RED PIPE STONE Quarry, COTEAU DES PRAIRIES.
Well, to proceed with the Story of the Dog, which I promised; (after which I shall record the tale of Wi-jun-jon, (the pigeon's egg head), which was also told by me during the last night, before we retired to rest.
"I think I said that my little canoe had brought-us down the Missouri, about eight hundred miles below the mouth of Yellow Stone, when we landed at Laidlaw's Trading-house, which is twelve hundred miles above civilization and the city of St. Louis. If I did not say it: it is no matter, for it was even so; and 'Ba'tiste and Bogard who had paddled, and I who had steered,' threw our little bark out upon the bank, and taking our paddles in our bands, and our 'plunder' upon our backs, crossed the plain to the American Fur Company's Fort, in charge of Mr, Laidlaw, who gave us a hearty welcome; and placed us in an instant at his table, which happened at that moment to be stationed in the middle of the floor, distributing to its surrounding guests the simple blessings which belong to that fair and silent land of buffalo tongues and beavers' tails! A bottle of good Madeira wine sprung (a l'instant) upon the corner of the table, before us, and swore, point blank, to the welcome that was expressed in every feature of our host. After the usual salutations, the news, and a glass of wine, Mr. Laidlaw began thus:
"Well, my friend, you have got along well, so far; and I am glad to see you. You have seen a great many fine Indians since you left here, and have, no doubt, procured many interesting and valuable portraits; but there has been a deal of trouble about the ' pictures,' in this neighborhood, since you went away. Of course, you have heard nothing of it at the Yellow Stone ; but amongst us, I assure you, there has not a day passed since you left, without some fuss or excitement about the portraits. The 'Dog' is not yet dead, though he has been shot at several times, and had his left arm broken. The 'Little Bear's' friends have overtaken the brother of the Dog, that fine fellow whom you painted, and killed him! They are now sensible that they have sacrificed one of the best men in the nation, for one of the greatest rascals; and they are more desperately bent on revenge than ever. They have made frequent enquiries for you, knowing that you had gone up the river; alleging that you had been the cause of these deaths, and that if the Dog could not be found, they should look to you for a settlement of that unfortunate affair!
"That unlucky business, taken altogether, has been the greatest piece of medicine (mystery), and created the greatest excitement amongst the Sioux, of anything that has happened since I came into the country. My dear Sir, you must not continue your voyage down the river, in your unprotected condition. A large party of the Little Bear's' band, are now encamped on the river below, and for you to stop there (which you might be obliged to do), would be to endanger your life."
* * * Reader, sit still, and let me change ends with my story, (which is done in one moment,) and then, from a relation of the circumstances which elicited the friendly advice and caution of Mr. Laidlaw just mentioned, you will be better enabled to understand the nature of the bloody affair which I am undertaking to relate.
"About four months previous to the moment I am now speaking of, I had passed up the Missouri river by this place, on the steam-boat "Yellowstone", on which I ascended the Missouri to the mouth of Yellow Stone river. While going up, this boat, having on board the United States Indian agent: Major Sanford -- Messrs. Pierre, Chouteau, McKenzie of the American Fur Company, and myself, as passengers, stopped at this trading-post, and remained several weeks; where were assembled six hundred families of Sioux Indians, their tents being pitched in close order on an extensive prairie on the bank of the river.
"This trading-post, in charge of Mr. Laidlaw, is the concentrating place, and principal trading depot, for this Powerful tribe, who number, when all taken together, something like forty or fifty thousand. On this occasion, five or six thousand had assembled to see the steam-boat and meet the Indian agent, which, and whom they knew were to arrive about this time. During the few weeks that we remained there, I was busily engaged painting my portraits, for here were assembled the principal chiefs and medicine-men of the nation. To these people, the operations of my brush were entirely new and unaccountable, and excited amongst them the greatest curiosity imaginable. Every thing else (even the steam-boat) was abandoned for the pleasure of crowding into my painting-room, and witnessing the result of each fellow's success, as he came out from under the operation of my brush.
"They had been at first much afraid of the consequences that might flow from so strange and unaccountable an operation; but having been made to understand my views, they began to look upon it as a great honour, and afforded me the opportunities that I desired; exhibiting the utmost degree of vanity for their appearance, both as to features and dress. The consequence was, that my room was filled with the chiefs who sat around, arranged according to the rank or grade which they held in the estimation of their tribe; and in this order it became necessary for me to paint them, to the exclusion of those who never signalized themselves, and were without any distinguishing character in society.
"The first man on the list, was Ha-wan-ghee-ta (one horn), head chief of the nation, of whom I have heretofore spoken; and after him the subordinate chiefs, or chiefs of bands, according to the estimation in which they were held by the chief and the tribe. My models were thus placed before me whether ugly or beautiful, all the same, and I saw at once there was to be trouble somewhere, as I could not paint them all. The medicine-men or high priests, who are esteemed by many the oracles of the nation, and the most important men in it -- becoming jealous, commenced their harangues, outside of the lodge, telling them that they were all fools -- that those who were painted would soon die in consequence; and that these pictures, which had life to a considerable degree in them, would live in the hands of white men after they were dead, and make them sleepless and endless trouble.
