Source: Legends Of The Kaw
The capital of Kansas now occupies a portion of the former
hunting-grounds of the Kaw and Shawnee Indians. The Shawnees were the
first emigrant tribe to arrive in the Territory. The ancient home of the
nation was near the Cumberland River. Early in the Seventeenth century,
the Iroquois invaded that region and vanquished its owners, who fled
south and became scattered, settling in Carolina and Florida. At a later
period, the divisions of the tribe reunited and returned to the vicinity
of their old home, taking possession of a more extended country and
founding towns in the Ohio Valley. When they were driven west, the Baron
De Carondelet granted them land near Cape Girardeau.
As the white people entered Louisiana, the Shawnees sought new homes,
again and again. Finally, they relinquished all claims in Missouri, in
consideration of a large purchase in Kansas. In 1854 a treaty was
signed, disposing of all their land except two hundred thousand acres,
which were divided among individuals; and in 1869 the remnant of the
tribe removed to the Cherokee country, in the Indian Territory.
A migration tradition says that once, when the Shawnees lived in the far
East, on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, they were surprised to see,
riding along on the back of a large fish, a creature that looked like a
man, although it had long green hair like weeds, a face like a porpoise
and a beard the color of ooze. Around its neck were strings of
sea-shells, and in its hand was a staff made from the rib of a whale;
and, most astonishing of all, the strange being had the bodies of two
fishes for legs. He stopped near shore and sang of the beautiful things
in the depths of the sea. The people heard, in amazement, for he spoke
Day after day and week after week, the Man-Fish might be seen, seated on
the water, with his legs curled up under him; and all the time he sang
of new countries; and the people, charmed, left their work and listened.
Men forgot to go hunting and the women no longer busied themselves
around the wigwams, but stood on the beach and watched. Repeatedly, the
creature sang: "Come, follow me"; but they refused to go. At last the
supply of food in the village was exhausted. Hunters entered a boat and
tried to catch fish, but without success. The Man-Fish flirted water
over them with his legs, and laughed at their trouble, chanting a melody
about the wonderful Spirit Island, in the midst of the Great Salt Sea.
The Shawnees said:
"Can you show us anything better than we have--good wives, good
children, good dogs and plenty of deer?"
But the stranger reminded them of storms in the Moon of Falling Leaves,
of snow and ice, of hunger and constant danger from wild animals and
painted warriors, saying:
"Come with me and I will show you a land where the air is always warm
and soft, and the flowers are always in bloom; where you will find as
many deer as are among your icy hills, and great herds of animals called
bison; where the men grow tall and the women beautiful as the stars of
The Shawnees were afraid, and attempted to go toward shore, but were
held back by an unknown hand. They consulted among themselves. The
Man-Fish bobbed up his head and sang: "Follow me." They decided to obey.
Out on the water, a mighty storm arose. The Great Spirit could be heard
hissing in the depths of the ocean. The boat rocked and swayed on the
billows; but the protector was near and told them not to fear. He
brought food and a shell of fresh water from the bottom of the sea. Two
moons passed before land appeared. It was the glittering Spirit Island,
with big trees and high mountains. From some of them lightning seemed to
shoot. Along the shores were seals and ducks. The inhabitants fled into
the woods, when they saw the Man-Fish, who went to find the Spirit of
the Island. He entered a cave and soon returned, accompanied by a being
as strange as himself. It had a head like a goat, with horns and beard,
and moss-colored hair. Its legs and feet were covered with handsomely
decorated leggings and moccasins. Speaking with the voice of a man, it
"I will take you, men of the Land of Snows, to a beautiful place, where
you will find all that could be desired."
The Man-Fish departed, and under the guidance of their new friend, the
strangers reached the interior of the Spirit Island. They married the
maidens of the country and grew into a bold, strong and valiant nation,
overcoming all tribes east of the River of Rivers.
The Shawnees were of Algonquin stock and were the roving clans, the
gypsies of the wilderness, described by William Penn, belligerent under
ill-treatment but peaceable when dealt with justly. Referring to the
creation, they said:
"The Master of Life made the Shawnees first, from his brain, and gave
them all his knowledge. Other red people descended from them. He made
the French and English from his breast, the Dutch from his feet and the
Long-knives (Americans) out of his hands."
One of the most interesting legends is that which has reference to the
origin of the Piqua Shawnees. The word "Piqua" signifies "Man Made from
It seems that long ago, in the dim past, the nation made a talk against
the Walkullas, who lived not far away, on the shore of the Great Salt
Lake. The older men opposed a war; but Mad Buffalo and the young
warriors refused to listen to their counsel.
"We are strong," said they, "and the Walkullas are weak."
A party, eager for a fight, went out from the village. Two moons passed
and there were no tidings of the young men. The Walkullas were distant
only six suns journey. The third moon went by; and Chenos, the oldest
and wisest man of the tribe, called the people together in council; he
told them that the young warriors had been slain. There was a shriek of
horror and the women began to lament for their husbands and sons.
"Yet," said Chenos, "there is one left, who has had vengeance on the
enemy and has drunk their blood; he will soon be here."
