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The Natural History of North-Carolina.
AN ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS OF NORTH CAROLINA.
THE Indians, it’s well known were the Natives and Inhabitants of America before the Spaniards and Europeans made any discoveries of several parts of that Country. Amongst whom are several different Nations and Kings to this Day. What is very surprizing and strange is, that scarce any two Nations to be met with, spake the same Language, though they live ever so near to each other, this being a common thing all over this new World, as far as ever I cou’d be Informed. What shou’d occasion such a Diversity of Languages or Speeches amongst the Savages, is what most writers can hardly account for. But to return, the Indians of North-Carolina, are a well shaped clean made People, of different Statures as the Europeans are, but chiefly inclined to be tall, are very streight and neat limb’d as are to be met with in any part of the World, they never bend forwards or stoop in the Shoulders, except they are much over powered with old Age, as for their Legs and Feet they are as well proportioned and as handsome, as any in the World. They are of a strong hale Constitution, and their Bodies very streight, but a little flat, which is occasioned by their being laced or tyed hard down upon a board in their Infancy, this being all their Cradle, which I shall describe in another place.
Their Eyes are full and Manly, and of a black or dark Hazel colour, the White marbled with Red Strakes, which is always common amongst these People, unless they have either a white Father or Mother.
Their Colour is Tawny, which wou’d not be so dark did they not daub themselves so often with Bear’s-Oil, and a Colour like Burnt-Cork, which they practice from their Infancy, and continue so to do most part of their lives, it fills up the pores, and enables them the better to endure the Weather, and prevents most sorts of Insects and Vermin to be any wise troublesome to them. They are never to be met with Heads bald, though very Old, which I am perswaded is occasioned by their Heads being always uncovered, and greasing their Hair and other Parts so often as the do with Bear’s-fat, which undoubtedly is a great nourisher of the Hair, and causeth it to grow so very fast. Amongst the Bear’s Oil (when they intend to be fine) they mix a certain red Powder that is produced from a kind of Scarlet Root that they get in the Hilly Country, near the foot of the great ridge of Mountains, and as it is reported by them, is no where else to be found. They have this Scarlet Root in great Esteem, and sell it at a great Price one to another, and the Reason of it’s being so very valuable is, because they not only go a great way for it, but are likewise in great Danger of the Sinegars, or Iroquois, who are mortal Enemies to all our civilized Indians, and are very often by them or others before their return from this Voyage, made their Captives or killed.
The Tuskeruros and other Indians, have frequently brought the Seeds of this Plant from the Mountains, but it would never grow in our Land, delighting no where but in the Hilly and Mountainous parts; with this and the Bear’s-grease they anoint their Heads and Temples, which is esteemed as Ornamental as Oil and sweet Powder, or any other thing we can use to our Hair; besides it has the Virtues to kill Lice, and suffer none to abide in their Heads. For want of this Root, they sometimes use a Root called Pecoon, which is of a Crimson colour, but apt to die the Hair of an ugly Hue, they likewise make use of an Herb called Wasebur, and small Roots called Chappacor, and the Bark of a Tree called Tango-mockonominge; all these are Dyes for several sorts of Reds, which the Indians use to paint their Faces, Matts and Baskets with, but whether they would prove good in Cloath, is not yet known. This, I am certain of, that one of our civilized Indians brought me a handful of dryed Flowers and desired me to put them in a large Sausepan filled with Water, and boil them with a piece of Linnen Cloath, which made it have such a deep Purple Colour, that the same could not be discharged by any Method used, but the oftner it was washed, the more beautiful and lively it appeared; the Indian would by no means discover the plants the said Flower grew upon, but assured me, that he would procure any Person what quantity they pleased, if they would but satisfie him for his Trouble. They not only paint themselves Red, but with many other Colours, such as Black, Green, Blue, and White, by which they represent all the Affairs in Life, such as War, Peace, Feasts, Death, and the like.
They generally let the Hair on their Heads grow very long, which is lank, thick, and the strongest of any People I have ever met with, and as black as Jet. They always travel bare-headed, having neither Hats, or any artificial Covering for those Parts, except it be their civilized Kings and War Captains, who of late wear Hats, especially when they visit the Christians. Those who have represented the Savages as rough as Beasts, have never had the Opportunity of seeing them, for they have naturally but little or no Beards, or Hairs on their Faces, aud very seldome under their Arm-pits, which ’tis said they continually pluck out by the Root as it begins to grow. Neither have they any upon their Privities, except some few that wear Brieeches or Tailclouts, however, though these People are generally smooth and free from Hair, yet I have known some that were old, hairy down their Backs, and those Hairs very long: It is to be observed, that the Head of the Penis is covered through-out the whole Nations of the Indians that I ever saw; I am credibly informed, that this is common with all, both old and young in America. They have extraordinary good Teeth, but generally of a yellowish Colour, occasioned by their smoaking Tobacco, which they are very much addicted to; this Plant they report to have had, many ages before the arrival of the Christians amongst them.
They never cut or pair their Nails, but let them grow very long, saying, that that is the use they were made for, and laugh at the Europeans for pairing theirs, long Nails being always esteemed amongst them as a Beauty, which the Dancers at their Feasts generally have, who rather represent the figure of Harpies than Men, with these kind of Ornaments. They have long and taper Fingers as any People whatsoever, and it is to be admired how dexterous and steady they are in their Hands and Feet, for they will walk over deep Brooks and Creeks on the smallest Poles, and that without any Fear or Concern, which no People in these Parts can perform but themselves. I have seen an Indian walk on the ridge of a House without any manner of fear, and look from off the Gable, and spit down as unconcerned as if he had been walking on Terra Firma; as for Running, Leaping, or any such like Exercise, their Legs seldom fail or miscarry, so as to give them a fall; as for letting any thing fall out of their Hands, I never knew an Example. Their Gate is very upright and majestick, neither are they ever seen to walk backwards and forwards as we do, or contemplate on the Affairs of Loss and Gain, and many other things which daily perplex us. It is this steadiness in their Limbs (which are as well proportioned and as handsom as any in the World) that makes them so dexterous at the Gun, for it is remarkable that these People generally shoot and kill their Game with one single Ball, and the Boys with their Bows and Arrows are so well experienced in that kind of Exercise, that they will kill a Bird flying, or a Deer running, with as much certainty, as others with a Gun, of which I have been an Eyewitness.
They have no manner of Musical Instruments, such as Pipe, Fiddle, or any other Arts, Sciences, or Trades, worth mentioning, amongst them, which may be owing to their careless way of living, taking little or no Pains to provide for the Necessaries of Life, as the Europeans do. They will learn any thing very soon, and seem to be indued with very good Genius’s, for I have seen several Guns Stocked by them, better than most of our Joyners, having no Instrument or Tool to work with only a short Knife: I have likewise known several of them that were taken Prisoners in the last War, and made Slaves to the English, learn handycraft Trades well and speedily.
I never saw a Dwarf amongst them, and only one that was Hump-back’d. Though the Indians are a tall People, yet they are not of so robust and strong Bodies as to lift great Burthens, to endure hard Labour, or slavish Work, as the Europeans do, yet some that are Slaves prove very industrious and laborious. Amongst themselves they never work, taking little or no care or pains, but what is absolutely necessary to support Life, the Grandure and Riches of this World being utterly despised by them.
The Indians in North Carolina that live near the Planters, are but few (as I observed before) not exceeding Fifteen or Sixteen hundred Men, Women and Children, and those in good harmony with the English, with whom they constantly trade; yet near the Mountains they are very numerous and powerful, but have little or no fire Arms amongst them, so that the three following Kings are not so much in dread or fear of those near the Mountains as they formerly were, since they have furnished themselves with Fire-Arms from the Europeans, because they can kill at greater distances with their Guns, than the other can with their Bows and Arrows.
They have three Paricossy’s, or Indian Kings in this Province, who are civilized, viz. King Blunt, King Durant, and King Highter; but they may rather be compared to Heads of Clans than Kings, according to their Appearances. I have frequently seen and conversed with these three Kings, whose Dresses were as follows:
King Blunt appeared before the Governour to pay his Tribute, which he, as well as the rest, generally do once or twice every Year; and this Tribute is a quantity of Deer-Skins, dressed after the Indian manner.
Complements being passed between him and the Governour (which I shall describe in another place) they were desired to sit down and dine with his Excellency, which all of them generally do, whenever they come to Town, where the Governour is: Several Discourses past between them, and amongst other things, that they were afraid of the Sinagars, or Irequois Indians (who are not in subjection to the English) coming to invade them, and desiring the Assistance of the Governour, if there should be any Occasion, which he assured them of. Dinner being ended, the Glass went round very merrily, and whenever they drank to the Governour, they always stiled him by the Name of Brother. These three Kings speak English tolerably well, and are very wary and cunning in their Discourses, and you would be surprised to hear what subtile and witty Answers they made to each Question proposed to them, notwithstanding they are in general Illiterate People, having no Letters or Learning to improve them.
King Blunt being the most powerful of these I have mentioned, had a Suit of English Broadcloth on, and a pair of Women’s Stockings, of a blue Colour, with white Clocks, a tolerable good Shirt, Cravat, Shoes, Hat, &c.
King Durant had on an old Blue Livery, the Wastecoat having some remains of Silver Lace, with all other Necessaries fit for wearing Apparel such as Shirt, Stockings, Shoes, &c. made after the English manner.
King Highter had on a Soldiers red Coat, Wastecoat, and Breeches, with all other conveniences for wearing Apparel, like the former: And it is to be observed, that after their return home to their Towns, that they never wear these Cloaths till they make the next State Visit amongst the Christians.
After this manner appeared the three civilized Kings, with each of them his Queen, Children, Physician, Captains of War, and his Guards. After Dinner was over, the Governour ordered Rum for the Queens, and the rest of the Retinue, who remained at some distance from the Governours House during the time the Kings were in Company with him. In a few Hours after they all withdrew from the Governours House, and went into Town to dispose of their Deer-Skins that were remaining, for Blankets, Guns, Powder, Shot, Ball, and other Necessaries they had occasion for, and especially Rum, whereof they are very fond.
What is worthy of Observation amongst the whole Retinue, is this, That you shall not see two but what have some Mark to distinguish them from each other; sometimes very long black Hair, with several bits of Stuff, such as Green, Blue, Red, White, and Yellow, tied in it; others with their Hair cut close, only a Circle left on the Head, the Hair whereof is about half an Inch longer than the rest. Others with several Marks in different parts of their Bodies and Faces, as if they had been marked with Gun-Powder, so that if you see an hundred of them, you shall always observe some difference in each of them, either in their Painting, Tonsure of their Hair, or the marks made in their Skins. All these Guards were well Armed, with each Man a Gun, good store of Powder and Ball, and a Tamahawk by his side, which is a kind of small Hatchet. It is likewise to be observed, that scarce any of the whole Retinue, except the War Captains, had any Cloathing, only Tail-Clouts (for decency) to cover their Nakedness, and some few with a Blanket, or some such like piece of Cloth about their Shoulders.
As soon as they have sold their Deer-Skins for those Necessaries they had occasion for, and had drank what quantity of Rum they were allowed, or thought fit to make use of, they came out into the Street, to act the Indian War, which to any one bred in Europe, seemed rather like a Scene of Madness, than a Warlike Exercise, for one while they were Hooping and Hollowing, another while stamping altogether like Madmen, another time creeping, as if they were surprizing their Enemies, and many other antick Postures and Gestures, too tedious to name. Though these Kings may seem despicable and meane to us, yet are they most absolute, putting to death those they judge worthy of it; therefore it may not be amiss to give some Instances, because they seem cruel and barbarous, if compared with our Laws for punishing Offenders, as may appear by the following Account, viz.
