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Primitive Love and Love-Stories by Henry Theophilus Finck

Part 12 out of 19

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the back only, or full dress. It does not argue true modesty on the
part of a Maori woman to cover those parts of her body which custom
orders her to cover, any more than it argues true modesty on the part
of an Oriental barbarian to cover her face only, on meeting a man,
leaving the rest of her body exposed. Nor does suicide prove anything,
since it is known that the lower races indulge in self-slaughter for
as trivial causes as they do in the slaughter of others. True modesty,
as defined above, is not a Maori characteristic. The evidence on this
point is too abundant to quote in full.

Shortland (126-27) describes in detail all of the ceremonies which
were in former days the pastimes of the New Zealanders, and which
accompanied the singing of their _haka_ or "love-songs," to which
reference has already been made. In the front were seated three
elderly ladies and behind them in rows, eight or ten in a row, and
five or six ranks deep, sat "_the best born young belles of the town_"
who supplied the poem and the music for the _haka_ pantomime:

"The _haka_ is not a modest exhibition, but the
reverse; and, on this occasion, two of the old ladies
who stood in front ... accompanied the music by
movements of the arms and body, their postures being
often disgustingly lascivious. However, they suited the
taste of the audience, who rewarded the performers at
such times with the applause they desired.... It was
altogether as ungodly a scene as can well be imagined."

The same author, who lived among the natives several years, says (120)

"before marriage the greatest license is permitted to young
females. The more admirers they can attract and the greater
their reputation for intrigue, the fairer is their chance of
making an advantageous match."

William Brown writes (35) that "among the Maoris chastity is not
deemed one of the virtues; and a lady before marriage may be as
liberal of her favors as she pleased without incurring censure." "As a
rule," writes E. Tregear in the _Journal of the Anthropological
Institute_ (1889),

"the girls had great license in the way of lovers. I
don't think the young woman knew when she was a virgin,
for she had love-affairs with the boys from the cradle.
This does not apply, of course, to _every_ individual
case--some girls are born proud, and either kept to one
sweetheart or had none, but this was rare."

After marriage a woman was expected to remain faithful to her husband,
but of course not from any regard for chastity, but because she was
his private property. Like so many other uncivilized races the Maori
saw no impropriety in lending his wife to a friend. (Tregear, 104.)

The faces of Maori women were always wet with red ochre and oil. Both
sexes anointed their hair (which was vermin-infested) with rancid
shark's oil, so that they were as disagreeable to the smell as
Hottentots. (Hawkesworth, 451-53.) They were cannibals, not from
necessity, but for the love of human flesh, though they did not, like
the Australians, eat their own relatives. Food, says Thompson (I.,
160), affected them "as it does wild beasts." They practised
infanticide, killed cripples, abandoned the sick--in a word, they
displayed a coarseness, a lack of delicacy, in sexual and other
matters, which makes it simply absurd to suppose they could have loved
as we love, with our altruistic feeling of sympathy and affection.
William Brown says (38) that mothers showed none of that doting
fondness for their children common elsewhere, and that they suckled
pigs and pups with "affection." "Should a husband quarrel with his
wife, she would not hesitate to kill her children, merely to annoy
him" (41). "They are totally devoid of natural affection." The men
"appear to care little for their wives," apparently from

"a want of that sympathy between the sexes which is the
source of the delicate attentions paid by the male to
the female in most civilized countries. In my own
experience I have seen only one instance where there
was any perceptible attachment between husband and
wife. To all appearance they behave to each other as if
they were not at all related; and it not infrequently
happens that they sleep in different places before the
termination of the first week of their marriage."

Thus even in the romantic isles of the Pacific we seek in vain for
true love. Let us now see whether the vast continent of North and
South America will bring us any nearer to our goal.


"On the subject of love no persons have been less understood than the
Indians," wrote Thomas Ashe in 1806 (271).

"It is said of them that they have no affection, and that
the intercourse of the sexes is sustained by a brutal
passion remote from tenderness and sensibility. This is one
of the many gross errors which have been propagated to
calumniate these innocent people."

Waitz remarks (III., 102):

"How much alike human nature is everywhere is evinced
by the remarkable circumstance that notwithstanding the
degradation of woman, cases of romantic love are not
even very rare"

among Indians. "Their languages," writes Professor Brinton (_R.P._,

"supply us with evidence that the sentiment of love was
awake among them, and this is corroborated by the
incidents we learn of their domestic life.... Some of
the songs and stories of this race seem to reveal even
a capability for romantic love such as would do credit
to a modern novel. This is the more astonishing, as in
the African and Mongolian races this ethereal sentiment
is practically absent, the idealism of passion being
something foreign to those varieties of man."

The Indians, says Catlin (_N.A.I._, I., 121), "are not in the least
behind us in conjugal, in filial, and in paternal affection." In the
preface to Mrs. Eastman's _Life and Legend of the Sioux_, Mrs. Kirkman
exclaims that

"in spite of all that renders gross and mechanical their
ordinary mode of marrying and giving in marriage, instances
are not rare among them of love as true, as fiery, and as
fatal as that of the most exalted hero of romance."

Let us listen to a few of the tales of Indian love, as recorded by


Many years ago there lived a Chippewa warrior on the banks of Lake
Superior. His name was Wawanosh and he was renowed for his ancestry
and personal bravery. He had an only daughter, eighteen years old,
celebrated for her gentle virtues, her _slender_ form, her full
beaming hazel eyes, and her dark and flowing hair. Her hand was sought
by a young man of humble parentage, but a tall commanding form, a
manly step, and an eye beaming with the tropical fires of love and
youth. These were sufficient to attract the favorable notice of the
daughter, but did not satisfy the father, who sternly informed the
young man that before he could hope to mingle his humble blood with
that of so renowned a warrior he would have to go and make a name for
himself by enduring fatigue in the campaigns against enemies, by
taking scalps, and proving himself a successful hunter.

The intimidated lover departed, resolved to do a deed that should
render him worthy of the daughter of Wawanosh, or die in the attempt.
In a few days he succeeded in getting together a band of young men all
eager, like himself, to distinguish themselves in battle. Armed with
bow and quiver, and ornamented with war-paint and feathers, they had
their war-dance, which was continued for two days and nights. Before
leaving with his companions the leader sought an interview with the
daughter of Wawanosh. He disclosed to her his firm intention never to
return unless he could establish his name as a warrior. He told her of
the pangs he had felt at her father's implied imputation of effeminacy
and cowardice. He averred that he never could be happy, either with or
without her, until he had proved to the whole tribe the strength of
his heart, which is the Indian term for courage. He repeated his
_protestations of inviolable attachment_, which she returned, and,
_pledging vows of mutual fidelity_, they parted.