Even as he spoke, the Mad Buffalo entered the Council Wigwam. One arm
was tied up with a piece of deer skin; and there was dried blood upon
his body. Attached to a pole, over his shoulder, were seven scalps. Six
of them had long black hair, but the seventh was the color of sunshine,
and curling. He told them how the braves had crept up to the enemy and
watched them prepare a feast to the Great Spirit; then, when all was in
readiness, the war-cry had been sounded. The Shawnees had killed many,
but the foe had been visited by people with skins as white as the
clouds, who had taught them to use thunder and lightning in battle. Mad
Buffalo's men had done well, but were slain, at last.
Chenos told the leader that he should not have gone at a time when the
Walkullas were making sacrifices. The relatives of the dead warriors
called out for vengeance. The wise men counseled as to what would most
surely appease the Master of Breath. Chenos said:
"The Mad Buffalo must give up that which is most dear."
The leader, casting a fierce glance toward him, said he would offer none
of his own blood, but would kill a deer. Then Chenos said:
"The Mad Buffalo has not told all. There is another, a prisoner, with
The warrior replied:
"Mad Buffalo never lies; he has a prisoner"; and with that, he went out
of the Council Wigwam and brought in a woman. He motioned her to lift
the veil that covered her face. The wild men of the forest gazed
entranced. She had a skin white as snow, and cheeks, red, but not with
paint, like the Indian's. More beautiful than the flowers, than the
sun, moon or clouds, was the maiden. The Mad Buffalo claimed her as his
own, telling how he had saved her and carried her in his arms.
The relatives of the dead men cried out for blood. Chenos forbade the
sacrifice, saying that perhaps she had come from the Great Spirit. Then
the wicked ones left the place and sought the aid of a bad man named
Sketupah. Sketupah said the beautiful woman must be sacrificed; he
directed that certain religious rites be performed, with a wolf, a
tortoise and a rattlesnake.
A large ball rolled up the hill and unwound itself. A queer little old
man with green eyes, stepped out. The ball was made from his own hair,
which was the color of moss, and so long that when blown around by the
wind, it seemed like the tail of a star. The little old man, who was the
Evil Spirit, commanded them to bring forth the beautiful woman and tie
her to a stake. They did so, and piled sticks around her feet. As the
flames arose, the Mad Buffalo, giving his war-cry, ran forward against
the Evil Spirit. A breath from the powerful one, and he lay stricken
with death. Chenos called on the Master of Life for help. The Ruler of
All came, his eyes visible from afar, shining like two great stars. The
evil one grew small, and his power failed when the Great Spirit
advanced. The beautiful woman was spared and the Master of Life said:
"Men of the Shawnee nation, the pale-faced people from over the Great
Salt Lake are your brothers."
He told them that he had made all races; that the Indian was red because
fear never entered his breast; that the heart of the white man was so
chilled that the blood was scared from his cheeks; that the Shawnee had
been brought from the land of the pale-face, long ago, but had lost his
paleness. Then he said:
"Rake the ashes of the sacrificial fire; and when the Star of the
Evening rises, put in the body of Mad Buffalo and cover it over with
wood; keep the fire burning for two whole moons; bring out the beautiful
woman and place her near the ashes. This is the will of the Great
The people obeyed these commands, and when the time had been fulfilled,
there was a disturbance in the ashes, and a man, tall, strong and
perfect, came forth. He walked up to the maiden and looked into her
eyes. Chenos gave her to him as a wife; and from them were the Piquas
A Shawnee religious belief, the doctrine of a pre-natal existence, bears
some resemblance to that of the Buddhists, and reminds one of the fact
that all nations have a common ancestor in the Aryan race. The following
incident, related by an Indian agent, proves the implicit faith reposed
in this particular belief.
When the United States Government removed the tribe to Kansas, the
Pawnees waged incessant war against the new arrivals. Many times, ere
the country became their home, had war parties of the Shawnees
traversed the rolling prairie, passed out upon the plains, battled with
the wild Indians of the West, and returned, sometimes laden with booty,
to their reservation east of the Mississippi.
The red man never forgets what he considers an indignity. The spirit of
revenge is always an incentive to action; hence, the recent comers were
under the necessity of keeping themselves in readiness for an encounter
at any moment. Rumors of an attack by the enemy floated into the
settlements, and the head chief marshaled out his men to check the
advancing warriors. After a ride of one hundred miles to the northwest,
the scouts, far to the front, espied in the distance, what appeared to
be a great number of small black objects, outlined against the sky. A
nearer view disclosed the fact that the Pawnees were approaching.
Information was carried to the main body.
Both parties called a halt. Then, the war-chief of the Shawnees,
accompanied by an aide, rode forward, signifying that he desired a
conference. He was met in the open space between the lines, by an
opponent, a fierce-looking Indian, and by his side a brave of unusual
size and strength. Contrary to custom, it was agreed, after a parley,
that two of the most skillful warriors should meet upon the prairie, in
the presence of both sides, and decide the battle by a hand-to-hand
Returning to their men, the chiefs called for volunteers. A quick
response, and the chosen ones rode to the central ground, dismounted,
and consigned their ponies to the waiting assistants, to be led back to
the lines. There was a moment of hesitation--of suspense to the
spectators. The warriors regarded one another with looks of astonishment
and recognition. Then La-ma-to-the, the Shawnee, spoke:
"Know you not, Pawnee, that we have met, far back in the past, the past
that appears to us now as the distant mountains when wrapped in smoke
from heaven's pipe of peace?"
