Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

formance as a means of securing some relief that were found at different points in the walfrom the vermin with which he is at times sore- low. ly afflicted, for, they say, you see that he does it November and December are the months durwhen he can get mud after a rain, and thus ing which to find the buffalo wearing the most cover his hide with earth. Very true; but I expensive clothes; his robe during these months have noticed them at this performance when is at its best. All of which the Indian is quite there was only dust in the wallow, and very dry as well aware of as the trader, and hunting is dust too. My idea is that the chief reason for brisk and work plenty with every band of redthe wallow is that the buffalo finds it necessary skins on the Range; food may be an incentive to assist the shedding of the hair which he loses too, but the robe is certainly a prime object for during the spring and early summer of each the energetic hunting that the Indian does at year, and that he has recourse to the wallows this season of the twelvemonth. for this purpose almost entirely. You will not, The squaws are busy with their work of curindeed, find much hair in the wallows. The ing the robes and jerking the meat. The hard strong afternoon wind of the Plains would quick-and incessant labor that is necessary to properly blow this away; but kill a buffalo early in ly “Indian tan" a robe is not easy to realize the summer, when the hair only hangs to the unless one may see the work go on day by day flanks in short tufts, and you will find that he from the first step, which is to spread out the has dusted these tufts, and his whole skin for pelt or undressed hide upon the ground, where that matter, with a liberal coat of fine earth, it is pinned fast by means of wooden pins driv

The Plains man is familiar with another use en through little cuts in the edge of the robe which may be made of the buffalo wallow. It into the earth. The flesh side of the robe, beis to him an earth-work, from which a desperate ing uppermost, is then worked over by two, and and freqnently successful resistance may be sometimes three, squaws. The tools used are made against a numerous party of Indians. | often very rude, some being provided simply

I remember one wallow that my attention with sharp stones or buffalo bones. Others, was attracted to by noticing that there had more wealthy, have a something that much been a track beaten about the wallow by the resembles the drawing-knife or shave of the unshod hoofs of Indian ponies; a track circling cooper. The work in hand is to free the hide the wallow at a distance of nearly two hundred from every particle of flesh, and to reduce the yards from it, that was as plain as a beaten thickness of the robe nearly one-half, and someroad. The ground near the wallow was strewn times even more. This fleshing, as it is termwith arrows. The whole story seemed to be ed, having been satisfactorily accomplished, the told by the four piles of exploded rifle-caps hide is thoroughly moistened with water in

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

which buffalo brains have been steeped; for an indication of wealth on the part of the posten days the hide is kept damp with this brain- sessor, who takes care to make great parade water. Once each day the hide is taken up, of all such articles as may be likely to exand every portion of it rubbed and rerubbed cite the envy of the habitants of neighboring by the squaws, who do not have recourse to tepes. any thing like a rubbing-board, but use their In “old times,” said Colonel Saint Vrain hands until it would seem as if the skin would to me when I last saw him at the little New soon be torn off. There seems to be no defin- Mexican pueblito of Mora, “the Indians came ite rule as to the length of time which the robe to the posts when they had any trading to do; shall occupy in curing. The squaw labors un-camped near by, and did their trading; settled til the hide becomes a robe, which may require little disputes among themselves; had ponythe work of one week or two, sometimes even races with the mountaineers that had come in more; but I think that ten days may be con- with pelts, and a sort of good time generally. sidered as the average time which it takes to If you could have seen the old trading post that properly cure a robe.

stood where Bent's Old Fort now stands, on I have not the space here to go into a lengthy one of these trading visits, you would have seen account of the different modes of dressing the a sight worth remembering. We did not let skins which the Indians use for tents (tepes) many Indians into the fort at a time, and those and clothing. Some skins from which the hair who were in had to exhibit good behavior or has been removed are as white as the paper onnone at all. There have been more than forty which this article is printed.

thousand robes sent out from that post as the The painting and decorating of a robe is the result of one year's work. There was money work of much time, and for the extremely rude in the trade then, but now— Well, there's materials employed by the squaws in the work but few of the traders who go out to the villages a result is attained which is highly creditable with an outfit but what might have found quite to the uneducated and somewhat savage wives as good employment for themselves in some and daughters of “Nasty Elk," or whatever other line of business." euphonious term the master of the lodge may The Colonel's stories of the wild scenes of see fit to designate himself by. But this work gambling that the Indians indulged in at their increases the price of a robe, and is generally villages near the post, and the “ nice row" they only expended upon a robe that is to be used would occasionally kick up among themselves, in the family, and not as a means of obtaining certainly indicate that there must have been a sugar, coffee, calico, and other coveted articles much more plenteous supply of whisky within which are of nse to the Indian, and serve as the reach of the Indians than there is at the