An Indian came to a Planters House in this Province, and finding no body at home but a Servant Maid, he attempted to lie with her, but she not complying with his Desires, he was so provoked, that to be revenged, he shot the Planters Dog as he was going away. The Planter complained to the Governour of the injury the Indian had done him, in order to have him punished for the offence. A Messenger is immediately dispatched to their King to demand Satisfaction for the trespass the Indian had been guilty of. The Messenger coming late that Evening to the Indian-town the King courteously received him and prevailed upon him to stay all Night, and that the next Day when the Sun was up, at such a height (as he expressed it) he would deliver him the Offender. Accordingly he remained there all Night, in hopes to have the Indian brought before the Governour, in order to be punished according to the English Law; but at the time appointed, the King desired the Messenger to walk with him into the Plantation, where to his great astonishment, he found the Indian dead, and hanging upon a Tree. The Messenger complained to the King, of the rashness and cruelty of this Proceeding, adding, that he did not deserve Death, and that he was sorry he had been the Messenger, or occasion to have a Person put to death, for so small a Crime, which only deserved Whipping, or some such kind of Punishment; that he only came in order to have him brought before the Governour, to have him punished. But the King replied, That he might then take him where he pleased, but he had put it out of his power ever afterwards to be guilty of doing any roguish Tricks. But to return: Their Queens, Sons, and Daughters, are never permitted to dine at the Governour’s Table with the Kings, but remain with their Children and Guards at some distance from the House.
The first of these Queens was drest with a Peticoat made after the European manner, and had her Hair, which is generally long, thick, and Black, tyed full of bits of Stuff, such as Red, Green, Yellow, and variety of other Colours, so that to an European she rather seemed like a Woman out of Bedlam, than a Queen. She likewise had a large Belt about her full of their Peack, or wampum, which is their Money, and what they value above Gold or Silver, but to me it seem’d no better than our common Snails, or other ordinary Shells; the other parts of the Body from the Waste upwards were all naked. The other two Queens were drest much after the same manner, but none like the first, having not such rich Belts of Money about their Bodies, which to us in Europe woud not be worth one Farthing.
The Indian Women, as well as the Men, are swarthy, but their features are very agreeable and fine as any People you shall meet with, and few have better and sharper Eyes than they have. Neither did I ever see but one Blind Man amongst them, and they never would give me any account how he became blind, though I importun’d them to know the reason. This blind Man was led about with a Boy or Girl by a string, so they put what burthens they pleas’d on his Back, and made him serviceable after that manner upon several Occasions.
The firing they chiefly burn is Pich-Pine, that does not only strengthen the Eyes, but preserves them, which I do not doubt but it does, because the Smoak never offends the Eyes though you should hold your Face over a great Fire thereof, which is occasioned by the Volatile parts of the Turpentine, which rises with the Smoak, being of so friendly and Balsamick nature to them, that they are much relieved thereby, for the Ashes of the Pine-tree afford little or no fixt Salt.
The Indians in general are great Smoakers of Tobacco (in their Language Uppowoc) which they tell us they had before the Europeans made any discoveries of that Country. It differs in Leaf from the sweet scented and Oroonoko, which are the plants we raise and cultivate in America. Theirs likewise differs very much in the smell when it is Green from our Tobacco before it is cured, neither do they use the same method in curing it as we do, therefore the difference must be very considerable in taste and smell, for all Men (that know Tobacco) must allow, that it is the ordering thereof that gives a hogo to the Weed, rather than any natural relish it possesses when Green. They make the heads of their Pipes very large, which are generally cut out of Stones, the Shanks whereof are made of hollow Cane, and although they are great Smoakers, yet they are never known to chew, or make it into Snuff, but will very freely take a pinch of Snuff out of an European’s Box.
The Indians are Strangers to such delicacies as are in vogue amongst yet they have plenty of several kinds of Food, as Buffeloes, Venison, and Fawns in the Bags of the Does Bellys, Bears, Beavers, Panthers, Pole-Cats, Wild-Cats, Raccoons, Possums, Hares, Squirrels, roasted with their Guts in, wlid Bull’s Beef, Mutton, and Pork, which two latter they have from the Christians. The Deer, which is so highly esteemed in European Countries, for the delicacie of It’s Flesh, is little valued amongst these Savages, only for the plunder of his Skin. All manner of wild Fowl that are eatable, viz. Swans, Geese, Brants, Ducks, Turkeys, Pigeons, and several other sorts of Fowl that are to be met with in Carolina.
Fishes of all sorts, both in the fresh and salt Waters, and all manner of shell-fish, as Tortoises, Terebins, Oysters, Clams, and the Sting-ray, or Scate, dryed and most other sort of Fishes that are known in these parts, except the Conger, Lamprey-Eel, and Sturgeon, our civiliz’d Indians that live near the Salt-Water will not touch, though those up the Freshes eat them. And as for Snakes, they scarce either kill or eat them, yet some of the Savages near the Mountains are said to do both. All manner of Wild Fruits that are palatable, some of which they dry and keep against the Winter, such as Huckle Berries, and several other sorts of Berries, Wall-nuts, Chesnuts, Hazel-Nuts, Chinkapins, Acorns, and many other Fruits, as Peaches which they dry and make Quidonies and Cakes of, that are very pleasant, grateful, and cooling, but a little Tartish.
Rockahomine-Meal, which is made of their Maze, or Indian-Corn parched or pounded, and made into several sorts of Bread, Ears of Corn roasted in the Summer, and preserved against Winter. Ground-Nuts, or Wild Potatoes, Oil of Acorns and Wild Pigeons, which they make use of as we do Butter, and several other things that are to be met with in great plenty amongst them. They eat young Wasps when they are white in the Combs, before they can fly, which is esteemed a very great dainty amongst them, as likewise Gourds, Mellons, Cucumbers, Squashes, Semblens, and Pulse of all sorts. Tho’ their Grounds be very fertile and able to produce much more than they do; yet they are contented to live upon a little, and what small quantity of Indian-Corn they have is brought forth by the Industry of their Wives, who instead of Ploughs (of which they have none, nor Creatures fit for tillage) cultivate and dig the Ground with Wooden Spades and Hoes made after their own Fashion, the Men’s minds being wholly taken up in Hunting, especially till they are about 50 Years of Age.
The Victuals are common throughout the whole kindred and relations, and often to the whole Town, and especially when they are in their Hunting Quarters, then they all fare alike, there being little or no distinction observed amongst them in their eating. It is very strange to see in all the Places where they have been formerly settled, or had their Towns near the Salt Waters, what vast quantities of Oyster-shells are to be met with on the Banks of the Rivers, in such heaps, that it is surprizing to behold them: One might reasonably imagine (by such great quantities as are there) that they scarce lived upon any thing else, or that they must have been settled many hundred Years in one Place, which is not common amongst them, being a People always shifting from one place to another, as their Fancies lead them.
These Savages live in Wigwams, or Cabins, built with Poles and the Bark of Trees; their Houses are made oval, or round like an Oven, to prevent any Damage by hard gales of Wind, which are common in this Country. They make the Fire in the middle of the House, and have a Hole at the top of the Roof, right above the Fire, to let out the Smoak. These Dwellings are as hot as Stoves, where they sweat and sleep all Night; the Floors are never paved or swept, so that the Earth is always loose, much resembling the poor Cabbins that are to be met with in several parts of Ireland, only the Indians having such plenty of Wood, make no earthen Walls to theirs. The Bark they generally make their Cabbins with is Cypress, or red or white Cedar; sometimes when they are a great way distant from any of the Woods, they make use of the Pine Bark, which is the worst sort to cover their Houses with. In building these Houses they get long Poles of Pine, Cedar, Ash, Hickery, or any Wood that will bend; these Poles are generally about the thickness of a Man’s Leg at the thickest end, stript of the Bark, and well warmed in the Fire, which makes them tough and pliable. Then they make sharp points on the thickest ends, and stick them fast in the Ground, about two yards asunder, in a circular Form, the distance they design the Cabin, then they bend the tops and bring them together, after which they bind their Ends with Bark of Trees, that is proper for that use, such as Elm, or the long black Moss that grows on Trees, which seldom rots; then they brace them with other Poles to make them strong and firm; lastly, they cover them all over with Barks of Trees (except a hole to let out the Smoak) that they are warm and tight, and will keep firm against Wind and Weather. These are all the kind of Dwellings that are to be met with throughout all the Nations of the Indians, in these parts of America, except the civilized Kings, who of late have Houses fashioned and built after the manner that the Christians build theirs.
These Dwelling-Houses have Benches all round, except where the Door stands, whereon they lay Beasts Skins and Mats made of Rushes, on which they sleep and loll, having no other Beds but these. In one of these Houses several Families commonly live together, all related to one another, for these Savages do not seem so very careful of their Females as the Europeans, having no Bars or Partitions to keep the Men at a distance from the Women. They have other sorts of Cabins made without Windows or Holes at the top, which are their Granaries, where they keep their Corn and Fruit for Winter, or Store-Houses for their Deer or Bever Skins, and all other kind of Merchandize that they deal in. They have Cabbins of another kind made like a Shead, being only covered over head, the rest left open to the Air; these have Reed Hurdles like Tables to lie and sit on in Summer, and serve for pleasant Banqueting Houses in the extremity of the hot Weather.
As for Liquors they have little or none made amongst them, neither were they acquainted with any kind of intoxicating Liquors before the arrival of the Christians; contenting themselves with the pure Element, but they are now become very great Drinkers of Rum, and will part with any thing they have to purchase it; when they are a little mellow, they are the most impatient Creatures living, ‘till they have enough to make them quite drunk, and then they are often the most miserable Spectacles in Nature, frequently tumbling into the Fire, and burning their Arms and Legs to that degree, that the Sinews are contracted, and they become Cripples all their Lives after; besides several other misfortunes which attend them during their Drunkenness, as breaking their Bones and Joints, with many other melancholly Accidents, yet none sufficient to deter them from this Practice. Drunkenness is a Vice so common amongst them (if they can obtain strong Liquors) that they drop down and lie quite naked, in such brutish Postures as are not fit to be named. These base Dispositions are principally owing to the meanness of their Education, being strangers to all Arts and Sciences, and the Knowledge of other Countries, which renders them insensible of that Virtue and Decency which other Nations value at so high a Rate.
The chief and only Liquor they admire is Rum, which they generally drink without any mixture; this the Europeans bring in amongst them, and buy Deer-Skins, Furrs, and other Commodities with; they will freely sell or part with any thing they have in the World (except their Wives and Children) rather than not accomplish their Designs. They sometimes commit such brutalities and enormous Vices, as are not fit to be mentioned; yet there are some few amongst them that will not drink any strong Liquors.
In the Year 1708, the Governour summoned all the Indian Kings and Rulers in North-Carolina to meet, in order to make a firm and lasting Peace between the Christians and Indians: At which publick Meeting, the Indian Kings and Rulers desired, that in the conclusion of this Peace, it might be enacted that no Rum shou’d be Sold to them, which was accordingly granted, and a Law made by the English, which inflicted a penalty on any white Men that sold Rum to the Indians. But this Law was never strictly observed or put in force, because the young Indians were so disgusted at that Article, that they threatn’d to kill the Indians that had a Hand in making it, unless it were speedily laid aside, and that they might have Rum sold them as usual when they went to the Christians Houses to buy it.
They likewise often times in their Drunken frolicks cut off their Hair and sell it to the Christians, which is looked upon amongst them as the greatest disgrace imaginable; and the only affront that can be offered them is to desire them to sell their Hair, when they are sober and free from Liquors.
