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CHAPTER VIII.


INDUSTRIAL OCCUPATIONS (CONTINUED).


FOOD AND ITS PREPARATION.


164. Meat.—They ate the "ʇa," or dried meat of the buffalo, elk, deer, but seldom tasted that of the beaver. They cut the meat in slices (wga), which they cut thin (mbc̷eʞa), that it might soon dry. It was then dried as explained in 150. Before drying it is "ʇa-nʞa," wet or fresh meat. The dried meat used to be cooked on glowing coals. When the meat was dried in the summer it lasted for the winter's use, but by the next summer it was all consumed. In the ada and Wejiⁿcte gentes venison and elk meat could not be eaten, and certain parts of the buffalo could not be eaten or touched by the Iñke-sabĕ, Hañga, e da-it'ajĭ, e-sĭnde, and Iñgc̷e-jide. (See 31, 37, 49, 59, and 67.)

The marrow, wajbe, was taken from the thigh bones by means of narrow scoops, or wbagude, which were made out of any kind of stick, being blunt at one end. They were often thrown away after being used.

The vertebrae and all the larger bones of the buffalo and other animals are used for making wahi-wegc̷i, bone grease, which serves as butter and lard. In recent times hatchets have been used to crush the bones, but formerly stone axes (iⁿ'-igagaⁿ or iⁿ'-igacje) were employed, and some of these may still be found among the Omahas. Now the Omahas use the in'-wate, a large round stone, for that purpose. The fragments of the bones are boiled, and very soon grease arises to the surface. This is skimmed off and placed in sacks for future use. Then the bones are thrown out and others are put in to boil. The sacks into which the grease is put are made of the muscular coating of the stomach of a buffalo, which has been dried, and is known as "nijeha."

They ate the entrails of the buffalo and the elk. Both the small and large intestines were boiled, then turned inside out and scraped to get off the remains of the dung which might be adhering to them. Then they were dried. According to Two Crows, the iñgc̷e, or dung of the buffalo, is not "bc̷aⁿ-padiaeresisjĭ," offensive, like that of the domestic cow. Though the buffalo cow gives a rich milk, the Indians do not make use of that of such as they kill in hunting.

165. La Flèche and Two Crows never heard of any Omahas that ate lice, but the writer saw an aged Ponka woman eat some that she took from the head of her grandson. The following objects are not eaten by any of the gentes: Dried fish, slugs, dried crickets, grass-


  
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hoppers, or other insects, and dried fish-spawn. Nor do they ever use as drinks fish-oil or other oils.

166. Corn, Wataⁿzi.—La Flèche and Two Crows mention the following varieties as found among the Omahas: 1. Wataⁿ'zi skă, white corn, of two sorts, one of which, wataⁿ'zi-kgc̷i, is hard; the other, wataⁿ'zi skă proper, is wat'ga, or tender. Wataⁿ'zi ʇu, blue corn; one sort is hard and translucent, the other is wat'ega. 3. Wataⁿ'zi zi, yellow corn; one sort is hard and translucent, the other is wat'ega. 4. Wataⁿ'zi gc̷ej, spotted corn; both sorts are wat'ega; one is covered with gray spots, the other with red spots. 5. Wataⁿ'zi ʇ-jide, a "a reddish-blue corn." 6. Wataⁿ'zi jdĕqti, "very red corn." 7. Wataⁿ'zi gaxxu, z ki jde ihhai, ugai gaⁿ, figured corn, on which are yellow and red lines, as if painted. 8. Wac̷stage, of three sorts, which are the "sweet corn" of the white people; wac̷astage skă, which is translucent, but not very white; wac̷astage zi, which is wat'ega and yellow, and wac̷astage ʇu, which is wat'ega and blue. All of the above varieties mature in August. Besides these is the Wajt'aⁿ-kc̷ĕ, "that which matures soon," the squaw corn, which first ripens in July.

