LETTER -- No. 24.
MINATAREE VILLAGE, UPPER MISSOURI,
EPISTLES from such a strange place as this, where I have no desk to write from, or mail to send them by, are hastily scribbled off in my notebook, as I can steal a little time from the gaze of the wild group that is continually about me; and instead of sending them, Keeping them to bring with me when I make my retreat from the country.
The only place where I can satisfactorily make these entries is in the shade of some sequestered tree, to which I occasionally resort, or more often from my bed (from which I am now writing), enclosed by a sort of curtains made of the skins of elks or buffaloes, completely encompassing me, where I am reclining on a sacking-bottom, made of the buffalo's hide; making my entries and notes of the incidents of the past day, amidst the roar and unintelligible din of savage conviviality that is going on under the same roof, and under my own eye, whenever I feel disposed to apply it to a small aperture which brings at once the whole interior and all its inmates within my view.
There are at this time some distinguished guests, besides myself, in the lodge of the Black Moccasin; two chiefs or leaders of a party of Crows, who arrived here a few days since, on a visit to their ancient friends and relatives. The consequence has been, that feasting and carousing have been the " order of the day" here for some time; and I have luckily been a welcome participator in their entertainments. A distinguished chief of the Minatarees, with several others in company, has been for some months past on a visit to the Crows and returned, attended by some remarkably fine looking fellows, all mounted on fine horses. I have said something of these fine specimens of the human race heretofore; and as I Ěhave been fastening more of them to the canvass within the few days past, I must use this occasion to add what follows :
I think I have said that no part of the human race could present a more picturesque and thrilling appearance on horseback than a party of Crows rigged out in all their plumes and trappings--galloping about and yelping, in what they call a war-parade, I. e. in a sort of tournament or sham-fight, passing rapidly through the evolutions of battle, and vaunting forth the wonderful character of their military exploits. This is an amusement, of which they are excessively fond; and great preparations are invariably made for these occasional shows.
No tribe of Indians on the Continent are better able to produce a pleasing and thrilling effect in these scenes, nor any more vain, and consequently better prepared to draw pleasure and satisfaction from them, than the Crows. They may be justly said to be the most beautifully clad of all the Indians in these regions, and bringing from the base of the Rocky Mountains a fine and spirited breed of the wild horses, have been able to create a great sensation amongst the Minatarees, who have been paying them all attention and all honours for some days past.
From amongst these showy fellows who have been entertaining us and pleasing themselves with their extraordinary feats of horsemanship, I have selected one of the most conspicuous, and transferred him and his horse, with arms and trappings, as faithfully as ! could to the canvass, for the information of the world, who will learn vastly more from lines and colours than they could from oral or written delineations.
I have painted him as he sat for me, balanced on his leaping wild horse with his shield and quiver slung on his back, and his long lance decorated with the eagle's quills, trailed in his right hand. His shirt and his leggings, and moccasins, were of the mountain-goat skins, beautifully dressed; and their seams everywhere fringed with a profusion of scalp-locks taken from the heads of his enemies slain in battle. His long hair, which reached almost to the ground whilst he was standing on his feet, was now lifted in the air, and floating in black waves over the hips of his leaping charger. On his head, and over his shining black locks, he wore a magnificent crest or head-dress, made of the quills of the war-eagle and ermine skins; and on his horse's head also was another of equal beauty and precisely the same in pattern and material. Added to these ornaments there were yet many others which contributed to his picturesque appearance, and amongst them a beautiful netting of various colours, that completely covered and almost obscured the horse's head and neck, and extended over its back and its hips, terminating in a most extravagant and magnificent crupper, embossed and fringed with rows of beautiful shells and porcupine quills of various colours.
With all these picturesque ornaments and trappings upon and about him, with a noble figure, and the bold stamp of a wild gentleman on his face, added to the rage and spirit of his wild horse, in time with whose leaps he issued his startling (though smothered) yelps, as he gracefully leaned to and fro, leaving his plumes and his plumage, his long locks and his fringes, to float in the wind, he galloped about; and felt exceeding pleasure in displaying the extraordinary skill which a lifetime of practice and experiment had furnished him in the beautiful`art of riding and managing his horse, as well as in displaying to advantage his weapons and ornaments of dress, by giving them the grace of motion, as they were brandished in the air and floating in the wind.