The Indians are very revengful, notwithstanding they always conceal their resentments, but never forget an injury done, till they have received Satisfaction; yet they are the freest People from Heats and passions (which so frequently possess the Europeans) of any People I have ever seen or heard of. They never call any one to an Account for what they do when they are Drunk, but say it was the Drink that caused his misbehaviour, therefore he ought to be forgiven: Neither will they frequent any Christians House that is given to Passion, nor will ever buy or sell with him, if they can get the same commodities they have occasion for from any other Person; for they say such kind of People are mad Wolves and no Men. They seldom or never fight with one another, unless when they are Drunk, nor shall you ever hear any Scolding amongst them. For they say the Europeans are always rangling and uneasy with each other, and wonder they do not go out of this World, since they are so uneasy and discontented in it. Neither do they shew the least sign of being dejected or cast down at the greatest calamities that can attend them, except it be the loss of Friends. For it is remarkable, that all other losses and misfortunes end in Laughter, for if their Cabbins should take Fire, and all their Goods be burnt therein (notwithstanding all will strive to save what they can whilst there is any possibility, and prevent any farther damage) yet such a misfortune generally ends in a hearty fit of Laughter. But if any of their kinsfolks have lost their Lives in the Flames, it is then the Case is altered, and they become very pensive and mourn for a considerable time, which always bears Proportion to the dignity of the Person deceased, and the number of Relations he had near him, who make a horrid howling during that time.
The Indian Women are never known to scold, and it is a thing impossible to hear them make use of that unruly Member the Tongue, with such Rage and Malice as our European Dames are subject to, whom I could wish would set these Indians for a Pattern, by which means there would be more Quietness and better Harmony in most Families, than at present is to be met with. For when these Indian Women are provoked or affronted by their Husbands, or any other Persons, they resent the Indignity offered them in Silence, Tears, or by refusing their Meat; these being always certain Signs that they have been injured and Affronted.
Neither are the Men Passionate, or over hasty to act any Affair with too much haste or impetuosity, never determining any Business of Moment without the greatest Deliberation and Wariness imaginable, being more content with common Accidents and Misfortunes incident to human Nature (such as Losses, contrary Winds, bad Weather, Poverty and the like) than People of more civilized Nations. I never felt any ill or unsavoury smell in their Cabins, whereas should we live in our Houses as they do, we should be poisoned with our own Nastiness; which confirms these Indians to be, as they certainly are, some of the sweetest People in the World.
Their Women when they are young, and at Maturity, are fine shaped Creatures (take them in general) as any in the Universe; and though they are of a tawny Complexion (which is very much occasioned by their being so much exposed to the Weather, and their continual daubing and painting themselves with Bear’s 0il, and other Ingredients mixed with it) yet their Features are very good, their Eyes Black and Amorous, and their Smiles afford the finest composure a Face can possess.
Their Hands are of the finest make, with small long taper Fingers, and as soft as their Cheeks, the whole Body being of a smooth Nature, with Limbs of the most exquisite shape. They are Mercenary, except the Married Women, who sometimes bestow their Favours on whom they like best, in their Husbands absence, for which they never take any Reward: As for the report that some might have heard of them, that they are never found inconstant like the European Women, it is intirely false; for were the old World and the New, put into a pair of Scales (in point of Constancy and Chastity) it would be a hard matter to descern which was the heavier. As for the Trading Girls, which are those designed to get Money by Prostitution, these are easily known, by a particular Tonsure, or cut of their Hair, differing from all others of that Nation, who are not of their Profession; which Method is to prevent Mistakes, for these Savages are desirous (if possible) to keep their Wives to themselves, as well as those in other Parts of the World.
When any Addresses are made to one of these Girls, she immediately acquaints her Parents therewith, and they tell the King of it (provided he that courts her for a Bedfellow be a stranger) his Majesty being most commonly principle Baud of the Nation he rules over, there being seldom any of these Love-bargains made or concluded without his Royal Assent. He likewise advises her what Bargain to make with her Gallant, who shews some Toys he has to present her with: But if it happens to be an Indian Trader, that wants one of them for a Bedfellow, and has got Rum to sell, he always fees the King with a large Dram, to confirm the Match.
When any such Question is proposed to these Savages, they will debate the Matter amongst themselves with all the sobriety and seriousness imaginable, every one of the Girls Relations arguing the Advantage or Disadvantage that may ensue from such a Nights Encounter, all which is done with as much steadiness and reality, as if it were the greatest Concern in the World, not so much as one Person shall be seen to smile so long as the Debate lasts, making no manner of difference betwixt an Agreement of this Nature, and any other Bargain. If they comply with the Men’s desire, then a particular Bed is provided for them either in a Cabin by themselves, or else all the young People turn out to another Lodging, that they might not spoil sport betwixt these Lovers, and if the old People are in the same Cabin along with them all Night, they lye as unconcern’d as if they were so many Statues or logs of Wood, in nowise offering to disturb them, and that the Man may have the Satisfaction of his new purchase, which pleasure is sometimes bought at too dear a rate. If it be an Indian of their own Town or Neighbourhood that wants a Mistress, he comes to none but the Girl who receives what presents she thinks fit to ask, and so lyes with him all Night without the knowledge or previous consent of her Parents or Relations. This familiarity so kindles lust, that the young Men will likewise go in the Night time from one House to another to visit the young Women, after which rambling manner they frequently spend the whole Night. In their ad[d]resses they find no delays, for if she is willing to entertain the Man, she gives him encouragement, and grants him admittance, otherwise she withdraws her Face from him and says, I cannot see you, either you or I must leave this Cabin and sleep some where else this Night. This repulse makes him immediately withdraw, and address himself to some more kind Mistress, that will accept of his favours. Neither doth it displease the Parents, that their Daughters are thus acquainted, knowing by these Means that they can command the young Men to help them in any Work or Business they have occasion to use them in.
They set apart the youngest and prittiest Faces for trading Girls, who are remarkably known by a particular Tonsure in their Hair (as I said before) which distinguishes them from those engaged to Husbands; for what is accounted amongst us as most Criminal, are taken for slender Trespasses amongst them; for if a young Man can get a Favour of his Neighbour’s Daughter, it is looked upon as a slight Offence, because they are not permitted to Marry without the King’s Approbation, which is seldom before they are twenty Years of age.
These Girls are generally very Mercenary, and whoever make use of them, engages them with some gratuity or other, the principal part whereof is for the King’s use, exercising his prerogative over all the Stews of his Nation, his own Cabbin being very often the chief Brothel House. As they grow in Years, the hot assaults of Love grow cooler, and then they become more staid and constant to their Husbands if engaged; many of them after their Engagement or Marriage, are so reserved, that they will admit of no other to their Embraces but their Husbands.
These trading Girls, after they have led that course of Life several Years, in which time they scarce ever have a Child, for it is supposed that they have some particular Secret, or Method (with Herbs) by which they prevent Conception, ‘till they are married, and then never fail to be fruitful. But if it should happen, that she brings forth a Child whilst she follows this lewd course of Life, she is not only accounted a Fool, but her Reputation is very much lessened thereby, at last they grow weary of the Address of so many Men, and betake themselves to a married State, or to the Company of one Man; neither does their having been common to so many, occasion any Blemish in their Reputation, or hinderance to a Husband, but rather a Promotion; for they say, That a Woman living otherwise, is not worth a Man’s acceptance, and never makes a good Wife.
The Men are never to boast of Intrigues with the Women, if they do, none of the Girls will admit of their Company to their Beds, or have any regard for them afterwards. This is not out of any tender Regard they have for their Reputations, for there is no such thing (on that Account) known amongst them; although we may reckon them the greatest Libertines in the pursuit of their Pleasures, and most extravagant in their Embraces, yet they retain and possess a modesty that requires those Passions never to be revailed, or made known to the World.
The Woman is not punished for Adultery (this and Fornication being not so much as looked upon as a Sin amongst them) but the Gallant is obliged to make the injured Husband Satisfaction, which is the Law of Nations, and practiced amongst all the Indians; the Gallant that strives to evade such Satisfaction as the Husband demands, lives daily in danger of his Life: But when those Reparations are made him, that he is satisfied, with all Animosities cease, and he is laughed at by the whole Nation, for carrying on his Intrigue with no better Conduct, than to be discovered, and pay so dear for his Pleasure.
The Indians say, that a Woman is a weak Creature, and easily drawn away by the Man’s persuasion; for which reason they seldom or never lay any blame on the Woman, but the Man (that ought to be Master of his Passions) for persuading her to it.
They are of very hale sound Constitutions, and their Breath as sweet as the Air they breath in: The Women are of so tender a Composition, that they seem rather designed for the Bed than Bondage; yet their Love is never of that extensive force or continuance, that any of them run mad or make away with themselves on that score. They never love beyond retrieving their first indifferency, and when slighted, are as ready to untie the Knot at one end, as you are at the other.
I knew an European Man that lived many Years amongst the Indians, and had a Child by one of their Women, having bought her as they do the Wives, and afterwards married a Christian. Sometimes after he came to the Indian Town, not only to buy Deer-Skins, but likewise to pass away a Night with his former Mistress as usual, but she made answer, That she then had forgot that she ever knew him, and that she never lay with another Woman’s Husband; so fell a crying, took up the Child she had by him, and went out of the Cabin in great Disorder, although he used all possible means to pacifie her, by offering her Presents of several Toys and Rum, but all to no purpose, for she would never see him afterwards, or be reconciled.
There are several Europeans and other Traders which travel and abide amongst them for a long space of Time, sometimes a Year, two or three, and those Men commonly have their Indian Wives or Mistresses, whereby they soon learn the Indian Tongue, and keep in good Friendship with them, besides the satisfaction they have of a Bedfellow, they find these Girls very serviceable to them upon several occasions; especially in dressing their Victuals, and instructing them in the Affairs and Customs of the Country; moreover they get a great Trade amongst them; but the Person that is reserved, and doth not thus converse with their Women, it is difficult for him to accomplish his Designs amongst the Natives.
One great misfortune that generally attend the Christians that converse with these Women as Husbands, is, that they get Children by them, which are seldom otherwise brought up or educated than in the wretched state of Infidelity; for it is a certain Rule and Custom amongst all the Savages in America (as far as I could learn) to let all the Children fall to the Woman’s Lot; for it frequently happens, that two Indians, that have lived together as Man and Wife for many Years, in which time they have had several Children, if they part, and another takes her to be his Wife, all the Children go along with the Mother; and therefore on this Account it is a difficult matter for the Christians ever to get the Children they have had by these Indian Women away from them, to bring them up in the Knowledge of the true God, and the Principles of the Christian Faith, that they live in a miserable state of Darkness and Infidelity all the Days of their lives. It is very surprizing, that several Christians that are accustomed to the Conversation of these Women and their way of living, have been so infatuated and allured with that careless sort of life, as to continue with their Indian Wife, and her Relations so long as they lived, without ever desiring to return again among the Christians, though they had several Opportunities, and considerable Advantages offered them. Of these lost and unfortunate sort of People (as I may properly term them) there are some living amongst the Savage Indians of Carolina to this Day, with whom I have frequently conversed, and exhorted them to return to the Christians, from the Indians, and their abominable Practices, and likewise reminding them of what our Saviour Jesus Christ said, That where two or three are gathered together in his Name, he will grant their Request, which they would not accept, but voluntary remained amongst them. I likewise urged many other Reasons and Texts of Scripture, but all to no purpose, neither could I have any satisfactory Answer from them for their obstinate and dangerous way of living.
The Indians being of several Nations, have as different Customs amongst them, and he that is the greatest Warrior, or the best Hunter, is sure to be the greatest favorite amongst the Women. The prettiest Girls are always bestowed upon the chief Men, and ugliest upon the lazy and useless Lubbers, as to the Ceremony of Marriage they have none amongst them, for the Girls at Twelve or Fourteen years of Age, or as soon as Nature prompts them, freely bestow their favours on some Youth about the same Age, and so continues them to whom she likes best, changing her Mate as often as she pleases; for few or none of them are constant to one, ‘till the greater number of Years has made her capable of managing her Domestick Affairs; and that she hath try’d the vigour of most of the Nation she belongs to; for the multiplicity of Gallants beforehand are no objection or stain to a Females Reputation, or hindrance to her advancement, for the more she hath followed that course of Life, the more she is valued and respected, and coveted by those of the first Rank amongst them to make a Wife of: So that a Virgin, so much esteemed and coveted by the Europeans, is in little value or request amongst them.
