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The Natural History of North-Carolina.
AN ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS OF NORTH CAROLINA. (Continued)
The Sapona Indians live at the West branch of Cape Fear, or Clarendon River, which is very beautiful, and has good Land about it; it is five or six Days Journey over the Mountains to go to the South-Sea. These Mountains are very Barren, with abundance of Rocks and Marble, but no Fowl or Water are to be found in these Parts. The Indians residing here are very powerfull, but seldom make visits amongst us except it be their Traders who bring us Skins and Furs.
The Toteras are neighbouring Indians to the Saponas, and live West-ward in the Mountains; I have been informed by some of them that Trade amongst the Europeans, that they have Bazoar-stone, but I never saw any of it whilst I was in those parts.
The Keyawees live likewise on a Branch of Cape Fear River which lies to the North-west. The Lands here are very Fertile and in many places abounding with Rocks of several sorts of Stones, such as Lime-stone, Marble, and the like.
I have frequently convers’d with their Doctors, who are in great request and esteem amongst them, they told me of many great cures that they have performed, but woud never discover any thing of what they knew, or by what Herbs or plants they perfected them, notwithstanding I importun’d them and even offered rewards. These Savages in general being a very wary People, seldom or never revealing any of their secrets to the Europeans, yet are willing to assist them in any Indian disorder that should afflict them, as in the biting of Snakes or any other misfortune of that Nature wherein they have any Knowledge, but as to European Disorders they are entire Strangers, which most commonly prove fatal amongst them.
The Indians in Carolina have no Fences to part each others Lots in their Corn-Fields, but every Man knows his own proportion, and it scarce ever happens that they rob one another of so much as an Ear of Corn; which if any is found to do, he is sentenced by the Elders to Work and plant for him that was Robb’d, till he is fully recompenc’d for all the damage or loss he has sustained in his Corn-Field; this is very punctually performed, and the Thief held in disgrace that steals from any of his Friends or the Nation he belongs to.
When these Savages live near the Waters they frequent the Rivers in Summer-time very much where both Men and Women often in a Day go in naked to wash themselves, not both Sexes together, yet this is not out of any point of modesty that being a virtue or qualification that is very little regarded or make use of amongst these People.
These Indians generally are the best marks Men with Guns that are to be met with in most parts of the World, and commonly kill what they Shoot at with a single Ball; this is principally owing to the steadiness in their Limbs and the sharp Sight with which they are endued. They take a great deal of pains when they buy a Gun first, to find out if it has any fault in the Barrel, which they generally take out of the stock and cut a Notch in a Tree where they make it streight, if there be occasion, and after shoot several times at markes, that they may be acquainted with its faults and perfections, this they do before they go to kill Deer, or any other kind of Game that is to be met with as they hunt in Woods. It is remarkable in them that they will seldom stir or go abroad into the Woods to Hunt before the Sun is an Hour or two heigh, and hath exhaled most part of the Dew from the Earth, then are they indefatigable in walking from Morning till Night in pursuit of their Game. When they are Traveling in the Woods together, they always keep a constant Pace, neither will they stride over a Tree that lyes across a path in their way, but always go round it, which is a quite contrary custom to the Europeans, but for what reason the Indians use this Ceremony I never cou’d learn, though I have frequently importuned them on that Head. And what is worthy of Observation is, that none of the Indians in North-Carolina are to be met with Left Handed; whether this be owing to their method of Nursing, or otherwise, I cannot account for. When ever they cut with a Knife, they always turn the Edge towards themselves, whereas the Europeans cut and Whittle from them.
Before the Arrival of the Europeans in these parts of America, these Savages not knowing the use of Steel and Flints, they got their fire from Sticks, which by vehement collision or rubbing together kindle and take fire. This method they will sometimes practice even now when it has happen’d through rainy Weather, or some other accident, that they have wet their Spunk, or Touch-wood, which is a sort of soft Corkey substance, generally of a Cinamon colour, and grows in the Concave or hollow part of an Oak, Hickory, and several other sorts of Wood, which they dig out with an Ax as they have occasion. It is in great plenty in Carolina, and is always kept by the Europeans and Indians instead of Touch-wood and Tender, both which it exceeds.
It is very surprizing to find so many different Languages amongst them as there are, there being few Nations that understand each other. But I believe the principal reason of this great difference and confusion of Languages as are to be met with amongst them, is owing to these People seldom or never conversing with any Nation but their own. And I have often observed several of the Indians with whom I have been acquainted and freely conversed with at Bath and Edentown, that when I chanc’d to meet them in the Woods, they wou’d not speak one Word of English (which they could do tolerably well) but would either answer me in their own Language or by signs; the reason whereof I coud never understand, though I made all the strict enquiry I could. These differences in their Languages cause Jealousies and fears amongst them, which often occasion Wars, wherein they destroy each other; otherwise the Christians had not in all probability settled themselves so easily as they have done, had these tribes of Savages united themselves into one People, or general interest, or were they so but every hundred Miles together. In short, they are a strange sort of People under their present Circumstances, and have such odd and uncouth ways in their management and course of living, that it seems a miracle to us how they bring about their designs as they do, when their ways are commonly quite contrary to ours. I am perswaded that were it not for the continual Wars they have amongst themselves, they wou’d enjoy the happiest state in this World of all Mankind, being neither Slaves to Riches or Grandure, which bewitches the greatest part of the World, and occasions daily care and trouble in those that are thus in Love with it, which these Savages are entirely free from.
Drunkeness and several other Vices were intirely unknown to them before the Arrival of the Christians amongst them, and Swearing, their Lauguage cannot express, yet those that learn English soon learn that fashionable vice of Swearing, and it is generally the first thing they can talk, hearing those vile and abominable expressions so often repeated by the Europeans. The many Vices they see and hear daily practiced by the Christians, have in a great measure perverted these miserable Creatures, that they never desire to be instructed in the light of the Gospel, but rather look upon us as a more unworthy race of People than themselves; that at this very Day they are no nearer Christianity (in all appearance) than they were at the first discovery made by the Christians of this part of the World. Yet it is most certain, that they have several abominable vices amongst them, which no doubt they might be brought off, if the Europeans wou’d show those good examples of Virtue, Piety, and Morality, which are essentially necessary for every Christian to do and practice. They have likewise several good Qualities amongst them, and are very Hospitable and fond of the Europeans, who generally look upon them with all the disdain immaginable, and very often return ill Offices for their gratitude.
They have a strange and odd Custom amongst them in making offerings of their first Fruits, and likewise throwing the first Bit or Spoonful of every Meal they sit down to, into the Ashes near the Fire, and all the reason they give for so doing is, that it is the same to them as the pulling of our Hats and talking when we go to Victuals is to us. The Indians in Carolina call Rum and Physick by the same Name, and the reason they give is, because Rum makes People sick, as if they had taken any Physical or Poysonous Plant, notwithstanding they cannot forbear drinking it to excess, when they can by any means purchase it or any other Spiritous Liquor.
They are a craving People, and if you give them any thing by way of Present, they imagine that it obliges you to give them another, and so on, until you have given them all you have; so insatiable and unreasonable are they in their Demands, that they have no bounds to them. If they give any thing as a Present, it is with a View to receive twice the Value, for they have no consideration that you shall want or have any occasion for those things you give them; for their way of Living is so contrary to ours, that neither we nor they can fathom one anothers Designs or Methods.
They set the least value upon Time of any People in the World, for if they are going out to Hunt, Fish, or any other indifferent Business, you may keep them as long as you please provided you entertain them in Discourse, and seem pleased with their Company; yet no People are more expeditious and safer Messengers than they, when any extraordinary Business that they are sent about requires it.
The Indian Women’s Work in this Province is generally to dress their Victuals for the whole Family, and make Mats, Baskets, Girdles of Possum’s Hair, and such like things, which they commonly sell to the Europeans. The Mats they make are of Rushes, about five Feet broad, and two Fathom long, sowed double, whereby they become very commodious to lay under our Beds, or to sleep upon in the Summer Season in the Day, and for our Slaves at Night. There are other Mats made of Flags, which the Tuskeruro Indians make and sell to the Planters. The Baskets our neighbouring Indians make are all of a very fine sort of Bullrushes, and sometimes of Silk-grass, which they work with the figures of Beasts, Birds, Fishes, and the like; in these they carry several sorts of Fruits, Flowers, and many other things of that nature, which they either sell or make Presents of to the Christians. The Savage Indians who live a great way from the Christians, make both their Baskets or Mats of split Reeds, which are exceedingly neat and handsome, being made only of the outward shining part of the Cane; with these I have seen Mats, Baskets and Dressing Boxes, very artificially done, they sell these to the Planters when they come down amongst them to dispose of their Deer-Skins, Furs, and other Commodities.
The Indians that live near the Christians frequently Buy or rather Barter Deer-Skins and other Commodities for Rum, which they carry to the Indians that live Westward on this and the other side of the Mountains, who never knew what it was ‘till within these few Years: This Liquor they carry in Rundlets for many hundred Miles, but sometimes they cannot forbear breaking their Cargo in their Journies, and sit down in the Woods and drink it all up; then they begin to Hollow and Shout after such a manner, that the most distracted Persons can scarce be compared to them. When they happen to carry it safe (which they seldom do without drinking some part of it, which they supply by filling up the Vessel with Water) and come amongst the Indian Towns; those that buy the Rum of them have so many Mouthfulls for a Deer-Skin, they never use or have any other kind of Measure at present: for this purpose the Buyer always makes choice of his Man who hath generally the widest Mouth, whom he brings with him to the Place where it is to be disposed of, with a Bowl to put it in.
The Indian Merchant, or Seller, looks very narrowly to the Man’s Mouth that measures it, for fear he should swallow any down, either through wilfulness, or otherwise, which if he should happen to do, the Merchant or some of his Party do not scruple immediately to knock the fellow down, exclaiming at the same time against him for false Measure, so that the Buyer is obliged to get another Mouth Piece to measure it by; most certain it is, that the Indians have not such puny Palates (as many of the Europeans have) otherwise they would find out some decent Method or other to measure their Liquor. This way of Trading must not only seem strange but very diverting, to the European Spectators, to see so much Quarreling and Controversy, as frequently happens in this new and uncommon way of Dealing or measuring Rum.
The Indian King is the Ruler of the Nation he belongs to, and has others under him to assist him, as his War Captains and Counsellors, who are chosen out of the most ancient and wise Men of his Nation. These he consults in all general Debates, concerning War or Peace, Trade, Hunting, and all the Adventures and Accidents of human Affairs, that appear or come within their Jurisdiction, where all these Matters are discoursed of and argued pro and con very deliberately (without making any Parties or Divisions) with the greatest Conduct and Prudence immaginable, having nothing more at Heart than what may be intirely for the publick Good and safety of their Nation, always valuing that before their own private Interest. After every Man has given his Opinion freely as he thinks proper, yet he that has the most Voices, or in summing up what hath been offered, and is found to be the most reasonable, that they make use of without Jars or Wrangling, and put it in execution the first Opporttunity that offers; these being People that discharge their Duty with all the integrity and justice immaginable; every town amongst them has a Ruler or Governor over it, yet the King is absolute over his whole Nation.
