Canadian Savage Folk
Chapter V. Native Religions


THERE is a mystic charm in numbers. Odd numbers, especially, seem to have acted powerfully on the human mind, through observing their association in natural science and religion, and hence there was thrown around them a peculiar sanctity essentially their own. The untaught mind could not fail to be impressed with the frequent recurrence of certain numbers. The sexes of plants and animals suggest duality, the points of the compass and the limbs of mammals give us four, and the fingers of the hand five. In the ancient religions, especially the Jewish, three and seven were sacred numbers, which exercised a strong influence on the minds of the worshippers. The Pythagoreans developed this spiritual arithmetic in their mystic symbolism of numbers; the four of space, the seven of intelligence, the eight of love, and the ten of the universe. There is a significant law in relation to numbers in the Bible, which is applicable generally, but not universally followed, that the first mention of a place, person, or number, determines its relation to Scripture teaching and history. The unlucky number thirteen is always linked in the Old and New Testament with rebellion. The adversaries of God, and names of Satan, are numerically equivalents of thirteen or its multiples. In every list of the apostles the name of Judas is placed last, and, including Christ, he became the thirteenth member of the apostolic band. In the full list of the tribes given in the Old Testament, including Joseph's double tribe, which was' Benjamin and Manasseh, the thirteenth tribal division mentioned is Levi, and this is connected with a revolt. The influence of number is seen and felt in the laws of mechanism, and in astronomy and chemistry.

The movements of the solar system are as regular as those of a railway organization in relation to time. Nature is a mechanical factory and chemical laboratory in which every compound substance is found to be based on arithmetical laws, and every vibration of light or air is determined on length and duration with a definiteness which cannot be surpassed. The force of gravitation, the laws of planetary motion, the principles of crystallography, the classification of botany, the decorative coverings of animals, the plumage of birds, the compound eyes of bees and dragon-flies, and the symmetrical work of ants and spiders are all based on numbers.

The natives of our forests, lakes and prairies, children of nature, ever observant in their wanderings, were unconscious students, reading the pages of the books which lay open all around them, and, by reason of their nomadic life, they became subjects of a native culture essentially their own, not understood by the white race, yet nevertheless true. I was, indeed, surprised when, through conversation with some of the members of the tribes of the Canadian North-West, I learned that they understood the sex of plants, the habits of the birds and animals, and some of the principles of astronomy. The keen powers of observation developed by the natives enabled them to grasp the truth of proportion in nature; and emphasis was laid on certain ever-recurring numbers, or numbers which were associated with their religion, and therefore became sacred. The number forty, through its relation to the sacred number four, became in a sense itself sacred. Forty was taken as a limit to the sacred dances of some Indian tribes, and by others as the highest number of chants to be employed in exorcising diseases. Consequently, it came to be fixed as a limit in exercises of preparation or purification. The females of the Orinoco tribes fasted forty days before marriage, and those of the Upper Mississippi were held unclean the same length of time after child-birth; such was the term of the Prince of Tezcuco's fast, when he wished an heir to his throne: and such the number of days the Man dans supposed it required to wash clean the world at the deluge."

Nineteen was a sacred number among the Druids, who had some things in common with the Indians of the American continent, as sky worship and stone structures. Stonhenge exhibits features of the sun worship of the earliest Indian tribes. It is a symbolic structure, a monument of the Stone Age, erected for sepulchral purposes. It belongs to two different periods—the inner circle of stones to the Stone Age, and the outer circle to the Bronze Age—the stones of which were brought from Wales. The outer circle consists, when entire, of sixty stones; the lesser circle, of forty smaller stones : the inner cell, of ten stones, in pairs, with imposts; and, within these, nineteen still smaller stones. The number of stones, sixty, was symbolic of the cycle; and the number of smaller stones, nineteen, was also symbolic. The whole structure was devoted to sun worship.

Dr. Peet says of the remarkable numbers, 100, 60, 30, constantly recurring, that they unavoidably bring to our recollection the great periods of astronomy—the century, the sothic cycle; the thirty years, or thirty days ; and the twelve signs of the' zodiac. These, and similar circular monuments,, especially those made of columnal stones, were made either as representing the disc of the sun, or the sun's revolution through the twelve signs of the zodiac.

Seven is generally regarded as the sacred number of the white man. From its frequent recurrence in the Bible and the relation of the civilization of the white race to the doctrines and duties of Judaism and Christianity, it has become associated with the white man as if it were essentially his own; but it is a factor belonging to these religions, and not to any race. The Mosaic code was based on a septenary system. The Lord blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. The seventh month of Tizri, when the great Day of Atonement occurred, was hallowed. The seventh year was the year of release from debts and slavery, and the completed square of each seventh year led to the fiftieth year, or the Year of Jubilee. There were seven persons in the ark with Noah ; and in some of the early Indian myths of the flood, exactly seven persons were saved. The influence of Sabeanism upon the Chaldeans found expression in part in the sacred number seven. This sky worship was the oldest form of nature worship, which was embodied in a measure in the Chaldean temples, constructed, as they were, according to the plan of the stars, and in the Tower of Babel. The divisions of the earth were arranged according to the geography of the heavens, and the temple was built in terraces, each terrace sacred to a planet or star, and the upper shrine sacred to the sun. The tower of Babel was called the Temple of the seven lights, or the Celestial Earth, which embodied the astronomical kingdoms of antiquity. The seven lights were the seven stars of the great dipper, or the seven planetary bodies, seven stages colored to represent the seven planets. This was believed to be an exact imitation of the sacred mountain, which rises in terraces, till the summit reaches the heavens, and upon the summit was a sanctuary or shrine to the sun. Among the Cherokee Indians seven is a sacred number in their ritual and mythology, but has no connection with their present calendar system, except as it is borrowed from the white race. Their medicine men suppose a sick person can be cured in seven nights. The Cherokee shaman, who wishes to destroy the life of another, conceals himself on the trail where the doomed man will pass, and secretly follows him until he spits upon the ground. The shaman collects upon the end of a stick a little of the dust containing the spittle of his victim, which gives him power over the man. He puts the moistened clay into a tube consisting of a joint of the wild parsnip, seven earthworms beaten into a paste, and some splinters of a tree struck by lightning. Going into the forest he seeks a tree which has been struck by lightning, and digging a hole at its base, deposits a large yellow stone slab. He puts the tube, with seven yellow pebbles into the holes, fills in the earth, and builds a fire over the spot to destroy all traces) of his work. The shaman and the man who has employed him fast until the completion of the ceremony. If the ceremony is successful the doomed man feels the influence, and within seven days he dies; but if it is a failure, it is believed that he has discovered the plot, and is employing counter charms, by the help of another shaman, to save himself.