167. Modes of cooking the corn.—Before corn is boiled the men call it wataⁿ'zi ska, raw corn; the women call all corn that is not boiled "sac̷ge." Wataⁿzi skc̷ĕ, sweet corn, is prepared in the following ways: When the corn is yet in the milk or soft state it is collected and boiled on the cob. This is called "wabc̷uga" or "wabc̷uga ʇañga," because the corn ear (wahba) is put whole (bc̷uga) into the kettle. It is boiled with beans alone, with dried meat alone, with beans and dried meat, or with a buffalo paunch and beans.

Sometimes the sweet corn is simply roasted before it is eaten; then it is known as "wataⁿ'zi skc̷ĕ han-bjĭ, sweet corn that is not boiled." Sometimes it is roasted on the ear with the husks on, being placed in the hot embers, then boiled, shelled, and dried in the sun, and afterwards packed away for keeping in parflèche cases. The grain prepared in this manner has a shriveled appearance and a sweet taste, from which the name is derived. It may be boiled for consumption at any time of the year with but little trouble, and its taste closely resembles that of new corn. Sometimes it is boiled, shelled, and dried without being roasted; in this case, as in the preceding one, it is called "wataⁿ'zi skc̷ĕ, uhan, boiled sweet corn." This sweet corn may be boiled with beans alone, or with beans, a buffalo paunch, pumpkins, and dried meat; or with one or more of these articles, when all cannot be had.

They used to make "wac̷skiskda, corn tied up." When the corn was still juicy they pushed off the grains having milk in them. These were put into a lot of husks, which were tied in a bundle, and that was placed in a kettle to boil. Beans were often mixed with the grains of corn before the whole was placed in the husks. In either case wac̷iskiskida was considered very good food.

Dougherty said, "They also pound the sweet corn into a kind of


  
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small hominy, which when boiled into a thick mush, with a proper proportion of the smaller entrails and jerked meat, is held in much estimation." The writer never heard of this.

The corn which is fully ripe is sometimes gathered, shelled, dried, and packed away for future use.

Hominy, wabi'ɔnude or wanɔnudc̷ĕ, is prepared from hard corn by boiling it in a lye of wood ashes for an hour or two, when the hard exterior skin nearly slips off (nɔnude). Then it is well washed to get rid of the ashes, and rinsed, by which time the bran is rubbed off (biɔnde). When needed for a meal it may be boiled alone or with one or more of the following: Pumpkins, beans, or dried meat. Sometimes an ear of corn is laid before the fire to roast (j'aⁿhe), instead of being covered with the hot ashes.

Wanin'de or mush is made from the hard ripe corn by beating a few grains at a time between two stones, making a coarse meal. The larger stone is placed on a skin or blanket that the flying fragments may not be lost. This meal is always boiled in water with beans, to which may be added pumpkins, a buffalo paunch, or dried meat.

When they wish to make wanin'de-gskĕ or ash-cake, beans are put on to boil, while the corn is pounded in a mortar that is stuck into the ground. When the beans have begun to fall to pieces, but before they are done, they are mixed with the pounded corn, and made into a large cake, which is sometimes over two feet in diameter and four inches thick. This cake is baked in the ashes. Occasionally corn-husks are opened and moistened, and put over the cake before the hot ashes are put on.

At times the cake is made of mush alone, and baked in the ashes with or without the corn husks.

C̸ibc̷bc̷uga, corn dumplings, are made thus: When the corn has been pounded in a mortar, some of it is mixed with water, and beans are added if any can be had. This is put in a kettle to boil, having been made into round balls or dumplings, which do not fall to pieces after boiling. The rest of the pounded corn is mixed with plenty of water, being "nigc̷uze," very watery, and is eaten as soup with the dumplings.

