A Few Words about the Two Tribes of the Mönnítarris and the Arikaras

[Page 3:115]This nation is called the Mönnítarris (translation: “the ones who have come across the water—the river”) by the Mandans and most other [Indian] nations; by the French and the Americans, Gros Ventres.Arabúcku is the general name. But they also call the inhabitants of Mih-Tutta-Hangkusch Awatirá-tácka (‘tácka’ short, ‘r’ tip of the tongue) [and] those of Ruhptare Áwa- ichpawatí (‘Áwa’ very short, ‘ich’ as in German, ‘pawatí’ short, ‘tí’ very short). They formerly were one and the same nation with the Crows, or Corbeaux, from which they separated because of an argument about a shot buffalo (so it is said) and moved to the Missouri. They call themselves or their nation Biddahátsi-Awatíss (pronounced short) and not Bellantsiä, as many Americans maintain. They are close neighbors and for a long time have been allies of the Mandans, whom they call Arabúcku.M1 They lived for a considerable time in three villages on the Mahtsí Maëttseruåhji (‘e’ half [ә], ‘ji’ as in French), called Knife River by the Americans, rivière au Couteau by the French.M2It comes down out of the mountains that are connected to the Black Hills, about two and a half to three days’ travel [away]. It is only a small brook. In one place in his description of his trip to the Mandans, Brackenridge uses the expression “the Mandans, or Gros Ventres, ”M3Views of Louisiana, p. 77. as if he considered both nations to be one and the same. But later it appears that he did not assume this, [since] he claims [that] the languages of those nations are entirely different, which is very correct but does not fit well with the earlier statement. He reiterates further that the Hidatsas lived in five villages (in 1811). This is incorrect because, when Charbonneau came to them thirty-seven years ago, they had no more than three villages, the same as now. The nation itself calls its villagesM4Awatí (‘tí’ short), village. as follows: The lowest one, located immediately on the left bank of the mouth of the Knife River, which flows into the Missouri, is called Awacháhwi (Village of the Mountains); the French call it le village des Souliers, after an old Indian chief, Itáchpa-Süpihähsch, les Souliers Noirs [Black Shoes]. It contains about eighteen lodges and [— —] men. The central village, Awatichai-Ächpú (‘chái’ velar and together, ‘Äch’ velar), The Village of the Hills on the Hill, is also located on the left bank of the Knife River. They usually call it quite simply Awatichai. The French, however, know it by the name petit village [small village] . It contains about forty huts.M5In the description of their journey (vol. 1, p. [——]), Lewis and Clark state that in one of the three Hidatsa villages, the Ahnahaways had lived, a nation different from the Hidatsas who, however, spoke the very same language. The Mandans were supposed to have been called Wattasoons. Of all this, no one claims to know anything here, [and] they were not really a different nation if they spoke exactly the same language. Those travelers state furthermore that the Hidatsas fought over the stomach of a buffalo and then separated. Two bands were supposed to have moved onto the prairie and were called Crow and Pauneh Indians, [a story] only the old chief Addíh- Hiddísch told us differently. The information given by Lewis and Clark originates from Jusseaume, a very unreliable source, so they say. [Lewis and Clark] maintain further that the Hidat- sas, Metaharta (a name nobody here knows at all), or Hidatsas of the Willows, came from the plains. The others had always lived in the same place. It will be seen later that the old chief Addíh-Hiddísch told a completely different story of his nation. One can read furthermore in Lewis and Clark’s travels that the Hidatsas had been a branch of the Fall Indians or, as they are now called on the upper Missouri, the Gros Ventres des Prairies, who earlier roamed between the Missouri and [the] Saskatchewan and who were discussed earlier [in my jour- nals]. But this saga is without doubt completely unfounded; my vocabulary lists and the difficulty in learning the language of those Fall Indians prove clearly the complete difference between the nations. Even the type of articulation is entirely different, and the Fall Indians are said to be originally Arapa- hoes. The Hidatsas call them Eirichtí-aruchpágha (‘Ei’ together, ‘ti’ carries stress, everything short). This story that the two nations recognized each other during a skirmish is certainly pure fabrication. Everyone who knows these two nations shares my opinion about this matter. [The fact] that both nations are called Gros Ventres does not prove anything, because the silly names given by travelers frequently lack foundation and sense, and often they cannot be explained at all. The uppermost village located on the right bank of the Knife River was originally called Biddahátsi-Awatíss, but later on, a medicine man who came up from the Missouri called it Eláh EláhSá, as it is still called now. The French call it by the term le grand village [big village] . It is by far the largest of the three villages; it has [more than] eighty lodges. From all three villages together there might be about 350 warriors or warlike men. At the present time, the chiefs in the three villages are the following:

At Eláh-Sá:

  1. Lachpitzí-Síhrisch (Yellow Bear)
  2. Itsicháichä (‘Itsi’ short, ‘ch’ velar, ‘ái’ together, ‘chä’ short) (Monkey Face)

At Awatichai:

  1. Ahji-Süpischä (Black Horn Buffalo)
  2. Berärusíss Wóharusiss (short) (Catches Fish)

At Awacháhwi:

  1. Addíh-Hiddísch (short, ‘ch’ often not audible), Maker of Roads
  2. Atischíäss (stress on ‘í’), Bad Hut or Lodge
  3. LachpitzíKikíhrisch (‘risch’ a little unclear and not fully articulated, almost like ‘ri’), Hunts Bears.

The Mandans bestow very different names on the three Hidatsa villages: EláhSá they call Mönnitarr-Óchtä; Awatichai [they call] Míhtichare (‘ch’ velar); and Awacháhwi [they call] Máchahä.

The Hidatsas reside permanently now in these three villages and no longer roam. [This has happened] approximately since [the time of _lewis">] Lewis and Clark; after that, white men, especially fur traders, came to see them.[Page 3:116] They formerly roamed, as the Pawnees, Omahas, and other tribes on the prairie [still do], following the buffalo herds after their planting (consisting of corn, beans, squash, and tobacco) was done. In the fall they returned, [but] once the harvest was completed, they hunted again on the prairie. On their travels they used leather [tipis]; some of these can still be found in good condition. The larger part of their former nation, the Haideróhka, or Crows (Corbeaux), live separately from them. [The Crows] have remained a hunter nation and do not plant anything at all. Even the Hidatsas plant considerably less tobacco now, because that of the white men pleases them more. In their medicine bags, or among the relics and medicines kept by the nation, they still have their [native] tobacco. That was mentioned [in] the Mandan [discussion]. They will never let it completely disappear, because it is always smoked in the medicine pipes on ceremonial occasions, for instance, at peace agreements and the like.

The Hidatsas are essentially not significantly different from the Mandans. But strangers do notice that, on average, they have more tall people [and] are taller in general. Individuals among them are very tall and broad-shouldered, also muscular and well built. Their noses are often gently sloping, now and then more aquiline, [and] often straight. I found a few among them with entirely Botocudo physiognomies. The women look much like the Mandans; some are tall and strong, [but] most are short; many [are] heavy. One can see a few pretty faces among them that, in the Indian manner, may be called beautiful.

They have lived with the Mandans for so long that both nations wear the same traditional attire, but perhaps it can be stated that the Hidatsas generally pay more attention than the Mandans do to nice clothes and ornaments. Their necklaces of bear claws, which they call lachpitzí-sichpo-ahpöä (last word short and quiet, ‘ich’ velar) and often pay dearly for, are very large and flawless. [These necklaces] often consist of forty frontal claws [and] reach in a wide semicircle across the chest from one shoulder blade to the other. The hair ornament that is worn in front beside the temple, ächidúhwassa (‘ch’ velar), is very long and often decorated beautifully on its lower end with colorful small feathers or strips of ermine skin. They wear their hair very long in smooth braids hanging down the back; [it] forms a broad surface [to be] smeared with reddish brown clay and, if not long enough, [is] often extended with false hair attached with pine tar. They allegedly often take that hair from their slain enemies. The flat ornament (arra-úhwassa) (‘r’ tongue trilled, ‘wassa’ short, ‘a’ articulated half) previously [described] for the Mandans, [the one that] hangs down in the back, is often very delicately trimmed with porcupine quills in colorful, elegant patterns. Above [that] they usually wear a black or white eagle feather, sometimes tinted red, fastened horizontally. To mark their coups, they put a circle or tuft of feathers from birds of prey or ravens into their hair. They seldom wear leather shirts (wacháhpi-wa-itóhchi; ‘ch’ velar) like [those of] the Crows, Assiniboines, and Blackfoot. Most of the time their upper bodies are bare, [although] their arms and often their whole bodies are painted. Their leggins, or breeches (wacháhpi-hu-psíh), are not different from those of the Mandans. The breechcloth, edde-ipschake (‘edde’ very short, ‘e’ full quality), is normally [made] of white woolen cloth [with] narrow, dark blue stripes.[Page 3:117] The shoes, huupá (‘uu’ slightly separated), are decorated in various ways, frequently with a long stripe or an elegant, round rosette of colorful porcupine quills. The belt, ma-i-páschagih (‘gih’ velar), is [fashioned] of leather or tanned skin, [and at the] back, a knife (máhtsi) is stuck in its sheath. Many [Hidatsas] wear a narrow, shiny steel bracelet that encloses the wrist like a spring, the same as the Mandans; they call it itäruwassa (short, especially ‘ssa’). With the major piece of clothing, the buffalo skin or robe (waschí), they afford themselves much luxury. They paint [these robes] in a number of ways and sell them at a high price. Almost everything about this subject [is] discussed before, in the Mandan [chapter]. Robes are often painted in red, black, and yellow colors; on some, skirmishes and heroic feats are portrayed as [they] happened; on others, objects given away as presents—like horses, guns, woolen blankets, cloth, [and] feather bonnets (these in the shape of large suns)—[are depicted].

