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his name as well as his office from the circumstance of having the longest hair of any man in the nation, I have not yet seen ; but I hope I yet may ere I leave this part of the country. This extraordinary man is known to several gentlemen with whom I am acquainted, and particularly to Messrs. Sublette and Campbell, of whom I have before spoken, who told me they had lived in his hospitable lodge with him for months together, and assured me that they had measured his hair by a correct means, and found it to be ten feet and seven inches in length, closely inspecting every part of it at the same time, and satisfying themselves that it was the natural growth. On ordinary occasions it is wound with a broad leather strap from his head to its extreme end, and then folded up into a budget or block, of some ten or twelve inches in length, and of some pounds weight, which when he walks is carried under his arm, or placed in his bosom, within the folds of his robe ; but on any great parade or similar occasion, his pride is to unfold it, oil it with bear's grease, and let it drag behind him ; some three or four feet of it spread out upon the grass, and black and shining like a raven's wing. It is a common custom amongst most of these upper tribes to splice or add on several lengths of hair by fastening them with glue ; probably for the purpose of imitating the Crows, upon whom alone nature has bestowed this conspicuous and signal ornament."
Mr. Catlin himself, with his portrait-painting, was set down as a medicine :
“Perhaps nothing ever more completely astonished these people than the operations of my brush. The art of portrait-painting was a subject entirely new to them, and of course, unthought of; and my appearance here has commenced a new era in the arcana of medicine or mystery, Soon after arriving here, I commenced and finished the portraits of the two principal chiefs. This was done without having awakened the curiosity of the villagers, as they had heard nothing of what was going on, and even the chiefs themselves seemed to be ignorant of my designs, until the pictures were completed. No one else was admitted into my lodge during the operation ; and when finished, it was exceedingly amusing to see them mutually recognizing each other's likeness, and assuring each other of the striking resemblance which they bore to the originals. Both of these pressed their hand over their mouths awhile in dead silence (a custom amongst most tribes, when anything surprises them very much); looking attentively upon the portraits and myself, and upon the palette and colours with which these unaccountable effects had been produced. They then walked up to me in the most gentle manner, taking me in turn by the hand, with a firm grip; with head and eyes inclined downwards and in a tone a little above a whisper-pronounced the words 'te-ho-pe-nee Wash-ee !' and walked off. That moment conferred an honour on me, which you as yet do not understand. I took the degree (not of Doctor of Laws, nor Bachelor of Arts) of Master of Arts-of mysteries-of magic, and of hocus-pocus. I was recognized in that short sentence as a 'great medicine white man;' and since that time, have been regularly installed medicine or mystery, which is the most honourable degree that could be
conferred upon me here; and I now hold a place amongst the most eminent and envied personages, the doctors and conjurati of this titled community. ** After I had finished the portraits of the two chiefs, and they had returned to their wigwams, and deliberately seated themselves by their respective fire-sides, and silently smoked a pipe or two (according to an universal custom), they gradually began to tell what had taken place; and at length crowds of gaping listeners, with mouths wide open, thronged their lodges; and a throng of women and girls were about my house, and through every crack and crevice I could see their glistening eyes, which were piercing my hut in a hundred places, from a natural and restless propensity, a curiosity to see what was going on within. An hour or more passed in this way, and the soft and silken throng continually increased, until some hundreds of them were clung, and piled about my wigwam like a swarm of bees hanging on the front and sides of their bive. During this time, not a man made his appearance about the premises --after a while, however, they could be seen, folded in their robes, gradually siding up towards the lodge, with a silly look upon their faces, which confessed at once that curiosity was leading them reluctantly, where their pride checked and forbade them to go. The rush soon after became general, and the chiefs and medicine men took possession of my room, placing soldiers (braves with spears in their hands) at the door, admitting no one, but such as were allowed by the chiefs, to come in. Monsr. Kipp (the agent of the Fur Company, who has-lived here eight years, and to whom, for his politeness and hospitality, I am much indebted), at this time took a seat with the chiefs, and, speaking their language fluently, he explained to them my views and the objects for which I was painting these portraits ; and also expounded to them the manner in which they were made,-at which they seemed all to be very much pleased. The necessity at this time of exposing the portraits to the view of the crowds who were assembled around the house, became imperative, and they were held up together over the door, so that the whole village had a chance to see and recognize their chiefs. The effect upon so mixed a multitude, who as yet had heard no way of accounting for them, was novel and really laughable. The likenesses were instantly recognized, and many of the gaping multitude commenced yelping ; some were stamping off in the jarring dance-others were singing, and others again were crying-hundreds covered their mouths with their hands and were mute; others, indignant, drove their spears frightfully into the ground, and some threw a reddened arrow at the sun, and went home to their wigwams. * * The squaws generally agreed, that they had discovered life enough in them to render my medicine too great for the Mandans; saying that such an operation could not be performed without taking away from the original something of his existence, which I put in the picture, and they could see it move, could see it stir. This curtailing of the natural existence, for the purpose of instilling life into the secondary one, they decided to be a useless and destructive operation, and one which was calculated to do great mischief in their happy community; and they commenced a mournful and doleful chaunt against me, crying and weeping bitterly through the village, proclaiming me a inost dangerous man; one who could make living persons by looking at them; and at the same time, could, as a matter of
course, destroy life in the same way, if I chose. That my medicine was dangerous to their lives, and that I must leave the village immediately. That bad luck would happen to those whom I painted—that I was to take a part of the existence of those whom I painted, and carry it home with me amongst the white people, and that when they died they would never sleep quiet in their graves.'