Another dish is called "Aⁿ'bagc̷e." When this is needed, they first boil beans. Then, having pounded corn very fine in a mortar, they pour the meal into the kettle with the beans. This mixture is allowed to boil down and dry, and is not disturbed that night. The next day when it is cold and stiff the kettle is overturned, and the aⁿbagc̷e is pushed out.

Wacañ'ge is made by parching corn, which is then pounded in a mortar; after which the meal is mixed with grease, soup made from meat, and pumpkins. Sometimes it is mixed, instead with honey. Then it is made up into hard masses (c̷iskski) with the hands. Dougherty says that with wacañge and waninde "portions of the ʇe-cibe, or smaller intestines of the buffalo are boiled, to render the food more sapid."




  
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Fig. 26.—Figures of pumpkins.

The waʇaⁿqti is at the top; the next is the waʇaⁿmuxa; the third is the waʇaⁿjide; and the bottom one, the waʇaⁿninde bazu.

168. Melons, pumpkins, etc, Sakac̷ide ukec̷iⁿ, the common watermelon, was known to the Omahas before the coming of the white men. It has a green rind, which is generally striped, and the seeds are black. It is never dried, but is always eaten raw, hence the name. They had no yellow sakac̷ide till the whites came; but they do not eat them.

Waʇaⁿ', Pumpkins—The native kinds are three: waʇaⁿ'-qti, waʇaⁿ'-kukge, and waʇaⁿ'-mxa. Waʇaⁿ'-qti, the real pumpkins are generally greenish, and "bcka," round but slightly flattened on sides like turnips. They are usually dried, and are called "waʇaⁿ'-gazan'de," because they are cut in circular slices and hung together, as it were, in festoons (gazande).

The second variety is large, white, and striped ; it is not good for drying. The waʇaⁿ'-muxa are never dried. Some are white, others are "sbĕ ʇu gaⁿ, a sort of black or dark blue," and small. Others, the waʇaⁿ'-mxa gc̷ej, are spotted, and are eaten before they become too ripe. In former days, these were the only sweet articles of food. Sometimes pumpkins are baked on coals (jgc̷aⁿ).

Modern varieties are two: The waʇaⁿ'-nin'de baz and the waʇaⁿ'-jde. The Omahas never plant the latter, as they do not regard it as desirable. They plant the former, which is from 2 to 2 1/2 feet long, and covered with knots or lumps. The native pumpkins are frequently steamed, as the kettle is tilled with them cut in slices with a very small quantity of water added. Pumpkins are never boiled with ʇe-cibe or buffalo entrails; but they can be boiled with a buffalo paunch, beaus, dried meat, and with any preparation of corn.

169. Fruits and berries.—Taspaⁿ', red haws, are seldom eaten; and then are taken raw, not over two or three at a time. Clumps of the haw-thorn abound on Logan Creek, near the Omaha reserve, and furnish the Omaha name for that stream, Taspaⁿ'-hi bʇe.

Wajde-nka, which are about the size of haws, grow on low bushes in Northwest Nebraska. They are edible in the autumn.

Buffalo berries, the wajdĕ-qti, or real wajide, are eaten raw, or they are dried and then boiled before eating.

ʞañde, plums, though dried by the Dakotas, are not dried by the C̸egiha and ɔiwere, who eat them raw.




  
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Naⁿ'pa, chokecherries, are of two kinds. The larger ones or naⁿ'pa-ʇañ'ga, abound in a region known as izbahehe, in Northwest Nebraska, where they are very thick, as many as two hundred being found on a single bush. Some of the bushes are a foot high, others are about two feet in height. The choke-cherries are first pounded between two stones, and then dried. The smaller variety, or naⁿ'pa-jiñ'ga, grow on tall bushes. These cherries are dried.

Gube, hackberries, are the size of black peppers or the smaller cherries (naⁿpa-jiñga). They are fine, sweet, and black. They grow on large trees (Celtis occidentalis), the bark of which is rough and inclined to curl up.

Agc̷añkamañge, raspberries, are dried and boiled. Bacte, strawberries, are not dried. They are eaten raw.