In this nation there are many men with tattoos,M6Arukpí (stress on ‘pí’ and very short), tattooing Wahruïkohke (‘ruï’ separate, ‘e’ full quality). especially on one side of the body. For instance, the right side of the chest and the right arm [might be adorned] with various stripes, sometimes down to the hand. Indeed, the old chief Addíh-Hiddísch had his whole right hand striped. The procedure is like that of the Mandans. The [Hidatsa] manner of painting the body is also no different from the [Mandan] way.

The villages of the Hidatsas are set up similarly to those of the Mandans. However, the central space does not contain a model of First Man’ s tower or the ark of the great flood, or the figure of Ochkíh-Häddä. On the other hand, one can see at Eláh-Sá the figure of a woman on top of a long pole, without doubt that of the grandmother (Makóh) who gave the pots, which will be discussed further below. On the pole there is a bundle of brushwood to which the leather dress of a woman is fastened. The head is made of wormwood [topped by] a cap with feathers. She also wears women’s [leggings].

I described the inside of the Hidatsa lodges in chapter [— —] on the occasion of a visit to the lodge of chief Lachpitzí-Síhrisch. They are furnished like the Mandan [lodges]. A lodge is called attí (‘í’ short) in their language; a village, awatí (‘tí’ pronounced short).

In winter the Hidatsas, like the Mandans, move into the forests on both sides of the Missouri, where they have shelter and wood. They have their winter villages there, [the lodges] erected close together among the forest trees.

Their domestic life differs little from that of the Mandans. They have approximately 250 to 300 horses in their three villages, about as many as the Mandans. They have a moderate number of dogs, just like the Mandans. They use them in [ the same] manner—that is, only to carry loads. They do not eat them.

When these people have a feast (there are several kinds of these) and extend an invitation, each [guest] brings his own bowl. It is filled for him, and he must empty it. If he cannot [do] this, he passes it on to his neighbor and adds a small piece of tobacco as a present. The one who accepts the bowl empties it by eating everything. At the gun and war festivals, one has to eat everything that is served.

When they name their children—it cannot be called baptism—they have the following custom: The father goes buffalo hunting and brings back much meat. In the village he often loads ten to twelve large slabs of meat on his back. He walks stooped over under the weight and [then] puts [his] child on top. In this fashion he walks into the lodge of a medicine man (madséh-akuchupáhs), who is supposed to bestow the name [on the child].[Page 3:118] The meat is a present or reward for the name.

[For] a few character traits, see addenda, p. 291 under the symbol. [From 3:291:] To be sure, generosity is being Among these roughhewn people there are occasional sudden outbreaks of anger. A widower who had a child married a widow who also had a child. One day they sat together in the lodge, and the woman split a buffalo marrowbone in two. She gave one half of it to her child and wanted to keep the other half for herself. The man’ s child began to cry when he saw that and complained to his father that he had gotten nothing. [The father] told his wife she should not forget his child. And [her] answer was, “If you want to eat marrow, get a bone for yourself. ” This angered the man to such a degree that he took part of the bone and hit the woman over the head, [and] she sank to the ground, dead. Frightened, he mounted his horse [and] rode around in the village, weeping and shouting that he had killed his wife! But people laughed at him.

Traits of generosity are also found among these Indians. A young Hidatsa stole the wife of a brave and outstanding warrior from [his] village and kept her with him overnight. On the following day, friends and respected men came and reported the incident to the [husband], who had to act accordingly. He sent for the crier [and] gave him a gun for the service to be rendered. [He] had his wife, who had returned, put on a beautiful new bighorn dress, wrapped a red blanket around her, [and] placed her on a good horse. The crier had to lead her all around the village and then to the lodge of the seducer, for whom all this was meant to be a gift. When the woman arrived in the lover’s lodge, he immediately gave the crier a gun [and] another good horse for the woman’s husband and sent everything back. But the man did not take the woman back and added that she should stay there. He was not insulted at all. The crier had to carry out his task for the second time, and the generous gift was accepted.

Like the Mandans, the Hidatsas have several bands, or societies, which differ from each other by means of certain symbols, dances, [and] songs, and [members] can sell their rank and insignia. They are the following:

  1. The Stone Society, Wíwa-Óhpage (everything short and together, ‘g’ velar, ‘e’ full quality), la bande de la petite Roche, are boys from ten to eleven years of age; [they] wear feathers on their heads.
  2. The Society of the Large Sabers, Wírrachíschi (‘rr’ tongue trilled, ‘ch’ velar, everything short and together), la bande des grands Sabres, are fourteen to fifteen years of age and carry sabers in their hands when they dance.
  3. The Crow Society, Haideróhka-Ächke (of the last word, second ‘e’ half [ə]), la bande des Corbeaux, [consists of] young people from seventeen to eighteen years of age.
  4. The Society of the Small Prairie Foxes, Éhchoch-Kaïchke (‘ch’ velar, last ‘e’ half [ə]), la bande des petits chiens Renards des prairies, wear otter and wolf skins on their bodies when they perform.
  5. The Society of the Small Dogs, Waskúkka-Karíschta, la bande des petits Chiens, wear feathers on their heads and broad strips of red and blue cloth across their shoulders and draped down.
  6. The Society of the Old Dogs, Waschúkka-Aechke (‘Äch’ velar), la bande des vieux Chiens, wear feathers on their heads, the above-mentioned strips of cloth across their shoulders, [and] a wolf skin around their bodies. In their hands they carry a piece of wood with the hooves of a buffalo calf [attached to it], which they rattle; a war pipe, íh-akóhsche (pronounced short), hangs from their necks.
  7. The Society of Bow-Lances, Sóhta-Girakschóhge (‘Gi’ velar, ‘e’ full quality), wear feathers on their heads and carry bow-lances (bidúcha-háski, ‘ch’ velar) in their hands. These bow-lances were described earlier. They are very large, long bows that are largely ornamental, trimmed with colorful cloth, glass beads, [and] drooping feathers. On one end there is a large, long, smooth, iron spear tip. This is the same society or dance [that] the Mandan call Íschohä-Kakoschóchatä .
  8. The Society of the Enemies, Máh Ächke (‘Äch’ as in German [palatal], ‘e’ half [ə], everything short, together), la bande des Ennemis, carry guns in their hands and are the same [society] that the Mandan call KáuaKarakáchka , the soldats [soldiers] of the French.
  9. The Society of the Bulls, Kädap-Ächke (‘dap’ unclear, ‘Äch’ as in German [palatal], ‘ke’ half [kə]), la bande des Boeufs, wear on their heads the head skin of the buffalo with horns attached [and] strips of cloth around their bodies, [with] bells on [the strips] and on their legs; [they carry] spears, guns, and shields (parflèches parfl èches) as weapons.
  10. The Society of Ravens, Pehriskäike (‘käi’ together, ‘e’ half [ə]), la bande des Corbeaux, are the oldest men. Each carries a long pole covered with red cloth; raven feathers hang from it. They wear nicely decorated clothes and, on their heads, feathers and war-eagle-feather bonnets (wah-aschu-lakukárahä).[Page 3:119] They even borrow nice clothes from other societies.
  11. The Society of Hot Water, Máhsawähs, la bande de l’ Eau chaude, is one and the same as [the Stone Society]. They dance around naked between glowing coals and take meat from a pot of boiling water. Their hands, part of their forearms, and their feet are painted red.