I have also secured the portraits of Ee-he-a-duck-chee-a (he who ties his hair before, and Pa-ris-ka-roo-pa (the two Crows); fine and fair specimens of this tribe, in both of which are exhibited the extraordinary instances of the natural hair reaching to the ground, peculiarities belonging almost exclusively to this tribe, and of which I have in a former Letter given some account. In presenting such instances as these, I offer them, (and the reader will take them of course) as extraordinary and rare occurrences amongst the tribe, who generally fall short of these in this peculiarity, and also in elegance of dress and ornament; although many others from their numbers might be selected of equal extravagance. The Crows are generally handsome, and comfortably clad: every man in the nation oils his hair with a profusion of bear's grease, and promotes its growth to the utmost of his agility; and the greater part of them cultivate it down on to the calf of the leg, whilst a few are able to make it sweep the ground.
In a former Letter I gave some account of the form of the head peculiar to this tribe, which may well be recorded as a national characteristic, and worthy further attention, which I shall give it on a future occasion. This striking peculiarity is quite conspicuous in the two portraits of which I have just spoken, exhibiting fairly, as they are both in profile, the semi-lunar outline of the face of which I have before spoken, and which strongly characterizes them as distinct from any relationship or resemblance to, the Blackfeet, Shiennies, Knisteneaux, Mandans, or other tribes now existing in these regions. The peculiar character of which I am speaking, like all other national characteristics, is of course met by many exceptions in the tribe, though the greater part of the men are thus strongly marked with a bold and prominent anti-angular nose, with a clear and rounded arch, and a low and receding forehead; the frontal bone oftentimes appearing to have been compressed by some effort of art, in a certain degree approaching to the horrid distortion thus produced amongst the Flatheads beyond the Rocky Mountains. I learned however from repeated inquiries, that no such custom is practiced amongst them, but their heads, such as they are, are the results of a natural growth, and therefore may well be offered as the basis of a national or tribal character.
I recollect to have seen in several publications on the antiquities of Mexico, many rude drawings made by the ancient Mexicans, of which the singular profiles of these people forcibly remind me, almost bringing me to the conclusion that these people may be the descendants of the race who have bequeathed those curious and inexplicable remains to the world, and whose scattered remnants, from dire and unknown necessities of those dark and veiled ages that have gone by have been jostled and thrown along through the hideous and almost impenetrable labyrinths of the Rocky Mountains to the place of their destination where they now live. I am stopped, however, from advancing such as a theory, and much prefer to leave it to other hands, who may more easily get over difficulties which I should be afraid to encounter in the very outset, from the very important questions raised in my mind, as to the correctness of those rude and ignorant outlines, in truly establishing the looks and character of a people. Amongst a people so ignorant and so little advanced in the arts as the ancient Mexicans were, from whose tracings those very numerous drawings are copied, I think it would be assuming a great deal too much for satisfactory argument, to claim that such records were to set up to the world the looks and character of a people who have sunk into oblivion, when the heads of horses and other animals, drawn by the same hands, are so rude and so much out of drawing as scarcely to be distinguished, one from the other. I feel as if such rude outlines should be received with great caution and distrust, in establishing the character of a people; and for a fair illustration of the objection I am raising, I would refer the reader to a number of fac simile drawings which I have copied from some of the paintings of the Mandans, where most of the figures have the forehead and nose answering exactly to these Mexican outlines, and strikingly resembling the living Crows, also, when they have certainly borrowed nothing from either, nor have they any living outlines like them in their own tribe to have copied from,
Since writing the above I have passed through many vicissitudes, and witnessed many curious scenes worthy of relating, some of which I will scribble now, and leave the rest for a more leisure occasion. I have witnessed many of the valued games and amusements of this tribe, and made sketches of them; and also have painted a number of portraits of distinguished warriors and braves which will be found in my collection.