When a Man or Woman is arrived at a certain age of Maturity, and has passed the Ceremonies practiced by their Nation, and other Graduations and Qualifications amongst them, and are allowed to be Housekeepers, it is then he makes his Addresses to one or other of these for a Wife: When he has obtained her consent, the Parents of both Parties (with the consent of the King), agree about the matter, making a promise of their Daughter to the Man that requires her for a Wife; and it often happens that they converse and travel together several Moons before they are acknowledged as Man and Wife, or the Marriage published openly, these being Customs allowed amongst them in all parts. After this, the Man upon the least disgust or dislike may turn her away, and take another: But if she should disapprove of his Company, a Price is set upon her, and whoever take her, is obliged to pay the Fine to the former Husband, then she becomes free from him, and is the latters Wife.
Sometimes their Captains of War and great Men keep three or four of these Girls for their own use, when at the same time they are so impotent and old as to be incapable to make use of one of them, but these will always have their Due, if there be either European or Indian that will accept of their Favours.
The Husband is never so displeas’d or enrag’d with the Adulteress, as to put her to Death, or even to inflict any grievous punishments on her, though she be caught in the very fact. But the rival becomes Debtor to the cornuted Husband in some few trifles of little value amongst the Europeans (yet much esteemed amongst them) which when paid, all animosities cease, and are laid aside between the Husband and the Wife’s gallant, otherwise they are a treacherous generation when thus injurd.
They will even sometimes let out their Wives for a Night or two for a gratuity, and sometimes to oblige their Neighbours or intimate Friends, especially their great Men, nor do they reckon their Wives Whores for lying with those that are as good or better then themselves, and sometimes to gratifie their Wives Inclinations. A custom much like this we read of amongst the Britains, which was a Society of Wives among certain Numbers, and by common consent. Every Man married a single Woman, who was always after, and alone, esteem’d his Wife. But it was usual for 5. 6. 10. 12. or more either Brothers or Friends as they coud agree to have all their Wives in common, so that encounters happen’d amongst them as they were invited by desire, or favoured by opportunity. Yet every Woman’s Children was attributed to him that had Married her, but all had a share in the care and defence of the whole Soeiety, since no Man knew which were his own. Such were the People and the customs of the Britons when the Romans invaded their Island under the Ensignes of Julius Cæsar.
But to return, when a young Indian has a mind for such a Girl for his Wife, he, or some one for him goes (as I before observed) to the young Woman’s Father or Mother, if living, if not, to the nearest Relations, where he or they make offers of the Match betwixt them; the Relations reply, they will consider of it: This serves for a sufficient Answer, ‘till there be a second meeting about it, where they seriously debate the Affair amongst themselves, the King being commonly present, and most of the great Men, who all give their Opinion about it, which if they agree upon, the Woman is immediately called to know how she approves of the Man (for as it is reported, they never give their Children in Marriage without their consent) for a Husband; if she approves and is satisfied, the Man pays so much for his Wife, and the handsomer she is, bears the greater price. It sometimes happens that the Man has not Effects enough to pay the Purchase for her; but if he be known to be a good Hunter, that he can raise and pay the Fine agreed upon in so many Moons, or such a limited Time as they propose, she is obliged to go along with him as betrothed, but he is not to have carnal Knowledge of her ’till all the Obligation or Payment is discharged. This is punctually observed, and then she is his Wife.
Thus they live together under one covering for several Months (till the obligation is fulfill’d) and the Woman remains the same as she was when she first came to him, as I have been inform’d by the Indians themselves. I am perswaded that there are but few of the Europeans but what wou’d break through these customs, if they had the same opportunities and Liberties allowed them. But the Indians are not so vigorous and impetient in the pursuit of Love, and gratifying their desires as the Europeans are, yet the Women are quite contrary; and those Indian Girls that have frequently conversed with the Europeans, never much care for the conversation of their own Country-men afterwards. They never marry so near as a first Cousin, yet they are allowed to marry two Sisters, or his Brothers Wife; and although there is nothing more coveted amongst them than to marry a Woman of their own tribe or Nation, which consists of very few People, so that they are all of them related to one another, yet they are obliged to look out for Husbands and Wives amongst strangers and People of another Nation. If an Indian should lie with his own Sister (and that she proves with Child, or it is otherwise known) or any other near Relations, his Body is immediately Burnt, and the Ashes thereof thrown into the River, as unworthey to remain upon the Earth. Neither is Sodomy, that Beastly Action known amongst them, nor have they a Name for that abominable Sin in all their Languages.
These Marriages amongst them are no longer binding than the Man and Woman agree together, for either have liberty to leave each other upon any frivolous excuse. Both Men and Women commonly marry four or five times before they can settle to their Content; for when they thus marry, they do not intend to bind themselves for as long time as they shall live, but for as long only as they shall agree together and love each other: If they grow weary or discontented with each other, they may separate, which is equally allowed to both Parties. Thus they part without any clamour or noise, and perfectly indifferent to each other afterwards, and take no more Notice when they meet, than if they had never seen one another, and wonder that the Europeans do not follow the same course: But whoever takes the Woman that was another Man’s before, and bought by him (as they all are) must certainly pay to her former Husband whatsoever he gave for her: But if he sends her away without any Cause, she keeps the Presents given her before Marriage: If she be a Widow, and her Husband died in Debt, whoever takes her to be his Wife, pays all her late Husband’s Obligations, be they never so many; for the Woman is not required or obliged to pay any thing (unless she is willing so to do) that was owing from her Husband, so long as she lives single. But if a Man courts her for a Nights Lodging, and obtains it, if the Creditors have knowledge of it, they will make him pay the Husband’s Debts, then he may if he pleases, take her to be his Wife, or sell her to another for his own or a less Purchase.
There are several of these kind of Bargains made in a Day amongst them (the Women never living the worse for this kind of Traffick) for the Men will sell their Wives at their publick Meetings, as Men do Horses and other Cattle at a Fair or Market with us: A Man is not only allowed to change as often as he pleases, but likewise to have as many Wives as he is able to maintain, though they are seldom known to live with more than one at a time, except it be their great Men, such as War-Captains, &c. The Women have very easy travail with their Children; sometime they bring forth Twins, and are frequently brought to Bed by themselves, when taken at a disadvantage; not but that they have Midwives as well as Doctors amongst them, who make it their Profession (for Gain) to assist and deliver Women: Some of these Midwives are very knowing in several Medecins that the Country naturally produces, which most certainly expedite and make easy Births, besides they are unacquainted with those severe Pains that follow the Birth in European Women. Their Remedies are a great cause of this easiness in that state, for the Women will run up and down their Plantations the same Day they are delivered, without any sign of Pain or Sickness; yet they look very meager and thin, not but that we must allow a great deal to be owing to the Climate, and the natural Constitution of the Women, whose Courses of Nature never visit them in such quantities as the European Women have; although they always have plenty of Milk, I never saw an Indian Woman have large Breasts, which is common amongst the Blacks or Negroe women, they having the largest and ugliest of any that are to be met with; neither does the youngest Wife amongst the Indians ever fail of proving so good a Nurse, as to bring up her Child free from the Rickets, and disasters that proceed from the Teeth, with many other Distempers which are frequent amongst the Children in Europe.
They let their Children (amongst whom are many Olive Beauties) suck ‘till they are well grown, unless they prove big with Child sooner than usual. They always nurse their own Children themselves, unless Sickness or Death prevents them. I only once saw a Nurse hired to give Suck to an Indian Woman’s Child, the Mother happening to have a fit of sickness not long after her delivery; by which not only her Strength was much impaired, but likewise the Milk in her Breasts. As soon as the Child is born, they wash it in cold Water in the next Stream or River, then anoint or bedaub it all over with Bear’s Grease and other Ingredients, as I have before observed; after their Delivery they wash themselves in the Waters, and absent themselves from the Company of Men for forty Days. The Husband takes care to provide a Cradle, which is soon made, consisting only of a piece of flat Wood that they hew with their Hatchets to the likeness of a Board, about two Feet long and a Foot broad, to this they brace and tie the Child very close, having near the middle a Stick fastned about two Inches from the Board, for the Child’s Breech to rest on, under this they put a Wad of Moss that receives the Child’s Excrements, by which means they can very readily shift the Moss, and keep all clean and sweet. They are apt to have the Bodies and Heads of their Children flat, which is owing to these kind of Cradles, yet they are the most portable things that can be invented, there being a String from one corner of the Board to the other, whereby the Mother slings the Child on her Back, so that the Infant’s Back is towards hers, and it’s Face to the Sky; if it rains, she throws her Leather or Woolen Match-coat over her Head, which covers her all over, and secures her and the Child from the injury of the Weather. These being the only kind of Cradles that are common throughout all America.
The Women quit all manner of Company, neither do they dress their own Victuals during their Purgation; after they have had several Children, they grow strangely out of Shape in their Bodies; as for Barreness it is seldom or never known amongst them, their Women most commonly proving very fruitful, especially after Marriage, every Cabin being full of Children, who are taught as soon as they grow up to Fish, and Hunt in the Woods, and to do what is necessary about their Houses, viz. to beat Indian Corn, and the like, for they do not take the least Care of their Education, being strangers to all Arts and Sciences, so that they lead a very idle Life.
They name their Children according to their own Fancies, which is quite different to either the Father or Mother’s Name. This Name they keep (if a Boy) ‘till they arrive to the Age of a Hunter, or a Warrior, which is commonly at sixteen or seventeen Years, then they take a Name to themselves as they think proper, some being called Eagle, Tyger, Panther, Alligator, or some such wild Creature, esteeming nothing on Earth worthy to give them a Name, but such kind of Wildfowl or Beasts. Some likewise take the Names of some Fish, which they keep as long as they live.
They number their Age by Moons or Winters, and say a Woman or a Man is so many Moons or Winters old, and so they do with all memorable Actions in life, accounting it to be so many Moons or Winters since such or such a thing happened. They likewise can guess tollerably well at the time of the Day by the height of the Sun. Though they have no different Names for Sun or Moon, yet they understand the latters Age, having no other Computation of Time but after this manner.
They have no Sabbath, or certain Days of Rest appointed for Devotion amongst them, that I ever could observe, except we will allow of their Feasts to be their festival Days, set appart for that purpose. However those that are frequently amongst the Christians, and speak the English Tongue, know very well when it is Sunday, or the English Man’s Gods Day, as they term it. In these Parts they have likewise a particular and distinct Name for Christmas, which they call Winick-keshuse, or the English-Man’s Gods Moon.
They name the Months according to what mostly is produced or taken in each of them, as one is called Herring-month, which is March, another the Strawberry-month, which is April another the Mulberry-month, or May; others name them by Trees that bud or blossom at particular Seasons of the Year, such as the Dogwood-tree, Tulip-tree, and many others. Others again make out their Seasons from the flight of Birds, such as Swans, and many other Fowl, and some from the Gobling of Turkey Cocks, which is in March, and April; for when they are out in their Hunting matches they say they will returne Home when the Turkey Cock begin to Gobble.
The Indians are not Jealous like the Spaniards and other European Nations, neither do they know what Jealousy is, because they never think their Wives unconstant unless they are Eye witnesses thereof. They are generally bashful, especially the young Maids, who when they come into a strange Cabin where they are not acquainted, never ask for any thing, though they be ever so Hungry or Thirsty, but sit down without speaking a Word, till some of the House ask them some Questions, or fall into discourse with the Stranger.
The Women (as I observ’d before) never Scold with each other, and no People in the World more tender and Indulgent of their Children, so that they seldom or never correct or chastise them, which I am perswaded is a very great reason that they are not given to Scold (like the Europeans) when they come to Men and Women’s Estate.