She never saw him again. A warrior brought home the tidings that he
had received a fatal arrow in his breast after distinguishing himself
by the most heroic bravery. From that moment the young girl never
smiled again. She pined away by day and by night. Deaf to entreaty and
reproach, she would seek a sequestered spot, where she would sit under
a shady tree, and sing her mournful laments for hours together. A
small, beautiful bird, of a kind she had never seen, sat on her tree,
every day, singing until dark. Her fond imagination soon led her to
suppose it was the spirit of her lover, and her visits were repeated
with greater frequency. She passed her time in fasting and singing her
plaintive songs. Thus she pined away, until _the death she so
fervently desired_ came to her relief. After her death the bird was
never more seen, and it became a popular opinion that this mysterious
bird had flown away with her spirit. But bitter tears of regret fell
in the lodge of Wawanosh. Too late he _regretted his false pride_ and
his harsh treatment of the noble youth.


There once lived an Ottawa woman on the shores of Lake Michigan who
had a daughter as beautiful as she was modest and discreet. She was so
handsome that her mother feared she would be carried off, and, to
prevent it, she put her in a box on the lake, which was tied by a long
string to a stake on the shore. Every morning the mother pulled the
box ashore, and combed her daughter's long, shining hair, gave her
food, and then put her out again on the lake.

One day a handsome young man chanced to come to the spot at the moment
she was receiving her morning's attentions from her mother. He was
struck with her beauty and immediately went home and told his feelings
to his uncle, who was a great chief and a powerful magician. The uncle
told him to go to the mother's lodge, sit down in a modest manner,
and, without saying a word, _think_ what he wanted, and he would be
understood and answered. He did so; but the mother's answer was: "Give
you my daughter? No, indeed, my daughter shall never marry _you_."
This pride and haughtiness angered the uncle and the spirits of the
lake, who raised a great storm on the water. The tossing waves broke
the string, and the box with the girl floated off through the straits
to Lake Huron. It was there cast on shore and found by an old spirit
who took the beautiful girl to his lodge and married her.

The mother, when she found her daughter gone, raised loud cries, and
continued her lamentations for a long time. At last, after two or
three years, the spirits had pity on her and raised another storm,
greater even than the first. When the water rose and encroached on the
lodge where the daughter lived, she leaped into the box, and the waves
carried her back to her mother's lodge. The mother was overjoyed, but
when she opened the box she found that her daughter's beauty had
almost all departed. However, she still loved her because she was her
daughter, and she now thought of the young man who had made her the
offer of marriage. She sent a formal message to him, but he had
changed his mind, for he knew that she had been the wife of another.
"_I_ marry your daughter?" said he; "_your_ daughter! No, indeed! I
shall never marry her."


Bokwewa and his brother lived in a secluded part of the country. They
were considered as Manitoes who had assumed mortal shapes. Bokwewa was
a humpback, but had the gifts of a magician, while the brother was
more like the present race of beings. One day the brother said to the
humpback that he was going away to visit the habitations of men, and
procure a wife. He travelled alone a long time. At length he came to a
deserted camp, where he saw a corpse on a scaffold. He took it down
and found it was the body of a beautiful young woman. "She shall be my
wife," he exclaimed.

He took her and carried her home on his back. "Brother," he exclaimed,
"cannot you restore her life? Oh! do me that favor."

The humpback said he would try, and, after performing various
ceremonies, succeeded in restoring her to life. They lived very
happily for some time. But one day when the humpback was home alone
with the woman, her husband having gone out to hunt, a powerful Manito
came and carried her off, though Bokwewa used all his strength to save

When the brother returned and heard what had happened he would not
taste food for several days. Sometimes he would fall to weeping for a
long time, and appear almost beside himself. At last he said he would
go in search of her. His brother, finding that he could not dissuade
him, cautioned him against the dangers of the road; he must pass by
the large grape-vine and the frog's eggs that he would come across.
But the young husband heeded not his advice. He started out on his
journey and when he found the grapes and the frog's eggs he ate them.

At length he came to the tribe into which his wife had been stolen.
Throngs of men and women, gaily dressed, came out to meet him. As he
had eaten of the grapes and frog's eggs--snares laid for him--he was
soon overcome by their flatteries and pleasures, and he was not long
afterward seen beating corn with their women (the strongest proof of
effeminacy), although his wife, for whom he had mourned so much, was
in that Indian metropolis.

Meanwhile Bokwewa waited patiently for his brother, but when he did
not return he set out in search of him. He avoided the allurements
along the road and when he came among the luxurious people of the
South he wept on seeing his brother beating corn with the women. He
waited till the stolen wife came down to the river to draw water for
her new husband, the Manito. He changed himself into a hair-snake, was
scooped up in her bucket, and drunk by the Manito, who soon after was
dead. Then the humpback resumed his human shape and tried to reclaim
his brother; but the brother was so taken up with the pleasures and
dissipations into which he had fallen that he refused to give them up.
Finding he was past reclaiming, Bokwewa left him and disappeared


Aggodagauda was an Indian who lived in the forest. Though he had
accidentally lost the use of one of his two legs he was a famous
hunter. But he had a great enemy in the king of buffaloes, who
frequently passed over the plain with the force of a tempest. The
chief object of the wily buffalo was to carry off Aggodagauda's
daughter, who was very beautiful. To prevent this Aggodagauda had
built a log cabin, and it was only on the roof of this that he
permitted his daughter to take the open air and disport herself. Now
her hair was so long that when she untied it the raven locks hung down
to the ground.

One day, when her father was off on a hunt, she went out on top of the
house and sat combing her long and beautiful hair, on the eaves of the
lodge, when the buffalo king, coming suddenly by, caught her glossy
hair, and winding it about his horns, tossed her onto his shoulders
and carried her to his village. Here he _paid every attention to gain
her affections_, but all to no purpose, for she sat pensively and
disconsolate in the lodge among the other females, and scarcely ever
spoke, and took no part in the domestic cares of her lover the king.
He, on the contrary, _did everything he could think of to please her
and win her affections_. He told the others in his lodge to give her
everything she wanted, and to be _careful not to displease her_. They
set before her the choicest food. They _gave her the seat of honor in
the lodge_. The king himself went out hunting to obtain the most
dainty bits of meat. And not content with these proofs of his
attachment _he fasted himself_, and would often take his flute and sit
near the lodge indulging his mind in repeating a few pensive notes:

My sweetheart,
My sweetheart,
Ah me!
When I think of you,
When I think of you,
Ah me!
How I love you,
How I love you,
Ah me!
Do not hate me,
Do not hate me,
Ah me!

In the meantime Aggodagauda had returned from his hunt, and finding
his daughter gone, determined to recover her. During her flight her
long hair had caught on the branches and broken them, and it was by
following these broken twigs that he tracked her. When he came to the
king's lodge it was evening. He cautiously peeped in and saw his
daughter sitting disconsolately. She caught his eye, and, in order to
meet him, said to the king, "Give me a dipper, I will go and get you a
drink of water." Delighted with this token of submission, the king
allowed her to go to the river. There she met her father and escaped
with him.