Jaⁿ-qude-ju are berries that grow near the Niobrara River; they are black and sweet, about the size of buffalo berries. They are dried.

Nacamaⁿ is the name of a species of berry or persimmon (?), which ripens in the later fall. It hangs in clusters on a small stalk, which is bent over by the weight of the fruit. The nacamaⁿ is seldom eaten by the Omahas. It is black, not quite the size of a hazel nut; and its seed resemble watermelon seed.

Hazi, grapes—one kind, the fox grape, is eaten raw, or dried and boiled.

170. Nuts.—The "bde" is like the acorn, but it grows on a different tree, the trunk of which is red (the red oak ?). These nuts are ripe in the fall. They are boiled till the water has nearly boiled away, when the latter is poured out, and fresh water and good ashes are put in. Then the nuts are boiled a long time till they become black. The water and ashes are thrown out, fresh water is put in the kettle, and the nuts are washed till they are clean, when they are found to be "nʇube," cooked till ready to fall to pieces. Then they are mixed with wild honey, and are ready for one to eat. They are "bc̷aⁿqtiwc̷ĕ," capable of satisfying hunger to the utmost, but a handful being necessary for that end.

Aⁿ'jiñga, hazel nuts, are neither boiled nor dried; they are eaten raw. The same may be said of "ʇge," black walnuts.

171. Fruits were preserved in wild honey alone, according to J. La Flèche. Since the arrival of the white people a few of the Omahas have cultivated sorghum; but in former days the only sugars and sirups were those manufactured from the sugar maple and box elder or ash-leaved maple.

The Omahas know nothing about pulse, mesquite, and screw-beans. Nor do they use seeds of grasses and weeds for food.

Previous to the arrival of the whites they did not cultivate any garden vegetables ; but now many of the Omahas and Ponkas have raised, many varieties in their gardens.

172. Roots used for food.—The ngc̷e or Indian turnip is sometimes


  
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round, and at others elliptical. When the Omahas wish to dry it, they pull off the skin. Then they cut off pieces about two inches long, and throw away the hard interior. Then they place these pieces in a mortar and pound them, after which they dry them. When they are dried they are frequently mixed with grease. Occasionally they are boiled with dried meat without being pounded. The soup is very good.

N ukc̷iⁿ, or Pomme de terre, the native potato, is dug in the winter by the women. There are different kinds of this root, some of which have good skins. Several grow on a common root, thus: in-line figure These potatoes are boiled; then the skins are pulled off, and they are dried.

The "siⁿ" is an aquatic plant, resembling the water-lily. It is also called the "siⁿ'-ukc̷iⁿ," being the wild rice. In order to prepare it as food it is roasted under hot ashes.

The other rice is the "siⁿ'-wanin'de"; the stalk on which it grows is the "siⁿ'-wanin'de-hi," a species of rush which grows with rice in swamps. The grain is translucent, and is the principal article of diet for those Indians who reside in very cold regions north of the Ponkas.

Siⁿ'-skuskba, which some Ponkas said was the calamus, is now very rare. Few of the Omahas know it at present. They used to eat it after boiling it. Frank La Flèche said that this could not be calamus, as the Omahas called that makaⁿ-ninida, and still eat it.

173. Beans.—Beans, hiⁿbc̷iñ'ge or haⁿbc̷iñ'ge, are planted by the Indians. They dry them before using them. Some are large, others are small, being of different sizes. The Indians speak of them thus: "bʇa-hnaⁿi, bc̷ska gaⁿ," they are generally curvilinear, and are some what flat.