VOL. XXXVIII.–No. 224.–11

present time when a trading outfit goes into and the privilege of feeding probably the largest camp in an Indian village.

family which the village contains. Then the white men were the masters of the I must dwell just a little on this family joke. situation; now it would seem that the Indian All the food which the trader has is expected has quite the first voice in the trade. Not a to be shared by this family. The quantity of comfortable thing for the trader; but how is bread and other white-man food which is dethe individual to help himself after he has will-voured by this family may be said to gnaw a ingly placed his outfit in the midst of an Indian large hole into the profits of the trip. Next, encampment, situated maybe many miles from Indians flock to the trader to tell him that they any post or fort ? I fear that the too shrewd, have “a heap of mighty fine robes," but they driving Yankee outwitted himself when he want to see some of the trader's stock to disthought to take to himself the cream of the cover whether it is good before they can trade trade by proceeding directly to the Indian vil- with him. This means presents. The chiefs lages with trading goods, rather than to await must have something in the way of presents the coming of the Indians to the neighborhood too, and not a small something either. The of a trading post or government fort.

old women are, to use the language of an old A first-rate trading outfit consists of four or Indian trader, " the loudest beings on a beg that five large wagons, each with a four or six mule ever stood on leather.” But this is not the team. The wagons are loaded with blankets, end of give and take; the evening following cloths of different descriptions, calico, flannel, the arrival of a trader in the village is almost flour, sugar, coffee, triffkets of all kinds—such sure to be a season devoted to the execution as beads, small mirrors, square plates of Ger- of a performance known as a “begging dance." man-silver, and the like. To enumerate the This is certain to make a somewhat heavy draft stock of the Indian trader I should be forced | on the trading goods; and this is not all, for a to go into a long disquisition showing what continual and persistent beg is kept up during possible use could be made of many of the ar- the entire stay of the trader in the village or in ticles comprised in the outfit. Sometimes the its vicinity. trader carries his own tent, but more often he I have taken pains to state thus particularly depends upon the hospitality of the Indians. the drain which the trader's stock must meet

The party will consist of five or six men, of before trading opens, that it may not seem that these two must understand the language of the the trader got “ too much robe for too little band that is to be traded with, and if possible sug" (sugar), as the Indian will always aver. the whole party is previously well known to the The currency used in Indian trading is much head chief of the band. Upon the arrival of like this: the trader at the Indian village the chief as

10 cnps of sugar make one robe. signs him a tepe, which he may make his

10 robes make one pony. abiding-place. This would seem an act of

3 povies make one tepe. kindness on the part of Mr. Big Injun, but-A ten-dollar bill is also a “robe;" but, as may Well, the trader has a tent to call his quarters, I be supposed, as it takes but seven pounds of su

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

gar to fill the trading cup ten times, the trader : -is uncommon among the southern Indians, quite prefers his cups, temperate man though he but frequently met with in trading with the may be. With such a standard it is not diffi- Sioux. cult to see how trade is carried on. Ten cups We will leave the Range with the trading is not the invariable price for a robe. Some outfit, and note as day by day we journey eastrobes will command more than ten cups' worth ward how the grim white skulls which but a of calico, and some may bring but five cups' few days since dotted the Plains so thickly are value of any desired article.

less seldom seen; chips (bois de vache) are As the robes are secured the trader has them scarcer; the trails fewer and not freshly markarranged in lots of ten each, with but little re- ed with the thousands of sharp hoofs that but a gard for quality other than some care that par- few years since cut them out deep and strong, ricularly fine robes do not go too many in one to mark where the Range was but is now no lot. These piles are then pressed into a com- longer. pact bale, by means of a rudely constructed af | The outfit is in the settlements. The ques. fair composed of saplings and a chain. The tion is, how to dispose of the furs? The two trader does not leave the village while there is great gatherers or collectors of buffalo-robes are a skin to be traded for, or until his goods are Charles Bates, of St. Louis, and Durfree, of exhausted. I have simply referred to the trad- Leavenworth. Their combined collections during for buffalo-robes as this is supposed to be a ing a single year have amounted to over two buffalo article, but traders will, as a rule, pick hundred thousand robes ; and the entire stock op all manner of things—horses (sometimes collected may be said to reach, during good branded U. S.), mules, cattle, white prisoners, years, nearly a quarter of a million of skins; etc., etc.