"Those whom I had painted, though evidently somewhat alarmed, were unwilling to acknowledge it, and those whom I had not painted, unwilling to be outdone in courage, allowed me the privilege; braving and defying the danger that they were evidently more or less in dread of. Feuds began to arise too, among some of the chiefs of the different bands, who (not unlike some instances amongst the chiefs and warriors of our own country), had looked upon their rival chiefs with unsleeping jealousy, until it had grown into disrespect and enmity. An instance of this kind presented itself at this critical juncture, in this assembly of inflammable spirits, which changed in a moment, its features, from the free and jocular garrulity of an Indian levee, to the frightful yells and agitated treads and starts of an Indian battle! I had in progress at this time a Portrait of Mah-to-tchee-ga (little bear); of the Onc-pa-pa band, a noble fine fellow, who was sitting before me as I was painting. I was Painting almost a profile view of his face, throwing a part of it into shadow, and had it nearly finished, when an Indian by the name of Shon-Ka (the dog), chief of the Caz-a-zshee-ta band; an ill-natured and surly man -- despised by the chiefs of every other band, entered the wigwam in a sullen mood, and seated himself on the floor in front of my sitter, where he could have a full view of the picture in its operation. After sitting a while with his arms folded, and his lips stuffy arched with contempt; he sneeringly spoke thus:
"Mah-to-tchee-ga is but half a man."
Dead silence ensued for a moment, and nought was in motion save the eyes of the chiefs, who were seated around the room, and darting their glances about upon each other in listless anxiety to hear the sequel that was to follow! During this interval, the eyes of Mah-to-tchee-ga had not moved -- his lips became slightly curved, and he pleasantly asked, in low and steady accent,'Who says that?' 'Shon-Ka says it,' was the reply; 'and Skon-Ka can prove it.' At this the eyes of Mah-to-tchee-ga, which had not yet moved, began steadily to turn, and slow, as if upon pivots, and when they were rolled out of their sockets till they had fixed upon the object of their contempt; his dark and jutting brews were shoving down in trembling contention, with the blazing rays that were actually burning with contempt, the object that was before them. 'Why does Shon-ka say it?'
"Ask We-chash-a-wa-kon (the painter), he can tell you; he knows you are but half a man-he has painted but one half of your face, and knows the other half is good for nothing!"
"Let the painter say it, and I will believe it; but when the Dog says it let him prove it."
"Shon-ka said it, and Shon-ka can prove it; if Mah-to-tchee-ga be a man, and waste to be honoured by the white men, let him not be ashamed; but let him do as Shon-ka has done, give the white man a horse, and then let him see the whole of your face without being ashamed."
"When Mah-to-tchee-ga kills a white man and steals his horses, he may be ashamed to look at a white man until he brings him a horse! When Mah-to-tchee-ga waylays and murders an honorable and a brave Sioux, because he is a coward and not brave enough to meet him in fair combat, then he may be ashamed to look at a white man till he has given him a horse! Mah-to-tchee-ga can look at any one; and he is now looking at an old woman and a coward!"
"This repartee, which had lasted for a few minutes, to the amusement and excitement of the chiefs, being ended thus -- The Dog rose suddenly from the ground, and wrapping himself in his robe, left the wigwam, considerably agitated, having the laugh of all the chiefs upon him."
"The Little Bear had followed him with his piercing eyes until he left the door, and then pleasantly and unmoved, resumed his position, where he sat a few minutes longer, until the portrait was completed. He then rose, and in the most graceful and gentlemanly manner, presented to me a very beautiful shirt of buckskin, richly garnished with quills of the porcupine, hinged with scalp-locks (honorable memorials) from his enemies' heads, and painted, with all his battles emblazoned on it. He then left my wigwam, and a few steps brought him to the door of his own, where the Dog intercepted him, and asked, What meant Mah-to-tchee-ga by tile last words that he spoke to Shon-ka. "Mah-to-tchee-ga said it, and Shon-ka is not a fool -- that is enough." At this The Dog walked violently to his own lodge: and the Little Bear retreated into his, both knowing from looks and gestures what was about to be the consequence of their altercation.
"The Little Bear instantly charged his gun, and then (as their custom is) threw himself upon his face, in humble supplication to the Great Spirit for his aid and protection. His wife, in the meantime, seeing him agitated, and fearing some evil consequences, without knowing anything of the preliminaries, secretly withdrew the bullet from his gun, and told him not of it.
"The Dog's voice, at this moment, was heard, and recognized at the door of Mah-to-tchee-ga's lodge -- If Mah-to-tchee-ga be a whole man, let him come out and prove it; it is Shon-Ka that calls him!'
"His wife screamed; but it was too late. The gun was in his hand, and he sprang out of the door -- both drew and simultaneously fired! The Dog fled uninjured; but the Little Bear lay weltering in his blood (strange to say) with all that side of his face entirely shot away, which had been left out of the picture: end, according to the prediction of the Dog, "good for nothing"; carrying away one half of the jaws, and the flesh from the nostrils and corner of the mouth, to the ear, including one eye, and leaving the jugular vein entirely exposed. Here was a 'coup'; and any one accustomed to the thrilling excitement that such scenes produce in an Indian village, call form some idea of the frightful agitation amidst several thousand Indians, who were divided into jealous bands or clans, under ambitious and rival chiefs ! In one minute, a thousand guns and bows were seized! A thousand thrilling yells were raised: and many were the fierce and darting warriors who sallied round the Dog for his protection -- he fled amidst a shower of bullets and arrows; but his braves were about him! The blood of the Onc-pa-pas was roused, and the indignant braves of that gallant band rushed forth from all quarters, and, swift upon their heels, were hot for vengeance! On the plain, and in full view of us, for some time, the whizzing arrows flew, and so did bullets, until the Dog and his brave followers were lost in distance on the prairie! In this rencontre, the Dog had his left arm broken; but succeeded, at length, in making his escape.
"On the next day after this affair took place, the Little Bear died of his wound, and was buried amidst the most pitiful and heart-rending cries of his distracted wife, whose grief was inconsolable at the thought of having been herself the immediate and innocent cause of his death, by depriving him of his supposed protection.
