Remarks on the Indian Tribe of the Mandans, Actually Númangkake
The Mandans (in French, Mandals), as these Indians are generally called now, even though this term is actually the one given to them by the Dacotas, were formerly a numerous nation that inhabited thirteen, perhaps more, villages.[Page 3:77] This from a man of this nation, who remembered having seen it himself, and who died just a short time ago. They call themselves Númangkake (the people, or humans) and add the name of the village from which they originate, since all of their villages carry a name. For instance, some of them call themselves Sipúske-Númangkä, that is, Pheasant People, or Prairie Hen People, according to the village Sipúska-Míhti (míhti means village); others are called Mató-Númangkä, Bear People, according to the village Mató-Míhti; others again Schakiri-Númangkä, Cactus People (pommes de raquettes), according to the village Schakiri-Míhti, Cactus Village; still others Mahtäckä-Númangkä, Badger People, according to the village Mahtäckä-Míhti, Badger Village, and so on.M1 Still another general name of this nation is Máhna-Härrä ('r' tongue trilled, 'Härrä' short), the Defying or the Pouting (les Boudeurs), because they separated from a part of their nation and moved farther up the Missouri
All these villages no longer exist; however, the Indians originating from them still call themselves accordingly. The Mandans claim to come originally from the more eastern nations and the coastal regions. They lived earlier near the Heart River (rivière du Coeur). When Charbonneau came here thirty-seven years ago, the Mandan villages, two in number, as they still exist, were located about 6 to 8 miles farther down the Missouri. Smallpox and enemies reduced this nation so much that its total population found space in [the] two villages that are now near Fort Clark. These are Mih-Tutta-Hangkusch (the southern village), about 300 paces above Fort Clark on the same bank of the Missouri, and Ruhptare (in translation: The Ones Who Turn Around).
Lewis and Clark spell this name Rooptahee (Ruhptahi), which is incorrect. These famous travelers stayed with the Mandans over winter. They give much information about them that is doubtlessly mainly correct, although the names and words of the Mandan and Hidatsa languages are mostly incorrectly understood and written down. They received their information from a certain Jusseaume, who is supposed to have spoken these languages very incorrectly, as we were assured in general on the Missouri. Lewis and Clark mentioned many such names that neither Indians nor white men claim to know. For instance, Ahnahaways (vol. 1, p. 115), a nation that was supposed to have lived between the Mandans and the Hidatsas; furthermore, Mahawha, where the Arwacahwas lived (ibid.). The fourth village was said to be called Metaharta and populated by Hidatsas (ibid.). Of all these words and names (except for Mahawha, which [must] mean Máchahä), nobody could give me the slightest information or explanation, not even Charbonneau, who has lived here for thirty-seven years. In this respect I have used much caution. The information, names, and words given by me have all been written down according to the statements of sensible and mature men of these nations. I attempted to write their language according to [its] true articulation. The German or Dutch velar articulation aided me very much, certainly more than English and French [would aid speakers], for whom it is difficult. [Velar articulation] is intrinsic to the Mandan and Hidatsa [languages] to the highest degree. Mr. Kipp and Mr. Charbonneau, as well as some other men who have lived for many years among these Indians, have supported me at this task with much patience and kindness.
[Ruhptare] is located 3 miles higher upriver than [Mih-Tutta-Hangkusch], but on the same bank. [It] has 38 lodges and 83 warriors. [Mih-Tutta-Hangkusch] counts 65 lodges and about 150 warriors.M2The Hidatsas call the inhabitants of Mih-Tutta- Hangkusch Awatiráh-Tácka (‘r’ tongue trilled, ‘Tácka’ short). The inhabitants of Ruhptare [they call] Áwa- Ichpawatí (‘Áwa’ very short, ‘pawatí’ short, ‘tí’ very short). In both villages together there are about 300 horses.
The most important men in Mih-Tutta-Hangkusch are:
1. Cháratä-Numakschi (Wolf Chief, le Cheffre des Loups)
2. Mató-Tópe (Four Bears, les Quatre Ours)
3. Mato-Uaninächä (‘ch’ velar) (The One Not Shooting at Bears or Bear That Cannot Walk)
1. Kähka-Chamahän (‘ch’ velar) (Little Raven)
2. Kiipsndä́-Tope an’ as in French) ( Four Turtles); he is also called SchähäKäna-Kóchä (second ‘ä’ short, ‘ch’ velar) (Little Wolf’s Ear)
Later, when the opportunity avails under religious ideas, I will deal with the early history of the Mandans, since it is shrouded in darkness and is mixed in with fables and adventurous legends.[Page 3:78]
These Indians are a strong, well-built breed of men of medium height or taller. Only a few men can be called short. The tallest living man among them now, Máhchsi-Karéhde (Flying War Eagle), is 5 feet 10 inches 2 lines (Paris measure) in height. They are still not as tall as the Hidatsas, who surpass them in this respect. Many are taller than medium height, at the same time strong, broad-shouldered, robust, plump, some slender, and have mostly rather thin limbs.
Their facial features are mainly those of most Missouri Indians, but they seem to have less drooping, gently aquiline noses and less heavy cheekbones than the Dacotas. The nose of the Mandans and Hidatsas is not broad-winged, more often gently bent, and sometimes straight. The eyes are mostly long and narrow, blackish brown. Sometimes the inner corner of the eye is a little pulled down, but not often, and more so with children. The mouth is often broad, large, at times a bit thick; the cheekbones slightly protruding, broad; frequently the wings of the mandible are broad. There are large variations in skull shape. I find the forehead no more receding than that of Europeans [in general]; it happens in individual cases. If one compares the numerous skulls at burial places, many show the forehead rising straight up, although [there are] others where this part is lower and more receding.M3Even Say, this otherwise so conscientious and thorough observer, is of the opinion that the forehead of Indians is considerably receded (see Major Long’s Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, vol. 2, p. 3), but I have already spoken on this matter, and I found many deviations and differences among the Indians of North and South America in this respect. Say notes further that the facial angle would not recede as much as Blumenbach assumed. In my experience the facial features far from can never be called Mongolian or Malayan; with the Brazilians the latter occurs more. In general, Say gives a very good description of the North American Indians, which applies more or less to all these people.
Their hair is long, full, straight, [and] black, but seldom as jet-black and shiny as [that of] many Brazilians. In many children this is especially [true of] the ends, [which are] only dark brown. There are whole families, for instance Síh-Chidä’s and Old Bear’s (Mató-Chihä), who are gray, or [their hair is] heavily mixed with gray and white. Mató-Chihä́ was especially unusual in this respect. His hair was in tufts of brownish, black, [and] silver-gray, but mostly whitish gray, and his eyelashes were white, which [altogether] gave a strange impression [for] an otherwise strong, well-built man of [little] more [than] twenty years. [The Mandans] let their hair grow long and possibly extend it artificially.
Like those of all Indians along the Missouri, [Mandan] teeth are excellent [and] beautiful—strong, white as ivory, even, and spaced tightly. A defect in this respect or a tooth gap is very seldom seen, not even with old people.M4Among the elderly, the teeth [often] become worn, which is mainly attributed to chewing hard, dry meat. The women [are] strong [and] stocky; some [are] tall, [but] most [are] small. Not many women could be called beautiful [as] Indians, but there are very passable and some pretty faces among them.M5Usually they say about the Mandan women that they are supposed to have a certain shape by nature, the way Levaillant and Péron found with the Hottentots near the promontories of [the Cape of] Good Hope. This does not seem to be justified after much research, but the diverging shape of certain parts occurs—produced artificially, to be sure by the men, who manage to accomplish it through repeated pulling. With some women the outer labia protrude three to four fingers wide, with others the inner labia hang far down. Indeed, the men are sup- posed to be in this respect so peculiar that they know how to shape these parts in all kinds of artificial figures. A woman who does not have this formation is said to be considered inferior and [is] ignored. The Mandans and Hidatsas, as well as the Crows, have this custom. It is, however, more common among the Hi- datsas than the Mandans. Among the latter, public or dissolute individuals seem to have it more than the married women. Con- vincing oneself personally of this formation is difficult among these Indians. Corruption of morals in this respect is extensive among them. Once in a while they are said to associate with animals, and there are other clever inventions that one would not look for among primitive people.
Deformed individuals or [those] misshapen at birth are seen only rarely.[Page 3:79] But among the Mandans there was a small hunchbacked and deformed man. Crosseyed people are uncommon, but I noticed one such man. One-eyed [persons], or [individuals] with a felt [skin?] patch over one eye, occur frequently. There are several deaf-mutes—three siblings have this congenital trait: two brothers and a sister. Some goiters (or rather, thick necks) are caused in women, without doubt, by the great effort of carrying loads on their backs. Missing finger joints often occur, but they do not belong [in the discussion] here, since they are intentional mutilations.
The skin color of these Indians is a beautiful reddish brown, which could perhaps be called copper now and then; sometimes lighter, sometimes darker; in some individuals, more yellowish. If they clean themselves well, there are some among them who have an almost whitish looking skin, [and] on their cheeks red can even be noticed. They do not disfigure their bodies, [except for] their ears; on the rim [at] the back they make two or three holes from which they hang glass beads, brass or iron rings of mixed sizes, or strings of shells, which they have traded from other Indians. They say, if asked, that [the shells] were brought from the Mönníh-Kärrä́the ocean). They are vain and—in this respect childish, as all primitive people—like very much to adorn themselves. Young men always have a small mirror attached to their wrist. Those mirrors are bought in cardboard cases from the traders. However, they immediately put [the mirror in] a solid, crude wooden frame that they make themselves. This usually hangs from a red ribbon or a leather strap.M6The mirror is framed in various ways. The frame is often painted colorfully, red with carved buffalo or bear tracks; sometimes the frame is very large, forked at the upper end like a bootjack, [and] they carry these in their arms. [The frames are also] studded with yellow nails and decorated with ribbons, skins, and feathers. Some [men] attached the framed mirror to the inner lower area of their eagle-wing [fans]. They often look at themselves. When they have walked crosscountry (especially since it is so frequently windy here) they immediately step in front of the mirror, comb their hair, and put their clothing in order again. Painting their faces is always done in front of this important article of toiletry.
The [body] dress of the Mandans is rather simple, but their heads demand more care by far. They wear their hair parted transversely across the center of the head. The hair in front is smoothed down and is usually divided into three flat hanks. Two hang down [at] the sides of the temple and are typically braided in plaits behind their eyes. On [the plaits] they wear a decoration that consists of two pieces of leather or cloth connected in the middle with [a] winding of brass wire. [This ornament is] trimmed closely with blue or white glass beads. If it has a red background, the beads are white; in case of a white or sky-blue background, the beads are blue or white. It is attached to the braid and pushed up as high as the forehead or above the temple. Most times on [the] lower end [of the bow there is] a string [of] white dentalium shells hanging down past the chest to the middle of the body. [There are] always two [shells] in pairs, separated from the next two by a few blue glass beads. Between the two strangely ornamented braids, a [lock] hangs down from the middle of the forehead to the nose. It is smooth and flat, cut square below, not ornamented, and is tied together with a small red ribbon, like a negligee.
From the crown their hair falls down smoothly from the back of their heads and is separated in many braids that are kneaded or smeared with white or light brownish red clay in a spotted manner. They form long, completely flat skeins about 1 1/2″ to 2″ wide. They lay smoothly down to the backbone. If by nature their hair is not very long, then they extend it with someone else’s hair, attached with resin. Hair is often taken from slain enemies. At the back of their heads they often wear the páokatkape (‘e’ fully articulated)—a long, 3- to 4-finger-wide, smooth, stiff ornament of wrapped little sticks or wires that reaches down below their shoulders.[Page 3:80] It is covered in the most delicate patterns [made] with beautifully colored porcupine quills. At the upper end of this ornament a war eagle feather is attached horizontally. Its shaft is covered with red cloth at the end, [and] at its tip there is yellow horsehair. Often the white, bottom part of this feather is painted red. If they are not in their best clothing, [i. e.,] going on a hunt or cross-country, they often tie their long hair in a thick braid and wrap it with leather straps or ribbons of red cloth, then bind it together above the forehead in a thick bun. [When] they are fully dressed, they [wear] various feathers in their hair. Often [these are] feathers of birds of prey, set in a semicircle;M7Like radii or rays of the sun. or a tuft of tail feathers from common ravens [worn] upright on the back [of the head] ; sometimes a thick tuft of great horned owl feathers (Strix virginiana); then again, small round rosettes of broad raven feathers, trimmed short. In the center an ornament from the tail of a bird of prey or other bird stands out—the distinguishing marks of various societies existing among the [Mandan] people. These will be discussed further below.
They also wear a large feather bonnet with horns (máhchsi-akub-háschka), ribbons of ermine, and in the back, a long, broad, trailing strip of red cloth. To this [strip] the white and black feathers of a war eagle are attached upright. Petalesharo (the Pawnee chief) is portrayed in his finery of feathers in Godman’s Natural History. Only outstanding warriors, those who have counted many coups, can wear [this bonnet]. If [men] give away one or several such bonnets—[these] have a high value in their eyes (one often pays 2 or 3 dollars for a war eagle feather, and a horse is often given for one)—then they become respected, important men. They portray these feather crowns on their buffalo robes with the symbol of a sun, as the illustrations show.M8When they are in their best attire, famous and out- standing warriors wear all kinds of wooden symbols in their hair for their wounds and coups. For instance, Mató-Tópe (see his portrait) stabbed a Cheyenne chief to death with a knife. For this feat he wore a wooden knife, about a hand long, stuck horizontally through his hair, the handle and the blade painted vermilion. Six little sticks were stuck horizon- tally through his hair behind the crown, their tops orna- mented with yellow nail heads. Four of those were painted yellow, one green, and one red. The color of paint is arbitrary. For an arrow wound, he wore on his head the split tail feather of a wild turkey [and] on the back of his head, a thick tuft of eagle owl feathers of the Meníss-Óchatä band. The feathers are rubbed with yellow earth, and their tips are colored with vermilion. He had one eye [painted] yellow; the face never or the other eye was painted red. The body was painted reddish brown, [and] on it [were] narrow vertical lines made with wet fingers. His arms were painted down from the shoul- ders with seventeen yellow horizontal lines. On his left chest he wore a yellow, sometimes white or red, hand. The latter means that he had taken a prisoner. Such a man needs several hours in front of the mirror to paint himself—usually more than a fashionable woman of the world.
Around their necks the Mandans and Hidatsas, as [do] all Indians of the upper Missouri, [including] the Blackfoot, very much like to wear a beautiful necklace of grizzly bear claws.M9Mató-Unknappinnindä. In spring the claws are whitish and often more than 3 inches long. Only the claws of the front paws are used for this purpose. The necklace is trimmed above with a strip of otter pelt, which hangs far down the back like a tail; [this] is often lined with red cloth and is [embroidered] with glass beads. [At their] middle the claws are [spaced] apart with a row of blue glass beads.M10The areas on the sides are painted red or yellow, usually red. Altogether it makes a really beautiful ornament for a warrior, hanging from one shoulder to the other [in] a wide, regular half circle! Such a necklace is often very expensive for them. One cannot buy a beautiful one [for] less [than] 10 to 12 dollars (30 florins), [and] often one must pay more. They have all kinds of ornaments for their necks, like strings of colored glass beads, aromatic roots or fungi, elk teeth (they can [exchange] a horse for 100 to 150 teeth), and the like.
These Indians usually have a bare upper body. The leather shirt of the Assiniboines, Crows, Blackfoot, and other tribes more to the north and northwest is rare among them. They obtain a few from other Indian nations.M11They call it wapánpi-ímaschottä (‘an’ as in French). Even in the most severe winter, they are always naked on their upper bodies, covered only with the buffalo robe. They paint the naked [part of] the body reddish brown, on some occasions with white clay, and often make red or black drawings on their arms. Most of the time their faces are painted completely red with vermilion and also, at times, yellow. The rim of their eyes and the lower part of their chins up to their mouths are painted in vermilion. But there is actually no given rule for this painting. The painting usually depends entirely on the [preference] of the [individual] dandy, except for [traditions pertaining to] bands, certain dances, and war coups. At ordinary celebrations and dances, if they want to look nice, they all paint themselves differently, and each one looks for a way to be painted differently from all others. Frequently a young man who sees [someone] painted like himself immediately goes away and paints himself differently, and this can happen three to four times [or] more on the same occasion. If they have counted coup, then their faces are painted black. At times, though seldom, their wrists and upper arms are decorated with thin, round, polished steel bracelets that enclose the arm like a spring. They obtain these from traders. On their fingers they wear many brass rings; [these] are also sold to them.[Page 3:81] The main piece of clothing is the buffalo robe (mahítu or míh-ihä), with which they afford themselves a significant luxury. The buffalo hides are worn with the hair on the inside when the weather is dry; if it is wet they wear them [hair side] out. On the flesh side, they are painted white or reddish brown, and in the center, they are decorated with a horizontal band of blue or white beads [that] usually [includes] three equally spaced round rosettes (sometimes small, sometimes very large) of the same material. They [have] different kinds of patterns—often nice, colorful, and elegant. The center is frequently red, and the surrounding area [is] blue with white figures; often the background is white with blue figures. [When] this nice horizontal band is made of colorfully dyed porcupine quills, it is narrower. [The quilled band] is the old, original style [that] they used to wear before the Europeans sold them glass beads (rassade). Other robes are reddish brown on the tanned side [and] painted with black figures of animals. Still others [have] a white background with representations of their coups, or heroic feats, in black or bright colors—[including] the portrayal of slain enemies, blood streaming or spurting from wounds; numbers of scalps taken, [or] weapons taken (like guns, bows and arrows, battle axes, shields [or] parflèches par fl èches); stolen horses—everything drawn in outline according to their characteristic way. The blood and the wounds are [painted] in red, [while] horses and people are often [done] in different, lively colors: black, yellow, green, and red.
More or less all the Missouri nations paint such robes, but the Mandan and Hidatsa [robes are] among the nicest. Such a robe is illustrated in Major Long'sExpedition to the Rocky Mountains. Another type of drawing [found] on robes [depicts] objects given away on certain occasions; [these are always] represented in their correct numbers. Because these presents are often of high value, [the donors] make a name for themselves and come into high standing with their compatriots. On such robes one can see long red figures with a black circle at the end, standing parallel above one another [and] painted across the hide in long rows. These represent whips, or the number of horses, given away, since they always give away a whip with the horse. Red and bluish black squares indicate cloth, or blankets, given away. Parallel horizontal stripes represent guns (erúhpa) and are often drawn in complete outline. Frequently the robe is cut [along the lower edge] in several strips that hang down [like fringe]. The sides are decorated with braids of human hair and horsehair ([the latter] in bright colors, especially yellow and green) and with glass beads. In the past the Indians painted such robes with more care than they do now, and one was bartered for five bullets with gunpowder. However, now they are inferior and [yet] bring 8 or 10 dollars (20 to 25 florins). A beautifully painted robe brings as much as two unpainted [ones].
Their leggins, or trousers, Mawapánpi-húnschi (‘an’ like ‘n’ in French), are tied with leather straps to the belt, íchparakä (‘ch’ velar), consisting of one strap. As with all North American [Indians], the [se leggins] consist of two separate parts. On the outside edge [is] a one-to-two-inch-wide vertical strip of porcupine quills in beautiful colors. Nowadays [the quillwork has been] replaced with sky-blue and white glass beads. [There is] often also an edging of long leather fringes [that] run down and form a long, thick bundle [at] their feet. The leather of the trousers is mostly painted reddish brown or pale red, usually with clay, often with white clay, as well, [and] frequently with black horizontal stripes below the knee. They use the so-called breechcloth (nókkä), as do all North American [Indians]. It is a piece of woolen cloth, mostly with narrow black and white stripes, that they pull between their legs and tuck in at the front and back through their belt, where it hangs down with a broad [covering] surface. Their shoes [moccasins] (humpä́) are of deer or buffalo leather and are usually s imple and little ornamented. However, if they are in their best finery, the [moccasins] are decked out with nice rosettes or a horizontal stripe of porcupine quills or glass beads. The ones who have counted coup wear a wolf’s tail around their ankles that trails on the ground behind them or strips of otter skin (trimmed on the inside with red cloth), which [also] trail on the ground behind them.