Women’s societies exist here as among the Mandans:

  1. La bande des ennemis Outardes, the Band of Enemies the Wild Geese, Bíhda-Ächke (‘da’ and second word very short). When they dance they carry absinthe and an ear of corn in their arms. A feather is attached horizontally to their foreheads. This band consists of the oldest women.
  2. La bande des Ennemis, the Society of Enemies, Máh Ächke (‘i’ hardly audible, ‘ch’ always velar). Like the men, they wear long pendants of shells and rassade attached to the sides of their foreheads and a feather horizontally on the fronts of their heads.
  3. La bande [de] la Bête puante, the Skunk Society, Chóchkäiwi (‘ch’ velar, ‘äi’ together, ‘wi’ very short and soft). On the backs of their heads, they wear a tuft of erect feathers painted black, [and they have] a white vertical stripe down [and] beyond the nose (like a skunk).

Besides these societies the Hidatsas have a few [other] distinct dances:

  1. Táiruchpahga (as in German), the Dance of the Old Men, la dance des Vieux. At this dance the men appear almost naked with no adornments. Only completely worn-out old men perform it, [those who] have been through everything and no longer go to war. See the description in Chapter XX.
  2. Tuh Zúhdi Arak-Arischí (second word very short and fast, ‘r’ tongue trilled), the Scalp Dance, la dance de la Chevelure. The women dance it and carry scalps on poles. They also carry in their hands guns, axes, war clubs, stakes, and the like. Some men play the drums and the chichikué. In the meantime, the men of the war party stand in a line and move their feet in rhythm [to the music]. See the description in Chapter XX.

The games of the Hidatsas are the same as those of the Mandans. They refer to the so-called billiard game as máh-kache (‘ch’ velar, ‘e’ half [ə], everything pronounced short). The women’ s ball game is called ma-úh-tape (everything together and fully articulated).

The skin of the white buffalo cow has great value for [the Hidatsas], just like the Mandans. They call it Ptä́h-Tacki (‘Tacki’ quiet and short).M7The Mandans say that the Hidatsas adopted the worship of the white buffalo cow from them, that [this] is well grounded, and they derive the beginning of this custom with [the Hidat- sas] from the following event: When the Hidatsas came upon the Mandans the first time after they had crossed the Missouri, the Mandan chief said, “I am chief and am called la Robe à Beau Poil.” “That is my name, too,” said the Hidatsa [chief], because they were both wearing white buffalo robes. All Indians, many people, had gone together buffalo hunting, when it occurred to the Hidatsa chief to ask whether the Mandans would indeed obey their chief. The Mandan chief answered, “As a sign that I speak the truth, all my people will move across that pointed hill.” On top [of the hill] he spread out his white robe, and the whole nation walked across it; and each one took along a tuft of hair from the skin. Many men, women, children, packed horses, and dogs moved over it. At the end a few very old people followed. When these approached the chiefs, an old man said [that] every- body up to now had taken hair from the robe, [and] now he would take the robe itself. He wrapped himself in it, and since that time this [type of] robe has supposedly been considered valuable by the Hidatsas [as well as the Mandans]. They often pay for such a skin with fifteen horses, guns, kettles, cloth, woolen blankets, robes, and other objects and items of significant value. They keep the skin [for] about four years after they announce its acquisition to the village from the top of the lodge. At times, members of the family wear the robe to show it off at festivals or ceremonial events. Small, narrow strips are also cut off and worn as decorative bands straight across the head. When [the allotted] time has passed, the skin is given as a sacrifice to one of the deities. They hire a medicine man to perform the necessary ceremonies, or medicines. During the four years, precious items, such as the above-mentioned objects, are collected and kept in readiness. They build a sweat lodge (as will be described further down), distribute much food to the spectators, attach a bundle of brushwood atop a long pole, and wrap the beautiful white skin around it.[Page 3:120] It is exhibited in this manner in a place chosen by the owner, where it [is left] to decay. The medicine man who performs the ceremony receives the precious objects for his services—often 150 robes and various other objects of value—some of which he distributes among the spectators. Sometimes they choose to ride onto the prairie with their skin. [They] spread a red or blue woolen or cloth blanket on the ground and put the skin on it. They hobble and tie up the mouth of a horse that they want to sacrifice and leave it [there] in that state. If someone were to steal that horse, they would say about him, “He is a simpleton or a fool to steal from the Lord of Life!” Their medicines and superstitions are very closely related and [so] intertwined with their religious myths and the traditions of their earlier history that it will be necessary to [relate] these first.

At the beginning, only water existed and no earth. A large bird with a red eye dove below the surface and brought up soil. The Man Who [Does] Not [Die], or the Lord of Life, Éhsich-kawáh-hiddisch—translated literally: First Man (God, or the Creator)—who lives in the Rocky Mountains, did all this and sent down the large bird to fetch soil.M8In Major Long’s Expedition to the Rocky Mountains (vol. 1, p. 252) it says [that] the Hidatsas called the Lord of Life Man-ho-pa, but this [was] told to the writer of those lines by a poorly informed interpreter.

Another being of theirs worthy of worship is the [one] called Old Woman. They also call [her] Grandmother (Makóh). She roams around the whole earth. She had a share in the creation, even though [it was] only a small one. She created the mole (gopher [sic]) and the toad. She gave the Hidatsas a few pots, which they preserve even today as sacred objects and which they use on certain occasions as medicines. She told [the Hidatsa] ancestors to keep the pots and to remember the great water, too, from which all animals had come cheerfully, or “dancing, ” as the old storyteller expressed it. The [bird] with red shoulders (Icterus phoeniceus) appeared at that time from the water, too, as well as all the different birds that can still be heard singing on the riverbanks. [That is why] they listen [for] their singing and consider all birds on the banks as medicine for the corn planting. When these birds are singing, [the Hidatsas] are supposed to fill the sacred pots with water, be happy, dance, bathe, and remember the great flood. When a serious drought threatens their fields, they should celebrate a medicine festival with their [sacred] pots, asking for rain, because [it was] for that [purpose] that they were given the pots. On such occasions the medicine men are paid to sing for four days on the lodge [roofs] of the villages while the pots are filled with water.

Also the sun, or as they say it, the sun of the day, maápi-widdí, is an important medicine for them. They do not know what it actually is but are well aware that it serves to preserve and warm the earth. They make sacrifices to it when they want to undertake [some enterprise]. The same applies to the moon, which they call the sun of the night, wách-kubbedíh (‘kubbe’ very short, ‘e’ half [ә]).

The morning star, or star of the day (l’ étoile du jour), eddúwasch, is the child of the moon and an important medicine to them, [for] it is the grandchild of the old grandmother (Makóh), [the Old Woman] Who Does Not Die.

The evening star is said to be the same. The north star (l’ étoile qui ne marche point [the star that does not move]), or Polaris, is called íchka-chagátha (‘ch’ velar). The Dipper, or Great Bear, Íchka-Schachpó (‘ch’ and ‘ach’ velar), is supposed to be a white weasel, ichkúh-sissá (‘sissá’ short). The different stars of this constellation signify,[Page 3:121] in [Hidatsa] eyes, the cave or lodge, the head, the feet, and the tail of [that] animal. They call the Milky Way the Path of Ashes, but [they] do not know what it actually is. Thunder (tachúrakiss) is the noise of the large bird’ s wings that causes rain. Lightning, karichkáhs (‘r’ tongue trilled), is created when the bird looks around and searches [for something]. They call the rainbow the cap of the rain, chárrä-apóka (‘ch’ velar). In fall, a man went hunting and caught a red birdthat bird that poked fun at him. This annoyed the man. He tied up his prisoner with a fishing line, [and] then he let [it] fly again with the line. The bird of prey saw a rabbit and swooped down on it, but the rabbit crawled into a buffalo skull lying on the prairie. The line hanging from the bird described or formed [a] semicircle that can be seen even today as a rainbow.