The Succession falls not directly to the King’s Son, but to his Sisters, which is a sure way to prevent Impostures in the Succession. They sometimes poyson the Heir that they do not approve of, or judge incapable not to govern them. The King himself is commonly the chief Person concerned in this wicked and abominable Practice. The Indians are so well acquainted with the Poysons that this Country produces, that they have been known to poyson whole Families, and most part of the Town; and it is certain, that they can poyson a running Spring or Fountain of Water, that whoever drinks thereof, will soon after infallibly dye. When the Offender is discovered, his own Relations urge for his being put to death, whom nothing will appease but the most cruel Tortures Imagination can invent, and these executed in the most public manner that is possible for such a Tragical Scene to be acted, so great is their abhorrence of such wicked Practices. All the Nations to whom the Offender belongs, and the other Nations in Peace with them within a hundred Miles or more (if it be possible to acquaint them) are summoned to come and appear at such a Time and Place, to see and rejoyce at the Torments and Death of such a Person, who is the common and professed Enemy to all the friendly Indians thereabouts, who now lies under the Condemnation of the whole Nation, and accordingly is to be put to Death at such a time as they prefix.
Upon this Summons or Notice, all that are able to appear from all the adjacent parts, with all the Joy imaginable, as if they were going to celebrate some Play or other Diversion for the Entertainment of the whole Company. At this Meeting they generally have a Feast prepared before they begin the Execution of the Criminal, which they perform in the manner following: They bring the Prisoner to the place appointed for his Execution, where he is set down upon the Ground, all the Company get about him, and there is not one sorrowful or dejected Countenance to be seen amongst them: Every thing being thus prepared, the Person appointed to be chief Executioner takes a Knife, and bids the Criminal hold out his Hands, which he does, then another cuts the Skin round the Wrist, which is drawn off like a Glove, and flead off at the Fingers end, break his Joints and Bones with great Clubs, and buffet and torment him, ‘till some violent Blow puts an end to his wretched Life: They burn him to Ashes, which they carefully gather and throw down the Rivers, as unworthy that the Earth should contain them.
As soon as this tragical Scene is over, they begin their Feast, and eat and drink chearfully, repeating all the Actions of the Tormenters, with the Prisoners behaviour during his Tortures; thus they spend the Night in one continued Scene of Mirth and Jollity, in having put to Death the common Enemy of their Nation, and all the others in Friendship with them.
These Accusations are often wrongfully laid against Indian Heroes, or a great Man they have a mind to get rid of, that has more Courage and Conduct than his Neighbouring Kings, or War Captains; it is then they alledge the Practice of Poysoning Indians against him, and make a rehearsal of every Person that died for a Year or two, and give out they were poysoned by such an Indian; this Report being once spread abroad, stirs up all the Relations of the deceased against the said Person; by such means they take an advantage against him, and he is presently put to death.
They are very reserved and politick in these Affairs, and will attend a long time with a great deal of Patience to bring about their designs, these People being never impatient or over hasty in executing any of their designs of revenge; yet they never forget injuries done by their Enemies, but always take a proper time to accomplish them, for they will endure a great many Misfortunes, Losses, and Disappointments without ever showing themselves vexed or uneasy at them.
If at any time they go by Water, and there happens a Head or contrary Wind, they never fret, or make themselves uneasy as the Europeans are most subject to do; and let what troubles or misfortunes so ever attend them they never seem to relent, but carry it off with as much resolution as any People upon Earth. Neither are they guilty of that vice so common amongst the Europeans of envying each others happiness, because their station is not equal or above their Neighbours: Of this Sin I never knew an example amongst them, though they are a People that set as great a value upon themselves as any sort of Men in the World, upon which account they find something valuable in themselves above Riches or Grandure.
Thus he that is a good Warriour is the proudest creature living, and he that is an expert Hunter is esteem’d very much by the People and himself; yet all these are natural virtues or Gifts and not Riches, which are as often in the possession of a Fool as a wise Man. Several of them are possess’d of great Quantities of Deer, and Bever Skins, Wampum, Ammunition, and many other things which are esteemed Riches amongst them, yet such an lndian is no more esteemed or regarded by them than any ordinary Fellow, provided he has no Personal Endowments, which are the only Ornaments and Perfections that must gain him credit and esteem amongst these People, for a great dealer amongst them is no otherwise valued or respected, than a Man that strains his Wits, and fatigues himself to furnish others with necessaries of Life.
There is something surprizingly undaunted in their Behaviour when they are taken Captives, and expect to die after the most miserable and tormenting manner that Savages can invent against such unfortunate Creatures, as happen to be their Prisoners; for at the very approach of Death they are observ’d to sing, and shew the greatest resolution and bravery of any People in the World; having no dread or fear to die; for they know by instinct of Nature, and daily Experience, that all things living are subject to Death, wherefore they have that great and noble gift to submit to every thing that happens, with the greatest resignation imaginable, and value nothing that attacks them in this Life.
They are never fearful in the Night, neither do the thoughts or dread of Spirits ever give them the least trouble, such as the Hobgoblins and Bug-bears, the Apprehensions of which we suck in our infancy from Nurses and Servants, who sug[g]est to us, strange and Idle Tales of Fairies and Witches, which make such impressions on us in our tender Years, that at maturity we are most commonly afraid of our own Shaddows, and carry Pigmie-souls in Giant-bodies ever after, by which means we are so much depriv’d of reason and uman’d, that we are never afterwards able to be Masters of half the Courage and Bravery nature designed for us, whilst we remain in this World. Several instances whereof are daily to be met with amongst us, which I omit as being Foreign to what we treat of. Not but that the Indians have as many lying Stories of Spirits and Conjurers as any People; but they never tell them with that disadvantage, or after that frightful manner, that the Europeans are subject to inform their Children. The old Men amongst them bring themselves into very great esteem by making the others believe their familiarity with Devils and Spirits, and what great advantage they have thereby, which if it once gain credit amongst them, they are ever afterwards held in the greatest respect and veneration imaginable; and whatever they impose upon these People for the future is received as certain Truths.
Some of them are so very poor, that they have no manner of Cloaths, only a Belt and wad of Moss, to cover their Nakedness; these are such as are lazy, or will not Work or Hunt, and are given to Gaming and Drunkenness; yet these get Victuals as well as the rest, because that is in common amongst them all: If they are caught in Theft amongst themselves, the Offender is made a Slave until such time as he makes full satisfaction to the Injured Person; but to steal from the Christians they reckon no Crime, nor think any harm in so doing; notwithstanding they are seldom guilty of this Vice amongst themselves or the Christians.
The Indians (as I observ’d before) are indefatigable and expert Travellers in the Woods, and though they have not the use of our artificial Compass to guide them, yet they are never at a loss to find their way, and let them be in never so great a Wilderness, they understand the North Point perfectly well, the principle Guide they have to instruct them, being altogether Natural, which is a short Moss that grows on some Trees exactly on the North side thereof.
They have likewise Names for eight of the thirty two Points, and call the Winds by their several Names as we do, but indeed more properly; for the North-West Wind they call the cold Wind, the North-East, the wet Wind, the South, the warm Wind, and so agreeably of the rest, according to what Weather is produced by each of them.
It frequently happens that they have large Rivers or Lakes to pass over, and if the Weather be so foggy, as it sometimes happens, especially in the Spring and fall of the Leaf, that they cannot see what Course to steer, in this case they being on one side of the River or Lake, they know what course such a Place (which they intend for) bears from them: Their Method in such cases is this, they get a great many Sticks and Chunks of Wood in their Canoe, and set off directly for their intended Port, and as they proceed, they keep throwing over Board a piece of Wood, which directs them; for by seeing how the Stick bears from the Sterne of the Canoe, they observe to keep right aft; this is their Compass, by which they will go over a Water of ten or twenty Leagues abroad.
They know the Head of any River, though five, six, or seven hundred Miles off, although they were never there before, as is often proved by their appointing to meet on the Head of such or such a River, where perhaps not one of them ever had been, yet they shall rendezvous there exactly at the time prefixed. If they meet with any Obstructions in their Journey, they leave certain Marks in the way, that those who come after them will understand how many have passed before them, and which way they are gone. It is not to be imagined how they will trace and find out each other in these solitary and desolate Woods and Desarts, where there are no Roads to guide, or any humane Creature to tell the way. They are also very expeditious in finding out the Negroes that frequently run away from their Masters into the Woods, where they commit many outrages against the Christians, as it happened in Virginia not long since, where above three Hundred joined together, and did a great deal of Mischief in that Province before they were suppressed. The Indian Kings are sent for on these Occasions, who soon find out their Haunts, and commonly kill many of them whenever they are sent in pursuit after them, for they never cease pursuing ‘till they destroy or hunt them out of the Woods: this they will do in the tenth part of the Time that the Europeans could do. These Negroes whenever they find the Indians in pursuit of them, they return, and chuse rather to submit to the Christians, whom they have injured, than fall into the Hands of the others, who have a natural aversion to the Negroes, and take Pleasure in putting them to the most exquisite Torments, when ever they find them thus in the Woods, being allowed so to do by the Christians.
I saw four and twenty of these Negroes hanged in Virginia, for conspiring against their Masters, who had taken Sanctuary in the Woods for some time before they were discovered, or hunted out by the Indians, who are very serviceable to the Christians in those Parts, and many other Provinces in the hands of the English.
Another Instance of this Nature happened not many Years ago in this Province; some of our neighbouring Indians made their Complaint to the Governor, that two Indians from the Mountains came to their Town when they were abroad, and had taken one of their Wives by surprize, and carried her away; the Governor desired them immediately to pursue them, and if it were possible to recover the Woman, which two of them accordingly did: In travelling some Days, they brought back the Woman, and the Skins of the Heads of their Enemies; though they had been three Days gone off with the Woman before the others pursued them; how they could discover which way they went, in those Woods, and Desarts, is not a little surprizing, and few or none can account for but themselves.
In their War Expeditions they have certain Hieroglyphicks, whereby each Party inform the other of the success or losses they have met with; all of which is so exactly performed by their Sylvan Marks and Characters, that they are never at a loss to understand one another, yet there never were found any Letters among the People in this Province, and I am persuaded that there are neither Letters or Learning to be met with amongst any of the Natives in all America.
It is admirable to see how exactly they will draw Maps of all the Rivers, Towns, Mountains, and Roads, or what you shall enquire of them, which may be drawn by their Directions, and come to a small matter of Latitude, reckoning by the Days Journies. These Maps they will draw in the Ashes of the Fire, and sometimes on a Mat or piece of Bark.
I have likewise seen a Pen put into one of their Hands, wherewith he has not only drawn the Rivers, Bays, and other parts of this Country, but likewise has imitated the Hand Writing of those in Company very nicely, but whenever they make these Discoveries to us, we must be very much in their Favour, otherwise they will not show you any thing they do or know.
There are several sorts of rich Mines in this Country, some of which the Indians are well acquainted with, and particularly one, whereof they make Bullets for their Guns to shoot Deer and other Game: I have seen some of this Oar with them, which is Lead, and of the richest sort, but they will not discover to us where they get it, especially if it be near their hunting Quarters; for, they say, it is this Metal the Europeans so much covet (as they do their Peak and Ronoak) which if they should discover to the Christians, they would settle near them, and so deprive them of the best hunting Matches they have, as they have already done where they are settled or inhabited; so that by that Means they shall be driven out of their Country to some unknown parts to live, hunt, and get their Bread in.
These are the Reasons that they give for not discovering what they know of this Nature. But amongst the Christians there have been few or no Enquiries made at present, but what were discovered by Chance; yet I am satisfied that the Mines and Minerals that this Country produces are extraordinary good and valuable, several Pieces whereof are daily to be seen amongst them, who make no other use of it than what I have already mentioned.
