Page 312




182. The Indians say that Ictinike was he who taught their ancestors all their war customs, such as blackening the face. (See myth of Ictinike and the Deserted Children in Contributions to N. A. Ethnology, Vol. VI, Part I.)

Origin of wars.—Wars generally originated in the stealing of horses and the elopement of women, and sometimes they are in consequence of infringing on the hunting-grounds of one another. When a party of warriors go on the war-path they do not always go after scalps only; the object of the expedition may be to steal horses from the enemy. If they can get the horses without being detected they may depart without killing any one. But should they meet any of the people they do not hesitate to attempt their lives. If the followers or servants fail to bring away the horses it is the duty of the leaders to make an attempt.

183. Mode of fighting unlike that of nations of the Old World.—War was not carried on by these tribes as it is by the nations of the Old World. The C̸egiha and other tribes have no standing armies. Unlike the Six Nations, they have no general who holds his office for life, or for a given term. They have no militia, ready to be called into the field by the government. On the contrary, military service is voluntary in all cases, from the private to the commanders, and the war party is usually disbanded as soon as home is reached. They had no wars of long duration; in fact, wars between one Indian tribe and another scarcely ever occurred; but there were occasional battles, perhaps one or two in the course of a season.


184. When the foe had made an attack on the Omahas (or Ponkas) and had killed some of the people it was the duty of the surviving men to pursue the offenders and try to punish them. This going in pursuit, of the foe, called nka-c̷qĕ c̷, was undertaken immediately without any of the ceremonies connected with a formal departure on the war-path, which was offensive warfare. When the Ponkas rushed to meet the Brul and Ogala Dakotas, June 17, 1872, Htaⁿ-gi'hnaⁿ, a woman, ran with them most of the way, brandishing a knife and singing songs to incite the men to action. The women did not always behave thus. They generally dug pits as quickly as possible and crouched in them in order to escape the missiles of the combatants. And after the fight

Page 313

they used to seek for the fallen enemy in order to mutilate them. When some of the upper Dakotas had taken a prisoner they secured him to a stake and allowed their women to torture him by mutilating him previous to killing him, etiani genitalia exciderunt. But the writer never heard of the C̸egiha women's having acted in this manner.

185. Preparation for the attack by the foe.—About thirty-two years ago the Dakotas and Ponkas attacked the Omahas, but the latter had timely notice of their intentions and prepared for them. Four Omahas had found the camp of the enemy and reported to their friends that the foe would make the attack either that night or the next morning. So the Omahas made ready that night, having sent a crier around the tribal circle, saying, "They say that you must make an intrenchment for the children. The foe will surely come!" Then the people made an embankment around the greater part of the circle. It was about 4 feet high, and on the top were planted all the tent poles, the tents having been pulled down. The tent poles were interlaced and over these were fastened all the tent skins as far as they would go. This was designed as a screen for the men, while for the women and children was dug a trench about 4 or 5 feet deep, inside the embankment.

Mr. J. La Flèche, who was present during the fight, says that the embankment did not extend all around the circle, and that the area previously occupied by the tents of the end gentes, Wejincte, Ictasanda, etc., were not thus protected, and that he and others slept on the ground that night. Some of the men dug trenches for the protection of their horses. Early in the morning the crier went around, saying, "They say that you must do your best, as day is at hand. They have come!" The night scouts came in and reported having heard the sounds made by the tramping of the host of the advancing foe. Then the crier exhorted the people again, "They say that you must do your best! You have none to help you. You will lie with your weapons in readiness. You will load your guns. They have come!" Some of the Omahas fought outside of the embankment, others availed themselves of that shelter, and cut holes through the skins so that they might aim through them at the enemy. These structures for defense were made by digging up the earth with sticks which they had sharpened with axes. The earth thrown up made the embankment for the men, and the hollows or trenches were the uc̷hnucka into which the women and children retreated.

186. Old Ponka Fort.—At the old Ponka Agency, in what was Todd County, Dakota Territory, may be seen the remains of an ancient fort, which the Ponkas say was erected over a hundred years ago by their forefathers. J. La Flèche saw it many years ago, and he says that the curvilinear intrenchment used to be higher than a man; i. e., over six feet high. Many earth-lodges used to be inside. At the time it was built the Yanktons were in Minnesota, and the tribes who fought the Ponkas were the Rees, Cheyennes, and Pdañka (Camanches). Then the only Dakotas out of Minnesota were the Oglala and the Sitcaⁿxu

Page 314

or Bruls. The former were on the White River and in the region of the Black Hills. The latter were in Nebraska, at the head of the Platte.

The fort had but one entrance. The situation was well chosen. The embankment occupied the greater part of a semi detached bluff. In front, and at one side, was the low bench of land next to the Missouri; at the rear was a ravine which separated it from the next bluff, and the only means of approach was by one side, next the head of the ravine. Then one had to pass along the edge of the ravine for over 200 yards in order to reach the entrance. The following sketch was drawn from memory, and Mr. La Flèche pronounced it substantially correct:

Fig. 30.—Old Ponka fort. The Missouri River is north of it.

Page 315


187. The first proposition to go on the war-path cannot come from the chiefs, who, by virtue of their office, are bound to use all their influence in favor of peace, except under circumstances of extraordinary provocation. It is generally a young man who decides to undertake an expedition against the enemy. Having formed his plan, he speaks thus to his friend: "My friend, as I wish to go on the war-path, let us go. Let us boil the food for a feast." The friend having consented, the two are the leaders or nudaⁿ'hañga, if they can induce others to follow them. So they find two young men whom they send as messengers to invite those whom they name. Each wgc̷a or messenger takes one half of the gentile circle (if the tribe is thus encamped), and goes quietly to the tent of each one whom he has been requested to invite. He says at the entrance, without going in, "Kagha, c̷kui hă, caⁿ'c̷iñkiⁿte."—My friend, you are invited (by such and such a one), after he has been occupied awhile. If the man is there, his wife replies to the messenger, "C̸ikge na'an' hĕ," Your friend hears it. Should the man be absent, the wife must reply, "C̸ikge c̷iñgĕ hĕ; cuh tat."—Your friend is not (here); he shall go to you. These invitations are made at night, and as quietly as possible, lest others should hear of the feast and wish to join the expedition; this, of course, refers to the organization of a nudaⁿ-jiñga or small war-party, which varies in number from two persons to about ten.

Fig. 31.—A, the nudaⁿhañga, or captains; b, the wagc̷a, or messengers; C, the guests; D, the food in kettles over the fire.

188. Small war party.—After the return of the messengers, the guests assemble at the lodge or tent of their host. The places of the guests, messengers, and nudaⁿhañga are shown in the diagram.

The two wku or hosts sit opposite the entrance, while the messengers have their seats next the door, so that they may pass in and out and attend to the fire, bringing wood and water, and also wait on the guests. Each guest brings with him his bowl and spoon.