The old chief gave us the following information on the situation of human beings after death. There are two villages, a large one and a small one, where the Hidatsas go after dying. Bad people or cowards go to the small one; good or brave people go to the large village. A party of Hidatsas went to war once, and the enemy killed one of them, whom they buried and [then] rolled thick logs over [his grave]. [This man] went to the large village, where a troop of men approached him to take him inside. He became afraid, turned around, and fled with all his wounds. They pursued him but could not catch up. A white man had given him a piece of paper [by means of] which he could return to his village. No one knows what that paper contained, [but with it] he received his life back and lived for many years. Later on when he played billiards, he rubbed his talisman with his hands, and nobody could win anything from him. They called him Dead One, Tä́es (unclear and short). He was a chief, [or] uassä-issis.

After First Man created the Hidatsas (actually the Biddahátsi-Awatíss) they formed one and the same nation with the current Haideróhka, or Crows (Corbeaux). A medicine woman among them had three sons. The oldest was called Aḯhla-Wirasass (‘a’ and ‘ï’ separate), meaning Black Circle Around His Face; the second, Itáhschi-Íhsakiss (‘sakiss’ short), meaning Robe with Beautiful Hair; and the third Ahjipsass (‘Ah’ nasal, ‘j’ as in French, ‘sass’ extremely short and unclear), meaning Straight Horn. Each of them built a village. The oldest went down the Missouri with his people, and no one knows what became of him. The second traveled to the mountains with his people and founded the present tribe of the Haideróhka the ( Crows, or Corbeaux). Finally, the third one founded the tribe of the Biddahátsi the Awatíss (very short, ‘Awatíss’ very short and unclear), or the tribe the Mandans today call the Mönnítarris [the Hidatsas]. They later built the three villages that exist now on the Missouri. The uppermost village was called, as mentioned above, Biddahátsi-Awatíss, but a medicine man rising from the Missouri called it Eláh EláhSá, the Village of the Big Willows, because [even when] the ice cut down the willows, others always grew again. The village Awacháhwi (‘ch’ velar) was earlier located farther down the Missouri in the vicinity of the Butte Carrée; [Page 3:122]the inhabitants moved upriver to [join] the rest of the nation. They were at that time all together less than 1, 000 men strong.

The Hidatsas are superstitious and consider their medicinesM9Chupáhs (‘ch’ velar). as important as the Mandans [do]. All wolves and foxes, especially the former, are medicine to them. Therefore, when they go to war, they wear a strip from the back of a wolfskin, including the tail, which hangs down their backs. They make a lengthwise cut in that skin and stick their heads through in such a manner that the wolf head hangs down in front across their chests. Buffalo heads are also medicine. In one of their villages they preserve the neck bones of the buffalo (as is also frequently the case with the Crows, or Haideróhka) with the intention [of keeping] the buffalo herds from moving too far away from them. At times medicine is made with these bones. They take a potsherd with live, red-hot coals, throw fragrant grass on it, [and] incense the bones with the smoke.

Like the Mandans, they have medicine trees and stones, where they sacrifice red cloth, red paint, and other objects to the heavenly powers. As already stated, they sacrifice objects of value to the gods, cry, wail, lament, [and] do penance to please them and be supported by them in achieving their purposes. Say wrote about the Hidatsa Wolf Chief,M10See Major Long’s Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, vol. 1, p. 257. who sat for five days on an isolated boulder without eating. This happened on the prairie hill that the Mandans visit with the same intention. They endure there as long as their physical powers permit and at night crawl into a hole close by, where they sleep.

There are several legends and traditions among these people that are strange in part. Say has told the story about the two children on the two hills.M11Ibid., vol. 1, p. 253. While going to war, a party of these Indians saw the children sitting there, [but] when they looked for them later, they had disappeared. This hill was [actually] two [hills] side by side called les buttes des Enfants.M12Mah-Karistáhti. These are located not on the Knife River but on the Heart River, which runs in a curve around the former. Women go to one of these hills to do penance if they want offspring.

Say reports another story very correctly [about] a boy [who] spent time in the belly of a buffalo and continued to grow while inside it. They also claim that buffalo bones in the prairie come alive again at times. Say says that the ancestors of the Hidatsas lived belowground,M13Ibid., p. 258. but [the Hidatsas] do not say so; it refers to the Mandans, whose legends I reported on extensively in the preceding chapter.

The Hidatsas have numerous medicine festivals. There is the Corn Dance, or more correctly, the Consecration Festival of Planting.M14Wáh uik[?] ih-kóhke (‘u’ and ‘I’ separate ‘e’ articulated full), corn festival. Wah-ruí-Kohke, Reise 2:567. SayM15Ibid., vol. 2, p. 80. described it fairly precisely. This is no dance. They have adopted it from the Mandans, did not formerly know it, [and] celebrate it in the fashion described [for] the Mandans. The great medicine festival to attract the buffalo herds, which we observed,[Page 3:123] I described extensively in Chapter XVI, as well as two other medicine arts of the women.

They also have the great penitence festival that the Mandans call Okíppe, which they, however, celebrate with a few differences. As stated, they have no ark on the plaza in their villages; instead [they have] a pole set in [ the ground] with a fork on top. In May or June, when the partisans of the war parties, [the] akuríhdi,M16Akuríhdi (‘r’ tongue trilled, ‘di’ short), “partisan.” want to carry out a raid, the preparation for this is combined with the penance festivalM17Akupéhri (‘ku’ very short, ‘r’ tongue trilled and short). [by] many young people who want to join the rank of men or braves. In front of the village, they erect a large medicine lodge, open above, that has a partition in the center where the penitence candidates take their places. In the middle they usually dig two elongated, rectangular holes for the partisans in which they lie [for] four days and four nights, naked and stretched out, with only a piece of leather tied around their hips. They are not painted at all. The first partisan usually chooses the second, who undergoes the medicine in his company. There are always enough young people who want to endure tortures on their bodies as proof of their bravery and determination. They fast for four days and four nights and become weak and faint because of it. Some start with the tortures on the third day. However, the fourth day is [the day] set for [this purpose]. On the forked pole of the medicine lodge, a long strip of buffalo hide is attached, with the head and nose pointing out and hanging down, to which a strap is fastened. They choose an old man to perform the tortures. The tortures themselves are like those of the Mandans described by the painter Catlin. Often the martyrs become unconscious. They take them by both hands, lift them up, [and] bolster their courage [so] they [can] begin anew. When they have dragged the buffalo heads long enough, hanging [fastened to their] skin and flesh, a large circle is formed. Two strong men always take one penitent between them, and [they] dance with the greatest speed around [the] circle. [The penitents] drop from exhaustion but are pulled along. Finally [when] they have fainted, [the penitents] are thrown down to the side of the lodge. The medicine man makes cuts with a knife he gets from [a] spectator. [The medicine man] calls to [the spectators] to have pity on him and to give him a knife, whereupon the first spectator throws a knife in front of his feet.

The partisan has to build the medicine lodge. During the festival, the spectators eat and smoke, [but] the penitents eat nothing. On the day of the tortures, [the penitents, like] the partisans, are painted completely with white clay, body and hair [included]. If the partisans dance, they remain standing close to their holes and move [about] there. At the same time, they carry their medicine—a buffalo tail, a feather, or the like—in their hands. By the way, nobody dances but the penitents, and there is no music other than a dried buffalo skin that is beaten with willow sticks.M18Say mentions these festivals, too. See Major Long’s Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, vol. 1, p. 254. There were cases where a father subjected his sixor seven-year-old child to the tortures [described] above. For instance, we saw one who was hung up in this manner from the flesh of his back after fasting for three days.[Page 3:124] No remedies at all are subsequently applied to the wounds. The [scars] grow like thick calluses, rising quite high; I have seen them far larger and more pronounced than those on Mandans. Indeed, I saw many Hidatsas whose chests had three to four crescentlike ridges standing out almost an inch high the whole width of this part [of their bodies]. Horizontal or vertical scars can be seen on their arms, often running the whole length.

The Medicine Stone, Wíhdä-katachí (‘g’ velar like ‘ch’) (‘dä’ and ‘chí’ very short), has already been mentioned under the Mandans. Lewis and ClarkM19Lewis and Clark Expedition, vol. 1, p. [——]. and Say,M20Vol. 1, p. 252. in the description of Major Long’s Expedition , talk about it. In the latter work, it says the Hidatsas called the stone Me MePa, which is, however, not correct; the name used [by] them is the one I indicated earlier. Lewis and Clark express themselves about this object as follows: “The Minetarris have a stone of a similar kind which has the same qualities and the same influence influence over the nation.” This should be corrected by stating that it is the same stone [landmark] of the Mandans to which the Hidatsas, too, make pilgrimages and act there exactly the same.