La Flèche and Two Crows speak of many varieties, which are probably of one and the same species: "Hiⁿbc̷iñge sbĕ gc̷ej, beans that have black spots. 2. Skă gc̷ej, those with white spots. 3. Zi'gc̷ej, those with yellow spots. 4. Jde gc̷ej, those with red spots. 5. Qde gc̷ej, those with gray spots. 6. Jdĕgti, very red ones. 7. Sbĕgti, very black ones. 8. Jde cbe gaⁿ, those that are a sort of dark red. 9. Skă, white. 10. u gaⁿ sabe;, dark blue. 11. Ji' gaⁿ sbĕ, dark orange red. 12. Skă, ugc̷e tĕ jide, white, with red on the "ugc̷e" or part that is united to the vine. 13. Hi-ugc̷ tĕ sabĕ, those that are black on the "ugc̷e." 14. u gc̷eje egaⁿ, blue, with white spots. 15. Aⁿpaⁿ hiⁿ egaⁿ, qude zi egaⁿ, like the hair of an elk, a sort of grayish yellow.

The hiⁿbc̷iⁿ''abe, or hiⁿbc̷iñge maⁿtanaha, wild beans, are not planted. They come up of their own accord. They are flat and curvilinear, and abound under trees. The field-mice hoard them in their winter retreats, which the Indians seek to rob. They cook them by putting them in hot ashes.

174. ec̷awe is the name given to the seeds and root of the Nelumbium luteum, and is thus described by an Omaha: The ʇec̷awe is the root of an aquatic plant, which is not very abundant. It has a leaf like that of a lily, but about two feet in diameter, lying on the surface


  
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of the water. The stalk comes up through the middle of the leaf, and projects about two feet above the water. On top is a seed-pod. The seed are elliptical, almost shaped like bullets, and they are black and very hard. When the ice is firm or the water shallow, the Indians go for the seed, which they parch by a fire, and beat open, then eat. They also eat the roots. If they wish to keep them for a long time, they cut off the roots in pieces about six inches long, and dry them; if not, they boil them.

175. Hiⁿ'qa is the root of a sahi or water grass which grows beneath the surface of Lake Nik'umi, near the Omaha Agency, Nebraska. This root, which is about the size of the first joint of one's forefinger, is bulbous and black. When the Omaha boys go into bathe they frequently eat it in sport, after pulling off the skin. Two Crows says that adults never eat it. J. La Flèche never ate it, but he has heard of it.

176. Savors, flavors, etc.—Salt, ni-skc̷ĕ, was used before the advent of the whites. One place known to the Omahas was on Salt River, near Lincoln, Nebr., which city is now called by them "Ni-skic̷ĕ sag c̷aⁿ, Where the hard salt is." In order to get this salt, they broke into the mass by punching with sticks, and the detached fragments were broken up by pounding.

Peppers, aromatic herbs, spices, etc., were not known in former days. Clay was never used as food nor as a savor.

177. Drinks.—The only drinks used were soups and water. Teas, beer, wine, or other fermented juices, and distilled liquors, were unknown. (See 109.)

178. Narcotics.—Native tobacco, or nin. The plant, nin-hi was the only narcotic known previous to the coming of our race. It differs from the common tobacco plant; none of it has been planted in modern times. J. La Flèche saw some of it when he was small. Its leaves were "ʇqude gaⁿ," a sort of a blue color, and were about the size of a man's hand, and shaped somewhat like a tobacco leaf. Mr. H. W. Renshaw, of the United States Geological Survey, has been making some investigations concerning the narcotics used by many of the Indian tribes. He finds that the Rees and other tribes did have a native tobacco, and that some of it is still cultivated. This strengthens the probability that the nin of the Omahas and Ponkas was a native plant.

Mixed tobacco or killickinnick is called ningahi by the Omahas and Ponkas. This name implies that native or common tobacco (nin) has been mixed (igahi) with some other ingredient. "This latter is generally the inner bark of the red willow (Cornus sericea), and occasionally


  
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it is composed of sumac leaves (Rhus glabrum). When neither of these can be had the inner bark of the arrow wood (Viburnum) or maⁿ'sa-hi is substituted for them. The two ingredients are well dried over a fire, and rubbed together between the hands." (Dougherty, in Long's Expedition, I.)

