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aeventy. From the longest side it rises with a steep ascent from the north and south to the height of sixty-five or seventy feet, leaving on the top a level plain of twelve feet in breadth and ninety in length.'
Notwithstanding the extreme symmetry of its form, and its total detachment from any other hills, its materials and strata induced our Authors to conclude it might be natural. It would be an excellent station for impunity from the natives, for by them it is regarded as a barrack of wicked spirits, in human form, of about eighteen inches high, and with remarkably large beads. They are arined with sharp arrows, • with which they are very skilful, and are always on the
watch to kill those who should have the hardihood to ap
proach their residence. The tradition is, that many have • suffered from these little evil spirits. This bas inspired all • the neighbouring nations, Sioux, Mahas, and Ottoes, with
such terror, that no consideration could tempt them to visit o the bill.'
In one of the stages of the voyage, the bank contained such a quantity of alum, copperas, and cobalt, as to impart a deleterious quality to the water of the surface of that side of the river. Till they perceived this, the party could not account for the disorders with which their very vigorous stomachs were affected.
On reaching the domains of one of the sections of the Sioux, a nation distinguished into ten tribes, it was necessary for the party to shew conspicuously out all the insignia and peremptory qualities of their nation; and we commend them for looking as big as if they had had the whole Congress at their back, whenever they had to negotiate with a powerful and ill-disposed community. All went off, to use a very favourite word of our Captains, very handsomely.' Flags were displayed, councils were held, speeches were made, medals, and decorated dresses, in gradations of value appropriate to ranks, were presented, or rather conferred, in the way of condescending recognition of the chiefs on the part of the United States Guvernment. The Great Father' was alluded to in terms which could not have displeased, in his proudest times, the Great Mogul. There are, indeed, very few more striking phenomena on earth, than the rapid formation, under the auspices of the President over a daily increasing extent of a vast continent, of the rudiments of a nation which may require much less than a century from this time, to grow to a number, a strength, and an importance, which may empower it to look down on the inferiority of any European state.
The local range and numerical strength of the various sections of the Sioux, (the great tribe denominated Nau
dowessies by Carver,) were endeavoured to be ascertained. The Yanktons are the most numerous branch, and are themselves distinguished into several tribes, though not reckoned in all at more than seven hundred warriors. The party came more in contact with one section of them than with any other branch of the Sioux. They were stout in person, and had a certain air of dignity and boldness. They promised to make peace with their enemies, represented themselves as in great poverty and distress, begged that American traders might be sent among them with powder and ball, and seemed anxious,' say the Authors, that we should supply them with some of their Great Father's milk, the name by which they distinguish
ardent spirits. The most remarkable circumstance in their economy, and which is common to them with the Kite Indians, is an institution strikingly contradistinguished from the usual cautious spirit and stealthy mode of savage warfare.
" It is an association of the most active and brave young men, who are bound to each other by attachment, secured by a vow, never to retreat before any danger, or to give way to their enemies. In war they go forward without sheltering themselves behind trees, or aiding their natural valour by any artiñce. This punctilious determination not to be turned from their course, became heroic or ridiculous, a short time since, when the Yanktons were crossing the Missouri on the ice. A hole lay immediately in their course, which might easily have been avoided, by going round. This the foremost of the band disdained to do, but went straight forward, and was lost. The others would have followed his example, but were forcibly prevented by the rest of the tribe. These young men sit
, and encamp, and dance together, distinct from the rest of the nation; and such is the deference paid to their courage, that their seats in council are superior to those of the chiefs, and their persons more respected. But, as may be supposed, such indiscreet bravery will soon diminish the numbers; so that the band is now reduced to four warriors, who were among our visiters. These were the remains of twenty-two who composed the society not long ago.'
A little way beyond the Yanktons, the voyagers examined one of those interesting objects, of which we can never have a history, the numerous ancient fortifications found in the American wilderness. The principal work consisted of two mounds, beginning at the river's edge, one of them just before its channel makes almost a rectangular turn. These commence 1100 yards apart, and are prolonged in-right lines, the one nearly along the bank, till it dips and ends in the river, and the other in a direction continually approximativg it, and ending abruptly near the bank. The two mounds and and the river nearly form a triangle, including a space of
five hundred acres. These walls are in some parts six feet high, and in others eight. One of them is more than a mile long. The ground immediately beyond where they terminate, at no great distance from each other, is occupied with more complex and much higher fortifications; in some parts twelve and even fifteen feet high, and more than a hundred feet diameter at the base. Here is a gateway with appropriate defences; and opposite, on an island in the river, is a circular citadel, still more strongly fortified. It appears to be a work quite worthy, in point of magnitude, of the Roman legions. The circum-. stance is worth mentioning-but it contributes nothing towards any conjecture at its age-that one of the mounds is almost covered with large cotton-trees, some of them three feet diameter. Such a work is palpable evidence of a prodigious difference between the present and some ancient state of the numbers and the habits of the possessors of these regions.
Near this spot they found a space of four acres all worked into narrow deep holes, inhabited by a race of animals called little dogs, which may sometimes be observed sitting and whistling at the top of the holes. These partly resemble a diminutive dog, and partly a squirrel. They were
seen in many other places.-Some curious illustrations are given of the exquisite faculty of smelling, and the prodigious feetness of the antelope.
