Texas Another World Texas History Monsieur Violet In California, Sonora, and Texas

Monsieur Violet In California, Sonora, and Texas

Monsieur Violet In California, Sonora, and Texas
Catalog # SKU3724
Publisher Texas National Press
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Captain Marryat
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Monsieur Violet In
California, Sonora, and Texas

His Travels and Adventures

Captain Marryat

As my readers will eventually discover, many daring deeds did we perform together, and many pleasant days did we pass, both in the northern cities of Mexico and western prairies of Texas, hunting with the Comanches, and occasionally unmasking some rascally Texans, who, under the paint of an Indian, would commit their murders and depredations upon the remote settlements of their own countrymen.

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In the remarks which I am about to make relative to the Shoshones, I may as well observe that the same observations will equally apply to the Comanches, Apaches, and Arrapahoes, as they are but subdivisions and offsets from the original stock--the Shoshones. The Wakoes, who have not yet been mentioned, or even seen, by any other travellers, I shall hereafter describe.

I may as well here observe, that although the Shoshones are always at peace with the Comanches and Apaches, they had for a long while been at war with their descendants, the Arrapahoes, as well as the whole of the Dacotah and Algonquin tribes, as the Crows and Rickarees, Black-feet, Nez-percés, and others.

First, as to their religion--a question highly interesting, and perhaps throwing more light upon their origin than can be collected from tradition, manners, and customs. From my knowledge of the Indians, I believe them, if not more religious, most certainly to be more conscientious, than most Christians. They all believe in one God--Manitou, the author of good, and worship him as such; but believing that human nature is too gross to communicate with the Arbitrator of all things, they pray generally through the intervention of the elements or even of certain animals, in the same manner that the Catholics address themselves to their saints.

The great Manitou is universal among this family, and indeed among all the savage tribes of North America. The interceding spirit alone varies, not with the tribe and nation, but according to individual selection. Children are taught to know "Kishe Manito" (the Almighty), but no more. When the boy is verging upon manhood, he selects his own personal deity, or household god, which is made known to him in his dreams. When he states his intention of seeking the spirit, the parents of the young man order him to fast for three days; then they take away his bow and arrows, and send him far into the woods, the mountains, or the prairies, to wait for the visitation.

An empty stomach and inaction in the lone wilderness are certain to produce reveries and waking dreams. If the young man is thirsty, he thinks of water; of fire or sunshine, if he feels cold; of buffalo or fish, if he is hungry. Sometimes he meets with some reptile, and upon any one of these or other natural causes or productions, his imagination will work, until it becomes wholly engrossed by it.

Thus fire and water, the sun or the moon, a star, a buffalo, or a snake--any one of them, will become the subject of his thoughts, and when he sleeps, he naturally dreams of that object which he has been brooding over.

He then returns home, engraves upon a stone, a piece of wood, or a skin, the form of this "spirit" which his dream has selected for him, wears it constantly on his person, and addresses it, not as a god, but as an intercessor, through which his vows must pass before they can reach the fearful Lord of all things.

Some men among the Indians acquire, by their virtues and the regularity of their lives, the privilege of addressing the Creator without any intervention, and are admitted into the band, headed by the masters of ceremonies and the presidents of the sacred lodges, who receive neophytes and confer dignities. Their rites are secret; none but a member can be admitted. These divines, as of old the priest of Isis and Osiris, are deeply learned; and truly their knowledge of natural history is astonishing. They are well acquainted with astronomy and botany, and keep the records and great transactions of the tribes, employing certain hieroglyphics, which they paint in the sacred lodges, and which none but their caste or order can decipher.

Those few who, in their journey in the wilderness, have "dreamt" of a snake and made it their "spirit," become invariably "Medecines." This reptile, though always harmless in the western countries (except in some parts of the mountains on the Columbia, where the rattlesnake abounds), has ever been looked upon with dread by the Indians, who associate it with the evil spirit. When "Kishe Manito" (the good God) came upon earth, under the form of a buffalo, to alleviate the sufferings of the red man, "kinebec" (the serpent), the spirit of evil gave him battle. This part of their creed alone would almost establish their Brahminic origin.

The "Medecine" inspires the Indian with awe and dread; he is respected, but he has no friends, no squaws, no children. He is the man of dark deeds, he that communes with the spirit of evil; he takes his knowledge from the earth, from the fissures of the rocks, and knows how to combine poisons; he alone fears not "Anim Teki" (thunder). He can cure disease with his spells, and with them he can kill also; his glance is that of the snake, it withers the grass, fascinates birds and beasts, troubles the brain of man, and throws in his heart fear and darkness.

The Shoshone women, as well as the Apache and Arrapahoe, all of whom are of the Shoshone race, are very superior to the squaws of the Eastern Indians. They are more graceful in their forms, and have more personal beauty, I cannot better describe them than by saying that they have more similitude to the Arabian women than any other race. They are very clean in their persons and in their lodges; and all their tribes having both male and female slaves, the Shoshone wife is not broken down by hard labour, as are the squaws of the eastern tribes; to their husbands they are most faithful, and I really believe that any attempt upon their chastity would prove unavailing. They ride as bravely as the men, and are very expert with the bow and arrow, I once saw a very beautiful little Shoshone girl, about ten years old, the daughter of a chief, when her horse was at full speed, kill, with her bow and arrow, in the course of a minute or two, nine out of a flock of wild turkeys which she was in chase of.

Their dress is both tasteful and chaste. It is composed of a loose shirt, with tight sleeves, made of soft and well-prepared doe-skin, almost always dyed blue or red; this shirt is covered from the waist by the toga, which falls four or six inches below the knee, and is made either of swan-down, silk, or woollen stuff; they wear leggings of the same material as the shirt, and cover their pretty little feet with beautifully-worked moccasins; they have also a scarf, of a fine rich texture, and allow their soft and long raven hair to fall luxuriantly over their shoulder, usually ornamented with flowers, but sometimes with jewels of great value; their ankles and wrists are also encircled by bracelets; and indeed to see one of these young and graceful creatures, with her eyes sparkling and her face animated with the exercise of the chase, often recalled to the mind a nymph of Diana, as described by Ovid .

Though women participate not in the deeper mysteries of religion, some of them are permitted to consecrate themselves to the divinity, and to make vows of chastity, as the vestals of Paganism or the nuns of the Catholic convents. But there is no seclusion. They dress as men, covered with leather from head to foot, a painting of the sun on their breasts. These women are warriors, but never go out with the parties, remaining always behind to protect the villages. They also live alone, are dreaded, but not loved. The Indian hates anything or any body that usurps power, or oversteps those bounds which appear to him as natural and proper, or who does not fulfil what he considers as their intended destiny

416 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover

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