"This marvelous and fatal transaction was soon talked through the village, and the eyes of all this superstitious multitude were fixed upon me as the cause of the calamity--my paintings and brushes were instantly packed, and all hands, both Traders and Travellers, assumed at once a posture of defense.
"I evaded, no doubt,.in a great measure, the concentration of their immediate censure upon me, by expressions of great condolence, and by distributing liberal presents to the wife and relations of the deceased; and by uniting also with Mr. Laidlaw and the other gentlemen, in giving him honourable burial, where we placed over his grave a handsome Sioux lodge, and hung a white flag to wave over it.
"On this occasion, many were the tears that were shed for the brave and honourabe Mah-to-tchee-ga, and all the warriors of his band swore sleepless vengeance on the Dog, until his life should answer for the loss of their chief and leader.
"On the day that he was buried, I started for the mouth of Yellow Stone, and while I was gone, the spirit of vengeance had pervaded nearly all the Sioux country in search of the Dog, who had evaded pursuit. His brother, however, a noble and honourable fellow, esteemed by all who knew him, fell in their way in an unlucky hour, when their thirst for vengeance was irresistible, and they slew him. Repentance deep, and grief were the result of so rash an act, when they beheld a brave and worthy mall fall for so worthless a character; and as they became exasperated, the spirit of revenge grew more desperate than ever, and they swore they never would lay down their arms or embrace their wives and children until full and complete, should light upon the head that deserved it. This brings us again to the first part of my story, and in this state were things in that part of the country, when I was descending the river, four months afterwards, and landed my canoe as I before stated, at Laidlaw's trading-house.
"The excitement had been kept up all summer amongst these people, and their superstitions bloated to the full brim, from circumstances so well calculated to feed and increase them. Many of them looked to me at once as the author of all these disasters, considering I knew that one half of the man's face was good for nothing, or that I would not have left it out of the picture, and that I must therefore have foreknown the evils that were to flow from the omission; they consequently resolved that I was a dangerous man, and should suffer for my temerity in case the Dog could not be found. Councils ]lad been held, and in all the solemnity of Indian medicine and mystery, I had been doomed to die ! At one of these, a young warrior of the One-Papa band, arose and said. "The blood of two chiefs has just sunk into the ground, and an hundred bows are bent which are ready to shed more! On whom shall we bend them? I am a friend to the white men, but here is one whose medicine is too great -- he is a great medicine-man ! his medicine is too great ! he was the death of Mah-to-tchee-ga! He made only one side of his face! He would not make the other -- the side that he made was alive; the other was dead, and Shonka shot it off! How is this? Who is to die.'
"After him, Tah-zee-kee-da-cha (Torn Belly), of the Yankton band, arose and said -- "Father, this medicine-man has done much harm! You told our chiefs and warriors, that they must be painted -- you said he was a good man, and we believed you -- you thought so, my father, but you see what he has done! -- He looks at our chiefs and our women and then makes them alive!! In this way he has taken our chiefs away, and he can trouble their spirits when they are dead! -- they will be unhappy. If he can make them alive by looking at them, he can do us much harm! -- you tell us that they are not alive -- we see their eyes move! -- their eyes follow us wherever we go, that is enough! I have no more to say!" After him, rose a young man of the Onc-pa-pa band. 'Father! You know that I am the brother of Mah-to-tchee-ga! -- you know that I loved him -- both sides of his face were good, and the medicine-man knew it also! Why was half of his face left out? He never was ashamed, but always looked white man in the face! Why was that side of his face shot off? Your friend is not our friend, and has forfeited his life -- we want you to tell us where he is -- we want to see him!"
"Then rose Toh-ki-e-to (a medicine-man) of the Yankton band, and principal orator of the nation.) 'My friend, these are young men that speak -- I am not afraid! your white medicine-man painted my picture, and it was good -- I am glad of it -- I am very glad to see that I shall live after vengeance. This brings I am dead! -- I am old and not afraid! -- some of our young men are foolish. I know that this man put many of our buffaloes in his book I for I was with him, and we have had no buffaloes since to eat, it is true -- but I am not afraid!! his medicine is great and I wish him well--we are friends!"
It In this wise was the subject discussed by these superstitious people during my absence, and such were the reasons given by my Friend Mr. Laidlaw, for his friendly advice; wherein he cautioned me against exposing my life in their hands, advising me to take some other route than that which I was pursuing down the river where I would find encamped at the mouth of Cabri river, eighty miles below, several hundred Indians belonging to the Little Bear's band, and I might possibly fall a victim to their unsatiated revenge. I resumed my downward voyage in a few days, however, with my little canoe, which 'Ba'tiste and Bogard paddled and I steered,' and passed their encampment in peace, by taking the opposite shore. The usual friendly invitation however, was given (which is customary on that river), by skipping several rifle bullets across the river, a rod or two ahead of us. To those invitations we paid no attention, and (not suspecting who we were), they allowed us to pursue our course in peace and security. Thus rested the affair of the Dog and its consequences, until I conversed with Major Bean, the agent for these people, who arrived in St. Louis some weeks after I did, bringing later intelligence from them, assuring me that 'the Dog had at length been overtaken and Killed, near the Black-hills, and that the affair might now for ever be considered as settled."
Thus happened, and thus terminated the affair of "the Doe"; wherein have fallen three distinguished warriors; and wherein might have fallen one "great medicine-man!" and all in consequence of the operations of my brush. The portraits of the three first named will long hang in my Gallery for the world to gaze upon; and the head of the latter (whose hair yet remains on it), may probably be seen(for a time yet) occasionally stalking about in the midst of this Collection of Nature's dignitaries.
The circumstances above detailed, are as correctly given as I could furnish them! and they have doubtless given birth to one of the most wonderful traditions, which will be told and sung amongst the Sioux Indians from age to age; furnishing one of the rarest instances, perhaps, on record, of the extent to which these people may be carried by the force of their superstitions.