"Yes," replied the other, "I remember the blue sky and the broad
prairie, covered with sweet grasses, where the rest of our kind fed
quietly, or, scenting danger, galloped wildly from place to place."
"Pawnee, we were bison, then (Puk-wah-chee-m'-tho-tho), belonging to the
same herd and following the same leader. Let us go back to our people
and tell them we were brothers in the other world."
They separated, and the war chiefs, understanding well, looked upward,
in reverence to the Great Being who had transformed them all in the time
long ago, then returned in silence to their villages.
Many Shawnees and Pottawatomies claim that they are of the lost tribes
of Israel. Certain customs that have descended to them from time
immemorial, seem to bear out this theory. Their Holy of Holies
corresponds to the Ark of the Covenant, of the Israelites. Its contents
were known only to its possessor, and, under penalty of death, all
others, except the medicine men, were forbidden to touch the sacred
relic, which was wrapped and re-wrapped with bark until it became a
The Shawnee language is a dialect of the Algonquin, which possesses all
the vowel sounds. The letters f, r, and v are wanting. X is also wanting
in all Algonquin languages except the Delaware and Mohican. There is a
strong affinity between the Shawnee and the Mohican dialects. Verbs are
full and varied in their inflections. The meanings of whole words are
concentrated upon a few syllables or upon a single letter. The prefix
tah, indicates futurity. Everything is considered as divided into two
classes--animate and inanimate. Terminations change accordingly.
Divested of their appendages, words become monosyllables. The syllable
e-bun is added to the name of one deceased. This is equivalent to the
words "has been" and is a delicate way of indicating a person's demise.
For instance, Tecumseh, after death, becomes Tecumseh-e-bun or "Has Been
A wealthy trader who married the descendant of a French officer
stationed in Canada during Colonial days and the daughter of a chief of
the Chippewas, passed through many strange experiences while sojourning
among the Shawnees.
One moonlight night, riding from Westport, now a part of Kansas City, to
Uniontown, on the present site of Valencia, he left the beaten road and
took a short cut for home over a seldom used Indian trail. A ghostly
stillness prevailed, which was broken, ere he had proceeded far, by a
series of blood-curdling groans, sometimes clear and distinct, sometimes
like the rushing of the wind, but always seeming to follow in his wake.
Drawing a revolver and wheeling to confront the enemy, he found only
empty air--while the pale moon still shone serenely down upon the
unbroken prairie. Again the terrible sounds became audible; and the
horse was urged to its highest rate of speed without avail. A sensation
of horror creeping over him, the pioneer turned into a path leading to
an Indian hut--the noise sweeping by like the breath of a cyclone--and
inquired the cause. His host, well versed in explanations of the
medicine men, replied:
"Had you remained upon that trail, the route of a rambling night spirit,
you would have surely died before the break of day."
Doubtless these interpretations often served to cover murderous designs.
On another occasion he was urged by a friendly Indian, a member of a
secret society, not to undertake his usual journey, as, at a gulley
south of Martin's Hill, danger lay in wait. True enough, at that place a
large gray wolf sprang out and made a fierce lunge, inflicting deep
wounds upon the horse. The traveler fired but missed the animal. Again
and again the ferocious creature jumped at him, each time failing to
reach the man and burying its teeth in the horse. After a furious
conflict, in which the rider succeeded in beating back the wolf with the
butt of his pistol, he urged forward the wounded steed and was enabled
to outrun his wild adversary.
A Shawnee, descended from the principal characters described, is
authority for the following story, of
MAUNE', THE CHIPPEWA GIRL.
Near the city of Quebec, so long ago as the time of the French and
Indian War, lived a dark-eyed girl of the Chippewa tribe, in whose sweet
face bloomed a dusky beauty that distinguished her from other maidens of
the nation and caused her to become an object of admiration to the
gallant young officers who were struggling to maintain the supremacy of
France. Had it not been for the brilliant victory of General Wolfe, and
the noble sacrifices of the British and Colonial troops, there were no
sad story to record, for with the advent of England came an exodus of
the French soldiery from the Dominion, and crushing sorrow to Maune',
whose heart had been captured by the handsomest officer in the vicinity
of their village.
She was the daughter of a great chief, renowned among his people for
deeds of bravery in war, therefore, it had occasioned small surprise
when the noble Colonel Beauchamie selected la petite Maune' as his
Indian bride. In time, two fine boys brought new sunshine into the rude
quarters which, in those primitive days, served as home, though to the
young mother, the rich furs and blankets and pretty trinkets with which
she was endowed, seemed the very acme of luxury.
Life was full of sweet contentment, until, one clear, cold morning, the
French looked out in astonishment upon the army of General Wolfe, drawn
up in battle array. How it had ascended the steep cliffs was a mystery
to those within the walls.