They mix the colors used to paint their bodies with fat and use their mirrors frequently, as already mentioned.[Page 3:82] Their hair is often painted completely reddish brown; if in mourning, with white clay. Women and children paint their faces red but keep their natural hair color. Boys usually go naked; in winter [they are just] wrapped in a robe. The girls have leather clothing. The women wear open sleeves with a leather belt wrapped around [their] dress, [which] ends at the bottom with various fringes. They wear iron bracelets and strings of glass beads and the like around the neck and often in their ears. Their trousers (mitasses [French Canadian for leggins]) are short, from their feet to their knees; their shoes are simple [and] without ornament.M12In summer, when the men are at home or walk around dressed up, they carry fans of eagle feathers in their hands like the Assiniboines, Crows, and Blackfoot. They call these fans íhkärä-hädittä (‘r’ tongue trilled). The bottoms [the grips] are usually sewn with red cloth and frequently [even] more decorated, often rubbed with red paint. The strange article that the Anglo-Americans call the crow, [which] is carried on their backs by warriors of the nations on the Mississippi or the prairies of the lower Missouri, is entirely unknown to the nations of the upper Missouri: the Sioux, Assiniboines, Crows, Mandans, Arikaras, Hidatsas, and Blackfoot.
Tattooing is fashionable among these people, but [certainly] not all have such drawings on their bodies. Usually only one (the right) half of the chest and one arm are marked with black parallel stripes and a very few other figures, [as are] the forearm and individual fingers. Men’s faces are free [of tattoos]. In this respect they do not achieve by far the artful drawings of New Zealanders and other peoples of the South Seas. [Although] they are not common, some drawings of these types also occur among the women, especially the women of the band PtihnTåck-Óchatä (‘ch’ velar), or White Buffalo Cow; [they] wear tattooed stripes on their chins. The [tattoo] needle pricks are colored blackish blue with willow bark squeezed in water.
In Major Long's Expedition to the Rocky Mountains,M13Vol. 2, p. 6. it is stated [that] the Crows (Corbeaux) would rub themselves with castoreum on account of the pleasant fragrance. However, it must be mentioned here that not only this nation but [also] most nations of the upper Missouri (the Mandans, Hidatsas, Crows, and Blackfoot, among others) practice [this]. They mix beaver oil with red pigment and paint their faces and often their hair [as well].
Once we have a clear idea of the appearance of these interesting people, the first item attracting our attention is the way they arrange their dwellings and villages, as well as their domestic life. Their villages are large settlements of earth lodges [arranged] in a roughly circular order but with no specific regularity. The largest of the Mandan villages is Mih-Tutta-Hangkusch, about [— —] paces in diameter (the second one is significantly smaller). Its outer perimeter forms a somewhat irregular circle and was formerly surrounded by strong posts, like palisades; [these are] mostly missing now—they were burned in cold winters. In four places, approximately equidistant from one another, stand four earthen bastions (with firing holes), lined inside and out with a wickerwork of willow branches; [they are like] blockhouses, forming corners [and] open in the back toward the village. Earth is filled in between the brushwork. White men are supposed to have built this bulwark, rather dilapidated by now, for the Indians. Ruhptare lacks these arrangements. In these villages the lodges are located close together, leaving in the center a free round space of about 60 paces in diameter. In this center the Mandans have the so-called ark (Mah-Mönnih-Túchä) that will be discussed later. It is a small cylinder made of planks about four to five feet high and open on top. The boards are stuck in the ground and bound with creepers or flexible branches to keep them together. On the north side of the open space, the so-called medicine lodge is located. In it certain celebrations are held and certain customs take place that are connected with the religious and superstitious ideas of this nation; [these] will be discussed later. Attached atop a high pole is a figure made of skins; [it has] a wooden head, a black face, and a fur cap with feathers. It is supposed to represent the evil spirit or man, Ochkíh-Häddä (‘Och’ velar as in German, ‘Häddä’ very short), an evil person who earlier appeared among them, [with] neither wife nor children, and [then] vanished. They are afraid of him; he is what we call the devil
We noticed a few other bizarre figures made of hanging skins and bundles of brushwood put up on long poles between the lodges. [Also] between the lodges there are many scaffolds made from poles [and] with several levels on which corn is dried; spent cobs lay around everywhere in the village.[Page 3:83] The lodgesM14Summer lodges, otí. themselves are of a round, gently vaulted shape. [At the] entrance, windbreaks protrude on three sides—from [each] side and above. The inhabitants block this entrance with brushwood and thorns when they are absent. The door opening is closed by a small, dried, stiff hide stretched on small wooden poles [that] is hung there. It is pushed aside when one enters. Above the center of the lodge there is a square opening [in the roof that serves] as a smoke vent; to [this] they attach [a] kind of chimney [hood] made from sticks and twigs. It is round and dome-shaped and, if necessary, is covered with hides. The interior of the lodge is spacious, rather bright, and clean. Four strong pillars in the center, with several crossbeams, support the ceiling. The inner area of this lodge is made up of eleven to seventeen thick pillars, four to five feet high. Between [these pillars] stand slightly smaller ones very close together. On them rest pieces of wood slanted toward the center, many of them close together. [The structure is] covered on the outside with a kind of mat made from willow sticks tied together with willow bark. This is the framework of the lodge on which hay and then earth is spread. Men and women work together on these lodges; relatives help each other.
The building of lodges, hunting, making weapons, and war are the occupations of men. Most likely [men] do some of the harvest; all other jobs remain for the women, who, even though they are generally well treated, nonetheless have to do hard work. They carry wood from afar, cook, take care of planting and seeding, tan hides, make and maintain garments, and [perform] many other jobs.
In the center of the lodge is a shallow, round pit for the fire. Above it, the cooking kettle hangs on a chain. Often this [hearth] is edged with upright stones. The firewood consists of [some] moderately thick but mostly thin pieces that are placed on the outer rim of the [hearth] pit in such a manner that [they] cross in the center, where [the fire] is burning; [the wood is] continually pushed in [as it burns]. The Indians, however, never have a big fire. They sit around it on flat seats made from straight willow sticks tied side by side and also on buffalo skins. Around the inside edge of the lodge lies or hangs the luggage (sacks of parchment and skins, the former painted colorfully); saddles; horse harnesses; [and] dogsleds. Weapons [are] often hung on racks, as [are] meat and corn. The beds also stand [against the outer perimeter]. They are large, square boxes [made] of hide, [each] with a square entrance [and] spacious enough [to accommodate] several people. Inside, there are buffalo skins and woolen blankets on and underneath which they sleep.
The weapons are kept in the best of order; some hang on a special rack, as [just] mentioned. There is no bad smell in the dwellings at all. From the door runs a wall or screen of willow branches covered with hides; it keeps the draft out when the door is opened. The [hearth] is located in front of this screen and thus protected.
In Major Long’s Expedition to the Rocky Mountains , Say described the inside of a Kansa lodge and illustrated it rather clearly.M15Vol. 1, p. 112. In general, this [description] is also true for the [lodges of the] Mandans, Hidatsas, and Arikaras, except for a few minor differences. One is that the mats that are attached all around [the interior perimeter] are not present in the nations described by me. Also, the beds are different. The inhabitants [can be] found sitting around the [hearth], busy with all kinds of domestic chores. The man often smokes his pipe and is usually naked at home except for his breechcloth. These are the summer lodges.
In winter, meaning toward the beginning or middle of November, these Indians move with most of their belongings to the neighboring forests, where they have built villages that consist of similar but slightly smaller lodges. The departure [date] from the summer villages depends on the weather. However, it usually happens toward the middle of November, and the move back again in spring falls in the latter part of February or the beginning of March. One can therefore assume that they live in their summer villages eight and a half months. In the winter lodges, the horses have a separate compartment behind poles, where they are taken in the evening and where they are fed corn.[Page 3:84] During the day, they graze on the prairie or in the forest, where they feed on cottonwood bark. The Mandans have a fair number of horses;M16Horse, úmpa-meníssä [in Mandan]. most men have two, [although] several have none. At times the Mandans and the Hidatsas make caches, mochä (‘ch’ velar), or pits in the ground (sometimes inside, sometimes outside their lodges), in which they store corn and other items. [These] hidden places have already been described several times.M17See the travel accounts of Lewis and Clark, Major Long, and others, wherein these caches are described. Therefore, I do not need to say anything further about the matter. If [the Indians] need something, they go from their winter villages and get it from their [summer lodge] caches and close them again.
[When] they leave their lodges for an extended period of time, the dogsM18Manissuéhruttä. are loaded with luggage, which is put on a travois (meníssischan).M19e’ half, ‘an’ as in French, ‘m’ as in French, ‘e’ half. And in winter they pull small sleds (mánna-jürutáhne), which have been further described above. In case of heavy snow, they most likely use snowshoes, too, which ought to be described and sketched here.
Incidentally, they do not have many dogs. Most of them are spotted white and black or (though seldom here) have the real color of the wolf. Those of the Dacotas and Assiniboines are closer to the wolf. Here they are often similar in shape to the schähä́ckä, or prairie wolf. Among the Mandans and the Hidatsas there is also a breed of bird dog, brown or brown and white, originating from European dogs.M20There are therefore two different breeds of dogs here,
too, one [that] originates from the wolf or schähä́ckä—it is
local—[and] another [that] originates from European dogs.
[The latter] barks regularly. Because the Mandan dogs are more
mixed, they bark more than [those of] the Sioux, Assiniboines,
The Mandans are hospitable when one visits and usually invite acquaintances quite often. They eat and smoke after sitting down on a buffalo robe beside the fire. The pipe is passed around from left to right. Their pipes are of red stone or black clay; often the clay or the stone is only painted black. The red pipes they usually obtain from the Dacotas. They also have wooden pipe bowls lined on the inside with stone. The stem is simple, long, and round. They afford themselves less luxury with their pipes than the Dacotas [do]. They smoke some tobacco (Nicotiana ?) [that] they raise themselves.M21Almost all Indian tribes of the interior prairies and the
Rocky Mountains are said to have real tobacco and to grow some
of it. [They also smoke] the European [tobacco] mixed with the bark of the red willow (Cornus sericea) or the leaves of the sakkakomi (mánna-[illegible, struck out] schóttä).M22The red willow they call mánna-sächka (‘ch’ velar). Pure European tobacco is too strong for them, as well as for all Indians in North America.M23See Major Long’s Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, vol.
2, p. 299, which found the same among the Kaskaias. Therefore, they do not partic-ularly like to smoke cigarros.
The food at their meals, festivals, and invitations [sic] is served in wooden bowls, called mánna-pachä. The spoons are mostly [either] large and bulbous, made from the horns of bighorn, or [made] from buffalo horns, black and not bulbous. The name of such a utensil is mansä́ (‘an’ as in French). Their foodstuffs are diverse. In this they have an advantage over the migrating nations of hunters in that they not only hunt [but also] take their main sustenance from the fields, [a resource] upon which they [can] always fall back. They raise much corn, squash, beans of various kinds, sunflowers, and tobacco.
There are different kinds of corn,M24Kóhchantä—‘an’ as in French. [all] given different designations: 1. white corn (schótka); 2. yellow corn (síhka); 3. red corn (sächká); 4. spotted corn (puská); 5. black corn (psichká) (‘ch’ as in German [palatal fricative]); 6. sweet corn (chéhchipka); 7. very hard yellow corn (schótka-káhschä); 8. white and red striped corn (omahkank-takóhchantä) (‘n’ and ‘an’ as in French); and 9. very tender yellow corn (chiïka).
The beans (ohmenick-kähne—‘e’ half articulated include: 1. white beans (small) (ohmenick-schóttä); 2. black beans (ohmenick-psih); 3. red beans (ohmenick-sähne—‘e’ half articulated); and 4. spotted beans (ohmenick-pusähne—‘e’ half articulated).
The pumpkins [squash][Page 3:85] (kóhdä) are: 1. yellow pumpkins (kóhdä-siïdä); 2. black pumpkins (kóh-psih), they are blackish; 3. striped pumpkins (kóh-pussä́); 4. blue pumpkins (kóh-tohähne—‘e’ half articulated); 5. long pumpkins (kóhháschka); and 6. pumpkins with thick skin (kóhachtuhn —‘ach’ as in German [‘ch’ velar]).
Sunflowers (mapä́): a large Helianthus that seems to be very similar to our garden cultivated [sunflower]. They are planted in rows between the corn. The seeds are baked in a cake that is tasty. There are two to three varieties: red, black, and one with smaller seeds.
The tobacco (mannaschä́) of the Mandans, Hidatsas, and Arikaras—these three nations cultivate the same plants—seems to be a type of
are still kept. It has been replaced by their preference for tobacco
from the white man. However, [the native one] is said
to be always smoked during peace agreements and is therefore
kept in the medicine bag. They claim it [does] not burn
as fast [nor is it] as strong as that of the white man. When one
smokes this tobacco, it is [first] prepared by rubbing it with a
Planting of the cornfields and other fields—each lodge or family has about 3 to 4, [and] up to 5 acres under cultivation—takes place in May. They throw individual kernels of corn in small holes arranged in rows and cover them with soil. During summer the plants are hoed and hilled three times so [that] the moisture has better access to them. Men, women, and children help with the corn harvest in October. For fieldwork, the women use wide iron hoes with curved wooden handles. Charbonneau still remembers that sometimes [in the past] they used buffalo shoulder blades for that purpose. Their fields are never fenced in but are completely free and open.
In common with the Osages and other nations, [the Mandans use] the wild plants of the prairie: poires (serviceberries), buffalo berries , currants, chokecher-ries or cherries, the pomme blanche, the feverolles (a type of bean that is supposed to grow in the soil), and several other roots, as well as the sweet, juicy sapwood of the cottonwood. They eat pumpkins [squashes] freshly cooked [or] dry them [for future use]; several kinds of beans are mixed together to be eaten. The corn is cooked in water [or] roasted; [it can] also [be] roasted, pounded, mixed with fat, and pressed into small, round [cakes] and [then] baked. The [se cakes] are hollow on one side and look approximately like our waffles, only thicker. The corn is prepared in various ways.M26About all the ways of preparing corn kernels see
Say’s information in Major Long’s Expedition to the Rocky
Mountains, vol. 1, p. 194. The sweet corn is very tasty, especially when it is in the milk [stage]. During this time it is cooked, then dried, and kept for [later] use.
The Mandans eat almost every kind of animal: bear (especially when it is young and fat), wolf, fox, dog—everything except for horse. But only a few of them eat weasel. Among the birds, they find the turkey buzzard and the raven unpleasant because they eat the dead on the scaffolds. Turtles they eat; snakes they abhor. The buffalo is always the mainstay of their hunts. It supplies them with hides, meat, tallow, tendons, and [other items] for various needs. Later on, its hunt will be discussed.M27In years when the buffalo do not come close, [the
Indians] starve, as they put it themselves. For instance, in
the winter of 1833–34, they had nothing but corn and dried
squash. Because of the cold, enemies, and their lethargy, they
seldom left their villages. Next to the buffalo [in importance] is the beaver, not only [for] its precious pelt but also [for its] tasty meat and its fat tail, [which] supplies the Indians with a delicacy. They do not often make pemmican, that favorite dish of the northern Indians that sometimes tickles olfactory organs uncomfortably. The Mandans and the Hidatsas cook a soup in animal stomachs. They remove the stomach lining, pour water into it, hang it (securely tied) above the fire, and move it back and forth. Soon the water in it is boiling. In this [same] manner, they cook and roast blood and meat in the thick intestines of animals.
Their only drink is water, because they receive absolutely no spirits at Fort Clark nor from the Fur Company of Messrs. Sublette and Campbell. Drunks, common [in] the more northern nations, hardly occur here.M28They like to eat sugar extraordinarily much [and]
also salt with their meals. They find the latter in the lakes and
also buy it from the white man. They very much like to drink
coffee and tea, if they are well sweetened.
Two, sometimes three, families usually live in each Mandan lodge. Typically it is the father with his son or son-in-law. The number of wives varies with the Mandans, but they do not have more than four [and] usually only one. The [women] are very skillful in different areas [and] paint robes very well. [They] color with various substances: the red color [is made] with the root of a plant (chánhäwírascharrä)M29Chánhä-wírascharrä (‘e’ fully articulated, ‘an’ as in
French). called by the French savoyenne or with buffalo berries; yellow with a lichen from the Rocky Mountains (Míhndä-Mánkä);M30Míhndä-Mánkä (‘an’ as in French). [marginal note] black with Helianthus and a certain black stone or clay; blue and green they get from European substances. Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara women make beads or glass pearls from colored glass, as Lewis and Clark (vol. 1, p. 170) described.[Page 3:86] They pulverize the ones [they get] from the white men and bake them into different shapes, but this is not [done] frequently. Hide tanning is the same as other nations and is one of the main jobs for women. It has been described many times already.
[From 3:293:] The Mandans and the Hidatsas in all five villages fire earthen pots and vessels of various shapes and sizes. The clay is dark, slate-colored, and turns yellow-reddish when fired. This clay is mixed with pebbles burned to dust in the fire or [with] granite. With a round, thick stone in their hands, they spread apart the inside, hollow part of the vessel by pressing it together and smoothing it from the outside with a piece of cottonwood bark. [When] the pot is ready, it is filled on the inside with dry shavings, heaped with similar [shavings] around the outside, and fired. It is then [ready], and they can cook in it. Glazing is not known.
They often have many children. Some families have up to ten, which causes much work during early childhood, when the [offspring] are still little. They love [their children] very much. Many die at a tender age. Because the mothers’ work is in many instances hard, they frequently bear weak children. [It is] generally asserted [that infants] are very reddish at birth. Abortion of children does not occur. Breech births are very uncommon. The births are usually very easy. The mother bathes immediately thereafter in the river, often even when it is covered with ice. It is said [that] the births of Indian children are much easier than those of whites, and even [that] an Indian woman suffers much more if the father of the child is white. After ten days the child is considered to be safe, because its most difficult time has passed. They pay a person to bestow a name chosen by the relatives on [the child]. Then they hold up the child in the lodge, turn it toward all sides in the direction of the sun’s movement, calling out its name at the same time. They have cradles for their children. These consist of a leather sack hung by leather straps from a crossbeam of the lodge. They are not as elegant and beautiful as some of those we saw among the Dacotas and Assiniboines.
Incidentally, there is no discipline for children among the Mandans and Hidatsas. They can do what they want; they are not told [they are wrong]! If the mother or father tells a boy something, the boy will hit them in the face or kick them. The father then lowers his head and says, “This [boy] will become an excellent warrior, ” just as has been reported about the Osages.
As stated, the women have to do hard work and lead a difficult life. At the same time, some men treat them brutally. It is not uncommon that [a woman] just walks out of the lodge and hangs herself from a tree close by. This happened to an old woman. The grown-up son treated her harshly and she left; he later found her hanging from a tree. [Women] receive little compensation for their continuous hard work. They do not even have nice clothes—this right of European women is taken over by the men here. It is remarkable that these Indian women, forced to do slave labor, do not want to work any longer as soon as they become wives of white men. And since the white men are [under] the power of the Indians, they accept this without resistance.
Incidentally, sisters have much power. All horses that a young man steals or takes in war belong to them. [If] he comes riding back from a raid and comes across his sister, he will dismount immediately and hand over the horse to her. If, however, he needs something of value that his sisters own, then he just goes there and demands the object with few words—for instance, a nice dress. The sister takes it off at once and gives it to him.
If a young man wants to marry, he asks the girl for her consent [and] then goes to her father and seeks his permission.M31[This information] is to be put before the birth of the
children. [marginal note] If he receives [it], he brings from two or three, up to seven, eight, or ten horses and ties them to the lodge of the fatherin-law. The girl then brings them to her father. He in turn takes other horses (if he does not have [enough] himself, the relatives help out) and brings them to the lodge of the son-in-law. In such a case, an estimate is made beforehand as to how many horses the relatives of the woman have, because all presents received are reciprocated with the same number in return. As many horses are given as it is believed will be received in return. The bride cooks corn daily and brings a kettle or a bowl of it to the lodge of the bridegroom. After some time, the young man comes and sleeps with the bride, and the marriage is consummated. Frequently the young couple lives in the lodge of the father-in-law; in some instances they build themselves a new lodge. At times the two parties separate again; this is not uncommon.
In the lodge, the son-in-law plays the most important role for the future. Everything depends on him, everything happens around him and for him. If animals are killed, the meat is brought to him first, and so on.
The women are anything but prudish; they often have two or several lovers. Unfaithfulness is often not punished. Only one woman had a piece of her nose cut off. This happens very frequently among the Blackfoot.
A main occupation of the young men is to try their luck with women and girls, and this, aside from [attention to] their finery, takes most of their time. In this respect they do not find many aloof beauties. In the evening, until late at night, they move around within their villages, [or] in the neighborhood, or from one village to another. They have an especially curious way to show off their great feats in these fields, particularly when they go to women. They glorify these [achievements] by marking the number of conquered beauties with small, peeled sticks that are painted red at the end or [with] alternating red [stripes?]. The [sticks] are 2 or 3 feet long and tied together at the lower end in a bundle. Those of the Mandans are mostly without any further adornment; among the Hidatsas there is usually a longer stick in the center [tipped with] a tuft of feathers. This longer stick denotes a favorite, and they tell each [sweetheart] that she might be the one. If [the young man] had something to do with a person who wore a white buffalo robe, then a piece [3:294] of such a hide is attached to the upper end of the stick; if she had a red blanket or cloth robe, then a small piece of red cloth [is attached]. These sticks are called míh-hiruschä-kä́hkarusch.