Leelinau was the favorite daughter of an Odjibwa hunter, living on the
shore of Lake Superior. From her earliest youth she was observed to be
pensive and timid, and to spend much of her time _in solitude and
fasting_. Whenever she could leave her father's lodge she would fly to
the remote haunts and recesses of the woods, or _sit upon some high
promontory of rock overhanging the lake_. But her favorite place was a
forest of pines known as the Sacred Grove. It was supposed to be
inhabited by a class of _fairies who love romantic scenes_. This spot
Leelinau visited often, _gathering on the way strange flowers or
plants_ to bring home. It was there that she fasted, supplicated, and

The effect of these visits was to make the girl melancholy and
dissatisfied with the realities of life. She did not care to play with
the other young people. Nor did she favor the plan of her parents to
marry her to a man much her senior in years, but a reputed chief. No
attention was paid to her disinclination, and the man was informed
that his offer had been favorably received. The day for the marriage
was fixed and the guests invited.

The girl had told her parents that she would never consent to the
match. On the evening preceding the day fixed for her marriage she
dressed herself in her best garments and put on all her ornaments.
Then she told her parents she was going to meet her little lover, the
chieftain of the green plume, who was waiting for her at the Spirit
Grove. Supposing she was going to act some harmless freak, they let
her go. When she did not return at sunset alarm was felt; with lighted
torches the gloomy pine forest was searched, but no trace of the girl
was ever found, and the parents mourned the loss of a daughter whose
inclinations they had, in the end, too violently thwarted.


About the middle of the seventeenth century there lived on the shores
of Lake Ontario a Wyandot girl so beautiful that she had for suitors
nearly all the young men of her tribe; but while she rejected none,
neither did she favor any one in particular. To prevent her from
falling to someone not in their tribe the suitors held a meeting and
concluded that their claims should be withdrawn and the war chief
urged to woo her. He objected on account of the disparity of years,
but was finally persuaded to make his advances. His practice had been
confined rather to the use of stone-headed arrows than love-darts, and
his dexterity in the management of hearts displayed rather in making
bloody incisions than tender impressions. But after he had painted and
arrayed himself as for battle and otherwise adorned his person, he
paid court to her, and a few days later was accepted on condition that
he would pledge his word as a warrior to do what she should ask of
him. When his pledge had been given she told him to bring her the
scalp of a certain Seneca chief whom she hated. He begged her to
reflect that this chief was his bosom friend, whose confidence it
would be an infamy to betray. But she told him either to redeem his
pledge or be proclaimed for a lying dog, and then left him.

Goaded into fury, the Wyandot chief blackened his face and rushed off
to the Seneca village, where he tomahawked his friend and rushed out
of the lodge with his scalp. A moment later the mournful scalp-whoop
of the Senecas was resounding through the village. The Wyandot camp
was attacked, and after a deadly combat of three days the Senecas
triumphed, avenging the murder of their chief by the death of his
assailant as well as of the miserable girl who had caused the tragedy.
The war thus begun lasted more than thirty years.


In 1759 great exertions were made by the French Indian Department
under General Montcalm to bring a body of Indians into the valley of
the lower St. Lawrence, and invitations for this purpose reached the
utmost shores of Lake Superior. In one of the canoes from that
quarter, which was left on the way down at the mouth of the Utawas,
was a Chippewa girl named Paigwaineoshe, or the White Eagle. While the
party awaited there the result of events at Quebec she formed an
attachment for a young Algonquin belonging to a French mission. This
attachment was mutual, and gave rise to a song of which the following
is a prose translation:

I. Ah me! When I think of him--when I think of him--my
sweetheart, my Algonquin.

II. As I embarked to return, he put the white wampum around my
neck--a pledge of troth, my sweetheart, my Algonquin.

III. I shall go with you, he said, to your native country--I
shall go with you, my sweetheart--my Algonquin.

IV. Alas! I replied--my native country is far, far away--my
sweetheart, my Algonquin.

V. When I looked back again--where we parted, he was still
looking after me, my sweetheart, my Algonquin.

VI. He was still standing on a fallen tree--that had fallen
into the water, my sweetheart, my Algonquin.

VII. Alas! When I think of him--when I think of him--It is when
I think of him, my Algonquin.


Here we have seven love-stories as romantic as you please and full of
sentimental touches. Do they not disprove my theory that uncivilized
races are incapable of feeling sentimental love? Some think they do,
and Waitz is not the only anthropologist who has accepted such stories
as proof that human nature, as far as love is concerned, is the same
under all circumstances. The above tales are taken from the books of a
man who spent much of his life among Indians and issued a number of
works about them, one of which, in six volumes, was published under
the auspices of the United States Government. This expert--Henry R.
Schoolcraft--was member of so many learned societies that it takes
twelve lines of small type to print them all. Moreover, he expressly
assures us[196] that "the value of these traditionary stories appears
to depend very much upon their being left, as nearly as possible, in
their original forms of thought and expression," the obvious inference
being an assurance that he has so left them; and he adds that in the
collection and translation of these stories he enjoyed the great
advantages of seventeen years' life as executive officer for the
tribes, and a knowledge of their languages.

And now, having given the enemy's battle-ship every possible
advantage, the reader will allow me to bring on my little
torpedo-boat. In the first place Schoolcraft mentions (_A.R_., I., 56)
twelve persons, six of them women, who helped him collect and
interpret the material of the tales united in his volumes; but he does
not tell us whether all or any of these collectors acted on the
principle that these stories could claim absolutely no _scientific_
value unless they were verbatim reports of aboriginal tales, _without
any additions and sentimental embroideries by the compilers_. This
omission alone is fatal to the whole collection, reducing it to the
value of a mere fairy book for the entertainment of children, and
allowing us to make no inferences from it regarding the quality and
expression of an Indian's love.