General Montcalm, resting his faith in superior numbers, risked a battle
outside the fortifications. The heroism and patriotism of the opposing
generals, their glorious death, the celebrated victory of the English
with its important results, and the final expulsion of the French from
that portion of the New World, are all matters of history.
Colonel Beauchamie was ordered back to France with his regiment. The
question now obtruded itself, "What should be done with Maune'?" He
could not present an Indian wife to friends at home, neither was he
willing to leave his sons in Canada. After prolonged consultation with a
few brother officers, it was quietly arranged that the children should
be spirited away and placed on board a ship destined to transport the
soldiers back to their native land; and the devoted woman was to be
Maune', suspecting these designs, crept quietly behind the partition
that screened the officers from view, and listened to the development of
the plan. Her affectionate heart sank as she became aware of her
husband's perfidy. Love, grief and determination followed in rapid
succession. Sadly she stole away and prepared for flight. A canoe was
stored with provisions and the sleeping children placed inside; then,
with mingled feelings of affection and the hatred and resolution
peculiar to her race, she bade farewell to home, happiness, country, all
that made life dear, except the slumbering babes. For their sakes she
would struggle through the wilderness to a more favored land. Where, she
knew not. The Great Spirit would guide and protect her; and the blood of
fierce warriors, which flowed in the veins of this child of Nature, gave
strength and courage in the hour of need.
Up the river she proceeded, keeping close to shore; when at a safe
distance from pursuit, landing for rest and for the purpose of adding to
their scant amount of provisions. From the river into the lakes, slowly,
cautiously, Maune' made her way, passing through untold hardships,
always caring tenderly for the dependent little ones. Cold, hunger, wild
beasts and the fierce storms of the Northern lakes were alike
disregarded; and at last, long after English rule had been firmly
established in Canada, and Quebec and Montreal converted into British
headquarters; after the cruel conquerors had banished the simple
Acadians from their land--Maune', weak, emaciated and fainting with
starvation, was found by a wandering party of Shawnees, upon the
By almost superhuman efforts, the heroic woman had preserved her
children; and the hardships of the journey had produced no serious
effects upon their sturdy constitutions. Adopted into the tribe, she
found a habitation with the friendly Shawnees.
Though the image of her pale-faced husband was never erased entirely
from the heart of the faithful Chippewa, and a lingering sadness and
silence kept her in partial isolation, she lived many years in quiet and
saw her sons, as they grew to manhood, regarded as the boldest and most
successful of the tribe, in times of peace and war.
Advancing age brought with it the suspicion of witchcraft. Maune' was of
a strange nation; and her adherence to unknown customs aroused fear in
the breasts of the ignorant Shawnees. Finally, the leading medicine man
decreed that she must die. Her sons were powerless to resist the tide of
A bundle of sticks was produced, and the unfortunate creature tied to a
stake. Then the horrible torture commenced. Frantic Indians, chanting
their weird melodies, danced round the fire, as it slowly consumed the
ill-fated Chippewa. Not a sound of terror or of anguish escaped the
woman in this moment of exquisite suffering. At last, a merciful breath
of flame severed the thread of life, and all that remained of the bright
little maiden, who had been the idol of her brave Canadian people, was a
disfigured mass of charred flesh and bones.
Surely the Great Spirit whom she worshipped, and the tender Mother of
Christ, whom the Jesuits had taught her to implore, looked down in
pitying love, and recompensed, in the Spirit Land, this child of
misfortune--Maune' la miserable.
Tragedies were every-day occurrences among the natives, in those days,
and there were times when fanaticism swept all before it; but that the
great men of the Indians were not unworthy of the admiration and
respect of their enemies, is shown in
A FRAGMENT OF HISTORY FROM THE WAR OF THE RACES.
On a picturesque cliff overlooking the Mad River, in what is now the
State of Ohio, was located, more than a century ago, the Indian village
of the Piqua Shawnees.
The settlement was prosperous and fully two hundred acres of land were
in cultivation. A log fort, surrounded with pickets, had been built, and
the Shawnees were prepared for defense in the event of an attempt to
capture the town.
This beautiful spot was the birth-place of the famous Tecumseh--Shooting
Star--the most illustrious Indian that ever battled for the rights of
his people. Eloquent, powerful in mind and body, and possessing the soul
of a hero, the patriotic chief was, at the opening of the nineteenth
century, deep in plans for the advancement of his race. Is it a
matter of surprise that he should oppose, with ceaseless energy, the
encroachment of the white man? That his talents should be unsparingly
used in the hopeless endeavor to stay the westward progress of
civilization? He had seen the red man repeatedly deprived of land, under
almost compulsory treaties with the Government. His independent spirit
rebelled against the authority of the pale-face; and the circumstances
of his father's death, during the troublous times when the celebrated
Cornstalk waged war, had made a lasting impression.
The far-seeing leader realized that without a combined effort on the
part of the natives, extinction was certain. Fired with determination to
break the growing power of the Long-knives (as the Americans were
called), he formed a federation of nations for the purpose of putting a
stop to emigration, claiming that their possessions were common property
and could not be transferred without the consent of all.
