Click here to Download Old Indian Days PDF Book by Charles Eastman Language English having PDF Size 1.3 MB and No of Pages 86.
Upon a hanging precipice atop of the Eagle Scout Butte there appeared a motionless and solitary figure—almost eagle-like he perched! The people in the camp below saw him, but none looked at him long. They turned their heads quickly away with a nervous tingling, for the height above the plains was great. Almost spirit-like among the upper clouds the young warrior sat immovable. It was Antelope.
Old Indian Days PDF Book by Charles Eastman
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He was fasting and seeking a sign from the “Great Mystery,” for such was the first step of the young and ambitious Sioux [who wished to be a noted warrior among his people]. He is a princely youth, among the wild Sioux, who hunts for his tribe and not for himself! His voice is soft and low at the campfire of his nation, but terror-giving in the field of battle.
Such was Antelope’s reputation. The more he sought the “Great Mystery” in solitude, the more gentle and retiring he became, and in the same proportion his courage and manliness grew. None could say that he was not a kind son and a good hunter, for he had already passed the “two-arrow-to-kill,” his buffalo examination.
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On a hot midsummer morning a few weeks later, while most of the inmates of the teepees were breakfasting in the open air, the powerful voice of the herald resounded among the pineclad heights and green valleys. “Hear ye, hear ye, warriors!” he chanted loudly. “The council has decreed that four brave young men must scout the country to the sunsetward of the camp, for the peace and protection of our people!”
All listened eagerly for the names of the chosen warriors, and in another moment there came the sonorous call: “Antelope, Antelope! the council has selected you!” The camp was large—fully four hundred paces across; but in that country, in the clear morning air, such an announcement can be heard a great way, and in the silence that followed the hills repeated over and over the musical name of Antelope.
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In due time the four chosen youths appeared before the council fire. The oath of the pipe was administered, and each took a few whiffs as reverently as a Churchman would partake of the sacrament. The chief of the council, who was old and of a striking appearance, gave the charge and command to the youthful braves.
There was a score or more of warriors ready mounted to escort them beyond the precincts of the camp, and the “fearless heart” song was sung according to the custom, as the four ran lightly from the door of the council teepee and disappeared in the woods. It was a peculiarly trying and hazardous moment in which to perform the duties of a scout.
The Sioux were encroaching upon the territory of hostile tribes, here in the foot-hills of the Big Horn Mountains, and now and then one of their hunters was cut off by the enemy. If continual vigilance could not save them, it might soon become necessary to retreat to their own hunting-grounds. Old Indian Days PDF Book
It was a savage fetish that a warrior must be proof against the alluring ways of pretty maidens; that he must place his honor far above the temptations of self-indulgence and indolence. Cold, hunger, and personal hardship did not count with Antelope when there was required of him any special exertion for the common good.
It was cause to him of secret satisfaction that the council-men had selected him for a dangerous service in preference to some of his rivals and comrades. The eyes of Antelope were closed while he chanted the dirge. He sang it over and over, pausing between the lines, and straining as it were every sense lest he might not catch the rapt whisper of her spirit, but only the distant howls of coyotes answered him.
His body became cold and numb from sheer exhaustion, and at last his knees bent under him and he sank down upon the ground, still facing the teepee. Unconsciousness overtook him, and in his sleep or trance the voice came: “Do not mourn for me, my friend! Come into my teepee, and eat of my food.” Old Indian Days PDF Book
It seemed to Antelope that he faltered for a moment; then he entered the teepee. There was a cheerful fire burning in the center. A basin of broiled buffalo meat was placed opposite the couch of Taluta, on the other side of the fire. Its odor was delicious to him, yet he hesitated to eat of it.
“Fear not, kechuwa (my darling)! It will give you strength,” said the voice. The maid was natural as in life. Beautifully attired, she sat up on her bed, and her demeanor was cheerful and kind. The young man ate of the food in silence and without looking at the spirit. “Ho, kechuwa!” he said to her when returning the dish, according to the custom of his people.
Silently the two sat for some minutes, while the youth gazed into the burning embers. “Be of good heart,” said Taluta, at last, “for you shall meet my twin spirit! She will love you as I do, and you will love her as you love me. This was our covenant before we came into this world.” The conception of a “twin spirit” was familiar to the Sioux. Old Indian Days PDF Book
“Ho,” responded the warrior, with dignity and all seriousness. He felt a great awe for the spirit, and dared not lift his eyes to her face. “Weep no more, kechuwa, weep no more,” she softly added; and the next moment Antelope found himself outside the mysterious teepee. His limbs were stiff and cold, but he did not feel faint nor hungry.
Having filled his pipe, he held it up to the spirits and then partook of the smoke; and thus revived, he slowly and reluctantly left the sacred spot. The main war-party also visited the old camp and saw the solitary teepee grave, but did not linger there. They continued on the trail of the caravan until they reached the new camping ground.
They called themselves successful, although they had left several of their number on the field. Their triumph songs indicated this; therefore the people hurried to receive the news and to learn who were the unfortunates. The father of Antelope was foremost among those who ran to meet the war-party. Old Indian Days PDF Book Download
He learned that his son had distinguished himself in the fight, and that his name was not mentioned among the brave dead. “And where, then, is he?” he asked, with unconcealed anxiety. “He left us three days ago to come in advance,” they replied. “But he has not arrived!” exclaimed old Wezee, in much agitation.
