
person addressed with the index somewhat extended and separated from the
other fingers, the whole hand being oscillated from right to left. This
gesture appears on ancient Greek vases, and is compound, the index being
demonstrative and the negation shown by the horizontal oscillation, the
whole being translatable as, “That thing I want not, won’t have,
reject.” The sign is virtually the same as that made by Arapaho and
Cheyenne Indians (see EXTRACTS FROM DICTIONARY, page 440, _infra_). The
conception of oscillation to show negation also appears with different
execution in the sign of the Jicarilla Apaches and the Pai-Utes, Fig.
82. The same sign is reported from Japan, in the same sense.

    [Illustration: FIG. 83.--Coming home of Neapolitan bride.]

Tonno, in hopes that the quarrel is definitive, to do his part in
stopping the ceremony, proceeds to blow out the three lighted candles,
which are an important traditional feature of the rite. The good old man
Pasquale, with his hands extended, raised in surprised displeasure and
directed toward the insolent youth, stops his attempt. The veteran
notary, familiar with such quarrels in his experience, smiles at this
one, and, continuing in his quiet attitude, extends his right hand
placidly to Peppino with the sign of _adagio_, before described, see
Fig. 68, advising him not to get excited, but to persist quietly, and
all would be well.

       *       *       *       *       *

Fig. 83 portrays the first entrance of a bride to her husband’s house.
She comes in with a tender and languid mien, her pendent arms indicating
soft yielding, and the right hand loosely holds a handkerchief, ready to
apply in case of overpowering emotion. She is, or feigns to be, so timid
and embarrassed as to require support by the arm of a friend who
introduces her. She is followed by a male friend of the family, whose
joyful face is turned toward supposed by-standers, right hand pointing
to the new acquisition, while with his left he makes the sign of horns
before described, see Fig. 79, which in this connection is to wish
prosperity and avert misfortune, and is equivalent to the words in the
Neapolitan dialect, “_Mal’uocchie non nce pozzano_”--may evil eyes never
have power over her.

    [Illustration: FIG. 84.]

The female confidant, who supports and guides her embarrassed friend
with her right arm, brings her left hand into the sign of
_beautiful_--“See what a beauty she is!” This sign is made by the thumb
and index open and severally lightly touching each side of the lower
cheek, the other fingers open. It is given on a larger scale and
slightly varied in Fig. 84, evidently referring to a fat and rounded
visage. Almost the same sign is made by the Ojibwas of Lake Superior,
and a mere variant of it is made by the Dakotas--stroking the cheeks
alternately down to the tip of the chin with the palm or surface of the
extended fingers.

    [Illustration: FIG. 85.]

The mother-in-law greets the bride by making the sign _mano in fica_
with her right hand. This sign, made with the hand clenched and the
point of the thumb between and projecting beyond the fore and middle
fingers, is more distinctly shown in Fig. 85. It has a very ancient
origin, being found on Greek antiques that have escaped the destruction
of time, more particularly in bronzes, and undoubtedly refers to the
_pudendum muliebre_. It is used offensively and ironically, but
also--which is doubtless the case in this instance--as an invocation or
prayer against evil, being more forcible than the horn-shaped gesture
before described. With this sign the Indian sign for _female_, see Fig.
132, page 357, _infra_, may be compared.

The mother-in-law also places her left hand hollowed in front of her
abdomen, drawing with it her gown slightly forward, thereby making a
pantomimic representation of the state in which “women wish to be who
love their lords”; the idea being plainly an expressed hope that the
household will be blessed with a new generation.

    [Illustration: FIG. 86.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 87.]

Next to her is a hunchback, who is present as a familiar clown or
merrymaker, and dances and laughs to please the company, at the same
time snapping his fingers. Two other illustrations of this action, the
middle finger in one leaving and in the other having left the thumb and
passed to its base, are seen in Figs. 86, 87. This gesture by itself
has, like others mentioned, a great variety of significations, but here
means _joy_ and acclamation. It is frequently used among us for subdued
applause, less violent than clapping the two hands, but still oftener to
express negation with disdain, and also carelessness. Both these uses of
it are common in Naples, and appear in Etruscan vases and Pompeian
paintings, as well as in the classic authors. The significance of the
action in the hand of the contemporary statue of Sardanapalus at
Anchiale is clearly _worthlessness_, as shown by the inscription in
Assyrian, “Sardanapalus, the son of Anacyndaraxes, built in one day
Anchiale and Tarsus. Eat, drink, play; the rest is not worth _that!_”

    [Illustration: FIG. 88.]