If a man abducts a woman, the forsaken man avenges himself by seizing the abductor’s goods, horses, and items of value, and the latter has to accept it quietly. The woman is not taken back. If the wife is the oldest daughter, one has the right to all her sisters.
[From 3:293:] The Mandans have the following names for the degrees of relationship. Their father’s brother they call father; their father’ s sister [they call] aunt (kotominikohsch); their mother’s sister is called mother; their mother’s brother is called uncle (ratodé); the son-in-law, róh-hangkasch; the daughter-in-law, ptauíh-hangkasch (‘au’ together, ‘íh’ carries stress); the [male] cousins and female cousins are called brothers and sisters; the father-in-law is called ptutt; the mother-in-law, ptó-hinix (together); the grandfather, tattä-chikä́; thhe grandmother, nanchikä́ (‘an’ as in French, ‘ch’ velar); the grandson is also called ptauíh-hangkasch.M32The mother-in-law never speaks with her son-in-law.
But as soon as he has counted coup, he comes home and presents
the scalp and his gun to her. From that moment on, she
talks to him. It is also [a custom] with the Hidatsas but not
among the Crows and the Arikaras. Presumably the Hidatsas
adapted it from the Mandans.
Some of these Indians count their years according to winters. They carry in their medicine bundle or sack a piece of wood on which they mark the years, but only a few know their age precisely. The Mandans treat their elders very well. They do not let them suffer hunger, unless they were to have no more relatives at all. Gray hair is typical among the old. With the Mandans, however, as stated above, there are [also] many young people and [even] several whole families with gray hair.
[From 3:86] Among the Mandans and the Hidatsas there are certain woman-like men called bardaches by the French. In the Mandan language they are míhdäckä, men who dress like women and carry out all of their chores. Young men treat them literally like women and also have certain relationships with them. Mr. Kipp was not ready to believe this. His opinion was that [the berdaches were] a kind of order, like, for example, that of the Récollets. But it cannot be doubted, because Charbonneau and several other men who have lived many years among the Indians all agree on this point. Charbonneau maintains [that] if a berdache and a woman are together, the young people frequently prefer the former for certain activities. These types of womanlike men are found in many other nations: for instance, the Ojibwes. There are not many berdaches among the Mandans; only one deaf-mute man has taken up this lifestyle. Among the Hidatsas there are two or three. The Crows also have some. Frequently (actually usually), these people are children when they dedicate themselves to the libertine business discussed here; even now a few are emerging. They usually assert [that] a dream or an inspiration [was the source of] this status as their medicine and nothing can deter them from it.[Page 3:87] [Such] children have been treated harshly and beaten, [and/or] given bows and arrows [and] nice men’s (or warriors’) clothes to encourage a desire in them for men’s activities, but they have remained true to their intentions. Once, [when] they wanted to force a man to abandon this idea, an outstanding warrior threatened him and [they] got into a fight. Indeed, it went so far that [the warrior] took his bow and shot the berdache. [But] when others got to that place later, they found a pile of rocks with the arrow stuck in it instead of the dead man. [People] believe this story, and no one wants to interfere with [a] medicine associated with higher powers or with matters of another person’s conscience.
There are such berdaches among almost all Indian nations of North America. The Crows, Blackfoot, Mandans, Hidatsas, Dacotas, Assiniboines, Arikaras,Ojibwes, and so on, have them. But the latter are supposed to have shot several a short time ago, saying they were ashamed of them. I was assured that only two nations would not have such womenlike men: the Menominees (Folles-Avoines) and the Ottawas (Courtes-Oreilles). The Hidatsas are much worse than the Mandans in [illegible] their unnaturally artful relations with the other sex. One hears stories in that respect that one would not have looked for among such rough people [so] distanced from the civilized world. The Mandans were supposed to have once been worse in this respect, but no longer. The Crows are said to be bad in this respect. Near Fort Clark we witnessed ourselves the unnatural behavior of the berdaches. Relationships with animals are supposed to occur very frequently with the above-mentioned Indians, especially with mares or she-asses when they are on the warpath on the prairies [and are] often away from their women for months.
The Mandans and the Hidatsas are proud Indians; they have much ambition and a very correct, natural way of reasoning. If one expresses the desire to have one of their possessions, one usually receives it as a present, but they expect a present in return of a higher or at least equal value. They hold all their possessions in very high regard. Everything, to them, has an imagined value that is much too high. An insignificant item is often paid for with one or several horses. This especially [applies to] the hide of a white buffalo cow, which will be discussed further below. For a small weasel skin that is worn on their clothing as a decoration, they pay 6 dollars (15 Rhenish florins), whereas a wolfskin can be bought for two sticks of tobacco. For a feather bonnet, one pays one to several horses; for 100 to 150 elk’s teeth, one horse; likewise for a handful of dentalium shells, and so on.
Vanity is a main characteristic of the young men, in which respect they surpass the women. They attach much importance to elegant and clean clothes, and [they] take care to have a clean body. Here it is the opposite [of] us—the men are vain. The women almost always go plainly and poorly dressed; they [do] have a special way of painting their robes.
[From 3:299:] All these Indians lack neither reason nor intellectual abilities, and Harlan is not incorrect when he states in his Fauna Americana (p. 14), [regarding] the order of [the] five human races that Blumenbach assumed, [that] the American [Indian] should be placed immediately after the Caucasian. If other nations or mankind have not generally received the same abilities from the Creator, appearing to be designed at different levels of culture in different degrees, even so I am still certain, [or] at any rate convinced, that the Americans [Indians] are not inferior to the whites in this regard. Some among the Mandans had much desire to learn, [a] considerable drive to find out about sophisticated matters. If they were not attached so much to the prejudices and the ways of thinking inherited from their forefathers, many of them would be easy to teach. However, the bad examples they see so frequently [among] white men roaming around in their country, chasing after money, just do not inspire in them great respect [or a] desire to join and emulate these paragons of the white population. If they cannot be converted to Christianity, this [bad conduct] is certainly a main reason, because [the Mandans] live more strictly by their rules than [do] the descendants of the Europeans who call themselves Christians.
In many American and foreign works, the often accurate reasoning [and] correct judgment of Indians about all matters occurring in life have been described, and it is unnecessary to repeat [these observations]. [Deciding] how to respond to their correct, sharp, and simple opinions is often embarrassing. The ingrained, idle lifestyle of Indians makes them hate all work, and it is very difficult to get them accustomed to a different way of life. But they possess many aptitudes—for drawing, music, and so on—which are quite impressive. There were several Mandans who exhibited not only great enjoyment but also true talent in drawing. Some debated with genuine passion, even about sophisticated subject matter. The moon, the sun, the stars, and other objects [that they] observed daily [but understood] only through silly fables—unsatisfactory even to them—they brought up for discussion, [wishing] to learn our views. Some considered our views far sillier than theirs; they laughed aloud when it was asserted that the earth was round or that it revolved around the sun. But others did not dismiss our views and thought [that since] the white men [could do] so much [that was] incomprehensible to them, then perhaps this could be correct as well.
[From 3:87:] The men here are rather lethargic, as with all American [Indian] nations, although this applies only if they cannot pursue their main activities: hunting and fighting wars. Then they sit near the fire all day long, smoke, eat, do nothing, and enjoy being waited upon. If they are with white men, they do not get up to put their pipe away or to light it. They hand it to the nearest person to do this for them.
Incidentally, the Mandans and Hidatsas are not bad in general. There are many coarse, wild people among them, but most of [those?] are fairly attached to the white men. The Mandans, especially, have many dependable men who deserve only praise. There are thieving rascals among them, especially women and children, and I have been told [there are] still more among the Hidatsas. They do not kill white men if they come across an individual or a small number on the prairie, but they do usually rob them. They always have free admittance to the trade storerooms of the forts. Often there are rooms reserved especially for them, although not at Fort Clark. Here we had Indians in all rooms all day long. Indeed, they sometimes almost pushed out the rightful inhabitants, which was very irksome [considering the] winter cold and small fireplace. It was especially upsetting because their big buffalo robes kept the heat away from the rest of the room. They always demand that one should feed them, which usually happens. One can also assume that they smoke more than 200 pounds of company tobacco a year, since one cannot deprive them of the pipe; it is one of their biggest pleasures. A few noble-minded Indians among the Mandans had more refined feelings than the rest of the crowd. They usually left the dining room close to eating time, but that was only a small group of them.[Page 3:88] Most, who frequently had nothing but their corn and beans during winter, and who were therefore rather greedy (especially for meat), showed up at mealtime and waited for the desired moment with impatience. Fights are rare among Indians, but individual cases occur, even duels. We read much about all these matters in earlier travel descriptions. Say has reported [this]. The Mandans most likely do not differ substantially from the other North American [Indian] nations. The same goes for blood revenge, which is still practiced [by] all these nations.
Many of these Indians are clean. [They] all bathe often, but their hands as well as their whole bodies are often dirty [or] at least smeared with colors. They usually wear their nails long. The women are typically dirty, especially their hands, because their many hard jobs provide more opportunities for [this condition] and leave them less time for cleanliness. They assert that they smell better than the white men, who seldom wash their bodies and must have a bad odor. They are very tolerant [of] vermin, [which] their heads and even their buffalo robes are generally supposed to be full of. These insects pose no great danger to the whites; we, at least, were always spared, even though we lived in constant close contact with various Indians. They eat these [insect] guests with pleasure, pick [ing] them from each other’s heads; the men sometimes receive them from the women as a present. In Dipäuch’s hut at Mih-Tutta-Hangkusch, his wife gave him some while hunting for them on her son’s head. She placed the excellent “game” on his hand, and he cracked them with delight. They do not, [however,] like to eat lice from the heads of white men. The Indians bathe frequently, even in cold winter. Almost all of them swim well and easily across the Missouri. The cold, icy water in winter hardens them considerably—even in severely cold weather, they walk naked beneath their buffalo robes.
As with most Indian tribes of North America, there are certain associations or bands (bandes in French) among them, societies that [keep] together and differ from each other in distinctive markings and certain rules. They have three kinds of war whistles, or signal whistles (íhkoschka), that they [wear] hanging from their necks; these [are among] the marks of the societies. The men are divided on the basis of age into six classes by means of these associations; the last, the sixth, will not be given much consideration, being the society of old men.
The first society is the Meníss-Óchka-Óchatä(‘ch’ velar), [the] Foolish Dogs or Dogs Whose Names Are Not Known (les chiens fous or les chiens dont on ne connait pas le nom). The [membership] is made up of young men ten to fifteen years of age. They carry a small íhkoschka [fashioned] from wing bones of the wild goose (l’ outarde of the Canadians). When they dance, three of them [wear] a long, broad piece of red cloth hanging from the neck to the floor. They (like [every other] society) have a special song for their dance. Formerly, old men could be in this band too, but then they were never allowed to retreat from the enemy; this rule was later changed to the present form.[Page 3:89] When small boys below this age want to become men and enter this society, they go to [it and] talk to the “father,” [negotiating to] buy [from him] the position, the song, the war whistle, and the rank with horses, blankets, kettles, cloth, and similar precious items, which the father pays for. They then have the right to perform the song and the dance. The one who sold [the position] gives up his right to it, [and] he in turn buys into the next higher class. The dances of the different societies are the same, but the songs are different, [and] once in a while even the foot movement [as well]. Drum and chichikué are bought along with the other items. The former they call mánna-berächä́ (‘r’ tongue trilled, ‘e’ half [ə], ‘ch’ velar, ‘rächä́’ short); the chichikué is called ínahdä.M33In this society, it is spherical, has a handle,
and is made of leather. All these chichikués are
called ínahdä; if one wants to describe them more
fully, the society name is included.
The second society is called Hä́hderucha-Óchatä (e’ half [ə], ‘r’ tongue trilled, ‘ ch’ velar), the Crow Society, young men from twenty to twenty-five years [of age]. Often these young men are in none of the other societies for half a year. Then they approach [a member] of the Crow Society and say, “Father, I am poor, I wish to buy from you.” If he consents, they pay in the same manner as described above for the first society. They get the feathers that are worn by members of the Crow Society on their heads, a double íhkoschka with two goose bones tied together, drum, chichikué, song, and dance. Each society has a headman who decides about the sale of rights and emblems. They turn to him if circumstances require it. After [admission to the society], a festival is held in the medicine lodge that lasts four, twelve, indeed up to forty nights. They dance and eat there, [promote] the sale, [and] give the seller their wives for the whole night until he has finally had enough, is tired from the festival, and closes the sale by giving up his [society] rights.
The third society, Chárak-Óchatä (‘ch’ velar) or Káua-Karakáchka (‘r’ tongue trilled, ‘ach’ velar), is the so-called soldats or soldiers—the most outstanding warriors. They paint their faces red above and black below for their dance; their war whistle is made from the wing bone of the crane. The insignias they keep are two long, straight staffs (called mánna, “the wood”) wrapped [in] otter skin with eagle owl feathers hanging from the shaft. When they go to war, they stick these staffs into the ground, face the enemy, and must not retreat. They have a similar staff with raven feathers; if [this is] stuck in the ground, they cannot desert it. The [soldiers] have their dance and song and have to buy into other, higher societies.M34They have a chichikué of metal, like a little kettle with a
handle attached, and two pipes that are smoked on special occasions.
Two men are entrusted to keep and carry them (see the
picture of Mató-Óchka, who is portrayed wearing the regalia of Káua-Karakáchka [and] with the pipe he keeps [care of]).
Those belonging to higher societies can be members of the Káua-Karakáchka at the same time. This band is a true police force, and its status can be bought additionally, as just mentioned, by the higher societies. However, all members of the society have to agree completely about this purchase. If a single man votes against the purchase, nothing becomes of it. Often individuals do not give their consent, [in order] to drive up the purchase price and [thus also] the price of a later sale. The Káua-Karakáchka form a type of committee that directs all main activities, especially the buffalo hunt (so important to the whole nation), [and also] moves—marching order, time of departure, move of the villagers, and so on. If the buffalo herds are close by, they watch them and do not allow anyone to scare, shoot at, or scatter them until a general hunt can be organized. If somebody shoots beforehand at a wolf or other animal, they take his gun [and] abuse and sometimes beat him. Even chiefs would not be spared in such cases. The whites (waschí) living in their vicinity are subject to the same laws. They have taken away the axes of the fort’s woodcutters in the forest or forbidden them to cut wood, so they would not make any noise.
The fourth society, Meníss-Óchatä (‘ch’ velar), the Dogs (les Chiens), all wear a large warbonnet of colorful cloth when dancing. It has black raven, magpie, and yellowish reddish and dark-striped eagle owl feathers [and is] decorated with colorful horsehair and strips of ermine. They have a big war whistle (íhkoschka) made from the wing bone of a swan.[Page 3:90] Three of the [dancers] wear the same strips of red cloth hanging down their backs as the first class, the Meníss-Óchka-Óchatä. They do not carry staffs (mánna) like the Káua-Karakáchka. Usually their heads are decorated with a thick tuft of eagle owl, raven, or magpie feathers, and often all these feathers are mixed. If someone throws a piece of meat on the ground or in the ashes of a fire, the three aforementioned men with the strips of red cloth have to fall upon and consume it if told, “Here dog! Eat!"M35The chichikué of this band is a stick 1′ or 1 1/2′ long
from which many animal hooves are hung.
The fifth society, Beróck-Óchatä, the Bulls (les Boeufs), wear the skin of the upper head of the buffalo bull, [including] the long mane and horns, when they dance. Two chosen ones, however, the bravest among them (who afterward may never flee from an enemy), wear a [full mask]—a perfect facsimile of a buffalo head with its horns—set on their heads. They look out [through] its artificial eyes, [each] surrounded by a ring of iron or tin. Only this society carries a wooden íhkoschka. There is a woman in this band who walks around with a bowl of water to refresh the dancers, but she only serves the water to the bravest men ([the ones] with the bull’s head [masks]). She wears beautiful clothing of bighorn leather, and her face is painted red. The dancers have pieces of red cloth [and] also a buffalo tail attached to their backs, and they carry their weapons in their hands. The two men with the buffalo heads keep to the ends and behave like shy bulls, looking around in all directions, and bellowing.
The sixth society, Schúmpsi-Óchatä, the Black-Tailed Deer (les chevreuils à queue noire), is made up of old men [who are] above fifty years [of age] but still dance. Two women who belong to this society serve at the dance, cook, carry around water for refreshment, and the like. All these men wear a wreath of grizzly bear (mató) claws around their heads [along with] all the [symbols of] their heroic deeds: head feathers, hair [locks] on their clothing, scalps, and the like, as well as paintings.
[From 3:291:] All these societies, as well as the following dances, are bought and sold. On these occasions, the buyer must always offer his wife (or wives if he has several) to the seller. A young man who is poor and has no wife will go far overland to another village and [ask a] comrade or friend for his wife. This [friend] goes with him on the evening of the dance [to] offer his wives in place of the [buyer’s lack]. Often someone brings three, four, or more wives to the scene and gives them to his “father” (the one from whom he buys); [this happens after] the dance is done, the dining and smoking concluded, as well as the enumeration of coups and heroic feats, such as the killing of enemies, thefts of horses, etc. Then one woman after another—as told in detail in the descriptions of the buffalo medicine of the Hidatsas as well as the sale of the [Mandan] Íschohä-Kakoschóchatä in Chapter XVI—strokes the arm of the man she wants to delight [and then] walks toward the entrance of the medicine lodge, where she waits [to see] whether or not he will follow her. Frequently he remains seated and does not follow but [just] bows his head. Then the woman goes home, fetches objects of value (such as guns, robes, blankets, and the like), and places them in front of him piece by piece, until he gets up and follows [her].
All these societies have other dances and songs that can be bought or sold. An example is a second dance of the Káua-Karakáchka, the dance of the Half-Shorn Heads, called Íschohä-Kakoschóchatä (‘ch’ velar), that [a member of] the lower class can buy before he is of age to buy the actual rank and dance of the Káua-Karakáchka. The medicine festival, the insignia, and the dance of the Half-Shorn Heads were described in Chapter XVI and therefore will not be repeated here. However, a few more comments: The insignia associated with this dance consists of nine different items [of five types]: 1. Two lances (called the wood, mánna) about 10′ long, wrapped tightly and completely with a strip of otter skin [and] with a bent, rounded tip; pairs of raven feathers hang from them at intervals; 2. Two very similar [lances], but straight at the end, without the hook; 3. A head breaker [war club], likewise called mánna, or wood, painted red; 4.[Page 3:91] Three lances trimmed with alternating black and white feathers, hung close together; the shaft is covered with a broad, double strip of vermilion-colored cloth;M36The sketch of the mánna with the black and white
feathers should be corrected according to Mató-Tópe’s
drawing. 5. A beautiful bow and quiver, well decorated. For one of the bent staffs [lances] the buyer must pay about ninety sticks of tobacco or thirty of them plus thirty knives, and often more. If the [one] called father hands over the lance, or the wood (mánna), to his new son, he in turn will give [the father] a horse, [and] for that the so-called son has to be clothed anew from head to foot.
Another such dance is called the Meníss-Chäh-ÓchatäM37If they dance in the open they often fire their guns. (Old Dog Dance). The Society of the Dogs can buy it from the Bulls before they become members of the Bulls, or they can buy into the Beróck-Óchatä society. The [dancers] are painted white when performing the Old Dog Dance; their hands are red and black; they wear a strip [?] of grizzly bear skin around their bodies; and feathers hang down from the backs of their heads.
Another similar dance, the so-called Hot Dance, Wadáddäschóchatä (‘ch’ velar), exists now in Ruhptare [and] among the Hidatsas. They bought it from the Arikaras. The Small Dogs, whose [native] name is not known, dance it. They light a big fire and spread many coals around, [and] dance among them quite naked, [including] bare feet. Their feet [and] ankles, their hands, and part of their forearms are painted red. A kettle with pieces of meat cooks on the fire. When it is well done, they reach in with their hands, take out some meat, and eat it. The last ones to arrive [and dip in] are the worst off. The [dancers] carry weapons or the chichikué in their hands.
There is furthermore the dance As-Chóh-Óchatä (‘ch’ velar, ‘ó’ fully articulated), which is described in Chapter XVI, p. [— —]. The men who dance it wear a large wig of buffalo hair over their heads; [the hair] hangs down on all sides, even over their faces. One can see neither their eyes nor other parts of their faces, and in the cold their breath comes out like steam [from behind this curtain of] hair. On their heads they wear feathers of birds of prey (owls or ravens; one of them wore a completely white eagle tail), the feathers standing up like a fan. In their hands they carry bow-lances decorated with feathersM38Erúhpa-hichtä́ (‘ch’ velar). These bow-lances are very
beautifully decorated with eagle feathers [and] often also with
red cloth. They have a value of 100 dollars, or 250 Rhenish
florins, if they are fully decorated. They are passed on from
a father to his son. One cannot obtain them inexpensively;
sometimes one must give a horse for them. [and] bear intestines. The chichikué and drum accompany their dance, which is performed in a circle.
