Abbildungen der Seite

ship; but modern travellers have not furnished us with much information respecting them at this time."

The Indians consider the earth as their universal mother. They believe that they were created within its bosom, where for a long time they had their abode, before they came to live on its surface. They say, the great, good, and all powerful Spirit, when he created them, undoubtedly meant at a proper time, to put them in the enjoyment of all the good things which he had prepared for them upon the earth, but he wisely ordained that their first stage of existence should be within it, as the infant is formed and takes its growth in the womb of its natural inother. This fabulous account of the creation of man needs only to be ascribed to the ancient Egyptians, or to the Brahmins of India, to be admired and extolled for the curious analogy which it observes between the general and individual creation.

The Indian Mythologists are not agreed as to the form under which they existed while in the bowels of the earth. Some assert that they lived there in the human shape, while others, with greater consistency, contend that their existence was in the form of certain terrestrial animals, such as the ground-hog, the rabbit, and the tortoise. This was their state of preparation, until they were permitted to come out and take their station on this island,* as the lords of the rest of the creation.

Among the Delawares, those of the Minsi, or Wolf tribe, say that in the beginning, they dwelt in the earth under a lake, and were fortunately extricated from this unpleasant abode by the discovery which one of their men made of a hole, through which he ascended to the surface; on which, as he was walking, he found a deer, which he carried back with him into his subterraneous habitation; that there the deer was killed, and he and his companions found the meat so good, that they unanimously determined to leave their dark abode, and remove to a place where they could enjoy the light of heaven, and have such excellent game in abundance.

* The Indians call the American continent an island ; believing if to be (as in fact, probably, it is entirely surrounded with water.

* Mr. Pyrlæus lived long among the Iroquois, and was well acquainted with their language. He was instructed in the Mohawk dialect by the celebrated interpreter Conrad Weiser. He has left behind him some manuscript grammatical works on that idiom, one of them is entitled : Affixa nominum et verborum Linguae Macquaicae, and the other, Adjectiva, nomina et pronomina Linguae Macquaicae. These MSS. are in the library of the Society of the Vuiteå Brethjen.

The other two tribes, the Unamis, or Tortoise, and the Unalachtagos or Turkey, have much similar notions, but reject the story of the lake, which seems peculiar to the Minsi tribe.

These notions must be very far extended among the Indiaris of North America generally, since we find that they prevail also among the Iroquois, a nation so opposed to the Delawares, and whose language is so different from theirs, that not two words, perhaps, similar or even analogous of signification, may be found alike in both.

The following account of the traditions of that people concerning their original existence, was taken down by the late Rev. C. Pyrlæus, in Junuary, 1743, from the mouth of a respectable Mohawk chief, named Sganarady, who resided on the Mohawk river.

« Tradition. That they had dwelt in the earth where it was dark, and where no sun did shine. That though they followed hunting, they ate mice, which they caught with their hands. That Ganawagahha (one of them having accidentally found a hole to get out of the earth at, he went out, and that in walking about on the earth he found a deer, which he took back with him, and that both on account of the meat tasting so very good, and the favourable description he had given them of the country above, and on the earth their mother concluded it best for them all to come out; that accordingly they did so, and immediately set about planting corn, &c. That, however, the Nocharauorsul, that is, the ground-hog, would not come out, but had remained in the ground as before.”

Few persons have taken more pains to learn the character and manners of the American Indians, than the late venerable Dr. Boudinot of New Jersey. In his valuable and very interesting work, entitled A STAR IN THE WEST, he has given to the world the results of his researches on this subject. He is fully persuaded that a part, at least, of the American Indians, are the descendants of the long lost ten tribes of Israel. A great number of facts are introduced, from the manners of the Indians, from their language, and especially from their religious rites and opinions, which, if they do not prove the correctness of his opinion, give it, at least, a high degree of probability. : There is much reason to believe, from the promises and predictions of the scriptures, that in the events of divine providence, the descendants of the ten tribes of Israel, who were carried captive from Palestine to the countries beyond the Euphrates, about 700 years before the Christian era, will yet be found, be remembered in the covenant mercy of the God of Abraham, and

be restored to the blessings of their fathers. It would seem, indeed, more likely that they are to be discovered in the central parts of Asia, than in the wilds of America, yet, when we consider that they have been hated and abused in all countries, that their national attachments and their religion would strongly incline them to continue distinct from every other people, and it being an unquestionable fact, that this continent was settled, in part at least, from the east of Asia, it seems no improbable opinion, that the aborigines of this country are of the tribes of Jacob. The abusive manner in which the American natives have been treated, by all European nations, looks like a fulfilment of the prophecies of Moses, respecting their sufferings in distant times. * But the outcasts of Israel are yet to be gathered from the ulinost parts of heaven, and to be multiplied above their fathers:

This view of the American natives would be more effectually calculated, than any other consideration, to secure them good treatment from all christian people, and to animate the exertions to restore the blessing of salvation to the heirs of the promises.

The following extracts from the work of Dr. Boudinot give some interesting facts respecting the religion of certain tribes of the American Indians.