They have few or no complements amongst them, except shaking of Hands, and scratching on the shoulder, which are the greatest marks of affection and sincerity that can be shewed amongst them, not only to Strangers but to each other. And it is worthy of observation, to see when the War Captains (who are Men of the greatest esteem amongst them, next the King) come to the Cabins of the inferior Indians, that at his departure they scratch his shoulder, which is look’d upon amongst them, as the greatest honour, Complement, or marke of distinction they can confer on so great a Man.
They do not express Fare you well, but when they leave the House or Company will say, I go straight away, which is to intimate their departure, and if the Man of the House has any Message to send by the Person going he may acquaint them therewith. Neither does their Language allow them to say, Sir, I am your Servant, because they have little or no Degrees of Quality or Titles for Man, only King, War Captain, Old-man, or Young-Man, which respect the station and Circumstances, that Men are employed in or arrived to, and not Ceremony. Neither is the Name of Master so much as known amongst them. And as for Servant, they have no such thing, except Slave, for their Dogs, Cats, Wild and Domestick Beasts and Birds are call’d by the same Name, for the Indian-word for Slave includes them all; so when an Indian tells you, he has got a Slave for you, it may (in general terms as they use) be a young Eagle, a Dog, Possam, Ottor, or any other thing of that Nature, which is obsequiously to depend on the Master for its Sustenance.
When the Europeans come in amongst them to their Towns, though perhaps the Indians are well acquainted with some of them, yet not one of them will speak to them, till the King pays the first complement, which is shaking of Hands, and biding them welcome, after him the War Captains, Doctors or Priests so on gradually from high to low, not one of all these speaking to the European till his superior has ended his Salutation. After all this Ceremony is over then every Indian has liberty to speak and converse with his European acquaintance, this being an honour due to the King and his great Men, which is most strictly observed amongst them.
It is common amongst the European traders who trafick with the Indians, if they find no Body at Home, to make use of their Huts, or Cabins and other necessaries that they find in them, such Indian Corn, Peas, Beans, Chinkapin, Nuts, Wall-nuts, and several other Nuts, and Fruits, Pigeon’s-Oil, Barbacu’d Venison, Peaches, and Peach-Bread, these Peaches are likewise made into a Quiddony, and then into Loaves like Barley Cakes, which cut into thin Slices and disolved in Water, make a very greatful and cooling Drink, all which they allow the Christian Traders to do, in lieu whereof they most commonly leave some small gratuity such as Tobacco, Beads, or some other Trifles of this Nature, (which are kindly received and acknowledged by them) and then proceed on their intended Journey.
The Women’s dress in severe and cold Weather are Peticoats, Blankets, or Tail-clouts (which of late they have purchased from the Europeans) or a Hairy Match-coat made in the nature of Plad of the Skins of several wild Beasts, which keeps out the Cold, and (as I said before) defends their Children from the prejudices of the Weather, at other times they have only a kind of flap or Apron containing two Yards in length, and better than half a Yard deep, to cover the Privities, which is done only for decency, both Men and Women being accustomed from their infancy to an entire Nakedness, for they go with their Feet, Body, and Head bear, all seasons of the Year. Others wear Blue or Red Flaps made of Bays and Plains, which they buy from the Europeans, both of which they tuck in at the Corners, to fasten that kind of Garment, and at other times they make it fast with a Belt: Sometimes they wear Meggizons or Indian Shoes made of Deer-Skins, after the manner as the Men’s are. Some of them likewise have in Winter Blue or Red Stuff fastned about their Legs instead of Stockins.
The Hair of their Head is made into a long Roll like a Horses-tail, and adorned or bound round with Ronoak or Procelan, a kind of Beads they make of Conk-shells, which is the Money the Indians make use of in these parts. Others that have not this, make a Leather string or some pieces of Green or Red Stuff serve, others adorne their Hair with Beautiful Flowers and Feathers of several Birds: After this manner they make their appearance, when they come along with their Husbands amongst the Christians.
The Men have Match-coats of Hair, Furs, Feathers, or Cloth, and their Hair rolled upon each Ear as the Women’s, only much shorter, and frequently a Roll on the Crown of their Head and Temples, as they fancy, there being no great nicety or strictness in their Dress. They make their Stockings of pieces of Blue or Red Cloath, which they fasten about their Legs with small Splinters made of bits of the Pitch pine-wood, or any other Wood. Others fasten them on with Strings on the out side of the Leg like Buskins. Sometimes they wear great Bobs in their Ears, others in the holes thereof put Eagles and other Birds Feathers for a Trophy; when they kill any Fowl, they commonly pluck of the downy Feathers and stick them all over their Heads, which make them appear more frightful than Ornamental, and more like People distracted than in their Senses: At other times both Men and Women wear great Belts and Necklaces of their Money made of Conk-shells, and often times Bracelets made of Brass and Iron-wire, and several other Toys which they purchase from the Christians.
Others have their Hair made up in long rolls, wherein are tied several bits of Stuff of various colours, such as Yellow, Green, and Red, and the like, as the Women do. Betwixt their Legs comes a piece of Cloth that is tuck’d in like a Belt both before and behind; this is contrived to hide their Nakedness, of which Decency they are strict observers, though never practiced before the Christians came amongst them. Some wear Shoes of Buck or Bear Skins, which they will tan in an Hour or two with the Bark of Trees boiled, wherein they put the Leather whilst hot, and let it remain a short time, whereby it becomes so qualified, as to endure Water and Dirt without growing hard. These Moggizons or Shoes have no Heels, but are made as fit for the Feet, as a Glove for the Hand, and easie to travel in when one is a little used to them.
The Feather Match-coats are exceedingly pretty, some of which are beautifully wrought with variety of Colours and Figures, which seem at a distance like a fine flowred Silk-shag, when new and fresh, they serve a Bed instead of a Quilt. Some Match-coats are made of Hair, as Racoons, Beavers, or Squirrell’s Skins, which are very warm. Others again are made of the green part of the Skin of the Mallards head, and other Fowls which they stitch or sow perfectly well together, their Thread being either the Sinews of a Deer divided very small, or Silk-grass, when these are finished they look most beautifuly, though they must needs be very troublesome and tedious to make. But those that have plenty of Deer Skins frequently buy the English made Coats, Blankets, &c. yet few are ever known to buy or wear Breeches (except their Kings and great Men) saying they are too much confined in them, and prevents their speed in running, leaping, and other exercises.
There was formerly a Nation of Indians called the Pasquotank Indians, who kept Cattle and made Butter, but at present there is no such thing to be found amongst them or any other Nation in these Parts; had these inclinations in those poor Savages met with that encouragement (from the English and other Europeans settled in North-Carolina) which in justice, Piety and Virtue (ought to be the practice of every Christian) I do not doubt but that they wou’d soon be converted, and with joy embrace the Christian-faith, and belive us to be a more worthy race of People than themselves, by our good Actions and Morals. But on the contrary, they have been formerly defrauded of the Lands allotted them, which was the occasion of a long and vexatious War to the Christians, and it frequently happens (at this Day) that the Europeans (which I am sorry I have occasion to mention) meet those poor Indians in the Woods, and not only beat and abuse them, but commonly rob them of their Furs, Deer Skins, and other commodities which they have acquired with so much pains and fatigue. I have known several complaints to the Governor of such usage during my abode in that Country, which shews the greatest ingratitude in Nature, when we consider how ready these poor Creatures are to serve and oblige us, in what ever assistance we want from them. And that in most of the Colonies already well Peopl’d with Christians, it would be impossible for them to live (for their own Slaves the Negroes wou’d destroy them) only for them who upon all occasions are ready to suppress them when they Rebel against their Masters, which they frequently do in Virginia and many other parts of America belonging to the Crown of England.
Their dresses are as different as the Nations to whom they belong, so that it is impossible to recount all the whimsical Figures that they commonly make by their Antick dresses. Besides Carolina is a warm Country, and very mild in its Winters to what Mary-Land, Pensilvania, New-York, the Jersies, or New-England are, wherefore our Indian Habits differ very much from the dresses that are used by the Savages that inhabit those cold Countries; in regard their chiefest cloathing for the Winter Season is made of the Furs of Bevers, Raccoons, and other Northren-Furs, as the Monack-Moor, Marten, Black-Fox, and many other Beasts that are to be met with to the Northward, that we are unacquainted with here.
Their dress in Peace and War are quite different from some Nations before they go to War, the Women comb out their Hair and anoint it with Bears-grease, and the Red Root, and likewise adorn it with Feathers of various beautiful colours, besides Copper, Iron Rings, and sometimes Wampum or Peak in their Ears. Moreover they buy red Colours of the Indian Traders, wherewith they Paint their Faces all over as red as Vermillion, and commonly make a circle of Black about one Eye, and another circle of White about the others, whilst other bedaub their Faces with Tobacco pipe Clay, Lamp black, Black Lead, and divers others colours, such as Green, Blue, and the like, these they make with several sorts of Herbs, Minerals, and Earths, that they get in different parts of the Country where they Hunt and Travel. When these People are thus Painted they make the most frightful Figures that can be imitated by Men, and seem more like Devils out of Hell than any human Creature upon Earth, the reason why they thus Paint themselves is because they believe it adds to their Courage and strikes a terror in their Enemies.
It is worthy of Observation, that whenever you meet them thus disguis’d or Painted, you may be sure that they are about some mischief or other, for in all Hostilities that have ever been acted against the Christians at any time in several of the Plantations of America, these Savages always appear’d in these disguises, whereby they might never after be discovered or known by the Christians that shoud happen to see them after they had made their escape; for it is impossible ever to know an Indian under these Colours, although he had been ever so often at your House, and you were most intimatly acquainted with him before he put on this disguise.
As for the Women, they seldom or never use any Paint on their Faces, except Bear’s-Grease, or Lamp-black, when they mourn for their dead; neither do they carry their Women along with them into the Field of Battle, or when they intend any Expedition (as they do in many parts of the Eastren Country) but always leave them at home with the old Men and Children, to provide all manner of Necessaries for them. By their diferent way of Painting, they represent most of the Actions in Life, such as War, Peace, Feasts, Death, and the like, using different Colours or Paintings suitable to each occasion. When they are thus Painted, they go to Battle in the following manner: Each Man takes his Gun, and a sufficient quantity of Powder and Ball, or if he has not these, his Bow (which is about an Ell long) and arrows, about eighteen Inches, made of small Canes, some of them are very artificially headed with sharp Stones, Shells, Teeth of Fish, or hardned after their manner, the other End being Feathered with two Feathers, and tied with the Guts of some Beast when green and moist; each of them has likewise a Tamahawk or small Hatchet, and Cutlashes, when they can get them purchased by any means from the Europeans. They also use Clubs or long Poles (in the ends whereof they fasten very artificially sharp Stones, or the Horns of Beasts) and wooden Swords, hardened after their manner; sometimes they have wooden Breast-plates for their defence; these being all the Weapons that are made use of amongst the civilized, and Savage Indians in these parts.
The way of waging War is so harsh, that one must have a Body of Steel to bear the Fatigues they are obliged to undergo. They give but little Quarters, and if they are taken Prisoners, they are never exchanged: When one Nation is engaged in War with another, there is little Valour used, though they accomplish notable Exploits by Craft and Stratagem, for they do not attack each other by open Force, but dividing themselves into small Parties, twenty five or thirty Men lie in Ambush near the Village they design to attack, ‘till Night, then they set upon the Huts that lie dispersed in the open Country, if they meet with any aged Men they kill them, cut off their Heads, Hands, and Feet, nay, if they have time, cut them all into small pieces, that every one may take along with him a part, as a signal of his Bravery: But if the Enemy are alarmed, they are glad to be contented with the Head alone, or perhaps a Lock of the Hair, which they carry home in triumph, as an undoubted sign of their Bravery. When they intend to do a bold Exploit, they enter a Village at Night, force open a House, kill all they meet with, and then betake themselves to their Heels, for fear of being pursued by their Enemies. If they engage in the open Field, their chief Design is to draw one another into an Ambush; but the death of one or two Men commonly decides the Quarrel, that Party which has lost them, returning immediately.