The bridegroom has left his mother to do the honors to the bride, and
himself attends to the rest of the company, inviting one of them to
drink some wine by a sign, enlarged in Fig. 88, which is not merely
pointing to the mouth with the thumb, but the hand with the incurved
fingers represents the body of the common glass flask which the
Neapolitans use, the extended thumb being its neck; the invitation is
therefore specially to drink wine. The guest, however, responds by a
very obvious gesture that he don’t wish anything to drink, but he would
like to eat some macaroni, the fingers being disposed as if handling
that comestible in the fashion of vulgar Italians. If the idea were only
to eat generally, it would have been expressed by the fingers and thumb
united in a point and moved several times near and toward the mouth, not
raised above it, as is necessary for suspending the strings of macaroni.

    [Illustration: FIG. 89.--Quarrel between Neapolitan women.]

In Fig. 89 the female in the left of the group is much disgusted at
seeing one of her former acquaintances, who has met with good fortune,
promenade in a fine costume with her husband. Overcome with jealousy,
she spreads out her dress derisively on both sides, in imitation of the
hoop-skirts once worn by women of rank, as if to say “So you are playing
the great lady!” The insulted woman, in resentment, makes with both
hands, for double effect, the sign of horns, before described, which in
this case is done obviously in menace and imprecation. The husband is a
pacific fellow who is not willing to get into a woman’s quarrel, and is
very easily held back by a woman and small boy who happen to join the
group. He contents himself with pretending to be in a great passion and
biting his finger, which gesture may be collated with the emotional
clinching of the teeth and biting the lips in anger, common to all

    [Illustration: FIG. 90.--The cheating Neapolitan chestnut huckster.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 91.]

In Fig. 90 a contadina, or woman from the country, who has come to the
city to sell eggs (shown to be such by her head-dress, and the form of
the basket which she has deposited on the ground), accosts a vender of
roast chestnuts and asks for a measure of them. The chestnut huckster
says they are very fine and asks a price beyond that of the market; but
a boy sees that the rustic woman is not sharp in worldly matters and
desires to warn her against the cheat. He therefore, at the moment when
he can catch her eye, pretending to lean upon his basket, and moving
thus a little behind the huckster, so as not to be seen, points him out
with his index finger, and lays his left forefinger under his eye,
pulling down the skin slightly, so as to deform the regularity of the
lower eyelid. This is a _warning against a cheat_, shown more clearly in
Fig. 91. This sign primarily indicates a squinting person, and
metaphorically one whose looks cannot be trusted, even as in a squinting
person you cannot be certain in which direction he is looking.

    [Illustration: FIG. 92.]

Fig. 92 shows the extremities of the index and thumb closely joined in
form of a cone, and turned down, the other fingers held at pleasure, and
the hand and arm advanced to the point and held steady. This signifies
_justice_, a just person, that which is just and right. The same sign
may denote friendship, a menace, which specifically is that of being
brought to justice, and snuff, _i.e._ powdered tobacco; but the
expression of the countenance and the circumstance of the use of the
sign determine these distinctions. Its origin is clearly the balance or
emblem of justice, the office of which consists in ascertaining physical
weight, and thence comes the moral idea of distinguishing clearly what
is just and accurate and what is not. The hand is presented in the usual
manner of holding the balance to weigh articles.

    [Illustration: FIG. 93.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 94.]

Fig. 93 signifies _little, small_, both as regards the size of physical
objects or figuratively, as of a small degree of talent, affection, or
the like. It is made either by the point of the thumb placed under the
end of the index (_a_), or _vice versâ_ (_b_), and the other fingers
held at will, but separated from those mentioned. The intention is to
exhibit a small portion either of the thumb or index separated from the
rest of the hand. The gesture is found in Herculanean bronzes, with
obviously the same signification. The signs made by some tribes of
Indians for the same conception are very similar, as is seen by Figs. 94
and 95.

    [Illustration: FIG. 95.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 96.]