The shaman and his employer then retire to a lonely spot in the mountains—in the vicinity of a small stream—and begin a new series of conjurations. A temporary bark shelter is made, and the shaman and his employer go down to the water, the shaman taking with him a piece of white cloth and a piece of black, together with seven red, and seven black beads. The shaman selects a be Mil in the river where his client can look toward the east while facing up stream, and he stands on the bank while his client goes into the stream, having his eyes fixed on the water, and his back to the shaman. The shaman lays the cloth on the ground, places the red beads on the white cloth, and the black beads on the black cloth, and then takes a red bead between the finger and thumb of his right hand, which represents his client; and a black bead, representing the doomed man, between the finger and thumb of his left hand. Turning toward the east, and holding up the bead in his right hand, he addresses it as the red bead, invoking blessings upon his client; and, addressing the black bead, he calls down curses upon his victim. Addressing the stream as the Long Person, he implores it to protect his client, and to raise him to the seventh heaven where he will be secure from his enemies. The man in the stream dips up water in his hand seven times, and pours it on his head, rubbing it on his breast and shoulders, or dips himself completely under seven times. The shaman makes a hole in the ground, where he deposits the black bead, and covering it up, stamps upon it with his foot.

If the conjurations have been unsuccessful after the fourth attempt the shaman confesses that he has been defeated, but if successful the victim will die within seven nights. The seven nights are frequently interpreted to mean seven years, and the shaman can easily escape defeat by this extension of time.

Among the Micmacs the number seven has a mysterious significance, as a medicine compounded of seven barks or roots is very potent; but the most potent of all is a medicine compounded of seven of these compositions.

This number enters also into their mythology, as in the adventures of Aoolamsun, "Rushing Wind," and Utkoo, "Rolling Wave." They are brothers, and as they love each other and can best work together, they perform all their astonishing feats when united.

Rushing Wind, the elder, plans an excursion with his brother, in which they will be absent for some years; but as their parents are old and infirm, and they love them, they cannot leave them without making provision for them during their absence. Rushing Wind supplies them with a large number of animals by throwing down trees on them, and Rolling Wave brings in a large number of fish.

They leave their parents and start on their journey, coming to a village where they engage to work for a chief for a short time, and so effectually do they work, bringing in fish and fowl, that the village is well supplied, and they are dismissed, after being well paid for their services.

Before leaving the village they exhibit their powers as supernatural beings. Rushing Wind bursts into a cyclone, scattering the tents in all directions, and Rolling Wave rushes up in a tidal wave—both of them doing more harm than all the good they had formerly done.

Upon their journey they are absent seven years, and upon their return they bring with them as their wives, Wibbun, "Calm on the Sea," and Kogum, "Sea Foam."

The number seven again appears in some of the myths relating to Glooscap, the friend and teacher of the Micmacs. Tradition says that Glooscap dwells in a beautiful land in the west, where the Indians will go at death if they are good. The journey is long and difficult, but some of the Indians have managed to get there, and of the number were seven young men, who were successful in their attempt to reach the beautiful land in the west.

"Before reaching the place they had to pass over a mountain, the ascent of which was up a perpendicular bluff, and the descent on the other side still more difficult, for the top hung over the base. The fearful and unbelieving could not pass at all, but the good and the confident could travel it with ease and safety, as though it were a level path. Having crossed the mountain, the road ran between the heads of two huge serpents, whose heads la3's opposite to each other, and they darted out their tongues so as to destroy whoever they hit. But the good and the firm of heart could dart past between the strokes of their tongues, so as to evade them. One more difficulty remained. It was a wall as of a thick, heavy cloud, that separated the present world from that beautiful one beyond. This cloudy wall rose and fell at intervals, and struck the ground with such force that whatever was caught under it would be crushed to atoms. But the good could dart under it when it rose, and come out on the other side unscathed. This our seven young heroes succeeded in doing."

The mystic number five is the sacred number of the Athapascan Indians on the Siletz Reservation, Oregon. An infant is kept in the cradle cover four days after birth, and early on the morning of the fifth day the cradle is made and the child placed in it. This is in accordance with the command of Qawaneca, the Great Being, who made the cradle on the morning of the fifth day, after the birth of the first infant. When Qawaneca made the earth he threw stones five times into the water, and nothing happened until the fifth time, when the waves arose and receded, forming the tides. Serpents were the first created animals, and these make the storms by blowing with their mouths. An enormous serpent coiled himself around the earth five times, and by this means the earth is held together.

Four is the sacred number which is most highly esteemed by the greatest number of Indian tribes, and it was the sacred number of the Chaldeans. The four divine regions of the Chaldeans were the abodes of the gods, and the places where the gods and men met together. The Chaldean monarch was called the King of the Four Regions of Heaven.-)- In the Quiche cosmogony four men were created after three unsuccessful attempts, and four women were made while the men were asleep. In the Maya calendar there are four different series of years, and in relation to the four cardinal points there are four dominical days, four colors, four elements, four ages, and four seasons. Among the Aztec tribes there is a myth of four brothers who were gods, born to the Great Spirit, who was eternal, infinite and without origin. These dwelt before creation, and held a council about the making of the world, which was entrusted to two of the brothers.

The Tusans rub honey mixed with saliva upon their prayer sticks, and make an offering of sugar and saliva to the four cardinal points. Schoolcraft has mentioned a myth in which four sons were born at a birth, causing their mother's death. The first was Manibozho, "The Friend of the Human Race;" the second, Chipiopos, "The Ruler of the Land of Souls;" the third, Wabosso, "The Rabbit who Rules the North;" and the fourth, Chakekenapok, the "Flint Man," who supplies fire to men from the stones scattered over the earth. Manibozho, "The Friend of Man," killed the Flint Man, and gave to the human race lances, arrows and other implements, and taught man how to make axes, traps and snares. He placed at each of the four cardinal points a good spirit, who ruled over the world, the spirit of the east giving light, the spirit of the west blessing the world with rain, the spirit of the north helping men to pursue game by giving them snow and ice, and the spirit of the south supplying tobacco, melons and maize. Four is a sacred number among the sun worshippers. In the centre of a serpent effigy discovered in Adams County, Illinois, situated on the summit of a hill overlooking the Mississippi, there were four large mounds,, and on the top of one of the mounds were four burial places, the points of the compass having been observed in the burials. I .Among the Dakotas there are four varieties of the bird which symbolizes the thunder god. When this bird flies, it is hid by thick clouds, the lightning is the flash of its eyes, and the thunder the echo of its voice. In the shell gorgets found in Tennessee and Georgia images of serpents are engraved upon them, evidently intended to symbolize the nature powers; and the serpents are divided into four parts to represent the four seasons or the four quarters of the sky. In these shell gorgets there are several kinds of crosses, symbolic of the number four. In the spider gorgets, the spider is placed within four circles, and upon its abdomen four bands; and in the bird gorgets this sacred number four is repeated. " There are four sides to the quadrangle and four loops formed by four lines. There are four birds' heads with four stripes in the neck, and four lines on bars in the crest. There are four spaces in the centre of the figure, and four bars to the cross; but in one specimen four holes are substituted for the cross. The cross was a sacred symbol to the Aztecs, representing fertility and life. The ends of the cross, which was of the Greek form, pointed to the four cardinal points, the source of the winds and rains which caused the seeds to germinate and the fruits of the earth to grow. Here we see the cross allied with the sacred number four, as shown in the cardinal points.