STORY OF WI-JUN-JON (The PIGEON'S EGG HEAD);
I recited it as I first told it to poor Ba'tiste, on a former occasion,
which was as follows:--
"Well, Ba'tiste, I promised last night, as you were going to sleep, that I would tell you a story this morning -- did I not ? "Oui, Monsieur, oui -- de 'Pigeon's Head.'
"No, Ba'tiste, the 'Pigeon's Egg Head.'
"Well den, Monsieur Cataline, de ' Pigeon Egg's Head.
"No, Ba'tiste, you have it wrong yet. The Pigeon's Egg Head.
"Sacre -- well, 'Pee--jonse--ec--head.'
"Right, Ba'tiste. Now you shall hear the 'Story of the pigeon's Egg Head.
"The Indian name of this man (being its literal translation into the Assinneboin language) was Wi-jun-jon.
"Wat! comment! by Gar (pardon); not Wi-jun-jon, le frere de medouce Wee-ne-on-ka, his du chef Assinneboin? But excusez; go on, s'il vous plait.'
"Wi-jun-jon (the Pigeon's Egg Head) was a brave and a warrior of the Assinneboins -- young -- proud -- handsome -- valiant, and graceful. He had fought many a battle, and won many a laurel. The numerous scalps from his enemies' heads adorned his dress, and his claims were fair and just for the highest honours that his country could bestow upon him: for his father was chief of the nation.
"Le meme! de same -- mon frere-mon am I! Bien, I am compose; go on, Monsieur.
"Well, this young Assinneboin, the 'Pigeon's Egg- Head,' was selected by Major Sanford, the Indian Agent, to represent his tribe in a delegation which visited Washington city under his charge in the winter of 1832. With this gentleman, the Assinneboin, together with representatives from several others of those North Western tribes, descended the Missouri river, several thousand miles, on their way to Washington.
"While descending the river in a Mackinaw boat, from the mouth of Yellow Stone, Wi-jun-jon and another of his tribe who was with him, at the first approach to the civilized settlements, commenced a register of the white men's houses (or cabins), by cutting a notch for each on the side of a pipestem, in order to be able to shew when they got home, how many white men's houses they saw on their journey. At first the cabins were scarce; but continually as they advanced down the river, more and more rapidly increased in numbers; and they soon found their pipe-stem filled with marks, and they determined to put the rest of them on the handle of a war-club, which they soon got marked all over likewise; and at length, while the boat was moored at the shore for the purpose of cooking the dinner of the party, Wi-jun-jon and his companion stepped into the bushes, and cut a long stick, from which they peeled the bark; and when the boat was again underweight, they sat down, and with much labour, copied the notches on to it from the pipe-stem and club; and also kept adding a notch for every house they passed. This stick was Boon filled; and in a day or two several others; when, at last, they seemed much at a loss to know what to do with their troublesome records, until they came in sight of St. Louis, which is a town of 15,000 inhabitants; upon which, after consulting a little, they pitched their sticks overboard into the river!
"I was in St. Louis at the time of their arrival, and painted their portraits while they rested in that place. Wi-jun-jon was the first, who reluctantly yielded to the solicitations of the Indian agent and myself, and appeared as sullen as death in my painting-room -- with eyes fixed like those of a statue, upon me, though his pride had plumed and tinted him in all the freshness and brilliancy of an Indian's toilet. In his nature's uncovering pride he stood a perfect model; but superstition had hung a lingering curve upon his lip, and pride had stiffened it into contempt. He had been urged into a measure, against which his fears had pleaded; yet he stood unmoved and unflinching amid the struggles of mysteries that were hovering about him, foreboding ills of every kind, and misfortunes that were to happen to him in consequence of this operation.
"He was dressed in his native costume, which was classic and exceedingly beautiful; his leggings and shirt were of the mountain goat skin, richly garnished with quills of the porcupine, and fringed with locks of scalps, taken from his enemies' heads. Over these floated his long hair in plaits, that fell nearly to the ground; his head was decked with the war-eagle's plumes -- his robe was of the skin of the young buffalo bull, richly garnished and emblazoned with the battles of his life; his quiver and bow were slung, and his shield, of the skin of the bull's neck.
"I painted him in this beautiful dress, and so also the others who were with him; and after I had done, Major Sanford went on to Washington with them, where they spent the winter.
"Wi-jun-jon was the foremost on all occasions-the first to enter the levee -- the first to shake the President's hand, and make his speech to him-the last to extend the hand to them, but the first to catch the smiles and admiration of the gentler sex. He travelled the giddy maze, and beheld amid the buzzing din of civil life, their tricks of art, their handiworks, and their finery; he visited their principal cities-he saw their forts, their ships, their great guns, steamboats, balloons, &c. &c.; and in the spring returned to St. Louis, where I joined him and his companions on their way back to their own country.
"Through the politeness of Mr. Chouteau, of the American Fur Company, I was admitted (the only passenger except Major Sanford and his Indians) to a passage in their steamboat, on her first trip to the Yellow Stone; and when I had embarked, and the boat was about to depart, Wi-jun-jon made his appearance on deck, in a full suit of regimentals! He had in Washington exchanged his beautifully garnished and classic costume, for a full dress 'en militaire'. It was, perhapg, presented to him by the President. It was broadcloth, of the finest blue, trimmed with lace of gold; on his shoulders were mounted two immense epaulettes; his neck was strangled with a shining black stock, and his feet were pinioned in a pair of waterproof boots, with high heels, which made him 'step like a yoked hog.
"Ha-ha-hagh (pardon, Monsieur Calaline, for I am almost laugh) -- well, he was a fine gentleman, ha?"