Another remarkable medicine device of the Hidatsas is the sweat lodge, bihóh-aku-es (everything short, together, ‘óh’ strong stress, ‘aku-es’ has falling intonation, ‘e’ half [ә], ‘es’ quiet and short). If a man desires to undertake something and wants to implore assistance from above through medicine, he builds himself a small sweat lodge from branches tightly hung with buffalo robes and made airtight. From the entrance, a 40′ long and 1′ wide straight path is constructed by digging up sod that is [then] arranged in layers in a small pile at the end opposite the lodge. Beside this pile a fire is lit, in which thick stones are heated to glowing. On the path, two rows of shoes are lined up behind each other, sometimes thirty to forty pairs. As soon as the stones are hot, they are carried into the [sweat] lodge by holding them with [one] straight piece of wood and another one bent at the top. In the lodge a fireplace has been dug out into which the hot stones are placed. The whole [village] sits on both sides of the path as spectators; many bowls with prepared food—cooked corn, beans, meat, and the like—are set up there. An old medicine man is asked to perform the medicine. He walks from the small hill to the sweat lodge [on] the lined-up shoes, always [placing his _his_feet">] feet on them.

The young man for whom the medicine is performed stands naked, except for his breechcloth, in front of the sweat lodge and laments and cries there for some time. The medicine man comes out of the sweat lodge with a knife or arrowhead and cuts off a joint of [the young man’s] finger, which he throws away as a sacrifice to the Lord of Life or to another medicine in which the young man has placed his trust. The old medicine man [next] takes a willow switch, walks to the food bowls, dips the switch in each one of them, and throws something from the contents to the four [cardinal] directions, the Lord of Life, the fire, [and] all their medicine beings, [all of which he acknowledges] loudly.

[Page 3:125]The food is then distributed among the spectators—men, women, and children. The older men go inside the sweat lodge. Women cover it carefully on the outside. [Inside the lodge,] water from prepared containers is sprinkled onto the hot stones with bundles of value wormwood. [All] those present break into heavy sweat. They sing in rhythm to the chichikué. When they have perspired enough, they call to the women to take down the hides. Someone carries a buffalo head, with its nose pointing forward, over the rows of shoes to the small pile of sod and places [the head] on top [of the pile], facing in the same direction. The medicine medi - cine is now completed. The young man gives the robes with which the lodge was covered—sometimes sixty to eighty in number—as payment to the medicine man, who [then] gives some of them to those present. The sweat lodge [participants] wrap their robes around themselves and dry off in the open air. Usually this takes place in summer. In winter they construct such setups for sweating in their lodges. [These,] however, are not medicine, and men and women gather together there, naked, to sweat. The great sweat medicine just described is undergone especially when they wish to plead for success in a war expedition or a similar significant venture. Then they buy a red woolen blanket or [one] of blue cloth, which they also sacrifice to the deity by hanging it on a pole behind the sweat lodge, where it decays in wind and weather.

At times the Hidatsas make sacrifices to the big snake that lives in the Missouri by setting up poles in the river to which robes or colored woolen blankets are attached. The reason [for this] is explained in the following a story similar to the Mandan the [ legend]. A [Hidatsa] war party went to fight against their enemies on the upper Missouri. When they had covered a good stretch, two young men, comrades, turned around. On the way back, they found a big snake lying coiled up in a certain place. They looked at the animal [for] some time, and then one of them struck [up a] fire and they burned the snake. The man who had lit the fire picked up the remains of the snake, smelled it, and asserted [that, since] it had a very good aroma, he would eat it. Although his comrade advised him against doing so, he nevertheless ate a small piece of the roasted meat. In the evening, when they came to their night quarters, he took off his shoes—and what a surprise! His feet were striped like the snake [they had] killed. He showed [them] to his friend, adding, “This is nice! When I get to the village, I will take off my shoes, and everybody will look closely at my feet. ” On the following day, his legs were striped up to his knees. Laughing, he told his companion, “This is indeed excellent! Now I no longer have to mark my coups with stripes, because nature does it for me.”

On the third day, he was striped up to his hips. In the evening they slept, but on the next day he was completely transformed into a snake. He said to his friend, “Do not be frightened by me. I have neither arms nor legs and cannot move from this place; take me to the Missouri. ” His comrade [had to] drag him to the river, because he was too long, large, and heavy to be carried. He pushed the snake intothe into the water. It immediately swam away and submerged, [as the friend] stood [there] and cried. Then the snake returned and said, “Friend, do not cry! I am [now] fulfilled! [Page 3:126]
Be calm and by all means be on your way home! However, I must ask you to bring me four things: 1. a white wolf; 2. a skunk; 3. a skunk painted red; [and] 4. a black pipe. ” His comrade went away and returned after a while with the four items. [He] wept a whole day at the river, and the snake came. “It is good that you kept your word, ” it said. “You will go to war and kill an enemy every time, as many as [the] things you brought to me. But before [each expedition], come and lament [to me], because I am medicine.”

[The friend] went that same day and killed an enemy. The snake had previously told him [that, while] its head would be at the old Mandan village, the tip of its tail would reach the mouth of the Yellowstone River; with one ear it would hear all the way up to Maison du Chien (a hill on the prairie two days’ travel from the Missouri on the left bank), and with the other up to Crête-Côte (also a two days’ journey on the other riverbank). The friend went to war four times and killed four enemies, one each time. The snake said it would now be medicine forever, and the Hidatsas, who firmly believe this story, go—when they feel like it—to the river with a buffalo robe and attach it to a pole there, as stated earlier.

They say that a man once went there to see the snake and wailed a long time until finally it appeared. He called [the snake] his father, but it answered, “You are not my son. I have only one. His name is One Who Has No Arms. However, you are the son of the one I have designated to lead the village. When [your nation] rides out to hunt buffalo, you will kill enemies, and they will also kill some of your people. ” [Even now,] when the Hidatsas smoke in their lodges, they always let the Old One, or the Grandfather (Mahrutakas), smoke by holding the mouthpiece of the pipestem up in the air. They still believe in this man who became a snake.

The Hidatsas have a custom that when their women experience a difficult delivery—which, however, rarely happens—[they] give one, two, [or] up to four horses to the medicine man. [The medicine man] then comes into the lodge of the woman in childbed, smokes with the husband, and while singing, takes a cap of fox or wolf skin and hits the woman on her back or on other parts of her body, rattling with the chichikué. Often he rubs or touches her with a turtle shell, as the Botocudos do in Brazil, only [they do it] frequently with just a bird’ s feather.

Owls can be found occasionally in the lodges of this nation, as well as [those of] the Mandans. They keep [these birds] as prophets. They claim to understand [the owls’] voices and interpret them. This is the so-called large grey owl (without doubt, Strix virginiana). They also keep the war eagle (Aquila [— —]) alive to get its tail feathers, which they consider very valuable.

When a certain Hidatsa smokes and performs significant medicine ceremonies with his pipe, he smokes only very slowly.[Page 3:127] [While he smokes,] no one is allowed to talk or move a limb of his body, except to accept the pipe. Neither women nor children are permitted to be in the lodge at that time, and someone constantly watches the door so no woman, child, or dog may enter. If there are, however, exactly seven persons present for smoking, then all these precautionary measures are dropped, and the pipe can be smoked quickly. The pipe must be lit with buffalo dung, and [when] it is cleaned out, the contents are thrown into the fire, [which] flares up high. It is likely that [this man] put gunpowder or something similar in the bottom of the pipe beforehand. If somebody has a diseased or painful spot on [their body], then the same man places his pipe there and smokes. He does not swallow the smoke, as Indians usually do, but asserts [that] through his smoking, he is pulling out the illness, [which] he finally grabs with his hands and throws into the fire.