The sacred ash tree and the great serpent divinity were symbols of the nature powers among the Dakotas. Upon a chart descriptive of a Dakota myth there is shown a tree, representing the Tree of Life, on the bank of a river, and beneath the river the Red Morning Star. Beside this are six stars, called the elm rod, the moon, sun and seven stars, and under these are the peace pipe and war hatchet. An oak tree supports the four heavens, or upper worlds, through which the ancestors of this people passed, before they came to earth, and beside this oak tree are earth lodges and villages. Here the sacred number "four" again appears in the upper worlds. A similar idea is repeated among the Winnebagoes, Maunna, the "World Maker," sat upon a piece of earth after the creation with his face to the east, because it was the source of light, and along with him were four wolves, who were brothers and of different colors, green, black, white and grey.

When the Omahas decide to start on a hunting expedition, four men are appointed to act as directors of the hunt. Until the fourth herd of buffalo is surrounded, there is held after each hunt the feast of the hearts and tongues. When going out on the warpath, a preparatory feast is held. Sacred songs and dancing songs are sung; four times, and four times the members of the party dance. When a large war party is to be organized, four men are sent around the camp to invite the guests to the lodge, where a feast is to be held. Four captains seat themselves opposite the entrance of the lodge. The feast is held to secure persons to join the war party. When it is decided to attack the enemy, sometimes the captain carries a sacred bag, which he opens four times, with its mouth toward the foe, that the wind may waft the medicine toward them, to keep them asleep. The war club is sometimes waved four times toward the foe as a sacred symbol, and the sacred bag waved four times before the scalp yell is given. The Society of Buffalo Dancers among the Omahas has four doctors.

Four is a sacred number among the Cherokees. The medicine boiling dance was continued for four days. The chief ceremony in connection with it was the drinking of a strong decoction of various herbs, which acted as a violent emetic and purgative. The shamans have become jealous of the encroachments of the white physicians upon their rights, and the faith of the natives in them, and consequently they assert that the white man's medicine will prove fatal to an Indian unless eradicated from the system by a four year's course of treatment. In the sacred formulas of the Cherokees it is stated that rheumatism is caused by the spirits of slain animals, who enter the body of the hunter thirsting for vengeance, and cause him severe pain. These animal spirits live beyond the seventh heaven, and are located at the four cardinal points, which have special names and colors. The East is the Sun Land, where the red spirits dwell, who are implored for the success of any undertaking; the North is the Frigid Land, the home of the blue gods, who are invited to defeat the schemes of an enemy or bring down trouble upon him; the West is the Darkening Land, the residence of the black spirits, who cause death; and the South is Wilhalft, a great mountain, where the white spirits make their abode, who are besought for health, peace and other blessings. The shaman calls upon the Red Dog in the Sun Land, who comes to take away a portion of the disease to the uttermost parts of the earth, then the Blue Dog of the Frigid Land, the Black Dog of the Darkening Land, and the White Dog of Wilhalft arrive through the entreaties of the shaman, and depart carrying away a portion of the disease, and finally the white terrapin of Wahala removes the last portion, and the patient is cured. The sacred formulas, consisting of four paragraphs, corresponding to the four steps in the medical ceremony, are recited four times. The shaman blows upon the patient at the seat of the pain once at the end of each paragraph, and four times at the end of the final repetition. The medicine consists of a warm decoction, made from the roots of four varieties of fern, which is rubbed on with the hand, and is applied four times during the same morning. "Four is the sacred number running through every detail of these formulas, there being commonly four spirits invoked in four paragraphs ; four blowings, with four final blows; four herbs in the decoction; four applications; and frequently four days, gaktunta or tabu."

Four is a sacred number among the Ojibways. In the order of medicine men there are four degrees. The Mide lodge of the fourth degree has four entrances, and within the sacred enclosure are four sacred posts, painted green, red, black and white, which represent the four limbs and feet of the Bear Manido. The fourth degree, Mide post, in the form of a cross, symbolizes the four days struggle at the four entrances to the Mide lodge. The candidate for the fourth degree must take a. sweat bath once a day for four successive days. Four priests, assist in the initiation of the candidate, and during the ceremony the number four is frequently mentioned. A bow is: shot four times at the evil spirits who are supposed to oppose: the admission of the candidate. Food is brought into the-lodge four distinct times, making four circuits of the interior. The candidate is led around the interior of the lodge four times, according to a prescribed order. When the participants in the ceremony smoke in silence they present their pipe to-the four points of the compass. In a tradition of the restoring to life of a dead boy, four Mide priests officiated. Each chanted a Mide song four times, and then signs of life were seen. The boy's blanket was taken off, and then he sat up. Each of the priests gave him four pinches of powder which he-was made to swallow, and having recovered his speech he revealed to them the grand medicine which he had learned in the spirit land. The Jessakid has four or more tubular bones>, which he uses for extracting from the bodies of sick people the evil spirits which are supposed to cause disease."

Algonquin legends make their first and highest gods to consist of four brothers, born at the same time, whose names as. generally given are identical with the four points of the compass, or something relating to them. Their names usually are Wabun the "East," who is the leader, and assigns to his brothers the duty of blowing the winds; Ivabun the "West," Kabibonokka the "North," and Shawano the "South."

Four as a sacred number appears among the Indians of British Columbia. A Tshiinpsean woman, when drinking for the first time after her marriage, must drink very little, and the cup must be turned four times in the same direction as the sun is moving. When a death occurs among the Tshimpseans Tlingits and Haidas, the relatives of the deceased cut their hair short, blacken their faces, put ragged and soiled mats on theii heads and walk four times around the corpse, singing mourning songs. When many members of the same family die in succession within a short time, the survivors lay their fourth fingers on the edge of the box containing the corpse, and cut off the finger by the first joint. Among the Kwakiutls foiu boats are connected by long boards, forming a platform, upon which a dance is performed. This dance is connected with the marriage customs of the people. When a young man is to be married, the gens to which he belongs go out to meet his bride and it is during this time that the9dance is performed.

The sacred number is strictly adhered to in their burial customs. When a husband or wife dies, the survivor must sit motionless with the knees drawn up toward the chin, for four days, and on the fourth day some water, heated in a wooder kettle, is made to drip upon the head. When tired of sitting motionless, he must think of his enemy, stretch his legs foui times, and then draw them up again. During the following sixteen days he may stretch out his legs, but he must remain on the same spot, and after this period he may lie down, but noi stretch himself out. For four months he must not associate with other people. A separate door is cut in the house for hit use, as he must not go out the common door, and when he i? going to leave the house for the first time he must approacl) the door three times and return, and then he may leave the house. This same number is found among the Cree Indians in their grades of medicine men and religious ceremonies. The Blackfoot Indians, in common with other Algonquin tribes, have the same sacred number, which appears in their mythology and religion.