"On his head was a high-crowned beaver hat, with a broad silver lace band, surmounted by a huge red feather, some two feet high; his coat collar stiff with lace, came higher up than his ears, and over it flowed, down towards his haunches -- his long Indian locks, stuck up in rolls and plaits, with red paint.
"Hold your tongue, Ba'tiste.
"Well, go on--go on.'
"A large silver medal was suspended from his neck by a blue ribbon -- and across his right shoulder passed a wide belt, supporting by his side a broad sword.
"On his hands he had drawn a pair of white kid gloves, and in them held, a blue umbrella in one, and a large fan in the other. In this fashion was poor Wi-jun-jon metamorphosed, on his return from Washington; and, in this plight was he strutting and whistling Yankee Doodle, about the deck of the steamer that was wending its way up the mighty Missouri, and taking him to his native land again; where he was soon to light his pipe, and cheer the wigwam fire-side, with tales of novelty and wonder.
"Well, Ba'tiste, I travelled with this new-fangled gentleman until he reached his home, two thousand miles above St. Louis, and I could never look upon him for a moment without excessive laughter, at the ridiculous figure he cut -- the strides, the angles, the stiffness of this travelling beau! Oh Ba'tiste, if you could have seen him, you would have split your sides with laughter; he was -- 'puss in boots', precisely!
"By gar, he is good compare! Ha-ha, Monsieur: (pardon) I am laugh: I am see him wen he is arrive in Yellow Stone; you know I was dere. I am laugh much wen he is got off de boat, and all de Assinneboins was dere to look. Oh diable! I am laugh almost to die, I am split I -- suppose he was pretty stiff, ha? 'cob on spindle,' ha? Oh, by gar, he is coot pour laugh--pour rire?'
"After Wi-jun-jon had got home, and passed the usual salutations among his friends, he commenced the simple narration of scenes he had passed through, and of things he had beheld among the whites; which appeared to them so much like fiction, that it was impossible to believe them, and they set him down as an impostor. 'He has been, (they said,) among the whites, who are great liars, and all he has learned is to come home and tell lies.' He sank rapidly into disgrace in his tribe; his high claims to Political eminence all vanished; he was reputed worthless -- the greatest liar of his nation; the chiefs shunned him and passed him by as one of the tribe who was lost; yet the ears of the gossipping portion of the tribe were open, and the campfire circle and the wigwam fireside, gave silent audience to the whispered narratives of the 'travelled Indian.'
"The next day after he had arrived among his friends, the superfluous part of his coat, (which was a laced frock), was converted into a pair of leggings for his wife; and his hat-band of silver lace furnished her a magnificent pair of garters. The remainder of the coat, curtailed of its original length, was seen buttoned upon the shoulders of his brother, over and above a pair of leggings of buckskin; and Wi-jun-jon was parading about among his gaping friends, with a bow and quiver slung over his shoulders, which, sans coat, exhibited a fine linen shirt with studs and sleeve buttons. His broadsword kept its place, but about noon, his boots gave way to a pair of garnished moccasins; and in such plight he gossiped away the day among his friends, while his heart spoke so freely and so effectually from the bung-hole of a little keg of whiskey, which he had brought the whole way, (as one of the choicest presents made him at Washington), that his tongue became silent.
"One of his little fair enamoratas, or 'catch crumbs', such as live in the halo of all great men, fixed her eyes and her affections upon his beautiful silk braces, and the next day, while the keg was yet dealing out its kindnesses, he was seen paying visits to the lodges of his old acquaintance, swaggering about, with his keg under his arm, whistling Yankee Doodle, and Washington's Grand March; his white shirt, or. that part of it that had been flapping in the wind, had been shockingly tithed -- his pantaloons of blue, laced with gold, were razed into a pair of comfortable leggings -- his bow and quiver were slung, and his broad-sword which trailed on the ground, had sought the centre of gravity and taken a position between his legs, and dragging behind him, served as a rudder to steer him over the earth's troubled surface.
"Ha-hah-hagh ------ah-------o-------oo-- k, eh bien.
"Two days' revel of this kind, had drawn from his keg all its charms; and in the mellowness of his heart, all his finery had vanished, and all of its appendages, except his umbrella, to which his heart's strongest affections still clung, and with it, and under it, in rude dress of buckskin, he was afterwards to be seen, in all sorts of weather, acting the fop and the beau as well as he could, with his limited means. In this plight, and in this dress, with his umbrella always in his hand, (as the only remaining evidence of his quondam greatness), he began in his sober moments, to entertain and instruct his people, by honest and simple narratives of things and scenes he had beheld during his tour to the East; but which (unfortunately for him), were to them too marvellous and improbable to be believed. He told the gaping multitude, that were constantly gathering about him, of the distance he had travelled-of the astonishing number of houses he had seen--of the towns and cities, with all their wealth and splendour -- of travelling on steamboats, in stages, and on railroads. He described our forts, and seventy-four gun ships, which he had visited -- their big guns -- our great bridges--our great council-house at Washington, and its doings-the curious and wonderful machines in the patent office, (which he pronounced the greatest medicine place he had seen); he described the great war parade, which he saw in the city of New York -- the ascent of the balloon from Castle Garden -- the numbers of the white people, the beauty of the white squaws; their red cheeks, and many thousands of other things, all of which were so much beyond their comprehension, that they 'could not be true' and 'he must be the very greatest liar in the whole world."