[From 3:292:] The Hidatsa division of the year according to the moons is not significantly different than [that of] the Mandans, but nowhere could I find [a] completely correct [account]: 1. January is the month of the seven cold nights, Wáhch-Kubbedi-Scháchpo (‘kubbedi’ short); 2. The moon when the wolves mate (la lune où les loups courent le rut), Sä́hsch-Ärúha (last ‘a’ short); 3. Moon when the wolves dig their lair (lune où les loups font leur trou), Sä́hsch-Aterukickschá (first ‘e’ half [ә], second ‘e’ fully articulated); 4. Moon when the wolves give birth, Sä́hsch-Aráhk-Arrawatúhä (‘r’ tongue trilled, last word short); 5. Moon when corn is sown, Wáh Parruóhsche (‘Parru’ very short, ‘óh’ full quality, ‘e’ half [ə]); 6. Moon when the poires are blooming (lune de la fl oraison des poires), Awa-Ausche-Aweedi; Lune du commencment des épis de maïs [moon when the corn ears begin], WáhEtáh-Wetá (‘e’ half [ə], ‘tá’ very short, detached); 8. La lune où les poires sont mûres [the moon when poires are ripe], Wáhso WáhsoBiddí (‘Au’ together, ‘e’ half [ə], ‘Biddí’ very short); 9. Lune des prunes mûres [moon of ripe plums], Wah-KetáhArruóhte (‘e’ half [ə], ‘óh’ full quality, ‘e’ half [ə]); 10. Lune de la récolte du maïs [moon of the corn harvest], Mankerúh-Wedí (‘an’ as in French, ‘r’ tongue trilled, ‘e’ half [ə], ‘dí’ very short), (September); 11. La lune de la gelée blanche [the moon of the hoarfrost], Machaúre-Käwedí (‘ch’ velar, ‘aú’ together, ‘e’ half [ə], ‘dí’ very short, detached), 12. or lune ou ils vont á la chasse des oiseaux [moon when they hunt birds], Awaschi-Dáide-Bidí (‘Dái’ together, ‘e’ half [ə], ‘Bidí’ very short); 12. La lune où le Missouri prend [the moon when the Missouri brings/takes (?)], WarucháhKapáh-Bidí (‘ch’ velar); 13. La lune du petit froid [the moon of little cold] (whose name he did not know).

Péhriska-Rúhpa stipulated, as [his portrait] was to be drawn, that [Mr. Bodmer] would have to draw his two medicine birds, the white-headed eagle and the eagle owl, so that he could keep these figures [and have them] with him when he perished.

There is not much to say about hunting and war among the Hidatsas [that] was not already discussed for the Mandans. They are supposed to be very skillful in the setup of antelope parks, óh-chidäi (‘chi’ velar, ‘däi’ together), even though they have not made any lately. They hunt birds [as] the Mandans [do]. An antelope park can be completed in a half day in the month of April. They make shoes from the skin of these animals.

The Hidatsas are peaceful toward the white men in this area at present, but if one comes across a war party on the prairie, one is usually robbed of everything. They are often inclined [to be] hostile toward the white men and half-breeds living on the Red River in the north. Their true enemies are the Blackfoot, Issischüpíscha; the Gros Ventres des Prairies, Eirichtí-aruchpáhga[The name] means striped feathers, because they like to [fletch] their arrows with striped turkey feathers. (‘Ei’ together, ‘tí’ stressed, everything short); the Assiniboines, Heduschíhidi (together, ‘idi’ short); the Dacotas, Schaónni; the Pawnees, Sä́jeruchpaga (‘j’ as in French, ‘ga’ velar); the Arikaras, Arakárahu; the Cheyennes, Itáh Itáhischipáhji;M21 (last ‘i’ very short, everything short and quiet); the Crees, Schahí; Arapahoes, Íta Ítaíddi.M22And not, as it says in Major Long’s Expedition to the Rocky Mountains (vol. 3, p. 56) in the note, the I-Ta-Lih. Their allies are the Mandans, [whom they call] Arabúcku, [and] the Crows, who were mentioned earlier, whom they also call quite simply Gíhcha-itsá (‘ch’ velar).M23All these Indians are barbarous in their treatment of the bodies of their slain enemies. They mutilate them and carry or throw individual pieces around. [Once,] when they had shot an Assiniboine, they brought only his hand hanging from a stick into Fort Clark. Charbonneau [said that] in one of the Hidatsa villages, they kept a [dead] Assiniboine for several months in winter and usually propped him up during the day to use him for target practice.

Unlike the Mandans, the Hidatsas are said to know little real medicine.M24The Mandans say that [the Hidatsas] neglected most of their medicine festivals, [and] therefore many of them were killed. The drum, wírrä-chárriki (‘ch’ velar, everything very short, ‘r’ tongue trilled); the chichikué, éí-póh chä (‘éí’ like ‘äi’ together, a loud pretone, ‘ch’ velar); and the song of the medicine man have to [suffice for] healing [treatments]. For wounds, they singe fragrant grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum) over coal [and] hold their hands [first] in the smoke and then over the wound, [but from] fairly far away. After that is done, they put a little piece of tallow (suif) on the wound. 19 There were [at the time I visited] two men among these people who had recuperated from being scalped in skirmishes. [That, and] the extensive, large scars [one sees] on their bodies, prove the healing power of their strong constitutions. The medicine men have a special song without words that is considered the last resource to bring a dying person back to life. The medicine man sings alone then, accompanied by his chichikué.

From time immemorial they have placed their dead on scaffolds, máhsattiorúhschka (‘r’ tongue trilled).[Page 3:128] Because the Lord of Life does not like to see [people] quarrel and kill each other, the ones who do are buried in the ground, so [they] can no longer be seen. However, a buffalo head is placed on the grave, so that the buffalo herds will not stay away (because if they scent the bad people, they might move away and not return). Good people are put on scaffolds so [that] the Lord of Life can see them.

The languageM25Mah-arúhdä (together), “language.” of the Hidatsas is very different from that of the Mandans and is more difficult by far to pronounce correctly. They have, like [the Mandans], many velar sounds, especially, in almost every word, the velar ‘ch’ as in Dutch or German; only in a very few words is it articulated like ‘ich’ [palatal] in German. In all these languages, the ‘r’ is never pronounced in the throat [uvular] but always with the tip of the tongue [trilled]. An ‘s’ or ‘ss’ at the end of a word, which occurs very frequently, sounds almost always like ‘t’ or ‘tt’ and [is] often unclear. The difficulty in pronouncing their words lies mainly in the accent. The words end frequently in ‘ess, iss, ass, siss, sess, sass’ and are sometimes very shortly and suddenly cut off; despite that, [they are] often pronounced very faintly, softly, and indistinctly. What can be expressed in German and French with a few words usually requires several in the Hidatsa language, which bespeaks the poverty of the language. The Hidatsas do not possess the Mandan facility to learn other languages, because only a few of them speak even that language, whereas the Mandans sometimes speak four or five languages. Lewis and Clark state ?, “Th e dialect of the Mandans differs dif - fers widely from both (the Arikaras and Mönnítarris [Hidatsas]) but their long residence together has insensibly blended their manners and occasioned some approximation in language, particularly to objects of daily occurrence and obvious to the senses.” This is correct, only it should be noted that this approximation of the language exists in only [a] few words. The Mandans usually speak the Hidatsa language. The language of the Crows is more closely related to that of the Hidatsas, as the language samples will show.


[Page 3:129]The Aríkkarras, Ríkkaras, or Rees, les Ris in French, are a Missouri [River] tribe that separated from the Pawnees many years ago. At that time [they] settled on the Missouri and inhabited two villages. They are said to have always been bad, unreliable people and mostly hostile toward white men. [But] at the time of Lewis and Clark’s journey, [and] also when Brackenridge visited them, they behaved peacefully. Not long after the visit of the former, they often killed white men, fought the keelboats of several trading companies, and killed, among others, seventeen to eighteen of General Ashley’ s men. [The reaction] against [the Arikaras] was not very vigorous. Especially damaging, people say, was [the outcome of] Colonel Leavenworth’s expedition of 1822 [sic, 1823]. [Leavenworth] came upriver with a significant number of troops, cannon, and Sioux (Dacota) allies. He could have destroyed the [Arikara] villages completely, which was generally hoped [for] and expected. Instead, he departed without accomplishing anything. He supposedly had no instructions to attack. Everyone on the Missouri, however, interpreted the matter differently, [and] even now [they] think that the Arikaras must have considered the behavior of that officer to be a weakness. Afterward the Arikaras were worse than ever; they killed many whites. Because they no longer found opportunities to trade on the Missouri, and several [other] unfavorable circumstances ensued, they moved out of their villages. That happened in the fall of 1832. [They] are said to have settled [at a place] far distant on the prairie—on the road to Santa Fe, above the sources of the Platte—where they are reported to supposedly now live. Because this nation has been often mentioned, I want to report some of the information I have received about them.

They call themselves or their nation Sáhnisch (people, humans). The Mandans call them Aríkkara, the Hidatsas [call them] Arakárahu.M26Lewis and Clark (vol. 1, p. [——]) state that the Mandans call them Páhnis, [while] they call themselves Arikaras. This, however, is completely incorrect.. They are strong, tall, well-built men—a few are almost six feet tall. Their physiognomy does not significantly differ from that of neighboring nations, especially the Mandans and Hidatsas; their women are supposed to have been the prettiest on the Missouri.M27But, at the same time, the most dissolute.