It was natural for the red men in the presence of the mysterious things in nature to manifest fear, and to people the heavens with an order of beings different from themselves. The evidences of wisdom and power in the march of the stars, the regularity of the seasons, the existence of mountains and lakes, and other things in nature, independent of man, compelled the thinking savage to place a supreme being or some great deities at the head of affairs presiding over the realm of nature. The natives of Canada believed in a presiding deity, with a host of lesser gods. The Great Spirit of the Indians is not the same as the Creator of the white race. The distinction is not made clear by some of the tribes, but especially among the Algonquin family the Creator is one of the greater deities, who creates the world and peoples it with men and women. This Creator is named by the Blackfeet, Apistotoke the "Maker" or "Former." He is a being capable of doing good and evil; at one time supplying man with all things needful for existence, and again performing queer pranks, which the natives laugh at when narrating his exploits.

The Blood Indians say that Apistotoke made the world by the help of four animals, and that lakes and valleys were formed by a wolf running over the plastic world soil, leaving indentations wherever he stepped, and the mountains mark the spot whereon he did not tread. He made some men, to whom he gave bows and arrows. He formed the buffaloes and taught the men how to hunt them. A number of women were made by him whose mouths opened vertically, and not being satisfied with the shape of them, he closed them and made them to open in their present fashion. He gave to each of the men one woman as a wife. He taught the Indians several games,

and that is the reason why they pray for success when they are gambling. He taught them to paint themselves, for he had a dark skin, and many of the arts of savage life were revealed to their forefathers by him. The creator of some of the tribes was a bird or animal. According to one legend the cunning coyote formed the earth and animals, and then called a, council of the animals to devise some method of making man. He suggested that the new being to be formed be made according to a combination of the best characteristics of each member of the council, but this did not meet with their wishes, -as each thought himself to be perfect, and man should be made according to his individual model. Acting upon his own responsibility each animal set to work to form this new being; but before the task was finished they all fell asleep, except the •coyote, who toiled hard until his task was done. He then imparted life to his work, threw water upon the unfinished tasks of the others, and man became an inhabitant of the world. Before the Incas of Peru introduced the worship of the sun among their people, the Supreme Being who formed the earth was named Con, an invisible and omnipotent spirit. Kareya, the "Old Man" above, was the name given by the Karoks to the secondary creator, who sometimes comes to earth to instruct the medicine men. This is a conception similar to that of the Blackfoot Apistotoke. The coyote appears as one of the chief animal gods of the tribes of California, and he plays an important part in their mythology. Sometimes there seems a confusion of religious ideas among the natives? as is evident from the names sometimes given to their deities. Apistotoke, of the Blackfeet, is also called the Old Man, whose home was in the Rocky Mountains, near the source of the Old Man's River, in the provisional district of Alberta.

The native religion of the Cherokees is Zootheism, or animal worship, with the survival of that earlier stage called Hecasto-theism, or the worship of all things tangible, and the beginning of a higher system in which the elements and the great powers of nature are deified. The Cherokees have animal gods, as the rabbit, squirrel and dog; elemental gods, as fire, water, sun, wind, cloud, storm and frost; inanimate gods, as the flint and the mountain; plant gods, as the ginseng; and personal deities as the Red Man, one of the greatest of the gods, and little people who resemble our fairies. The sun is called Unelanuhi, the "Apportioner," a word which has been used as synonymous with God in the translation of the Bible, but has no relation to the Great Spirit of the Indians.

The sense of dependence on some power higher than themselves and the cry of the soul for affinity with the Great Soul of the Universe compelled the natives to seek after a Supreme Being, or gods presiding over different departments in the physical and spiritual worlds. Lesser deities resided in the rapids of rivers, caves and mountains. The Thunder God spoke in the thunder and dwelt near the bold promontories of the lakes. In the spiritual world the presiding deity has various attributes and names.

Rawenniio is used in various dialectical forms by Hurons and Iroquois as the name of the deity. The modern acceptation of the word is "He who is Master," but it had once a larger meaning, as the "Great Master." Hale says, "Its root is probably to be found in the Iroquois kawen, or gawen, which signifies "to belong to anyone," and yields in combination with oyata, "person," the derivatives gaiatawen to "have for subject," and gaia-tawenston, to "subject any one." Rawenniio is the word used by the Roman Catholic missionaries for God. It was doubtless used from earliest times as an epithet for a great divinity. Its use as a special name for God is doubtless due to Christian influence. The belief of the natives as to their own origin sheds some light on their ideas of God. The Supreme Being is believed to be over all, as when the Indians address the representatives of the Canadian Government, they invariably declare that there is one Father common to both red and white races, and this Being gave the land, wood and water to the red men. When the creation of man is mentioned they sometimes maintain that the Creator made both races, but in their mythology the creator makes the Indians of the same color and with similar tastes as Himself, and the white race is the result of a separate creation. Sometimes this creator makes each tribe separately.

Peter Jones says: "All the information I have been able to gain in relation to the question amounts to the following: Many, many years ago, the Great Spirit, Keche-Manedoo, created the Indians. Every nation speaking a different language is a second creation, but they were made by the same Supreme Being."

Hennepin, in speaking of the Indians of Algonquin stock, refers to their ideas of God as follows: "As for their opinion concerning the earth, they make use of a name of a certain Genius, whom they call Micaboche, who has covered the whole earth with water (as they imagine), and related innumerable fabulous tales, some of which have a kind of analogy with the universal deluge." The Blood Indians, in common with other north-western tribes, pray to the sun, and offer sacrifices to it. The Cree Indians have their thirst dance, when they offer sacrifices to the sun; but when those who have been under missionary influence pray, they address the Supreme Being, as Kitci Munitu, the "Great Spirit."

The Ojibways believe in a large number of greater and lesser divinities, at the head of which is Kitci Manidu, the "Great. Spirit;" and the second in majesty and power is Dzhe Manidu, a. divinity, who has the special care of the midewiwin, or medicine, lodge, and through whom the sacred rites of the midewiwin were granted to man. The Animiki, or Thunder God, is one of the most powerful of the evil spirits, and it is from him that the Jessakid are believed to obtain their powers of doing evil. Dzhibai Manidu, the Shadow or Ghost Spirit, rules over the "place of shadows," or the hereafter. In the native religion of the Ojibways, the name of Kitchi Manidu is always mentioned with reverence, and only in connection with a sacred feast, after making an offering of tobacco, or the rite of Midewiwin.

This is the name used by the missionaries for the Christian deity. It is pronounced by some of the Ojibways Kizhe Manidu, having the same meaning and form, except the hardening of the final consonants, as the same word in the Cree language.

Animal divinities were worshipped by some of the tribes, and great power attributed to them. The great raven, called by the Thlinkeets Yetl, Yesh, or Yeatl, and by the Haidas, Nekilstlus, was regarded as the creater of all things, and the benefactor of man. This was a mythical bird, possessing human attributes, and the power of changing his form into anything in the world. By him the world was peopled, and he gave to man whatever he enjoys.

