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Mr. Nuttall, and myself, supped with Mr. M'Kay in his lodge., I am much pleased with this gentleman; he unites the free, frank, and open manners of the mountain man, with the grace and affability of the Frenchman. But above all, I admire the order, decorum, and strict subordination which exists among his men; so different from what I have been accustomed to see in parties composed of Americans. Mr. M'Kay assures me that he had considerable difficulty in bringing his men to the state in which they now
The free and fearless Indian was particularly difficult to subdue; but steady, determined perseverance and bold measures, aided by a rigid self-example, made them as clay in his hand, and has finally reduced them to their present admirable condition. If they misbehave, a commensurate punishment is sure to follow. In extreme cases, flagellation is re
. sorted to, but it is inflicted only by the hand of the captain ; were any other appointed to perform this office on an Indian, the indignity would be deemed so great that nothing less than the blood of the individual could appease the wounded feelings of the savage. After supper was concluded, we sat down on a buffalo robe at the entrance of the lodge to see the Indians at their devotions. The whole thirteen were soon collected at the call of one whom they
had chosen for their chief, and seated with sober, sedate countenances around a large fire. After remaining in perfect silence for perhaps fifteen minutes, the chief commenced a harangue in a solemn and impressive tone, reminding them of the object for which they were thus assembled—that of worshiping the Great Spirit who made the light and the darkness, the fire and the water,' and assured them that if they offered up their prayers to him with but one tongue,' they would certainly be accepted. He then rose from his squatting position to his knees, and his example was followed by all the others. In this situation he commenced a prayer, consisting of short sentences, uttered rapidly, but with great apparent fervor, his hands clasped upon his breast, and his eyes cast upward with a beseeching look toward heaven. At the conclusion of each sentence, a choral response of a few words was made, accompanied frequently by low moaning. The prayer lasted about twenty minutes.
“After its conclusion, the chief, still maintaining the same position of his body and hands, but with his head bent to his breast, commenced a kind of psalm or sacred song, in which the company presently joined. The song was simple expression of a few sounds, no intelligible words being uttered. It resembled the words
Ho-ha-ho-ha-ho-ha-ha-a, commencing in a low tone, and gradually swelling to a full, round, and beautifully-modulated chorus. During the song the clasped hands of the worshipers were moved rapidly across the breast, and their bodies swung with great energy to the time of the music. The chief ended the song by a kind of swelling groan, which was echoed in chorus. It was then taken up by another, and the same routine was gone through. The whole ceremony occupied perhaps an hour and a half; a short silence then succeeded, after which each Indian rose from the ground, and disappeared in the darkness with a step noiseless as that of a specter. I think I never was more gratified by any exhibition in my life. The humble, sub
. dued, and beseeching looks of the poor, untutored beings who were calling upon their heavenly Father to forgive their sins, and continue his mercies to them, and the evident and heartfelt sincerity which characterized the whole scene, was truly affecting and very impressive.
“The next day being the Sabbath, our good missionary, Mr. Jason Lee, was requested to hold a meeting, with which he obligingly com plied. A convenient, shady spot was selected in the forest adjacent, and the greater part of our men, as well as the whole of Mr. M’Kay's com
The pany, including the Indians, attended.
usual forms of the Methodist service, to which Mr. Lee is attached, were gone through, and were followed by a brief but excellent and appropriate exhortation by that gentleman. The people were remarkably quiet and attentive, and the Indians sat upon the ground like statues. Although not one of them could understand a word that was said, they nevertheless maintained the most strict and decorous silence, kneeling when the preacher kneeled, and rising when he rose, evidently with a view of paying him and us a suitable respect, however much their own notions as to the proper and most acceptable forms of worship might have been opposed to ours. A meeting for worship in the Rocky Mountains is almost as unusual as the appearance of a herd of buffalo in the settlements. A sermon was perhaps never preached here before, but for myself I really enjoyed the whole scene: it possessed the charm of novelty, to say nothing of the salutary effect which I sincerely hope it may produce.”
After having completed the fort, and raised the American flag upon it, the party on the 6th of August recommenced their journey westward, leaving some men in charge of the building. The company consisted now but of thirty men, several Indian women, and one hundred and sixteen horses. Having left most of the fresh buffalo meat brought in by the hunting party in the fort for the subsistence of the small garrison, they had to be contented with the old, dry meat they had carried for many weeks in their hampers, varied with the flesh of a grizzly bear, or any such animal which good fortune might send across their path. Nor was this the worst, for on the very day after leaving the fort, having traveled from sunrise over an arid plain, covered with jagged masses of lava and twisted wormwood-bushes, and where not a drop of water was to be seen, they began to suffer dreadfully from thirst. Every man kept a bullet or smooth stone in his mouth, mumbling it to provoke the saliva. At last, one of the men, a mulatto, “cast himself resolutely from his horse to the ground, and declared that he would lie there till he died; there was no water in this horrid country, and he might as well die here as go farther.' Some of us tried to infuse a little courage into him, but it proved of no avail, and each was too much occupied with his own particular grief to use his tongue much in persuasion; so we left him to his fate.