The principal Reason of our want of Knowledge in the Mines and Minerals, and many other valuable Secrets in Nature that are produced in this part of the World (as the Spaniards are with theirs) is for want of Encouragement amongst us; for I am certain were such an Affair managed and carried on by a Company of Wealthy Members, they would not only find their Account in so advantageous an Undertaking, but likewise be a great Means to enrich the British Monarchy. This I testifie from the Knowledge and Discovery of some Mines that were made known to me during my stay in that Country, which I shall be ready to discover when ever there is just Encouragement given. Such a beneficial Undertaking might be carried on very cheap in this Country, where there is not only the benefit of a fine healthful Climate, and all manner of Necessaries for Life in great plenty, but likewise all other Conveniences proper for carrying on such an Affair, to be had in it. I coud say a great deal more on this Head, having travelled in several parts of this Province to make the best discoverys I possibly cou’d of the valuable produce of the Country.
As for Iron-Mine, it is no where better and in greater plenty, yet there is none of it Manufactured at present. I will just mention one thing more about the Mines, which I had like to have forgot: Not many Years ago an Indian came privately to some of the Planters in this Province, and told them he wou’d discover a Mine for some small gratuity, but at the same time conjured them to Secrecy, for if it were known to his Nation, they woud put him to Death, and likewise that he never durst come amongst them the Second time for fear of being discovered by his Countrymen. Things being agreed upon, the Indian brings them to the Mine, and desired that they wou’d take particular care to remember and find out the place again, and immediately left them; and retired into the Woods; with transports of Joy they returne home, bringing some of the Oar with them, which was a very rich Copper-Mine, for I have seen both the Oar and some of it that was Smelted, but when they had prepared all things necessary to dig and search for it, yet they cou’d never find out the place again, or meet with the Indian afterwards.
When they are disposed to hunt in the Woods, they generally go out in great Numbers together, and several Days Journies from home. They always begin these Hunting matches at the approach of Winter, when the Leaves, are fallen from the Trees, and become dry, or when Skins and Furs are best in Season. It is then they burn the Woods, by setting fire to the wither’d Leaves, Bent and dry Grass, which they do with matches made of the Black Moss that hangs on the Trees, which is sometimes above six Feet long. This Moss when dead becomes black (though of an Ash colour before) and will then hold Fire as well as the best Match in Europe. In places where this Moss is not to be found (as towards the Mountains and Heads of the Rivers) they make Lentels of the Bark of Cypress, which serves as well.
Thus they frequently leave their Houses and retire into the Woods for four or five Months together, viz. November, December, January, February, and March, at which time the Skins are in Season, and set Fire to the Woods for many Miles together to drive out the Deer and other Game into small Necks of Lands, and other places where they fix their Guards, by which means they kill and destroy what they please, especially such as strive to escape the Fire and get through the passes they have made for that purpose.
In these Hunting matches they bring their Wives and Mistresses along with them, where they eat several kinds of Fruits which that Country produces, and live in all the Mirth and Jolity that it is possible for such People to entertain themselves with. It is in these Hunting matches they get their complement of Deer-Skins, Furs, and many other commodities to trade with the Christians, the Deer-Skins being in Season here in Winter, which is contrary in England and Ireland; most of all their small Game they kill with their Bows and Arrows, such as Geese, Turkeys, Ducks, and various kinds of wild Beasts, as Raccoons, Possums, Squirrels, and several other sorts of Vermine, judging it not worth throwing Powder and Shot after them.
The wild Turkeys being very plenty in North-Carolina, especially in the Oak Lands, as most of it is that lies any distance backwards; some of these they Roast or Boyl, others they Barbecue and eat with Bears-grease, this is accounted amongst them a good Dish, and indeed I do not doubt but it is, for the Bears-grease (as I said before) is the sweetest and least offensive to the Stomach of any Fat of Animals yet known in America; and I am very certain that the Turkeys are Fat, and exceeding good eating, if well dress’d.
The Men never beat their Corn to make Bread, that is the Women’s Work, and especially the Girls, where you shall see four of them beating with long Pestils in a narrow wooden Mortar, and every one keeping her stroke so exactly, that it is worthy of admiration, and curious to behold them when they are thus at Work; for these Indians have no manner of Mills, or any other way to make their Meal but with Mortars.
Their Cookery continues from Morning till Night, dressing their Venison after different Methods, according to each one’s Fancy, this being the Women’s business: The Hunting makes them Hungry, and they are a People that eat very often, and frequently get up at Midnight, and other unseasonable Hours to eat and satisfie their craving Appetites, notwithstanding you shall never see any of them Corpulent or Fat.
They plant several sorts of Pulse, part of which they eat green in the Summer, keeping sufficient quantities for their Winter Provision; this they carry with them to eat in their Hunting Matches. The small Red Pease are very common with them, and several other sorts, which they boyle with their Meat, or with Pigeon’s or Bear’s Fat; this Food makes them break Wind backwards, which the Men frequently do, seem well pleased, and laugh heartily, being accounted no Ill Manners amongst them; but the Women are seldom known to be guilty of that indecent Custom.
As their setting out either for War or Peace, or upon any other extraordinary Expedition, there are several Formalities amongst them, and they whose Business it is to attend their hunting Camp, are generally those that are not good or expert Hunters, therefore are employed to carry Burthens, to get Bark for their Cabins, and all other servile Work, likewise to go too and fro to their Towns, and bring News to the old People (whom they leave behind) of their Success and Welfare.
The Women are likewise obliged to carry their Loads of Grain and other Provisions with them to these randezvous, and provide Firewood to dress Victuals; for a good Hunter or Warrior, in these Expeditions is employed in no other Business than the Affairs of Game or Battle. The great quantities of Fruit that they dry in the Summer over Fires and Hurdles, and in the Sun, are at these times brought into the Field; as are also the Cakes and Quiddonies of Peaches; with this Fruit and the Bill-berries dried, they stew and make fruit Bread and Cakes, and have variety of other sorts of Fruits preserved, which are brought out upon these occasions.
In some parts of this Province, especially near the Mountains, and amongst the Indians in those Places, they have several hundred Gallons of Pigeon’s Oil or Fat, which they preserve for their Winter Stores, using it with their Pulse, Roots, and Bread, as we do Butter: These Fowl are so plenty, that Millions of them are seen in Flocks in a Day, they sometimes break large Boughs of the Pine, and other Trees whereon they perch or roost at Night, making the Ground as white as Snow with their Dung, and destroying every Herb or small Plant where it falls, being in some Places above half a Foot deep. The Indians take a Light of Pitch-Pine in one Hand, a long Pole in the other, and go into the Woods at Night where they are, and kill thousands of them by knocking them off the Trees; this is always done in the Winter, at which time they appear in Flocks.
Thus they remain in these hunting Camps all the Winter, and part of the Spring, ‘till such time as the Season approaches for planting their Maze, Pulse, and other Fruits. In these Quarters at spare Hours, they make Baskets and Mats to lie upon, and those that are not extraordinary Hunters, make Bowls, Dishes and Spoons, of Gum-Wood and Tulip-Tree. Others where they find a Vein of White Clay fit for their Purpose, make Tobacco Pipes, and several other things, which are often transported and bartered with other Indians that have plenty of Deer Skins, or such Commodities as they have occasion for. They buy with these Manufactures, their Raw Skins with the Hair on, which our Neighbouring Indians bring to their Towns, and in the Summer make their Slaves and bad Hunters dress them; the Winter Sun being not strong enough to dry them; those that are dried in their Cabins are black with the Light-wood Smoak, which they commonly burn.
Their way of dressing their Skins is by soaking them in Water; they get the Hair off with an Instrument made of the Bone of a Deer’s Foot (some use a sort of Iron Drawing Knife, which they purchase from the Europeans) after the Hair is take off, they dissolve Deer’s Brains (which they have made into Cakes and baked in the Embers) in a Bowl of Water, where they soak and rub the Skins ‘till they have sucked up all the Water, then they dry them gently, and keep continually working them with an Oyster-shell, or some such thing to scrape withal ‘till they are dry, by which means they become soft and pliable. The Skins dressed after this manner, will not endure Wet, but become hard; they therefore Cure them in the Smoak, or Tan them with the Bark of Trees: When they have not the Brains to dress their Skins, they use the young Indian Corn beaten to Pulp, which hath the same Effect as the former, for they are never at a loss for one or the other to Cure them, but whether they have any other Method is unknown to the Christians, which I am apt to believe they have; for I have seen abundance of them drest, which would endure the Water, and were as pliable as any in Europe, and would wash as well.
They are not only good and expert Hunters of the Wild Beasts and Game of the Forest, but likewise very dextrous in taking the Fish in the Rivers and Waters near which they inhabit, and are acquainted with. Thus they that live a great way up the Rivers practice striking Sturgeon, Rock-fish or Bass, and several other sorts of fish with lights, that come up the Rivers and Creeks to Spawn.
They have Fish-gigs that are made of the Reeds or Hollow Canes, these they cut and make very sharp, with two Beards, and taper at the Point like a Harpoon; being thus provided, they either wade into the Water, or go into their Canoes, and paddle about the Edges of the Rivers or Creeks, striking all the Fish they meet with in the depth of five or six Feet of Water, or as far as they can see them; this they commonly do in dark calm Nights, and whilst one attends with a Light made of the Pitch-pine, the other with his Fish-gig strikes and kills the Fish: It is diverting to see them fish after this manner, which they sometimes do in the Day; how dexterous they are in striking, is admirable, and the great quantities they kill by this Method.
They likewise kill vast quantities of Sturgeon, which they take in Snares as we do Pike and Trout in Europe. The Herrings in March and April run a great way up the Rivers and fresh Streams to Spawn, where they make large Wears with Hedges of long Poles or Hollow Canes, that hinder their passage only in the middle, where an artificial pond is made to take them in, so that they cannot return. These Wears are common all over the Rivers, and fresh Water Streams in these parts; where they take vast quantities of Herrings, Trouts, Pikes, and several other sorts of Fish that are plentifully to be met with in them.
The taking of Craw Fish is likewise very pleasant and diverting, for when they are disposed to get these Shell Fish, they take a piece of Venison and half Barbcue or Roast it, then they cut it into thin Slices, which they stick through with Reeds about six Inches distance betwixt each piece, the Reeds are made sharp at one end, and they strike a great many of them down in the Bottom of the Water (thus baited) in small running Brooks where the Craw fish constantly frequent. Thus they sit by and attend those baited Sticks, every now and then taking them up to see how many are at the Bait, where they generally find abundance, so take them off and put them in Baskets provided for that purpose, and then stick down the Reeds again, by this method in a little time they will catch several Bushels full, which are as good as any in Europe.
Those that live or frequent near the Salt Water take abundance of Fish of several sorts, some of them are very large, which to preserve, they first Barbecue, then pull them to pieces, and dry them in the Sun, and keep them for their Necessities; as for Scate, Oysters, Cockles, and several other sorts of Shell-fish, they open and dry upon Hurdles, keeping a constant Fire under them; these Hurdles are made of Reeds or Hollow Canes, in shape of a Gridiron. Thus they dry several Bushels of them, and keep for their Provision in time of scarcety.
At the time when they are on the Salts and Sea Coasts, they have another sort of Fishery for little Shell-fish, called in England, Blackmoor’s Teeth; these they catch by tying bits of Oysters to a long String, and lay it in such places as they know these Fishes haunt; they get hold of the Oysters and suck them in, that they pull them up by the Strings in great Quantities; they carry these a great way into the Main Land to trade with the remote Indians, where they are of great value, but never near the Sea, being common, and therefore not much esteemed by them that live near the Salts.