Schoolcraft stands convicted by his own action. When I read his tales
for the first time I came across numerous sentences and sentiments
which I knew from my own experience among Indians were utterly foreign
to Indian modes of thought and feeling, and which they could no more
have uttered than they could have penned Longfellow's _Hiawatha_, or
the essays of Emerson. In the stories of "The Red Lover," "The Buffalo
King," and "The Haunted Grove,"[197] I have italicized a few of these
suspicious passages. To take the last-named tale first, it is absurd
to speak of Indian "fairies who love romantic scenes," or of a girl
romantically sitting on a rocky promontory,[198] or "gathering strange
flowers;" for Indians have no conception of the romantic side of
nature--of scenery for its own sake. To them a tree is simply a grouse
perch, or a source of fire-wood; a lake, a fish-pond, a mountain, the
dreaded abode of evil spirits. In the tale of the "Buffalo King" we
read of the chief doing a number of things to win the affection of the
refractory bride--telling the others not to displease her, giving her
"the seat of honor," and going so far as to fast himself, whereas in
real life, under such circumstances, he would have curtly clubbed the
stolen bride into submission. In the tale of the "Red Lover" the girl
is admired for her "slender form," whereas a real Indian values a
woman in proportion to her weight and rotundity. Indians do not make
"protestations of inviolable attachment," or "pledge vows of mutual
fidelity," like the lovers of our fashionable novels. As Charles A.
Leland remarks of the same race of Indians (85), "When an Indian seeks
a wife, he or his mutual friend makes no great ado about it, but
utters two words which tell the whole story." But there is no need of
citing other authors, for Schoolcraft, as I have just intimated,
stands convicted by his own action. In the second edition of his
_Algic Researches_, which appeared after an interval of seventeen
years and received the title of _The Myth of Hiawatha and other Oral
Legends of the North American Indians_, he seemed to remember what he
wrote in the preface of the first regarding these stories, "that in
the original there is no attempt at ornament," so he removed nearly
all of the romantic embroideries, like those I have italicized and
commented on, and also relegated the majority of his ludicrously
sentimental interspersed poems to the appendix. In the preface to
_Hiawatha_, he refers in connection with some of these verses to "the
poetic use of aboriginal ideas." Now, a man has a perfect right to
make such "poetic use" of "aboriginal ideas," but not when he has led
his readers to believe that he is telling these stories "as nearly as
possible in their original forms of thought and expression." It is
very much as if Edward MacDowell had published the several movements
of his Indian Suite as being, not only in their ideas, but in their
(modern European) harmonies and orchestration, a faithful transcript
of aboriginal Indian music. Schoolcraft's procedure, in other words,
amounts to a sort of Ossianic mystification; and unfortunately he has
had not a few imitators, to the confusion of comparative psychologists
and students of the evolution of love.

It is a great pity that Schoolcraft, with his valuable opportunities
for ethnological research, should not have added a critical attitude
and a habit of accuracy to his great industry. The historian Parkman,
a model observer and scholar, described Schoolcraft's volumes on the
Indian Tribes of the United States as

"a singularly crude and illiterate production, stuffed with
blunders and contradictions, giving evidence on every page
of a striking unfitness for historical or scientific


A few of the tales I have cited are not marred by superadded
sentimental adornments, but all of them are open to suspicion from
still another point of view. They are invariably so proper and pure
that they might be read to Sunday-school classes. Since one-half of
Schoolcraft's assistants in the compilation of this material were
women, this might have been expected, and if the collection had been
issued as a Fairy Book it would have been a matter of course. But they
were issued as accurate "oral legends" of wild Indians, and from the
point of view of the student of the history of love the most important
question to ask was, "Are Indian stories in reality as pure and
refined in tone as these specimens would lead us to suspect?" I will
answer that question by citing the words of one of the warmest
champions of the Indians, the eminent American anthropologist,
Professor D.G. Brinton _(M.N.W., 160):

"Anyone who has listened to Indian tales, not as they
are recorded in books, but as they are told by the
camp-fire, will bear witness to the abounding obscenity
they deal in. That the same vulgarity shows itself in
their arts and life, no genuine observer need doubt."

And in a footnote he gives this extremely interesting information:

"The late George Gibbs will be acknowledged as an
authority here. He was at the time of his death
preparing a Latin translation of the tales he had
collected, as they were too erotic to print in English.
He wrote me, 'Schoolcraft's legends are emasculated to
a degree that they become no longer Indian.'"

No longer Indian, indeed! And these doctored stories, artfully
sentimentalized at one end and expurgated at the other, are advanced
as proofs that a savage Indian's love is just as refined as that of a
civilized Christian! What Indian stories really are, the reader, if he
can stomach such things, may find out for himself by consulting the
marvellously copious and almost phonographically accurate collection
of native tales which another of our most eminent anthropologists, Dr.
Franz Boas, has printed.[200] And it must be borne in mind that these
stories are not the secret gossip of vulgar men alone by themselves,
but are national tales with which children of both sexes become
familiar from their earliest years. As Colonel Dodge remarks (213): it
is customary for as many as a dozen persons of both sexes to live in
one room, hence there is an entire lack of privacy, either in word or
act. "It is a wonder," says Powers (271), "that children grow up with
any virtue whatever, for the conversation of their elders in their
presence is often of the filthiest description." "One thing seems to
me more than intolerable," wrote the French missionary Le Jeune in
1632 (_Jesuit Relations_, V., 169).

"It is their living together promiscuously, girls,
women, men, and boys, in a smoky hole. And the more
progress one makes in the knowledge of the language,
the more vile things one hears.... I did not think that
the mouth of the savage was so foul as I notice it is
every day."

Elsewhere (VI., 263) the same missionary says:

"Their lips are constantly foul with these obscenities;
and it is the same with the little children.... The
older women go almost naked, the girls and young women
are _very modestly clad_; but, among themselves, their
language has the foul odor of the sewers."

Of the Pennsylvania Indians Colonel James Smith (who had lived among
them as a captive) wrote (140): "The squaws are generally very
immodest in their words and actions, and will often put the young men
to the blush."


The late Dr. Brinton shot wide off the mark when he wrote (_R. and
P._, 59) that even among the lower races the sentiment of modesty "is
never absent." With some American Indians, as in the races of other
parts of the world, there is often not even the appearance of modesty.
Many of the Southern Indians in North America and others in Central
and South America wear no clothes at all, and their actions are as
unrestrained as those of animals.[201] The tribes that do wear clothes
sometimes present to shallow or biassed observers the appearance of
modesty. To the Mandan women Catlin (I.,
93, 96) attributes "excessive modesty of demeanor."