When they go to War, they carry their Idol with them, of whom they tell incredible Stories, and ask Council, as the Antients were wont to do with the Oracle of Apollo, and then proceed upon their intended Expedition, with their Kings or War Captains, who march first, with a Club in one Hand, and a Bow in the other, with a Quiver full of Arrows, all the rest follow him towards the Battle, with such Weapons as they can conveniently get, singing Songs instead of Drums and Trumpets, and whilst they fight, there is nothing to be heard but Skreeches and Cries amongst them, and it is accounted a great Battle amongst them where three or four killed, or made Captives.
They are a People that never forget Injuries done by their Enemies, and seldom cease ‘till they have Satisfaction, but before they go upon any Expedition, they often assemble in Council together, and there debate the Matter in hand, and take those Resolutions that they judge most advisable to be done, being a People never over hasty in what they do.
They make great Feasts after they have obtained a Victory over their Enemies, for several Days together, where they drink great quantities of Yaupan Tea, and whatever Trophies they obtain in Battle, they carefully bring home to their Towns, and place them all together, round which they Dance for several Hours, shewing all the signs of Joy imaginable, their young Men and Wives singing Songs of Praise to their War Captains and great Men, for their late Conquest over their Enemies; they likewise make the most antient Women of the Country Dance, holding the Hair of their Enemies in their Hands.
Their manner of War amongst themselves, is either by suddenly surprizing each other, which is most commonly done about the dawning of the Day, Moon-light, or by Ambushes; set Battles being very rare, except it be where there are many Trees, to have a place of Refuge or Defence after every Shot, or the delivery of their Arrows, by leaping behind them, or some other shelter.
When they go to War or their Hunting Matches, the Victuals which they generally carry with them is Bread, Indian Corn, dried Fruits, of several sorts, Honey, and Meal made of Maiz parched in the Fire, this they can preserve for a long time without receiving any damage; they likewise carry dried Fish upon these occasions, and these are most commonly all the Provisions they take with them.
The Cruelty they use to their Prisoners of War, is scarce to be paralel’d, because they strive to invent the most inhuman and barbarous Butcheries for these miserable Wretches that happen in their power, that is possible for themselves or Devils to invent. These Savages esteem Death to be no Punishment, but an advancement to him that is taken out of the World into another; therefore they inflict on them these cruel Torments, in prolonging Life in that miserable state, as long as they can, and never miss Sculping of these Wretches (as they call it) which is to cut off the Skin from the Temples, and take the whole Head of Hair along with it from the Scull, like a Cap; this they hang at their Belts, and carry to their Towns for their Wives and Children to be spectators of. They sometimes take the top of the Scull along with it, all which they preserve and carefully keep by them to shew their Conquest, and Victory over their Enemies. Some of them keep their Enemies Teeth, which are taken in War; whilst others split the Pitch-Pine and stick the Prisoners Bodies (whilst alive) full of them, which they set fire to, and burn like so many Toarches: In this manner they make him dance round a great Fire, every one buffetins and deriding him ’till he expires; then every one present strive to get a Bone or some other Relick of this unfortunate Captive. Whatever Weapons they kill or wound their Enemies with, they let the Blood remain on it as a Trophy of their Victory.
It is remarkable, that if any of the young Fellows who have been at the Wars, and had the fortune to take a Captive, returns the proudest Creature upon Earth, and sets such a Value on himself, that he scarce knows how to contain in his Senses. In all their Wars they never destroy the Women or Children that they make Captives, but carefully preserve them.
The Iroquois, or Sannagers, and Cherokees, are the most powerful and warlike Indians that we know of in these Parts, being always at War, and not to be persuaded from that way of living by any Arguments or Persuasions whatsoever. They live near the Mountains, and there has been several Methods used by the Christians to perswade them to live peaceably with the Tuskeruros (who are one of the Civilized Nations, amongst the English that live near the Sea) notwithstanding these Indians very much desire to make Peace, and woud submit to the former, yet their answer is, that they cannot live without War, which they have ever been accustomed to, and that if peace be made with them or any other Nation they War withal, they must find out some others to wage War against. But for them to live in peace is to live out of their element, War, Conquest, and Murder, being what they always delight in, and value themselves for. Yet they have not molested the Tuskeruros, of late Years, and it is supposed that they are now at War with the Indians on the other side of the Mountains, and though they may seem such a Barbarous People, yet they are very fond of the Christians, and use them with all manner of civility when they meet them in the Mountains where they constantly trade with each other.
When they take a Prisoner, and intend to keep him as a Slave to Work in their Fields, they flea the Skin from the setting on of his Toes to the middle of his Foot, cut of one half of his Feet, wraping the Skin over the Wounds and then healing them. By this cruel and Barbarous method the Indian captive is hindred from making his escape, for he can neither run fast or go any where but his feet or Stumps are more easily traced and discovered, yet I have seen some that made their escape from their Enemies though they were disabled after this manner.
The Indians ground their Wars chiefly on Enmity, not on Interest, as the Europeans generally do, for the loss of the meanest Person in the Nation, they will go to War and lay all at Stake, and prosecute their design tot he utmost, till the Nation they were injured by be wholly destroyed, or make them that satisfaction which they demand.
They maintain continual Wars one Nation against another, which sometimes hold for Ages, killing and making captive all they can, till they become so weak that they are often forced to make peace for want of a sufficient number of Recruits to supply their Wars; so that by these continual Wars, and the art they have and often practice of Poysoning one another, which they do with a large white Spongy Root that grows in their fresh Marshes, many numerous and formidable Nations are dwindled away to a handful of Men in comparison to what they were sixty Years ago, and it’s strange to imagine how many hundred Miles they come to make War on each other; without any visible view of Interest in Lands, or Riches, which are the chief motives of all European Princes, waging War against each other.
They are very Politick in waging and carrying on their War, first by advising with all the antient Men of conduct and reason that belong to their Nation; such as superanuated War Captains, and those that have been Counsellors among them for many Years, whose Advice has succeeded well. They have likewise their Field Counsellors, who are accustomed to Ambuscades and Surprizes, which methods are commonly used by them in these parts, for you shall seldom hear of a Field or set Battle fought amongst them.
Yet before they undertake any enterprizes, they meet several Mornings together in their State-Houses, where the King repaireth, and is placed on a seat which is generally higher than any of his Retinue’s, where all of them salute him; as soon as the Salutation is over, every one sits down according to their Degrees or Seniority, and if there be any thing to be debated, the King calls his Priests and the most antient Men of his Nation and asks their Advice. Afterwards he commands Cassena to be brought, and when he has drank a Cup full of the Liquor (which holds about a Pint and a half) they all, one after another drink the same proportion out of the same Cup.
This drink is in such great request amongst them, that no Man is permitted to taste thereof in this publick Assembly unless he has signalized himself in the Wars against his Enemies; Valour being highly esteemed amongst them: They drink this Tea very warm, which makes them sweat plentifully, and has the virtue to take away Hunger and Thirst for twenty four Hours.
These Indians exercise their young Men very much in Shooting with their Bows, and Arrows, the Strings whereof are made of the Guts of the Stag, or of a Stag’s Skin, which they know how to dress as well as any People in Europe, and with as different sorts of Colours; there being plenty of several beautiful Dies in this Country, which they are well acquainted with, they likewise take great pleasure in Hunting and Fishing, wherein they are very expert.
I will give you some few Instances of their Politicks and Expeditions, which are worth mentioning. The first was thus, two Nations were at War with each other, and both Parties were in the Woods or Forrest ranging to see what Enemies they coud take or destroy. The lesser Number found they were discovered by the greater, and that they cou’d not well get over a River (that lay betwixt them and their Home) without engaging the other party, whose Numbers were much superior, they immediately called a Council, which being met, and having weighed and debated their present circumstances, with many arguments for a considerable time, and found their Enemies advantage, and that they could not possibly expect any success in engaging such an unequal Number. They at last concluded on this Stratagem, which in my opinion carried a great deal of policy along with it. It was, that the same Night they should make a great Fire, which they were certain would be discover’d by the adverse party, and there dress up Logs of Wood in their Cloaths, and make them exactly seem like Indians that were fast asleep by the Fire-side (which is their way when they are Hunting or otherwise in the Woods) so said they, our Enemies will fire upon these Images, supposing them to be Men, while we lye in Ambuscade, and after their Guns are unloaded we shall deal well enough with them.
This result was immediately put in execution, and the Fire was made by the side of a Vally where they lay perdue, very advantageously all Night. Thus a little before break of Day they came down to the Fire, and at once fired in upon these Logs in the Indian Cloaths and run up to them expecting they had kill’d every Man dead upon the Spot, but they soon found themselves to be mistaken, for then the other Indians who had lain all the Night stark-naked, attacked them with their loaded Pieces, which so surpriz’d them, that every Man was taken Prisoner and brought in bound to their Town, some of whom were sold to the English for Slaves.
There was another extraordinary Instance of this Nature that happen’d betwixt the Machapunga Indians and the Coranines, living on the Sand-banks near Machapunga River, which carries a great deal of Treachery and Barbarity in it, and is as follows. The Machapungas were invited to a feast by the Coranines (which two Nations had been a long time at War together, but had lately concluded a Peace) thereupon the Machapunga Indians took the advantage of coming to the Coranines feast, and to avoid all suspicion, and that there was a good harmony and understanding now amongst them; the Machapunga King who though of a Savage nature, was a great Politician, and very stout, order’d all his Men to carry their Tamahawks along with them under their Match-coats, which they did, and being acquainted when to fall on, by the Word given, they all (upon this design) set forward for the feast, and came to the Coranine-town, who made them welcome, and had gotten Victuals, Fruit, and such things as make an Indian Entertainment; having provided all things necessary to make their new Guests welcome, after Dinner towards the Evening (as it is customary amongst them) they went to Dancing all-together; when the Machapunga King saw the best opportunity offer, he gave the Word, and immediately his Men pulled out their Tamahawks, or Hatchets from under their Match-coats, killed several, and took the rest of them Prisoners, except some few that were not at the Feast, and about four or five that made their escape; some of these they sold as Slaves to the English. At the time this was done, these Indians had nothing but Bows and Arrows, being intire strangers to Guns and their uses; neither are any of the two former Nations to be met with (at this Day) living near Machapunga River, which place is well inhabited by Christians.
Their Dances are of different Natures, and for every sort they have a different Song or Tune, which is allotted for each Dance. Upon these occasions they will continue dancing for several Nights together, with the greatest briskness imaginable, their Wind never failing them: In a War-Dance they have Warlike Songs, wherein they express with all the passion and vehemency imaginable what they intend to do with their Enemies; how they will kill, roast, sculp, beat, and make Captives such and such numbers of them, and how many they have destroyed already: Whatever Trophies they have gained in War are set up for all those present to behold, round which they Feast and Dance with the greatest extasie of Joy that can be exprest or shewn by them.
All the Songs are made new for every Feast, neither is one and the same Song sung at two several Festivals; some one of the Nation (who hath the best gift of expressing their Designs) is appointed by their King and War Captains to make these Songs; these Persons or Poets being in great request with the King, and Nation to whom they belongs.
Their Peace Dances are generally made at their Feasts, and are of another Nature; as when several Towns, and sometimes different Nations have made Peace with one another, then it suits both Nations, and relates how the bad Spirit made them go to War and destroy one another, that it shall never be so again, but that their Sons and Daughters shall marry together, and the two Nations love each other and become as one united People.