It is an established Custom amongst all the Natives in these Parts, that the young Hunters never eat of that Buck, Bear, Fish, or any other sort of Game which happens to be the first they kill, because they believe if they should eat thereof, they never would be afterwards fortunate in Hunting. The like foolish Custom they hold when they make a Wear to take Fish in, if a Woman with Child eat of the first Dish caught therein, they say that Wear will never take much Fish in it afterwards.
The Tobacco is in such great Esteem amongst some Nations of the Indians, that they think their Gods are delighted therewith, whereupon they make Fires and cast some of the Powder thereof into it for a Sacrifice, and being in a Storm upon the Waters, to pacifie the Bad Spirit, they cast some up into the Air and the Water; likewise a Wear to take Fish, being newly made, they cast some thereon, and into the Air, as also for an escape from Danger. All this is performed with strange Ceremonies and Gestures, one while Stamping, Leaping, Dancing, clapping of Hands, and uttering of strange Words.
As for killing of Snakes, most Indians avoid it, and if they even lye in their way, they will not molest them, but pass by on the other side, because their Opinion is, that if they should kill them, the Serpent’s kindred would destroy some of their Brethren, Friends, or Relations, in return. They have a thousand of these foolish Ceremonies and Customs amongst them, which they stedfastly believe, and are strict observers of, but are too tedious to mention, and would be of little or no advantage to the Readers.
There are some few of them that use the Jewish Custom of Circumcision, though this kind of Practice is but seldom used amongst them; I never knew but two Families in all the Nations of Indians I have conversed with, that were so; the Reason whereof I could never learn, notwithstanding I was very intimate with them, and have often urged them to give me an account on that Head, but could get no manner of Answer, which with them is as much as to say, I will not tell you. They have many other strange Customs amongst them, that they will render no Reason for, or give any Account of to the Europeans.
The Savages in these parts are never known to be guilty of that abominable Sin called Sodomy, as many in the Philippian Islands are said to be. Mr. Candish in his Travels reporteth, ‘That the Savages in Capul, an Island near Manila in the West Indies, have a very strange Custom amongst them, which is this, every Man and Male Child hath a Nail of Tin thrust through the Head of his Private Member, being split and rivited at the lower End, this is done whilst they are young, and the place groweth up again without any great pain to the Child, this Nail they can take out and in as there is occasion,’ And the same Author, as a Confirmation of the Truth hereof, says, ‘We ourselves have taken one of these Nails out of the Private Member of a King’s Son, who was ten Years old.’ This Custom he likewise says, was granted at the Request of the Women in that Country, who finding their Men to be given to Sodomy, desired some Remedy against that Mischief, and obtained this of the Magistrates.
They are very great Conjurers, of whom there are several strange Stories related who perform their Exorcism, after the following Manner. The Sorcerer apparells himself in a clean dres’d Deer Skin; they make a large Fire in the middle of the Plantation, the Indians all sitting round it; the Conjurer is blindfolded very secure, and surrounds the Fire three times; leaving the Company at the Fire, he went some distance into the Woods, where he stayed a short time, at his Return he surrounded the Fire as before, and leaving them a second time, he went into the Woods, where he remained about half an Hour, he performed this Exorcism the third time, after this he made a very strange and frightful Howling, which being finished, an Indian immediately caught hold of him, and led him to the Fire; by this time he was so feeble and weak that he could not stand alone, being all over in a Sweat, and as wet as if he had fallen into the River, after some little time he recovers his Strength, and gives them an Account of what they demand.
It is reported by several Planters in those parts, that they raise great Storms of Wind, and that there are many frightful Apparitions that appear above the Fires during the time of their Conjuration, that large Swarms of very strange and uncommon sorts of Flies have been seen to hover over the Fire for some time and then to fall into it, where they were all visibly consum’d, and likewise the Appearance of several frightful sorts of Birds, and lastly a strong smell of Brimstone, whilst they are performing these Charms.
I shall mention some of their practices, and so leave them to the Judgment of every Reader; these Conjurers are the Priests and Doctors of every Nation amongst the Indians, to whom the common People give great Credit and Respect, because they believe them to be great Magicians, that they frequently converse with the good and bad Spirit. They likewise make the Orations at every Feast or publick Meeting.
These Conjurers likewise serve them instead of Physitians and Surgeons, who constantly attend the sick, and always carry about them a bag full of Herbs to cure their disorders, these make Harangues about the deceas’d, let his Death be occasioned after ever so different a manner, for if it shou’d be occasion’d by Sickness, then he tells the People that it is the bad Spirit that occasion’d his Death. But if it shoud happen that an Indian comes to an untimely Death by any accident, then the Doctor makes an Oration suitable to the Occasion.
For it happen’d not many Years ago, that an Indian was kill’d by Lightning, and before the Interment, according to their Custom, every one had some hot Victuals or Yaupan-Tea given him, which he did with what he pleased. Then the Doctor began to talk, and told the People what Lightning was, that it kill’d every thing upon the Earth, that the very Fishes did not escape, for it often reach’d the Whales, Porpoises, and other Fishes, and destroyed them; that everything strove to shun it, except the Mice, who he said were the busiest in eating their Corn in the Fields when it Lightned and Thunderd the most. He likewise added, that no Wood or Tree cou’d withstand it, except the Black-Gum, and that it wou’d run round that Tree a great many times to enter therein, but cou’d not effect it. Now you must understand that sort of Gum will not split or rive; therefore I suppose the Story might arise from thence. Lastly he began to tell ridiculous absurd lyes about Lightning, that cou’d be invented; as that an Indian of their Nation had once got Lightning in the likeness of a Partrige, that no other Lightning cou’d hurt him whilst he had that about him, that after he had kept it for several Years it got away from him, and that then he became as liable to be struck with Lightning as any other Man; thus they amuse the People with a Thousand such like ridiculous stories, which they receive for the most infallible Truths.
They likewise deliver the hearers several traditional stories of great Battles that were fought by their Ancestors, of strange Beasts and Birds that were to be met with many Years ago, and that a great Rattle Snake that lived in a Creek in North-Carolina kill’d abundance of Indians, but at last a Bald Eagle kill’d it, and they were rid of a Serpent that us’d to devour whole Canoes full of Indians at a time. So that you may see how easie these Wretches are to be impos’d upon by these old Cunting Knaves, who I am perswaded understand a little better than to give credit to any such Fooleries.
I will in the next place give some account of their Physick and Surgery. These Doctors or Conjurors are those (as I said before) that visit and attend the sick, who use many charms of Witchcraft, and to gain a greater esteem and credit amongst these People, they tell them that all their Destempers are the effects of the bad or evil Spirit, who has struck them with this or that malady. Therefore none of these Doctors undertake any distemper, but that he first comes to an Exorcism to effect the Cure, and acquaints the sick parties Friends or Relations, that he must converse with the good Spirit, to know whether the Patient will recover or not; if so, then he will drive out the bad Spirit, and then the sick Person will recover and become well.
When an Indian is sick, if they think there is much danger of Life, and that he is a great Man, or hath good Friends, their method or behaviour in curing is as follows. The Doctor is immediately sent for, and as soon as he comes into their Cabin, the sick Person is placed on a Mat or Skin stark naked, lying on his Back all uncover’d, except some small trifle that covers their nakedness when ripe, otherwise in Children, or young People there is nothing about them. In this manner the Patient lies when the Conjurer or Doctor appears, and generally the King of that Nation comes to attend him with a Rattle made of a Gourd with Pease or Indian-Corn in it, which the King delivers into the Doctors Hands, whilst another brings a Bowl of Water and sets it down.
Things being thus prepared, the Doctor then begins and utters some few Words softly; afterwards he smells to the Patients Navel, and sometimes Scarifies him a little with a Flint, or an Instrument made of Rattle-Snake’s Teeth for that purpose, then he Sucks the part, and gets out a Mouthful of Blood and Serum, but Serum, chiefly, which he spits into the Bowl of Water, by which means he pretends to Suck out what occasions the Distemper.
Then he begins to mutter and talk apace; and at last to cut Capers and clap his Hands on his Britch and sides till he is all over in a Sweat, which to an European woud not only seem a very odd and strange Sight, but likewise that he was running Mad, every now and then Sucking the Patient, till such time as he gets great quantities of Blood and ill colour’d Matter, out of the Belly, Armes, Breast, Forehead, Temples, Neck, and most other parts of the Body, still continuing his Grimaces and Antick Postures, which to Europeans woud seem more like the Actions of Men in Bedlam than Doctors attending the Sick.
At last you will see the Doctor all over in a Sweat, and so feeble, that he is scarce able to stand or utter one Word, having quite spent himself, then he will cease for a while to recruit his Spirits, and begin again, ‘till he comes to the same pitch of raving and seeming Madness as before; during all this time and these performances of the Doctor, the sick Person never so much as moves, although doubtless the Scarifying and Sucking must be a great punishment to him.
But they are the most patient under the Misfortunes of Life, of any People I ever saw in all my Travels: Lastly, the Doctor makes an end, and tells the Patient’s Friends whether the sick Person will Live or Dye, and then some one that waits at this Ceremony takes the Blood away (which remains in a Lump in the middle of the Water) and immediately Buries it very secretly in the Ground, the Place being unknown to any but he that inters it.
These People are great Inchanters, and use many Charms of Witchcraft, for when they are troubled with the Headach, they tye a great Stone with a String to a Stick or Pole, and with certain Prayers, or bewitching expressions, they lift up the Stone from the Ground to the top of the Pole, which sometimes with all a Man’s strength they cannot stir from the place; and at other times they lift as easy as a Feather; by this Spell and certain Ceremonious Words, they expect to have immediate ease and help for the Patient. I am thoroughly satisfied that these Conjurors are very great Impostures, yet I have seldom or never known their Judgment fail in regard of the Patients living or dying, though I have seen them give their opinion after this manner several times: Some affirm that there is a smell of Brimstone in the Cabins whilst they are thus Conjuring, which I cannot contradict, nor will I take upon me to argue how it came there, but shall proceed to another relation of one of their Indian Kings being sick, and the method us’d by the Doctor for the recovery of his health, which is something like the former, viz.
One of their Kings being sick, the Doctor was immediately sent for, and as soon as he arriv’d, he orderd a Bowl of Water to be brought him and placed before the King, on whom he sprinkled some part out of his Mouth, then he took a string of Ronoak about too Feet long (which is like a string of small Beads) this he held at one end between his Fingers, and the other touched the Kings Stomach; he began to mutter many expressions or Words, and to use many grimaces for sometime, at length the string of Beads that hung thus perpendicular, turn’d up as an Eel woud do, and without any motion of his Hand came all up in a Lump under his Hand, and remain’d so for a considerable time, he never closing his Hand all the while; at last they returned to their former shape and length; at which the European Spectators were much surprized, some of them confidently affirmed, that they heard something answer him whilst he muttered some Words, though there was nothing to be seen. The Doctor told the Company that the King would recover, and that his Disorder would remove into his Leg, that it would be much inflam’d and swell’d, which happened exactly as he foretold.
They also conjure for stollen Goods, though Robbery and Theft are not common Vices amongst them, yet they are sometimes guilty of these Crimes; and steal Ronoak and Deer Skins from each other; when they cannot discover the Thief, they immediately send for the Conjurer to find him out, and as soon as he appears, he begins after the following manner. First he orders three Fires to be made after a triangular Form, which is accordingly done; he is then hood-winked very securly with a Deer Skin, doubled two or three times, over his Face; when this is done, he is placed in the center of the three Fires: after he has made some Motions (as always these Conjurers do) he went directly out of one of the three gaps of the Fire, as directly as if he could see, muttering to himself, having a Stick in his Hand, with which, after some time, he gives two strokes very hard upon the Ground, and made thereon a kind of Cross, after which he told the Name of the Person that had stolen the Goods, and said he would have a Mark like a Cross on his Back, which proved accordingly, for when he was taken and search’d, there appeared two great Wheals on his Back one cross the other.
