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CHAPTER VIII.

INCIDENTS OF TRAVEL FROM THE CHICKASAW BLUFFS,

THROUGH THE CHOCTAW COUNTRY TO TUSCALOOSA. THENCE, THROUGH THE CREEK COUNTRY, HOME.

Opening of the council at Colbert's house-Its results On the way to the Choc

taws Beauty of the prairie-A Choctaw “rain-maker”—Espy outdone—The secret of the art-A thunderbolt wrapped up in a blanket-The sorcerer-On the wrong track—Ben in a prairie-An Indian camp surprised—A bargainIn difficulty-A false guide-A night among the cane-brake—A copperheadsnake for a pillow-A new guide-Safe arrival at Folsom's_Opposition of Indians to selling their lands—Colonel James Johnson-His brother, Richard M. -Proof that Tecumthé was killed by R. M. Johnson-Result of the Choctaw, council-A burnt child-Great Indian ball-playing—Columbus—A beautiful sufferer-Governor Adair-Passing by the Cherokees-Horrible roads—Woods on fire-Guide to Tuscaloosa-A Sabbath of rest—Journey to the Creek agency on the Chattahoochee-Results of conference with the Creeks—Two Indian boys adopted—Home sickness—Effect of a change of dress—Scene at a public house–Subsequent history of the Indian boys.

The next morning broke away, revealing a bright and beautiful day. My anxiety became great, as the time approached for holding the council. I knew that much, every way, depended upon my success with the Chickasaws. It was my conviction, that never, whilst these hapless people continued to retain their then relations to the whites, would they be otherwise than harrassed, and afflicted, and miserable ; for I had seen too many proofs of the determination of the States, to rid themselves, at all hazards, of the presence of their Indian population. Nothing was needed to carry out this determination, but a change in the policy that had, always, up to that hour, governed the Executive branch of the general government. With a deep sense of my responsibility, both to the gov

ernment and the Indians, I opened the council on the morning of Tuesday, October 9, at ten o'clock, A. M., in an upper room of Colbert's house. I proposed that the council should be held there, to avoid the counteracting influence of intermeddlers, there having arrived some such characters; and besides, I knew there were certain grievances of which it was the intention of the Indians to complain, that would involve the character of at least one individual who was connected with the government; and therefore I determined the council should be held where none could intrude. The appendix (E.) already referred to, will tell what was done, and how it was done ; and it will show, also, what sort of principles, on the question of Indian emigration, influenced me.

Having by twelve o'clock at night finished, to my entire satisfaction, as also to the satisfaction of the chiefs, my business with the Chickasaws, I was up, and ready for a start for the Choctaw nation, by the break of day, the next morning ; but was delayed by the horses having, during the night, broken out of the stable, and being off, somewhere, grazing in the fields. Meantime, I addressed a hasty note to the Secretary of War, stating the result of the council-(see Appendix, as above.) By eleven o'clock I was off, accompanied by the Rev. Mr. Bell, for Mayhew, another missionary station, in the Choctaw country.com

Rode across part of an immense prairie, supposed to be over a hundred miles long, (so, at least, my guide told me,) and from one mile to ten miles wide. No one that has not seen a prairie in the season of flowers, can form the slightest conception of its grandeur and beauty. It is, literally, an ocean of flowery billows ! Such this was, as the south wind blew over it, producing undulations like those which characterize the ocean. Encamped on the other side of it. The dew was heavy, and the night cold. Rose at day-break, and continued on, arriving at Mayhew, at about ten o'clock; where I was most cordially received by Rev. Mr. Kingsbury, the principal of the mission. Wrote to the Secretary of War, as the reader will see, in the Appendix, (E.) a more full account of the proceedings at the Chickasaw council, and its results, &c.