The chief divinity of some of the tribes was an animal, which presided over the territory of the tribe, and each tribe had a different name for the Creator. The Delawares called him Manibozho; the Michabo of the Algonquins, the " Great Hare," who created the earth, founded the medicine hunt, and tells the hunter in dreams where to find raine, He is known anions the Ojibways as Nanabozhu. The Nippissings call him Wisakedjak. TheMississaugassayWanibozhu; and the Menominees, Manibush. The Crees call this culture hero, Wisaketcak, who is regarded as the creator of the Indians. The Saulteaux of the north call him Naniboz; and the Blackfeet, Napio, the "Old Man." The creator of the Winnebagoes was the wolf, called Maunna. The Dakotahs had numerous gods. The moving god, who holds the four winds, gave the spear and tomahawk to the Indians, makes his home in the boulders, which dot the prairies; and these .stopping places of the god are worshipped as symbols of the divinity. There is the stone god, Tukan, who dwells in the round or oval stone, which is painted red, and covered with -swan's down by the Indians; the god of the waters, Unktaghe, & male and female divinity, who taught the natives the use of colors. The great mystery of the Dakotas was named Taku Wakan, a great divinity, incomprehensible and yet sufficiently personal to be addressed in prayer. The Indians of Washington territory appear not to have had any idea of a great spirit before the white people went amongst them, but they believe in a culture hero, who made the world, a Supreme Being, who may come again. The Twana name for God is Wisowulus, in Nisqually, Shuksiab; in Klallam, Tsiltsi; and in Chinook, Saghalie Tyee; all of which have the same meaning, the "Chief Above." The culture hero or creator, is named in Twana and Nisqually, Dokibatt; and in Klallam, Mikimatt, signifying the "Changer." Saghalie Tyee, the Chinook term, is used for this culture hero and the Christian Deity. The great spirit of some of the Algonquin tribes is known among the Blackfeet as Omuqkatos, the "Great Sun," and is worshipped, prayers being addressed to it and sacrifices made. The Christian Deity is known as Apistotoke, the "Creator," and Kinon, "Our Father."

These names express the ideas of the natives relating to God, showing progress from the belief in nature powers and animal divinities, to a recognition of a Supreme Being of great wisdom, power and benevolence.


The red man of Canada is a religious being, with a distinctive religion of his own, embracing a theological system undefined, yet recognized by those who have made a special study of the native religions of the American Indians. The systems of theology held by the native tribes of Canada may be arranged according to Dr. Peets' method of classifying the Ethnographic religions: (1) Shamanism; (2) Totemism; (3) Sun Worship; (4) Sabianism or Sky Worship; (5) Hero Worship; (6) Ancestor Worship.

Shamanism is one of the lowest forms of religion, and is to be found among the Eskimos, the Tinne tribes of Athabasca, and the Tshimpsean, Kwakiutl, Tlingit, Kootaney, and other tribes of British Columbia. The shaman or medicine man is the priest of the people, possessed, as they believe, of supernatural powers, which he has gained through being in league with animated nature. Shamanism varies with the locality of the tribe. In British Columbia it can boast of secret societies among the tribes. Some of the religious customs of the Eskimo are degrading in the extreme, The shaman is initiated after a long period of fasting, and his supernatural power is shown in healing the sick, foretelling the events of the future, performing magical feats, and exercising an influence over people at a distance. It is believed that the shaman can gain access to and hold communion with the tribal ancestors, who are animals, and his power of doing good or evil is consequently very great. Totemisin is not confined to any district, but is widely prevalent among the tribes throughout the Dominion. It prevails most extensively among the Huron-Iroquois and Algonquin families. This form of religion consists of a belief in descent from an original parent who appears in the form of an animal. This animal is so far worshipped that the skin is preserved and held sacred, and when the people journey it is their guide and protector. The food of this animal must not be eaten by the band or sub-tribe, which claims it as their ancestor. The band claiming descent from the deer will not kill or eat it, and the ancestor is worshipped in the animal. The figure of the animal is painted or carved, and placed in front of their houses as their divinity who guards them always against the malice of their enemies and the ravages of disease. Sun worship exists among the Blackfeet, Crees, Sioux and Kootaneys. The sun is worshipped as a divinity.

Sky worship is not found in a distinct form among any of the native tribes of Canada, but it has left its influence upon some of the tribes, as it has been related to sun worship. Numerous myths of the moon and stars are related by the red men, and the forces of nature are personified and worshipped. The sun god, sky gods and wind deities are revered. They people the sky with divinities like the ancient Egyptians, and worship them under different names.

Some tribes have a form of hero worship, represented by the famous lawgivers of the red race. The myth of Hiawatha among the Iroquois reveals this form of religion. A historical character may become a mythical personage endowed with supernatural powers,' and adored in religious ceremonies. Another form, and the truest of hero worship, is seen in the mythical hero gods of the red race. These are the national heroes of the tribes, who are recognized as the teachers, and supreme agents in their civilization, and sometimes identified as the Creator. Among the Algonquins there is the hero god Michabo, and among the Iroquois, Ioskeha.

Ancestor worship is found chiefly among the British Columbia Indians, and is a modified form of totemism. Ancestral posts, erected by the Haidas and other tribes, contain the totem of the owner, figures suggestive of his family history, and mytho-logic carvings. In the system of totemism the clan is the unit, and each member of the tribe has his own place in the communistic circle; but in the system of ancestor worship, the family is the unit, and an independent attitude is maintained by the individual. The ancestor is worshipped as in totemism, under the representation of an animal or bird. There are other forms of religion held by the Indians, as the worship of stones, trees, and water; but these are only modifications of the systems already mentioned. The stone or tree is believed to be a stopping-place of the god, and some myths will gather around them in the course of time, so as to clothe them with mysterious powers. The people will then paint the stone and make offerings to it. The hunter or warrior will seek success by propitiation, and it will be a sacred stone to the worshipper. The trees, stones or rapids are not worshipped as inanimate objects, but as the abode of spirits, or as themselves possessed of life. The Crees on the Nelson River slew their aged parents because they were a burden to them, yet the master of the lodge kept a bunch of feathers tied with a string which he reverenced, as he called it his "father's head." This is a form of ancestral worship seldom found. The Blackfeet speak of the Creator as a male personage, but they call the earth "Our mother."