There are several other Stories of this Nature, which the most substantial and credible Planters in these parts affirm for Truth, and that they have been Eye-witnesses to. They also report that they have seen one of these Conjurers take a Hollow Cane about two Feet long, in his Mouth, and stand by a Creek side, where he called with the Reed two or three times, at last opened his Arms, and flew over a Creek about a quarter of a Mile broad, as if he had been running upon Terra Firma. I shall urge no Man’s belief in this, having never seen it done by any of them, and only give it as reported above; but some of the former I have been a Witness to, therefore dare boldly assert as Fact.
As to their Religion, it is impossible to give any true Description of it, for as they can neither read nor write, whatever they have of this kind is founded meerly upon Tradition. There are a great many Customs, or rather Absurdities amongst them, which they keep as the most profound Secret; that they never will acquaint any of the Christians with the Knowledge thereof, notwithstanding the many Methods used, such as making them Drunk, the promise of Rewards, &c. but to no purpose, for so subtile and cunning are they, that it is next to an impossibility to make them discover it, or to fathom out their secret Designs, whether they do this because they are sensible of their own Weakness in practicing them, or any other Motive they may have to induce them so to do, is known to none but themselves, let other Writers pretend what they will to give a true Notion of their Worship; you shall see them amongst their Idols and dead Kings in their Quiogoson or Charnel Horse, where the Bones of the deceased are laid (a Custom like this we read of practiced by the Indians in the Kingdom of Pegu in the East Indies) into which place the King, with the Conjurers and some few old Men are admitted to go, but as for the young Men, and the chiefest Number of the Indians, they are kept as ignorant of what the Elders are as any European, let him be in ever so great Esteem and Friendship with the King or great Men; he is not admitted to enter the House at those times, or to have Knowledge of their Secrets or what they are doing.
They are generally very ignorant of the first Creation of Man, or from whence they came, for some say they are descended from an old Man who came thither in a Boat, which they call a Canoe; but whether this was before or after the Flood, they can give little or no satisfactory Account. Others (with whom I have frequently conversed on that Head) believe that they are made out of the fine white Mould or Earth, and that the Blacks or Negroes are formed out of the black Dirt and swampy Earth; this was all that I could ever learn from them on that subject. They all believe that the World is round; and that there are two Spirits, the one Good and the other Bad. The Good one they reckon to be the Author and Maker of all Things, and say that it is he that gives them the first Fruits of the Earth, and teaches them to Hunt, Fish, and be wise enough to overcome the Beasts of the Wilderness, and all other Creatures, that they may be assistant unto Man. To which they add, that the Quera, or Good Spirit has been very kind to the Europeans, in teaching them how to make Guns and Amunition, besides a great many other Necessaries that are helpful to Man, all which they say will be delivered to them when the Good Spirit shall think fit: They also believe the Good Spirit does not punish any one in this World or that to come, but that he delights in doing good to Mankind, in giving them plenty of the Fruits of the Earth, instructing them to make many useful Things, and all the Advantages and Pleasures they enjoy. But as for the Bad Spirit (who lives separate from the Good one) they say it is he that torments them with Sickness, Disappointments, Losses, Hunger, Cold, Travel, and all other Misfortunes that are incident to human Life, whom they worship to appease his Wrath. As to what concerns their Treatment in the other World, I shall treat of it hereafter, when I come to make mention of their Notions concerning Heaven and Hell.
Though the Indians are very resolute, and die with a great deal of Courage and Bravery, in the Hands of their Enemies; yet I have known them tremble, and be in the greatest fear and agony imaginable, when they had sentence of Death pronounced against them by the English, for Capital Crimes, whereof they have been sometimes guilty. Whether this Fear was owing to their not being put to death by their common Enemies, or being delivered up to the English by their own Nation, I cannot determine. I am certain they meet with more Favour from the Christians, than they do amongst themselves, who only hang them on Trees for their Offences. These Savages sometimes shew the greatest Reluctance and Concern imaginable to deliver up these Offenders to the Europeans, especially if he was a great Warrior or Hunter amongst them; yet for their own safety they will comply, and put the Offender into their Hands, to be dealt with according to their Laws.
These Kings have been known to make offers to the Christians by way of Exchange for an Innocent Person to die in the room of the Guilty: so fond are they to preserve their own Men if possibly they can; but these being Requests contrary to the Christian Principles, are never granted or complied with.
When a Criminal is hanged, the King with the Relations of the deceased come and pull him by the Hand and say Words to this purpose: Thou wilt never play any more roguish Tricks in this World, and whether art thou gone now to play thy Tricks. When the Criminal is dead and taken down, they are perfectly easy, and free from all manner of Concern about him, though a few Days before so unwilling to deliver him up; they generally end these Tragedies in Feasting and a fit of Laughter, which puts an end to their Mourning for the loss of their Friend, and never think of the deceas’d more.
Their Burials are different from each other, every Nation having peculiar Methods of their own; some of which I shall here give an account of viz. They raise a Mole of Earth, the Mould whereof they take great pains to make smooth, and is higher or lower according to the Dignity of the Person deceas’d, whose Monument it is, over which there is a Shade or Umbrella, made Ridge-ways, like the Roof of a House, this is supported by nine Stakes or small Posts driven into the Ground, the Grave being about six or eight Feet in length, and near four Feet in breadth, about which they hang Gourds, Feathers, and such like Trophies placed by the dead Man’s Relations, in respect to him in the Grave. The other parts of the Funeral Rights are thus: As soon as the Party is dead, they lay the Corps upon a piece of the Bark of a Tree in the Sun, seasoning or embalming it with a small Root beaten to Powder, which they have in plenty, but will never discover to the Europeans where it grows, it looks as red as Vermillion, which they mix with Bear’s-oil, to beautifie and preserve their Hair. After the Carcase has lain a Day or two in the Sun, they remove and lay it upon Crotches made for that purpose to support it from the Earth; they anoint it all over with the above-mentioned Oyntment made of the Red Root and Bear’s-grease; when this is done, they cover it all over very exactly with the Barks of the Pine, or Cypress Tree, to prevent the Rain falling upon it, and other injuries of the Weather; frequently sweeping the Ground very clean about it. Some of his nearest Relations bring all the Temporal Estate he was possest of at his Death, such as Guns, Bows and Arrows, Beads, Feathers, Deer Skins, Matchcoats, and the like, wherewith they adorn the Grave. The nearest Relation is the principal Mourner, being clad in Moss (that grows upon Trees) after a very odd and strange manner, with a Stick in his Hand, keeping a mournful Ditty for three or four Days, his Face being made as black as a Negroe with the Smoak and Soot of the Pitch Pine, mingled with Bear’s-grease; during this time he tells all the Spectators that approach near him, or pass by, who the deceased was, and what great Feats he performed in his life time, all tending to the Praise of the defunct.
When the Flesh grows Mellow, and cleaves from the Bones, they take it off and burn it, making the Bones very clean, and anoint them with Ointment, wrapping the Scull up very carefully in a Cloth artificially woven of Possum’s Hair or a dressed Deer Skin, which they every Year or oftner, cleanse and anoint with the Red Oyntment, by these Means they preserve them for many Ages; they likewise carry them from place to place as they remove their Dwellings; that it is common to see an Indian in the Possession of the Bones of his Grandfather, Father, or some Relation of longer Antiquity.
They have other sorts of Monuments or Tombs for the dead, as where one was slain, in that very Place they raise a heap of Stones, if any are to be met with in the Place, if not, with Sticks, to his Memory; that every one that passeth by that place augments the Heap in respect of the deceas’d. Some Nations of these Indians have great rejoycing and Feasts at their Burials.
There are other Nations who differ from the former in burying their Dead: When one of them dies, the greater he was in Dignity, the more Expensive is his Funeral, and performed with the greater Ceremony: When a King dies, they bury him with a great deal of Solemnity; (according to their Method) upon his Grave they set the Cup wherein he used to drink out of, about the Grave they stick many Arrows, weep and fast three Days successively without ceasing; all the Kings who were his Friends make the like Mourning, in token of the Love they had for him; they cut off more than the one half of their Hair, the Women as well as the Men: During the space of six Moons (so some Nations reckon their months) there are certain Women appointed which lament the death of the King, crying with a loud Voice three time a Day, viz. Morning, Noon, and in the Evening. All the goods of the King are put into his House, and then they set it on Fire wherein they consume all. They likewise bury the Body of the Priests or Conjurers in their Houses, which they set on Fire with all the Goods.
For it is to be observ’d, notwithstanding these People are so very illiterate and bred after such a Savage manner: Yet they have as great regard and respect for their Kings and great Men, as any People to be met with. When any of these great Men dye, their methods in their Burials are different from the former, for the first thing that is done is to place the nearest Relations nigh the Corps, who Mourn and Weep very much, having their Hair hanging down their Shoulders in a very Forlorn manner. After the dead Person has lain a Day and a Night upon their Hurdles made of Canes, commonly in some out House prepared for that purpose. Those that Officiate about the Funeral go into the Town, and the first young Men they meet with that have Blankets or Match-coats on, which they think fit for their turn, they strip them from their Backs; who suffer them so to do without any manner of resistance; this being common amongst several of their Nations; these they wrap the dead Bodies in, and cover them with two or three Mats, which the Indians make of Rushes, and last of all they have a long Web of woven Reeds or Hollow Canes, which is their Coffin, and is brought round the Corps several times and tyed at both ends, which indeed looks very decent, and well amongst these Savages.
Then the Corps is brought out of the House into their Orchard of Peach Trees, where another Hurdle is made to receive it, about which come all the Relations and Nation that the dead Person belong’d to, besides several other Nations in alliance with them, they all sit down upon Mats on the Ground, spread for that purpose, every one seemingly dejected for the loss of their deceas’d Friend and Countryman, but more especially the Relations.
Things being thus accomodated, their Priests or Conjurers appear, and after having commanded their Attention, and every one is silent, he pauses for some short time, then begins to give an Account who the deceased Person was, how stout a Man he approved himself, how many Enemies and Captives he had kill’d and taken, how strong, tall, and nimble he was, that he was a great Hunter, a lover of his Country, and possessed of a great many beautiful Wives and Children; which is esteemed the greatest of Blessings amongst them, in which they have a very true Notion. Thus this Orator runs on highly extolling the dead Man for his Valour, Conduct, Strength, Riches, good Humour, and even enumerating his Guns, Slaves, and all he was possest of when living. After this he addresses himself to the People of that Town or Nation to whom the deceased belonged, and bids them supply his Place by following his Steps, who he assures them is gone into a Country (which lies a great way off in this World, that the Sun visits in his ordinary Course) where he shall meet with all his Relations and Friends who are gone there before him, that he shall have the enjoyment of handsome Women, great store of Deer to hunt, and never meet with Hunger, Cold or Fatigue, but every thing to answer his Expectation and Desire.
This is the Heaven which they propose to themselves, but on the contrary, for those Indians that are Lazy and Thievish amongst them, bad Hunters, and no Warriors, nor of much use to the Nation, to such they allot in the other World, or the Country that they are to go to, Hunger, Cold, Fatigue, Trouble, old Ugly Women for their Companions, Snakes, and all sorts of Nastiness for them constantly to feed upon; after this manner they describe their Heaven and Hell.