When all have assembled the planner of the expedition addresses the company. "Ho! my friends, my friend and I have invited you to a feast, because we wish to go on the war-path." Then the young men say: "Friend, in what direction shall we go"? The host replies, "We desire to go to the place whither they have taken our horses."

Then each one who is willing to go, replies thus: "Yes, my friend, I am willing." But he who is unwilling replies, "My friend, I do not wish

Page 316

to go. I am unwilling." Sometimes the host says, "Let us go by such a day. Prepare yourselves."

The food generally consists of dried meat and corn. ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ said that he boiled fresh venison.

According to ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ, the host sat singing sacred songs, while the leaders of those who were not going with the party sat singing dancing songs. Four times was the song passed around, and they used to dance four times. When the singing was concluded all ate, including the giver of the feast. This is denied by La Flèche and Two Crows. (See 196.)

A round bundle of grass is placed on each side of the stick on which the kettle is hung. The bundles are intended for wiping the mouths and hands of the men after they have finished eating. At the proper time, each messenger takes up a bundle of the grass and hands it to the nudanhañga on his side of the fire-place. When the nudaⁿhañga have wiped their faces and hands they hand the bundles to their next neighbors, and from these two they are passed in succession around to the door. Then the bundles are put together, and handed again to one of the nudaⁿhañga, for the purpose of wiping his bowl and spoon, passing from him and his associate to the men on the left of the fire-place, thence by the entrance to those on the right of the fire-place to the nudaⁿhañga. Then the messengers receive the bundle, and use it for wiping out the kettle or kettles. Then the host says, "Now! enough! Take ye it." Then the wagc̷a put the grass in the fire, making a great smoke. Whereupon the host and his associate exclaim, "Hold your bowls over the smoke." All arise to their feet, and thrust their bowls into the smoke Each one tries to anticipate the rest, so the bowls are knocked against one another, making a great noise. This confusion is increased by each man crying out for himself; addressing the Wakanda, or deity of the thunder, who is supposed by some to be the god of war. One says, "Ndaⁿhañg, win' t'ac̷ĕ tmiñke."—O war-chief! I will kill one. Another, "Ndaⁿhañg, cañ'ge wbc̷ize agc̷."—O war-chief! I have come back with horses which I have taken. (This and the following are really prayers for the accomplishment of the acts mentioned.) Another: "Ndaⁿhañg, d wiⁿ bc̷iqaⁿ."—O war-chief! I have pulled a head, and broken it off. Another, "Ndaⁿhañg, sku uc̷zaⁿqti wiⁿ bc̷ze hă."—O war-chief! I, myself, have taken one by the very middle of his scalp-lock. Another, ' c̷iñgĕ'qti, ndaⁿhañg, wiⁿ' ubc̷aⁿ'."—O war chief! I have taken hold of one who did not receive a wound. And another, "bagc̷aqti de ubc̷aⁿ' hă."—He drew back as he was very doubtful of success (in injuring me?), but I (advanced and) took hold of him. Those sitting around and gazing at the speakers are laughing. These lookers on are such as have refused to join the party. Then the guests pass in regular order around the circle, following the course of the sun, and passing before the host as they file out at the entrance. Each one has to go all around before he leaves the lodge.

Page 317

189. This feasting is generally continued four days (or nights); but if the occasion be an urgent one the men make hasty preparations, and may depart in less than four days. Each nudaⁿhañga boils the food for one night's feast; and what he prepares must differ from what is boiled by the other. Sometimes two leaders boil together on the same day; sometimes they take separate days, and sometimes when they boil on separate days they observe no fixed order, i. e., the first leader may boil for two days in succession, then the second for one or two, or the second leader may begin and the first follow on the next day, and so on. When the supply of food failst he host may tell some of the wagqc̷aⁿ or servants (who may be the messengers) to go after game.

190. Preparation for starting.—Each warrior makes up a bundle composed of about fifteen pairs of moccasins, with sinew, an awl, and a sack of provisions, consisting of corn which has been parched. The latter is sometimes pounded and mixed with fat and salt. This is prepared by the women several days in advance of the time for departure. If the warriors leave in haste, not having time to wait for the sewing of the moccasins, the latter are merely cut out by the women. ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ said that nearly all of the party had some object which was sacred, which they carried either in the belt or over one shoulder and under the opposite arm. La Flèche and Two Crows deny this, but they tell of such medicine in connection with the ac̷iⁿ-wasabe society. (See Chapter X.)

191. Secret departure.—The departure takes place at night. Each man tries to slip of in the darkness by himself; without being suspected by any one. The leaders do not wish many to follow lest they should prove disobedient and cause the enemy to detect their proximity.

Another reason for keeping the proposed expedition a secret from all but the guests is the fear least the chiefs should hear of it. The chiefs frequently oppose such undertakings, and try to keep the young men from the war-path. If they learn of the war feast they send a man to find out whither the party intends going. Then the leaders are invited to meet the chiefs. On their arrival they find presents have been put in the middle of the lodge to induce them to abandon their expedition. (See Two Crows' war story, in Contributions to North American Ethnology, Vol. VI, Part I.)

The next day the people in the village say, "Haⁿ'adi nudaⁿ' ac̷a'-bi-keam."—It is said that last night they went off in a line on the war-path.

The warriors and the leaders blacken their faces with charcoal and rub mud over them. They wear buffalo robes with the hair out, if they can get them, and over them they rub white clay. The messengers or wagc̷a a1so wear plumes in their hair and gird themselves with macakaⁿ, or women's pack-straps. All must fast for four days. When they have been absent for that period they stop fasting and wash their faces.

192. Uninvited followers.—When a man notices others with weapons, and detects other signs of warlike preparation, should he wish to join

Page 318

the party he begs moccasins, etc., from his kindred. When he is ready he goes directly after the party. The following day, when the warriors take their seats, the follower sits in sight of them, but at some distance. When one of the servants spies him he says to his captain, "Ndaⁿ-hañg, c̷ʇa ak wiⁿ' ati hă."—O war chief! this one in the rear has come. Then the captain says to all the warriors, "Hau, nkawasaⁿ', bahaⁿ-ba hiⁿb cti c̷awi-gă. Maⁿ' tĕ cti wgaskaⁿc̷i-g."—Ho, warriors! recognize him, if you can, and count your moccasins (to see if you can spare him any). Examine your arrows, too. Then a servant is sent to see who the follower is. On his return he says, "War-chief (or captain), it is he," naming the man. The captain has no set reply; sometimes he says, "Ho, warriors! the man is active. Go after him. He can aid us by killing game." Or he may say, "Hau, nikawasaⁿ'! n c̷ic̷iⁿ g tĕ ac̷iⁿ' gi-gă. gudi caⁿ'ʇañga nxic̷c̷c̷ĕ ʞĭ gaha ac̷ijaⁿ gaⁿ'c̷ai ʞĭ, caⁿ' jaⁿ-miⁿ' hă."—Ho, warriors! go for him that he may bring water for you. If he wishes to lie on you (i. e., on your bodies) when the big wolves (or the foe) attack you, I think it is proper. Then the scout goes after the follower.