I have just been exceedingly amused with a formal and grave meeting which was called around me, formed by a number of young men, and even chiefs and doctors of the tribe, who, having heard that I was great medicine, and a great chief, took it upon themselves to suppose that I might (or perhaps must) be, a man of influence amongst the "pale faces," and capable of rendering them some relief in a case of very great grievance, under which they represented that they were suffering. Several most profound speeches were made to me, setting forth these grievances, somewhat in the following manner. They represented, that about five or six years ago, an unknown, small animal--not far differing in size from a ground squirrel, but with a long, round tail, shewed himself slyly about one of the chief's wigwams, peeping out from under the pots and kettles, and other such things; which they looked upon as great medicine -- and no one dared to kill it; but hundreds came to watch and look at it. On one of these occasions, one of the spectators saw this strange animal catching and devouring a small "deer mouse", of which little and very destructive animals their lodges contained many. It was then at once determined that this had been an act of the Great Spirit, as a means of putting a stop to the spoliations committed by these little sappers, who were cutting their clothing, and other manufactures to pieces in a lamentable manner. Councils had been called and solemn decrees issued for the countenance and protection of this welcome visitor and its progeny, which were soon ascertained to be rapidly increasing, and calculated soon to rid them of these thousands of little depredators. It was soon, however, learned from one of the Fur Traders, that this distinguished object of their superstition (which my man Ba'tiste familiarly calls "Monsr. Ratapon") had, a short time before, landed himself from one of their keel boats, which had ascended the Missouri river for the distance of I800 miles; and had taken up its residence, without introduction or invitation, in one of their earth-covered wigwams.
This information, for a while, curtailed the extraordinary respect they had for some time been paying to it; but its continual war upon these little mice, which it was using for its food, in the absence of all other nutriment, continued to command their respect, in spite of the manner in which it had been introduced; being unwilling to believe that it had come from that source, even, without the agency in some way of the Great Spirit.
Having been thus introduced and nurtured, and their numbers having been so wonderfully increased in the few last years, that every wigwam was infested with them -- that their caches, where they bury their corn and other provisions, were robbed and sacked; and the very pavements under their wigwams were so vaulted and sapped, that they were actually falling to the ground; they were now looked upon as a most disastrous nuisance, and a public calamity, to which it was the object of this meeting to call my attention, evidently in hopes that I might be able to designate some successful mode of relieving them from this real misfortune. I got rid of them at last, by assuring them of my deep regret for their situation, which was, to be sure, a very unpleasant one; and told them, that there was really a great deal of medicine in the thing, and that I should therefore be quite unwilling to have anything to do with it. Ba'tiste and Bogard, who are yet my daily and almost hourly companions, took to themselves a great deal of fun and amusement at the end of this interview, by suggesting many remedies for the evil, and enjoying many hearty laughs; after which, Ba'tiste, Bogard and I, took our hats; and I took my sketch-book in hand, and we started on a visit to the upper town of the Minatarees, which is half a mile or more distant, and on the other bank of the Knife River, which we crossed in the following manner. The old chief, having learned that we were to cross the river, gave direction to one of the women of his numerous household, who took upon her head a skin-canoe (more familiarly called in this country, a bull-boat), made in the form of a large tub, of a buffalo's skin, stretched on a frame of willow boughs, which she carried to the water's edge; and placing it in the water, made signs for us three to get into it. When we were in, and seated fat on its bottom, with scarce room in any way to adjust our legs and out feet (as we sat necessarily facing each other), she stepped before the boat, and pulling it along, waded towards the deeper water, with her back. towards us, carefully with the other hand attending to her dress, which seemed to be but a light slip, and floating upon the surface until the water was above her waist, when it was instantly turned off, over her head, and thrown ashore; and she boldly plunged forward, swimming and drawing the boat with one hand, which she did with apparent ease. In this manner we were conveyed to the middle of the stream, where we were soon surrounded by a dozen or more beautiful girls, from twelve to fifteen and eighteen years of age, who were at that time bathing on the opposite shore.
They all swam in a bold and graceful manner, and as confidently as so many otters or beavers; and gathering around us, with their long black hair floating about on the water, whilst their faces were glowing with jokes and fun, which they were cracking about us, and which we could not, understand.
In the midst of this delightful little aquatic group, we three sat in our little skin-bound tub (like the "three wise men of Gotham, who went to sea in a bowl," &c.), floating along down the current, losing sight, and all thoughts, of the shore, which was equal-distant from us on either side; whilst we were amusing ourselves with the playfulness of these dear little creatures who were floating about under the clear blue water, catching their hands on to the sides of our boat; occasionally raising one-half of their bodies out of the water, and sinking again, like so many mermaids.