Besides the tribal gods, each of the natives believe that he is protected by a guardian spirit, with whom he can communicate. The Blackfoot youth, anxious to learn the name of his familiar spirit, repairs to the ravines or secluded places on the prairie, where he fasts and prays until the vision of his god comes to him in a trance or dream, wherein there is revealed the name of the animal representing his personal deity. He kills this animal, preserves the skin, which he stuffs and always carries with him as his guardian and guide. The Ojibway youth blackens his face with charcoal, and in a similar fashion seeks the vision of his god. The belief in a doctrine of sin is shown by the religious custom of making sacrifices. The oldest rite in all religions is sacrifice. Man feels that he has made the gods angry, and he gives what he believes will appease their wrath. The Blackfoot hunter or warrior, before setting out on an expedition, will fast and make a vow that if successful he will give a thank-offering. I have seen the young warriors return from the south, and at the annual sun dance repair to the medicine lodge and place his hand in that of an aged medicine woman, who, after holding it aloft and praying to the sun, has quickly severed a finger by the first joint by means of a knife on a block of wood, as an offering to the sun. Sin offerings were generally represented by tobacco. Sacrifices to the sun were made by the Cree, Blackfoot and other tribes, and consisted of articles of wearing apparel chiefly. Beside the stone stopping-places of the gods were deposited by the people, as they passed, minor articles of clothing, pipes, tobacco, cooking utensils and trinkets of various kinds. The Tshimp-seans and Kwakiutls fast for a definite period—from four to seven days—and pray when they desire to obtain a special object. It is believed that fasting is well pleasing to the Gods. The Kwakiutls offer valuable burnt-offerings. When the Kootaneys or Blackfeet are about to open a council they fill a pipe with tobacco and present the stem to the sun, and afterwards to the four points of the compass. The doctrine of atonement for sin is maintained by the red men. By means of fasting, prayers and sacrifices the hunter, warrior and medicine-men sought to obtain the favor of the gods.

In approaching the deity cleanliness of body and soul were considered essential to an answer to prayer, and to obtain the favor of God. Baptism was therefore practised among some Indian tribes. When a young Klallam wished to obtain a vision of his familiar spirit, he washed himself thoroughly that he might be pure; and even the children of this tribe, anxious to become great medicine men, bathed daily, remaining in the water for a long time.

The worshipper among the Blackfeet, conscious of his sinfulness, before engaging in any special religious ceremony, entered a sweat bath, and drove out of his body all the un-cleanness. The Delawares used an emetic to rid themselves of the guilt of sin. The Tshimpseans, before praying, must bathe and wash well their bodies to purify themselves, and an emetic-is taken to remove all carnal impurities, in order to please the deity.

There is no devil in the native religions of the Indians in the Christian sense. There are spirits which work evil, and it-is in the power of many of the medicine men, as they believe, to invoke the aid of these spirits in causing the death of their enemies. Sometimes the language of the Indians seems to imply that the spirits are neither good or bad, but will protect and guide those who have placed themselves under their care, and will punish or destroy their enemies when propitiated. The medicine men speak of disease as caused by the spirits of evil dwelling in a sick person, and they evoke the help of their familiar spirits to drive out the spirits who are causing the disease.

The belief in a devil has been maintained by numerous writers on the Indians, some agreeing with John Mecklenburg, who said of the Iroquois:

They are entire strangers to all religion, but they have a Tharonhijouagon (which others also call Athzoockkuatoriaho); i.e., a genius which the) put in the place of God, but they do not worship or present offerings to him. They worship and present offerings to the Devil, whom they call Othkon, or Aireskuoni."

The tribes do not possess any native written records of revelation, but they believe that the Creator has revealed his will to them.

When the missionaries went to the Ojibways, Delawares and Wyandots, proclaiming the Bible as the revelation of God to the human race, the natives listened attentively; and, after deliberation, said that the Bible was for the white men, because it was written in their language, and the Christian religion was for the white race.

Pointing to the skies, the Blackfeet assured me, after presenting the same argument as the tribes mentioned, that the stars were the handwriting of God, and that Nature was the book given for the red men to read, in conjunction with his conscience and his dreams.

Monuncue, the Wyandot chief, objected that the Son of God was born among the white people, and the Bible given to them; and this was the objection of the Blackfeet when they first heard the Gospel.

The Blackfeet say that the Old Man, Napio, went away after performing great and good things for the people, but he is not dead and he may return. The Twanas and Klallamsof the western coast have a myth of the coining of Dokibatt, the "Changer," who did many wonderful things, and went away and left his foot-prints on a rock. Some of the forms of the Hiawatha myth bear a striking resemblance to Christ, and although there is no definite teaching of the advent of a Redeemer, there are evident yearnings in the mythology of the Indians after a means of escape from sin. The Tlingit hero god Yetl is expected to return, and the Twanas of Washington Territory say that Dokibatt, the Changer, will come back when the earth grows old, to make it over again.

The red men believe in the immortality of the soul. The Blackfeet, in common with the other tribes of Canada, placed articles upon the grave for the use of the departed. When they placed the dead in the trees, on a scaffold, or in a "dead lodge," they deposited these articles in a box or wrapped them carefully in some skins or blankets, and when they followed the customs of the white people they put them in the grave in a similar fashion to the articles in the Huron ossuaries. When asked the reason for depositing food, tobacco, bows and arrows, blankets, and numerous trinkets with the dead, they replied that the souls were not dead. They believed that the spirits of the departed returned to take the souls of the articles with them. The Huron "feast of the dead" was an expression of the belief in the immortality of the soul. It was the custom of the Sioux of the North-West to kill the horse of the deceased chief, that the soul of the animal might accompany his master to the spirit-land. Several years ago I visited the grave of a young Sioux Indian, the son of a chief, at Moose Jaw, and under the scaffold were the remains of a horse which had been killed. The Blackfeet do not slay a horse now when the owner dies, but cut off' some of the hair from the forelock, mane and tail of his best animals, and these tufts of hair are deposited beside the corpse. It was the custom of some of the tribes to kill a dog, that the spirit of the dog might accompany his master to the land of souls. The Iroquois were accustomed to make a hole in the grave, and recently in the coffin, to permit the spirit to visit the body.

The Blackfeet say that the spirits of the dead return to earth, and can inflict harm to any who may have wronged them when alive. I have seen the Blood Indians tear down their log house where a member of the family had died, afraid to remain there lest the spirits of the dead would hurt them. They have removed their camps when one of their number died for the same reason. They believe the spirits of the dead hold a council and feast together on the good things which have been placed on the grave of one who has just died. The natives are afraid of the spirits who hover near the place where their bodies are laid. Sometimes they have warned me when travelling at night near the camps, to beware of the bodies placed in the trees or on scaffolds, as the spirits might attack me. Dr. Boaz says of the Kootaneys, "The dead go to the sun. One of the important features of their religion is the belief that all the dead will return at a future time. This event is expected to take place at Lake Pend Oreille; therefore all Kutonaqa tribes used to assemble there from time to time to await the dead. On their journey they danced every night around a fire, going in the direction of the sun. Only those who were at war with any tribe or family, danced the opposite way. The festival at the lake, which lasted many days, and consisted principally of dances, was celebrated only at rare intervals."

The western tribes, including the Blackfeet, Kwakiutls, Coast Salish, and others believe that they can see the spirits of the dead, and to see them is a bad omen, bringing death or sickness. The Tlingits and Kwakiutls believe in the transmigration of souls, the latter holding a special doctrine, of twins being transformed salmon, and consequently they have control of the weather, and must not go near the water lest they be retransformed into salmon. With this same belief in immortality, the various tribes supposed that the soul of a slain warrior would not rest peacefully in the spirit-land until his death was avenged. This is the reason why Indians will sometimes slay a stranger belonging to the white race, who has known nothing of the Indian killed by a white man. The after life is a land of shades, but with this belief in immortality there is the doctrine of a resurrection, shown by the care taken of the remains of the dead. There are not any of these doctrines clearly defined by the natives, but amid the confusion, there are customs sufficient to determine their existence us powerful factors in the religious life of the people.