But if the man be lazy, fond of sleeping, etc., and the scout reports who he is, they do not receive him. Once there was a man who persisted in going with war parties though he always caused misfortunes. The last time he followed a party the captains refused to receive him. Then he prayed to Wakanda to bring trouble on the whole party for their treatment of him. They were so much alarmed that they abandoned the expedition.

193. Officers.—A small war party has for its chief officers two nudaⁿhañga, partisans, captains, or war chiefs. Each nudaⁿhañga has his nudaⁿ'hañga-qc̷xe or lieutenant, through whom he issues his orders to the men. These lieutenants or adjutants are always chosen before the party leaves the village. After the food has been boiled the giver of the feast selects two brave young men, to each of whom he says, "Nudaⁿ'hañga-qc̷xe hniⁿ' tat," You shall be a nudaⁿ'hañga-qc̷xe.

In 1854 Two Crows was invited by four others to aid them in organizing a large war party. But as they went to the feast given by the chiefs and received the presents they forfeited their right to be captains. Two Crows refused the gifts, and persisted in his design, winning the position of first captain. Wanace-jiñga was the other, and ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ and Sĭnde-xaⁿxaⁿ were the lieutenants. In this case a large party was intended, but it ended in the formation of a small one. For the change from a small party to a large one see 210.

194. Large war party.—A large war party is called "Nudaⁿ'hiⁿ-ʇañ'ga." La Flèche and Two Crows do not remember one that has occurred among the Omahas. The grandfather of Two Crows joined one against the Panis about a hundred years ago. And Two Crows was called on to assist in organizing one in 1854, when fifty men were collected for an expedition which was prevented by the chiefs. Such par-

Page 319

ties usually number one or two hundred men, and sometimes all the fighting men in the tribe volunteer. Occasionally the whole tribe moves against an enemy, taking the women, children, etc., till they reach the neighborhood of the foe, when the non-combatants are left at a safe distance, and the warriors go on without them. This moving with the whole camp is called "wahaⁿqti c̷," or "gaqc̷aⁿqti c̷," because they go in a body, as they do when traveling on the buffalo hunt.

195. When a large war party is desired the man who plans the expedition selects his associates, and besides these there must be at least two more nudaⁿhañga; but only the planner and his friend are the nudaⁿhañga ju, or principal war chiefs. Sometimes, as in the case of Wabaskaha (Contributions to N. A. Ethnology, Vol. VI, Part I, p. 394), the man paints his face with clay or mud, and wanders around, crying to Wakanda thus: "O Wakanda! though the foreigners have injured me, I hope that you may help me!" The people hear him, and know by his crying that he desires to lead a war party; so they go to him to hear his story.

Four wagc̷a are sent to invite the guests, two taking each side of the tribal circle, and hallooing as they pass each tent. There is no cause for secrecy on such occasions, so the crier calls out the name of each guest, and bids him bring his bowl. In the case of Wabaskaha, so great was the wrong suffered that all the men assembled, including the chiefs. This was the day after Wabaskaha had told his story. Then a pipe (the war pipe) was filled. Wabaskaha extended his hands toward the people, and touched them on their heads saying, "Pity me; do for me as you think best." Then the chief who filled the sacred pipe said to the assembly, "If you are willing for us to take vengeance on the Pawnees, put that pipe to your lips; if (any of) you are unwilling, do not put it to your lips." Then every man put the pipe to his lips and smoked it. And the chief said, "Come! Make a final decision. Decide when we shall take vengeance on them." And one said, "O leader! during the summer let us eat our food, and pray to Wakanda. In the early fall let us take vengeance on them." The four captains were constantly crying by day and night, saying, "O Wakanda! pity me. Help me in that about which I am in a bad humor." They were crying even while they accompanied the people on the summer hunt. During the day they abstained from food and drink; but at night they used to partake of food and drink water.

196. Feast.—It was customary for the guests invited to join a large war party to go to the lodge designated, where four captains sat opposite the entrance, and two messengers sat on each side of the door. The ensuing ceremonies were substantially those given in 188, with the exception of the use of the wac̷xabe or sacred bags, which are never used except when large war parties are organized.

Sacred bags.—These sacred bags, which are consecrated to the thunder or war god, are so called because when the Indians went on the war-

Page 320

path they used to c̷ixbe or strip off the feathers of red, blue, and yellow birds, and put them into the sacred bags. There were five bags of this sort among the Omahas. The principal one is kept by Wackaⁿ'-maⁿc̷iⁿ, of the Wajiñga-c̷atjĭ subgens of the C̸tada. It is filled with the feathers and skins of small birds, and is wrapped in a ʇahpezi, or worn tent-skin. This is the principal one. The second one is kept by the daughter of ah-jiñga, of the Iñk-sabĕ; because the people pity her, they allow her to keep the bag which her father used to have; but they do not allow her to take any part in the ceremonies in which the sacred bags are used. The third bag is in the custody of Mhiⁿ-c̷iñ'ge of the Wejiⁿcte gens. The fourth, when in existence, was kept by idmaⁿc̷iⁿ, of the a-da gens. And the fifth was made by Wbaskaha, of the Iñgc̷e'-jide gens. This, too, is no longer in existence. According to La Flèche and Two Crows, the only wac̷ixabe used in war are made of the (skin and feathers of the) gc̷edaⁿ', or pigeon-hawk, the iⁿ'be-jañ'ka, or forked-tail hawk, and the nickcku, or martin. All three kinds were not carried by the same war party. Sometimes one man carries an iⁿbe-jañka, and the other a nickucku; at other times one carries a gc̷edaⁿ, and the other an inbe-jañka or nickucku. ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ says that the weasel is very sacred. Two Crows never heard this; and he says that the keeper of any very sacred object never reveals what it is. These sacred bags are not heavy; yet the bearer of one has no other work. He must wear his robe tied at the neck, and drawn around him even in warm weather.

At the feast, the three wac̷ixabe are put in the middle of the lodge. The keepers take their seats, and sing sacred songs, some of which are addresses to the Thunder, while others are dancing songs. Among the former is one of which a fragment was given by ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ:

"Wi-ʇ-gaⁿ naⁿ'-pe-wa'-c̷ĕ e-gaⁿ', Wi-ʇ-gaⁿ naⁿ'-pe-wa'-c̷ĕ e-gaⁿ', We'-tiⁿ kĕ gc̷i'-haⁿ-haⁿ-ʞĭ, Naⁿ'-pe-wa'-c̷ĕ—."
"As my grandfather is dangerous, As my grandfather is dangerous, When he brandishes his club, Dangerous—."

When he had proceeded so far ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ stopped and refused to tell the rest, as it was too sacred.

This song is also sung by the keepers of the wac̷ixabe after the return of the warriors, when the ordeal of the wastgist is tried. (See 214.)