Their traditional costume is also not essentially different from that of the Mandans. Their robes are painted mostly reddish brown. They have abandoned the dress and most customs of the Pawnees.

They inhabited two villages on the Missouri, close to each other, separated by only a small brook. The upper one was called the northern village, Nahokáhta; the lower one, the southern village, [was known as] Hóhka-Wirátt [and] also Achtárahä (according to old Garrot). They numbered about 500 warriors when they left the Missouri and had many horses and dogs. Now they are said to be 600 valiant men strong—as always, a warrior nation, very dangerous to white men. Ross Cox calls them, in [the account of] his journey to the Columbia, “a“ a powerful tribe, ”which [suggests], I am sure, too much. M28See Ross Cox, travels etc., p. 60. Say writes that there was an Arikara village located two miles from Beaver Creek and not far from it, a man-made cave at Shell Creek that was called Pawnee medicine.M29See Major Long’s Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, vol. 2, p. 71.

The most extensive information I know about this nation (as I have not read Bradbury) is given by Brackenridge. Even though he observed these people for some time, [Brackenridge’s account] is rather sparse—probably for lack of an interpreter fluent in the language. Here I intend to describe what I learned from a few Mandans who lived among the Arikaras a long time, especially from chief MatóTópe. Brackenridge describes the architecture of their lodges rather imperfectly,M30See Brackenridge, Views of Louisiana, p. 248 and 249, [and] his additional information, ibid., p. 247. but it is not different from that of the Mandans and Hidatsas. [Brackenridge] states furthermore [that] the Arikara villages were very dirty and compares them with some older European cities. Because one must assume that Mr. Brackenridge had never seen European cities, where there is probably more order enforced by police than [that which] prevails in American cities, his comparison is very inappropriate. In European cities, hogs never run in the streets as [they do] in the largest American places.

At the time when the Arikaras left the Missouri, their chiefs in both villages were the following:

At Nahokáhta

  1. Starapat, Little Hawk Whose Foot Is Covered with Blood (usually called la Main Pleine de Sang [Hand Full of Blood])
  2. Pachkúnehoch (‘ch’ velar, ‘hoch’ as in German), Old Head
  3. ChátschischSchauatá (‘ch’ velar, ‘aua’ separate), White Horse

At Hóhka-Wirátt

  1. Nescháhni-Sanách (‘ach’ velar), Crazy Chief, le Cheffre Fou
  2. Warúch-Tháhka (‘ch’ velar), White Hair
  3. HonníhtattaKáhrach (‘ach’ as in German), Bad Brave

Among the men mentioned were a few bad fellows, including Starapat, who had shot a white man at the gate of Fort Clark. The Arikaras received Brackenridge very well. Usually a few white men, who were needed as interpreters, lived in their villages. If someone was in their village, he was treated hospitably and invited to many so-called festivals. [But] after departing, strangers had to be careful again, especially against war parties, [for they] seldom extended a pardon to a white man. Arikara agriculture was entirely the same as it still is among the Mandans and Hidatsas. [But] the upbringing of children is supposed to have been far better. Little [rascals] received a good thrashing.[Page 3:130] [The situation] is also better in this respect among the more northern nations than among the Mandans and Hidatsas. Among the Ojibwes, [one] more often sees that if a boy walks past older persons in a circle, he is seized by his arms and submitted to a sound rebuke. If a young man is lazy and does not want to hunt, people [might see] his father give him a thrashing for the distance of a mile and then explain to him [that] if he returned [from the the hunt] empty-handed, he would receive another beating.

Like most Indian tribes, the Arikaras have several bands, or societies, [and] also special dances. The societies are not very different from those of the Mandans.M31Brackenridge, loc. cit., talks very superficially about these bands.

  1. The Bears, les Ours, Kúhnuch-Tiranehúh, consist of old people. During their dance, they wear various bear parts, for instance, parts of the skin, a necklace of claws, and the like.
  2. The Crazy Wolves, les Loups fous, Stiri-Sakkahúhn (‘St’ with the tip of the tongue). [They] wear a wolfskin on their backs, cut lengthwise, through which they put their heads and arms.
  3. The Foxes, les Renards, Titschiwáhn, [wear] fox skins on various parts of their bodies.
  4. The Crazy Dogs, les Chiens fous, Háhtschti-Sakkahúhn, carry a chichikué in their hands during [their] dance.
  5. The Crazy Buffalo, les Boeufs fous, Okóss-Sakkahúhn , are the most distinguished men. During [their] dance they wear a buffalo head-skin with horns.
  6. The soldiers, les Soldats, Tirúh-Pahí, are [the equivalent of] the Mandans’ Chárak-Óchatä or Káua-Karakáchka.

The Arikaras have at least seven more different dances:

  1. The Hot Dance, Wichkatítt (‘ich’ velar), in German die schwarzen Arme, Black Arms.
  2. Dance of the Little Bird, Hunúchka (‘úch’ velar)—on their foreheads [the dancers] wear the skin of the screech owl (Strix asio).
  3. Dance of the Youngest Child, Cáwita. The old as well as the young bands can own this. They play daredevils during it [the dance]. If one of them shoots an arrow at the enemy, all of them have to follow. At the backs of their heads, they wear a piece of swan skin [pierced with] a crow feather.
  4. Dance of the Prairie Foxes, Nánisch-Th a Táhka. They wear a kind of woman’ s apron made of red or blue cloth; in back, the skin of the small fox; short leggins [reaching] almost over their knees; two crossed crow tails on the backs of their heads; [ and] on their breeches, bells they make themselves from metal kettles.
  5. White Earth Dance, Náhni-Schahía (‘í’ and ‘a’ separate, stress on ‘í’). [They wear] a cap with pendent ermine braids, two crossed war eagle feathers at the backs of their heads, [and] on their lower backs, something [made] of leather, like a tail, trimmed with ermine and bells. In their hands [they carry] a large bow-lance decorated with war eagle feathers. The robe is edged with fox skins from which the heads droop; [it is also] decorated with ermine strips.
  6. Dance of the Ghosts, Naníschta. A large, owl feather bonnet hangs down [their] backs and even wraps around their bodies. They wear war whistles on their necks and [have] the skin or hide of their medicine animal in their hands.
  7. Dance of the Stretched Robe, Tschiri-Wakáh. If something is given to [the dancers] during this dance, they accept it by pointing their gun at the donor. They dress as if they were going to battle, because among them are only the most outstanding [and] brave warriors. When one of them accepts a present, another one—who has counted [even] more coups—comes and pushes him to the side [and] counts his coups; then yet another one comes and does the same, and thus it continues until the bravest [of all] has finally [taken all] the presents. They dance as if they were fighting, and keep their robes stretched out with their arms like shields, as if they wanted to parry with them; all their wounds are painted [in] red on their bodies.M32All these societies and dances are bought and sold by the Arikaras as by the Mandans, Hidatsas, and Crows. The buyers also have to offer or actually give their wives to the so- called father (buyer) [sic] at this occasion.

Among the games of these Indians, Brackenridge has mentioned the so-called billiard game.M33Ibid., p. 255. They have about the same [games] as the Mandans.

The Arikaras, like their Mandan neighbors, consider the hide of a young white buffalo cow very valuable and hold it in high esteem.

For their coups in war, they have the same decorations as the Mandans. The same goes for the partisans, only the Arikara partisan usually wears a wrapped corncob on his chest as an important medicine. If they have to flee, they never [throw aside] their belts [Gürtels], like the other tribes do, no matter how hot it is. If many Arikaras are together, it is said [that] they supposedly do not fight very well; [they] fight better [if only] a few are together. No [other] nation has killed as many whites as the Arikaras [have]. The Pawnees tortured or, as they used to say, burned their prisoners. However, as Say relates, they don’ t any longer, because of Petalesharo’ s behavior. The Arikaras gave up this custom when they separated from the Pawnees. The Arikaras call the Scalp Dance, which likely exists among all North American Indians, TiráhnaUï (‘Uï’ very short).