''But he was beginning to acquire a reputation of a different kind. He was denominated a medicine-man, and one too of the most extraordinary character; for they deemed him far above the ordinary sort of human beings, whose mind could invent and conjure up for their amusement, such an ingenious fabrication of novelty and wonder. He steadily and unostentatiously persisted, however, in this way of entertaining his friends and his people, though he knew his standing was affected by it. He had an exhaustless theme to descant upon through the remainder of his life; and he seemed satisfied to lecture all his life, for the pleasure which it gave him. "So great was his medicine, however, that they began, chiefs and all, to look upon him as a most extraordinary being, and the customary honours and forms began to be applied to him, and the respect shewn him, that belongs to all men in the Indian country, who are distinguished for their medicine or mysteries. In short, when all became familiar with the astonishing representations that he made, and with the wonderful alacrity with which 'he created them', he was denominated the very greatest of medicine; and not only that, but the 'lying medicine'. That he should be the greatest of medicine, and that for lying, merely, rendered him a prodigy in mysteries that commanded not only respect, but at length, (when he was more maturely heard and listened to) admiration, awe, and at last dread and terror; which altogether must needs conspire to rid the world of a monster, whose more than human talents must be cut down, to less than human measurement."
'Wat! Monsieur Cataline, dey av not try to kill him?'
"Yes, Ba'tiste, in this way the poor fellow had lived, and been for three years past continually relating the scenes he had beheld, in his tour to the Far East; until his medicine became so alarmingly great, that they were unwilling he should live; they were disposed to kill him for a wizard. One of the young men of the tribe took the duty upon himself, and after much perplexity, hit upon the following plan, to-witt -- he had fully resolved, in conjunction with others who were in the conspiracy, that the medicine of Wi-jun-jon was too great for the ordinary mode, and that he was so great a liar that a rifle bullet would not kill him; while the young man was in this distressing dilemma, which lasted for some weeks, he had a dream one night, which solved all difficulties; and in consequence of which, he loitered about the store in the Fort, at the mouth of the Yellow Stone, until he could procure, by stealth, (according to the injunction of his dream,) the handle of an iron pot, which he supposed to possess the requisite virtue, and taking it into the woods, he there spent a whole day in straightening and filing it, to fit it into the barrel of his gun; after which, he made his appearance again in the Fort, with his gun under his robe, charged with the pot handle, and getting behind poor Wi-jun-jon, whilst he was talking with the Trader, placed the muzzle behind his head and blew out his brains!
"Sacre vengeance! oh, mon Dieu! let me cry -- I shall cry always, for evare Oh he is not true, l hope? no, Monsieur,no!"
"Yes, Ba'tiste, it is a fact: thus ended the days and the greatness, and all the pride and hopes of WI-JUN-JON, the 'Pigeon's Egg Head', -- a warrior and a brave of the valiant Assinneboins, who travelled eight thousand miles to see the President, and all the great cities of the civilized world; and who, for telling the truth, and nothing but the truth, was, after he got home, disgraced and killed for a wizard.
"Oh, Monsieur Cataline -- I am distress -- I am sick -- I was hope he is not true -- oh I am mortify. Wi-jun-jon was coot Ingin -- he was my bruddare --- eh bien -- eh bien.
"Now, my friend Ba'tiste, I see you are distressed, and I regret exceedingly that it must be so; he was your friend and relative, and I myself feel sad at the poor fellow's unhappy and luckless fate; for he was a handsome, an honest, and a noble Indian."
"C'est vrais. Monsieur, c'est vrai."
"This man's death, Ba'tiste, has been a loss to himself, to his friends, and to the world; but you and I may profit by it, nevertheless, if we bear it in mind ----
"Oui! yes, Monsr. mais, suppose, 'tis bad wind dat blows nary way, ha?"
"Yes, Ba'tiste, we may profit by his misfortune, if we choose. We may call it a'caution;' for instance, when I come to write Your book, as you have proposed, the fate of this poor fellow, who was relating no more than what he actually saw, will caution you against the imprudence of telling all that you actually Know, and narrating all that you have seen, lest like him you sink into disgrace for telling the truth. You know, Ba'tiste, that there are many things to be seen in the kind of life that you and I have been living for some years past, which it would be more prudent for us to suppress than to tell."
"Oui, Monsieur. Well, soppose, perhaps I am discourage about de book. Ma is,we shall see,ha?"
Thus ended the last night's gossip, and in the cool of this morning, we bid adieu to the quiet and stillness of this wild place, of which I have resolved to give a little further account before we take leave of it.
From the Fall of St. Anthony, my delightful companion (Mr. Wood, whom I have before mentioned) and myself, with our Indian guide, whose name was O-kup-pee, tracing the beautiful shores of the St. Peters river, about eighty miles; crossing it at a place called "Traverse des Sioux", and recrossing it at another point about thirty miles above the mouth of "Terre Bleue", from whence we steered in a direction a little North of West for the "Coteau des Prairies", leaving the St. Peters river, and crossing one of the most beautiful prairie countries in the world, for the distance of one hundred and twenty or thirty miles, which brought us to the base of the Coteau, where we were joined by our kind and esteemed companion Monsieur La Fromboise, as I have before related. This tract of country as well as that along the St. Peters river, is mostly covered with the richest soil, and furnishes an abundance of good water, which flows from a thousand living springs. For many miles we had the Coteau in view in the distance before us, which looked like a blue cloud settling down in the horizon; and we were scarcely sensible of the fact, when we had arrived at its base, from the graceful and almost imperceptible swells with which it commences its elevation above the country around it. Over these swells or terraces, gently rising one above the other, we travelled for the distance of forty or fifty miles, when we at length reached the summit; and from the base of this mound, to its top, a distance of forty or fifty miles, there was not a tree or bush to be seen in any direction, and the ground everywhere was covered with a green turf of grass, about five or six inches high; and we were assured by our Indian guide, that it descended to the West, towards the Missouri, with a similar inclination, and for an equal distance, divested of every thing save the grass that grows, and the animals that walk upon it.
