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MICHIGAN

THE OLD INDIAN DOCTOR

Their minds seemed sharpened only to those things which were good in their daily life. They could take fish with a wooden spear split at the end, and would boil fish in a tray. They imagined when they died the (great) "Gitchie-Manitou" would give them what they most desired while in life, but they must love him while here to the blest hereafter. Once, in the hard, cold winter of 1827, when the snow lay deep on all the land, the hunters could find but little game, and the hungry tribe came begging round the mission. Some of them killed a bear; upon the good news the people assembled and roasted him for a feast; but, before eating, one of the chiefs made an address, which some one said was to the Manitou, thanking him for sending them that food just at that time. I think the Indians, in their native state, had no profanity. That was reserved for the white man to teach them.
Their moral code partook of the crude simplicity of their minds; to love and do good to their friends and kill their enemies. Sometimes, when drunk, they would come to kill father. One was sick and sent for father to come and cure him, but gave him to understand that if the medicine did not cure. him he would kill him. Their idea seemed to be to get even with every one, good for good, evil for evil; nothing was harder for them than to forgive their own injuries.
I cannot say what festivals they had in early days, other than war-dances and medicine-dances. These last consisted in making as much and as horrible a noise as they could with dry gourd shells with a few pebbles in them, and a kind of drum made of deer skin shrunk over a hoop or bow. When these two were struck together and the medicine musicians grunted and chanted and yelled in chorus, imagine the noise if you can. A year they called a sun, a month was a moon. They knew no weeks, and when the missionaries began to make Sabbath regulations they took a stick and cut a notch in it for each day and a deeper one for the seventh.

Michigan Indians


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