"It was customary for hundreds of girls and women to go
bathing and swimming in the Missouri every morning, while a
quarter of a mile back on a terrace stood several sentinels
with bows and arrows in hand to protect the bathing-place
from men or boys, who had their own swimming-place

This, however, tells us more about the immorality of the men and their
anxiety to guard their property than about the character of the women.
On that point we are enlightened by Maximilian Prinz zu Wied, who
found that these women were anything but prudes, having often two or
three lovers at a time, while infidelity was seldom punished (I.,
531). According to Gatschet (183) Creek women also "were assigned a
bathing-place in the river currents at some distance below the men;"
but that this, too, was a mere curiosity of pseudo-modesty becomes
obvious when we read in Schoolcraft (V., 272) that among these Indians
"the sexes indulge their propensities with each other promiscuously,
unrestrained by law or custom, and without secrecy or shame." Powers,
too, relates (55) that among the Californian Yurok "the sexes bathe
apart, and the women do not go into the sea without some garment on."
But Powers was not a man to be misled by specious appearances. He
fully understood the philosophy of the matter, as the following shows

"Notwithstanding all that has been said to the contrary
by false friends and weak maundering philanthropists,
the California Indians are a grossly licentious race.
None more so, perhaps. There is no word in all their
language that I have examined which has the meaning of
'mercenary prostitute,' because such a creature is
unknown to them; but among the unmarried of both sexes
there is very little or no restraint; and this freedom
is so much a matter of course that there is no reproach
attaching to it; so that _their young women are notable
for their modest and innocent demeanor_. This very
modesty of outward deportment has deceived the hasty
glance of many travellers. But what their conduct
really is is shown by the Argus-eyed surveillance to
which women are subjected. If a married woman is seen
even walking in the forest with another man than her
husband she is chastised by him. A repetition of the
offence is generally punished with speedy death.
Brothers and sisters scrupulously avoid living alone
together. A mother-in-law is never allowed to live with
her son-in-law. To the Indian's mind the opportunity of
evil implies the commission of it."


Having disposed of the modesty fallacy, let us examine once more, and
for the last time, the doctrine that savages owe their degradation to
the whites.

In the admirable preface to his book on the Jesuit missionaries in
Canada, Parkman writes concerning the Hurons (XXXIV.):

"Lafitau, whose book appeared in 1724, says that the
nation was corrupt in his time, but that this was a
degeneracy from their ancient manners. La Potherie and
Charlevoix make a similar statement. Megapolensis,
however, in 1644 says that they were then exceedingly
debauched; and Greenhalgh, in 1677, gives ample
evidence of a shameless license. One of their most
earnest advocates of the present day admits that the
passion of love among them had no other than an animal
existence (Morgan, _League of the Iroquois_, 322).
There is clear proof that the tribes of the South were
equally corrupt. (See Lawson's _Carolina_, 34, and
other early writers.)"

Another most earnest advocate of the Indians, Dr. Brinton, writes
(_M.N.W._, 159) that promiscuous licentiousness was frequently
connected with the religious ceremonies of the Indians:

"Miscellaneous congress very often terminated their
dances and festivals. Such orgies were of common
occurrence among the Algonkins and Iroquois at a very
early date, and are often mentioned in the _Jesuit
Relations_; Venagas describes them as frequent among
the tribes of Lower California, and Oviedo refers to
certain festivals of the Nicaraguans, during which the
women of all ranks extended to whosoever wished just
such privileges as the matrons of ancient Babylon, that
mother of harlots and all abominations, used to grant
even to slaves and strangers in the temple of Melitta
as one of the duties of religion."

In Part I. (140-42) of the _Final Report of Investigations among the
Indians of the Southwestern United States_,[202] A.F. Bandelier, the
leading authority on the Indians of the Southwest, writes regarding
the Pueblos (one of the most advanced, of all American tribes):

"Chastity was an act of penitence; to be chaste
signified to do penance. Still, after a woman had once
become linked to a man by the performance of certain
simple rites it was unsafe for her to be caught
trespassing, and her accomplice also suffered a
penalty. But there was the utmost liberty, even
license, as toward girls. Intercourse was almost
promiscuous with members of the tribe. Toward outsiders
the strictest abstinence was observed, and this fact,
which has long been overlooked or misunderstood,
explains the prevailing idea that before the coming of
the white man the Indians were both chaste and moral,
while the contrary is the truth."

Lewis and Clarke travelled a century ago among Indians that had never
been visited by whites. Their observations regarding immoral practices
and the means used to obviate the consequences bear out the above
testimony. M'Lean (II., 59, 120) also ridicules the idea that Indians
were corrupted by the whites. But the most conclusive proof of
aboriginal depravity is that supplied by the discoverers of America,
including Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci. Columbus on his fourth voyage
touched the mainland going down near Brazil. In Cariay, he
writes,[203] the enchanters

"sent me immediately two girls very showily dressed.
The elder could not be more than eleven years of age
and the other seven, and both exhibited so much
immodesty that more could not be expected from public

On another page (30) he writes: "The habits of these Caribbees are
brutal," adding that in their attacks on neighboring islands they
carry off as many women as they can, using them as concubines. "These
women also say that the Caribbees use them with such cruelty as would
scarcely be believed; and that they eat the children which they bear
to them."

Brazil was visited in 1501 by Amerigo Vespucci. The account he gives
of the dissolute practices of the natives, who certainly had never set
eye on a white man, is so plain spoken that it cannot be quoted here
in full. "They are not very jealous," he says, "and are immoderately
libidinous, and the women much more so than the men, so that for
decency I omit to tell you the ... They are so void of affection and
cruel that if they be angry with their husbands they ... and they slay
an infinite number of creatures by that means.... The greatest sign of
friendship which they can show you is that they give you their wives
and their daughters" and feel "highly honored" if they are accepted.
"They eat all their enemies whom they kill or capture, as well females
as males." "Their other barbarous customs are such that expression is
too weak for the reality."

The ineradicable perverseness of some minds is amusingly illustrated
by Southey, in his _History of Brazil_. After referring to Amerigo
Vespucci's statements regarding the lascivious practices of the
aboriginals, he exclaims, in a footnote: "This is false! Man has never
yet been discovered in such a state of depravity!" What the navigators
wrote regarding the cannibalism and cruelty of these savages he
accepts as a matter of course; but to doubt their immaculate purity is
high treason! The attitude of the sentimentalists in this matter is
not only silly and ridiculous, but positively pathological. As their
number is great, and seems to be growing (under the influence of such
writers as Catlin, Helen Hunt Jackson, Brinton, Westermarck, etc.), it
is necessary, in the interest of the truth, to paint the Indian as he
really was until contact with the whites (missionaries and others)
improved him somewhat.[204]


Beginning with the Californians, their utter lack of moral sense has
already been described. They were no worse than the other Pacific
coast tribes in Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska.
George Gibbs, the leading authority on the Indians of Western Oregon
and Washington, says regarding them (I., 197-200):

"Prostitution is almost universal. An Indian, perhaps,
will not let his favorite wife, but he looks upon his
others, his sisters, daughters, female relatives, and
slaves, as a legitimate source of profit....
Cohabitation of unmarried females among their own
people brings no disgrace if unaccompanied with
child-birth, which they take care to prevent. This
commences at a very early age, perhaps ten or twelve

"Chastity is not considered a virtue by the Chinook women," says Ross

"and their amorous propensities know no bounds. All classes,
from the highest to the lowest, indulge in coarse sensuality
and shameless profligacy. Even the chief would boast of
obtaining a paltry toy or trifle in return for the
prostitution of his virgin daughter."