There is not a tribe in Canada that does not believe in prayer and adhere strictly to the belief. Several of the western tribes, including the Blackfeet, Kootaneys, Tlingits, Tshimp-seans, Haidas and Coast Salisli pray to the sun. Some of them pray to mountains, the thunder and natural objects. They pray to mediators, who hear and help them. When the people are sick the medicine men, along with the friends of the sick person, pray to their guardian spirits to help the sick one. I have seen the old man raise his eyes to heaven and pray fervently to the sun, and the young man pray with deep sincerity at the annual sun dance, as he clasped the medicine pole when undergoing the trying ordeal of mutilation. Prayer is extemporaneous and sincere.

The medicine men of the tribes were the doctors and priests, who cared for the souls and bodies of the people. Besides administering medicine they were the protectors of the native religion and keepers of the faith. As such they opposed sternly the introduction of Christianity, sang their incantation songs, and prayed for blessings to rest upon the tribe. They fasted on behalf of the tribe, kept up communion with the spirits, and lived a separate mysterious life from the rest of the people. The Crees and Ojibways have forms of admittance into the priesthood, of which there are four grades, and the priest who attains the highest grade must be a man of wealth, ability and. piety.

The journey of the spirits to the land of shadows is represented as a long and difficult road, having a river crossing it, which the Tlingits say is formed by the tears of the women weeping for the dead. The Twanas maintain that a man may be alive and his spirit in the spirit-land, as the spirits can leave their country, and returning, take with them a man's soul. The shamans pretend that they can visit the land of spirits and engage in battle with the spirits, restoring the lost souls to their bodies on earth. The river of death, the styx of the ancient Greeks, fabled to flow in the world of the dead, transferred to Christian literature, and used figuratively as the Jordan which lies between earth and the heavenly Canaan, is found in the mythology of the native tribes. The Twanas of Washington territory, the Tlingits of British Columbia, and the tribes which live near the sea or beside inland waters have a fabled river lying across the pathway which souls must travel to the other land. The passage of the dead, and the appearance and condition of the land of the spirits are modified by the geographical conditions of the country in which the tribes dwell. Thus the hunting tribes, living upon the prairie, or in the forest, speak of their future abode as a place where they will hunt, as they have done upon the earth; and the fishing tribes believe that in the other world they will have abundance of fish. The Ojibway, Blackfoot, Cree and other inland tribes believe in the happy hunting ground, the Tlingits say they will enjoy berries and salmon, the Tshimpseans and Kwakiutls that the land of spirits is similar to the land of the living, where there will be abundance of fish, venison and skins.

The spirit-land is for all. The native races in their primitive theology have only one place for all the dead. There is no distinction made between the good and the bad, and consequently no hell and heaven in accordance with the definitions of Christian theology. A distinction is made by some natives about the abode of suicides, but generally the native theology, uninfluenced by Christian teaching, knows nothing of separate abodes for the good and bad in the future life. The home of the dead, according to the Indians of Puget Sound, is an underground world, somewhere within the earth, and yet neither above or below, The Tlingits and Iiaidas, influenced, it may be. by the Eskimos, believe that the dead live in a country similar to the land of the living, but that those who sutler a violent death go to the upper country, ruled by Tahit, and those who die from sickness travel to a land beyond the borders of the earth, but on the same level with it. They say the dead from both countries live together during the day.

Among the Eskimos there is a distinction made in man's future abode, there being an upper world where all will go who have lived righteously, been kind to the poor and hungry, and those who have been killed by accident or have committed suicide. The Eskimos' heaven is a pleasant country, where it is never dark, and in everlasting content and joy, with no storms, ice or snow to annoy them, the Eskimos spend the eternal years. To the under world the wicked and all who have been unhappy while on earth go at death. It is an eternal land of darkness, cold and dismal, terrible storms, perpetual snow and ice in abundance prevailing there.

The Peruvians believed that after a terrible famine the world would come to an end, when clouds would cover the face of the sun, and thick darkness descend upon all things. The Aztecs looked forward to the destruction of the world, the sun, and the human race. At the close of the great cycle of fifty-two years the little images of the household gods were destroyed, the holy fires were suffered to go out in the temples, and none were rekindled, and the people were in despair in expectation of a great catastrophe. On the last evening of the cycle, a procession of Aztec priests moved toward a lofty mountain, where the new fire was kindled by the friction of sticks, and the success of the operation was an assurance that the end had not yet <!ome18 When the world will be near its end, then will Michabo destroy the nations with a dreadful pestilence, or cause the earth to be consumed; and he will, according to the Algonquins, make a new world for the faithful. That the world will be consumed by fire is the belief of the Senels, of California. In the presence of the unknown the red men sit in fear, longing for relief and hoping for the coming of the day,


The red man is superstitious, as the savage races of other lands, and none the less honest in his religious convictions. His religious belief enters into all the concerns of camp life and tinges every thought and custom in the lodge, on the warpath, and in the council. His traditions, local and general, are affected by his environment, and these again exert an abiding influence upon his religious opinions. Among the tales of the lodges, there are some which have striking resemblance to Biblical stories, some of which, no doubt, have originated indirectly through the influence of religious teachers. During my early years among the Indians in the west, whenever the aged men were asked to relate the story of the creation of the world or of man's origin, they invariably repeated the native myth. In later years, however, new stories are told, based upon the instructions given by the missionaries. The natives did not care to be singular, nor did they care to be laughed at when they told their native tales, so they repeated, as best they could, the stories told by the white men. They were neither Indian nor English, but rather Indianized stories of the Bible.

In the same way have I listened to Indian tunes sung to hymns — such weird music, so fascinating and so strange, arising perhaps from its novelty; and these tunes had been taught them by missionaries many years ago, but having passed through the alembic of the Indian's mind, they became essentially Indian.

The Christ traditions of the Mexiean Indians have no doubt arisen in a similar manner, and have spread to other tribes on the continent. There is, however, a tradition concerning the second advent of a Messiah which was believed to have been fulfilled when Cortez landed in Mexico. The traditions of the Aztec say that a saintly personage, named Quetzalcoatl—i.e. the plumed serpent —came from the east as a divine helper to the nation. He. was a large, well-formed white man, with a long beard, intelligent countenance, having a mitre upon his head, and his white garments flowing to his feet, whereon were painted red crosses. He was a celibate, a man of peace, detesting war so much that at the mention of the name he put his Angers in his ears ; an ascetic, who hated bloody sacrifices, but delighted in fruits and flowers; a man of prayer and purity of life, and the author of all that was good for man, producing the arts of peace, and sending joy to the hearts and homes of the people. He had a bitter antagonist in an evil divinity, named Tezcatlipoca, who, by his wiles, caused him to wander from the country. Several years after his departure, he sent back word that he would return, and then he sailed away to the east in a canoe of serpent skins.