The women are divided, in a way very similar [to the men], into four societies according to age. The youngest is called the Gun Society, Erúhpa-Mih-Óchatä (‘ho’ together [sic]), bande du fusil. They wear a few war eagle down feathers on the backs of their heads, paint themselves, and have their [own] dance.
The next society into which they can buy is the River Society, Passan-MihÓchatä (la bande de la rivière, River Class). When they dance they wear an eagle feather pointing toward the left [and] tied to their foreheads with a white ribbon. The quill is wrapped in grass.
The third society is the Hay Women, Chan-Míh-Óchatä (‘ch’ velar, ‘an’ as in French), Women of the Hay. When they dance they are dressed in their finest and sing only the Scalp Song.
The fourth society is the band of women of the White Buffalo Cow, Ptihn-TåckÓchatä (‘ö’ [å?] between ‘ö’ and ‘ä’). They paint one eye according to the color of their liking. These are mostly old women. [They] have some tattooed lines running down from their mouths on their chins. On their heads they wear a hussar’s cap [made of] a broad band of skin from a white buffalo cow, with a tuft of feathers in front (see the description in Chapter XVI, p. [— —]).
These societies provide opportunities for various festivals, singing, and dancing.[Page 3:92] There are still [other] dances and entertainment, however. The Scalp Dance may justifiably be described under war customs.
Their musical entertainment is simple. Singing differs very little among all North American Indians. It is strange and peculiar, fairly simple, first high then low, consisting mostly of broken-off sounds and exclamations, often interrupted by loud whooping and accompanied by powerful drumbeats (mánna-berächä́—‘e’ fully articulated, ‘ch’ velar) alternating faster and slower while another man shakes the chichikué (ínahdä)M39‘nah’ sometimes like ‘nan’ in French. at the same time. These last instruments are made mostly of leather or covered with leather. They also have a type of long, thin, wooden pipe (íhwochka),M40‘och’ velar. [marginal note] usually with an eagle feather, fluttering on a string, [attached] to one end.M41Mándeh-Páhchu (‘an’ as in French, ‘ch’ velar), Tip of
Eagle’s Beak, the brother of Máhchsi-Karéhde, had a flute 20″
long (1 1/2″ wide in the thickest part) with holes, from which
he produced a soft sound similar to that of our flute; however,
he blew it buzzing with a tremolo when not holding the pipe
horizontally. On one end it was wrapped with strips of fish
otter fur, and below it both skins [sic] of a fruit were attached. These kinds of pipes with holes were called íhwochka (‘och’
velar). [Ed.: Bodmer’s watercolor portrait of this young man,
with his flute, was the basis for Vignette XXIV in the Reise
(JAM, MBC, KBA 310; KBNAP). His name is spelled Mándä-
Panchu in the journal; the modern orthography is Wą:ř-Paxu
‘Eagle Beak’.] It has from one to a few holes that are opened and closed alternately.
These are all their musical [resources], if one excludes the whistling on the war whistle (íhkoschka) and the Kriegsruf (scheddekehch—‘ehch’ with the tip of the tongue [palatal]), or, as the Americans put it, the war whoop.
The Mandans and Hidatsas have several games.M42Kíhni, “games.” [marginal note] The [one] called (by the French Canadians) billiard game (skóhpe, ‘e’ articulated half [ə]) is played by two people with long poles [that are] often wrapped with long strips of leather and decorated with other items. They roll a small round hoop, 3″ to 4″ in diameter [and] covered with leather, on a long, straight, and flat course or on an even path in or near the village. They run after [the hoop] and throw their long poles at it. Winning depends on the [players’ previous] agreement on whether the pole should be thrown inside or to the right or left of the hoop or in what [other] place. The Hidatsas call this game máh-kache (‘ch’ velar, ‘e’ half [ə], everything short). In Major Long's Expedition to the Rocky Mountains (vol. 1, p. 133), the game is described [as played by] the Pawnees, but they have a hook at the end of their poles that does not occur in the nations mentioned here.
The women are skillful in a game with a thick leather ball (mih-ptott-kä́). They let it fall alternately on foot or knee, hurling it [up] in the air and catching it again in this manner for a long time; [it] may not touch the ground. They repeat this up to a hundred times and often offer prizes. In the Hidatsa language, it is called mah-úh-tape (‘e’ fully articulated, everything together, strong accent on ‘úh’). Card games have not reached them yet. The children play a game they call assä́ .A few feathers are inserted at one end of a deer antler. This is thrown far, flying with its tip forward.M43Addenda, p. 292 under the symbol.
[From 3:292:] During nice weather in spring, from about the middle of March, the boys and young people play a game with a circular, bound hoop that is [netted] square across with numerous leather strips. It is about one foot in diameter. It is rolled or thrown, and a pointed stick is stuck or thrown through the [netting] from the side. He who comes closest to the center has won. As soon as the river ice breaks in spring, they run to the bank and throw all these round, [netted] disks into the water. The game is called wáh-gachi-uḯhka.
In summer the Indians often entertain themselves with runningM44Ptihhing-Kikéhrusch, “race.” on the prairie near their villages. Often twenty and more men run with each other up the tracks and are completely naked except for their breechcloths. There are very fast runners among them.
The Mandans and Hidatsas are extremely superstitious, and none of their important actions take place without being guided by such motives. They hold bizarre ideas of [the] nature [that] surrounds them. They believe in many different beings in the stars and celestial bodies, make sacrifices to them, ask them for assistance on any occasion, cry, wail, feast, [and] carry out cruel penances, [all] so that these spirits will look favorably upon them. They consider dreams to be especially important. Some of their legends have similarities to revelations in the Bible; for instance, a belief in the great flood, when a large part of humanity perished and another part was saved in a wooden tower on a hill at the Heart River (rivière du Coeur), and so on. To get precise information about these myths we consulted an experienced Indian very familiar with all these beliefs.M45His name is Dipäuch (Broken Leg). [This] respected
man could have been chief a long time ago if he had wanted
to, because he has all the qualifications for this position. His
father was Wakihde-Chamahän (Little Shield), who was shot
by the Dacotas during the time when Lewis and Clark were
here in winter. Those travelers wanted to help the Mandans
against their enemies and go to war with them, but [the Mandans]
did not permit it. He told us the following in a very serious, quiet, and conscientious manner. Mr. Kipp was the best possible interpreter for [our] evening conversations.[Page 3:93] According to the statements of [Dipäuch,] these nations believe in several higher beings, among them the Lord of Life, Óhmahank-Numákschi (‘an’ as in French), the mightiest and most sublime, having created earth, human beings, and everything surrounding them.M46In his description of his travels up the Missouri to
the Mandans, Brackenridge ([Views of Louisiana,] p. 71) is
mistaken about the religious beliefs of this nation and the
Gros Ventres if he thinks they worship only buffalo heads.
Even if these nations often consider buffalo heads a medicine,
it is still irrefutably true that they believe in many celestial beings
that figure in their mythology. They believe him to be caudate, [appearing] now in the figure of an old man, now again in that of a young man.
The second [sic] higher being is Óhmahank-Chikä́ (‘ch’ velar), the Evil of the Earth (le vilain de la terre), a wicked spirit who also has much power over human beings but not as much as God and First Man.
The third being is Rokanka-Tauïhánka (‘án’ as in French), who lives in Venus (étoile du jour); it is he who protects human beings on earth. The human race would have perished a long time ago if not for his care.
A fourth being, but without power, is like the Wandering Jew on earth, always moving, always roaming about in human form. They call him Deceitful Prairie Wolf (Schähä́ckä).
Besides these four there is a fifth, Ochkíh-Häddä, whom they cannot define. They say that he who dreams of him must die soon. He figures in their legends as a kind of devil. Once upon a time he came into their villages [and] taught them a number of things, [but he] has not returned since. They are afraid of him, make sacrifices to him, and set up a bizarre figure in their villages that is supposed to represent him.
They worship the sun, because they consider it the home of the Lord of Life. All their medicines or miraculous, magical, and protective rites are addressed exclusively to the sun, meaning to the Lord of Life (Óhmahank-Numákschi).
They say the Old Woman (an old woman who never dies, to whom they also address sacrifices and presents) lives in the moon.M47She wears a white band across her head from front
to back. They do not know who she is, i.e., whether she is the wife of the Lord of Life, [but] she nevertheless has great power. She has six children, three sons and three daughters, who all live in certain stars. The eldest son is the Day (the first day of creation).M48Kaschä́kosch, “Day.” [marginal note] The second is the Sun, Máhap-Míhnang-gä (‘an’ as in French), where the Lord of Life lives. The third son is the Night, Istúh-Hunsch (‘n’ as in French). The eldest daughter is the star that rises in the east (Morning Star). They call her the Woman Who Wears the Plume, Míhhä Uahánkä (‘án’ as in French). The second daughter is called Kóhpuska, Striped Pumpkin (la citrouille barrée), a star high up, circling around the North Star. The third daughter, Kóhsedehä (‘e’ fully articulated but short), Evening Star, [is] close to the sunset.
The Old Woman in the moon wanted to procure a wife for her son and led a girl [to] wait in front of her door. When they sent for her to come inside, they found a toad instead. They angrily took her inside and boiled her in a container, wishing to destroy her. They wanted to eat her, but she could not be destroyed. They therefore cursed her, and she can still be seen as a spot on the moon.
They do not know whether [the sun] is large or small. It is, however, glowingly hot. The sun married a woman whom the Mandans call Pschíhcha-Kschukä́, aNrrow-Leafed Wormwood [sage] (l’ absinthe fine fine). They had a very promising son who seemed destined to play an important role. He was very skillful in making arrows [and at] killing and catching all kinds of animals. He shot birds for his mother, [who] told him not to shoot the prairie lark. He nonetheless shot all his arrows at these birds [yet] could not hit one. Then one of them called out to him and said, “Why do you want to kill me, since I am a relative?” He dug up pomme blanche (Psoralea esculenta), [even though] his mother forbade him to do it. Through the hole he had dug in the soil, one could see all the Hidatsa villages on earth. His mother told him, “Look, all of them are our relatives. I did not want to go down to the earth yet, but now we have to travel there.” Once the father told his son that he should shoot a buffalo for him and bring him all the sinews from [that] animal. But the son made a rope from [only] part of these sinews.[Page 3:94] He wanted to visit the earth [and] let himself down near to what is nowadays called the Little Missouri (Máhtack-Schukä́), buut his rope reached only to the treetops. If he had taken all the sinews, he would have reached the ground, [but] now he was stuck and swung back and forth. A big stone [that] was thrown at him from the moon was still vis-ible a short time ago. [But] the stone did not kill him, because he was medicine.
They believe the thunder to be the sound of the beating wings of a great bird as it flies. When it flies normally, nothing is heard. [The bird] has only two toes, one pointing forward and the other one backward. It lives in the mountains and builds a tremendous nest as large as Fort Clark. Its food consists of deer and other large animals, whose antlers lay heaped around its nest. The glance of its eyes creates lightning, which attracts the rain; it breaks through the clouds, the ceiling of the heavens, and clears a path for the rain.
A colossal turtle that lives in the clouds causes violent, isolated thunderclaps. If lightning strikes, she is angry. They believe that the stars are human beings. If a woman gives birth, a star climbs down and appears through her as a human being on earth. After death, human beings return to and appear as stars in the sky. The rainbow is a spirit that accompanies the sun, appearing primarily at sunset.M49Many of them maintain that the Northern Lights
originated [when] medicine men and outstanding warriors
from different nations met in the north to boil their captured
and killed enemies in large kettles—hence the bright light.
First Man, Numánk-Máchana, plays a leading role in the Mandan creation story. He is himself not a godly figure, but the Lord of Life bestowed great power on him, and they therefore revere and make sacrifices to him. The well-informed man previously mentioned told the story of the creation and origin of the Mandan tribe in the following manner. Even though this story is very foolish and tedious, the reader will not consider it out of place here, since it does give an idea of the intellectual state and the mythology of these people.
When the earth did not yet exist, the Lord of Life created First Man, [who] went about on the water and met a diver or a duck that dove up and down alternately. First Man, Numánk-Máchana (‘ch’ velar, ‘an’ as in French), said to the bird, “You are diving so well, why do you not dive down and bring up some soil for me?” The bird disappeared and soon brought up some soil. [First] Man took the soil and spread it out on the water, [then] spoke an incantation to let the earth appear, and it appeared. The new land was bare; not a blade of grass sprouted. He walked around, believing [himself] to be alone on this ground, when he suddenly found a toad. He [exclaimed], “I believed [I was] here alone, but you are here?” He looked at the toad [and asked], “And who are you?” It did not give him an answer. “I do not know you, but I have to give you a name. You are older than I, since your skin is rough and scaly. I will have to call you my grandmother, because you look very old.” He kept on walking and found a piece of an earthenware pot. “I thought I was alone, but there must have been human beings living here before me.” He picked up the shard and said, “I will give a name to you, too. Because you were here before me, I will also have to call you my grandmother.” As he kept on going, he found a mouse. “It is obvious that I am not the first being,” he thought; “I will call you my grandmother, too.” A little farther on, he met the Lord of Life. “Oh, there is a man like me!” he shouted and went close to him. “How are you, my son?” said Man to Óhmahank-Numákschi, who answered, “I am not your son, but you are mine!” First Man said, “I dispute your words.” The Lord of Life replied, “No, you are my son, and I will prove it to you. If you do not want to believe me, then let us sit down. We have our medicine staffs in our hands, and we [should] put them away and sit down.[Page 3:95] The one of us who rises first is the youngest and the son of the other.” They sat down and looked at each other a long time. Finally the Lord of Life turned pale, his flesh fell from his bones, and he collapsed. Man looked at the bones and said, “Now you are certainly dead.” They looked at each other in this manner for ten years. And when time passed, [not only had] all the flesh of the Lord of Life’s bones [fallen off, but] the bones were in a weathered condition. Man stood up and said, “Well, now he is certainly dead,” grabbed the staff of Óhmahank-Numákschi, and pulled it out of the ground. But at that very moment the Lord of Life stood up and said, “Look, here I am and you are my son and I am your father!” And Man called him his father. They went away together. The Lord of Life said, “The land is not well formed. Let us make it better.” At that time the buffalo already existed on earth. The Lord of Life called the mink and told it to crawl into the ground and bring up the grass. The mink did this. Then he sent it away again and told it to fetch trees; it soon brought [these] up. [The Lord of Life] divided the grass and the trees and gave half to First Man. This happened at the mouth of the Nátka-Pássahä (Heart River, rivière du Coeur).
The Lord of Life now told Man to go and create the northern bank of the Missouri. He himself went to the southwestern bank and created that beautifully and appropriately, with hills, small valleys, and trees. Man, however, shaped all the land flat [with] a forest a short distance away. They came together, and the Lord of Life said, “Now we will go and look the land over to see what you have done, Man!” They went there, and the [Lord of Life] continued, “You did not do this well; it is all flat so that one cannot stalk either buffalo or deer [and] get close to them. Human beings will not be able to live here. They will be seen [by enemies] from far away on the plains and will not be able to withdraw and therefore [the parties will] destroy each other. ” Then he led Numánk-Máchana to the other riverbank and told him, “Look, here I put springs and brooks in sufficient numbers, hills and valleys, and all kinds of animals and trees. Here one can approach [and hunt game] and live off their meat.”
From there the Lord of Life led First Man to the mouth of the Nátka-Pássahä and said, “Let us make medicine pipes here.” From the wood of ash trees, he made one with stone in the middle. Man made his from box elder (Acer negundo). They set these pipes [together?], and the Lord of Life said, “This is supposed to be the heart—the center of the world—and this river should be called Nátka-Pássahä (Heart River, rivière du Coeur). Each had his pipe in his hands, and when they came across any creature, the Lord of Life put his pipe down in front of it. They met a buffalo bull and did the same, but [the bull] said that it was no good, since they had nothing to smoke. “Then get something to smoke!” said the Lord of Life. The bull cleared an area with its hooves, urinated on it in different places, and said, “When the time of the buffalo rut approaches, come here and you will find something to smoke. ” When this [season] approached, the Lord of Life sent someone to the place to get tobacco. But it was not yet dry [or] prepared [for smoking]. He therefore had the buffalo called; it spread the leaves [and] dried them, and the Lord of Life smoked [them] and found the tobacco good. The bull taught him to take off the blossoms and buds and to smoke these, because they are the best parts of the plant for smoking.
The Lord of Life and First Man came together and wished to create human beings. They started [this] near the bank of the Missouri. When a human being was created, they said, he had to be able to multiply, too. [And they asked themselves,] “But where is the part they need for this supposed to be?” and they put the genitals on his forehead.[Page 3:96] A frog came out of the water and said, “A fine job you are doing! That part should be here!” He showed them the right place. “What right do you have to meddle here?” said the Lord of Life [and] took his staff and hit the frog on his back. Since that time the frog has [had] a humped back. God created man and told him to multiply but to live no longer than a hundred years, because otherwise there would not be [enough] space for everyone.
First Man said to the Lord of Life [that] if one hunted buffalo, one should skin them right away and wear that as a robe, [and then] empty their stomachs and make pemmican from the contents [sic]. But the Lord of Life answered, “This is not good. The [men] will quarrel afterward and kill each other. Let them bring the animals home and tan the skins with brains; thus they will have robes for their use and for sale.” And it turned out that the Lord of Life was right.
Once, First Man was on the Missouri when a dead buffalo cow floated down; wolves had eaten a hole into her side. A woman downriver saw it and said to her daughter, “Hurry, undress and bring the cow on land!” First Man heard [her] and brought the cow there. The girl ate of the fat that Man gave her, and she became pregnant. She was ashamed and told her mother that she did not know how she got into this condition, since she had no contact with any man, and the mother, too, was ashamed.
The daughter brought a boy into the world who grew rapidly and was soon a young man. He immediately became the greatest chief, or leader (numákschi), among humans. His first accomplishment was to build a canoe that understood what he told it. He filled it with people and told [the canoe] to ferry them across and [then] come back. He sent it across in this manner several times. This chief was of the nation of the Númangkake (Mandans).
Among these people there was a saying that white men who owned large wam-pum shells lived at the edge of the great water (Mönnih-Karrä́h, the ocean). Several times they sent groups of fifteen to twenty men there, but they were all killed. The chief said then, “I will send my canoe with eight men there. This is the right number.” The canoe arrived at the proper place and brought red mouse hair (beaver?) to the white men, which they wanted very much. [The Indians] were well received, given food in the homes and [tobacco] to smoke. Each one was [also] given buffalo skins full of wampum shells, and the canoe returned quickly. [When] the boat left for the second time with eleven people, First Man went along. He was dressed very poorly and took along a large, hollow tube. They arrived and [most men] went into the village, but First Man remained sitting near the boat, [where he] dug a deep hole over which he sat. The inhabitants agreed [among themselves] to feed the strangers to death. They gave the latter plenty to eat, but First Man let the abundance flow through his tube into the hole. The inhabitants were quite astonished and could not understand how [the Indians] could eat so much. They [next] agreed to kill [the Indians] with smoking. But First Man let the smoke pass through his tube, [so] their intentions were thwarted. Then they devised a way to kill them with women and [sent] them every woman, without interruption. But First Man had a cow’s tail and used that instead of his [own] natural part. The inhabitants of the village were very surprised at the great lasting strength of First Man. They could not kill the strangers with food, smoking, or women. Therefore they gave [the Indians] as many shells as they could take and sent them back. [Later on], children [who] had heard that the [above -] mentioned canoe understood what it was told, commanded it to sail down the river to the white people (waschí) . [The canoe] obeyed and has never been seen since.[Page 3:97] Now First Man said to the Númangkake that he was going away and [would] never return. He would go west, but in peril they could turn to him [and] he would support them. They lived on the Heart River (Nátka-Pássahä), and their village was small; enemies surrounded them and threatened to destroy them. They got into great difficulty and decided to turn to their protector; but how [could they] reach First Man? A man suggested sending a bird, but it could not fly that far. Another one was of the opinion that the look of [an] eye would surely reach that far—but it was hampered by the prairie hills. Finally, a third one observed that thoughts would most surely [be of] help and reach him. He wrapped himself in his robe, fell down, [and] soon said, “I am thinking! I have thought! I am coming back!” He threw off the robe and was sweating all over. “First Man will come right away.” And soon he was there. He stormed against the enemies, and they disappeared, [but] after that [the Mandans] never saw him again.