He incited the Indians to hostilities, going from one part of the
country to another, accompanied by two warriors of exceptional bravery.
Sa-wa-co-ta (Yellow Cloud) and Wa-se-go-bo-ah (Stand Firm) were the sons
of a Chippewa mother. Their father, a French officer, had gone back to
his own land at the close of the French and Indian War. Prior to his
departure, the unfortunate wife, learning of the proposed desertion, and
discovering that her children were to be placed on board the ship which
would soon sail across the seas, fled with the babes and found a refuge
among the Shawnees, where the boys grew to manhood. Tall, straight and
commanding, with all the intensity of the Latin races, and the wildness
and stoicism of the aborigines, they were well fitted for positions of
trust under Tecumseh.
Indian traits predominated in Sa-wa-co-ta, the older of the brothers.
His dark complexion, high cheek bones and flashing eyes bespoke, to a
marked degree, a savage lineage; while the open countenance of
Wa-se-go-bo-ah showed a stronger tendency toward the father's kindred.
From early childhood, there had been in his manner, a refinement and
superiority that denoted a long line of cultured ancestors from the
nobility of France. Here, even in the wilds of America, was that
distinction observed and respected by a barbarous people.
Young and old alike listened with quiet approval when the lips of
Wa-se-go-bo-ah opened to give advice, and the sister of Tecumseh,
Tecumapease, heard with trembling joy the words his eyes had long since
spoken, and betrothal followed. But there was one of dark and evil face
and strange demeanor, the older brother of Tecumapease, who gazed with
hatred on her future lord, and would, if possible, prevent the nuptials.
The prophet, Elkswatawa (Loud Voice), fearing the influence of the
warrior Stand Firm might exceed his own, opposed the union.
Tecumseh, having returned from a pilgrimage to a distant tribe, was
seated in his cabin, awaiting the coming of the prophet. He regarded
with contempt the luxuries of life, and when at home in the new Piqua
village, resided in a log hut chinked with mud. The ancient town had
been destroyed by white soldiers, and its namesake founded near the
Great Miami River. A nose ring with three silver crosses, and a few
stripes of brilliant paint gave a look of ferocity to the bright
intelligent face of the chief; and a medallion of George the Third, on a
wampum string, hung around his neck. Buckskin leggings, moccasins
decorated with porcupine quills, a deerskin jacket and a blue
breech-cloth completed the odd uniform.
Elkswatawa entered, clad in garments made from the skins of wild
animals. In addition to these, a kind of turban surmounted with bunches
of feathers, a nose ring, large earrings, hideously painted cheeks, and
a sightless eye, the other gleaming with malignant fire, were well
calculated to inspire terror. The man was an object of superstitious awe
to the Northwestern Indians.
In vain he sought to change the mind of him who had decided to bestow
Tecumapease upon the most beloved of all the braves. The wily Prophet
appealed without effect to that innate love of power, strong in persons
that are born to rule. The Shooting Star looked deep beneath the
surface, and discerned, within the heart of Loud Voice, envy and
unfounded dread of the growing popularity of Wa-se-go-bo-ah.
The Prophet left in anger; and collecting a few followers, betook
himself to a new locality, the present site of Greenville, where he
established a town.
Attracted by stories of wonderful deeds, savages from different
directions flocked to the place. It was rumored that the seer could make
pumpkins as large as wigwams come up out of the ground, and that one ear
of his corn would feed six men; that he was invulnerable, and had all
knowledge of the present, past and future. Many of the Shawnees
considered Elkswatawa an impostor and refused to enter into any plans
against the Government. Tecumseh frowned upon them, and spent much
time, when not upon his travels, at the Prophet's town.
General Harrison, Governor of the Territory of Indiana, became alarmed
and sent a letter to the brothers, inviting them to Vincennes, for the
purpose of making known their grievances. To the intense fright of the
inhabitants, they responded with an escort of four hundred fully armed
warriors. At the appointed hour, on the morning of the Twelfth of
August, 1808, Tecumseh advanced, with thirty chosen men, to the place of
meeting in front of the Governor's residence. By his side were Stand
Firm, now the husband of Tecumapease, and Yellow Cloud. An aid-de-camp
pointed to a seat by General Harrison, and addressing the chief, said:
"Your father requests you to take a seat."
Drawing his blanket more closely around him, Tecumseh replied:
"The Sun is my father and the Earth is my mother; on her bosom will I
repose"; and flung himself upon the ground.
His speech at the council has gone down in history as one of the most
remarkable on record, for native oratory. A spirited answer, with a
refusal to return the lands in question, aroused the braves, who, at a
signal, seized their war clubs. Tomahawks were brandished in a
threatening way. Bloodshed was averted only by the coolness and tact of
In the confusion which resulted, Wa-se-go-bo-ah fell heavily forward,
stricken down, supposedly, by a white foe. The unconscious man was borne
to the Indian camp. As no wound could be discovered on first
examination, the Americans were accused of employing supernatural power.