Fig. 96 is simply the index extended by itself. The other fingers are
generally bent inwards and pressed down by the thumb, as mentioned by
Quintilian, but that is not necessary to the gesture if the forefinger
is distinctly separated from the rest. It is most commonly used for
indication, pointing out, as it is over all the world, from which comes
the name index, applied by the Romans as also by us, to the forefinger.
In different relations to the several parts of the body and arm
positions it has many significations, _e.g._, attention, meditation,
derision, silence, number, and demonstration in general.

    [Illustration: FIG. 97.]

Fig. 97 represents the head of a jackass, the thumbs being the ears, and
the separation of the little from the third fingers showing the jaws.

    [Illustration: FIG. 98.]

Fig. 98 is intended to portray the head of the same animal in a front
view, the hands being laid upon each other, with thumbs extending on
each side to represent the ears. In each case the thumbs are generally
moved forward and back, in the manner of the quadruped, which, without
much apparent reason, has been selected as the emblem of stupidity. The
sign, therefore, means _stupid, fool_. Another mode of executing the
same conception--the ears of an ass--is shown in Fig. 99, where the end
of the thumb is applied to the ear or temple and the hand is wagged up
and down. Whether the ancient Greeks had the same low opinion of the ass
as is now entertained is not clear, but they regarded long ears with
derision, and Apollo, as a punishment to Midas for his foolish decision,
bestowed on him the lengthy ornaments of the patient beast.

    [Illustration: FIG. 99.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 100.]

Fig. 100 is the fingers elongated and united in a point, turned upwards.
The hand is raised slightly toward the face of the gesturer and shaken a
few times in the direction of the person conversed with. This is
_inquiry_, not a mere interrogative, but to express that the person
addressed has not been clearly understood, perhaps from the vagueness or
diffusiveness of his expressions. The idea appears to suggest the
gathering of his thoughts together into one distinct expression, or to
be _pointed_ in what he wishes to say.

_Crafty, deceitful_, Fig. 101. The little fingers of both reversed hands
are hooked together, the others open but slightly curved, and, with the
hands, moved several times to the right and left. The gesture is
intended to represent a crab and the tortuous movements of the
crustacean, which are likened to those of a man who cannot be depended
on in his walk through life. He is not straight.

    [Illustration: FIG. 101.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 102.]

Figs. 102 and 103 are different positions of the hand in which the
approximating thumb and forefinger form a circle. This is the direst
insult that can be given. The amiable canon De Jorio only hints at its
special significance, but it may be evident to persons aware of a
practice disgraceful to Italy. It is very ancient.

    [Illustration: FIG. 104.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 103.]

Fig. 104 is easily recognized as a request or command to be _silent_,
either on the occasion or on the subject. The mouth, supposed to be
forcibly closed, prevents speaking, and the natural gesture, as might be
supposed, is historically ancient, but the instance, frequently adduced
from the attitude of the god Harpokrates, whose finger is on his lips,
is an error. The Egyptian hieroglyphists, notably in the designation of
Horus, their dawn-god, used the finger in or on the lips for “child.” It
has been conjectured in the last instance that the gesture implied, not
the mode of taking nourishment, but inability to speak--_in-fans_. This
conjecture, however, was only made to explain the blunder of the Greeks,
who saw in the hand placed connected with the mouth in the hieroglyph of
Horus (the) son, “Hor-(p)-chrot,” the gesture familiar to themselves of
a finger on the lips to express “silence,” and so, mistaking both the
name and the characterization, invented the God of Silence, Harpokrates.
A careful examination of all the linear hieroglyphs given by Champollion
(_Dictionnaire Égyptien_) shows that the finger or the hand to the mouth
of an adult (whose posture is always distinct from that of a child) is
always in connection with the positive ideas of voice, mouth, speech,
writing, eating, drinking, &c., and never with the negative idea of
silence. The special character for _child_, Fig. 105, always has the
above-mentioned part of the sign with reference to nourishment from the

    [Illustration: FIG. 105.]

Fig. 106 is a forcible _negation_. The outer ends of the fingers united
in a point under the chin are violently thrust forward. This is the
rejection of an idea or proposition, the same conception being executed
in several different modes by the North American Indians.

    [Illustration: FIG. 106.]

Fig. 107 signifies _hunger_, and is made by extending the thumb and
index under the open mouth and turning them horizontally and vertically
several times. The idea is emptiness and desire to be filled. It is also
expressed by beating the ribs with the flat hands, to show that the
sides meet or are weak for the want of something between them.

    [Illustration: FIG. 107.]