56 Our wandering tribes of Indians have, in a most surprising manner, bordering on something rather supernatural, preserved so many essential parts of their original plan of divine worship, and so many of their primitive doctrines, although they have at present almost wholly forgotten their meaning and their end, as to leave little doubt of their great source.

“ They are far from being idolaters, although many good men, from want of a knowledge of their language, and often having communion with the most worthless part of them, without making any allowance for their local situation and circumstan. ces, have given terrific accounts of these children of nature.

6 Their religious ceremonies are more after the Mosaic institution, than of pagan imitation. Adair assures us, that from the experience of forty years, he can say, that none of the various nations from Hudson's bay to the Mississippi, have ever been known by our trading people, to attempt the formation of any image of the great spirit whom they devoutly worship.-They never pretend to divine from any thing but their dreams, which seems to proceed from a tradition, that their ancestors received knowledge of future events from heaven by dreamsvide Job xxxiii. 14. &c.

6. The Indians also, agreeably to the theocracy of Israels

* See the 28th and 29th chapters of Deuteronomy,

drink the great spirit to be the immediate head of their stafe, and that God chose them out of all the rest of mankind, as his peculiar and beloved people.

“ Mr. Locke, one of the ablest men Great-Britain ever produced, observes, that the commonwealth of the Jews, differed from all others, being an absolute theocracy. The laws established there, concerning the worship of the one invisible deiiy, were the civil laws of that people, and a part of their political government, in which God himself was the legislator.

“In this, the Indians profess the same thing precisely. This is the exact form of their government, which seems unaccountable, vere it not derived from the same original source, and is the only reason that can be assigned for so extraordinary a fact.

66 The Indians have among them orders of men answering to the prophets and priests of Israel. A sachem of the Mingo tribe, being observed to look at the great comet which appeared the first day of October, one thousand six hundred and eighty, was asked, what he thought was the meaning of that prodigious appearance ? answered gravely, “ It signifies that we Indians shall melt away, and this country be inhabited by another people."

6 Mr. Beatty gives much the same account of their prophets among the Delaware nations or tribes, above forty-five years ago. They consult the prophets upon any extraordinary occasion-as in great or uncommon sickness, or mortality, &c --This, he says, seems to be in imitation of the Jews of old, inquiring of their prophets. Ishtoo Hoolo is the name of all their great beloved men, and the pontifical office descends by Taheritance to the eldest.

66 Their Feast of First Fruits and Passover.-Mr. Penn, who found them perfectly in a state of nature, and wholly a stranger to their manners and characters, and who could not have had any knowledge of them but from what he saw and heard for some months he remained with them, on his first visit to their country, informs his friends in England, in one of his first letters, in 1683, 6. that he considered these poor people as under a dark night in things relating to religion ; yet that they believed in a God, and immortality, without the help of metaphysics, for they informed him that there was a great king who made them, who dwelled in a glorious country to the southward of them; and that the souls of the good will go thither, where they shall live again. Their worship consists of two parts sacrifice and cantico. The first is with their first fruits. The first and fattest buck they kill goeth to the fire, where he is all burnt with a doleful ditty of him who performs the ceremony:

but with such marvellous fervency and labour of body, that he will even sweat to a foam.

The other part is their cantico, performed by round dances --sometimes words-sometimes songs—then shouts--two are in the middle, who begin, and by singing and drumming on a board, direct the chorus. This is done with equal earnestness and labour, but with great appearance of joy. In the fall when the corn cometh in, they begin to feast one another. There have been two great festivals already, to which all come, who will. Mr. Penn was at one himself." Their entertainment was at a great seat by a spring, under some shady trees. It consisted of twenty bucks, with hot cakes made of new corn, with both wheat and beans, which they make up in a square form, in the leaves of the corn, and then bake them in the ashes they then fall to dancing : But all who go to this feast must take a small present in their money, it might be but six pence, which is made of the bone of a fish. The black is with them as gold, and the white as silver-they call it wampum." Afterwards speaking of their agreement in rites with the Hebrews, he says that " they reckon by moons--they offer their first fruits--they have a kind of Feast of Tabernacles—they are said to lay their altars upon twelve stones—they mourn a year--they have a separation of women; with many other things that do not now occur.”

From Mr. Adair, the following account, or rather abstract, of his account of the feast and fast of what may be called their Passover, and Feast of First Fruits, is made.

« On the day appointed (which was among the Jews, generally in the spring, answering to our March and April, when their barley was ripe, being the first month of their ecclesiastical, and the seventh of their civil year, and among the Indians, as soon as their first spring produce comes in) while the sanctified new fruits are dressing, six old beloved women come to their temple, or sacred wigwam of worship, and dance the beloved dance with joyful hearts. They observe a solemn procession as they enter the holy ground, or beloved square, carrying in one hand a bundle of small branches of various green trees ; when they are joined by the same number of beloved old men, who carry a cane in one hand, adorned with white feathers, having green boughs in the other hand. Their heads are dressed with white plumes, and the women in their finest clothes and anointed with bear's grease or oil, having also small tortoise shells and white pebbles fastened to a piece of white dressed deer skin, which is tied to each of their legs. The eldest of the beloved men, leads the sacred dance at the head of the innermost row, which of

« ZurückWeiter »