Then a small bruise was found at the base of the brain, similar to one
produced by a missile. Gradually the favorite of the people recovered;
and as he lay upon the grass, enveloped in a thick blanket, he turned,
and suddenly beheld a terrible figure, with horns and one fierce
gleaming eye, burning like a coal of fire, creep stealthily toward him.
Its hand was raised to strike, and in the claw-like fingers was clutched
a glittering knife. Frozen with horror, he remained for a moment
immovable, then, quick as thought, rolled under the arm of the crouching
demon--evading the blade almost by miracle--and struck against its
breast. A desperate struggle ensued, in which Stand Firm secured
possession of the weapon. Holding it aloft, he caught at the throat of
the hairy-faced monster and the mask came off, disclosing the features
of the Prophet.
"Elkswatawa, N-tha-thah (my brother), why do you seek my life? Go, for
the sake of her whose eyes are as the stars of heaven, unharmed. Their
light shall guide me into paths of peace. Her love shall teach me to
forgive your murderous wrath."
The creature slunk away; and the noble conqueror dreamed that night of
the little Piqua village, where Tecumapease, with trustful heart,
besought the great Master of Life to preserve him, who, even while she
prayed, escaped the grasp of death. But the Mighty Being who controls
the destiny of humanity, from the highest even to the lowest, punished
the treacherous seer, when, on the sixth of November, 1811, the Indians,
in direct violation of a truce, advanced upon the United States troops
under General Harrison, encamped within a mile of the Prophet's Town.
The Magic Bowl, the Sacred Torch and the Holy String of Beans were
touched, and the savages, believing themselves invulnerable, rushed upon
the tents of the Americans at four o'clock in the morning. Tecumseh was
absent upon a visit to the Creeks, Choctaws and Chickasaws. The cowardly
Prophet stood, at a safe distance from the battle-ground, going through
religious mummeries and singing a war song.
Complete victory established the fame of General Harrison; and the
Battle of Tippecanoe was one of the most important in results, of that
period. The destruction of their village scattered the tribes over a
large area. Elkswatawa took refuge with a few Wyandots on Wild Cat
Creek. Eventually, he removed to Kansas and died in Shawnee Township,
Wyandotte County. His grave has no headstone, and those interested in
the early history of the State have sought in vain for some
The really great Tecumseh, returning to find all his schemes defeated,
became an ally of the British. Much of the trouble with the white
settlers had been occasioned through their agency. The two friends of
the rebellious chief faithfully followed his fortunes. If Fate dealt
hardly with him, they shared the danger and disappointment. If kindly,
the triumph was theirs, also.
Sa-wa-co-ta was killed at Frenchtown, by a ball intended for his
superior. The Americans, closely pursued, had sought shelter behind
houses and fences on the south side of the River Raisin. The Indians, by
a detour, had gained the woods in the rear and were protected.
Disdaining to skulk from tree to tree, the fiery warrior, with Tecumseh
and a small number of brave men, pressed boldly upon the fugitives.
Observing that their leader was singled out by the enemy, his
companions closed in around the chief to shield him, at the moment that
Yellow Cloud stepped in front, for the same purpose. The latter fell,
heart and brain penetrated by bullets. Thus nobly ended the life of
Sa-wa-co-ta, of whose achievements, even the noted chiefs, Roundhead,
Panther and Blue Jacket, might well be proud.
History has recorded the outcome of the struggle, and traced the
wanderings of those who, deprived of their inheritance and driven to
desperation, united with the foes of America.
General Proctor, discouraged by Perry's victory on Lake Erie, that
occurred some time later, fled from Malden, where he was stationed at
the time, with eight hundred soldiers and two thousand Indians. General
Harrison overtook the combined forces near the River Thames. During the
battle, Colonel Johnson and the Kentucky cavalry were ordered to charge.
Galloping forward, they broke through the lines and formed again, when
the English surrendered. Tecumseh began the conflict with fury, fighting
more fiercely than ever before. His voice could be heard above the din,
inspiring the men to make every exertion; but the day was lost. Colonel
Johnson, engaged in a hand-to-hand contest with a fine, well-built
Indian, was wounded by another, as soon as he had despatched the first.
The second assailant then sprang toward him with a tomahawk, when the
officer drew a pistol and killed his antagonist. The rest of the
savages, losing hope, gave way.
Night came on, but the heavens were dark. The Shooting Star would never
more be seen. The ringing voice was silent; and Tecumapease, his sister,
waited in vain for the return of her lord. Stand Firm, "faithful unto
death," had fallen beside the chief. Next morning, the bodies of two
warriors, with dignity of face and form, were found, not far apart, upon
the bloody field.
Tecumseh was the greatest, most magnanimous, and bravest man the red
race had ever known. Now that his brilliant oratory no longer swayed
the multitudes, organized resistance to settlement north of the Ohio
River ceased. Tecumapease, to whom had been entrusted the care of her
brother's child, died a few years later, and the boy, together with her
son, drifted, with the Shawnees, from reservation to reservation. For
many years they lived in Eastern Kansas, where the descendants of
Tecumapease still reside, and relate, with pardonable pride, the
exploits of their forefathers.