Though the keepers sometimes sing the songs four times, and the others then dance around four times, this is not always done so often. After the dance they enjoy the feast.

Presents are made by the giver of the feast to the keepers of the wac̷ixabe, who are thus persuaded to lend their sacred bags with the peculiar advantages or sacredness which they claim for them.

Page 321

197. The principal captains select the lieutenants, and assign to each of the other captains a company of about twenty warriors. Each of the minor captains camps with his own company, which has its own camp-fire apart from the other companies. But only the two principal captains select the scouts, police, etc.

When the fasting, etc., begins (see 191), even the captains wear plumes in their hair.

When the party is very large, requiring many moccasins, and they intend going a long distance, a longer period than four days may be required for their preparations.

According to ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ, the principal captains tie pieces of twisted grass around their wrists and ankles, and wear other pieces around their heads. This refers to the Thunder god. Two Crows says that he never did this.

198. Opening of the bags.—When the principal captains wish to open their sacred bags, they assemble their followers in a circle, making them sit down. Any of the followers or servants (the terms are interchangeable) may be ordered to make an ujʇi" in the center of the circle, by pulling up the grass, then making a hole in the ground. Then the sacred bags are laid at the feet of the principal captains, each one of whom opens his own bag, holding the mouth of the bird towards the foe, even when some of the warriors are going to steal horses.

199. Policemen or Wance.—These are selected after the party has left the village, sometimes during the next day or night, sometimes on the second day. The appointments are made by the principle captains. If the war-party be a small one, few policemen (from seven to ten) are appointed; but if it is a large party, many are appointed, perhaps twenty. There is never any fixed number; but circumstances always determine how many are required. For a small party, two wance-nudaⁿ'hañga, or captains of police, are appointed, to whom the principal captains say, "Wance c̷andaⁿhañ'ga tat," You shall be captains of the police. Each of these wance-nudaⁿ'hañga has several wance at his command. When any of the warriors are disobedient, or are disposed to lag behind the rest, the policemen hit them at the command of their own captains, the wance-nudaⁿ'hañga. When the wance see that the men are straggling, they cry, "Waⁿ<! waⁿ<!" On hearing this, the warriors say, "The policemen are calling"; so they run towards the main body.

200. Order of march for any war party.—The scouts, or wadaⁿ'be-ma, go from two to four miles in advance during the day. There are only two of these when the party is a small one; but a large party has four. These scouts are sent ahead as soon as they have eaten their breakfasts. They do not always go straight ahead. Should they come to a hill, they do not ascend, preferring to make a detour by going along a "skda," or high level forming an opening between two hills. If, when they reach there, they detect no signs of a foe, they continue on their way. Some

Page 322

of the warriors may go out as scouts of their own accord, before requested to do so by the captains.

201. When there is a large party, the two nudaⁿ'hañga-jiñ'ga, or minor captains, bearing the sacred bags, go about a hundred yards in advance of the others. Then march the captains, and after them follow the warriors and those who are the servants of the captains. Each captain has his servant, who carries his captain's baggage and rations, waits on him, brings him food and water, and makes his couch when they camp for the night. As the day advances and the warriors become tired, they drop behind. Then the captains order those near them to halt and sit down. If there are bearers of the wac̷ixabe, they are the first to take their seats at the command of the captains, who sit next to them. Then the nearest warriors are seated, and so on, as they come together. Those in the rear sit where they please. It is important for the party to keep together, for they might be exterminated if attacked when the men are scattered. As soon as those in the rear have overtaken the rest, all arise and resume the march.

The scouts having gone to the place designated, return to report, and two of the captains go ahead to meet them. Having reported whether they have seen traces of an enemy or of game, etc., they are relieved, and others are sent ahead in their places. This change of day scouts takes place as many times as the circumstances require. One of the men who bears the kettle on his back, acts as if he were a captain, addressing the warriors thus: "Ho, warriors! bring me water," or, "Ho, warriors! bring me some wood."

202. Songs.—Sometimes when a man thinks that he will die fighting the enemy he sings different songs. One of these songs given by ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ, was intended to infuriate the warriors. He said that it was the "Captive song," and was not regarded as sacred. Though he said that it was sung by one of the wance-nudaⁿhañga, as he danced around the marching warriors, that is doubted by La Flèche and Two Crows, who said that one of the nudanhañga was not always singing and dancing around the others. The song, as sung, differs from the spoken words.

Naⁿ'-ku-c̷ haⁿ'-c̷iⁿ-bi-go+ (i. e., Naⁿ'-ku-c̷ĕ-aⁿ-c̷iⁿ'-i-gă) Naⁿ'-ku-c̷ haⁿ'-c̷iⁿ-bi-go+ H, n-daⁿ-hañ-g, ʇaⁿ'-be tĕ U--hi-ta-m-ji no+ (i. e., Uahita-majĭ c̷a u+!) N-daⁿ-hañ-g, naⁿ'-ku-c̷ haⁿ'-c̷in-bi-go+

It may be translated thus:

O make us quicken our steps! O make us quicken our steps! Ho, O war chief! When I see him I shall have my heart's desire! O war chief, make us quicken our steps!

One of the sacred songs which follows is from the ɔiwere language, and was sung by an Omaha captain. It is given as sung in the

Page 323

Omaha notation of the ɔiwere. The meaning of all the words cannot be given by the collector.
Maⁿ'-c̷iⁿ c̷e h ga+we+he-h! (Maⁿ'-c̷iⁿ, for ma-nyi, to walk.) Man'-c̷in c̷e h ga+we+he-h! Tc-do na-h! (Tce-ʇo naha, buffalo bull, he who is, or, The buffalo bull.) Maⁿ'-c̷iⁿ c̷e h ga+we+he-h!

After singing this the captain addressed the men thus: "Ho, warriors! I have truly said that I shall have my heart's desire! Truly, warriors, they shall not detect me at all. I am now proceeding without any desire to save life. If I meet one of the foe I will not spare him."

203. The Mʞasi watc or Coyote Dance.—This was danced by the warriors before they retired for the night, to keep up their spirits. It was not danced every night, but only when thought necessary. The captains took no part in it. Some sang the dancing songs. All whitened themselves (saⁿkic̷ac̷a). Each one carried a gourd rattle and a bow; he wore his quiver in his belt, and had his robe around him. They imitated the actions of the coyote, trotting, glancing around, etc.

204. Order of encamping.—As soon as they stop to camp for the night four night scouts are sent out, one in advance, towards the country of the foe, one to the rear, and one on each side of the camp, each scout going for about a mile. Before they depart the captains say, "Ho, warriors ! When you feel sleepy come back," referring to midnight. Then the scouts leave, and as soon as they reach their respective stations they lie down and watch for any signs of the enemy.