In the midst of this bewildering and tantalizing entertainment, in which poor Ba'tiste and Bogard, as well as myself, were all taking infinite pleasure, and which we supposed was all intended for our especial amusement; we found ourselves suddenly in the delightful dilemma of floating down the current in the middle of the river; and of being turned round and round to the excessive amusement of the villagers, who were laughing at us from the shore, as well as these little tyros, whose delicate hands were besetting our tub on all sides; and for an escape from whom, or for fending off, we had neither an oar, or anything else, that we could wield in self-defense, or for self-preservation In this awkward predicament, our feelings of excessive admiration were immediately changed, to those of exceeding vexation, as we now learned that they had peremptorily!: discharged from her occupation our fair conductress, who had undertaken to ferry us safely across the river; and had also very ingeniously laid their plans, of which we had been ignorant until the present moment, to extort from us in this way, some little evidences of our liberality, which, in fact, it was impossible to refuse them, after so liberal and bewitching an exhibition on their part, as well as from the imperative obligation which the awkwardness of our situation had laid us under. I had some awls in my pockets, which I presented to them, and also a few strings of beautiful beads, which I placed over their delicate necks as they raised them out of the water by the side of our boat; after which they all joined in conducting our craft to the shore, by swimming by the sides of, and behind it, pushing it along in the direction where they designed to land it, until the water became so shallow, that their feet were upon the bottom, when they waded along with great coyness, dragging us towards the shore, as long as their bodies, in a crouching position, could possibly be half concealed under the water, when they gave our boat the last push for the shore, and raising a loud and exulting laugh, plunged back again into the river; leaving us the only alternative of sitting still where we were, or of stepping out into the water at half leg deep, and of wading to the shore, which we at once did, and soon escaped from the view of our little tormentors, and the numerous lookers-on, on our way to the upper village, which I have before mentioned.
Here I was very politely treated by the Yellow Moccasin, quite an old man, and who seemed to be chief of this band or family, constituting their little community of thirty or forty lodges, averaging, perhaps, twenty persons to each. I was feasted in this man's lodge -- and afterwards invited to accompany him and several others to a beautiful prairie, a mile or so above the village, where the young men and young women of this town, and man!: from the village below, had assembled for their amusements; the chief of which seemed to be that of racing their horses. In the midst of these scenes, after I had been for some time a looker-on, and had felt some considerable degree of sympathy for a fine-looking young fellow, whose horse had been twice beaten on the course, and whose losses had been considerable; for which, his sister, a very modest and pretty girl, was most piteously howling and crying. I selected and brought forward an ordinary-looking pony, that was evidently too fat and too sleek to run against his fine-limbed little horse that had disappointed his high hopes; and I began to comment extravagantly upon its muscle, &c., when I discovered him evidently cheering up with the hope of getting me and my pony on to the turf with him; for which he soon made me a proposition; and I, having lauded the limbs of my little nag too much to "back out", agreed to run a short race with him of half a mile, for three yards of scarlet cloth, a knife, and half a dozen strings of beads, which I was willing to stake against a handsome pair of leggings, which he was wearing at the time. The greatest imaginable excitement was now raised amongst the crowd by this arrangement; to see a white man preparing to run with an Indian jockey, and that with a scrub of a pony, in whose powers of running no Indian had the least confidence. Yet, there was no one in the crowd, who dared to take up the several other little bets I was willing to tender (merely for their amusement, and for their final exultation); owing, undoubtedly, to the bold and confident manner in which I had ventured on the merits of this little horse, which the tribe had all overlooked; and needs must have some medicine about it.
So far was this panic carried, that even my champion was ready to withdraw; but his friends encouraged him at length, and we galloped our horses off to the other end of the course, where we were to start; and where we were accompanied by a number of horsemen, who were to witness the "set off". Some considerable delay here took place, from a condition, which was then named to me, and which I had not observed before, that in all the races of this day, every rider was to run entirely denuded, and ride a naked horse! Here I was completely balked, and having no one by me to interpret a word, I was quite at a loss to decide what was best to do. I found however, that remonstrance was of little avail; and as I had volunteered in this thing to gratify and flatter them, I thought it best not positively to displease them in this; so I laid off my clothes, and straddled the naked back of my round and glossy little pony, by the side of my competitor, who was also mounted and stripped to the skin, and panting with a restless anxiety for the start.
Reader I did you ever imagine that in the middle of a man's life there could be a thought or a feeling so new to him, as to throw him instantly back to infancy; with a new world and a new genius before him-started afresh, to navigate and breathe the elements of naked and untasted liberty, which clothe him in their cool and silken robes that float about him; and wafting their life-inspiring folds to his inmost lungs? If you never have been inspired with such a feeling, and have been in the habit of believing that you have thought of, and imagined a little of every thing, try for a moment, to disrobe your mind and your body, and help me through feelings to which I cannot give utterance. Imagine yourselves as I was, with my trembling little horse underneath me, and the cool atmosphere that was floating about, and ready, more closely and familiarly to embrace me, as it did, at the next moment, when we "were off", and struggling for the goal and the prize.