On the very top of this mound or ridge, we found the far-famed quarry or fountain of the Red Pipe, which is truly an anomaly in nature.
The principal and most striking feature of this place, is a perpendicular wall of close-grained, compact quartz, of twenty-five and thirty feet in elevation, running nearly North and South with its face to the West, exhibiting a front of nearly two miles in length, when it disappears at both ends by running under the prairie, which he comes there a little more elevated, and probably covers it for many miles, both to the North and the South. The depression of the brow of the ridge at this Place has been caused by the wash of a little stream, produced by several springs on the top, a little back from the wall; which has gradually carried away the super-incumbent earth, and having bared the wall for the distance of two miles, is now left to glide for some distance over a perfectly level surface of quartz rock; and then to leap from the top of the wall into a deep basin below, and from thence seek its course to the Missouri, forming the extreme source of a noted and powerful tributary, called the "Big Sioux".
This beautiful wall is horizontal, and stratified in several distinct layers of light grey, and rose or flesh-coloured quartz; and for most of the way, both on the front of the wall, and for acres of its horizontal surface, highly polished or glazed, as if by ignition. At the base of this wall there is a level prairie, of half a mile in width, running parallel to it; in any and all parts of which, the Indians procure the red stone for their pipes, by digging through the soil and several slaty layers of the red stone, to the depth of four or five feet.****[SEE NOTE] From the very numerous marks of ancient and modern diggings or excavations, it would appear that this place has been for many centuries resorted to for the red stone; and from the great number of graves and remains of ancient fortifications in its vicinity, it would seem, as well as from their actual traditions, that the Indian tribes have long held this place in high superstitious estimation; and also that it has been the resort of different tribes, who have made their regular pilgrimages here to renew their pipes.
The red pipe stone, I consider, will take its place amongst minerals, as an interesting subject of itself; and the "Coteau des Prairies" will become hereafter an important theme for geologists; not only from the fact that this is the only known locality of that mineral, but from other phenomena relating to it. The single fact of such a table of quartz, in horizontal strata, resting on this elevated plateau, is of itself (in my opinion) a very interesting subject for investigation; and one which calls upon the scientific world for a correct theory with regard to the time when, and the manner in which, this formation was produced. That it is of a secondary character, and of a sedimentary deposit, seems evident; and that it has withstood the force of the diluvial current, while the great valley of the Missouri, from this very wall of rocks to the Rocky Mountains, has been excavated, and its debris carried to the ocean, there is also not a shadow of doubt; which opinion I confidently advance on the authority of the following remarkable facts:
At the base of the wall, and within a few rods of it, and on the very ground where the Indians dig for the red stone, rests a group of five stupendous boulders of gneiss, leaning against each other; the smallest of which is twelve or fifteen feet, and the largest twenty-five feet in diameter, altogether weighing, unquestionably, several hundred tons. These blocks are composed chiefly of felspar and mica,.of an exceedingly coarse grain (the felspar often occurring in crystals of an inch in diameter). The surface of these boulders is in every part covered with a grey moss, which gives them an extremely ancient and venerable appearance, and their sides and angles are rounded by attrition, to the shape and character of most other erratic stones, which are found throughout the country. It is under these blocks that the two holes, or ovens are seen, in which, according to the Indian superstition,
[[[***** From the very many excavations recently and anciently made, I could discover that these layers varied very much, in their thickness in different parts; and that in some places they were overlaid with four or five feet of rock, similar to, and in fact a part of, the lower stratum of the wall. the two old women, the guardian spirits of the place, reside; of whom I have before spoken.]]]]
<<<<<<END OF NOTE>>>>>>
That these five immense blocks, of precisely the same character, and differing materially from all other specimens of boulders which I have seen in the great vallies of the Mississippi and Missouri, should have been hurled some hundreds of miles from their native bed, and lodged in so singular a group on this elevated ridge, is truly matter of surprise for the scientific world, as well as for the poor Indian, whose superstitious veneration of them is such, that not a spear of grass is broken or bent by his feet, within three or four rods of them, where he stops, and in humble supplication, by throwing plugs of tobacco to them, solicits permission to dig and carry away the red stone for his pipes. The surface of these boulders are in every part entire and unscratched by anything; wearing the moss everywhere unbroken, except where I applied the hammer, to obtain some small specimens, which I shall bring away with me.
The fact alone, that these blocks differ in character from all other specimens which I have seen in my travels, amongst the thousands of boulders which are strewed over the great valley of the Missouri and Mississippi, from the Yellow Stone almost to the Gulf of Mexico, raises in my mind an unanswerable question, as regards the location of their native bed, and the means by which they have reached their isolated position; like five brothers, leaning against and supporting each other, without the existence of another boulder within many miles of them. There are thousands and tens of thousands of boulders scattered over the prairies, at the base of the COTEAU on either side; and so throughout the valley of the St. Peters and Mississippi, which are also subjects of very great interest and importance to science, inasmuch as they present to the world, a vast variety of characters; and each one, though strayed away from its original position, bears incontestible proof of the character of its native bed. The tract of country lying between the St. Peters river and the Coteau, over which we passed, presents innumerable specimens of this kind; and near the base of the COTEAU they are strewed over the prairie in countless numbers, presenting almost an incredible variety of rich, and beautiful colours; and undoubtedly traceable, (if they can be traced), to separate and distinct beds.