The tardiness of the red race in accepting civilization, has long been a
subject of comment. Yet the barbarian should not be censured, in view of
the fact that paler-faced youth, with all the benefits accruing from
past generations of culture, have, in many instances, taken readily to
aboriginal customs. It was a part of the religion of all Indian nations
to increase their number by adoption. Frequently white children were
spirited away from home and carried from place to place, in order to
evade pursuit. Almost invariably, after a lapse of time, they not only
became reconciled to savage modes of living, but preferred them. A
notable case was that of
CHINWA, THE WHITE WARRIOR.
In the early part of the nineteenth century, before the Shawnees had
emigrated to the Valley of the Kaw, there was a famous old chief named
Black Fish, who was untiring in activity against the white settlers.
During one of the numerous periods of hostility, Chinwa, the only son of
this warrior, was killed; and the grief-stricken father said to his
"Go, go and find me a boy to replace my son."
Putting on their black paint, the Indians went over the Alleghanies into
In a prosperous settlement in Western Virginia lived a wealthy planter
named Rogers. His family consisted of himself, his wife and two young
sons. One quiet evening in early fall, the boys were allowed to go for
the cows unaccompanied by the servant who ordinarily acted as body
guard. The beautiful autumn woods were aglow with color, and the
children's exuberance of spirits burst forth in shouts and other noisy
As little Henry lingered to seize a brilliant spray of rich-tinted
foliage, two hideous black-painted savages sprang from the bushes and
caught him before he had time to call for assistance. The frightened
child was borne hastily away, through the forest, over the mountains, to
an Indian village where Black Fish received him with open arms, saying:
"Don't be afraid; you are now my son--my Chinwa. Here, take his bow and
arrows; here are his gun and knapsack. Some day you will be a great
Henry was adopted into the tribe, and forgetting his former home,
learned to be content with the wild life of the Shawnees. A fine horse
and saddle were a constant source of pleasure, and persistent practice
made the boy expert in the use of bow and arrows.
As he grew older, Chinwa became a successful hunter, and was looked upon
with pride and admiration by his sisters. The youngest of these, pretty
little Chelatha, was sought in marriage by many braves; but old Black
Fish, waiting for the day when Chinwa should declare his love, repulsed
their advances with disdain. At length the young chief could no longer
conceal his regard from the object of his affection, and implored her to
become his bride. She replied with indignation:
"You are my brother. I could not be my brother's wife."
After a long conference with Watmeme, the mother, in which the entire
circumstances were explained, Chelatha said:
"If father says so, I will marry Chinwa."
Amid great rejoicing, the pale-face took her to his habitation, and the
tribe celebrated the event with feasting and strange ceremonies.
Excitement prevailed in the Rogers household when Henry was captured,
and a search had been prosecuted wherever a clue could be obtained. Long
years after the disappearance of her younger son, sorrow still reigned
in the heart of the bereaved mother; and it was with fear and trembling
at last, that the older brother, receiving tidings of the lost one,
traced him over the mountain ranges, into the beautiful blue-grass
country, to the land of Daniel Boone.
The meeting was a happy one, though marked by some constraint--the
result of years of separation and widely different surroundings. Henry
was persuaded to leave his western home and repair to the aged mother,
now prostrated by severe illness. Once more within the confines of
civilization, he abandoned the insignia of savage life, and adopted the
garb of his own people. Unusual festivities followed; the mother,
recovering strength, employed every art to retain him, but without
success. In vain the pretty maidens of the village exerted all their
power to please. Memories of a happy life in the wilderness were always
present, and he said:
"Mother, I have learned to love the Indians; there I am free. I love my
two children and my dark-haired wife."
The next morning the colored servant was commanded to bring his horse,
and Chinwa, the warrior, in all the splendor of beads and buckskin, bade
farewell to the home of his infancy. How fresh and sweet was the breath
of the woods, as he dashed into her depths! The delicate blossoms of
spring lifted their dainty heads and scattered perfume along the narrow
trail. The cloudless sky and the distant mountains seemed to beckon him
on to the loved ones who at that moment were waiting, longing for the
Time sped by on rapid wings, and soon Chelatha--sitting lonely in her
doorway, said to her little ones:
"Listen, I hear the voice of your father."
Again the faint call was borne through the distance and reverberated in
her anxious heart. Then its beatings responded to the sound of horse's
hoofs, and the next moment, Chinwa, the brave, sprang to the ground and
caught her in his arms, saying:
"I have come home--home to my Chelatha, never to leave her more."
All the pleasures, all the riches which the world can give are as
nothing when weighed in the balance against the sincere love of one
The Shawnees, like other Indian tribes, were firm believers in evil
spirits; and when it was thought that one had become possessed of a
demon, did not hesitate to employ heroic measures to drive it out. To
such superstitions may be ascribed
THE TRAGIC DEATH OF THE SON OF CHIEF LAY-LAW-SHE-KAW.
When the present site of the city of Topeka was the hunting-ground of
the Shawnee Indians there was a fierce war with the Pawnees.