Though my little Pegasus seemed to dart through the clouds, and I to be wafted on the wings of Mercury, yet my red adversary was leaving me too far behind for further competition; and I wheeled to the left, making a circuit on the prairie, and came in at the starting point, much to the satisfaction and exultation of the jockeys; but greatly to the murmuring disappointment of the women and children, who had assembled in a dense throng to witness the "coming out" of the "white medicine-man". I clothed myself instantly, and came back, acknowledging my defeat, and the superior skill of my competitor, as well as the wonderful muscle of his little charger, which pleased him much; and his sisters' lamentations were soon turned to joy, by the receipt of a beautiful scarlet robe, and a profusion of vari-coloured beads, which were speedily paraded on her copper-coloured neck.
After I had seen enough of these amusements, I succeeded with some difficulty, in pulling Ba'tiste and Bogard from amongst the groups of women and girls, where they seemed to be successfully ingratiating themselves; and we trudged back to the little village of earth-covered lodges, which were hemmed in, and almost obscured from the eye, by the fields of corn and luxuriant growth of wild sun-flowers, and other vegetable productions of the soil, whose spontaneous growth had reared their heads in such profusion, as to appear all but like a dense and formidable forest.
We loitered about this little village awhile, looking into most of its lodges, and tracing its winding avenues, after which we recrossed the river and wended our way back again to head-quarters, from whence we started in the morning, and where I am now writing. This day's ramble shewed to us all the inhabitants of this little tribe, except a portion of their warriors who are out on a war excursion against the Riccarees; and I have been exceedingly pleased with their general behavior and looks, as well as with their numerous games and amusements, in many of which I have given them great pleasure by taking a part.
The Minatarees, as I have before said, are a bold, daring, and warlike tribe; quite different in these respects from their neighbors the Mandans, carrying war continually in their enemies' country, thereby exposing their lives and diminishing: the number of their warriors to that degree that I find two or three women to a man, through the tribe. They are bold and fearless in the chase also, and in their eager pursuits of the bison, or buffaloes, their feats are such as to excite the astonishment and admiration of all who behold them. Of these scenes I have witnessed many since I came into this country, and amongst them all, nothing have I seen to compare with one to which I was an eye-witness a few mornings since, and well worthy of being described.
The Minatarees, as well as the Mandans, had suffered for some months past for want of meat, and had indulged in the most alarming fears, that the herds of buffaloes were emigrating so far off from them, that there was great danger of their actual starvation, when it was suddenly announced through the village one morning at an early hour, that a herd of buffaloes were in sight, when an hundred or more young men mounted their horses with weapons in baud and steered their course to the prairies. The chief informed me that one of his horses was in readiness for me at the door of his wigwam, and that I had better go and see the curious affair. I accepted his polite offer, and mounting the steed, galloped off with the hunters to the prairies, where we soon descried at a distance, a fine herd of buffaloes grazing, when a halt and a council were ordered, and the mode of attack was agreed upon. I had armed myself with my pencil and my sketch-book only, and consequently took my position generally in the rear, where I could see and appreciate every manoeuvre.
The plan of attack, which in this country is familiarly called a "surround", was explicitly agreed upon, and the hunters who were all mounted on their "buffalo horses" and armed with bows and arrows or long lances, divided into two columns, taking opposite directions, and drew themselves gradually around the herd at a mile or more distance from them; thus forming a circle of horsemen at equal distances apart, who gradually closed in upon them with a moderate pace, at a signal given.
The unsuspecting herd at length "got the wind" of the approaching enemy and fled in a mass in the greatest confusion. To the point where they were aiming to cross the line, the horsemen were seen at full speed, gathering and forming in a column, brandishing their weapons and yelling in the most frightful manner, by which means they turned the black and rushing mass which moved off in an opposite direction where they were again met and foiled in a similar manner, and wheeled back in utter confusion; by which time the horsemen had closed in from all directions, forming a continuous line around them, whilst the poor affrighted animals were eddying about in a crowded and confused mass, hooking and climbing upon each other; when the work of dead commenced. I had rode up in the rear and occupied an elevated position at a few rods distance, from which I could(like the general of a battle field) survey from my hone's back, the nature and the progress of the grand melee; but (unlike him) without the power of issuing a command or in any way directing its issue.