Lewis and Clarke (1814) found that among the Chinooks, "_as, indeed,
among all Indians_" they became acquainted with on their perilous
pioneer trips through the Western wilds, prostitution of females was
not considered criminal or improper (439).

Such revelations, illustrating not individual cases of depravity, but
a whole people's attitude, show how utterly hopeless it is to expect
refined and pure love of these Indians. Gibbs did not give himself up
to any illusions on this subject. "A strong _sensual_ attachment often
undoubtedly exists," he wrote (198),

"which leads to marriage, and instances are not rare of
young women destroying themselves on the death of a
lover; but where the idea of chastity is so entirely
wanting in both sexes, _this cannot deserve the name of
love_, or it is at best of a temporary duration." The
italics are mine.

In common with several other high authorities who lived many years
among the Indians (as we shall see at the end of this chapter) Gibbs
clearly realized the difference between red love and white
love--between sensual and sentimental attachments, and failed to find
the latter among the American savages.

British Columbian capacity for sexual delicacy and refined love is
sufficiently indicated by the reference on a preceding page (556) to
the stories collected by Dr. Boas. Turning northeastward we find
M'Lean, who spent twenty-five years among the Hudson's Bay natives,
declaring of the Beaver Indians (Chippewayans) that "the unmarried
youth, of both sexes, are generally under no restraint whatever," and
that "the lewdness of the Carrier [Taculli] Indians cannot possibly be
carried to a greater excess." M'Lean, too, after observing these
northern Indians for a quarter of a century, came to the conclusion
that "the tender passion seems unknown to the savage breast."

"The Hurons are lascivious," wrote Le Jeune (whom I have already
quoted), in 1632; and Parkman says (_J.N.A._, XXXIV.):

"A practice also prevailed of temporary or experimental
marriage, lasting a day, a week, or more.... An
attractive and enterprising damsel might, and often
did, make twenty such marriages before her final

Regarding the Sioux, that shrewd observer, Burton, wrote (_C. of S._,
116): "If the mother takes any care of her daughter's virtue, it is
only out of regard to its market value." The Sioux, or Dakotas, are
indeed, sometimes lower than animals, for, as S.R. Riggs pointed out,
in a government publication (_U.S. Geogr. and Geol. Soc._, Vol. IX.),
"Girls are sometimes taken very young, before they are of marriageable
age, which generally happens with a man who has a wife already." "The
marriageable age," he adds, "is from fourteen years old and upward."
Even the Mandans, so highly lauded by Catlin, sometimes brutally
dispose of girls at the age of eleven, as do other tribes (Comanches,

Of the Chippewas, Ottawas, and Winnebagoes we read in H. Trumbull's
_History of the Indian Wars_ (168):

"It appears to have been a very prevalent custom with
the Indians of this country, before they became
acquainted with the Europeans, to compliment strangers
with their wives;"

and "the Indian women in general are amorous, and before marriage not
less esteemed for gratifying their passions."

Of the New York Indians J. Buchanan wrote (II., 104):

"that it is no offence for their married women to
associate with another man, provided she acquaint her
husband or some near relation therewith, but if not, it
is sometimes punishable with death."

Of the Comanches it is said (Schoolcraft, V., 683) that while "the men
are grossly licentious, treating female captives in a most cruel and
barbarous manner," upon their women "they enforce rigid chastity;" but
this is, as usual, a mere question of masculine property, for on the
next page we read that they lend their wives; and Fossey (_Mexique_,
462) says: "Les Comanches obligent le prisonnier blanc, dont ils ont
admire le valeur dans le combat, a s'unir a leurs femmes pour
perpetuer sa race." Concerning the Kickapoo, Kansas, and Osage Indians
we are informed by Hunter (203), who lived among them, that

"a female may become a parent out of wedlock without
loss of reputation, or diminishing her chances for a
subsequent matrimonial alliance, so that her paramour
is of respectable standing."

Maximilian Prinz zu Weid found that the Blackfeet, though they
horribly mutilated wives for secret intrigues [violation of property
right], offered these wives as well as their daughters for a bottle of
whiskey. "Some very young girls are offered" (I., 531). "The Navajo
women are very loose, and do not look upon fornication as a crime."

"The most unfortunate thing which can befall a captive
woman is to be claimed by two persons. In this case she
is either shot or delivered up for indiscriminate
violence" (Bancroft, I., 514).

Colonel R.I. Dodge writes of the Indians of the plains (204):

"For an unmarried Indian girl to be found away from her
lodge alone is to invite outrage, consequently she is
never sent out to cut and bring wood, nor to take care
of the stock."

He speaks of the "Indian men who, animal-like, approach a female only
to make love to her," and to whom the idea of continence is unknown
(210). Among the Cheyennes and Arapahoes

"no unmarried woman considers herself dressed to meet
her beau at night, to go to a dance or other gathering,
unless she has tied her lower limbs with a rope....
Custom has made this an almost perfect protection
against the brutality of the men. Without it she would
not be safe for an instant, and even with it, an
unmarried girl is not safe if found alone away from the
immediate protection of the lodge" (213).

A brother does not protect his sister from insult, nor avenge outrage

"Nature has no nobler specimen of man than the Indian," wrote Catlin,
the sentimentalist, who is often cited as an authority. To proceed:
"Prostitution is the rule among the (Yuma) women, not the exception."
The Colorado River Indians "barter and sell their women into
prostitution, with hardly an exception." (Bancroft, I., 514.) In his
_Antiquities of the Southern Indians_, C.C. Jones says of the Creeks,
Cherokees, Muscogulges, etc. (69):

"Comparatively little virtue existed among the
unmarried women. Their chances of marriage were not
diminished, but rather augmented, by the fact that they
had been great favorites, provided they had avoided
conception during their years of general pleasure."

The wife "was deterred, by fear of public punishment, from the
commission of indiscretions." "The unmarried women among the Natchez
were unusually unchaste," says McCulloh (165).

This damning list might be continued for the Central and South
American Indians. We should find that the Mosquito Indians often did
not wait for puberty (Bancroft, I., 729); that, according to Martius,
Oviedo, and Navarette,

"in Cuba, Nicaragua,[205] and among the Caribs and
Tupis, the bride yielded herself first to another, lest
her husband should come to some ill-luck by exercising
a priority of possession.... This _jus primae noctis_
was exercised by the priests" (Brinton, _M.N.W._, 155);

that the Waraus give girls to medicine men in return for professional
services (Brett, 320); that the Guaranis lend their wives and
daughters for a drink (Reich, 435); that among Brazilian tribes the
_jus primae noctis_ is often enjoyed by the chief (_Journ. Roy. G.S._,
II., 198); that in Guiana "chastity is not considered an indispensable
virtue among the unmarried women" (Dalton, I., 80); that the
Patagonians often pawned and sold their wives and daughters for brandy
(Falkner, 97); that their licentiousness is equal to their cruelty
(Bourne, 56-57), etc., etc.