Chief Lay-law-she-kaw (He Who Goes Up the River) had been successful in
many battles and pursued the enemy far into their own territory. At
length, in desperation, the Pawnees gathered strength, and making a
final effort for the preservation of their homes, surprised the
victorious Shawnees while encamped among the hills along the river.
In the thick of the fight, Pa-che-ta, the son of Lay-law-she-kaw, sprang
to the side of the old chief, just as a powerful warrior raised his
tomahawk to cleave his skull. In another moment the leader would have
fallen, had not the young brave, with the utmost coolness, lifted his
rifle, taken quick aim and fired. With a horrible yell, the Pawnee sank
to the ground. Attracted by his cry, three others appeared. Again the
rifle did sudden duty, while Lay-law-she-kaw engaged the nearest enemy.
Two more were despatched, and now Pa-che-ta turned to face the
remaining Pawnee, who had approached too near for rifles, and
endeavored to use the tomahawk. This was dashed from his hand. The two
grappled fiercely, each striving to get the knife out of his belt. At
last Pa-che-ta succeeded in holding down his adversary, and plunged the
knife deep into his heart. Blinded by the blood, which spurted up into
his face, the Shawnee staggered to his feet and ran forward a short
distance, only to find himself in the midst of the attacking Indians.
Desperately he fought his way out, striking right and left, wounded and
faint. Then, seeing a gulley surrounded with bushes, he rolled into it,
and creeping painfully to the edge of a pond, waded into the water.
The Pawnees lost the trail. They looked here and there while the main
body pursued old Lay-law-she-kaw and his braves to the country of the
Kaws. Night fell; and still Pa-che-ta lay concealed in the lake among
the tall grass. At the end of the second day the search was abandoned.
Then the prisoner, half starved and half demented, dragged himself
slowly homeward. A few berries and roots had been his sole food, and the
burning rays of the sun had beaten down upon his head, until reason
The people went wild with enthusiasm when their hero, emaciated but
triumphant, appeared in the village. He was taken to Lay-law-she-kaw's
habitation and provided with nourishment, but sank into a stupor from
which the medicine men, with all their skill, could not arouse him.
After many days he awakened; great was the rejoicing. His father
appointed a day of feasting; and the tribe gathered to do honor to him
who had fought so bravely in the face of defeat. Cattle were
slaughtered, fires were kindled, and strange dances were in progress
when Pa-che-ta approached. Demonstrations of joy greeted his appearance.
Among the children on the outer edge of the circle, stood little
N-tha-thah, gazing proudly at the big brother who would one day be his
chief. As the excitement increased, his heart swelled with pride, and
the next moment found him, bow and arrows in hand, the center of the
Pa-che-ta gazed at the child with a strange look in his piercing black
eyes. Then, with a stealthy movement, he turned and slowly reached for
the rifle which rested against the stump of a tree.
Lay-law-she-kaw, keen witted and alert, noticed the sudden change that
came over the face of his eldest son. What was the cause of that cruel,
crafty expression? Had bad spirits entered the brain of Pa-che-ta, whose
noble deeds would ever after be celebrated by the nation? Now the brave
was creeping cautiously toward the little one, who stood motionless, in
round-eyed wonder. Deliberately he placed the weapon to his shoulder and
took aim--but the crack of another rifle broke the awful hush which had
fallen upon the people, and when the smoke cleared away, Pa-che-ta lay
in a pool of blood. The father had fired in time to preserve his young
For many years the old women of the tribe told, in accents of awe, how
evil spirits had gone into the brain of their noblest warrior and looked
out of his eyes with terrible glances of murderous hatred, in the moment
of his greatest triumph. How they had been driven out with a rifle ball,
and Lay-law-she-kaw, O-kee-nah (the chief), sorrowing for his first
born, had that day been called by the Great Spirit to enter the Happy
* * * * *
The North American Indian was of a strange, somewhat contradictory
character: in war, daring, cunning, boastful, ruthless; in peace,
cheerful, dignified, superstitious, revengeful; clinging as far as
possible, to the customs of his forefathers. Civilization came almost as
a destroyer. Future generations will know him only as a dim, historic
figure, around which clusters the mythology of ancient America.
Whence came these legends and traditions? The children of Nature read
them in the leafy woodlands, on the broad prairie, in the blue vault of
heaven, the crimson sunset, the dark storm-threatening clouds, in every
gentle breeze or sweeping hurricane. Each story lived in the hearts of
the people, and here and there a mighty forest tree bore a quaint
"Full of hope and yet of heart-break,
Full of all the tender pathos
Of the Here and the Hereafter."
"The stars, and hills and storms are with us now, as they were with
others of old; and it only needs that we look at them with the
earnestness of those childish eyes, to understand the first words spoken
of them by the children of men, and then, in all the most beautiful and
enduring myths, we shall find, not only a literal story of a real
person, not only a parallel imagery of moral principle, but an
underlying worship of natural phenomena, out of which both have sprung,
and in which both forever remain rooted."
Several words in this book were inconsistently hyphenated, I have
left all the hyphens as written. In particular the contents tables
often use different hyphenation and accents to the main text.
Some names were also spelt differently in the contents tables and in
the main text. I have left these differences as they were written.
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