Fig. 108 is made in mocking and ridicule. The open and oscillating hand
touches the point of the nose with that of the thumb. It has the
particular sense of stigmatizing the person addressed or in question as
a dupe. A credulous person is generally imagined with a gaping mouth and
staring eyes, and as thrusting forward his face, with pendant chin, so
that the nose is well advanced and therefore most prominent in the
profile. A dupe is therefore called _naso lungo_ or long-nose, and with
Italian writers “_restare con un palmo di naso_”--to be left with a
palm’s length of nose--means to have met with loss, injury, or

    [Illustration: FIG. 108.]

The thumb stroking the forehead from one side to the other, Fig. 109, is
a natural sign of _fatigue_, and of the physical toil that produces
fatigue. The wiping off of perspiration is obviously indicated. This
gesture is often used ironically.

    [Illustration: FIG. 109.]

As a _dupe_ was shown above, now the _duper_ is signified, by Fig. 110.
The gesture is to place the fingers between the cravat and the neck and
rub the latter with the back of the hand. The idea is that the deceit is
put within the cravat, taken in and down, similar to our phrase to
“swallow” a false and deceitful story, and a “cram” is also an English
slang word for an incredible lie. The conception of the slang term is
nearly related to that of the Neapolitan sign, viz., the artificial
enlargement of the œsophagus of the person victimized or on whom
imposition is attempted to be practiced, which is necessary to take it

    [Illustration: FIG. 110.]

Fig. 111 shows the ends of the index and thumb stroking the two sides of
the nose from base to point. This means _astute, attentive, ready_.
Sharpness of the nasal organ is popularly associated with subtlety and
finesse. The old Romans by _homo emunctæ naris_ meant an acute man
attentive to his interests. The sign is often used in a bad sense, then
signifying _too_ sharp to be trusted.

    [Illustration: FIG. 111.]

This somewhat lengthy but yet only partial list of Neapolitan
gesture-signs must conclude with one common throughout Italy, and also
among us with a somewhat different signification, yet perhaps also
derived from classic times. To express suspicion of a person the
forefinger of the right hand is placed upon the side of the nose. It
means _tainted_, not sound. It is used to give an unfavorable report of
a person inquired of and to warn against such.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Chinese, though ready in gesticulation and divided by dialects, do
not appear to make general use of a systematic sign language, but they
adopt an expedient rendered possible by the peculiarity of their written
characters, with which a large proportion of their adults are
acquainted, and which are common in form to the whole empire. The
inhabitants of different provinces when meeting, and being unable to
converse orally, do not try to do so, but write the characters of the
words upon the ground or trace them on the palm of the hand or in the
air. Those written characters each represent words in the same manner as
do the Arabic or Roman numerals, which are the same to Italians,
Germans, French, and English, and therefore intelligible, but if
expressed in sound or written in full by the alphabet, would not be
mutually understood. This device of the Chinese was with less apparent
necessity resorted to in the writer’s personal knowledge between a
Hungarian who could talk Latin, and a then recent graduate from college
who could also do so to some extent, but their pronunciation was so
different as to occasion constant difficulty, so they both wrote the
words on paper, instead of attempting to speak them.

The efforts at intercommunication of all savage and barbarian tribes,
when brought into contact with other bodies of men not speaking an oral
language common to both, and especially when uncivilized inhabitants of
the same territory are separated by many linguistic divisions, should in
theory resemble the devices of the North American Indians. They are not
shown by published works to prevail in the Eastern hemisphere to the
same extent and in the same manner as in North America. It is, however,
probable that they exist in many localities, though not reported, and
also that some of them survive after partial or even high civilization
has been attained, and after changed environment has rendered their
systematic employment unnecessary. Such signs may be, first, unconnected
with existing oral language, and used in place of it; second, used to
explain or accentuate the words of ordinary speech, or third, they may
consist of gestures, emotional or not, which are only noticed in oratory
or impassioned conversation, being, possibly, survivals of a former
gesture language.

From correspondence instituted it may be expected that a considerable
collection of signs will be obtained from West and South Africa, India,
Arabia, Turkey, the Fiji Islands, Sumatra, Madagascar, Ceylon, and
especially from Australia, where the conditions are similar in many
respects to those prevailing in North America prior to the Columbian
discovery. In the _Aborigines of Victoria_, _Melbourne_, 1878, by
R. Brough Smythe, the author makes the following curious remarks: “It is
believed that they have several signs, known only to themselves, or to
those among the whites who have had intercourse with them for lengthened
periods, which convey information readily and accurately. Indeed,
because of their use of signs, it is the firm belief of many (some
uneducated and some educated) that the natives of Australia are
acquainted with the secrets of Freemasonry.”