When the Spaniards landed upon the new continent, Montezuma believed that the great white personage had returned, and he sent his interpreter to Cortez welcoming him to his country as his right, for they were all his children. After the Spaniards had treated the natives harshly, the Indians learned, to their sorrow, the mistake which they had made. They had eagerly kissed the sides of the Spanish vessels as they landed upon their shores, and received the white strangers as gods, sons and brothers of Quetzalcoatl; but they had ultimately to bend their necks before their mighty conquerors. General Lew Wallace, in "The Fair God," has given a striking representation of this tradition, and its sad consequences to the people, with the fall of Montezuma's kingdom. Some of the native tribes have traditions of a great teacher, changer, supreme being, a personage resembling Hiawatha or Christ, who came among men and departed, promising to return again.

There have been shrewd, intelligent men in the Indian camps who were subjects of apparitions and visions; and these have exercised a strong influence over the minds of the natives. Such have been found among the Ojibway, Sioux, Blackfoot and other Indian tribes. These visions generally relate to spiritual things, and especially to their own religion, but in some instances they point to a time when the Indians shall again be masters of the soil. Some of these prophets have been successful in imposing upon the people of the lodges, but the advent of the white man has brought about a change, and the wiles of the dreamer are not as powerful as in earlier days. The medicine men are adepts at this superstitious craze, being able to lead the fearful and unwary through their rites of sorcery and incantations to a firm belief in all their predictions. The greatest medicine man of the tribe may be the most inveterate thief or rogue in the camp, and yet they will accept his prophecies, believe in his cures, and laugh at his tricks of stealing and lies. The superstitious reverence of the Indian compels him to select the strangely-shaped stones and trees that skirt the rivers or dot the prairie as stopping places of the gods.

The Sioux in the Minnesota massacre believed that the time was ripe for them to rise, and their gods would give them success. Their medicine men, their makers of wakan, beat upon their medicine drums, danced, sang and prayed, but the gods were deaf to their entreaties, and the Indians failed. The failure of their predictions, and the fact that their prayers remained unanswered, influenced many to decide in favor of Christianity. In 1890 a decided religious movement, known as the " Messiah Craze," was witnessed among the Indians of the north-western portion of the United States, its ulterior effects reaching the Blackfeet, Sioux and Crees of Canada. Various causes have been assigned for this strange movement, as the poverty of the people arousing them to look for the advent of the Messiah, the desire after supernatural aid, and the hatred of the white race, compelling them to believe that Christianity, in the form presented to them by the missionaries, was the white man's religion; but that the Christ was the Redeemer of the Indians as well as of the white people and the Saviour, as taught them, was the white man's conception and untrue, as there was an Indian Christ. The people in the valley of the Missouri were expectant, and the hope of the advent of the Messiah spread among the tribes.

The Sioux, Cheyennes and Arapahos heard that the Christ had been seen, and a delegation of three Sioux and Porcupine, a Cheyenne, went to the country where it was said the Christ was living.

Good Thunder, one of the delegation, upon his return told his experience as follows: " With three others I travelled three years to the Christ. We crossed many Indian Reservations, and passed through the white man's towns. On a broad plain covered with Indians I saw him at last. I could not tell where he came from—suddenly he appeared to me—a man of surprising beauty with long, golden hair—clad in a blue robe. He did not look at me nor speak, but he read our thoughts and answered them without speech. I saw the prints of the nails in his hands and feet.

"He said that he had come upon earth once before—he had appeared to the whites and they had scorned him and slain him. Now he appeared to the Indians. He said that the crying of the Indians had sounded loud in his ears—they were dying of disease and starvation; dying of the white man's food and his strange ways. He was come to save them. He had meant to come in three days—meaning years—but the cries of the poor Indians moved his pity. He would therefore come to them to-morrow—meaning next summer. He would then gather together the souls of the Indians, and they would be in Paradise, hunting the buffalo and living in skin tents as in the old days. The souls of murderers and thieves, however, must wait for some time in outer darkness. The Indians offered Christ a pipe, tobacco pouch and moccasins, he handed the two first to others who were with him, but kept the moccasins. Three birds—the eagle, dove and hawk— attended him."

Chief Porcupine preached this new religion after his return to Pine Ridge, and as one of the delegation, he is reported to have said: "The Fisheaters, near Pyramid Lake, told me that Christ had appeared on earth again. They said Christ knew He was coming; that eleven of His children were also coming from a far land. It appeared that Christ had sent for me to go there, and that is why, unconsciously, I took my journey. It had been foreordained. They told me when I got there that my Great Father was there also, but I did not know who he was. The people assembled called a council, and the chief's sons went to see the Great Father, who sent us to remain fourteen days in that camp, and that then he would come and see us. At the end of two days, on the third morning, hundreds of people gathered at this place. They cleared a place near the agency in the form of a circus ring, and we all gathered there. Just before sundown I saw a great many people, mostly Indians, coming dressed in white men's clothes. The Christ was with them. They all formed in this ring and around it; they put up sheets all around the circle, as they had no tents.

"Just after dark some of the Indians told me that Christ had arrived. I looked around to find him, and finally saw him sitting on one side of the ring. He was dressed in a white coat with stripes. The rest of his dress was a white man's, except that he had on a pair of moccasins. Then he began our dance, everybody joining in, the Christ singing while we danced. We danced till late in the night, when he told us that we had danced enough. The next morning he told us he was going away that day, but would be back the next morning and talk to us. I heard that Christ had been crucified, and I looked to see, and I saw a scar on his wrist and on his face, and he seemed to be the man; I could not see his feet. He would talk to us all day. That evening we all assembled again to see him depart. When we were assembled he began to sing, and he began to tremble all over violently for a while, and then sat down. We danced all that night, the Christ lying down beside us, apparently dead.

"The following morning the Christ was back with us, and wanted to talk to us. He said, ' I am the man who made everything you see around you. I am not lying to you, my children. I made this earth and everything on it. I have been to heaven and seen your dead friends, and have seen my father and mother.' He spoke to us about fighting, and said that it was bad, and that we must keep from it—the earth was to be all good hereafter, that we must be friends itli one another.

He said if any man disobeyed what he ordered, his tribe would be wiped from the face of the earth.

"Ever since the Christ I speak of talked to me I have thought what he said was good. I have seen nothing bad in it. When I got back, I knew my people were bad, and had heard nothing of all this, so I got them together and told them of it, and warned them to listen to it for their own good. I told them just what I have told you here to-day."

Part of the outward ceremonial of this religious movement was the ghost dance, in which men women and children clasped hands, and together danced around a sacred tree, singing native songs, as the medicine men uttered strange cries and prayers. As the dancers grew excited some fell down in a trance, and when they awoke related marvellous tales of the land of spirits, where the beautiful scenery abundance of game, and continual happiness of the dwellers delighted them so much that earth was a dreary waste, with its former pleasures all faded and gone. Although the movement was suppressed by the force of arms and the failure of the predictions of the prophets of this superstition, there are some who still believe that the Christ came at that particular period, and revealed himself as the Saviour of the Indian race.

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