They have a third sort of Feast and Dances which are when the Harvest of Corn is ended, and in the Spring; one to return Thanks to the good Spirit for the Fruits of the Earth, the other to beg the same Blessings for the succeeding Year. They plant their Maze or Indian Corn twice a Year, viz. in March and June, all in the same Soil, for as soon as one Crop is ripe, which is in three Months, they immediately gather it and plant the same Grounds over again. Before the Europeans arrived in these Parts, they used to dig their Grounds with an Instrument made of Wood, which was fashioned like a broad Matock, but at present they have Hoes from the Christians, commonly plant two or three Grains together: They never Dung their Land, but set Fire to the Weeds, which makes very good Manure; when the Land is to be planted, the King commands one of the Men to assemble his Subjects every Day to Labour, and when the Maze is gathered, it is all carried into a common Store-House, where it is distributed to every one as there is occasion; they seldom sow more than what will serve them for six Months, and that very sparingly; for during the Winter they retire into the Woods to hunt, or fish, where they have plenty of various kinds of wild Beasts, Birds and Fishes. To encourage the young Men to labour in planting their Maze and Pulse, they place a kind of Idol in the Field, dressed up exactly like an Indian, with a great quantity of Wampum, or Money that is made of Conk-Shells, hanging about his Neck. This Image none of the young Men dare presume to approach, the old ones will not suffer them, but tell them that it is some famous Warrior that died many Ages ago, and now is come among them, to see if they work well, which if they do, he will go to the good Spirit, and speak to him to send them plenty Corn, and to make them expert Hunters, and mighty Wariors; and many other incredible Stories, with which they amuse their Youth. All this while the King and the old Men sit round the Image, and seemingly pay the most profound Respect and Veneration imaginable to the same. One great help to them in carrying on these Cheats, and inducing their Youth to do what they please is, the uninterrupted Silence which is ever kept and observed amongst them.
At these Feasts, which are set out with all the Magnificence imaginable, or that their Fare will allow of, the Masquerade begins always at Night. There is a Fire commonly made in the middle of the largest House in the Town, which frequently happens to be that of their King or War Captain, or a House made for that purpose, where two Men are placed on a Mat on the Ground, the one with a Rattle made of a Gourd, with some Indian Corn or Beans in it; the other with a Drum made of an Earthen Pot, covered with a dressed Deer Skin, with one Stick in his Hand to beat thereon; thus they begin the Song appointed for that purpose, at the same time the one Drums, and the other Rattles; this is all the artificial Musick of their own making that I ever saw amongst them. To these two Instruments they sing, which may be supposed to make but indifferent Musick, for Europeans, and yet the Cadencies and raising of their Voices are formed with that equality and exactness, that to us it seems very strange and admirable how they should continue these Songs without once missing to agree with each others Note and Tune.
As for their Dancing, were there Masters of that Profession amongst them, as there are in Europe, I am certain they would dearly earn their Money; for these People take the most Pains that Men are able to endure: I have seen thirty dancing together, and every one with the Sweat dropping down, as if Water were powred on their Backs.
They bring up their Youth in many laborious Exercises, to make them able to endure Fatigues, and improve their Wind, which is indeed very long and durable, being a hard matter in any Exercise to dispossess them of it, there being several Games amongst them that is won by him that hath the longest Breath. In traveling and hunting they are most indefatigable, being bred up after that manner from their Youth, to which they have a double inducement, as it carries both Pleasure and Profit with it. I have known some of them very strong, and particularly remarkable for their running and leaping: The agility of both Men and Women are such, that they will very readily swim over great Rivers, and sometimes carry their Children; they likewise very nimbly climb the highest Trees in the Country.
These People (as I said before) have solemn Feasts upon several occasions, such as for War, Peace, the Fruits of the Earth, and the like, at these Festivals they have great plenty of provisions, such as Venison, Birds, Fishes, and several sorts of Fruits and Roots. Their firing is made of Wood, which they kindle by strenuously rubbing one stick against another (the Sticks being of different kinds) and so roast their flesh Meat on wooden Spits, or Boyl it in Earthen Pots, of their own make, and sometimes broil it on the Embers.
They are for the most part very gentle, loving and faithful, void of Guile or Treachery (except they are highly injured) and live after the manner of the Golden Age, for they only take care how to defend themselves from the Cold in their short Winters, and to feed themselves with such Victuals as the Soil produceth. They sometimes have plenty of Rum at these Entertainments, which they purchase from the Europeans, but the common drink they make use of to quench their thirst is Water, and it is to be admired that they never yet found out the method of making Wines in these parts, where several sorts of Grapes are so plenty, and these People in general being extreamly fond of strong Liquors.
At Night their Revels begin, which is commonly in a House made for that purpose being the largest amongst their dwellings, this House is built in form of a Pyramid wherein are made handsome white Benches artificially of fine Canes, joining along the Walls, and the Door or entrance very low. In these State-Houses are transacted all publick and private business relating to the Affairs of the Government, and the audience of Foreign Ambassadors from other lndian Kings; likewise their consultations for wageing and making of War, Proposals of Trade with their Neighbouring Indians or Europeans, who happen to come amongst them, and there determine what may be most convenient for them to act, and what to omit, old Age being always held in as great veneration amongst them, as any People you shall find in any part of the World.
It is to be observed, that during their consultations no manner of interruption is given to the Speaker, who gets up and declares to the Auditors what he thinks most advisable to be done in the Affair then depending; as soon as he has finish’d what he thinks proper to say on that Subject, he sits down and then the second proceeds after the same method, and so all the rest in their turns, and lastly their King, not one Word to be heard, or even a whisper during their whole conference but from him that stands up. The whole Assembly giving a great deal of attention to what each Person relates on that head, a profound silence and exact decorum being used during the Oration.
And it is even remarkable amongst them in their common Discourse, that they never interrupt each other, none offering to open his Mouth till the other has finished what he has to say on the Subject. This practice I am perswaded wou’d be of great use and advantage to the Europeans, who are so subject to interrupt each other, before they can utter their intentions, frequently judging from a few Words spoken, the whole Cause before they have heard the Merits of it.
These People are naturally very subtile and sharp witted, and ready to conceive our meaning by Signs, and to make answers to be understood again. If they have not seen the thing whereof you ask them, they will wink or cover their Eyes with their Hand to intimate thereby that it hath been hid from their sight, and if they understand not those things whereof you enquire, they will stop their Ears, and by many other such like signs, easie to be understood, they are apt to learn any thing of us, and are very willing to teach us the Names of each thing in their Langunge we demand of them.
All their dwelling Houses are covered with the Barks of Trees, But this Senate-House differs very much from them, being artificially Thatch’d with Sedge and Rushes; at the building whereof every one assists till it is finished, and as soon as it is compleatly finished, the King places some one of his chiefest Men to dwell therein, charging him with a diligent preservation thereof, in like manner as European Princes commit the charge and Government of Forts and Castles to some favorite subject they judge worthy of so great Honours and Trust.
They frequently send Ambassadors to each other, who make very odd and strange Figures at their Arrival, having their Faces and Hair painted all over as red as Vermillion, a Fusee or Bow and Arrows in their Hands, and a Cutlash or Tamahawk stuck in their Girdle. As soon as they arrive they are brought to the Kings House, from thence are conducted to the State-House, where they take the place that is assign’d them, and there treat of those important Affairs with which they are commission’d from their Kings and Nations to whom they belong.
I have frequently made use of the word Civilized Indians, and for the better information of my Readers they are those that assisted the Christians against the other Savages of that Country in the late War when the Hon. Colonel Barnwell intirely defeated them in Bath County, Anno Dom. 1712.
But to returne to their Feasts, in these State-Houses, the King being come, and seated invites the Europeans, if there be any amongst them at that time, who are always placed next the King, with his War Captains on each side; being thus seated, there is a circular Fire made of split Canes in the middle of the House, which otherwise would be as dark as a Dungeon, and is as hot as a Dutch Stove. One Man is constantly employed to supply split Canes as the others are consumed. The Guests being all seated on Benches or Mats on the Ground, they bring in several pieces of Bears-flesh and Venison, roasted and boiled; Wild Turkeys in great plenty, dressed after their manner; various kinds of other Wild Beasts and Fowl, Fish, and several kinds of Medlies made of Maiz, stewed Peaches, dried Peaches, and variety of other Fruits. Every one of the Indians bringing something with him, to enlarge their Banquet, according to their Degree and Quality.
When all their Dainties are brought in, the first Entertainment begins with kicking out the Dogs, which are like the Wolves in these parts; for it is supposed that they are a Species of them, made tame by beating and starving. They are the worst Dog-masters in the World, for you shall never see an Indian Dog that is fat amongst them; neither do I find that they make any use of them, for they never bring them to their Hunting-matches.
They are of a quite contrary Disposition to their Horses, to whom they are the best of Masters, for they are continually feeding them with Maze, or whatever he will eat, until he is as fat as a Hog, yet they never ride or make any manner of use of him, except only to carry a Deer home that they have killed near the Plantations; or firewood for their Houses.
As soon as the Dogs are discharged, the Company are summoned by beat of Drum and the Rattle; which two Instruments I have already mentioned, and whilst the one rattled the other in Consort beat the Drum, others at the same time sung mournful Ditties, the burthen of their Songs being in remembrance of their former greatness and numbers of their Nation, the famous Exploits of their renowned Ancestors, and all Actions of moment that had been performed by their forefathers in former Days.
No sooner does this kind of Consort begin to play and sing, but presently come in some Indians finely dressed up with Feathers, their Faces covered with Vizards made of Gourds; round their Ancles and Knees are hung Bells of several sorts, having wooden Falcions in their Hands, such as our Gladiators commonly use upon the Stage; in this Dress they dance about an Hour or more, shewing many strange Gestures, brandishing their Weapons as if they were going to fight each other, oftentimes walking round the Room with so much dexterity and nimbleness, that you may not hear their Bells make the least noise, which is very strange to see them perform, turning their Bodies, Arms and Legs, into such strange and frightful Postures, that to an European they would seem like a parcel of Bedlamites, void of Sense or Reason; after they have cut two or three high Capers, they immediately leave the Room. As soon as they disappear, come in a parcel of Women and Girles, each taking place according to their degree in Stature, the tallest leading the Dance, and the least of all placed last. They then form themselves into a Ring, representing the Fire they dance about. Several of them having Bells about their Legs, dressed with Flowers and Feathers like the Men, others with small Bells about their necks, though their way of Dancing is nothing but a sort of stamping, which they continue for several Hours together, till they are all of them in as great a sweat as if they had been dipped in the River.
During these Dances the Spectators do not neglect to fill their Bellies with the Provisions that are there, more or less of them being continually eating: When the Dancing is ended, every Youth that is so disposed, takes hold of the Girl he fancies to be his Bedfellow for that Night, few Ceremonies being used upon that head amongst them.
At these Festivals and publick Assemblies they give a traditional Relation of what happened amongst them for many Years past, to their young Men; having no other Method to record what their Ancestors have done, or known only by Tradition from Father to Son, and their Hierogliphicks, being entire Strangers to Letters or Learning.
They have another sort of Feast where their Priests or Conjurers pretend to converse familiarly, and demand divers strange things from Spirits by their Invocations, and the Magical Charms which they make use of. This Feast they celebrate in the open Fields, where a large Circle is made; all the Indians that come to it are variously painted and adorned with rich Feathers of divers Colours; they have singing and dancing at this as at the others: After they have sung and danced for a quarter of an Hour, and turned about three times, they run like distracted Men into the Woods; then the Women continue the rest of the Day in Tears, and as melancholy as possible, then in a Rage they cut the Arms the young Girls with sharp Shells of Fishes, ‘till the Blood follows, which they cast into the Air, with loud Shreeks and Cries.