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It was somewhere in this district that I had a most interesting interview with a Choctaw “rain-maker.” This country is remarkable for its long droughts; and this circumstance, it is supposed, set the wits of some cunning rogue of a fellow to work, to find out how to profit by it. And so, from earliest times, there have been “rain-makers" among, at least, the Choctaws. I had seen an Indian far off, west from my position, who seemed to be pow-wowing; his peculiar costume, combining with his motions, satisfied me that he was at work with some of the mysteries of the juggling art. On inquiring who he was, and what he was about, I received for answer, “He is a rain-maker, and is engaged with the Great Spirit, to procure his consent to give the people rain." The season was an exceeding dry one ; and if such agency, I thought, was ever required for the benefit of both man and beast, it was required then. I requested a messenger to go and tell the rain-maker that I wanted to see him, and received in return a shake of the head, and an assurance that nothing could move him from that spot, until he made it rain. I added -Go, and tell him I have some presents for him. I very well knew that a message of this sort was potent in relaxing previously formed conclusions among most people, but especially so among Indians. The messenger left me. I kept my eye upon the meeting. There appeared to be much talk. At last, they both started down the hill together. “This," said the interpreter, as the singularly clad personage approached me, “is the rain-maker ;” and to the rain-maker he said, “ This is Colonel McKenney, from Washington, who sits near your Great Father, the President, and manages all the Indian affairs.” I shook hands with him, and told him I was glad VOL. 1

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to see him ; that I had heard of his greatness—that he was not only a great man among his people, but that I was told he had great influence with the Great Spirit. This seemed to please him. I asked him if he had any objection to instruct me in his art of rain-making; saying, we had in my country many seasons of dry weather, and as I was going so far away, I should not interfere with him in his business of making rain for the Choctaws. He shook his head, saying, (all this through the interpreter,) “the Great Spirit would not like him to tell how he made it rain.” I asked if he had any objection to go with me to the edge of a prairie that commenced about a mile off. He said no—when we all started. On arriving at the prairie, I alighted from my horse, and sat down on a log, inviting the rain-maker to sit by me, and also the interpreter; the rest I directed to move on, and I would overtake them.

As soon as they were well out of sight, I began by saying I was so anxious to know the secret of rain-making, that I would give him an order on the agent for a pair of scarlet leggins, a pound of tobacco, a string of wampum, a pound of powder, two pounds of lead, and a blanket, if he would tell me all about it. He stood up, and looked around him; and then, holding his head first on one side, and then on the other, listened ; when, looking well round him, again, he sat down, saying to the interpreter, “ Ask him if he will give me these things.” Most certainly, I replied, upon the condition that he will tell me all about his art as a rain-maker. He stood up again, and looked, and listened, and then seating himself, began :

“Long time ago I was lying in the shade of a tree, on the si

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There had been no rain for a long

horses, and cattle, and dogs, all and they panted for some water. was dry. The leaves were all was hot. I was sorry; when,

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looking up, the Great Spirit snapped his eyes, and fire flew out of them, in streams, all over the heavens. He spoke, and the earth shook. Just as the fire streamed from the eyes of the Great Spirit, I saw a pine-tree, that stood on the other side of the valley, torn all to pieces by the fire. The bark and limbs flew all round, when all was still. Then the Great Spirit spoke to me, and said, go to that pine-tree, and dig down to the root where the earth is stirred

will find what split the tree. Take it, wrap it carefully up, and wear it next your body, and when the earth shall become dry again, and the horses and cattle suffer for water, go out on some hill-top, and ask me, and I will make it rain. I have obeyed the Great Spirit ; and ever since, when I ask him, he makes it rain.”

I asked to see this thunderbolt that had shivered the pine-tree. He rose upon his feet again, and looking well around him, sat down, and drawing from his bosom a roll which was fastened round his neck by a bit of deer-skin, began to unwrap the folds. These were of every sort of thing—a piece of old blanket; then one of calico; another of cotton—laying each piece, as he removed it, carefully on his knee. At last, and after taking off as many folds as were once employed to encase an Egyptian mummy, he came to one that was made of deer-skin, which, being unwound, he took out the thunderbolt, and holding it with great care between his finger and thumb, said, " This is it!" I took it, and examined it with an expression of great interest, telling him it certainly was a wonderful revelation, and a great sight; then handing it back to him, he carefully wrapped it up again, with the same wrappers, and put it back in his bosom. The reader is no doubt curious to know what this talis

rm--this thunderbolt-was. Well, it was noth

r less, than that part of a glass stopper that h of a decanter—the upper, or flat part, havken off!

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