[Page 3:131]In general, the Arikaras are supposed to have the same religious ideas and traditions as the Mandans. They call the Lord of Life Pachkátsch, the same as the prairie wolf (Canis latrans); First Man [is] Íhkochu (‘ch’ velar) or Sziritsch; this is also the name of the wolf. Ochkíh OchkíhHäddä, or the devil, they know by the name of Nachskunachkoch (‘ch’ velar, ‘koch’ velar and quiet), meaning Small Hairy One. They formerly venerated the ark of First Man, but they have given it up. Medicine festivals and superstitions of all kinds prevail here as with the Mandans and other Missouri Indians. They do not actually have the Okíppe but still perform penances, though not as extended and serious. All kinds of animals are medicine to them, and they choose these as other nations do. They do not fast as long as the Mandans and Hidatsas—at the most, one day. When they want to do penance and have shot buffalo, they do not load the meat on their horses but carry the heavy load mostly on their heads and backs, often a long way home. He who carries the heaviest load gives the meat to an old, poor man, who then sings medicine songs for him so he may be lucky in war and hunting. By such deeds he becomes a respected man. The Lord of Life told the Arikaras [that] if they would give to the poor in this manner and carry burdens, they would always be lucky and blessed in their ventures. They say [the Arikaras] have given up all their earlier religious myths [except] for the last mentioned. One might surmise the influence of white men here. The thought might occur as well to an unbiased person concerning the childish mythology of the Mandans.M34Corn is one of the principal medicines. They venerate it in various ways.

They have remained true to one of their greatest medicine festivals, the Napáhruchte (‘uch’ velar), or the medicine with the bird-case. They esteem this medicine as highly as Christians do the Bible. It is their general rule and law, [and] they act in accordance with [it]. In their villages, this institution is mounted high up in the medicine lodge, and it travels with them [whenever] they move. It is a long, narrow, quadrilateral box of parchment, 6′ to 7′ long, but not wide, strengthened above with a long piece of wood. It opens at one end. On top of the case, seven chichikués are attached in a row. These are made of bottle gourds, and [each] has a tuft of red-colored horsehair on top. In the case are all kinds of stuffed bird skins [from birds] that they have been able to obtain, but only [those] that live here in summer. Besides these stuffed birds, the box contains a large, famous medicine pipe, Napáhruchti (‘uch’ velar), that is smoked on extraordinary occasions and [at] festivals. If an Arikara has killed even his own brother but has first smoked from this pipe, all grudges against him must be forgotten. They perform medicine with this [case] after the crops are seeded and the first squashes are ripe. The [squash] blossoms are watched, and as soon as the first fruits ripen, distinguished braves are chosen [and bidden to] come. Objects of value are thrown to them, [and] the first fruits are cut off and given to these outstanding men to eat. In return they have to take down the bird-case [and] open [it]; there is medicine singing, and the big pipe is smoked.

Figure 19.1. Arikara medicine box. Watercolor by Maximilian on a separate sheet of paper; duplicated as a woodcut in the Reise (2:244).

In summer when the trees are green, they take an evergreen tree (a cedar), 28 peel [the bark], paint the trunk with blue, red, and white rings, [and] then set it up in front of the medicine lodge. Then the bird-case is taken down and medicine [is] performed with it. For corn and other crops to thrive, this case is the most important medicine. He who carries this case far [away] and with great effort does the biggest penance. The strongest men among the Arikaras sometimes carry almost a whole buffalo—only the head and entrails are removed and thrown to the bird medicine as an offering. They earn much merit [by doing this]. And if [a man] has done this four times, it is believed that the buffalo can almost no longer escape him.

At the beginning of the world, the inhabitants of the village of Ruhptare are said to have lived together with the Arikaras. At that time the Lord of Life came to them in the form of a child and advised them to celebrate the Okíppe annually, like the Mandans, and not their medicine with the bird-case. A dispute and brawl ensued over this. When the Ruhptare inhabitants fought the Arikaras, the Lord of Life was on the side of the former. He wanted to go among the other party, but [the Mandans] dissuaded him; they [said the Arikaras] would kill him. But he answered, “They cannot harm me. ” Then he went to a creek, took a large piece of salt from it, rubbed it over his body, and threw some of it among the Arikaras, by which a good number were poisoned. Afterward the two parties separated. The Arikaras kept the bird-case, [while] the Mandans [kept the] Okíppe [and] followed the Lord of Life. Since that time, the Arikaras have called the latter Pachkátsch, prairie wolf.

The bird-case described above is also a calendar for the Arikaras. They count the seven cold months on the seven chichikués. [They] begin the count in the middle with the coldest month. On the left, it goes three months up to the warmth; the five [warm] months are skipped. On the right, one begins again with the cold [months] and counts to the center, when the strongest cold occurs. If one omits the five warm months, or those with the nice weather—May, June, July, August, and September—[Page 3:132]then those that are counted on the chichikués are called [as follows]: 1. Moon when leaves fall (October); 2. Moon of the little snake’ s nose (November); 3. Moon of the big snake’ s nose (December); 4. Moon of the seven cold nights (January); 5. Moon that kills or carries off people (February); 6. Moon when the wild geese return (March); and 7. Moon when plant growth begins (April).

The Arikaras have many fantastic deceptions [tricks], juggleries, and masquerades. For instance, they perform very remarkable magic, and they are said to have once had a famous juggler among them from whom they learned many tricks. They have medicine festivals where they perform complete comedies. One of them, for example, plays a bear, [wearing] a bearskin with head and claws. [He] imitates the movements and voice of the animal so well that an observer believes [he/she] sees a bear. [The bear] is shot, [one sees] the shot, [and] blood flows. [The bear] falls down [and] dies, it is skinned—and the man appears unscathed. [In] another performance, they chop off a man’ s head with a saber and carry it outside. The body lies there bleeding, without the head, and soon this headless man [begins to] dance around. Then the head is replaced [but] facing in the wrong direction. He dances again. A short time later, the head is secured firmly to the body again, and the man dances around unharmed. A third one is pierced through with a lance that is pulled out again. The profusely bleeding wound is rubbed with a hand; it disappears and everything is back in order again. People are shot down, blood flows, the wounds are rubbed, and everyone is alive again. All these scenes are, of course, intended to thoroughly deceive the spectators. Most white men, especially the French Canadians, firmly believe in the marvels of these jugglers.

No Arikara will split a marrowbone inside a lodge. This must happen outdoors, because they believe that, as soon as this precaution is not observed, their horses would break their legs on the prairie. [There are more,] similar superstitions.

[From 3:291:] The Arikaras have many enemies now: the Mandans, Hidatsas, Crows, Sioux, Assiniboines, Blackfoot, Arapahoes, Cheyennes, and others. They call the Hidatsas Uïtatt-saháhn, the Mandans Kánich (‘i’ hardly audible, almost like ‘ Kánch’, ‘ch’ with the tip of the tongue), the Crows Tuch-káh-ka (‘uch’ velar, ‘káh’ word stress, ‘ka’ quiet and short), the Dacotas Schaónn, the Blackfoot Chochkátit (‘ch’ velar, last ‘t’ almost inaudible), the Assiniboines Páhoack-sá, the Arapahoes Schahä́, the Pawnees Tschíhri (‘ri’ very short).

God told the Arikaras they were created from earth and must return to earth again. Therefore they bury their dead in the ground. They are said to sometimes give distinguished men several objects to accompany them in their graves [and to] dress them in their best clothes [and] paint their faces red. In some instances, they kill a good horse on the grave. If the deceased has a son, he receives his father’ s medicine apparatus; if not, they put it in the grave with [the dead man].

The language of the Arikaras is very different from that of the Mandans and Hidatsas. It is a bit harder [and] has many velar ‘ch’ and many German [- sounding] endings, such as ‘natsch, atsch, katsch, ass, oss, uss’, etc., that sound much harsher, especially than the endings of Hidatsa words. Among the Arikaras there are three ways to pronounce some words. For instance, some pronounce an ‘l’ where others pronounce an ‘n’, and so on. The ‘r’ is always spoken with the tip of the tongue and never in the throat. The words often end in ‘cho’, ‘chu’, and similar guttural sounds, frequently only [lightly], as a trace. Many words end in the syllable ‘hahn’, pronounced as in German, [but] lengthened.

Their manner of name giving is not different from that of the Mandans and the rest of the Indian tribes on the Missouri, the surrounding prairies, and the Rocky Mountains. They take the names of animals [or of] other objects [in their] surroundings and [also reflecting] the different conditions and activities of living creatures. These names are frequently melodious. They are often changed, as with all these nations. They usually get their first names when they are children. They change them upon reaching manhood or in cases of outstanding achievements.

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