He returned to his teepee, where he consoled himself as best he could by smoking the pipe in solitude. He could neither sing praises nor indulge in the death dirge, and none came in either to congratulate or mourn with him. The sun had disappeared behind the hills, and the old man still sat gazing into the burning embers, when he heard a horse’s footfall at the door of his lodge.
“Ho, atay (father)!” came the welcome call. “Mechinkshe! mechinkshe!” (my son, my son), he replied in unrestrained joy. Old Wezee now stood on the threshold and sang the praise song for his son, ending with a warwhoop such as he had not indulged in since he was quite a young man. The camp was once more alive with the dances, and the dull thud of the Indian drum was continually in the air. Old Indian Days PDF Book Download
The council had agreed that Antelope was entitled to wear a war-bonnet of eagles’ feathers. He was accordingly summoned before the aboriginal parliament, and from the wise men of the tribe he received his degree of war-bonnet. It was a public ceremony. The great pipe was held up for him to take the smoke of high honor.
“It was many years ago, when I was only a child,” began White Ghost, the patriarchal old chief of the Yanktonnais Sioux, “that our band was engaged in a desperate battle with the Rees and Mandans. The cause of the fight was a peculiar one. I will tell you about it.” And he laid aside his longstemmed pipe and settled himself to the recital.
“At that time the Yanktonnais numbered a little over forty families. We were nicknamed by the other bands Shunkikcheka, or Domestic Dogs, because of our owning large numbers of these animals. My father was the head chief. “Our favorite wintering place was a timbered tract near the mouth of the Grand River, and it was here that we met the Blackfoot Sioux in the fall hunt. Old Indian Days PDF Book Download
On the opposite side of the river from our camp was the permanent village of the Rees and Mandans, whose houses were of dirt and partly underground. For a hundred years before this time they had planted large gardens, and we were accustomed to buy of them corn, beans, and pumpkins. From time to time our people had made treaties of peace with them.
Each family of the Rees had one or two buffalo boats—not round, as the Sioux made them, but two or three skins long. In these boats they brought quantities of dried beans and other vegetables to trade with us for jerked buffalo meat. “It was a great gathering and a time of general festivity and hospitality.
The Sioux young men were courting the Ree girls, and the Ree braves were courting our girls, while the old people bartered their produce. All day the river was alive with canoes and its banks rang with the laughter of the youths and maidens. “My father’s younger brother, whose name was Big Whip, had a close friend, a young man who ever after the event of which I am about to tell you was known as Bald Eagle. Old Indian Days PDF Book Free
They were both daring young men and very ambitious for distinction. They had been following the Ree girls to their canoes as they returned to their homes in the evening. “Big Whip and his friend stood upon the river bank at sunset, one with a quiver full of arrows upon his back while the other carried a gun under his blanket.
Nearly all the people of the other village had crossed the river, and the chief of the Rees, whose name was Bald Eagle, went home with his wife last of all. It was about dusk as they entered their bullhide boat, and the two Sioux stood there looking at them. “Suddenly Big Whip exclaimed: ‘Friend, let us kill the chief.
I dare you to kill and scalp him!’ His friend replied: “‘It shall be as you say. I will stand by you in all things. I am willing to die with you.’ “Accordingly Bald Eagle pulled out his gun and shot the Ree dead. From that day he took his name. The old man fell backward into his boat, and the old woman screamed and wept as she rowed him across the river. Old Indian Days PDF Book Free
The other young man shot an arrow or two at the wife, but she continued to row until she reached the other bank. “There was great excitement on both sides of the river as soon as the people saw what had happened. There were two camps of Sioux, the Blackfoot Sioux and the Yanktonnais, or our people.
Of course the Mandans and Rees greatly outnumbered us; their camp must have numbered two or three thousand, which was more than we had in our combined camps. “There was a Sioux whose name was Black Shield, who had intermarried among the Rees. He came down to the opposite bank of the Missouri and shouted to us: “‘Of which one of your bands is the man who killed Bald Eagle?’
“One of the Blackfoot Sioux replied: “‘It is a man of the Yanktonnais Sioux who killed Bald Eagle.’ “Then he said: ‘The Rees wish to do battle with them; you had better withdraw from their camp.’ “Accordingly the Blackfeet retired about a mile from us upon the bluffs and pitched their tents, while the Yanktonnais remained on the flats. Old Indian Days PDF Book Free
The two bands had been great rivals in courage and the art of war, so we did not ask for help from our kinsfolk, but during the night we dug trenches about the camp, the inner one for the women and children, and the outer one for the men to stay in and do battle. “The next morning at daybreak the enemy landed and approached our camp in great numbers.
Some of their women and old men came also, and sat upon the bluffs to watch the fight and to carry off their dead and wounded. The Blackfeet likewise were watching the battle from the bluffs, and just before the fight began one Blackfoot came in with his wife and joined us. His name was Red Dog’s Track, but from that day he was called He-Came-Back.
His wife was a Yanktonnais, and he had said to her: ‘If I don’t join your tribe to-day, my brothers-in-law will call me a coward.’ “The Sioux were well entrenched and well armed with guns and arrows, and their aim was deadly, so that the Rees crawled up gradually and took every opportunity to pick off any Sioux who ventured to show his head above the trenches. Old Indian Days PDF Book Free
In like manner every Ree who exposed himself was sure to die. “Up to this time no one had seen the two men who made all the trouble. There was a natural hollow in the bank, concealed by buffalo berry bushes, very near where they stood when Bald Eagle shot the Ree.