At the command of the nudaⁿhañga-qc̷exe the camp is formed in a circle, with the fire in the center. The warriors are told to go for wood and water, and the servants of the captains prepare couches for their respective masters by pulling grass, some of which they twist and tie up for pillows. Each servant does this for his own captain. When bad weather is threatening the lieutenants order the warriors to build a grass lodge. For tent poles they cut many long saplings of hard willow or of any other kind of wood, and stick them in the ground at acute angles, and about one foot apart, if wood is plentiful, and small sticks are interlaced. Then they cover this frame with grass. When wood is very scarce the saplings are placed further apart.

Unlike the Iowas, the Omahas do not open their sacred bags when they encamp for the night. All the bags are hung on two or three forked sticks, the wac̷xabe-uc̷baʇigc̷e, which are about three feet high. These sticks are placed about five feet from the circle of warriors, close enough to be seized at once in case of an attack.

Should any scout detect danger he must give the cry of a coyote or mʞasi. By and by, when the scouts become sleepy, and there is no sign of danger, they return to the camp, and lie down with their comrades till nearly day. When it is time for roosters to crow, one of the captains exclaims, "Ho, warriors! rise ye and kindle a fire." Then all arise and dress in haste, and after they have eaten, the scouts are sent ahead, as on the preceding morning.

Page 324

205. New names taken.—When the warriors have been four nights on the way, excluding the night of departure from the village, the warriors generally take new names. But if any one likes his old name he can retain it. According to La Flèche and Two Crows, the ceremony is very simple. The captain tells all present that such a man has changed his name; then he addresses the Deity in the sky and the one under the ground: "Thou Deity on either side, hear it; hear ye that he has taken another name."

According to ac̷iⁿ-nanpajĭ, the warriors collect clothing and arrows, which they pile up in the center of the circle. As each man places his property on the pile, he says, "I, too, O war chief, abandon that name which is mine!" (This is probably addressed to the Thunder god.) Then one of the principal captains takes hold of the man by the shoulders, and leads him all around the circle, following the course of the sun. When he has finished the circumambulation (which is denied by La Flèche and Two Crows), the captain asks the man, "What name will you have, O warrior?" The man replies, "O war chief, I wish to have such and such a name," repeating the name he wishes to assume. The captain replies, "The warrior is speaking of having a very precious name!" Then one of the men is sent to act as crier, to announce the name to the various deities. The addresses to the deities vary in some particulars. The following was the proclamation of the Ponka, Cdegxe, when the chief, Nudaⁿ'-axa, received his present name: "He is truly speaking, as he sits, of abandoning his name, halloo! He is indeed speaking of having the name Cries-for-the-war-path, halloo! Ye big head-lands, I tell you and send it (my voice) to you that ye may hear it, halloo! Ye clumps of buffalo grass, I tell you and send it to you that ye may hear it, halloo! Ye big trees, I tell you and send it to you that ye may hear it, halloo! Ye birds of all kinds that walk and move on the ground, I tell you and send it to you that ye may hear it, halloo! Ye small animals of different sizes, that walk and move on the ground, I tell you and send it to you that ye may bear it, halloo! Thus have I sent to you to tell you, O ye animals! Right in the ranks of the foe will he kill a very swift man, and come back after holding him, halloo! He speaks of throwing away the name Najiⁿ'-tic̷e, and he has promised to take the name Nudaⁿ'-axa, halloo!" The original C̸egiha will be found on pages 372, 373 of Part 1, Vol. VI, "Contributions to N. A. Ethnology.'' According to the Omaha ac̷iⁿ-nanpajĭ, the following proclamation was made when he received his present name; but this is disputed by La Flèche and Two Crows:

"He is indeed speaking of abandoning his name! He is indeed speaking (as he stands) of having the name, He-fears-not-a-Pawnee-when-he-sees-him. Ye deities on either side (i. e., darkness and the ground), I tell you and send it to you that you may hear it, halloo! O Thunder, even you who are moving in a bad humor, I tell you and send it to you that you may hear it, halloo! O ye big rocks that move, I tell you and

Page 325

send it to you that ye may hear it, halloo! O ye big hills that move, I tell you and send it to you that ye may hear it, halloo! O ye big trees that move, I tell you and send it to you that ye may hear it, halloo! O all ye big worms that move (i. e., O ye snakes that are in a bad humor, ye who move), I tell you and send it to you that ye may hear it, halloo! All ye small animals, I tell you and send it to you that ye may hear it, halloo! O ye large birds that move, I tell you and send it to you that you may hear it, halloo!" To this address was added some of the following promises, all of which were not used for the same person: "Watc̷daⁿbadqti wiⁿ' naⁿ'pĕqti taⁿ' wegaqc̷ 'ic̷ĕ taⁿ c̷a!—He speaks as he stands of striking down one in the very midst of the ranks of the foe, who shall stand in great fear of him!" "Watc̷ uhañ'gegti tĕ'di wiⁿ' wegaqc̷ 'ic̷ĕ taⁿ c̷a!—He is speaking of striking down one at the very end of the ranks of the foe." "Watc̷e ukaⁿ'ska daⁿbadiqti wiⁿ' wgaqc̷ 'ic̷ĕ taⁿ c̷a!—He is speaking of striking down one in the very middle of the enemy's ranks, having gone directly towards him." "Watc̷e uhañ'gadiqti wiⁿ t'wakic̷ 'ic̷ĕ taⁿ c̷a!—He is speaking of slaying one at the very end of the enemy's ranks!" "Gazaⁿ'adiqti wiⁿ c̷iñg uc̷aⁿ' 'ic̷ĕ taⁿ c̷a!—He is speaking of taking hold of one without a wound right in the midst of the foe (i. e., when surrounded by them)!

206. Behavior of those who stay at home.—The old men who stay at home occasionally act as criers, day and night. They go among the lodges, and also to the bluffs, where they exhort the absent warriors, somewhat after this manner: "Do your best. You have gone traveling (i. e., on the war path) because you are a man. You are walking over a land over which it is very desirable for one to walk. Lie (when you die) in whatever place you may wish to lie. Be sure to lie with your face towards the foe!" They do not keep this up all the time, nor do they always make such exhortations.

207. The women, too, address the distant warriors. The following is a song referring to Hebadi-jaⁿ, of the ʞaⁿze gens:

"Wa-na'-qc̷iⁿ-ă! -c̷a-'aⁿ' c̷-c̷iⁿ-c-iⁿ-te -nu-h, c̷a-aⁿ'-c̷a-caⁿ' c̷-c̷iⁿ-c. He-b-di-jaⁿ', C-aⁿ jiñ'-ga kc̷ĕ ac̷iⁿ g-ă!"

Hasten! What are you doing that you remain away so long? Elder brother, now, at length, you have left him behind. O Hebadi jaⁿ! be returning quickly with a young Dakota!

La Flèche and Two Crows never heard this song; but they do not dispute its correctness. It was told the writer by ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ.

208. Report of scouts.—When the scouts return and report having found the enemy, stating also how they are encamped, if the party is a large one, the sacred bags are opened by the principal captains, with the mouth of each bag towards the enemy, as stated in 198.

ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ says that they then give the scalp-yell, and each one repeats what he has promised to do on meeting the enemy; but this is disputed by La Flèche and Two Crows.

Page 326

209. Capture of horses.—Two men who are active go to steal horses from the enemy. This departure is called "ʇ-gaq ac̷ai," they have gone to get the better of (those in) the lodges (of the enemy), and is explained by "wamaⁿ'c̷aⁿ ac̷a," they have gone to steal. The two men may go together or may separate and try to steal horses at whatever places they can find any. Should these followers fail, two of the officers must make an attempt. These officers may be either the captains or the lieutenants. Sometimes a youth steals off from the warriors, and tries to capture a horse. The policemen try to prevent this, as the youth might alarm the foe. No matter who captures the horses, he must deliver them to the two principal captains. If many horses have been captured, the men take them to a safe distance, and then they are distributed among the members of the party. He who captured the horses is always the first to receive one from the captains. Each of the (principal) captains has his special followers, who are obliged to bring to him all the horses which they capture. And the captain, in like manner, shares his booty with his followers. Thus, when ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ captured horses from the Dakotas, when he was one of the captains, he distributed eight horses among his own followers. (See p. 442, Part I, Vol. VI, Contributions to N. A. Ethnology.) When he recovered the horses from the enemy, the warriors thanked him, saying that on account of his act they would not be compelled to make their feet sore from walking home. When but few horses have been taken, only the elder men receive them; but when many have been captured, all of the party share alike.

210. Preparations for attacking the enemy.—Before the attack is made, it is usually the custom for scouts to make a thorough survey of the enemy's camp. So, when Two Crows led his party against the Yanktons, in 1834, and had discovered the proximity of the foe, he first sent one of the lieutenants, ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ, to count the lodges. On his return, another lieutenant, Sĭn'de-xaⁿ'xaⁿ, was sent by Two Crows, for the purpose of learning if the enemy were sleeping. The latter having reported, Two Crows himself, being one of the captains, went with Sĭnde-xaⁿ'xaⁿ to make a final examination. Having ascertained the location of the sleepers, they returned to their party, and began the attack at midnight. When ah-jiñga and Nkuc̷bc̷aⁿ had led a small party against the Pawnee Loups, they sent back a messenger to the Omaha camp, and when four scouts were sent from the camp, Wabaskaha, who was one of the small war party, deceived them, saying that the Cheyennes were in the camp near at hand. Then many of the Omahas joined the small party changing it into a nudaⁿhiⁿ-ʇañga. This was after the death of the chief Black Bird, in the early part of this century. When the main body of the Omahas had joined the others, they proceeded without delay to surprise the camp of the Pawnees. Having arrived just at the outside of the village, they crawled towards it in perfect silence, going by twenties, each one holding the hand of the man next to him. The captain,

Page 327

Nikuc̷ibc̷aⁿ, or Giaⁿhabi, had a sacred bag, which he opened (four times, said Big Elk) with its mouth towards the foe, that the wind might waft the magic influence of the bag to the lodges, and make the sleepers forget their weapons and their warlike spirit (denied by La Flèche and Two Crows). He also had a war-club with an iron point, which he used as a sacred thing, waving it four times toward the foe. When they were very near the lodges, but while it was yet dark, one of the attacking party pulled his bow with all his might, sending an arrow very far. But the arrow could not be seen. They continued drawing nearer and nearer, exhorting one another, but speaking in whispers. At last it was daylight, which is the usual time for making the attack, as people are supposed to be sound asleep. Then Nikuc̷ibc̷aⁿ pulled his bow, and sent an arrow, which could be seen. He waved the sacred bag four times, and gave the attacking cry of the leader (the wa'iⁿ'baⁿ) once, whereupon all of his party gave the scalp-yell (ugc̷'a'a), and began the fight by shooting at the lodges. (See 193.)

Each combatant tries to find a shelter, from behind which he may fire at the enemy, though brave men now and then expose themselves to great danger when they rush towards the ranks of the enemy and try to capture a man, or to inflict a blow on him. Those who are the first to strike or touch a fallen enemy in the presence of his comrades, who are generally watching their opportunity to avenge his fall, are also regarded as very brave.

Protracted warfare, or fighting for several days in succession, has not been the Omaha custom.

211. Preparation for an attach on a single foe.—In the story of I'cibjĭ of the e-sĭn'de gens, we read thus: "At length the warriors detected a man coming towards them. They told the war-chief, who said, 'Ho! Oh warriors, he is the one whom we seek. Let us kill him.' Then the warriors prepared themselves. They painted themselves with yellow earth and white clay. Icibajĭ picked up the pieces dropped by the others, and the war-chief made his back yellow for him, in imitation of the sparrow-hawk. Then the warriors pulled off their leggings and moccasins, which they gave to Icibajĭ to keep. When Icibajĭ, having gained the consent of his captain, had peeped over the bluff at the advancing man, he ran to meet him, having no weapon but his club. Having overtaken the man, he killed him with the club. And when the others took parts of the scalp, Icibajĭ did not take any of it."

212. When one of the principal captains was killed, that always stopped the fight, even if he belonged to the side of the victors.

If any one heard that one of his kindred was killed or captured, he would try to go to him, and both generally perished together. When the Omahas were fleeing from the Dakotas, in a fight which occurred about A. D. 1846, some one told an old man that his son had been killed. "Ho!" said he, "I will stop running." So he turned around and went to the place where his son's body was. He rushed headlong

Page 328

among the combatants, who were standing very thick, and at last perished with his son.

213. Return of the war-party.—On the way home the booty is divided. ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ said that "They stop for the night at a point about two miles from the village," but La Flèche and Two Crows deny this, saying that the warriors come into the village when they please, as they are hungry and wish to see their wives and children.

If they have brought back scalps or horses, they set the grass afire. On seeing this the villagers say "Nudaⁿ' ama' agi, ebc̷e'gan. Usa."—I think that the warriors are coming back. They have set the grass afire. ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ said that if they have brought scalps, they put some of the hair in the fire, and the smoke is black. But if they put a horse's tail in the fire, the smoke is very yellow.

La Flèche and Two Crows said that there is no difference in the meaning of the colors of the smoke, though dje jde or red grass, sidhi, and other kinds of grass, are set afire, and make different kinds of smoke.

When guns are fired it signifies that a foe has been killed. But when none are fired, and the grass is not set afire, it is a sign of an unsuccessful expedition.

As soon as the people hear the guns, they shout, "The warriors have come back!" Then the warriors ride back and forth, moving here and there among themselves in the distance. Then the old men proclaim through the village what each warrior has achieved, calling him by name—"This one has killed a foe!" "This one has broken off a head!" "This one would not allow the others to anticipate him in seizing one of the foe by the scalp-lock," etc.