In this grand turmoil, a Cloud of dust was soon raised, which in parts obscured the throng where the hunters were galloping their horses around and driving the whizzing arrows or their long lances to the hearts of these noble animals; which in many instances, becoming infuriated with deadly wounds in their sides, erected their shaggy manes over their blood-shot eyes and furiously plunged forwards at the sides of their assailants' horses, sometimes goring them to death at a lunge, and putting their dismounted riders to flight for their lives; sometimes their dense crowd was opened, and the blinded horsemen, too intent on their prey amidst the cloud of dust, were hemmed and wedged in amidst the crowding beasts, over whose backs they were obliged to leap for security, leaving their horses to the fate that might await them in the results of this wild and desperate war. Many were the bulls that turned upon their assailants and met them with desperate resistance; and many were the warriors who were dismounted, and saved themselves by the superior muscles of their legs; some who were closely pursued by the bulls, wheeled suddenly around and snatching the part of a buffalo robe from around their waists, threw it over the horns and the eyes of the infuriated beast, and darting by its side drove the arrow or the lance to its heart. Others suddenly dashed off upon the prairies by the side of the affrighted animals which had escaped from the throng, and closely escorting them for a few rods, brought down their hearts blood in streams, and their huge carcasses upon the green and enameled turf.
In this way this grand hunt soon resolved itself into a desperate battle: and in the space of fifteen minutes, resulted in the total destruction of the whole herd, which in all their strength and fury were doomed, like every beast and living thing else, to fall before the`destroying hands of mighty man.
I had sat in trembling silence upon my horse, and witnessed this extraordinary scene, which allowed not one of these animals to escape out of my sight. Many plunged off upon the prairie for a distance, but were overtaken and killed; and although I could not distinctly estimate the number that were slain, yet I am sure that some hundreds of these noble animals fell in this grand melee.
The scene after the battle was over was novel and curious in the extreme; the hunters were moving about amongst the dead and dying animals, leading their horses by their halters, and claiming their victims by their private marks upon their arrows, which they were drawing from the wounds in the animals' sides.
Amongst the poor affrighted creatures that had occasionally dashed through the ranks of their enemy, and sought safety in flight upon the prairie (and in some instances, had undoubtedly gained it), I saw them stand awhile, looking back, when they turned, and, as if bent on their own destruction, retraced their steps, and mingled themselves and their deaths with those of the dying throng. Others had fled to a distance on the prairies, and for want of company, of friends or of foes, had stood and gazed on till the battle-scene was over; seemingly taking pains to stay, and hold their lives in readiness for their destroyers, until the general destruction was over, when they fell easy victims to their weapons -- making .the slaughter complete.
After this scene, and after arrows had been claimed and recovered, a general council was held, when all hands were seated on the ground, and a few pipes smoked; after which, all mounted their horses and rode back to the village.
A deputation of several of the warriors was sent to the chief, who explained to him what had been their success; and the same intelligence was soon communicated by little squads to every family in the village; and preparations were at once made for securing the meat. For this purpose, some hundreds of women and children, to whose lots fall all the drudgeries of Indian life, started out upon the trail, which led them to the battle-field, where they spent the day in skinning the animals, and cutting up the meat, which was mostly brought into the villages on their backs, as they tugged and sweated under their enormous and cruel loads.
I rode out to see this curious scene; and I regret exceedingly that I kept no memorandum of it in my sketch-book. Amidst the throng bf women and children, that had been assembled, and all of whom seemed busily at work, were many superannuated and disabled nags, which they had brought out to assist in carrying in the meat; and at least, one thousand semi-loup dogs, and whelps, whose keen appetites and sagacity had brought them out, to claim their shares of this abundant and sumptuous supply.
I staid and inspected this curious group for an hour or more, during which time, I was almost continually amused by the clamorous contentions that arose, and generally ended, in desperate combats; both amongst the dogs and women, who seemed alike tenacious of their local and recently acquired rights; and disposed to settle their claims by ''tooth and nail" -- by manual and brute force.
When I had seen enough of this I rode to the top of a beautiful prairie bluff, a mile or two from the scene, where I was exceedingly amused by overlooking the route that laid between this and the village, which was over the undulating green fields for several miles, that laid beneath me; over which there seemed a continual string of women, dogs and horses, for the rest of the day, passing and repassing as they were busily bearing home their heavy burthens to their village, and in their miniature appearance, which the distance gave them, not unlike to a busy community of ants as they are sometimes seen, sacking and transporting the treasures of a cupboard, or the sweets of a sugar bowl.