of these two-thirds are said to find their way to That there may be found among the adven- the New York market, where they are classed turous men who seek their fortunes in this not as first, second, third, and calf. At present the entirely safe business persons who seemingly prices paid by large dealers in New York, who would sell their souls for a consideration I have buy by the hundred bales, is something like no doubt. I have not met them. On the con- $16 50, $12 50, $8 50, this being the prices trary, some of the best men on the frontier are for first, second, and third rate skins. CalfIndian traders, and these will show you that it skins bring from $3 50 to $4, and are not much is not only unwise to sell whisky, fire-arms, and dealt in. The great collectors are said to hold ammunition to the Indians, but it is absolutely their robes for the market sometimes as long as unprofitable, and not, as a usual thing, put up three or four years, this being done when the for “the outfit."

market does not range to suit them, though Of the different robes the Comanche is per- one would think that controlling the trade as haps the best in its dressing, but the fur is not they do they might dictate the prices of the likely to be so good as that of the Sioux dressed robe. A few untanned robes are sent to New robe. The only way of accounting for this York from Texas, but there is no particular is the fact of climate, the Comanche being a price demanded or paid for them; in fact, I do southern Indian, and the Sioux ranging far to not think that they are mentioned in the fur the north. The Sioux robe is not, however, so market. well dressed as either the Comanchor Kiowa Think, as you tuck the warm robe about you robes. What is known as the split robe-that for your joyous sleigh-ride, this winter skin of is, a robe which has been divided in two parts the bison was once the very best clothes of a aud is sewn together after it has been dressed roamer over “ the Buffalo Range."

[graphic][merged small]
[merged small][graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

N INE months ago, that is in April, 1868, we from boyhood an American, is rather above

N had something to say touching our friend middle height, spare of figure, with scanty Paul du Chaillu. He had written more than dark hair, broad forehead, and the general air one very good book designed for grown-up of a scholar rather than of an explorer. Mr. readers. Then he wrote a book for Young Du Chaillu—our “Friend Paul”-is, though Folks, wherein he told something of his ad- born in America, of French descent, and eduventures in the Gorilla Country, closing it with cated in France; and while he writes our lanthe words: “. Au revoir ;' that means good-by guage with perfect facility, and speaks it with till I come again."

fluency, it is with a marked Parisian intonaHe has now come again, and a more welcome tion. He is hardly five feet four in stature, visitor it would be hard to name. There are and slight in form ; we doubt if he weighs a three great travelers whom the Editor of this hundred pounds. His closely-cropped hair is Magazine knows well, and whom at various as black as a raven's wing; and were it not times he has specially introduced to its read for the flashing of a most brilliant black eye, ers. The scenes of their explorations lie far he is about the last man whom one would apart, all of them being in regions heretofore dream of being the most daring traveler of almost unknown. No three men can be found our day. To these three we add the name of differing more widely in personal appearance. another whom we only know from his books, Mr. CHARLES F. Hall, to whom it has been but who yet always seems to us like a personal reserved by his own individual labor to clear friend : David LIVINGSTONE, Scotch by birth, up the mystery of the fate of Sir John Frank- but African by long residence and wide travel. lin and his associates—a task which had been A spare, wiry man of middle stature—we judge vainly attempted by expeditions fitted out by the from his portrait-with strongly marked and Governments of Great Britain and the United rather rugged features; by no means a notaStates—born, we think, certainly reared, in the ble-looking personage. Great West—is a man of large frame, with light But all these three men whom we know poshair, blue eyes, and flowing beard, a very Vi- sess one characteristic in common. They are king in aspect; rather slow of speech-a man lovable men. Children—those instinctive judges whom upon first introduction one would be apt of human nature-take to them at once. Let to set down as the most diffident person he ever either of them be seated at your fireside, and met. Mr. John Ross BROWNE, now Ameri- in half an hour-you can not tell how-all your can Minister to China, born in Ireland, but Young People will be clambering around them.

So, too, with uncivilized nien, who are but big • Wild Life under the Equator; narrated for Young People. By PAUL DU CHAILLU. Harper and Brothers,

children, and quite often very bad ones. They New York.

| take to these men. Livingstone also clearly

« AnteriorContinuar »