The Lord of Life talked to First Man and told him, “The Númangkake who cross the river are torn to shreds by wolves.” [So] they both went there and killed all the old wolves [and] ordered the young wolves to not eat any more humans in the future but to limit themselves to buffalo, deer, and other game. They took the old wolves and threw them in [to] the northern ocean, where they rotted and their hair floated on the water; the white people evolved from that.
The Lord of Life told the Númangkake that, when they had cooked their corn and had taken it off [the fire], they should let the fire get low; and they still do that today. He also told them that if their fire did not burn [well], they should pull the more intensely burning [wood] from below and put it on top.
The Lord of Life traveled and came to a hill where two women met him. He told them that he had stepped on a piece of wood, [now stuck in] his heel; [he said] they should pull it out for him, but they would have to use their teeth. He slept with both of them. The women told him he would not find any water to drink, but he replied that he drank rainwater. After he had boasted about sleeping with the two women, he found no water. He thereupon made his medicine and set off a heavy thunderstorm. He turned his mouth up, but the rain did not fall into it. He wandered around without water for a whole year. Finally, when he was lying beneath a box elder tree in spring, he looked up and saw two icicles on the tree. He took them into his mouth and licked them—but then he noticed the women; it was their urine he had drunk.
In spring, when the Lord of Life was a short distance below the Heart River, at the time the first wild geese migrated, he shouted to them that he wanted to accompany them, and [he] took on the form of a goose. The Indians have a custom of shouting and calling out when gaggles of geese fly over their villages, causing [the geese] to become confused. On such an occasion, [the Lord of Life] fell down. They carried him into the [lodge] of the chief, who sent the youngest woman to pluck the goose; he bit the woman, and she became afraid. She therefore gave the goose to the eldest woman, but she, too, was bitten, and he got away. From there he flew to the Gros Ventres. A young woman lived there who did not want to marry. He hit and whipped her. She went to the lowest village and wailed that God had punished her because she did not want to marry. Since she was in love with the Lord of Life, and wanted to marry nobody but him, a young man who wanted her for his wife dressed himself like the Lord of Life. She wanted to know if he was really the one he pretended to be, [so she] set out sharp sticks [that would hurt him] at night if he was not a higher being. He came and pricked himself. She assailed him and took all his clothes away [and] hid them. It was night. The young man searched everywhere for his clothes and his weapons. When it turned daylight, two lines, like fishing lines, hung down from the sun [to] near where the girl was. A voice called out to her to climb up. The clothes were not where she had hidden them: it was therefore the Lord of Life who had appeared [to her] as a young man. She grabbed the lines, and the sun seemed to come down. Several of her relatives [along with] other men pulled on the ropes, but they could not bring the sun down. God was lying in the sun. A very strong man who ripped out the biggest trees by their roots and threw them away could not achieve anything either. The cord wrapped itself around his shoulders. “I can tear out the largest trees, and my strength is greater than that of all [the] people combined, and these small threads I cannot tear in two?” he said. The Lord of Life called out to him [that] if they [did] reach and kill him, no human being would remain alive on the earth.
When First Man infuriated the white men with his buffalo tail and his insatiability, they [made] the water rise so high that all the land was inundated.[Page 3:98] Thereupon First Man told the ancestors of the Mandans [that] they should build on a height a tower, or wooden fort, called Mah-Mönnih-Túchä (the tower, or fort, of First Man), and the water would rise up only to that point. They keep a model of it in the plaza within their villages. They built this on the lower side of the Heart River on a large scale. Part of the nation drowned; the rest was saved in this way. In each of their villages, they erected a small model in memory of that building. The water receded afterward. Even nowadays a festival [called] Okíppe is celebrated in veneration of this ark. [More] about this further down.
Before the great flood, the Númangkake lived below ground,M50Lewis and Clark (vol. 1, p. 138) have given the first
(somewhat incomplete) information of the following legend.
Catlin repeated it in his letters printed in the newspaper. I
give it here completely according to the reports of the elders
and respected ones among the Mandans. but a band of them—this was mentioned [before]—came up earlier. They believe that there are four levels below the earth and four more above it. They live now on the fourth from below. They called the band that came up first Históppä, or The Ones with the Tattooed Faces. Most of these perished in the great flood. One day those who were living belowground saw light above them and said to each other that they wished very much to be [up] there. They sent a mouse above; it looked around, came back, and reported to them [that] it looked just the same as [it did] down below. Then they sent up a white animal, the size of a mink, with black legs and facial stripes, called náhsi by them; after returning, this one told them that it seemed to be better above than below. After [the náhsi,] the badger was sent up to dig a big hole, because the opening was still too small. When that was accomplished, they sent up a black-tailed deer to tunnel the opening further with its antlers. It ran around all day long up there, ate poires (serviceberries), and returned in the evening. Its tail was still white in those times. [The deer] went down at sunset. At the moment when only its tail was aboveground, the sun went down, whereupon [its] tail turned black and has remained that way since then. The [people] decided to climb up. A great chief, with his medicine and chichikué in his hands, went first. They climbed up on a grapevine, one after the other. When just half of them were up, and there was a fat woman on the middle of the grapevine, it broke. The rest of the Númangkake fell back [down]. This happened not too far from the seashore.
They went away from there until they got to the Missouri, which they reached at the Mönníh-Schott-Pássahä (i. e., Whitewater River, now White Earth River). They traveled up the Missouri to the Wáraschunt-Pássahä (now rivière à Moreau).
During that time, they did not know anything about enemies. Once, when a woman was scraping a hide, Cheyennes came and killed her. [The Mandans] followed the tracks of these new enemies to a certain river, where they all turned around except for two, the husband and the brother of the killed [woman]. The two men followed until [they found] enemy, killed one, took the scalp of the Mandan woman back, and therefore brought two scalps back. Before the two men returned to their village, they found white clay they had never seen before and took some of it along.[Page 3:99] When they returned to their village, where their great chief was still living [he] who had climbed up the grapevine first and whose skull and chichikué they keep even today as sacred objects, or relics, in their medicine bag or pouch),M51Even now they still preserve three such holy skulls:
the head of the chief, his brother’s, and his sister’s. they gave him the white clay, and he [used] it to make stripes on his chichikué. The name of this chief had been Míhti-Píhhä (Smoke of the Village). [But] after he climbed up to the earth, he called himself Mihti-Schi (Hide [Robe] with Beautiful Hair, la Robe à Beau Poil). The clay and both scalps were handed over to him, and he instructed all his people to shoot buffalo—only bulls—[and] take the thickest part of their hides and make shields (wakíhdä) from it; and they did. When this was done, they asked the chief what they should do [next], and he answered, “Paint a drooping [sic] sunflower on these shields!” (as a kind of medicine or protective sign). But a woman who was present, the sister of the chief, said, “You are fools. Paint a bean on them, because what is more slippery than a bean to turn away arrows?”
The chief divided his people into societies. First he created the society of MeníssÓchatä (Dogs). He made four caps from crow feathers and instructed them to make more. He gave them íhkoschka and songs [and said] they should always be brave and in good spirits [and] never retreat from arrow points. He also gave them strips of red cloth to hang down their backs. He said that if they followed his instructions, they would always be considered brave and upright men. The chief then shaped two bent lances (mánna), wrapped [them] with otter skin, [and] gave them to the Káua-Karakáchka; he also gave them two additional [lances] with crow feathers. The former represent the sunflower, the latter the Indian corn, or maize, plant. He said, “You should carry these symbols ahead of you when you move against the enemy. Stick them into the ground and fight to the last man—meaning never abandon them.” Then he established the society Óchka-Óchatä (Small Dogs Whose Name Is Not Known, les petits chiens fous); he called many young people together, instructed them to paint their faces black, gave them their own song with a war whoop at the end, and said he would call them Táchika-Óchatä (blackbirds).
Afterward he went to war with his people against the Cheyennes. [When] they reached the enemy, [they] put all their robes together. The chief wore a fox-skin cap and carried his medicine pipe in his arms; he did not fight, and sat on the ground at the side. They fought almost all day, drove the enemy back to their village, and were pushed back themselves three to four times. One of them was killed. They informed the chief about this, [and] he said, “Go to the river, [get] a young cottonwood tree with large leaves, and bring it to me.” They brought it, and he planted the little tree in the ground in front of and close to the enemy. He called out, [telling] the [Cheyennes] to attack now. They answered that he should attack first. He replied, “No, you have to attack!” And [although] the enemies shot at him, none could hit him. The arm with his robe was hit, but the arrow did not wound him. He held the small cottonwood tree in his arms, lifted it up, and a storm rose. The tree suddenly grew into a colossal trunk. The wind threw it among the enemies [and] crushed many of them, and [thus] the Cheyennes were driven across the Missouri.
Afterward the Númangkake moved up the Missouri until they reached [an area] opposite the Heart River (where a Mandan village was located for a long time.) An old Indian had begun to fish there when four men appeared across the river. He asked who they were. They answered that they were Hidatsas and then asked him for his name too, which he told them. He had an ear of corn with him, which he put on an arrow and shot across. They tried it and found it tasty. They shouted to him that in four nights there would be many people coming, so [the Númangkake] should prepare much food. [The Hidatsas] returned to their camp and informed [the others] about the corn. They [had also] tried the pomme blanche and many other things, but they found the corn to be the best.[Page 3:100] They broke camp and leisurely moved ahead. The Númangkake, [who] expected [the strangers] in four nights, cooked and prepared everything to receive them, but they did not come after the fourth night. Therefore [the Mandans] ate all the food they had cooked themselves. A year went by and the Hidatsas did not come, a second and third one, too. Finally, in the spring of the fourth year, all the hills turned black with people; the four days had been four years. All [these people] crossed the river and built a village near the Númangkake. Both chiefs of the two nations came together and talked with each other. The Hidatsa chief asked the other from whence they had [obtained] so much red corn. He answered, “When we fought our enemies, and they killed our women and children in the cornfields [while] the corn was growing, it grew up mostly red.” The Hidatsa chief thereupon told him that they wanted to assist [the Mandans] against their enemies. The next day many Cheyennes came and killed a great number of women in the fields. The combined nations attacked [the Cheyennes], killed many of them during the day, and drove them back to a small river that [flows] into the Missouri, across which they fled.
The Hidatsas remained united with the Mandans, [but] they were too numerous together—[they] did not have enough to sustain themselves. Therefore the Mandans said to [the Hidatsas], “Our young men love women very much, yours too, so move up the Missouri. This whole area belongs to us. There the Máhtack-Schukä́ (Little Missouri) flows, and the Míhsi-Pássahä (Yellowstone), and the Mánhi-Pássahä (Knife River, rivière au Couteau). Do not cross the last, because only then will we remain good friends. If you go too far, there will be fights, [we will] make peace, and fight again. If you stay on this side [of the Knife], we will remain good friends.” The Hidatsas moved there. However, they built one of their villages across the Knife River, and [so] they fought, made peace, and fought again. There has been uninterrupted peace and alliance between the two nations for only fourteen years. At the time of the narrator’s youth, the Arikaras lived close by and were fierce enemies of the Mandans. They fought with them frequently, [and] also with the Dacotas. If one of the allied nations fought on its own, it came off second-best; if they were united, they almost always won.
From this long, mostly absurd saga of the origin of the Mandans [there] emerges much information about their present behavior as well as their religious and superstitious customs. It therefore should not be completely without interest to the educated reader. Neither is it possible to take the whole story apart and omit some portions.
After the period of their first alliance with the Hidatsas, the Mandans are said to have inhabited eight to nine villages. [These] were located on both sides of the Missouri near the Heart River and farther up. Their names are as follows: 1. MihTutta-Hangkusch, the southern village; 2. Míhti-Ochtä (‘ch’ velar), the largest village; 3. Míhti-Cháde (‘de’ very short), the scattered village; 4. Míhti-Sangasch, the smallest village; 5. Ruhptare, they who turn around; 6. Míhti MíhtiAhgi (‘gi’ velar), the upper village; 7. Macháhhä (‘ch’ velar), the village of the people who spread their legs; 8. Históppä (‘ppä’ very short), people who tattoo their faces; the narrator could not name the ninth village. The smallpox later killed very many of the people, and sometime after that, the Dacotas destroyed Míhti-Ochtä completely and massacred its population. Afterward, the rest of the populations of all the different villages united in the two villages that still exist.
Before the smallpox epidemic that destroyed the nation, the Dacotas were not very dangerous to [the Mandans], but the Arikaras, Cheyennes, and another prairie nation were always their natural and fierce enemies.[Page 3:101] The Dacotas were at that time still much farther away.
Now we will turn to currently existing and practiced parts of their religious and superstitious behavior. These Indians are possessed by prejudice and superstition to such a degree that they see spirits and miracles in all natural phenomena surrounding them. They undertake nothing without first calling on their protective spirit, or medicine, revealed to them mostly in their dreams. When they want to choose such a protective spirit—medicine, in their language chóppenih (‘ch’ velar), in a general sense—they fast for three to four days or more, go to secluded places, do penance, sacrifice joints of their fingers (which individually almost all of them lack), shout, wail, cry, and scream to the Lord of Life or First Man to reveal to them such [a spirit or medicine]. In this feverish condition, they dream, and the first animal, or often the first object, that appears to them in their dream becomes their medicine, or protective spirit. Each individual has one about whom he refuses to tolerate any criticism. There is a large, isolated hill on the prairie where they stand without moving for several days, wailing and crying. Not far from this is a hole [cave?], which they crawl into during the night. The strange man, or spirit, who appeared in their villages many years ago but never returned is supposed to have taught them this medicine worship. He was mentioned [earlier] under the name Ochkíh-Häddä. He is also supposed to have taught them tattooing and to have instituted an order for their medicine festivities. In all uncommon natural phenomena, they look for miracles and intimations of coming bad or auspicious events. If shooting stars move frequently to the west, they predict war or the death of many people. They do not like to be sketched, because they believe they then must soon die. Even Kipp’s wife, a Mandan Indian, exemplifies this. Mr. Catlin, a painter from New York, had portrayed her in oil and had just left when she got a serious nosebleed. She was not satisfied until her husband saddled his horse, rode after the boat, luckily caught up with it, and for 20 dollars bought back the bad, unfavorable picture of her. At the Little Missouri, the same Catlin painted the profile of a Dacota [who], in a fight with another Indian, had the part of his face shot up that [Catlin], coincidentally, had just painted. Everybody blamed the painter, who got no one else to sit for a painting, and [so he] left. They also do not like to have their medicine artifacts seen or painted. They carry [these], well wrapped or in special pouches, with them when they go on an important venture. cháratä-numakschi, Wolf Chief, does not smoke from a stone pipe; it has to be made of wood. Mató-Tópe, an otherwise reasonable and rather enlightened chief, never smokes tobacco with other people; he has to be alone and with the door closed. In this way each individual has his own beliefs, which the Englishmen and Frenchmen term medicine.
They have special medicine pipes, íh-hink-chóppenih (‘ch’ velar), or medicine stems, as the Americans call them, that are [shown] and smoked only during ceremonial festivities.M52Many people make their own medicine pipe according
to their individual tastes. Dipäuch’s is shown as an
example. Its pipe bowl has almost the shape of some Turkish
[pipes and] is of brownish red clay. The stem is thick, fairly
short, of wood, and represents the Lord of Life as a human
figure. As he expresses it, this pipe is a medicine for its owner
against arrows. He calls the pipe “the pipe of the tail,” and it
serves to consecrate his arrows. It does not at all look like a
man in its shape (as figure [——] in Tableau  shows), but
its owner still maintains [that] it represents a man: the bowl
[is] the head of the Lord of Life, the ridge at the end of the
bowl [is] the place where the stomach is located, the front
part of the stem [is] the legs and feet, and similar nonsense. The nation preserves a famous pipe of this kind as a sacred object that [they have] owned since primeval times, and no stranger gets to see it. I wished to see and make a drawing of it, but they demanded 100 dollars to show it to me. They can preserve and consecrate such pipes only at immense cost. Some of the necessary ornaments are not available here, for instance, the upper jaw and red cranium of the woodpecker Picus pileatus L., a bird that does not occur [this] far upriver on the Missouri.[Page 3:102] For each such head brought to them from St. Louis, they pay with a beautiful, large buffalo robe valued from six to eight dollars.
If a man has such a pipe, he sometimes gets the idea, usually [in] a dream, to adopt a medicine son. In his dream he sees the young man he is supposed to choose. The son always has to be from a good family or have counted coup. He informs the chosen [son] of his intentions. Then he organizes [a ceremony of] identical pipes and asks the chosen adoptive son whether he is ready to undergo the pipe ceremony. Often [the son] agrees, and then a time is set. But frequently he is not yet ready, and the ceremony [is] postponed.
[In preparation for the ceremony,] the father chooses two young people, who have to practice the medicine dance opposite to each other [and] with the two pipe stems; each one has his pipe stem in his hands. The old man frequently dances on top of his lodge in the morning and coaches the two young men. When the time has come and the son is ready, the adoptive father, together with all his relatives and the two young dancers, goes to the lodge of the adoptive son. They bring corn, cloth, kettles, and other objects of value as presents for the adoptive son. In the lodge, the new father takes the son by his hands and sits him down. The [men] with the two pipes dance around him and sing. Drums and chichikué are used; both young dancers move the pipes to the beatM53The music at all medicine festivals consists of drum
and chichikué. During the medicine [ceremonies], they use a
chichikué in the shape of a champignon [mushroom],
made from leather. of the music [as they] dance. Sometimes food is served. When the ceremony is finished and the presents have been deposited in one or two piles, the relatives of the medicine son bring horses, blankets, cloth, kettles, and similar valuable presents, [just] as the relatives of the father did. [Like the father’s relatives,] those of the son divide [the presents] among themselves. Then the father takes the son by the hand, lifts him up, dresses him in new clothes from head to foot, and paints his face according to his vision. [The son] keeps the clothing and is considered [the man’s] own son, who may not allow anything bad to be said about his father. The son keeps one of the pipes, too. This custom prevails among most Indian nations along the Missouri: Crows, Dacotas, Mandans, Arikaras, Hidatsas, and so on. If the adoptive father and the adopted son have not seen each other for a long time, they exchange presents—the father dresses the son in new clothes, the son presents [the father] with a good horse, and so forth.
In the eyes of the Mandans and the Hidatsas, the skin of a white buffalo cowM54Wóhkadeh. is an important object and a great medicine. Anyone who does not have one, or has never owned one, is not respected and therefore worthy of pity. [If] two men argue about their feats, [and] one of them has perhaps counted many coups but has never owned the skin of a white buffalo cow, an inexperienced young man can tell him, “You have not even owned such a skin.” [The coup-counter] will have to lower his head and hide his face in shame. Usually the owner of such a skin dedicates it as a sacrifice to the Lord of Life, First Man, or the sun. In addition, he [may] collect objects of value for a whole year and hang everything together on a high pole in the open near the [communal] burial place or in the village in front of his lodge. Respected men and great chiefs of these nations are mostly poor, because in order [to gain] respect, they give away everything of value that they own and get.M55Among these Indians, having numerous relatives
is the principal means of becoming rich, because a young
man who wants to distinguish himself, to be generous, and to give away many objects of value brings honor to the whole
family. They support him everywhere, meaning [that] if his
brother or any of his other relatives has anything of value,
he can go [and] often just take or demand it. [He] lowers his
head [while] sitting quietly, and they give him the valuable
object—a beautiful piece of clothing, a horse, or something
similar—without any argument, [and] he thereby becomes
rich or respected. If he wants to make a name for himself or a
claim for distinction, he has to give [objects] away. Everyone in the village notices very precisely what is given away, and [the donor] has the right to represent all those presents on [his] robes with certain symbols to mark them.[Page 3:103] In this way one’s name passes into posterity, as mentioned earlier. This and glory in war are the highest distinctions in the eyes of these people. They cannot put one [painted] line too many on a robe, [symbolizing] horses or guns given away; the young people check each [representation] precisely, and general mockery would be the immediate consequence [of exaggeration]. For a man, the skin of the white buffalo is the high point among distinctions. If he is not lucky enough to shoot a white buffalo cow on his own, which is certainly the case most of the time, [a skin can be] bought, often from far away. Other nations bring [such skins], because they are aware of the value the [skins] have here. The skin has to be from a young cow not more than two years old. [The animal] is skinned and prepared, [including] horns, hooves, nose, dewclaws, and tail. They pay for this with from 10 up to 15 horses. One Mandan gave 10 horses, a gun, kettles, and other objects for such a skin. The skin of a white bull or an old white cow is not as expensive by far. One such skin suffices for all a man’ s daughters. However, he who does not own one or has not owned one may not lay claim to [be a] respectable man. The Mandans do not wear such a skin as a robe, as the Hidatsas do. At most, a daughter or a wife wears it at an important festivity, but not afterward.