In the _Report of the cruise of the United States Revenue steamer Corwin
in the Arctic Ocean_, _Washington_, 1881, it appears that the Innuits of
the northwestern extremity of America use signs continually. Captain
Hooper, commanding that steamer, is reported by Mr. Petroff to have
found that the natives of Nunivak Island, on the American side, below
Behring Strait, trade by signs with those of the Asiatic coast, whose
language is different. Humboldt in his journeyings among the Indians of
the Orinoco, where many small isolated tribes spoke languages not
understood by any other, found the language of signs in full operation.
Spix and Martius give a similar account of the Puris and Coroados of

       *       *       *       *       *

It is not necessary to enlarge under the present heading upon the signs
of deaf-mutes, except to show the intimate relation between sign
language as practiced by them and the gesture signs, which, even if not
“natural,” are intelligible to the most widely separated of mankind.
A Sandwich Islander, a Chinese, and the Africans from the slaver Amistad
have, in published instances, visited our deaf-mute institutions with
the same result of free and pleasurable intercourse; and an English
deaf-mute had no difficulty in conversing with Laplanders. It appears,
also, on the authority of Sibscota, whose treatise was published in
1670, that Cornelius Haga, ambassador of the United Provinces to the
Sublime Porte, found the Sultan’s mutes to have established a language
among themselves in which they could discourse with a speaking
interpreter, a degree of ingenuity interfering with the object of their
selection as slaves unable to repeat conversation. A curious instance
has also been reported to the writer of operatives in a large mill where
the constant rattling of the machinery rendered them practically deaf
during the hours of work and where an original system of gestures was

In connection with the late international convention, at Milan, of
persons interested in the instruction of deaf-mutes which, in the
enthusiasm of the members for the new system of artificial articulate
speech, made war upon all gesture-signs, it is curious that such
prohibition of gesture should be urged regarding mutes when it was
prevalent to so great an extent among the speaking people of the country
where the convention was held, and when the advocates of it were
themselves so dependent on gestures to assist their own oratory if not
their ordinary conversation. Artificial articulation surely needs the
aid of significant gestures more, when in the highest perfection to
which it can attain, than does oral speech in its own high development.
The use of artificial speech is also necessarily confined to the oral
language acquired by the interlocutors and throws away the advantage of
universality possessed by signs.


Less of practical value can be learned of sign language, considered as a
system, from the study of gestures of actors and orators than would
appear without reflection. The pantomimist who uses no words whatever is
obliged to avail himself of every natural or imagined connection between
thought and gesture, and, depending wholly on the latter, makes himself
intelligible. On the stage and the rostrum words are the main reliance,
and gestures generally serve for rhythmic movement and to display
personal grace. At the most they give the appropriate representation of
the general idea expressed by the words, but do not attempt to indicate
the idea itself. An instance is recorded of the addition of significance
to gesture when it is employed by the gesturer, himself silent, to
accompany words used by another. Livius Andronicus, being hoarse,
obtained permission to have his part sung by another actor while he
continued to make the gestures, and he did so with much greater effect
than before, as Livy, the historian, explains, because he was not
impeded by the exertion of the voice; but the correct explanation
probably is, because his attention was directed to ideas, not mere


To look at the performance of a play through thick glass or with closed
ears has much the same absurd effect that is produced by also stopping
the ears while at a ball and watching the apparently objectless capering
of the dancers, without the aid of musical accompaniment. Diderot, in
his _Lettre sur les sourds muets_, gives his experience as follows:

“I used frequently to attend the theater and I knew by heart most of our
good plays. Whenever I wished to criticise the movements and gestures of
the actors I went to the third tier of boxes, for the further I was from
them the better I was situated for this purpose. As soon as the curtain
rose, and the moment came when the other spectators disposed themselves
to listen, I put my fingers into my ears, not without causing some
surprise among those who surrounded me, who, not understanding, almost
regarded me as a crazy man who had come to the play only not to hear it.
I was very little embarrassed by their comments, however, and
obstinately kept my ears closed as long as the action and gestures of
the players seemed to me to accord with the discourse which I
recollected. I listened only when I failed to see the appropriateness of
the gestures. * * * There are few actors capable of sustaining such a
test, and the details into which I could enter would be mortifying to
most of them.”