A critical student will not be able, I think, to find any exceptions
to this rule of Indian depravity among tribes untouched by missionary
influences. Westermarck, indeed, refers (65) with satisfaction to
Hearne's assertion (311) that the northern Indians he visited
carefully guarded the young people. Had he consulted page 129 of the
same writer he would have seen that this does not indicate a regard
for chastity as a virtue, but is merely a result of their habit of
regarding women as property, to which Franklin, speaking of these same
Indians, refers (287); for as Hearne remarks in the place alluded to,
"it is a very common custom among the men of this country to exchange
a night's lodging with each other's wives." An equal lack of insight
is shown by Westermarck, when he professes to find female chastity
among the Apaches. For this assertion he relies on Bancroft, who does
indeed say (I., 514) that "all authorities agree that the Apache
women, both before and after marriage, are remarkably pure." Yet he
himself adds that the Apaches will lend their wives to each
other.[206] If the women are otherwise chaste, it is not from a regard
for purity, but from fear of their cruel husbands and masters. United
States Boundary Commissioner, Bartlett, has enlightened us on this
point. "The atrocities inflicted upon an Apache woman taken in
adultery baffle all description," he writes, "and the females whom
they capture from their enemies are invariably doomed to the most
infamous treatment." Thus they are like other Indians--the Comanches,
for instance, concerning whom we read in Schoolcraft (V., 683) that
"the men are grossly licentious, treating female captives in a most
cruel and barbarous manner; but they enforce rigid chastity upon their

Among the Modocs a wife who violated her husband's property rights in
her "chastity," was disembowelled in public, as Bancroft informs us
(I., 350). No wonder, that, as he adds, "adultery, being attended with
so much danger, is comparatively rare, but among the unmarried, who
have nothing to fear, a gross licentiousness prevails."

The Peruvian sun virgins are often supposed to indicate a regard for
purity; but in reality the temples in which these girls were reared
and guarded were nothing but nurseries for providing a choice
assortment of concubines for the licentious Incas and their friends.
(Torquemada, IX., 16.)[207]

"In the earlier times of Peru the union of the sexes was
voluntary, unregulated, and accompanied by barbarous usages:
many of which even at the present day exist among the
uncivilized nations of South America." (Tschudi's
_Antiquities_, 184; McCulloh, 379.)

Of the Mexicans, too, it has been erroneously said
that they valued purity; but Bandelier has collected facts from the
old Spanish writers, in summing which up he says: "This almost
establishes promiscuity among the ancient Mexicans, as a preliminary
to formal marriage." Oddly enough, the crime of adultery with a
married woman was considered one against a cluster of kindred, and not
against the husband; for if he caught the culprits _in flagrante
delictu_ and killed the wife, he lost his own life!

Another source of error regarding exceptional virtue in an Indian
tribe lies in the fact that in some few cases female captives were
spared. This was due, however, not to a chivalrous regard for female
virtue, but to superstition. James Adair relates of the Choktah (164)
that even a certain chief noted for his cruelty

"did not attempt the virtue of his female captives lest
(as he told one of them) 'it should offend the Indian's
god;' though at the same time his pleasures were
heightened in proportion to the shrieks and groans from
prisoners of both sexes while they were under his
torture. Although the Choktah are libidinous, yet I
have known them to take several female prisoners
without offering the least violence to their virtue,
till the time of purgation was expired; then some of
them forced their captives, notwithstanding their
pressing entreaties and tears."

Parkman, too, was convinced (_Jes. in Can._, XXXIV.) that the
remarkable forbearance observed by some tribes was the result of
superstition; and he adds: "To make the Indian a hero of romance is
mere nonsense."


Besides the atrocious punishments inflicted on women who forgot their
role as private property, some of the Indians had other ways of
intimidating them, while reserving for themselves the right to do as
they pleased. Powers relates (156-61) that, among the California
Indians in general,

"there is scarcely such an attribute known as virtue or
chastity in either sex before marriage. Up to the time
when they enter matrimony most of the young women are a
kind of _femmes incomprises_, the common property of
the tribe; and after they have once taken on themselves
the marriage covenant, simple as it is, they are
guarded with a Turkish jealousy, for even the married
women are not such models as Mrs. Ford.... The one
great burden of the harangues delivered by the
venerable peace-chief on solemn occasions is the
necessity and excellence of _female_ virtue; all the
terrors of superstitious sanction and the direst
threats of the great prophet are levelled at
unchastity, and all the most dreadful calamities and
pains of a future state are hung suspended over the
heads of those who are persistently lascivious. All the
devices that savage cunning can invent, all the
mysterious masquerading horrors of devil-raising, all
the secret sorceries, the frightful apparitions and
bugbears, which can be supposed effectual in terrifying
women into virtue and preventing smock treason, are
resorted to by the Pomo leaders."

Among these Pomo Indians, and Californian tribes almost universally
(406), there existed secret societies whose simple purpose was to
conjure up infernal terrors and render each other assistance in
keeping their women in subjection. A special meeting-house was
constructed for this purpose, in which these secret women-tamers held
a grand devil-dance once in seven years, twenty or thirty men daubing
themselves with barbaric paint and putting vessels of pitch on their
heads. At night they rushed down from the mountains with these vessels
of pitch flaming on their heads, and making a terrible noise. The
squaws fled for dear life; hundreds of them clung screaming and
fainting to their valorous protectors. Then the chief took a
rattlesnake from which the fangs had been extracted, brandished it
into the faces of the shuddering women, and threatened them with dire
things if they did not live lives of chastity, industry, and
obedience, until some of the terrified squaws shrieked aloud and fell
swooning upon the ground.


We are now in a position to appreciate the unintentional humor of
Ashe's indignant outcry, cited at the beginning of this chapter,
against those who calumniate these innocent people "by denying that
there is anything but 'brutal passion' in their love-affairs." He
admits, indeed, that "no expressions of endearment or tenderness ever
escape the Indian sexes toward each other," as all observers have
remarked, but claims that this reserve is merely a compliance with a
political and religious law which "stigmatizes youth wasting their
time in female dalliance, except when covered with the veil of night
and beyond the prying eye of man." Were a man to speak to a squaw of
love in the daytime, he adds, she would run away from him or disdain
him. He then proceeds, with astounding naivete, to describe the
nocturnal love-making of "these innocent people." The Indians leave
their doors open day and night, and the lovers take advantage of this
when they go a-courting, or "a-calumeting," as it is called.