Those that begin this Feast (which is always in the Morning) are their Priests or Conjurers, to whom they give great credit and belief, not only because they are very subtile and crafty Magicians, and find out things lost, but likewise because they heal Diseases by their Charms and Knowledge in Plants. They first run to the Woods, from whence they return in two Days, and then begin to Sing and Dance in the middle of the Circle (which the Women sweep and make very clear against their return) and are very cheerful and merry with the old Indian Fathers that stay’d behind, by reason of their natural Indispositions and feebleness: When all these Ceremonies are ended, they begin to eat with such greediness, that they seem rather to devour their Meat than eat it, because they neither eat nor drink during their two Days continuance in the Woods.
At these Feasts most of all the Nations that are in Peace with each other meet, though seventy or eighty Miles distant from each other, where they sell and buy several Commodities as we do at our Fairs and Markets.
They are very much given to Gaming at these publick Meetings, and often strip one another of all they have in the World; and what’s more to be admired is, that they frequently play themselves away, and remain the Winners Servants ‘till their Relations or themselves pay the Money to redeem them; and it is observable, that the Looser is never dejected or cast down at his misfortune, but seems contented and as chearful as if he had been the Winner. They never differ at Gaming, neither did I ever see a Dispute about the legality thereof so much as arise amongst them.
The chief Game is a kind of Arithmetick, which is managed or played with a parcel of small split Reeds about the thickness of a small Bent; these are made very nicely, that they part and are tractable in their Hands. They are fifty one in Number, and their length about seven Inches; when they play they throw part to their Antagonist, the Art in this kind of Game is to discover upon sight how many you have, and what you throw to him that plays with you; some are so expert in guessing the Numbers they gave, and what they have remaining, that they will not miss once in ten times; they are so taken with this particular Game, that several of them have lost large Indian Estates. A good Set of these Reeds to play with, are generally valued and sold for dressed Doe-Skin.
They have several other Games and Plays wherewith they frequently divert themselves, as with the Kernels or Stones of the Fruit of the Persimon Tree, which are in effect the same as our Dice, because winning or loosing depend on which side appears uppermost, and how they happen to fall together.
Their manner of playing Ball is after this manner, viz. they place a square Mat made of Reeds or Bullrushes at the top of a Tree eight or nine Fathom from the Ground, and whoever hitteth the Mat in playing thereat, winneth the Game.
They have another Game which is managed with a Battoon, and very much resembles our Trap-Ball; as the Nations differ so do their Games and Pastimes, having several peculiar to themselves which are not practiced by others; yet these I have mentioned are the chief that I have observed amongst them.
They are charitable and kind to each other, especially to those of their own Nation; for if any one of them has suffered loss by Fire or otherwise, they order him to make a Feast (their Victuals being in common) and to invite them all to it: On the Day appointed they all come, and after every Man’s Victuals is dealt to him, one of their Speakers, or grave old Men makes an Harangue, to the Company to this effect, that That Man’s House hath been destroyed, together with all his Goods. That he and his Family very narrowly escaped. That he is every Man’s Friend in that Company, and that it is all their Duties to help him, as he would do any of them, had the like Misfortune befallen them.—In such like Speeches he accosts all that are present, to a charitable compliance in behalf of the distressed Person. After this Oration is over, every Man according to his Quality and Ability, throws down upon the Ground some Present, which is commonly Beads, Ronoak, Peak, Skins, or Furs, which often amounts to treble the loss he has sustained. The same assistance they give to any Man that wants to build a Cabin or make a Canoe, or any other Convenience that he is not able to perform, and stands in need of: For, they say, it is every Man’s Duty so to do, there being several Works that one Man cannot effect, therefore they must give him their help, otherwise the Society would soon fall, and they should be deprived of those urgent Necessaries which Life requires.
Their Charity is no less extensive towards Widows, for it often happens that a Woman is destitute of a Husband, either by Wars or otherwise, and hath a great many Children to maintain, such a Person they always help, and make their young Men Plant, Reap, and do every thing she is not capable of doing herself; yet they will not allow any one to be idle (especially in the Harvest time) but employ themselves in some Work or other. As they are unacquainted with the value of Gold or Silver, they prefer their Indian-Money before it, which is of different Sorts, but all made of Shells, that are found on the Coast of Carolina, and especially the Conck-shells; these are very large and hard and difficult to be cut, yet some European Smiths have tried to drill these Shells, thinking to get an advantage by them, but it proved so hard and tedious in the working, that nothing could be gained thereby, that they have intirely laid it aside for the Indians to manage, who never value their Time, so that they can make them according to their Fancy.
They frequently make of these Shells several sorts of Figures, in imitation of Gorges, Crosses, Stars, or any other odd kind of Figure that their imagination suggests, these they wear about their Necks and Arms tied with a String; there are some of these Gorges that will sell for three or four Buck Skins ready drest, whilst others are only valued and sold for one Doe Skin. But the general and currant Species amongst all the Indians of Carolina, and I believe all over the Continent as far as the Bay of Mexico, that which we call Peak and Ronoak, but Peak more especially. This is that which they call Wampum at New York, and has been made use of as current Coin for many Years amongst the Europeans settled in that Province. This is what many Writers call Proclean and was formerly made at New York in great quantities, and with us in some Measure. Four Cubits this purchase a dressed Doe Skin, and six or seven are the purchases of a dressed Buck Skin: An European could not afford to make so much of this Wampum for five times the Value; for it is made out of a very large Shell of which that Country affords plenty.
This Shell they grind smaller than the small End of a Tobacco Pipe, or a large Wheat Straw; four or five of these are about an Inch in length, and every one drilled through, polished and made as smooth as Glass, yet they are as strong as Beads. A Cubit of the Indian Measure contains as much in length as will reach from the Elbow to the end of the little Finger. They never regard or stand to question whether he is a tall or short Man that measures it; but if this Wampum or Peak be of a black or purple Colour, as some part of the Shell, then it is twice the Value.
They grind these Shells upon Stones and other things, ‘till they make them current, but the Drilling is the most difficult to the Europeans, which the Indians do with a Nail stuck in a Cane or Reed, but whether they have any Method in softning these Shells, is uncertain. They rowl it continually on their Thighs with the right Hand, and hold the bit of Shell with their left; thus by degrees they drill a hole through it, which is a tedious Work, but especially in making their Ronoak, four of which will scarce make one length of Wampum.
The Indians in general are a People (as I observed) that set very little value on their Time, and need never be under any apprehension or fear that the Christians will take the Trade out of their hands. This is the Money with which you may buy Skins, Furs, Slaves, or any thing they have except their Children, it being their Mammon (as our Money is to us) that persuades and intices them to do any thing. With this they will buy off Murders, or whatever a Man can do that is Ill, and be his Crime of never so black a Nature, this Money is sufficient to purge him of it, and have it buried in Oblivion for ever, such an influence hath this Almighty Gain over them, that the most inhuman practices shall appear innocent and laudable, and engage them in the most scandalous and barbarous Actions, without once reflecting or condemning themselves in the lease for it.
Formerly in their hunting Matches they used to dress themselves very artfuelly in Deer Skins, by which counterfet they would come as near the Deer as they pleased, by mimicking each Gesture of that Beast as they approached, by which means they killed vast numbers of them, but some of themselves being shot in this disguise, it is now intirely laid aside and that practice disallowed of by the express Orders of their Kings.
They have particular Methods by which they can preserve the Eyes of Beasts as if they were still living, this they will by no means discover to the Christians; they have many other curious things that the Europeans are desirous to know and learn from them, but they will by no means discover or make known to them, being a People that are secret, crafty, and subtile in all their Affairs, though of ever so small a moment.
Although these Indians, in respect of us, are a poor People, and their want of Skill and Judgment in the Knowledge and use of the Sciences, generally esteem Trifles to things of real value, not having the advantages of improving themselves as the Europeans; yet in their own manner and way of Thinking, they seem to be ingenious, and shew excellency of Wit, notwithstanding the many inconveniencies they labour under, and their want of Tools and Instruments to assist them in any of their Undertakings, for I have, during my continuance amongst them, seen many useful Instruments made for several uses, with nothing but an indifferent Knife.
They commonly barbecu or dry their Venison on Mats or Hurdles in the Sun, first salting it with their Salt, which is made of the Ashes of the Hickery Wood; this Venison so cured, they keep and make use of in time of scarcity, and bad Weather, which they tear to pieces with their Hands and Teeth (for want of Knives) and then put it into a Morter and pound it very fine, adding the Powder of the Hickery Nuts or Wall-nuts and other ingredients, whereof they make a savory Dish.
Their Kings, as they are most absolute, put to death any of their Subjects that have committed those Crimes that they think worthy of so great a Punishment; which is strictly observed, and put in execution by the War Captains after different and barbarous Methods, according to the King’s Will and Pleasure.
Their Sculping and sticking them full of Splinters of Light-wood, and setting these Wretches on Fire, their fleaing and cutting their Feet at the Instep, I have already made mention of; during which time they never cease feasting, dancing, singing and playing a thousand antick Tricks, especially if it be one of their Enemies; at other times they rip open the Bellys of these wretches, fasten their Bowels to a Tree, and force them round ’till such time as their Intrails are out, or their Strength is intirely spent, that they can shew no more Diversion to the Spectators, who delight in such inhuman Actions: It is incredible to see with what Courage and Bravery these Wretches behave in the midst of these Tortures and agonies of Death, not once seeming to bemoan themselves, believing and imagining their Enemies will have the same Fate when they fall into the Hands of those belonging to their Nation.
There was an Indian put to death whilst I was in the Country by the Kings Order, for cleaving the Scull of one of his own Nation with a Tamahawk, of which Wound he instantly died. The Offender was immediately brought forth, and two other Indians were ordered to get a couple of Ropes tyed up in the nature of Nooses, with which they strangled the Offender, one pulling one way and the other the contrary, ‘till he was dead; the nearest Relations of the deceased striking him on the Head with great Clubs. These are the most common Methods that are yet known amongst them, by which they torture and put one another to death; but doubtless there are many other barbarous Methods that they make use of, which as yet we are strangers to.
The King most commonly gives orders to put the offender to Death, yet the punishment due to the offender is very often left to the nearest Relation of the deceas’d, who prosecutes him with all the rage and fury imaginable, being both Judge and Executioner till he is fully satisfied; yet this revenge is oftentimes bought of with their wampum, Beads, Tobacco, and such like commodities, whereof they are very fond, and are useful amongst them, though the crimes were of the highest Nature, Villany, or Barbarity that cou’d be acted by Mankind, yet these trifles make a sufficient attonement for all.
They have a strange custom or Ceremony amongst them, to call to mind the persecutions and death of the Kings their Ancestors slain by their Enemies, at certain Seasons, and particularly when the Savages have been at War with any Nation, and return from their Country without bringing home some Prisoners of War, or the Heads of their Enemies. The King causes as a perpetual remembrance of all his predecessors to beat and wound the best beloved of all his Children with the same Weapons wherewith they had been kill’d in former times, to the end that by renewing the Wound, their Death should be lamented a fresh.
The King and his Nation being assembled on these Occasions, a Feast is prepared, and the Indian who is authorized to wound the Kings Son, runs about the House like a distracted Person crying and making a most hidious noise all the time with the Weapon in his Hand, wherewith he wounds the Kings Son, this he performs three several times, during which interval he presents the King with Victuals or Cassena, and it is very strange to see the Indian that is thus struck never offers to stir till he is wounded the third time, after which he falls down backwards streaching out his Arms and Legs as if he had been ready to expire, then the rest of the Kings Sons and Daughters, together with the Mother and vast Numbers of Women and Girls fall at his Feet and Lament and Cry most bitterly; during this time the King and his retinue are Feasting, yet with such profound silence for some Hours, that not one Word, or even a Whisper is to be heard amongst them, after this manner they continue till Night, which ends in Singing, Dancing, and the greatest joy imaginable.
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