It will be noticed that Diderot made this test with regard to the
appropriate gestural representation of plays that he knew by heart, but
if he had been entirely without any knowledge of the plot, the
difficulty in his comprehending it from gestures alone would have been
enormously increased. When many admirers of Ristori, who were wholly
unacquainted with the language in which her words were delivered,
declared that her gesture and expression were so perfect that they
understood every sentence, it is to be doubted if they would have been
so delighted if they had not been thoroughly familiar with the plots of
Queen Elizabeth and Mary Stuart. This view is confirmed by the case of a
deaf-mute, told to the writer by Professor FAY, who had prepared to
enjoy Ristori’s acting by reading in advance the advertised play, but on
his reaching the theater another play was substituted and he could
derive no idea from its presentation. The experience of the present
writer is that he could gain very little meaning in detail out of the
performance at a Chinese theater, where there is much more true
pantomime than in the European, without a general notion of the subject
as conveyed from time to time by an interpreter. A crucial test on this
subject was made at the representation at Washington, in April, 1881, of
_Frou-Frou_ by Sarah Bernhardt and the excellent French company
supporting her. Several persons of special intelligence and familiar
with theatrical performances, but who did not understand spoken French,
and had not heard or read the play before or even seen an abstract of
it, paid close attention to ascertain what they could learn of the plot
and incidents from the gestures alone. This could be determined in the
special play the more certainly as it is not founded on historic events
or any known facts. The result was that from the entrance of the heroine
during the first scene in a peacock-blue riding habit to her death in a
black walking-suit, three hours or five acts later, none of the students
formed any distinct conception of the plot. This want of apprehension
extended even to uncertainty whether _Gilberte_ was married or not; that
is, whether her adventures were those of a disobedient daughter or a
faithless wife, and, if married, which of the half dozen male personages
was her husband. There were gestures enough, indeed rather a profusion
of them, and they were thoroughly appropriate to the words (when those
were understood) in which fun, distress, rage, and other emotions were
expressed, but in no cases did they interpret the motive for those
emotions. They were the dressing for the words of the actors as the
superb millinery was that of their persons, and perhaps acted as varnish
to bring out dialogues and soliloquies in heightened effect. But though
varnish can bring into plainer view dull or faded characters, it cannot
introduce into them significance where none before existed. The simple
fact was that the gestures of the most famed histrionic school, the
Comédie Française, were not significant, far less self-interpreting, and
though praised as the perfection of art, have diverged widely from
nature. It thus appears that the absence of absolute self-interpretation
by gesture is by no means confined to the lower grade of actors, such as
are criticised in the old lines:

  When to enforce some very tender part
  His left hand sleeps by instinct on the heart;
  His soul, of every other thought bereft,
  Seems anxious only--where to place the left!

Without relying wholly upon the facts above mentioned, it will be
admitted upon reflection that however numerous and correct may be the
actually significant gestures made by a great actor in the
representation of his part, they must be in small proportion to the
number of gestures not at all significant, and which are no less
necessary to give to his declamation precision, grace, and force.
Significant gestures on the stage may be regarded in the nature of high
seasoning and ornamentation, which by undue use defeat their object and
create disgust. Histrionic perfection is, indeed, more shown in the
slight shades of movement of the head, glances of the eye, and poises of
the body than in violent attitudes; but these slight movements are
wholly unintelligible without the words uttered with them. Even in the
expression of strong emotion the same gesture will apply to many and
utterly diverse conditions of fact. The greatest actor in telling that
his father was dead can convey his grief with a shade of difference from
that which he would use if saying that his wife had run away, his son
been arrested for murder, or his house burned down; but that shade would
not without words inform any person, ignorant of the supposed event,
which of the four misfortunes had occurred. A true sign language,
however, would fully express the exact circumstances, either with or
without any exhibition of the general emotion appropriate to them.