214. Ordeal of the sacred bags.—When the warriors have had a rest of about two days, they assemble for a dance, called the "Wwatci," or Scalp-dance. Before the dance, however, the successful warriors receive the rewards or insignia of valor from the nudaⁿhañga who has the three wac̷xabe ʇañ'ga or wastgist. The three bags are placed in a row, and all the warriors stand in a row. Each warrior having selected the wac̷ixabe to which he intends speaking, he makes a present to it. Then the keeper of the wac̷ixabe addresses him, reminding him that Wakanda sees him, and that if be speaks falsely, he may not expect to stay much longer on the earth. Then the young man says, "Wiⁿ'ake. Wakaⁿ'da ak bahaⁿi."—I tell the truth. Wakanda knows it. As he says this, he holds up his right hand towards the sky. Then he addresses the wac̷xabe itself, as follows: "Hau, iⁿc'ge-ha! eddaⁿ uwbc̷a tmiñke c̷aⁿ'ja, ic̷ausi'ctaⁿ-mjĭ uwbc̷a t miñke."—Ho, O venerable man! though I will tell you something, I will not lie when I tell it to you. When he says this, he lets fall a small stick which has been cut beforehand. He is obliged to hold the stick up high when he drops it. Should the stick fall on the sacred bag and remain there, it is a sign that he has spoken the truth; but if it falls off, they believe that he has been guilty

Page 329

of falsehood, and did not do in the fight that which he has claimed for himself.

Rewards of bravery.—When all the warriors have thus been tested, they are addressed by the holder of the wac̷ixabe. To one who was the first to take hold of a foe, he says, "ʞxe mc̷agc̷aⁿ'te hă," You shall wear the crow in your belt. Sometimes he adds, "Sbĕ c̷aʞckaxe te. ʞxe jaja c̷aʞckaxe te hă."—You shall blacken yourself. You shall make spots on yourself, resembling crows' dung. This warrior must blacken his body, and then mark here and there spots with white clay.

ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ said that the second who took hold of a foe had the following reward: He was allowed to blacken his body from the waist to the shoulders, and to rub white clay down the tops of his shoulders. To him was said, "Mcaⁿ-skă, ʇhiⁿ-wgc̷aⁿ c̷agc̷aⁿ' te hă."—You shall stick in your hair white eagle feathers, and wear the deer's-tail head-dress. La Flèche and Two Crows said that this man was allowed to wear the ʇhiⁿ-wgc̷aⁿ alone on his head, and to put the crow in his belt.

According to ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ, the third warrior who caught hold of the foe blackened his body thus: On the arms, at the elbows, on the ribs, and hiusagi, he could make places as large as a hand (or, he could make one side of his body black-sic). To him was said, "hiⁿ-wgc̷aⁿ mcaⁿ c̷iñg c̷agc̷aⁿ' te hă," You shall wear the ʇhiⁿ-wgc̷aⁿ without any feathers. But La Flèche and Two Crows said that this man was told to wear the crow in his belt; and the fourth who took hold of the foe was told to wear the ʇhiⁿ-wgc̷aⁿ without any other decoration.

ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ said that he who disemboweled a fallen enemy with a knife was permitted to stick a red feather in his hair. He blackened his body from the waist up to the shoulder, and over the shoulder, then down the back to the waist. He could redden his knife and dance as a grizzly bear. But Two Crows, who has attended the scalp-dance, never saw anything of this sort.

According to ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ he who killed a foe was rewarded in several ways. He could wear the ʇehuqc̷abe17 necklace, called the "gaddaje waciⁿ', and was addressed thus: "Gaddaje waciⁿ' naⁿc̷ap'iⁿ te hă," You can wear the ʇehuqc̷abe necklace. "Maⁿ'-uc̷baski ic̷agc̷a te hă," You shall carry the ramrod on your arm. "hiⁿ-wgc̷aⁿ saⁿc̷ c̷agc̷aⁿ' te hă," You shall wear the ʇhiⁿ-wgc̷aⁿ alone in your hair. (These were disputed by La Flèche and Two Crows.) "Maⁿ'sa gas jdec̷ĕ naⁿc̷ap'iⁿ' te hă," You shall wear an arrow shaft, scraped and reddened, suspended from your neck. (Confirmed by La Flèche and Two Crows.)

He who struck a foe with a hatchet, bow, etc., was allowed to redden it and carry it to the dance, if he wished.

Sometimes a warrior gave a gun, etc., to an old man, who went through the camp telling of the generosity of the giver.

17 The fat on the outside of the stomach of a buffalo or domestic cow.
Back to reference

Page 330

All who had parts of scalps were told to wear ʇhiⁿ-wgc̷aⁿ on their heads.

215. The scalp dance (of the women).—One of the women had to carry the scalp around on a pole during the dance. This act is ic̷abju.

When a man killed a foe with a knife, gun, hatchet, etc., it was taken by his wife, who held it as she danced. Such women dressed themselves in gay attire, decorated themselves with various ornaments, wore head-dresses of ʇejiⁿhiⁿde, painted their cheeks, and reddened the dugzaⁿ or parting of the hair of the head.

This scalp-dance is the women's dance; the men take no part but that of singing the dancing songs for the women and beating the drums. When any of the Omahas had been killed by the enemy, this dance could not be had; but when the Omahas were fortunate enough to kill some of the foe without losing any of their own party the men said, "Wwatci añ'kic̷e ta," Let them dance the scalp-dance. Then the men went first with one, two, or three drums to a place bare of undergrowth, and began to beat the drums. By and by the women would hear it, and assemble. There was no feast and no invitations were made by criers. Any women and girls who wished to dance could do so. The only men allowed to sing the dancing songs for the women were those who had killed foes, or had taken hold of them.

The women did not dance in a circle, but "kiqpaqpgc̷a" (moving in and out among themselves) and "kic̷bc̷aⁿ" (mixed, in disorder), as they pleased. Sometimes they danced all night till the next morning; sometimes they continued the dance for two or three days. This wewatci has not been danced by the Omaha women for about fourteen years. It is not considered a sacred dance, but one of rejoicing.

216. The Hec̷ucka dance 18 The only members of the Hec̷ucka dancing society are such as have distinguished themselves in war, and boys whose fathers are chief's. When Frank La Flèche was a boy he was admitted to the Hec̷ucka solely because his father was a chief. "The first four to take hold of the foe were decorated with the ʇhiⁿ-wgc̷aⁿ head-dress, the 'crow' in the belt, and garters of otter-skin.

"Be who had killed a foe with a gun reddened the barrel for about nine inches or a foot from the muzzle, wore the 'crow,' and stuck several swan feathers around the muzzle. He also wore a feather in his hair.

"Those who struck some of the foe, but did not inflict fatal blows, made on their bodies the signs of blows; having blackened their hands, they put them here and there on their bodies, leaving black impressions. Sometimes they blackened the whole body, and over the black they made white hands, after rubbing white clay on their own hands. They wore feathers in their hair, as did all except the four who were the first to take hold of the foe.

18 Known among the Kansas as the Ilucka, and among the Osages as the Iñʞc̷ŭncka.
Back to reference

Page 331

"He who had been wounded by the foe, without receiving a fatal blow, blackened his body, and put on a red spot and stripe to denote the wound and the dripping of the blood. He wore a red feather in his hair.