Amongst these beautiful groups, it was sometimes a very easy matter to sit on my horse and count within my sight, some twenty or thirty different varieties, of quartz and granite, in rounded boulders, of every hue and colour, from snow white to intense red, and yellow, and blue, and almost to a jet black; each one well characterized and evidently from a distinct quarry. With the beautiful hues and almost endless characters of these blocks, I became completely surprised and charmed; and I resolved to procure specimens of every variety, which I did with success, by dismounting from my horse, and breaking small bits from them with my hammer; until I had something like an hundred different varieties, containing all the tints and colours of a painter's palette. These, I at length threw away, as I had on several former occasions, other minerals and fossils, which I had collected and lugged along from day to day, and sometimes from week to week.
Whether these varieties of quartz and granite can all be traced to their native beds, or whether they all have origins at this time exposed above the earth's surface, are equally matters of much doubt in my mind. I believe that the geologist may take the different varieties, which he may gather at the base of the Coteau in one hour, and travel the Continent of North America all over without being enabled to put them all in place; coming at last to the unavoidable conclusion, that numerous chains or beds of primitive rocks have reared their heads on this Continent, the summits of which have been swept away by the force of diluvial currents, and their fragments jostled together and strewed about, like foreigners in a strange? land, over the great vallies of the Mississippi and Missouri, where they will ever remain, and be gazed upon by the traveller, as the only remaining evidence of their native beds, which have again submerged or been covered with diluvial deposits.
There seems not to be, either on the Coteau or in the great vallies on either side, so far as I have travelled, any slaty or other formation exposed above the surface on which grooves or scratches can be seen, to establish the direction of the diluvial currents in those regions; yet I think the fact is pretty clearly established by the general shapes of the vallies, and the courses of the mountain ridges which wall them in on their sides.
The Coteau des Prairies is the dividing ridge between the St. Peters and Missouri rivers; its southern termination or slope is about in the latitude of the Fall of St. Anthony, and it stands equi-distant between the two rivers; its general course bearing two or three degrees West of North for the distance of two or three hundred miles, when it gradually slopes again to the North, throwing out from its base the bend-waters and tributaries of the St. Peters, on the East. The Red River, and other streams, which empty into Hudson's Bay, on the North; La Riviere Jaque and several other tributaries to the Missouri, on the West; and the Red Cedar, the Iowa and the Des Moines, on the South.
This wonderful feature, which is several hundred miles in length, and varying from fifty to a hundred in width, is, perhaps, the noblest mound of its kind in the world; it gradually and gracefully rises on each side, by swell after swell, without tree, or bush or rock (save what are to be seen in the vicinity of the Pipe Stone Quarry), and everywhere covered with green grass, affording the traveller, from its highest elevations, the most unbounded and sublime views of -- nothing at all -- save the blue and boundless ocean of prairies that lie beneath and all around him, vanishing into azure in the distance without a speck or spot to break their softness.
The direction of this ridge, I consider, pretty clearly establishes the course of the diluvial cut-rent in this region, and the erratic stones which are distributed along its base, I attribute to an origin several hundred miles North West from the Coteau. I have not myself traced the Coteau to its highest points, nor to its Northern extremity; but it has been a subject, on which I have closely questioned a number of traders, who have traversed every mile of it with their carts, and from thence to Lake Winnipeg on the North, who uniformly tell me, that there is no range of primitive rocks to be crossed in travelling the whole distance, which is one connected and continuous prairie.
The top and sides of the COTEAU are everywhere strewed over the surface with granitic sand and pebbles, which, together with the fact of the five boulders resting at the Pipe Stone Quarry, shew clearly that every part of the ridge has been subject to the action of these currents, which could not have run counter to it, without having disfigured or deranged its beautiful symmetry.
The glazed or polished surface of the quartz rocks at the Pipe Stone Quarry, I consider a very interesting subject, and one which will excite hereafter a variety of theories, as to the manner in which it has been produced, and the causes which have led to such singular results. The quartz is of a close grain, and exceedingly hard, eliciting the most brilliant spark from steel; and in most places, where exposed to the sun and the air, has a high polish on its surface, entirely beyond any results which could have been produced by diluvial action, being perfectly glazed as if by ignition. I was not sufficiently particular in my examinations to ascertain whether any parts of the surface of these rocks under the ground, and not exposed to the action of the air, were thus affected, which would afford an important argument in forming a correct theory with regard to it; and it may also be a fact of similar importance, that this polish does not extend over the whole wall or area; but is distributed over it in parts and sections, often disappearing suddenly, and reappearing again, even where the character and exposure of the rock is the same and unbroken. In general, the parts and points most projecting and exposed, bear the highest polish, which would naturally be the case whether it was produced by ignition, or by the action of the air and sun. It would seem almost an impossibility, that the air passing these projections for a series of centuries, could have produced so high a polish on so hard a substance; and it seems equally unaccountable, that this effect could have been produced in the other way, in the total absence of all igneous matter.
I have broken off specimens and brought them home, which certainly bear as high a polish and luster on the surface, as a piece of melted glass; and then as these rocks have undoubtedly been formed where they now lie, it must be admitted, that this strange effect on their surface has been produced either by the action of the air and sun, or by igneous influence; and if by the latter course, there is no other conclusion we can come to, than that these results are volcanic; that this wall has once formed the side of a crater, and that the Pipe Stone, laying in horizontal strata, is formed of the lava which has issued from it. I am strongly inclined to believe, however, that the former supposition is the correct one; and that the Pipe Stone, which differs from all known specimens of lava, is a new variety of steatite, and will be found to be a subject of great interest and one worthy of a careful analysis.
With such notes and such memorandums on this shorn land, whose quiet and silence are only broken by the winds and the thunders of Heaven, I close my note-book, and we this morning saddle our horses; and after wending our way to the "Thunders' Nest" and the "Stone-man Medicine," we shall descend into the valley of the St. Peters, and from that to the regions of civilization; from whence, if I can get there, you will hear of me again. Adieu.