The Númangkake have festivities for the dedication of [a] white skin. After someone has received [this skin], he drapes it around [the shoulders] of a distinguished medicine man, Numank-Chóppenih (‘ch’ velar, ‘e’ half [ə]). He walks around the village in the direction of the sun and sings a kind of medicine song. After collecting valuable objects for three or four years, [the owner will] often sacrifice the skin to the Lord of Life or First Man. [The skin] is rolled [with] sage (Artemisia), a medicine herb. Ears of corn are often also put inside. The bundle stays hanging from a high pole until it decomposes. At Mih-Tutta-Hangkusch, there was one hanging in front of the village at the scaffolds of the dead (maschóttä). Dipäuch (Broken Leg) had hung one on a tall pole in front of his lodge in the village. When the dedication ceremony is over, they often cut such a skin into narrow strips, and family members wear them as narrow bands across their head or on their forehead when they want to dress up. If a Mandan shoots such a cow, it counts more than a coup or killing an enemy. He does not cut up the cow by himself but tells someone else to do it, and then gives him a horse for it. Only he who has shot [a white buffalo cow] may wear a long narrow strip of its hide in his ears. Such a robe does not require any further decoration—it is above any such finery. The traders sell the Mandans [these] hides once in a while, and they have [charged] up to sixty robes for them. The term for the skin of the white cow is wóhkadeh (‘e’ full quality); [for] a white buffalo in general, ptíhndä-schóttä.
Even hides of white spotted buffalo have a high value for these [people]. There is a breed of buffalo (bison) with very soft, silky hair that has a beautiful golden shine, iridescent in the sun, like beaver hair; these skins [are] also valuable, [from] ten to fifteen dollars up to the value of a horse.
The Mandans have various kinds of medicine festivals. Among them, one of the most remarkable is Okíppe, the festival of penance or of the ark. It is celebrated in spring or in summer, and unfortunately I cannot describe it as an eyewitness. A certain painter, Catlin, saw it himself and described it in the newspaper, but incompletely, because he did not understand it. His information is hardly well known in Europe. I want to include it here in translation. At the same time, I want to give an in-depth description of the same as I have received it from men initiated into the secrets of the nation, thanks to the kind support of Mr. Kipp. See addenda p. 294 under the symbol.
[From 3:294:] The Okíppe. Numánk-Máchana (First Man) ordered the Mandans to celebrate this medicine festival each year. Once the village has made its decision, they choose a man of respect and trust (in the year 1834, the chief Mató-Tópe was chosen), who is placed in charge and directs the medicine. He is called Kauíh-Sächka (‘ch’ velar). At the determined time, he has the medicine lodge set up [and] cleaned, has wood fetched, and [sees to] other necessary requirements. If the beginning is set for the next evening, he enters the lodge at sunset of the same day. [On] that evening he begins a fast that lasts four days. With him are six men who have to beat the so-called turtle. This is a vessel or parchment sack filled with water. Three men beat from the direction upriver and three downriver. The turtle is beaten or played like a big drum during the whole night; [the drummers] do not wear special clothing.
A man who is supposed to represent Numánk-Máchana (First Man) comes before sunrise. He gets dressed in the medicine lodge in the following manner. Around his body he fastens a wolfskin [and] around his head raven feathers; in his arms he carries a medicine pipe, in his robe a portion of pemilligan [sic], or pemmican (dried meat prepared and mixed with fat). His face is painted red, [and] on his back he carries a piece of wood to which the tail of a buffalo cow is attached.M56The buffalo tail refers to the story told earlier about
First Man, when he acted so gallantly with a cow’s tail.
Early on the first morning of the festival this man goes into the villages and sings on the plazas. He is thrown various objects of value [such as] guns, robes, woolen blankets, cloth, and the like. He, on the other hand, gives the people some pemmican. From there he returns to the festival medicine lodge; he never speaks a word. Now the respected men come into the lodge, call Numánk-Máchana their uncle, and ask him, “Now, my uncle, how did you fare in the villages? How did you find them?” And he answers, “Very good, my nephew; I did not even once place my pipe on the ground.” This means that he was well received and [that] the people there hung all kinds of gifts on the pipe or instantly showered him with [presents]. He says furthermore, “I saw many buffalo as they grazed on the prairie and drank at the river; they are everywhere in numbers!” These were horses, but he wants to express [or suggest] that the medicine will attract buffalo in numbers.
All [those] who want to subject their bodies to penance, [in order] to make themselves worthy of the Lord of Life and First Man, come to the medicine lodge early in the morning. Their number is indeterminate, [sometimes] larger, [sometimes] smaller. [They] are all naked [and] painted all over with white clay. [They] wear their robes with the hair toward the outside, pulled over their heads [to] cover their faces, and are completely wrapped up in them. In the lodge they take off the robes. On the first day, they move out from the lodge four times, wrapped in the manner described, and dance around the Mah-Mönnih-Túchä (the ark) erected in the plaza. The Kauíh-Sächka is at that time near the ark and laments the whole time. All this happens at midmorning. In the afternoon, everything is quiet, and [there is] no dance.
Second day: Early on the second day eight men appear, Berocki-Häddisch, representing buffalo bulls. They are naked, with aprons of blue-and-white-striped woolen cloth around their hips. Their bodies are painted black; in front [there are] two red, elongated panels like the facings (rabats) of [a] military [coat], [plus] several white horizontal stripes and many bows. Around their forearms [and] also above the ankles, they wear alternating red and white stripes. They carry a wreath of green branches in their hands shaped like a fan. [On] their backs is a buffalo robe; the long hair of the head hangs down over their faces. In the center of the robe (with its hair outward), a bison horn is attached, [while] upward toward the head and down across the lower back, green willow branches lay as a cover. The eight buffalo [dancers] put on this strange disguise in the medicine lodge. They walk with a stoop in four pairs, one after another, stretching their robes [out] at both sides with their hands. At the same time, they hold the fans of leaves upright. In this manner they dance right up to the ark. [They] divide there—four of them going to the right, four to the left— [and go] around the plaza. They unite again opposite the medicine lodge and then return, the four pairs one behind the other, to the ark, where they continue to dance. When they dance toward each other, they straighten up [and] [from 3:295] frequently imitate the voice of the buffalo.
When the dance starts, the six turtle drummers carry their instrument out of the medicine lodge close to the ark and place it facing in an easterly direction. There they beat it and sing a certain song; the words are like a prayer. The KauíhSächka stands precisely opposite from the turtle; [he] leans on the ark, his face turned down, and laments. He is completely naked except for an apron of cabri skin. His whole body is painted yellow. Around his head he wears a wreath of buffalo hair, or buffalo wool, bleached by rain and weather, which hangs down a little over his eyes. The eight buffalo [dancers] unite while dancing around him [and] cover him with their robes; they dance to the turtle and do the same, whereupon they proceed to the door of the medicine lodge [and] form a kind of covered passage through which the turtle is carried to the lodge. This whole ceremony is repeated eight times on this day—four times before noon and four times after noon.
Third day: The same masks mentioned yesterday dance twelve times during this day. They do not eat or drink, and many figures or masks are added: 1. Two men disguised as women join the dance in this attire [and] keep by the side of the eight buffalo. They wear dresses of bighorn leather, women’s pants (mitasses), [and] their robes with the hair toward the outside. Only [their] cheeks are painted red. [Their] chins are tattooed [and their] heads decorated with glass beads (rassade) according to women’s fashion. 2. Two other men represent a pair of swans. They are naked, carry a swan’s tail in their hands, [and] are painted white all over, except [for] their noses, mouths (beaks), and the lower parts of their legs and feet, [which] are black. 3. Another pair of men represent two rattlesnakes.M57Two rattlesnakes (matáh-chóppenih). [marginal
note] Their backs are horizontally striped black like this animal, the belly yellowish. A black stripe runs down from each eye across their cheeks. In each hand they carry a bundle of sage (absinthe). 4. A man plays Ochkíh-Häddä (the devil). Two men from the village lead him unobserved to the river, where [they] dress and paint him. He is blackened on his whole body. From this time on, he does not say a word. They put a cap with a black cockscomb on his head, [and] his face is covered with a mask that has white wooden rings around the eyeholes. They make big teeth for him from cottonwood fibers [and] paint a sun on his stomach, [a] half-moon on his back, and a white circle, or wreath, on each joint of his arms and legs, both inside and outside. Then a colossal, wooden penis is attached to him, several feet long, [and] a buffalo tail to his back. A small stick with a ball of skin at the end is placed in his hands; a scalp, painted red underneath and supposedly representing the head of an enemy, is attached to [the ball]. When this monster is ready, they release him, and he runs like mad around the whole prairie, comes into the village, [and] climbs on [one] lodge, down again and [then] on another. In that way he haunts the whole village while the inhabitants throw him all kinds of valuable objects as presents. As soon as he notices this, he turns toward the sun and explains to it through signs how well he has been treated! It would be foolish for the sun to remain that far distant. He walks around and looks for vermin on people’s heads. If he finds [these] little animals he acts very happy and runs around erratically. The Indians are very afraid of the Ochkíh-Häddä, or devil, because they believe that anyone who sees him often or is touched by him must die. For this reason his role is not assigned to anyone; people have to volunteer for it.
The storyteller [Maximilian’s Mandan informant] added [this account]. Once, when the medicine festival was celebrated on the Heart River, where they still lived at the time, the man who was to play the Ochkíh-Häddä was led into the river. When he was undressed, he made a sign to let him loose. As soon as this happened, [he behaved] as if he were possessed by the evil spirit. [He] ran like a horse, as fast as an arrow, toward the hills and around on the plain. His two companions became afraid [and] ran toward the village, but the Ochkíh-Häddä crossed in front of them as quick as an arrow, [then] jumped over the high pickets of the village [and] into the from their [roofs], and then out again, running toward the river. It was evident that he was possessed. It took the inhabitants much time and effort to apprehend him and to wash him off. His whole body shook, and he covered himself with his robe. [He] remained in a similar state throughout his whole life, never uttering another word—possessed by the devil.
If these Indians fast for three or four days [and] dream frequently of Ochkíh-Häddä, then they believe, as stated [previously], that they will not live much longer. [Our] storyteller fasted that long once and had himself hung up by his back. During the night he dreamed of Ochkíh-Häddä and saw him far more horrible and larger than he could ever be described. His feather tuft reached into the clouds, and he ran around as swift as an arrow; in short, he was dreadful to see. [The storyteller] dreamed several times more about this devil. Now he does not ever want to fast [again,] lest he die early. He added that he had often looked at Ochkíh-Häddä represented by a mask with pleasure, not dread. However, he now saw the matter from a different point of view. The more [the storyteller] thought of [Ochkíh-Häddä], the more terrible and larger [the spirit] became. He had been so close, and if he had touched him only once, he would have died.
[From 3:296:] In the meantime, the other masks dance steadily—the women, swans, rattlesnakes, and so on—making faces, each after his own fashion, representing the natural manners and behavior of his mask or animal. 5. Two men appear, who represent bald eagles (pattáckä). They are painted blackish brown, the head and neck white as well as the forearms, hands, and lower part of their legs. In their hands they carry a stick; they run after the cabri. 6. Two beavers (uárapä) wear robes with the pelts toward the outside; a piece of parchment in the shape of a beavertail is attached to the back of their belts; they are painted blackish brown. 7. Two birds of prey—their shoulders painted blue, their bellies yellowish and spotted. On their heads they wear feathers; [they carry] feet (talons) in their hands. 8. Two or four bears (mató), [each] wrapped in a bearskin (with head and claws) that covers their heads and bodies. They walk, mostly hunched over, around the dancers and imitate the voices of these animals. 9. Two men represent the dried meat that is cut in narrow strips. They wear caps of white rabbit skin on their heads, [and] their bodies are painted with zigzag stripes. Around their bodies they wear a belt of green branches. [They] dance along like everyone else. 10. Perhaps forty or fifty Indians of very different ages represent the cabri (kokä́). Their backs are painted reddish; their fronts white; the nose and mouth black. They hold small sticks in their hands [as they] run around everywhere like mad. 11. Two men represent the night. They are painted completely black [and are] marked all over with white stars. On their backs each wears the setting moon, on their stomachs the rising sun. They are not allowed to sit all day long—they dance twelve times with the other dancers, and when they return to the medicine lodge, they may not sit down until the sun has set. Then they must remain seated until the next morning, without getting up. 12. One or two wolves (cháhratä) are painted white and wear wolfskins; they run after the cabri, which flee from them. If they catch one, the bears come and take it away from them and eat it up. All the [dancers] mentioned imitate natural animal behavior to the best of their ability. 13. Two prairie wolves (schähä́ckä) appear. They are white on the tops of their heads, the fronts of their faces are painted yellowish red; they wear dried herbs in their hair; [and] they carry a stick horizontally striped reddish brown. When the other animals leave the village, they run ahead of them on the prairie. Almost all these animals have different songs with words. However, nobody else is supposed to understand them, and they often rehearse the [songs for] a whole summer. They frequently must pay dearly for instruction.
Originally only the first ten of the masks mentioned [above] were [part of] this festival—Numánk-Máchana, Ochkíh-Häddä, the two women, the buffalo, the swans, the rattlesnakes, the bears, the dry meat, the night, the birds of prey, and the cabri. In recent years, the bald eagles, the beavers, the wolves, and the schähä́ckä were added; these did not belong to the true, ancient observance of this festival. When all the animals get together, they fight each other and make a thousand and one gestures. Each animal behaves in its own natural and unique way. The beavers, for instance, [from 3:297] make loud, clapping sounds by striking with their tails; the buffalo roll and wallow around on the ground; the bears strike with their paws. During all these dances, the penitents remain for three days in the medicine lodge, where they fast and go thirsty. They sit there quietly. The ten [sic] different masks also assemble in the medicine lodge in the afternoon. Then the [masks and] penitents walk together out of the lodge. The latter lie down on the ground on their bellies a little away from the ark, forming a circle around it. The masks dance—to the beat, or the music, of the turtle—around and between and over those lying down. Some of the penitents begin their torture now. They give an outstanding man or warrior a gun, a red woolen blanket, or the like, as a present, so that he will inflict the torment upon them.
The leader of the festival (Kauíh-Sächka) has been leaning on and wailing at the ark during all that time. Some of the penitents now have strips of their skin and flesh cut loose from their chests, their arms, or their backs in such a manner that [the strips] remain attached [to their bodies] at both ends. A strap is pulled through [the resulting openings], and [the penitents] are then thrown down the steep slope at the bank of Mih-Tutta-Hangkusch, where they hang suspended in the air. Others have a strap pulled through and [attached to] a buffalo skull that they drag behind them. Still others have themselves hung up from the flesh of their backs; others have joints of their fingers cut off; others are hung up from the skin above their stomachs, or [they] cut loose a longitudinal strip of the whole length of their arms in one piece and pull something with it; and more similar things. The ones tortured on this day return to their lodges. However, some of the penitents— [those] who fast the longest—will undergo their tests the next day.
Fourth day of the Okíppe: All penitents who could endure the four-day-long fast are now assembled in the medicine lodge. Those among them [who are] feeling weak ask for the dances to commence early; therefore, the masquerades and dances of the previous day are begun at daybreak. On this day they dance sixteen times—eight times before noon and eight times after noon, but they stop early. The torture candidates are cut at about two o’ clock in the afternoon. After they have all endured their torments, a large circle is formed. Two strong men who are not [part of] the festival take one penitent between them by his hands, the Kauíh-Sächka, too, and they move around in a circle at high speed. The exhausted, starving, tortured penitents fall down, and [some] individuals faint. They are swept along, released, and lie like the dead stretched out on the ground.
The eight Berocki-Häddisch appear then to perform the last dance. During that [dance], Numánk-Máchana (First Man) stands on one side of the plaza and invites the inhabitants to gather and go buffalo hunting. The men approach with bows and arrows, on horseback or on foot. The arrows have green leaves on the wooden points. The buffalo dance toward Numánk-Máchana. He pushes them back, which signals their death: the [buffalo] are shot at from all sides; they fall, roll on the ground, die, and lay there motionless. First Man then invites the inhabitants to take the meat from the buffalo. The [men’s] robes have fallen off. They get up and walk into the medicine lodge. There the performers separate into two groups. They stretch [from 3:298] their arms and legs and hit themselves on their bellies, saying that they feel strong now. Some [vow] to kill their enemies, others [say] that they will kill many buffalo, and so on. The people leave [to] eat and rest; the festival is over.
On the bodies of most adult Indians, thick scars are evident on their backs, chests, and arms. [This happens] especially with the Hidatsas, where large, long [scars] occur much more often than among the Mandans. The [scars result] from cutting or piercing the skin and separating it from the flesh [to form] openings through which cords are threaded to drag weights. The skulls that these Indians drag in pain, they keep afterward on the [roofs?] of their lodges, where they can be seen everywhere.[Page 3:104] They keep them for their children. Some are medicines; these they bring into their lodges, stroke the noses, and serve them food. In general, the buffalo is a medicine animal for them—more or less sacred. Another medicine festival, also notweorthy, is performed to attract buffalo herds. They usually celebrate this in fall or winter. At that [ceremony] they offer their wives to the older men. I will describe this festivity as an eyewitness at a Hidatsa [village], where it is celebrated in precisely the same way as [by] the Mandans.M58The Mandans dance around the ark [for] four days
during that [festival]. As a drum they use a broad leather container
filled with water representing a turtle. The penitence
rituals follow on the last day. Individual men, seeking good wishes for the achievement of a particular goal, may follow the same practice as in this festival. [A] man, [carrying] his pipe, goes with his wife, dressed only in a robe and completely naked underneath, into another lodge. The woman carries a bowl of cooked corn and puts it on the floor in front of a man, where her husband also places his pipe. Then the woman strokes the man’s whole arms with her hands, takes him by the hand, and he [then] must follow her to a secluded place for a certain purpose. In winter, that is mostly in the forest that densely surrounds the lodges. They come back inside, and the same [custom] is sometimes repeated with eight to ten men. As soon as the invited man has returned, the one asking for good wishes hands him his pipe and lets him smoke, whereupon the [seeker] gets good wishes for his ultimate purpose [from the smoker], whose arm is stroked [in thanks]; the second man is offered the pipe, etc.
A third medicine festival is the Corn Dance of the Hidatsas, described by Say.M59See Major Long’s Expedition to the Rocky Mountains,
vol. 2, p. 58. But there is actually neither dance nor dancing. Say described it quite precisely and correctly. They celebrate it like the Mandans. It is a consecration of the crops to be planted, and they call it Wáhka-Sinhusch (‘n’ as in French).M60See its precise description in the addition p. 298 under
the symbol. [marginal note]
[From 3:298:] The Corn Medicine festival of the women (Wáhka-Sinhusch) (‘n’ as in French). The Old Woman Who Never Dies sends the waterfowl in spring — the swans, wild geese, and ducks—as symbols of the field crops that are raised by the Mandans. The wild goose symbolizes the corn; the swan, the squash; and the duck, the beans. The Old Woman, [who] causes the field crops to grow, sends those birds as her symbols and representatives. Eleven wild geese are supposedly very seldom seen together in spring. But if this happens, it is a sign that the corn [crop] will [be] excellent. The Indians keep much dry meat ready to celebrate the springtime Corn Medicine festival of the women immediately as soon as the birds arrive. This meat is hung on scaffolds [built] of poles in front of the village, in two [or] three, up to four rows, one behind another. Elderly women, as representatives of the Old Woman Who Never Dies, gather on a certain day near the scaffolds; in [her] hands, [each] carries a stick on which an ear of corn is skewered.
They soon sit in a circle [and] put their sticks upright in front of them. Then [they] dance in a circle around the scaffolds, taking their corn sticks in their arms. Old men beat the drum in accompaniment and rattle the chichikué. The corn is not moistened or sprinkled [with water], as some believe. On the contrary, [for] this would damage it. The old women who represent the Old Woman Who Never Dies receive the meat afterward. While these older women perform their medicine with the ears of corn, the younger ones come and put some dry, pounded meat into the mouths of the former; in return, each one of them has a kernel of the medicine corn placed in her mouth, which she swallows. They also put three to four kernels into their bowls, and these are mixed carefully with the seed corn, which becomes fertile through these consecrated medicine kernels and [thereby] brings success to the whole crop.M61Often during the festival, a few men come from the
band of the Dogs, pull a large piece of meat from the scaffolds
without ado, and take it along. Since they are the Dogs and
respected men, it cannot be denied to them.
In the fall, the same Corn Medicine is repeated, but this time to attract the buffalo herds and get meat. Each woman carries in her arms, not a stick with an ear of corn, but a whole corn plant torn out [of the ground]. They refer to the corn, as well as the birds that are the symbols of the field crops, by the name of the Old Woman Who Never Dies. [They] call out to her in the fall, “Mother, have pity on us. Do not send us severe cold too early, so that we may keep meat! Do not let all the game move away, so that we have something for winter, too.”