The excitement and alarm were at length satisfactorily allayed by the artist's explanations at a council held for taking the subject into consideration. He was even promoted :
“I was waited upon in due form and ceremony by the medicine-men, who received me upon the old adage, 'Similis simili gaudet.' I was invited to a feast, and they presented me a she-shee-quoi, or a doctor's rattle, and also a magical wand, or a doctor's staff, strung with claws of the grizzly bear, with hoofs of the antelope, with ermine, with wild sage and bat's wings, and perfumed withal with the choice and savoury odour of the polecat; a dog was sacrificed and hung by the legs over my wigwam, and I was therefore and thereby initiated into (and countenanced in the practice of) the arcana of medicine or mystery, and considered a Fellow of the Extraordinary Society of conjurati."
The red people strike and remove their tents in a curious and expert manner :
“While ascending the river to this place, I saw an encampment of Sioux, consisting of six hundred of these lodges, struck, and all things packed and on the move in a few minutes. The chief sends his runners or criers (for such all chiefs keep in their employment) through the village a few hours before they are to start, announcing his determination to move, and the hour fixed upon, and the necessary preparations are in the meantime making; and at the time announced the lodge of the chief is seen flapping in the wind, a part of the poles having been taken out from under it; this is the signal, and in one minute six hundred of them (on a level and beautiful prairie), which before had been strained tight and fixed, were seen waving and flapping in the wind, and in one minute more all were flat upon the ground. Their horses and dogs, of which they had a vast number, had all been secured upon the spot in readiness ; and each one was speedily loaded with the burden allotted to it, and ready to fall into the grand procession. For this strange cavalcade, preparation is made in the following manner: the poles of a lodge are divided into two bunches, and the little ends of each bunch fastened upon the shoulders or withers of a horse, leaving the butt-ends to drag behind on the ground on either side; just behind the horse a brace or pole is tied across, which keeps the poles in their respective places ; and then upon that, and the poles behind the horse, is placed the lodge or tent which is rolled up, and also numerous other articles of household and domestic furniture, and on the top of all, two, three, and even (sometimes) four women and children. Each one of these horses has a conductress, who sometimes walks before and leads him, with a tremendous pack upon her back ; and at others she sits astride of
his back, with a child, perhaps, at her breast, and another astride of the horse's back behind her, clinging to her waist with one arm, while it affectionately embraces a sneaking dog-pup in the other. In this way five or six hundred wigwams, with all their furniture, may be seen drawn out for miles, creeping over the grass-covered plains of this country; and three times that number of men, on good horses, strolling along in front or on the flank, and in some tribes, in the rear of this heterogeneous caravan, at least five times that number of dogs, which fall into the rank, and follow in the train and company of the women ; and every cur of them, who is large enough, and not too cunning to be enslaved, is encumbered with a car or sled (or whatever it may be better called) on which he patiently drags his load,-a part of the household goods and furniture of the lodge to which he belongs. Two poles, about fifteen feet long, are placed upon the dog's shoulder, in the same manner as the long poles are attached to the horses, leaving the larger ends to drag upon the ground behind him ; on which is placed a bundle or wallet which is allotted to him to carry, and with which he trots off amid the throng of dogs and squaws ; faithfully and cheerfully dragging his load till night."