After all this Harangue, he amuses the People with some of their traditions, as when there was a violent hot Summer, or very hard Winter, when any notable distemper rag’d amongst them, when they were at War with such and such Nations, how victorious they were, what were the Names of the War Captains, and many other things of Antiquity; and to prove the times more exactly, he produces the Records of the Country, which are a parcel of Reeds of different lengths, with variety of distinct markes, and Notches, known to none but themselves, (by which they seem to guess very exactly at accidents that happen’d many Years ago, nay two or three Ages or more).
They likewise give an Account that in the Year 1608, there was such a hard Winter in North-Carolina, that the great Sound was so Frozen, that the Wild Geese and other Fowl came into the Woods to eat Acorns, that they were so tame (I suppose through want) that they kill’d abundance in the Woods by knocking them on the Head with Sticks, and it is very strange how exactly one Nation will agree with another as to the time when these thing happen’d, having no manner of Records to guide them but these bits of Sticks.
But to returne to the dead Man, when this long Tale is ended by the Conjuror that spoke first; perhaps a second begins another long story, a third, and fourth, if there be so many of these Priests or Doctors present, which all tell partly one and the same thing, at last the Corps is brought away from the Hurdle to the Grave by four young Men, attended by the Relations, the King, old Men and most part of the Nation.
When they come to the Sepulchre which is about six Feet deep, and eight Feet long, having at each end (that is at Head and Feet) a Light-wood or Pitch Pine-fork driven close to the sides of the Grave, firmly into the Ground (these two Forks are to contain a Ridge Pole, as I shall presently describe) before they lay the Corps into the Grave, the bottom is covered two or three times over with the Barks of Trees, then they let down the Corps (with two Belts, that the Indians carry their Burthens with) very leisurely on the said Bark, then they lay over a Pole of the same Wood into the two Forks, having a great many Pieces of Pitch-Pine-logs about two Feet and a half long, they stick down one End of them in the sides of the Grave, and the other End lies on the Ridge-Pole, that they decline like the Roof of a House, being thus placed, they cover them (many double) with Barks of Trees, and throw the Earth thereon that was taken out of the Grave, and beat it down very firm: By this means the dead Body lies as in a Vault, nothing touching it, which I esteem a very decent way amongst them, having seen several Christians buried without the tenth part of that Ceremony and Decency.
As soon as the Flesh begins to cleave from the Bones, they take up the Carcasses and scrape them clean, which they joint in the nature of a Skeleton; afterwards they dress them up in pure white Deer Skins, and deposite them amongst their Kings and Grandees in their Quiogozon, which is their Royal Tomb, or Burial Place of their Kings and War Captains. This is a large and magnificent Cabin amongst them (according to their way or method of Building) raised at the publick Charge of the Nation, and maintained in due form and neatness. About seven Feet high is a Floor or Loft, whereon lye the Bones of all the Princes and Great Men that have died for several hundred Years past, attired in the Dressed Deer Skins, as I have before Remarked. No Person is allowed to have his Bones lie in this Quiogozon or Charnel House, and to be thus dress’d, unless he gives a good Sum of their Money to the Rulers for Admittance.
It is to be observed, that if they remove to any part of the Continent, they seldom fail to carry these Bones along with them, though the tediousness of their short daily Marches keep them never so long on their Journies. They reverence and adore this Quiogozon, with all the Veneration and Respect that is possible for such a People to discharge; they had rather loose all they are possessed of than have any Violence or Injury offered thereto; by this we may see what a Respect they have for their deceas’d Ancestors.
They differ some small matter in their Burials from each other, some burying right upwards, and some otherwise, as I have before intimated; yet for the most part they all agree in their Method of Mourning, which is to appear every Night, or oftner, at the Sepulchre, and weep and howl after a dismal manner, having their Faces daubed over with Light-wood-Soot, and Bear’s-oil, which makes the Face as black as Oil and Lamp-black could do. In this black Figure they remain for a Year or longer, according to the Dignity of the deceas’d.
If the deceas’d Person was a Grandee, such as a King or War Captain, and the like, to carry on the Funeral Ceremonies with greater Formality and Pomp, they hire People to cry and lament over the deceas’d: There are several Persons of both Sexes that practice this for a livelyhood, and are expert at shedding abundance of Tears, and howling like a Parcel of Wolves, or distracted People in Bedlam; by this means they discharge their Office with abundance of Art, and great Applause from the Indians. These People regarding those kind of Performances or Ceremonies very respectfully, looking upon them as Rights justly due to the deceas’d.
Their Women are never accompanied with these Pomps or Ceremonies after Death; and to what World they allot that Sex, I could never learn, unless it be to wait on their deceas’d Husbands, or to be metamorphosed into those pretty and ugly Women in the other World or Country where the Indian Men expect to go after death, which I have before made mention of. Yet these Women have more Wit than some of the Eastern Nations (as we are informed) who sacrifice themselves to accompany their Husbands in the other World, which the former never do. It is the deceased Person’s Relations by Blood, as his Sons, Daughters, Brothers, Sisters, Uncles, Cousins, that mourn in earnest; the Wives thinking their Duty discharged, and that they are become free when their Husbands are Dead, all their Care being to look out as fast as they can for another to supply his Place.
Thus I have given the most exact Account of the Indians of Carolina Conjuring over the Sick, stolen Goods, and the Nature and Manner of burying their dead. I shall therefore make a small Degression, to inform my Readers with the manner of our Travelling up to the Charokee Mountains, having already set forth the many and different Observations we made in this spacious Country, and then proceed to the Indian Distempers; some of which I have been Eye-witness to.
The latter end of February, Anno. Dom. 1730, we set out on our intended Journey, being in Number Ten White Men, and Two Indians, who served for our Huntsmen and Interpreters. Having provided a sufficient quantity of Fire-Arms, Amunition, Horses, two Mariners Compasses, Rum, Salt, Pepper, Indian Corn, and other Necessaries, we began our Journey; and after we had past the Christian Plantations, our Accommodations were as follows: All the Day we were diverted with variety of beautiful and strange Objects; in the Evening we encamped an Hour before Sunset, tyed our Horses to Trees near us, which we made the Indians climb up to procure a sufficient quantity of Moss for their Food, and to make Beds for us to lie upon, which was generally under the shade of some large Tree: Our next Business was to send the Indians to Hunt; our Care in the meantime was to make a large Fire of the broken pieces of Timber which we found in plenty lying dispersed up and down the Woods; this we piled up in order to continue burning all Night, which prevented all manner of Wild Beasts and pernicious Insects being troublesome, or approaching us or our Horses.
As soon as our Indians had discharged one or two shots, and given us a signal of their Success by Hollowing, we immediately dispatched some of our Party to their assistance, to bring home the Game they had killed; for they seldom return’d without more than a sufficient quantity of Venison, wild Turkies, and other Game for the support of all our Company, during our whole Journey. Being thus provided with Provisions, our next business was to perform our Cookery, which consisted chiefly in Roasting and Broiling, according as each Person was disposed. When Supper was ready, and a sufficient quantity of Indian Corn roasted, which we made use of instead of Bread, we sat down upon the Ground, and generally eat with a good Appetite, the Air being no where better or purer than near the Mountains. In this manner we supped each Night, our Kitchen Furniture being a Wooden Spit, and our Table, Dishes and Trenchers the Barks of Trees. Supper being ended, we made our Punch (the Bowl being a large Gourd) which we distributed equally to each Person a good Harmony being observed amongst us during the whole Journey. At Night when our Company were disposed to rest, we made our Beds of Moss near the fire, where we slept comfortably, keeping a constant Watch by turns every four Hours. Thus we enjoyed ourselves ‘till our arrival at the Mountains, and what continually rendered our Journey more agreeable was the beautiful Prospect of the Country, being adorned with Woods, Savannas, spacious Rivers, together with various kinds of Beasts, Birds, Fishes, &c.
It would not be proper to trouble the Reader with the Adventures of each Day, and the many Observations we made therein, these being sufficiently set forth already: Let it suffice to inform them, that after fifteen Days Journey, we arrived at the foot of the Mountains, having met with no Human Specie all the way. It seems upon our first arival we were discovered by a Party of the Iroquois Indians, who, as I said before, are very powerful, and continually at War, wandering all over the Continent betwixt the two Bays of Mexico and St. Lawrence. As soon as they had discovered us they disappeared, (as we were afterwards informed) and gave Notice thereof to their King, who sent immediately an Ambassador, or one of his Attendants, painted as red as Vermillion, together with a strong Party of his Men, armed with Bows and Arrows.
When they appeared the second time, the Retinue halted at about half a Mile distant from us and the Ambassador attended with one Person, came to the place where we were (which was in a large Savanna) with a green Bough in his Hand, and gave us to understand that he was sent to us by Order of his King, who desired to know whether we came for Peace or War, or what other Business had brought us to those Parts; In such like Speeches he accosted us. We assured him by our Indian Interpreters, that we were come in a friendly manner, with no other Design than a Curiosity of viewing the Mountains. When we had thus satisfied him he sat down with us, and dispatched the other Person that attended him, to acquaint the King with the Reasons of our coming.
During his Absence, we entertained the Ambassador with Punch, and made him a Present of some few Toys, which he accepted of, and was highly pleased therewith. About four Hours after the Messenger returned, whom the Ambassador received at a little distance from us, where they discoursed for some time, and at his return told us, that the Message from the King was, to desire us to make him a Visit, assuring us at the same time of his Friendship. This Message occasioned several Debates to arise amongst us, concerning the consequence that might attend it; we seemed unwilling to go, which he perceiving, assured us in the strongest Terms of our safety, and the Sincerity and Friendship of the King. At length, rather than incur his Displeasure (notwithstanding we were determined to sell our Lives at the dearest rate, if we met with any opposition) we complied, and arrived about six o’Clock at the Indian Town (attended with the Guards that came with the Ambassador, who marched at some distance from us) and were conducted to the State House, where the King was seated with his War Captains and Councellors, who got up and placed us next to him; after we had paid our due acknowledgements to him, and made him some Presents, he then began to enquire the Reasons of our coming thither, and among other things, How his Brother did, meaning the Governor; and many other such like Speeches passed between us. After we had satisfied him in each particular that he demanded, he bid us welcome, shaking Hands with each of us; assuring us of his Friendship, and the great Regard he had for those of our Nation. The few Presents we gave (which were Knives, Glass Beads, Punch, and the like) had made so favourable an Impression in the Breast of his Majesty, and all his Councellors, in our behalf, that the King’s Orders were issued out immediately, strictly charging all his Subjects to treat us in the most friendly manner, and supply us with whatever we had occasion for during our Pleasure to stay amongst them. After all these Speeches were ended, towards Night we were dismissed, and conducted to one of the King’s Houses (being an Apartment prepared for us) where we lay upon Benches, with the Skins of Beasts for our Covering; and this was the best Lodging we met with since our departure from the Christians. They took particular Care of our Horses, and treated us with all the good Nature possibly to be expected from them, supplying us with sufficient quantities of Provision, such as Venison, Wildfowl, Fish, and various Kinds of dried Fruits, Pulse, and Water, no stronger Liquors are to be met with amongst these People.
The King’s Houses are partley in the Center of the Town, the rest of the Buildings being erected in a confused Order, no regular Streets, Shops, or even Handy-craft Trades, are to be met with amongst them.
