They Endeavor, Therefore, To Keep Him In
Good Humor By Frequent Offerings.
He is supposed also to have
great influence with the winged spirit, their sovereign protector
They implore him, therefore, to act as their
interpreter, and procure them all desirable things, such as
success in fishing and hunting, abundance of game, fleet horses,
obedient wives, and male children.
These Indians have likewise their priests, or conjurers, or
medicine men, who pretend to be in the confidence of the deities,
and the expounders and enforcers of their will. Each of these
medicine men has his idols carved in wood, representing the
spirits of the air and of the fire, under some rude and grotesque
form of a horse, a bear, a beaver, or other quadruped, or that of
bird or fish. These idols are hung round with amulets and votive
offerings, such as beavers' teeth, and bears' and eagles' claws.
When any chief personage is on his death-bed, or dangerously ill,
the medicine men are sent for. Each brings with him his idols,
with which he retires into a canoe to hold a consultation. As
doctors are prone to disagree, so these medicine men have now and
then a violent altercation as to the malady of the patient, or
the treatment of it. To settle this they beat their idols soundly
against each other; whichever first loses a tooth or a claw is
considered as confuted, and his votary retires from the field.
Polygamy is not only allowed, but considered honorable, and the
greater number of wives a man can maintain, the more important is
he in the eyes of the tribe.
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