There appears to be about as much misapprehension on the part of the whites with regard to the Indians, as on the part of these ignorant savages relative to the civilized Americans :
“An Indian is a beggar in Washington City, and a white man is almost equally so in the Mandan village. An Indian in Washington is mute, is dumb and embarrassed; and so is a white man (and for the very same reasons) in this place,-he has nobody to talk to. A wild Indian, to reach the civilized world, must needs travel some thousands of miles in vehicles of conveyance to which he is unaccustomed—through latitudes and longitudes which are new to him, living on food that he is unused to-stared and gazed at by the thousands and tens of thousands whom he cannot talk to
- his heart grieving and his body sickening at the exhibition of white men's wealth and luxuries, which are enjoyed on the land, and over the bones of his ancestors. And at the end of his journey he stands (like a caged animal) to be scanned to be criticised-to be pitied—and heralded to the world as a mute-as a brute, and a beggar. A white man, to reach this village, must travel by steamboat-by canoes-on horseback and on foot ; swim rivers-wade quagmires--fight mosquitoes--patch his moccassins, and patch them again and again, and his breeches ; live on meat alone-sleep on the ground the whole way, and think and dream of his friends he has left behind; and when he gets here, half-starved and halfnaked, and more than half sick, he finds himself a beggar for a place to sleep, and for something to eat; a mute amongst thousands who flock about him, to look and to criticise, and to laugh at him for his jaded appearance, and to speak of him as they do of all white men (without distinction) as liars. These people are in the habit of seeing no white men in their country but traders, and know of no other; deeming us all alike, and receiving us all under the presumption that we come to trade or barter ; applying to us all indiscriminately, the epithet of liars,' or traders.”
And hear what serious consequences may arise to the travelled Indian who returns with his budget of wonders. But first learn the stoical reception which even the son of a chief, Wi-jan-jon (the Pigeon's egg-head), met with who had been on a visit to Washington :
“On his way home from St. Louis to this place, a distance of 2,000 miles, I travelled with this gentieman, on the steamer Yellow-stone, and saw him step ashore (on a beautiful prairie, where several thousands of his people were encamped), with a complete suit en militaire, a colonel's uniform of blue, presented to him by the President of the United States, with a beaver and feather, with epaulettes of gold-with sash, and belt, and broadsword ; with high-heeled boots--with a keg of whiskey under his arm, and a blue umbrella in his hand. In this plight and metamorphose, he took his position on the bank amongst his friends,-his wife and other relations ; not one of whom exhibited, for an hour or more, the least symptoms of recognition, although they knew well who was before them. He also gazed upon them-upon his wife and parents, and little children, who were about—as if they were foreign to him, and he had not a thought or feeling to interchange with them. Thus the mutual gazings upon and from this would-be stranger lasted for full half an hour; when a gradual, but cold and exceedingly formal recognition began to take place, and an acquaintance ensued which ultimately and smoothly resolved itself, without the least apparent emotion, into its former state ; and the mutual kindred intercourse seemed to flow on exactly where it had been broken off, as if it had been but for a moment, and nothing had transpired in the interim to check or change its character or expression. Such is one of the stoic instances of a custom which belongs to all the North American Indians, forming one of the most striking features in their character ; valued, cherished, and practised, like many others of their strange notions, for reasons which are difficult to be learned or understood.”
By and bye this travelled Indian gentleman was listened to by crowds who daily and nightly gathered round him with intensest curiosity and marvel. But they began to set him down as a liar and impostor, a most disgraceful and rare character amongst these savages. He was therefore despised and hated. But this was not all. He was even cruelly persecuted, and at last put to death on account of his supposed obdurate falsehoods.
We next select some particulars concerning the interesting Mandans, whose melancholy fate has already been stated :
“ One has but to walk or ride about this little town and its environs for a few hours in a pleasant day, and overlook the numerous games and gambols, where their notes and yelps of exultation are unceasingly vibrating in the atmosphere; or peep into their wigwams (and watch the glistening fun that's beaming from the noses, cheeks, and chins, of the crouching, cross-legged, and prostrate groups around the fire; where the pipe is passed, and jokes and anecdote and laughter are excessive) to become convinced