"In making ningahi, the inner bark of the dogwood, to which are sometimes added sumac leaves, is mixed with the tobacco. Sometimes they add wajide-hi ha, the inner bark of rose-bushes. When they cannot get dogwood or sumac they may use the bark of the mansa hi or arrow-wood. The bark of the c̷ixe sagi, or hard willow, is not used by the Omahas." (Frank La Flèche.)


CLOTHING AND ITS PREPARATION.


179. Garments were usually made by the women, while men made their weapons. Some of the Omahas have adopted the clothing of the white man. There is no distinction between the attire of dignitaries and that of the common people.

180. There were no out-buildings, public granaries, etc. Each house-hold stored away its own grain and other provisions. There were no special tribal or communal dwellings, but sometimes two or more families occupied one earth lodge. When a tribal council was held, it was in the earth lodge of one of the principal chiefs, or else two or three common tents were thrown into one, making a long tent.

There were no public baths, as the Missouri River was near, and they could resort to it when they desired. Dances were held in earth lodges, or else in large skin tents, when not out of doors.

Fig. 27.—The Webajabe.

181. Dressing hides.—The hides were stretched and dried as soon as possible after they were taken from the animals. When a hide was stretched on the ground, pins were driven through holes along the border of the hide. These holes had been cut with a knife. While the hide was still green, the woman scraped it on the under side by pushing a wbajbe over its surface, thus removing the superfluous flesh, etc. The wbajbe was formed from the lower bone of an elk's leg, which had been made thin by scraping or striking ("gabc̷eʞa"). The lower end was sharpened by striking, having several teeth-like projections, as in the accompanying figure (B). A withe (A) was tied to the upper end, and this was secured to the arm of the woman just above the wrist.

When the hide was dry the woman stretched it again on the ground, and proceeded to make it thinner and lighter by using another imple-


  
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ment, called the wubjaⁿ, which she moved towards her after the manner of an adze. This instrument was formed from an elk horn, to the lower end of which was fastened a piece of iron (in recent times) called the w'u-hi.

When the hide was needed for a summer tent, leggings, or summer clothing of any sort, the wubjaⁿ was applied to the hairy side.

Fig. 28.—The Weubajaⁿ.

(1.) The horn. (2.) The iron (side view). (3.) Sinew tied around the iron.

Fig. 29.—Front view of the iron. It is aobut 4 inches wide.

When the hide was sufficiently smooth, grease was rubbed on it, and it was laid out of doors to dry in the sun. This act of greasing the hide was called "wawc̷iqc̷i," because they sometimes used the brains of the elk or buffalo for that purpose. Brains, wc̷iqc̷i, seem to have their name from this custom, or else from the primitive verb c̷iqc̷i. Dougherty stated that, in his day, they used to spread over the hide the brains or liver of the animal, which had been carefully retained for that purpose and the warm broth of the meat was also poured over it. Some persons made two-thirds of the brain of an animal suffice for dressing its skin. But Frank La Flèche says that the liver was not used for tanning purposes, though the broth was so used when it was brackish.

When the hide had been dried in the sun, it was soaked by sinking it beneath the surface of any adjacent stream. This act lasted about two days. Then the hide was dried again and subjected to the final operation, which was intended to make it sufficiently soft and pliant. A twisted sinew, about as thick as one's finger, called the wc̷ikĭnde, was fastened at each end to a post or tree, about 5 feet from the ground. The hide wits put through this, and pulled back and forth. This act was called wac̷kĭnde.

On the commencement of this process, called tan'c̷ĕ, the bides were almost invariably divided longitudinally into two parts each, for the convenience of the operator. When they were finished they were again sewed together with awls and sinew. When the hides were small they were not so divided before they were tanned. The skins of elk, deer, and antelopes were dressed in a similar manner.