The news of our arrival brought prodigious Numbers of Men and Women to us, as also Boys and Girls, who were stark Naked; these would come and touch our Cloaths, and view us with admiration, having I am satisfied, never had an opportunity to behold any thing of this Nature before. The King diverted us every Day with Men and Women Dancing, shooting with Bows and Arrows, their Warlik Exercise, and several other kinds of Diversions, wherein he imagined we took any Pleasure. Finding our selves thus in favour with the King, the first request we made was, that we might have leave to see the Quiogozon, or Charnel House, which was the largest of that Nature we had ever beheld: He easily complied with our Request, but with a strict Charge, that we should do no hurt, either to the Bones, or any other thing that we should observe there.
Two Days after our Arrival, we requested the King to have Liberty to depart, in order to view the Mountains, which he seemed very unwilling to comply with, pressing us to continue longer with him, urging many Arguments to persuade us; and that we had not as yet sufficiently refreshed ourselves after our late Fatigue. But we assured him that our Governor had given us strict Orders at our Departure, to be as expeditious as possibly we could in our return home. These Considerations at length moved him to a compliance sooner than he intended. But the chief Reason of our departing so soon was, that if we had remained there much longer, we should be deprived of all our Rum, which was a great support to us in this long and tedious Journey. The King then offered us a Party of his Men to guard us in the Mountains, least we should be molested by any Indians that might be Hunting in them, during our stay there. We most gratefully returned him our due Acknowledgments for his kind offer, and the many Favours he had already conferred upon us, and most humbly beg’d to be excused, which he readily granted us.
Having thus obtained our License of Departure, we made him a Present of a Bottle of Rum, in lieu whereof he gave us Indian Corn, Venison, and some dried Fruits, for our support in the Mountains, where Provisions are scarce. All things being prepared as usual, we set out the next Morning about six o’Clock, continuing our Journey still Westward: The King and his Guards conducted us about half a Mile, wishing us Health, and intreating us at the same time, to make him a Visit at our Return, which we did not, taking a Tour another way.
About the Evening we approached to the top of one of these Mountains, where we refreshed, being all in perfect Health. Here we had the greatest difficulty to be supplied with Moss for Provision for our Horses, but after some time searching, we found what was sufficient for them; then making a great Fire, and our Beds for that Night of the withered Leaves of the Trees, which we gathered for that Purpose. The next Morning very early having refreshed ourselves, we set forward, and in the Evening got on the other side of the first Ridge of Mountains into a most beautiful Valley, adorned with Woods, Savannas, and a very rich Soil, here we encamped this Night, being the longest Days Journey we made from our first setting out, by reason that we were destitute of Water in these barren places, for our selves and Horses, only what we met with by chance in the hollow parts of the Rocks, which our Horses would hardly drink.
The next Morning we set forward with a great deal of Chearfulness, having plenty of Water, and all manner of Provisions. In this Days Journey we discovered an Indian in the solitary parts of the Woods, but as soon as he espyed us, he fled, notwithstanding we made signs to him to come to us, but in vain, for he quickly vanished out of our sight, that we could not learn what Nation he belonged to, or whether there were any more with him in those Parts. After two Days Journey we arrived at another Ridge of rocky Mountains, with large Trees in several Places, but little or no Pasture like the former, but much higher, having a beautiful Prospect of large Woods and Forrests, as far as our sight would permit. From this Mountain we returned, making our Journey Eastward; meeting with nothing worthy of Observation, but what we have already made mention of; and in thirty two Days, to our great Satisfaction, arrived amongst the Christians, our Company being all in perfect Health having had no Misfortune all the way, but the loss of one of our Compasses.
As there are in this Country many poysonous Herbs and Creatures, so the Indian People have excellent Skill in applying effectual Antidotes to them; for Medicinal Herbs are here found in great Plenty, the Woods and Savannas being their Apothecary’s Shops, from whence they fetch Herbs, Leaves, Barks of Trees, with which they make all their Medicines, and perform notable Cures; of which it may not be amiss to give some Instances, because they seem strange, if compared with our Method of curing Distempers. They have a certain Method in poysoning their Arrows, and they will temper them so as to work slow or swift as they please; they can make it so strong, that no Art can save the Person or Beast that is wounded with them, except it be by their Kings and Conjurers, their young Men being ignorant of it.
They use Sweating very much, especially if violent Pains seize the Limbs, or any other part of the Body, which is performed by certain Vegetables which they are well acquainted with; for as soon as they are afflicted with these kind of Disorders, they take Reeds or small Wands and bend them, with these they make little Huts, covering them with Deer Skins, Blankets, or their Matchcoats, and the like; they have other Sweating Houses built in shape like large Ovens; they have Fires made not far from these Sweating Houses, wherein they heat Stones, or (where these are wanting) the Bark of Trees, putting them into these Stones, which occasion an extraordinary Heat, by the help of which, and the Herbs which are boiled in a Pot, they sweat very plentifully. They likewise use Bathing often in the Waters for the like Disorders.
They never miss curing most kinds of Cutaneous Eruptions by the Plants that are produced in this Country: They infallibly cure Scald Heads, which they chiefly perform with Oil of Acorns, but from which Oak I never could be rightly informed, they being very secret in what they know. They cure Burns beyond Credit; I have seen of these Wretches burnt in their Drunkenness after such a miserable manner, that in all Appearance they could not live; yet I have seen them cured in a very short time, contrary to all expectation; that they have been capable of going abroad in ten or twelve Days. I have known others to be miserably burnt with Gun Powder, which they have cured in a short time; but by what Ingredients they perform these speedy and wonderful Cures is known to none but themselves. They seldom or never make known any Secrets of this Nature to the Europeans, but are very ready to serve them upon such Occasions, if required, for a small Gratuity.
What is worthy of Observation is, that amongst all these Indians there are no running inveterate Ulcers to be met with, neither do their Wounds turn to a Gangrene, and they are very expert in healing all manner of green Wounds and Dislocations, which they perform so speedily, that I dare boldly say, that they are the greatest Artists in these kind of Performances of any People in the known World.
There was a Planter in North Carolina who had a grievous Ulcer in his Leg for many Years, which was deemed incurable by all those that beheld it; and many attempts were made by the best Christian Artists in that Country to perfect the Cure, but all to no purpose, for his Leg still grew worse and worse; at last he was prevailed upon to apply himself to one of those Indian Doctors, who performed the Cure in a very short time for the value of three Shillings Sterling, though it had cost him above one hundred Pounds before to little or no Purpose.
The Indian Doctor performed this Cure after the following manner; first he made a strong Decoction of the Bark of the Root of Sassafras, in which he bathed the Patients Leg very well, then he took the rotten Grains of the Maiz, or Indian Corn, well dried and beaten to Powder, and the soft Down that grows upon the Turkeys Rump, with this he quickly dried up the filthy Ulcer, and made a perfect Cure, of what was thought incurable, to the great Joy and satisfaction of the Planter, who had so long laboured under it. This I had affirmed to me by the Planter himself, and several others that were Eye-witnesses to the whole Affair.
The Pox is to be met with amongst some Nations of these Indians, being as it is Reported communicated to them by the Europeans, it being a Distemper intirely unknown to them before their Arrival. By this Disorder, some of them have lost their Noses, and particularly one of their greatest Conjurers, whom I have seen and conversed with; but whether or no this Distemper was known to them before the Christians came amongst them, I will not take upon me to decide it, being in no way material to my present Design, which is only to satisfie my Readers with the Advantages and Disadvantages that are to be met with in this Spacious part of the World.
These Savages of late cure this Distemper with certain Berries (that grow in this Province) which Salivate like Mercury, notwithstanding they use Sweating and strong Decoctions with it, as they do almost upon every Occasion, and when they are in the greatest Extreamity of Heat, leap into the Rivers or Ponds of Water, by which Practice many have lost their Lives, yet at present it is not sufficient to deter them from this kind of Practice.
The Yaws, is a Venerial Disorder (as I said before) in all respects like the Pox, only it is not attended with a Gonorrhæa in the beginning, but having all the other Symptoms that attend that Disorder, such as Cutaneous Eruptions, Nocturnal Pains, &c. This Distemper of late has been communicated to the Indians by the Christian Traders, and though it is not very common amongst them, yet some few have lost their Noses by it, and others are become most miserable Spectacles by neglecting it’s Cure; at last they make a shift to cure or patch themselves up, and live for many Years after; such Men commonly turn Doctors amongst them, and some of these No-Nose Doctors are in very great Esteem amongst them. The Juice of the Tulip Tree is used by the Indians as a proper Remedy for this Distemper.
The Small Pox proved very fatal amongst them in the late War with the Christians, few or none ever escaping Death that were seized with it. This Distemper was intirely unknown to them before the arrival of the Europeans amongst them. Their Method in this, as in all other Fevers, is to run directly into the Water in the extremity of the Disease, which strikes it in and kills most that use that Method.
They use Scarification in most Distempers; their chief Instruments are the Teeth of the Rattle-Snake, which they poyson with upon occasion. They take out the Teeth of the Snake, and suck out the Venome with their Mouth, which they spit on the Ground, and receive no damage thereby; it is of a greenish Colour, as I have frequently observed. These Teeth they keep for the uses above-mentioned, having no Notion of Lancets, or other Instrument proper in those Operations.
The Spleen is a common Distemper with the Indians in this Province, which they cure by burning on the Belly with a Reed or Hollow Cane, after the following manner: They take the Cane and put the End into the Fire where they burn it ‘till it is red hot, then they lay the Patient on his Back, and place a piece of thin Leather on his Belly, between the Pit of the Stomach and the Navel, so press the hot Reed on the Leather, which burns the Patient to that degree, that they ever after have the Impression of the Reed wherever it was laid: This Method is sometimes used amongst them for the Belly Ach.
The Plague was never known amongst the Indians that I could ever learn; yet the Small Pox, their continual Wars with each other, their poysoning, and several other Distempers and Methods amongst them, and particularly their drinking Rum to excess, have made such great destruction amongst them, that I am well informed, that there is not the tenth Indian in number, to what there was sixty Years ago.
They have a kind of Rheumatism, which generally afflicts their Legs with grievous Pains, and violent Heats; whilst they are thus tortured, they employ the young People continually to power cold Water upon the part aggrived, ‘till such time as the Pains are abated, and they become perfectly easy, using no other Method for this kind of Disorder.
They are never troubled with the Scurvy, neither are they afflicted with the Dropsy, Diabetes, Gout, Stone, Pthisick, Consumption, Asthma, or Palsie, which Distempers are too well known amongst us, and frequently attended with most fatal Consequences. Neither is the Struma to be met with amongst them, and many other European Distempers too tedious to name.
They have several Remedies which they use for the Tooth-ach, which frequently carries off the Pain; but if all their Endeavours should fail, they have recourse to punching out the Tooth, which is done with a small Cane placed against it, on a bit of Leather, then they strike the Reed and push out the Tooth, this they perform with a great deal of Dexterity, and never endanger the Jaw, which other Instruments are apt to do.
They seldom make use of Amputation, except it be to the Captives that they take in War, when they cut off the Feet, which I have mentioned in another Place. But in any immoderate defluctions of Blood, or any other Humour from any part of the Body, they are never at a loss for a speedy Cure.
I never observed any of them to practice Anatomy, neither do I believe that they have any Knowledge therein, unless as I observed before, that they make Skelitons of their Kings and great Men’s Bones. They can colour the Hair Black, though of a Reddish Colour, or any other Colour, which they do with a certain Seed or a Plant that grows in their Plantations. They make use of no Minerals in Physick, and very little of Animals, but chiefly depend on Vegetables, for all Disorders amongst them. They are well acquainted with the Spontaneous Plants that are produced in these Parts of the World; and a Flux of Blood seldom or never follows any of their Operations.