Even among the best sign-talkers, whether Indian or deaf-mute, it is
necessary to establish some _rapport_ relating to theme or
subject-matter, since many gestures, as indeed is the case in a less
degree with spoken words, have widely different significations,
according to the object of their exhibition, as well as the context.
Panurge (_Pantagruel_, Book III, ch. xix) hits the truth upon this
point, however ungallant in his application of it to the fair sex. He is
desirous to consult a dumb man, but says it would be useless to apply to
a woman, for “whatever it be that they see they do always represent unto
their fancies, and imagine that it hath some relation to love. Whatever
signs, shows, or gestures we shall make, or whatever our behavior,
carriage, or demeanor shall happen to be in their view and presence,
they will interpret the whole in reference to androgynation.” A story is
told to the same point by Guevara, in his fabulous life of the Emperor
Marcus Aurelius. A young Roman gentleman encountering at the foot of
Mount Celion a beautiful Latin lady, who from her very cradle had been
deaf and dumb, asked her in gesture what senators in her descent from
the top of the hill she had met with, going up thither. She straightway
imagined that he had fallen in love with her and was eloquently
proposing marriage, whereupon she at once threw herself into his arms in
acceptance. The experience of travelers on the Plains is to the same
general effect, that signs commonly used to men are understood by women
in a sense so different as to occasion embarrassment. So necessary was
it to strike the mental key-note of the spectators by adapting their
minds to time, place, and circumstance, that even in the palmiest days
of pantomime it was customary for the crier to give some short
preliminary explanation of what was to be acted, which advantage is now
retained by our play-bills, always more specific when the performance is
in a foreign language, unless, indeed, the management is interested in
the sale of librettos.


If the scenic gestures are so seldom significant, those appropriate to
oratory are of course still less so. They require energy, variety, and
precision, but also a degree of simplicity which is incompatible with
the needs of sign language. As regards imitation, they are restrained
within narrow bounds and are equally suited to a great variety of
sentiments. Among the admirable illustrations in Austin’s _Chironomia_
of gestures applicable to the several passages in Gay’s “Miser and
Plutus” one is given for “But virtue’s sold” which is perfectly
appropriate, but is not in the slightest degree suggestive either of
virtue or of the transaction of sale. It could be used for an indefinite
number of thoughts or objects which properly excited abhorrence, and
therefore without the words gives no special interpretation. Oratorical
delivery demands general grace--cannot rely upon the emotions of the
moment for spontaneous appropriateness, and therefore requires
preliminary study and practice, such as are applied to dancing and
fencing with a similar object; indeed, accomplishment in both dancing
and fencing has been recommended as of use to all orators. In reference
to this subject a quotation from Lord Chesterfield’s letters is in
place: “I knew a young man, who, being just elected a member of
Parliament, was laughed at for being discovered, through the key-hole of
his chamber door, speaking to himself in the glass and forming his looks
and gestures. I could not join in that laugh, but, on the contrary,
thought him much wiser than those that laughed at him, for he knew the
importance of those little graces in a public assembly and they did


In no other thoroughly explored part of the world has there been found
spread over so large a space so small a number of individuals divided by
so many linguistic and dialectic boundaries as in North America. Many
wholly distinct tongues have for an indefinitely long time been confined
to a few scores of speakers, verbally incomprehensible to all others on
the face of the earth who did not, from some rarely operating motive,
laboriously acquire their language. Even when the American race, so
styled, flourished in the greatest population of which we have any
evidence (at least according to the published views of the present
writer, which seem to have been generally accepted), the immense number
of languages and dialects still preserved, or known by early recorded
fragments to have once existed, so subdivided it that only the dwellers
in a very few villages could talk together with ease. They were all
interdistributed among unresponsive vernaculars, each to the other being
_bar-bar-ous_ in every meaning of the term. The number of known stocks
or families of Indian languages within the territory of the United
States amounts now to sixty-five, and these differ among themselves as
radically as each differs from the Hebrew, Chinese, or English. In each
of these linguistic families there are several, sometimes as many as
twenty, separate languages, which also differ from each other as much as
do the English, French, German, and Persian divisions of the Aryan
linguistic stock.

The use of gesture-signs, continued, if not originating, in necessity
for communication with the outer world, became entribally convenient
from the habits of hunters, the main occupation of all savages,
depending largely upon stealthy approach to game, and from the sole form
of their military tactics--to surprise an enemy. In the still expanse of
virgin forests, and especially in the boundless solitudes of the great
plains, a slight sound can be heard over a large area, that of the human
voice being from its rarity the most startling, so that it is now, as it
probably has been for centuries, a common precaution for members of a
hunting or war party not to sp