When the birds move south in the fall (or, as the Indians say, they return to the Old Woman), [the Indians] believe that [the birds] take along those presents that were hung up next to the village for the Giver of Seeds. [Among these gifts] the dry meat especially belongs, and the Old Woman will eat it. There are individual poor women among these people who have neither meat nor other presents. They take a piece of parchment, put a buffalo hoof in it, and hang this poor gift from the scaffolds. [When] the birds reach the Old Woman, each one brings something along from the presents or sacrifices. Finally one arrives [who] says, “I have very little to bring; I received only a very meager present.” But the Old Woman answers, when presented with the buffalo hoof, “That is precisely what I love. I love this gift more than all the others; [it is] even more precious.” And she cooks a piece of the hoof with her corn and eats it with pleasure.
The Old Woman Who Never Dies has very extensive cornfields; the large deer (elk) and the male white-tailed deer (chevreuil) are their guards. She also has many [?] (troupials) that help to watch over these fields. If she wants to feed them, she calls them together, and they fall upon the fields and eat. This means, without doubt, that it is the Old Woman who sends the [?] (troupials) when [from 3:299] they fall upon the fields of the Indians. Because the Old Woman has very extensive fields, she employs many workers in them—the mouse, the mole, and the deer mentioned [above, all] work in them.
The birds that depart from the shores of the ocean in spring are, or represent, the Old Woman. The Old Woman herself travels north and sleeps with the Old Man Who Never Dies, who lives in the north. She does not stay long; after she has slept with him, [she] returns within three to four days. This is without doubt a figurative representation of the bird migration, because they brood in the north and return a few months later. Once in times past, the lodge of the Old Woman was located in the vicinity of the upper Little Missouri (Máhtack-Schukä́). The Indians went there and visited her often. One day, twelve Hidatsas came to her, and she served them such a small pot of corn that not one of them could have been half full. But as soon as the pot was emptied, it was instantly full again, and all twelve men [ate] sufficiently. This happened frequently during her stay there.
Snakes, especially the zrattlesnake, matáh-chóppenih (‘ch’ velar, ‘e’ half [ə]), are medicine to them, more or less. They kill them [and] cut off their tail rattles, believing they are helpful in many illnesses. In such cases a tail rattle is chewed and the sick person is spat upon in various places.
[The Mandans] also believe in a gigantic medicine snake, which lives in a lake a few days’ travel from here. It is medicine, and sacrifices are made to it. They tell the story of this monster as follows: Two young men went downriver and noticed an opening in a rock that they entered out of curiosity. [They] were surprised inside by a beautiful land altogether unknown to them. Many buffalo herds grazed there. They suddenly stood in front of a great giant who said when he saw them, “What kind of little people are these? I am afraid [I might] break them if I touch them.” Thereupon he carefully placed them in his hand and carried them to his village, where only giants [like him] lived.
The [giants] went to hunt buffalo. The Mandans accompanied them, and [the giants] killed the buffalo with rocks. The two young men shot many [buffalo] with arrows, which the giants liked very much. The giants were at war with the numerous war eagles (quilioux). [They] killed them with rocks, but there were also deaths on their side. The Mandans shot many eagles with their arrows [and] soon had a large heap of eagle feathers. They took leave of the giants, [who] let them go. [The Mandans] took all their precious feathers with them.
On their way back, they found the opening in the rock blocked by a colossal snake. At first they did not see a way to get by, but soon they piled up a large quantity of wood and burned the snake. Some of the roasted [snake] flesh was lying around. One of the men tried it, found it good-tasting, and ate some. [Then] they continued walking. On the way, the head of the man who had eaten the meat began to swell greatly and his face itched terribly. He begged his friend not to leave him and to lead him home. “Why did you eat the meat?” [his friend] asked, and led him to his lodge. On the second day, [the man who had eaten the meat] swelled up more and more. [He] became long, itched all over, and soon turned completely [into a] snake. He asked his comrade to carry him into the Missouri, and [the friend] labored for three days to get the snake there. As soon as [the snake] reached the water, it dove under [but] soon surfaced again and said, “There are many of my kind below, but they hate me. Carry me to the lake Mönníh-Háschka (Long Water),” three days’ journey from the Missouri. And it happened. When [the snake] did not like it there either, [the friend] had to carry it to a second lake, Históppä-Numángkä (Place of the Tattooed Face), where [the snake] liked it and decided to stay. It asked the young man to bring it four objects: 1. a white wolf; 2. a skunk; 3. pounded corn; and 4. war eagle tails. He should then go to war four times and every time kill an enemy: that happened, too. The snake added [that] it would always be here; [it would] become medicine [and] never die. If the Mandans wished for something, they should come here, do penance, entreat, wail, and weep. They still do this [today and also] attach eagle tails, ravens, or similar objects on poles on the lakeshore.
Another curiosity of this kind is the medicine rock, Mih-Chóppenisch (‘ch’ velar, ‘e’ half [ə]), la pierre de medecine, of the Mandans, which Lewis and Clark have already reported. The Hidatsas worship it as well under the name [— —]. More about that below. The rock is located and a half to three days’ travel from the village on the bank of the Cannonball River (Passáchtä), not more than about 100 paces from its bank. It is located on a fairly high hill and forms a flat slab, even with the ground; [it is] probably sandstone, because it must once have been a soft mass. It is covered with human and many animal footprints, as well as handprints and travois tracks.M62Maníhsischa or menissischan (‘e’ half [ə], ‘an’ as in
French). The Indians [think of] this rock as some kind of oracle and sacrifice valuable objects to it: cloth, kettles, woolen blankets, guns, knives, axes, medicine pipes, and the like. These [offerings] can be found lying on the ground there. The war parties of both nations usually go there to get advice about the outcome of their [proposed] venture. They arrive nearby, smoke their medicine pipes, cry, wail, and stay overnight in the vicinity. The following morning they approach and draw figures [from the stone] on a piece of parchment or hide. They bring this to the village, where the elders interpret it. From time to time, new figures are probably added. Not far from the rock, the famous ark was supposed to have stood, where part of the nation saved itself during the great flood.
Besides that, they have many kinds of medicine devices close to their villages.[Page 3:105] The ones located near Mih Mih-Tutta-Hangkusch Mr. Bodmer portrayed very precisely and correctly; they are all sacrifices to their gods. One of them, for instance, consists of four poles set up in a square. The two in front are [each] surrounded by a heap of earth and pieces of sod at the base. Between the two front poles, four buffalo skulls are set up in a row, and in between the two poles in the back there are 26 human skulls, some painted with red stripes. Behind this arrangement a few knives, man-hí (‘an’ as in French), are stuck in the ground. On top of the poles rest bundles of brushwood and some kind of comb or rake of sharpened pieces of wood, painted red. The Indians go to such places when they want to make offerings or express wishes; [they] cry, beg, and wail (which the French call pleurer, even though no tears are shed) to the Lord of Life, often [for] several days in a row. They usually attach the bundles to the poles with sage or wormwood (pschinchani [pronounced as] in French, ‘ch’ velar, ‘chani’ less audible and without stress), which to them is more or less a sacred medicine herb. They attribute a number of effects to it. Dreams, as mentioned before, are usually the motivating force for such actions and penance. They consider what appears to them in dreams to be true. They did not yet have guns when one Indian dreamed of a weapon that could kill enemies from a long distance away. Soon after, the white men brought them the first gun (erúhpa). Also, they first dreamed of horses, úmpa-meníssä (‘m’ as in French, ‘e’ full quality), before they received them. Even the white men who live among them are often affected by [this] belief in dreams and support much of it.
[The Indians’] offerings frequently promise the joint of a finger, [which they] cut off immediately with a knife and stick the bleeding finger in a handful of sage or wormwood; I [also] saw this as a sign of mourning among the Piegans. It usually happens [here] during the big penitence festivals in May or June. Almost all Mandans or Hidatsas lack one or a couple of finger joints; some of them have even more missing. In the addenda to this chapter, a few more medicine devices of the Mandans will be described ([— —]).
In the expedition [account] of Lewis and Clark, [a story] belonging in this context [about] an Indian’s offering is recorded. It reads as follows:
Each individual selects for himself the particular object of his devotion, which is termed his medicine, and is either some invisible being or, more commonly, some animal which hence forward becomes his protector or his intercessor with the great spirit, to propitiate whom every attention is lavished and personal consideration is sacrificed. “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 forever. The horses, less religious, took care of themselves, and the pious votary traveled home on foot. (vol. 1, p. 138).
Various kinds of superstitious ideas and prejudices prevail among the Mandans. They believe whenever one [man] is negatively disposed toward another, he needs only to shape a figure from wood or clay and stick a needle in it, [or an] awl, or [a] porcupine quill, in the place of the heart. If this figure (which is supposed to be a likeness of the [other] man) is buried at the foot of the sacrificial or medicine devices, the man must die.
When a woman is about to give birth, the husband may not bridle a horse (i.e., tie down the lower jaw); [if he did,] his child would die of cramps. If the wife is pregnant, her husband often has much bad luck. He misses [his prey] on the hunt. They believe that if such a man wounds a buffalo and [does] not kill it quickly, he has to bring home the heart of a buffalo. His wife shoots it with an arrow, and then he [will once more] be able to kill swiftly. They maintain that a pregnant woman is always lucky [playing] skóhpe, the billiard game. Some of them consider it harmful if two or more Mandans are smoking and a woman passes between them.[Page 3:106] If a woman lies on the floor between men smoking, a piece of wood is put straight across her so that the pipes can communicate with each other; this gives them a better connection.
A certain Mandan, Bedächä-Anúkchä (‘ch’ velar), the strongest man of his nation (who had also won many events against white men), always grips his pipe close to the mouthpiece. If he puts his hands on another part of the pipe, [they say] blood will immediately spurt from both his nostrils. If he does bleed, he cleans out his pipe and throws the contents in the fire, which puffs up immediately like gunpowder, and the bleeding is stopped. No one is supposed to be able to touch the face of this man without his instantly bleeding from his nose and mouth. Another person asserts that if somebody else offers [this man] a pipe to smoke, which they do quite often out of politeness, his mouth fills at once with worms and [he] throws handfuls of them into the fire.
The medicine of another Mandan consists of making a snowball [and] rolling it around in his hands for a long time [until] it gets hard; it finally turns into a hard, white stone that strikes fire. Many claim to have seen this. During a dance this same man tore out many white feathers from a certain small bird, rolled them in his hands, and shaped a similar white stone in a short time.
Once in a while a man gets the idea to make his gun a medicine ([if he does,] he afterward can never give it away). Then he holds a festivalM63Erúhpa-Uahä́ddisch, “Gun Medicine Festival.” that usually takes place each year in summer or spring. He has the crier, or kettle tender (marmiton in French),M64The Mandans call these people kapä́chka (‘ä́ch’ velar).
Each society has one of them. invite a certain number of guests. [He] gives [the crier] as many small sticks as he is supposed to invite people. [The crier] walks around and gives each guest [one of the] small sticks. European playing cards are now often used, too. The guests assemble [and] put their guns away, [and then] the drum and the chichikué are passed around. Each guest has to sing, drum, and rattle. In the meantime, several kettles (sometimes as many as five) with food are put on the fire. Then they eat, and everything must be completely consumed. The host takes his gun, cuts off a little piece of meat, rubs it along the gun barrel, and throws [the meat] into the fire. He repeats this two more times. [Then] he takes some of the meat broth and rubs this, too, along the whole gun barrel; the rest he pours into the fire. Finally he takes some fat and rubs the whole gun with it; the leftover fat is thrown into the fire.
Many, almost all, Mandans and Hidatsas believe that they have animals in their bodies. One of them [has] a buffalo calf, whose kicking he claims to often feel. Others have a turtle, frogs, lizards, a bird, or the like. Among the Hidatsas, we saw medicine dances of the women, where one of them claimed to have a corncob in her body that she got out through dancing and then forced it down again. Another one spit blood—this happens among the Mandans, too. These scenes were described extensively in one of the preceding chapters.M65See appendix and addenda p. 299 under the symbol.
[From 3:299:] They tell about even more foolishness of all sorts, stories of miracles and supernatural events. A pretty girl did not want to marry. One night, while she slept, a man came and spent the night with her without her noticing it. Finally she woke up and in a glance saw him go away; he wore a white robe. The two following nights he came again, and, again waking up, she saw the escaping white robe. She decided to mark him if he should come again. She colored her hand heavily red. He came once more. She hit him on his back with her hand, since she could not hold him. On the following day she looked at all the robes in the village but could not discover the sign of her hand, until she finally found it on the back of a large white dog. After a few months, this girl gave birth to seven young dogs. The eagle owl and the [other] owls are medicine birds for these people. For instance, they maintain that they are able to talk to them and understand their gestures and voices, [and] they therefore often keep them alive in their lodges as fortunetellers. They catch all kinds of birds of prey in a manner to be described later. [These birds] go for the meat (bait), especially eagles, some of which they keep alive for their feathers. The warriors wear these war eagle (máhchsi) feathers as a distinction, as will be commented on later. These birds are frequently also medicine for these nations.
The division of time, or actually that of the year into moons (mínang-gä), agrees fairly closely with our months. They count the years by winters and say [that] so many winters have passed since [an] event.[Page 3:107] They can count off the winters by numbers or with their fingers and hands. If we start with the beginning of the year, the first moon is:
1. The one of the seven cold days—Aschini-tächtä-mínang-gä (‘ch’ velar). It corresponds to January.
2. Moon of the wolf rut—Cháratä-dúh-hämináhki-mínang-gä (ch velar, r tongue trilled), February.
3. Moon of the sick eyes—istippagä-mínang-gä, March.
4. Moon of the game; some call it the one of the wild geese, the ducks and so on Pattoha-ku-mínang-gä, April. This moon is also often called the one when the ice breaks up— Chódä-uáppi-mínang-gä (‘ch’ fully velar).
5. Moon of seeding (corn) or moon of flowers—Wakíh-häddä-mínang-gä, May.
6. Moon of the ripe poires, serviceberries (Mespilus [— —])—Mánnapuschákä-rátack-mínang-gä, June.
7. Moon of the ripe cherries (Prunus padus virgin.)— Katáckä-rátack-mínanggä, July.
8. Moon of the ripe plums (prunes)—Wáhkta-rátack-mínang-gä, August.
9. Moon of the ripe corn Makiruchah-mínang-gä(‘r’ tongue trilled, ‘ch’ velar), September.
10. Moon of the falling leaves—Mánna-apä-haráh-mínang-gä (‘r’ tongue trilled), October.
11. Moon of the freezing rivers—Chódä -áhke-mínang-gä (‘ch’ velar, ‘e’ full quality), November.
12. Moon of little frost (la lune du petit froid)— Ischinin-takschúkä-mínang - gä (‘in’ as in French), December.
Now and then, other natural phenomena are chosen for naming the moons. However, the [names] listed are the usual ones and [form] a very natural and appropriate division. The seven cold days in January were discussed in the previous chapter.
The chief occupations of men are hunting and war (besides dressing, painting themselves, looking in the mirror, doing nothing, smoking, eating, and sleeping). The main game animal is the buffalo, or actually the buffalo cow (ptíhndä). The men usually move out on horseback in numbers for this hunt,M66Schántä (‘an’ as in French), “hunt.” because they are safer from their enemies than if they go individually.M67The horse gear is fairly close to that of the Blackfoot.
Their saddle is some kind of Hungarian Bock [buck?]. The
bridles they have are frequently decorated with broad red
and blue cloth [from] the whites. They always carry a whip
(íh-kaparaschä) in their hands when riding and, like all Indians,
never [wear] spurs. The whip handle is almost always
wooden; the more northern nations almost always [use]
elkhorn. In summer the buffalo herds are very distant and dispersed on the prairie, but in winter the cold snowstorms sometimes drive them closer to the Missouri, to the forest edge. Then they are killed in great numbers. [The Indians] stay for eight to ten days on such hunting trips; they [travel] back mostly on foot, because their horses are all packed or hung with meat. They usually shoot the buffalo with arrows at very close range, [the hunters] often riding [only] 6 to 8 paces away. If it is very cold and the buffalo remain distant on the prairie, as happened in the winter of 1833-1834, there is little hunting; they would rather starve or live only on corn and beans than [suffer] frozen limbs.
Usually in winter, toward spring, many drowned buffalo float down the river with the ice. [The Mandans] swim and often jump skillfully across the ice to them, land, [and] eat meat that is often half decomposed, wherefrom they are not nauseated at all. They also often use the skins of these drowned animals.
It is strange how the hungry dogs are aware of their masters’ hunting trips and take advantage of them. When the Indians’ horses return packed with meat, the children in the village have a habit of breaking out in a certain cry of joy. The dogs understand this right away; they howl loudly, run on the prairie to the place where the meat came from, and feast on the hunt leftovers. When a hunter has shot an animal, he usually immediately eats the raw liver, kidneys, [and] the third stomach, or the aorta and the marrow from the large leg bones.
If an Indian has shot some game, he usually shares it with others. The entrails and the skin always belong to the shooter. If an outstanding man who has counted coup joins [the group] after an animal has been killed and demands its tongue or another good part, it cannot be denied him.[Page 3:108] If both men have counted coup, they have to come to an agreement about the matter. The Mandans and the Hidatsas do not use any dogs for hunting. They shoot deer, antelope (cabris in French), and bighorn (grosses-cornes) in the forest, on the prairies, and [in] the Black Hills or neighboring mountain ranges. For the antelope (kokä́) they will establish parks (kákrohosch), but not for the buffalo; the Assiniboines are expert [at the latter].M68According to Brackenridge (Views of Louisiana,
p. 56), the Indians are supposed to drive the cabris into water
and then kill them with their war clubs. This can have happened
only in isolated cases where chance presented the
opportunity. The Hidatsas establish [such] parks more frequently than the Mandans. For that purpose a shallow valley (coulée) is located, [one] situated between hills with a steep drop-off at the end. On the tops of the hills, two converging lines approximately one mile long are marked out with branches. Below the drop-off, some type of obstacle or fence is constructed with poles and brushwood, approximately 15 to 20 paces long. [The obstacle is] covered over and filled with poles, brushwood, and hay. Riders drive the antelope between the ends of the two marked lines, [which are] distanced far apart. They ride quickly toward them, chasing them down through the valley between the marked lines. At the end, the animals plunge to the bottom of the hay-filled drop-off, where they are killed with [clubs] or captured alive.
There are not many bears in this area. They are not favored [by the Indians] for this kind of hunting, because it is often dangerous. What Brackenridge says about the Indians of this area (Views of Louisiana, p. 56) is untrue, however: namely, that they always call out aloud before entering the forest [in order to] to chase away the bears. [By doing so] they would also drive away the game. Only a man who is no hunter could believe such silly information.
Wolves (cháhratä) and foxes (hirútt) are sometimes taken with a gun, as are rabbits (máhchtikä). The first two are [also] caught in deadfalls. For the wolf there is a heavy deadfall where a tree drops. The prairie wolf (schähä́ckä) is not easy to catch, because it is very cautious. The foxes are caught in small deadfalls covered with branches that are usually covered [in turn] with buffalo skulls and other such bones as camouflage. Many traps of this kind are visible everywhere on the prairie, surrounded by small sticks so that the animal cannot enter from the side. They catch beaver now in numbers with iron traps borrowed or bought from the white men. Pelts and meat are equally important to them. They catch small animals like weasels (máhchpach-pírakä— ‘ch’ velar) in front of their lairs in snares made from horsehair.
The hunting of predatory birds is said to be remarkable. The bird-catcher lies down lengthwise, completely hidden in a narrow dugout ditch that is covered with brushwood and hay. On its surface, pieces of meat are laid out and a crow or similar bird is tied to it. The eagle or bird of prey is supposed to swoop down to get the meat. [When it lands] to eat, it is caught by its legs. I would not believe this if dependable men had not given their word on it. [In] this way they catch the eagle with white and black tail feathers (called by the French quiliou or oiseau de médecine [medicine bird], by the Americans war eagle)— máhchsi (‘máhch’ nasal, almost like manch, ‘an’ as in French). Unfortunately, I did not get to see it. They hold it in very high esteem, as mentioned [before]. It is supposed to be common in the Rocky Mountains and the neighboring prairies and hill chains. The Hidatsas call it mah-eschó (‘e’ short).
War is, to be sure, the main occupation of the Indians. Seeking glory from their achievements in war is the highest goal they strive for. It is known that Indian bravery is very different from that of the white men. To directly expose themselves to enemy weapons would be foolishness in their eyes. They seek [instead] to gain advantage over their enemies by trickery, slyness, spying, concealing their movements, and surprise attackes.