They are scarce ever known to make use of any Gums or Rosins in their Physick; as for Catharticks and Emeticks, so much in fashion in Europe, they do not esteem or make use of, unless it be immoderate Drinking such vast quantities of their Yaupan Tea, and vomiting it up again, this they continue every Morning, or oftner, where they can have this Plant, from which they receive great Benefit, not only in discharging and cleansing the Stomach from the peccant Humours there lodged, but likewise by its great Diuretick quality which carries off those Humours by the Ureters, that might be prejudicial to their Health, and occasion Fevers, Agues, and many other Distempers, which they are not so subject to as the Europeans; which I am satisfied is owing in a great measure to their constant use of this Plant, which takes away both Hunger and Thirst for four and twenty Hours.
There is no Plant in these Parts in greater Veneration and Esteem amongst them than this is, and they frequently carry it to the Westward Indians, who give Deer Skins, and other Necessaries they want for it. They take the Leaves and small Twigs, bruise them in Wooden Mortars, ‘till they become of a blackish Colour, and wholly defaced: Then they take and put them into Earthen Pots, over the Fire, till they Smoak, stirring them all the time ‘till they are cured: Others take them thus bruised, and put them into Earthen Bowls, under which they put live Coals and cover them with Youpan Leaves, ’till they have done Smoaking, often turning them over, then they spread them on Mats and dry them in the Sun or Shade for use.
They commonly in most of their Disorders make use of the Juices of Plants, not out of any Foppery or Fashion, as many Europeans and other Nations are often fond of, but purely to relieve and free Nature of the Oppression and Burthen that she labours under.
They neither use Unguents or Fats in any external Application for Wounds or Ulcers, but they sometimes use the Fat of Animals to render their Limbs more pliable, and when they are weary to relieve the Joints.
The Bark of the Root of the Sassafrass Tree is very much used by them, which they generally Torrefy in the Embers, and strip off the Bark from the Root, beating it into a Paste, or a Consistance fit to spread, so apply it to the grieved parts, which not only cleanses a fowl Ulcer, but after Scarification, being applied to the Contusion or Swelling, carries off the Pain, and asswages the Tumor. Yet these People in general are very careless and negligent of their Health.
In some Places these Savages Boyl and Roast their Meat extraordinary well, and eat abundance of Broath except those Savages whom we call the Naked Indians, who never make use of any Soup. These travel from the Banks of the Messisippi to War against the Sinagars or Iroquois Indians, and are commonly too hard for them except they are over power’d by unequal Numbers. These naked Indians will lye and sleep in the Woods without any Fire or covering, being inur’d thereto from their Infancy. They are the most hardy of all Indians that are known, and run so fast that they are never taken by any other Indians that pursue them. Their Enemies say that their Nimbleness and long Wind proceeds from their never making use of any Broath.
The Salts that the Indians in these parts make use of in their Meat, Bread, and Soup, to give them a grateful relish are Alkalies, viz, Ashes made of the Wood of Hickery and calcin’d Bones of Deers and other Animals. They never eat any Sallads, and as for Pepper, and Mustard, they imagine us to be no better than Madmen to make use of them at our Victuals.
The Vessels that our Neighbouring Indians make use of and most other Nations are, Earthen-Pots of several sizes. Their Dishes and Wooden Platters are made of the sweet Gum Tree, Poplar, Sycomore, and the like.
Thus I have releated their manner in curing several Distempers; I shall now only mention one strange Account more, which was attested by the Planter himself, and several other credible Persons in those Parts.
There was an honest and substantial Planter in those Parts who was afflicted with a strange and lingering distemper, not usual amongst the Christians, under which he emaciated and grew every Month worse and worse; this Disorder continued for some Years, during which time he had made use of the best and ablest Doctors and Surgeons in those parts, but all to no purpose, for the Disorder still persever’d. In the beginning of this Distemper the Patient was very wealthy, and had several Slaves which he was obliged to sell to satisfie the Doctors. But one Day it happen’d, as he and his Wife were comiserating his miserable Condition, and that in all appearance he could not expect to recover, and that Death must speedily put a period to his Days, and then in what misery he should leave his poor Wife and Family, since all his Negroes were already gone and dispos’d off. Whilst he and his Wife were thus debating the Misfortunes that in all probability might attend the Family after his Death. An Indian happen’d to come into the House, who was well acquainted in the Family, and hearing their Discourse (and having a very great regard and value for the Sick-man from whom he received many Favours) made this Reply to what he had heard them talk off, Brother, you have had a long fit of sickness, you have given away your Slaves to the English Doctors, what made you do so, and now become Poor? They do not know how to cure you, for it is an Indian Distemper that troubles you, and they know not the Nature of it. If it had been a Distemper known in their Country, probably they cou’d have cured you. But had you employ’d me at first, I coud have cur’d you for a small matter without taking your Slaves from you that provided Corn and other Necessaries for you, and your Family’s support. And yet if you will give me a Blanket to keep me warm and some Powder and Shot, to kill Deer with, I will do my best still to recover your Health.
The Poor-man being very much dejected with the Misfortunes that he had already met with, made the Indian this reply. I know my Distemper is now past the power of Man to cure, and if our English Doctor’s cou’d not cure it, I am throughly perswaded that the Indians cannot.
But his Wife accosted him in the most endearing and mild terms and told him, he did not know but God might be pleas’d to give a greater blessing to the Indians undertaking than he had done to the English, and likewise said, if it shou’d please God that you shou’d dye, I cannot be much more miserable by giving that small trifle to the Indian which he demands. Therefore I beg of you to take my advice and try him.
At length by the many perswasions and Importunities of his Wife and Family he consented. And when the bargain was concluded, the Indian went into the Woods and brought with him several kinds of Roots and Herbs, whereof he made a strong Decoction and gave it to the Patient to drink, and immediately orderd him to go to Bed, adding that it would not be long before he wou’d return again to visit him. The Patient punctually perform’d every thing as he was ordered by the Indian, and had not been long in Bed before the Potion that was administer’d made him Sweat after the most violent manner that could be, and during its operation he smell’d so offensively to himself and all those that were near him, that scarce any one cou’d bear to go into the House or Room where he lay.
Late in the Evening the Indian comes to visit the Patient with a great Rattle-Snake alive (which terrified the Family almost out of their Senses) and told the Sick-man that he must take it to Bed with him, at which the Patient was in the greatest consternation in the World, and told the 1ndian that he might as well dye of the Distemper he had, as to be kill’d with the Bite of the Rattle-Snake. To which the Indian reply’d he cou’d not bite him nor do him any harm, for he had already taken our his Poyson and Teeth, and shewed him by opening and putting his Finger into the Snakes Mouth, that they all were gone. At last by many perswasions and Intreaties of all that were present, he admitted of the Snakes company, which the Indian put about the Patients middle and order’d no Body to take it away, or even to meddle with it upon any account, which was strictly observ’d, altho’ the Snake girded him as hard for a great while as if he had been drawn in by a Belt. At last he found the pressure grow weaker and weaker, till by degrees he felt it not; and opening the Bed the Snake was found dead, and the Patient thought himself grown much better. The Indian returned the next Morning to visit his Patient, and finding the Snake dead, was very much transported, and told the Sick-man the distemper was dead along with the Snake, which proved as he said, for the Man very speedily afterwards recover’d his Health, and became perfect well, and lived for many years after this strange and wonderful Cure.
And what is remarkable in many parts of this Province as you travel up towards the Mountains and through the Woods, when ever you come to any places where the Indians formerly dwelt and had Towns, you shall find abundance of Flowers with variety of beautiful Colours, of several sorts, and divers Qualities, and Use; some being Physical others Poysonous, others for Ornament and sweet Odor, which at a distance have a fine prospect, and look like a beautiful Flower Garden, the uses whereof the Indians are well acquainted with. I am perswaded that the reason why they took all these pains in planting these Simples was owing to their Doctor’s Care, that upon all Occasions they might be provided with those Vegetables that were proper for the Indian Distempers, or any other use they might have occasion to make of them.
These Savages have one of the most diabolical Customs amongst them, that is to be met with in any part of the known World, which they call Husquenawing their young Men and Girls. Once a Year, or at farthest, once in two years, these Savages take up so many of them as they think are able to undergo this rigid Discipline, and Husquenaugh them, which they say is make them obedient and respective to their Superours and inures them to all manner of Fatigues and Hardships, and without it they never wou’d be fit to be their War-Captains, or Capable to act in their Councils; by this Method they say their Children have the same benefit as the European Children have at their Schools, where they are taught good breeding and Letters. Besides it carries off those Weak and Infirm Bodies that wou’d have been a Burthen and disgrace to their Nation.
This House of Correction, or where they undergo this rigid Discipline, is a large strong Cabin, made on purpose for the reception of these young Men and Girles that have not already pass’d these Graduations. The Season of the Year wherein they Husquenaugh their youth is always about Christmas, at this time they are brought into this House, which is made as dark as any Dungeon, and almost starved during the time they remain there. Besides they give them Pellitory, and several intoxicating Plants that make them go raving Mad, they make the most dismal and hidious cries and howlings that human Creatures are capable of expressing, all which continues about five or six Weeks, and the little Meat they are allowed to eat is the nastiest loathsome stuff imaginable. After the time is expired they are brought out of the Cabin, which is not in the Town, but at some distance from it, and is guarded by an Indian or two, nominated for that purpose, who Watch by turns. When they appear or first come abroad, they are as poor and Meager as it is possible for any Creatures to be, resembling rather Skeletons than living Men; several of them dying under this Diabolical discipline. Moreover they either really are or pretend to be Dumb, and do not spake for a Month after they are out of their Confinement. It is likewise said that after this Discipline is over, they have intirely forgot all the Actions of their past Lives.
These Savages are described in their proper Colours but by very few, for those that generally write Histories of this New World are such as Interest, Preferment, or Merchandize draw thither, who know no more of the People or Country, than I do of the Laplanders. If we will make just Remarks, how near such Relations approach Truth, we shall find few worthy of Entertainment, and many parts of their Works stuft with Invectives against the Government they liv’d under, on which Stage is commonly acted greater Barbarities in murdering worthy Men’s Reputations, than all the Savages of the New World are capable of equalizing, or even imitating. These Authors likewise pretend to various and strange accounts, about them, but their Relations seem much fitter to fill a Novel than a History. I must therefore beg leave of the Gay Part of the World, who seem infinitely pleased with such Relations in not gratifying them with the Particulars, which they themselves will give less Credit to every Day as their Judgment ripens.
Lastly, I shall mention some few Words of the Indian Language, together with the English, and so conclude this Treatise.
To enlarge any more upon this Indian Jargon, would be altogether needless, and troublesome to the Reader; they have such a strange way of abbreviating their Speech when they are Debating in their grand Councils, that the young Men do not understand what they say or treat of. It is to be admir’d, what hath occasioned so many different Speeches as they have; for the three Nations whose Languages I have now mentioned, are but a small distance from each other. These Differences in their Speech frequently occasion Jealousies and Fears amongst them, and are often the Motives of their continual Wars with each other; and were it not for these continual Feuds and Animosities amongst themselves, they would be as happy a People, as to this Life, as any upon the Earth.
*Willow-Oak is a kind of Water-Oak, so call’d from its Leaves, which very much resemble those of the Willow. It grows in low Grounds and ponds of Water, and is used for Fire, Fences, &c.
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