"Those who had brought back horses, wore lariats, "nsi-qc̷a" (over the left shoulder and under the right arm), and carried their whips on their arms.

"All these were promoted to the rank of wance or policemen, to act as such during the buffalo hunt." (La Flèche and Two Crows .)

"There were many singers. They had a drum, but no rattles of any sort. They danced as they moved around the fire-place, from left to right. This was always after a feast. They had no regular number of times for dancing around the circle.

"The man who first held a foe ranked as number one; the slayer came next; the second who held the foe ranked third; the third to hold the foe ranked fourth, and the fifth was he who cut off the head and threw it away.

"Sometimes the fourth man did this. Only the first, second, and third of these men were regarded as having gained great honors, and these three laded out the food at the feast.

"Only those who held or touched the foe made the impression of hands on their bodies.

"Those who struck living foes wore feathers erect in their hair, while those who hit dead enemies had to wear their feathers lying down." ( Frank La Flèche .)

Mr. J. La Flèche gave the following as a very ancient song of this dance:

"Wakaⁿ'da ak a'c̷iñ'ge te, ai gaⁿ, Aⁿc̷iñ'ge tmiñke."
"Wakanda having said that I shall not be, I shall not be."

In this song, "Aⁿc̷iñ'ge ta'miñke" is equivalent to "At' tmiñke," I shall die. The idea is that the singer thought he would not die until Wakanda spoke the word, and then he must die. Till then he would be safe, no matter what dangers he encountered.

For the song in honor of the Ponka chief, Ubskă, see pp. 380, 381, Part I, Vol. VI., Contributions to N. A. Ethnology.

217. The He-watc.—The concluding part of the Hec̷ucka was called the "H-watc." It was danced only by one man, a member of the Hec̷ucka society. After the feast, the head of a dog or deer was generally given to one of the guests, who ate it clean and laid it down after imitating, as he danced, some of his acts in battle. The man arose suddenly of his own accord, taking the head in both hands and holding it in front of him. When no head had been boiled he danced without one. The drum was beaten, but there were no songs. The dancer wore the "crow," and grasped a club or hatchet, which had been purposely placed in the middle of the circle. His acts resembled those of the four visitors when the gi'aⁿ-watcigaxe was danced. (See 271.) Pointing in

Page 332

various directions with his club or hatchet, with which he struck the ground each time, he said, "Naciⁿga wiⁿ ga'aⁿ:" I did thus to a man; "Naciⁿga wiⁿ qc̷i," I killed a man; "Naciⁿga wiⁿ ubc̷aⁿ," I took hold of a man; or some other expression. When he finished the Hec̷ucka dance was ended.

218. The Mandan dance with fallen friends.—When the Omahas lost any of their number in a fight they had the Mandan dance on their homeward way, or after they reached home. If they had the bodies of their dead they placed the latter in the middle of a lodge, making them sit upright, as if alive and singing. And they made them hold rattles of deers' claws on their arms.

In the war story of ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ, recorded in Part I, Vol. VI, Contributions to N. A. Ethnology, the narrator says: "All the people danced in groups, dancing the Mandan dance. I rode the horse which I had brought home. I painted my face and wore good clothing. I hit the drum: 'Ku+ !' I said, 'Let Wga-njiⁿ take that for himself,' referring to the horse. I presented the horse to one who was not my relation."

219. When the war party return home, whether they have been successful or not, the captains invite the warriors to a feast. The warriors, in turn, invited the captains to a feast. There was no regular order; if the warriors boiled first they were the first to invite (the captains) to a feast.

220. A battle may be ended either by the death of one of the principal captains or by sending a man with a sacred pipe towards the ranks of the enemy. The sacred pipe is a peace pipe, and is used instead of a flag of truce. (See Punishment of a murderer, 309.)

221. Treatment of the wounded foes.—If they fell into the power of the men of the victorious side they were killed and their bodies were cut in pieces, which were thrown towards the retreating foes, who cried with rage and mortification. Their treatment at the hand of the women has been described in 184.

222. Treatment of captives.—Captives were not slain by the Omahas and Ponkas. When peace was declared the captives were sent home, if they wished to go. If not they could remain where they were, and were treated as if they were members of the tribe; but they were not adopted by any one. When Gahge-jiñ'ga, father of Wacce, of the Iñke-sabĕ gens, was a small boy he was captured by the Ponkas as they were fighting with the Omahas, who were camped near their adversaries. The Omahas having overcome the Ponkas, the latter sent the aged Hañ'ga-ckde, whom the Omahas admired, with a peace pipe, and, as an earnest of their intentions, they sent with him the boy whom they had captured that day. He was restored to his tribe, and peace was declared. (See International Law, 306.)

223. Bravery.—The following anecdotes were told by Mr. La Flèche as illustrating the bravery of his people:

An old man had a son who reached manhood, and went into a fight,

Page 333

from which he returned wounded, but not dangerously so. The son asked his father saying, "Father, what thing is hard to endure" He expected the father to say, "My child, for one to be wounded in battle is hard to endure." Had he said this, the son would have replied, "Yes, father; I shall live." The father suspected this, so he made a different reply: "Nothing, my child. The only thing hard to bear is to put on leggings again before they have been warmed by the fire." So the son became angry and said, "My father, I will die."

A certain old man had been very brave in his youth; he had gone many times on the war-path, and had killed many persons belonging to different tribes. His only children were two young men. To them he gave this advice: "Go on the war-path. It will be good for you to die when young. Do not run away. I should be ashamed if you were wounded in the back; but it would delight me to learn of your being wounded in the chest." By and by there was war with another tribe, and the two young men took part in it. Their party having been scared back, both young men were killed. When the men reached home some one said, "Old man, your sons were killed." "Yes," said he, "that is just what I desired. I will go to see them. Let them alone; I will attend to them." He found the eldest sou wounded all along the back, but lying with his face towards home. Said he, "Wă! k gaⁿ'c̷aqti k-ana. Gtĕʇa gaqc̷e c̷ajaⁿ' te, eh c̷aⁿ'cti."—Why! he lies as if he felt a strong desire to reach home! I said heretofore that you were to lie facing that way. So taking hold of his arms, he threw the body in the other direction, with the face towards the enemy. He found the younger son wounded in the chest, and lying with his face toward the foe. "Ho! this is my own son. He obeyed me!" And the father kissed him.

224. Grades of merit or bravery, wahhajĭ-m, were of two sorts. To the first class belonged such as had given to the poor on many occasions, and had invited guests to many feasts, being celebrated for the latter as "wku-ctaⁿ." To the second class belonged those, who, besides having done these things many times, had killed several of the foe and had brought home many horses. In connection with war customs, see Property (Chapter XII), and Regulative Industries (Chapter XI).

Another protective industry is the practice of medicine. (See Dancing Societies, Chapter X.)