Whoever has killed many enemies without suffering harm himself is the best and most outstanding warrior.[Page 3:109] Counting coup is for all Indians the most important matter of their lives. If a young man wishes to make a name for himself and count coup, he fasts [for] four to seven days, as much as his physical condition permits. He goes into the hills alone and laments and shouts to the Lord of Life. He continuously calls upon the gods for assistance; he eats nothing [and] fasts strictly and long. Once in a while, only in the evening, he goes home and sleeps there. Then a dream provides him with his medicine. If the Lord of Life lets him dream of a piece of cherrywood or of an animal, these are good omens. The young men going to war with him trust in his medicine. If he counts coup, his name is established. [But] no matter how many coups he counts, if he does not give away objects of value, he will not gain high respect. They say of him that, although he has counted many coups, he should be pitied as much as the ones he killed. No matter how many coups a man has counted, he is not entitled to wear hair braids [sic] if he does not carry the medicine pipe and has never been a partisan (leader of a war party.)
If a young man who has not yet counted coup is the first in a war party to kill an enemy, he paints a spiral line around his arm [in a] color of his choosing. He may [also] wear a full wolf’s tail at his ankle or the heel of one foot. If he has killed or first touched an enemy, then he [can] paint a slanted line around his arm and another one crossing that in the opposite direction with three diagonal bands. After killing his second enemy, he [can] paint his left leg, meaning his trousers [leggings], a reddish brown. If he kills the second enemy before his men kill another one, he is entitled to wear two complete wolf tails. At the third coup, he paints two stripes lengthwise on his arm and three paired cross-stripes. This is the coup that counts most; after the third coup, no further marks are made. If he kills an enemy after other members of his troop have done the same, he may wear a wolf tail with the tip cut off. In each large war party there are always four partisans (karókkanakah), sometimes up to seven. Only four of them are counted as the true ones. The others are called bad partisans, karókkanakah-chákohosch (‘ch’ velar)—literally [in French], partisans galeux. All partisans carry a medicine pipe (in a case on their backs) that other warriors are not permitted to have. To become a chief (numákschi), [warriors] must have first been a partisan and [also] have killed an enemy during a raid when not a partisan. If one follows another partisan for a second time, discovers the enemy first and kills one of them, [and] in addition then acquires the skin of a female white buffalo with its horns in perfect condition—then one becomes a chief, or cheffre in Canadian [French]. The source of this information, Dipäuch (Broken Leg), has done all this and is a man respected by his people. However, he has never used the title of chief. He paid five horses for his buffalo robe.
All warriors carry war pipes (íhkoschka) [around] their necks. These are often very delicately ornamented with porcupine quills; they [also] have small [thin] yellow leather straps wound around with [stripes of] porcupine quills. As soon as [warriors] attack the enemy, each of them whistles.M69At the same time, they all perform the war whoop,
scheddekehch (second ‘e’ half [ə], ‘ehch’ with the tip of the
tongue [palatal]—German), a high sound with a tremolo, because
they hit their mouth quickly and repeatedly with their
hand at [the same] time.
Those who fast and dream to count good coup have the right to wear a wolf skin.[Page 3:110] A warrior can wear as many war eagle feathers in his hair as coups counted.
When they are on the warpath, all Indians build themselves some kind of stronghold (fort) of tree trunks in the evening, where they are somewhat protected against an attack and can more easily defend themselves. These forts, or fortifications, are square [or] triangular [or] sometimes round; put together with thick wood; [and] about four feet high. In Major Long's Expedition to the Rocky Mountains ( vol. 2, p. 307), it says that there were often caches, or hidden spaces, in these fenced-in areas, [but] we did not notice any on the Missouri. Also, the Indians often send sentries far away, and they are always alert. The forts, or fortifications, are mentioned frequently in the journal of my trip along the Missouri.
After a battle the dead are not buried [but] are left lying [where they fell]. If it is not far [back] to the village, they are taken along and placed on scaffolds (maschóttä). They keep the scalps, padóbchí (‘ch’ velar), les chevelures, for a while, stretched over small hoops, in their lodges. Afterward, the hair from them is used to trim pieces of clothing for men. Usually the dried and stretched scalps are painted red underneath.M70The Mandans, Hidatsas, Crows, and other nations
never tortured their prisoners the way it is done among the eastern
tribes and the Pawnees. As soon as a prisoner has arrived
in the village and has eaten corn there, he is considered one of
their own, and nobody insults him. However, it has often been
the case that the women of the village have approached the prisoners
and killed them before they entered the village.
If a young man wants to become a partisan, he consecrates a medicine pipe, a very simple, undecorated pipe stem. He has attempted beforehand to earn the affection and trust of the young men through presents and other demonstrations of friendship. He spends four days and four nights at an isolated place—for instance, in the prairie hills. Here he wails, begs, and shouts to the Lord of Life, dedicates his pipe, [and] speaks to the sun, First Man (Numánk-Máchana), and all celestial relatives, asking for their support; [he] does not eat or drink. Then he talks to the young men to gain their support. If enough participants can be found, and a raid is decided upon, [the men] dance, eat, and amuse themselves for several nights in the medicine lodge of the village, from which they also make their departure, usually during the night. Women are never present at such dances. When [the men] leave, they are badly clothed [and] not painted. They do not leave the village together but mostly individually, or a very few at a time. When they are a short distance away from the village, they stop on a solitary hill, sit down in a circle, [and] open the medicine pouches and small bundles. The partisan unwraps his medicine pipe, and they smoke from it. He spreads out his medicine objects on the ground or hangs them up, and these tell him the future. All this takes place during certain ceremonies.
When the warriors return from a raid and have counted coup, they often paint their faces and even their bodies black. They carry the scalps on tall poles. The women and children come to meet them, and they enter the village performing the Scalp Dance. This dance is performed for four consecutive nights in the medicine lodge. Later they also dance it in the middle of the village on the open plaza. If the raid took place in spring or summer, and no tribal member was killed, they will perform the dance until the leaves drop again.[Page 3:111] However, if [the raid] was in the fall, they dance until spring. In the meantime, if one of them is killed, then all festivities are immediately canceled. At the Scalp Dance,M71Uḯbskäkä-Náhpisch. [the participants] paint themselves in various colors, form a semicircle, and dance [while moving] forward and backward with singing, drum, and chichikué. The wives of the men who captured the scalps carry them on long poles.
Every outstanding thing a war party does brings honor to the partisan.M72Karókkanakah. All scalps belong to him, as do all captured horses. [Any] man who kills an enemy is brave and counts a coup, but the partisan rises the highest, even if he had not seen any of the slain enemies. When he comes home, the old men and the women assemble and sing the scalp song for him. He in turn gives all of them valuable presents. He gives away all captured horses and other valuable objects. Afterward he is a poor man, but his name is great. Successful partisans, being respected by their nation, become chiefs afterward. Young Indians participate in war as early as age fourteen to fifteen. In winter they move out on horseback from time to time.
On occasion the Mandans and Hidatsas roam as far as the Rocky Mountains against their enemies, the Schipsí (Blackfoot). Their other enemies are [the] Hahänumangkosch, or Saones (Dacotas); [and] moreover the Arikaras; the Hósika (Assiniboines); [and] the Cheyennes.M73The British write this word “Shiennens” but pronounce
it like the French. The Mandans call this nation
Tamáh-ónruschkape (‘on’ as in French, ‘e’ fully articulated,
last part of the word soft and short, everything together). They are at peace with the Häderuka (Crows).
The Mandans and Hidatsas have the following weapons. First is the bow (woraërúhpa) and the arrows (manna-máh-hä). The former is made from elm or ash wood, because they do not have any other type of good wood here. The shape and size are the same as [those of] the other North American [Indians]. The string is of twisted animal sinews. Frequently there is a broad animal sinew glued to the front of the bow, and the inside is covered its whole length with a splint of bighorn or elkhorn. Such bows are highly elastic and strong. Often the bow is decorated. A piece of red cloth is attached to each end. The cloth, about the length of a hand, is wrapped around [the bow] and, in turn, is adorned with leather cords and porcupine quills, glass beads, [and] little strips of hanging ermine skin. Additionally, they attach a tuft of bright yellow-or green-colored horsehair to the upper end of the bow.
The quiver (schunt-háschk-ichtíckä, ‘ich’ velar), to which the skin or leather case for the bow is attached, is made on top of panther or buffalo skin: in the former case, with the hair to the outside; in the latter, the hair [is] on the inside. The long, trailing tail is trimmed on the inside with red cloth and decorated in several places with white glass pearls in various patterns. Otter skin makes very nice-looking quivers that are considered very valuable. Narrow strips of skin hang decoratively from both ends of the quiver.
The arrowsM74Manna-máh-hä. of the Mandans and Hidatsas are worked nicely. The best wood for them is said to be from the serviceberry bush (Mespilus [— —]). Incidentally, the arrows are almost the same among all Missouri nations, with elongated, triangular iron tips [having] very sharp cutting [edges all] around; they make [these] themselves from scrap iron. [The points] are glued only lightly to the fairly short wooden [shafts] of the arrows and frequently remain embedded in the bodies of the wounded. The arrows are never poisoned.M75Even though all these arrows look alike at first glance,
there is a big difference in the way they are made. The Mandans
make the best-looking and the most solid [ones] of all the Missouri
nations. Their iron [arrow] points are heavy and strong; the
feathers are completely glued [to the shaft]. The wrapping below
the point and around the feathers is made with very similar, very
narrow animal sinews. On all [the shafts], a wavy line representing
lightning is scratched in or painted on extends the whole
length. The Hidatsas make the iron point thinner and not as
well; they also do not glue the feathers tightly but just tie them
on both ends. The Assiniboines frequently have very poor, thin
metal points. Say reports (see Major Long’s Expedition, [——]),
that the arrow wood (Viburnum) is used sometimes for arrows
by the Indians of the lower Missouri and the neighboring prairies.
I have to suspect that this is the alisier bush (Viburnum with
black berries) of the upper Missouri, which is at times used for
bows there but not for arrows. When Charbonneau arrived on the Missouri, he found individual arrowheads still being made from flint, and they [could] still be found in the villages.[Page 3:112] Everywhere in North America arrowheads of flint are found; [they] were used by the original inhabitants, who unfortunately have been exterminated in many places. Especially in Pennsylvania, where the unfortunate, so-called Delawares (Lenni-Lennáppe) lived, [flint arrowheads] can be found everywhere; [this is the case] also in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, etc. [There] is a sand hill on the prairie near the Hidatsa villages where many such points were found after the wind blew away the sand. Almost all Mandans and Hidatsas have guns (erúhpa) that are decorated with small pieces of red cloth on the brass parts of the ramrod pipe, and the stock is often studded with yellow nails. Besides the ramrod, they carry a [second] special rod for loading in their hands, as all Indians do; this is the one they usually use. The shot bagM76Mánhä-ihdukä. is of leather or cloth, often nicely decorated with glass pearls; [it] hangs [down] their backs on a strip of skin or broad, strong, colorful cloth.
Their war clubs and battle-axes are of various kinds. Some have a thick, eggshaped stone attached to a stick with leather straps. Usually they have small iron axes,M77Óhmanat-tchámahä (‘manat’ fast and short, ‘ch’ velar),
like that of Mató-Tópe in the portrait (that represents altogether
a very precise view of the looks and warlike appearance of this
outstanding chief). but not tomahawks with the pipe attached.M78The war club with the iron point on the side is called
mánna-ókatanhä (‘an’ as in French) or mánna-pauïschä-schihä. A simple knotty club of wood is called mánna-pauischä.
We were told that the Mandans used lances in battle, and there is supposed to be one of great beauty among them. All carry a knifeM79Man-hí. on their belts in the back; this is indispensable to them on a hunt or at war. Some make the knife handle from the jawbone of a bear, retaining the large fangs [canines]. The bow is still esteemed nowadays by all nations living along the Missouri, far more than by the Osages. [The former] are very good archers and practice often. The Mandans and Hidatsas are supposed to be good fighters after their fashion, and individual [instances] of bravery and determination are not rare. One of their most outstanding warriors is Mató-Tópe (Four Bears), of whom [some characteristics] were mentioned earlier. He killed more than five chiefs of foreign nations. Mató-Tópe’s father, whose name was Suck-Schih (Pretty Child), played a trick very similar to that of the Hidatsa chief Kokoáhkis, about whom Say writes.M80See S. Long’s Expedition to the Rocky Mountains (vol. 1,
p. 30) In the evening, while wrapped in his robe, he went into the lodge of an Arikara enemy, the way young people from the villages are often in the habit of doing, and with his face covered, laid down with a woman. When his business was finished with her, he cut off a tuft of her hair and left. He could have killed the woman like the other one [Kokoáhkis], but he did not do it.
Among the Indians, wounds are supposed to heal wonderfully easily. In many cases an arrowhead remains in the body, [but] if the arrow can be pushed completely through, this danger does not exist. Often men who are scalped in skirmishes become conscious again later and recuperate. There are two such men among the Hidatsas now who always have their heads covered and do not like their bare skulls to be seen.M81Such a serious head wound is rubbed with fat. The
medicine man sings while the wound is treated with smoke.
The Mandans and Hidatsas often suffer from eye [problems]; some of them are one-eyed or have a skin [film?] on one eye. When they have eye infections, they are in the habit of scratching the inner eye with a sharp, sawlike blade of grass, which causes much blood to flow and some of them lose an eye.
Rheumatism, cough, and the like occur frequently, because [people] walk halfnaked in the severest cold and jump into icy water. They [have a] kind of sweat bath, [taken] in a specially constructed, tightly closed, small hut; in this they bring stones to a glow in an intense fire and then pour large quantities of water on them. Inside the hut the heat is almost suffocating, producing a very hot steam bath.M82These are called míh-kaské (‘é’ full quality). They start to sweat [heavily], go outside quickly, and roll around in the snow or jump into the ice-covered river; but [they] do not return to the heat, as with Russian steam baths.[Page 3:113] Some [bathers] are supposed to have dropped dead on the spot.
Some of these Indians are stooped and deformed, perhaps through gout, [but the parts that] remain are healthy and noticeably hardened. For various illnesses and complaints, another cure is treading [on] the whole body, especially the belly. [The treatment is] so severe that hardening of the intestines often occurs, or ulcers, especially of the liver. The sweat bath is also used for all kinds of illnesses. Vaccines have not yet been tried [here].M83Addition, p. 293 [under the] symbol. [marginal note] [ From 3:293:] Spitting of blood occurs frequently, but not actual consumption. Gonorrhea is very common. They maintain [that they] have gotten all the venereal evils through the Crows from beyond the Rocky Mountains. When they have such diseases, they sit over a heated pot and almost burn themselves. Buboes they cut open with a knife, completely [and] lengthwise, and then they run a few miles as fast as they can. Yellow jaundice does not occur. They do not know any emetics, but if they feel sick in their stomachs, they often stick a feather down their throat to cause vomiting. They have laxatives from the plant kingdom. Sunstroke is unknown here. Poison-vine (Rhus radicans) often causes swellings, particularly in children. Rattlesnakes are uncommon close to their villages, therefore also the bite [of these vipers], but they are said to have remedies against it. They rub frozen limbs with snow. Snow blindness is very common in March; [as a remedy] they dissolve gunpowder in water and bathe their eyes in it. Bloodletting is often done with a [sharp] flint or a knife. They frequently ask the white men for medicine.
They have various cures for the horses, too. If a horse cannot urinate, administer part of a wasp’s nest.
When a Mandan or a Hidatsa dies,M84Ottä́hrusch, death. he is not left for long in the village. They place him on a narrow scaffold as long as a man; [the scaffold] rests on four poles about 10′ high and [erected] several hundred paces away from [the village]. This is called a maschóttä. [The deceased is laid there] after his body [is wrapped] and tied in buffalo robes and his woolen blanket. His face is painted, and [he] lies facing the sunrise. A number of these scaffolds stand close around their villages, and they themselves say this custom is detrimental to their health, but they do not abandon it despite [the health hazard]. Small boxes tied with a piece of cloth or hide contain children on many of these scaffolds. Ravens can usually be seen sitting on the scaffolds, and [the people] do not like these birds, because they eat the flesh of the deceased. If somebody asks a Mandan why they do not bury their dead in the ground, the answer is, “The Lord of Life told us we came from the earth and should return to it. But not long ago we began to leave the dead aboveground, because we love them and want to cry at the sight [of them].”
They believe that in every human being there are four [sic] spirits: a black one, a brown one, and a light-colored one; the latter is the one who returns to the Lord of Life. They believe that after death they will go south, where there are several villages visited frequently by the gods. The good and the brave go to the village of the good, the cowards and the wicked to another one. They live there the same as here—food, hunting, and war are the same. Those who have a generous heart, who give much away and do good, find all of this again there. The more good done here, the better they will live there. Some inhabitants of the Mandan villages are said to believe, not this, but rather that they [will] travel to a certain star or to the sun.
They mourn a whole year for their dead. They cut their hair on this occasion and smear the remainder and their entire bodies with white or gray clay. [They] often score their arms and legs from top to bottom with a knife or a sharp flint, [cut] beside [cut], so that they seem to be covered with blood; this is seen on women, too. During the first days after a death, there is crying and wailing. Often a relative or another person comes to “cover the dead,” as they say here. He buys one or several blankets of woolen cloth—red, blue, green, or white—and after the body has been placed on the scaffold, he climbs up and covers [the deceased] with them. To such a person the bereaved (the family of the dead) give a horse. If they know in advance that somebody is coming to cover the dead, they tie a horse to the scaffold (maschóttä) of the dead at once. The one who does the covering takes the horse meant for him and leads it home after he completes his task. If a [slain] Mandan or Hidatsa remains on the field of battle against an enemy—that is, the body could not be brought back—and the news of his death reaches his family, [then] a buffalo skin is rolled up and carried [to a place] near the village. All those who want to mourn the deceased get together; many valuable objects are tossed out and given as presents to those in attendance. [The mourners] cut off their hair, injure themselves, cry, and wail. Unlike the Piegans, finger joints are cut off not as a sign of mourning but [rather] as a sacrifice and penance.
The language of the Mandans is difficult for an Englishman or a Frenchman to pronounce. [It is] easier by far for a German or Dutchman because [Mandan] contains a great many velar sounds (like ‘ach’, ‘och’ in German). Nasal sounds do not occur often; [there are] only a very few. However, [the Mandans] often talk somewhat indistinctly, with their mouths open slightly. The vowels are often softened. The accent [s] of words have great importance. The vowels ‘a’ and ‘u’ are often only half pronounced, but they occur very frequently. In many words, the endings ‘nisch’, ‘osch’, ‘nosch’, and similar [ones] are pronounced ‘ni-sch’, ‘o-sch’, ‘no-sch’, and the ‘sch’ in final position sounds slightly separate, like a hiss. The ‘r’ is always produced tongue-trilled and not rasping in the throat [uvular]. I learned only one word where at the end a lisp, like ‘tl’, is audible [as] some type of click. The two syllables ‘kitäsch’ at the end of a word frequently indicate the plural.[Page 3:114] I collected many words as samples of the language, [and] also whole phrases. All this can be found in the vocabulary lists of the Missouri languages as an appendix to this work.
There is an old man still living who assured [me] that in his youth the languages of the Mandans and the Hidatsas differed much more than they do now. They now understand each other better and have borrowed individual words from each other. Formerly both languages were entirely different, [and] they still [are] in major aspects. Time will have its influence here even more. Most Mandans speak many languages, [including] Hidatsa. But the latter [people] very rarely speak Mandan. It is strange and proves how [even] slight, small separations of nations can produce changes and deviations in languages, modify, and merge them into others; the Mandans already show significant deviations in their language [between] their villages, Mih-Tutta-Hangkusch and Ruhptare. As an example, I have made a list of such words and terms.
All Indian nations, at least the ones on the Missouri, are supposed to have no words for various curses, [such as] the European [languages have]. The Mandans have in this respect nothing but the word wáhchi-kanaschä (‘ch’ velar), which means “bad people.”
The article is almost always lacking with Mandan words, and the gender is always the same for different objects. Only if one addresses a man, a woman, or a female person [berdache?] is there a divergence. If, for instance, one tells a man he should do something, then the masculine ‘tá’ is added; for a female, ‘na’. With the kind support of Mr. Kipp, I have collected many more comments about the Mandan language in a separate notebook that would take too much space here. Still, [here are] a few more words about their names, which always have a meaning [and] often even express whole phrases.
Names consisting of mere sounds without meaning do not exist [in Mandan].
All possible objects in their surroundings are used for names, and [names] are frequently very smutty. Here [are] some strange names as examples. For instance, Bear That Is a Spirit—Mató-Manóchikä (‘ch’ velar); Bull That Is a Spirit—BeróckManóchikä (‘ch’ velar); Little Hawk Whose Foot Is Full of Blood (Arikara)—Starapat (‘st’ with tip of the tongue); I Hear Coming—Kuhá-Hándeh (‘há’ nasal, ‘han’ also and as in French); There Are Seven of Them Married to Old Women—Taminsickä-Kúhpa-Kohä-Chihä (first ‘n’ as in French, ‘ch’ velar).