From the Teton Okandandas, another considerable division of the Sioux, they encountered at first some rude and hostile treatment. But they promptly and resolutely braved the inHolence down, and were rewarded by a grand Indian feast and ball. Both sexes,' says the journal, appeared cheerful
and sprightly; but in our intercourse with them we discovered that they were cunning and vicious.'
Every thing went off well among the next considerable tribe, the Rickaras, who very soon and very justly made a strong impression in their favour on their visiters, by the remarkable fact of a decided rejection of spirituous liquors.
Supposing that it was as agreeable to them as to the other Indians, we had at first offered them whiskey; but they refused it, with this sensible remark, that they were surprised that their father should present to them a liquor which would make them fools. On another occasion they observed to Mr. Tabeau, (a French trader,) that no man could be their friend who tried to lead them into such follies.'
They were exceedingly amazed at the sight of York, Captain Clarke's athletic negro, who amused himself and his comrades by assuring the wondering gazers that he had once been a wild beast, and caught and tamed by his master.'
It is not said whether, if this took effect, our Authors thought the joke so excellent as to be worth that these Indians should learn in process of time that they were never to believe anything affirmed to them by the visiters, black or white, from the United States. Several valuable qualities are attributed to this nation, among which the Captains have too much decorum to reckon that gross excess of sexual licence, which was highly acceptable to most of the party. So far as we recollect, the leaders do not any where appear to regard this characteristic of the morality of their band as deserving of any other than a light satiric notice. The decencies of language, however, are in general tolerably preserved, Some curious instances are given of the superstitions of the Rickaras.
About the end of October the adventurers reached the villages of the Mandans, at the distance of sixteen hundred miles from St. Louis, reckoning by the serpentine course of the river, which they found still a noble one, after the surprising number of tributary streams which they had been continually leaving behind. The inclemencies of the season were now coming upon them with an ominous rapidity. But with a rival rapidity the dexterous and indefatigable gang, which really appears, by the efficiency of co-operation, like an individual many-handed monster, actuated by one will, built and furnished an ample, commodious, and fortified wooden barraek.
There were several villages of the Mandang, and the station soon became a very frequented and bustling scene. The Mandans themselves are a considerable number, and the place became a rendez-vous of parties of Minnetarees, Ahnahaways, Knistenaux, and Assiniboins; many of whom were drawn thither by the fame of the expedition, combining, however, their hunting, and their trading objects, with this curiosity, or rather self-interest-for many of them expected they were to receive rich presents from a party that carried along with them nobody could tell how much of the consequence, and power, and wealth, of the great nation that was claiming dominion from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
The relation of incidents furnishes a lively display of the condition and habits of the various tribes. The Mandans appear to have been on the whole the favourites, and with them a busy and amicable intercourse was maintained during the whole winter. They are rather a peculiar race, according to the accredited history of their acquisition of a place on the earth.
* The whole nation originally resided in one large village under ground, near a subterraneous lake; a grape vine extended its roots
down to their habitation, and gave them a view of the light; some of the most adventurous climbed up the vine and were delighted with the sight of the earth, which they found covered with buffaloe and rich in every kind of fruits: returning with the grapes they had gathered, their countrymen were so pleased with the taste of them that the whole nation resolved to leave their dull residence for the charms of the upper region : men, women and children ascended by means of the vine ; but when about half the nation had reached the surface of the earth, a corpulent woman, who was clambering up the vine, broke it with her weight, and closed upon herself and the rest of the nation the light' of the sun. Those on earth made a village below where we saw the nine villages; and when the Mandans die they expect to return to the village of their forefathers, the good reaching the ancient village by means of the lake, which the burden of the sins of the wicked will not enable (permit) them to cross.'
It is affirmed, in an unqualified manner, though we fear they were seldom called to their catechism on religious subjects, that they hold the belief of one great spirit presiding • over their destinies;' and they maintain the beneficial relation with this being by means of mediators: each one selects, perhaps at the suggestion of accident, some object, either a supposed invisible agent, or more commonly some of the animal tribes, to be his protector and intercessor with the great • spirit.' This seems rather a bad omen for the missionaries of rational Christianity,' whose zeal may be projecting to labour among them.
It is a remarkable circumstance, that they apply the term medicine to these intercessors, and also to the great spirit. But the application of this term does not decidedly attribute goodness, for it is applied also to whatever strikes them as mysterious, and it is quite certain that what is mysterious will by ignorant and superstitious beings much oftener be felt to threaten evil, than intimations of good. And, in fact, the term is applied to some things that are dreaded. The essence of its signification among these unhappy pagans, would seem to be power over which, and against which, they have no power,--power acting in such a way as to render it impossible to understand how either to resist or to escape.
This superstition is so sincere and strong, as to extort great sacrifices. 66. I was lately owner of seventeen horses, said a Mandan to us one day," but I have offered them all
up to my medicine, and am now poor.” He had in reality • taken all his wealth, his horses, into the plain, and turning
them loose, committed them to the care of his medicine, and • abandoned them for ever. The occasion of a man's making any considerable sacrifice to what he may have adopted as his tutelary genius, or medicine,' is solemnized with a