"A young man lights his calumet, enters the cabin of
his mistress, and gently presents it to her. If she
extinguishes it she admits him to her arms; but if she
suffer it to burn unnoticed he softly retires with a
disappointed and throbbing heart, knowing that while
there was light she never could consent to his wishes.
This spirit of nocturnal amour and intrigue is attended
by one dreadful practice: the girls drink the juice of
a certain herb which prevents conception and often
renders them barren through life. They have recourse to
this to avoid the shame of having a child--a
circumstance _in which alone_ the disgrace of their
conduct consists, and which would be thought a thing so
heinous as to deprive them forever of respect and
religious marriage rites. _The crime is in the
discovery_." "I never saw gallantry conducted with more
_refinement_ than I did during my stay with the Shawnee

In brief, Ashe's idea of "refined" love consists in promiscuous
immorality carefully concealed! "On the subject of love," he sums up
with an injured air, "no persons have been less understood than the
Indians." Yet this writer is cited seriously as a witness by
Westermarck and others!

In view of the foregoing facts every candid reader must admit that to
an Indian an expression like "Love hath weaned my heart from low
desires," or Werther's "She is sacred to me; all desire is silent in
her presence," would be as incomprehensible as Hegel's metaphysics;
that, in other words, mental purity, one of the most essential and
characteristic ingredients of romantic love, is always absent in the
Indian's infatuation. The late Professor Brinton tried to come to the
rescue by declaring (_E.A._, 297) that

"delicacy of sentiment bears no sort of constant
relation to culture. Every man ... can name among his
acquaintances men of unusual culture who are coarse
voluptuaries and others of the humblest education who
have the delicacy of a refined woman. So it is with
families, and so it is with tribes."

Is it? That is the point to be proved. I myself have pointed out that
among nations, as among individuals, intellectual culture alone does
not insure a capacity for true love, because that also implies
emotional and esthetic culture. Now in our civilized communities there
are all sorts of individuals, many coarse, a few refined, while some
civilized races, too, are more refined than others. To prove his point
Dr. Brinton would have had to show that among the Indians, too, there
are tribes and individuals who are morally and esthetically refined;
and this he failed to do; wherefore his argument is futile. Diligent
and patient search has not revealed to me a single exception to the
rule of depravity above described, though I admit the possibility that
among the Indians who have been for generations under missionary
control such exceptions might be found. But we are here considering
the wild Indian and not the missionary's garden plant.


An excellent test of the Indian's capacity for refined amorous feeling
may be found in his attitude toward personal beauty. Does he admire
real beauty, and does it decide his choice of a mate? That there are
good-looking girls among some Indian tribes cannot be denied, though
they are exceptional. Among the thousands of squaws I have seen on the
Pacific Slope, from Mexico to Alaska, I can recall only one whom I
could call really beautiful. She was a pupil at a Sitka Indian school,
spoke English well, and I suspect had some white blood in her. Joaquin
Miller, who married a Modoc girl and is given to romancing and
idealizing, relates (227) how "the brown-eyed girls danced, gay and
beautiful, half-nude, in their rich black hair and flowing robes."
Herbert Walsh,[208] speaking of the girls at a Navajo Indian school,
writes that

"among them was one little girl of striking beauty,
with fine, dark eyes, regularly and delicately modelled
features, and a most winning expression. Nothing could
be more attractive than the unconscious grace of this
child of nature."

I can find no indication, however, that the Indians ever admire such
exceptional beauty, and plenty of evidence that what they admire is
not beautiful. "These Indians are far from being connoisseurs in
beauty," wrote Mrs. Eastman (105) of the Dakotas. Dobrizhoffer says of
the Abipones (II., 139) what we read in Schoolcraft concerning the
Creeks: "Beauty is of no estimation in either sex;" and I have also
previously quoted Belden's testimony (302), that the men select the
squaws not for their personal beauty but "their strength and ability
to work;" to which he should have added, their weight; for bulk is the
savage's synonym for beauty. Burton (_C.S._, 128) admired the pretty
doll-like faces of the Sioux girls, but only up to the age of six.
"When full grown the figure becomes dumpy and _trapu_;" and that is
what attracts the Indian. The examples given in the chapter on
Personal Beauty of the Indians' indifference to geological layers of
dirt on their faces and bodies would alone prove beyond all
possibility of dispute that they can have no esthetic appreciation of
personal charms. The very highest type of Indian beauty is that
described by Powers in the case of a California girl

"just gliding out of the uncomfortable obesity of
youth, her complexion a soft, creamy hazel, her wide
eyes dreamy and idle ... a not unattractive type of
vacuous, facile, and voluptuous beauty"

--a beauty, I need not add, which may attract, but would not inspire
love of the sentimental kind, even if the Indian were capable of it.


Having failed to find mental purity and admiration of personal beauty
in the Indian's love-affairs, let us now see how he stands in regard
to the altruistic impulses which differentiate love from self-love. Do
Indians behave gallantly toward their women? Do they habitually
sacrifice their comfort and, in case of need, their lives for their

Dr. Brinton declares (_Am. R._, 48) that "the position of women in the
social scheme of the American tribes has often been portrayed in
darker colors than the truth admits." Another eminent American
anthropologist, Horatio Hale, wrote[209] that women among the Indians
and other savages are not treated with harshness or regarded as
inferiors except under special circumstances. "It is entirely a
question of physical comfort, and mainly of the abundance or lack of
food," he maintains. For instance, among the sub-arctic Tinneh, women
are "slaves," while among the Tinneh (Navajos) of sunny Arizona they
are "queens." Heckewelder declares (_T.A.P.S._, 142) that the labors
of the squaws "are no more than their fair share, under every
consideration and due allowance, of the hardships attendant on savage
life." This benevolent and oft-cited old writer shows indeed such an
eager desire to whitewash the Indian warrior that an ignorant reader
of his book might find some difficulty in restraining his indignation
at the horrid, lazy squaws for not also relieving the poor,
unprotected men of the only two duties which they have retained for
themselves--murdering men or animals. But the most "fearless" champion
of the noble red man is a woman--Rose Yawger--who writes (in _The
Indian and the Pioneer_, 42) that "the position of the Indian woman in
her nation was not greatly inferior to that enjoyed by the American
woman of to-day." ... "They were treated with great respect." Let us
confront these assertions with facts.

Beginning with the Pacific Coast, we are told by Powers (405) that, on
the whole, California Indians did not make such slaves of women as the
Indians of the Atlantic side of the continent. This, however, is
merely comparative, and does not mean that they treat them kindly,
for, as he himself says (23), "while on a journey the man lays far the
greatest burdens on his wife." On another page (406) he remarks that
while a California boy is not "taught to pierce his mother's flesh
with an arrow to show him his superiority over her, as among the
Apaches and Iroquois," he nevertheless afterward "slays his wife or
mother-in-law, if angry, with very little compunction." Colonel McKee,
in describing an expedition among California Indians (Schoolcraft,
III., 127), writes:

"One of the whites here, in breaking in his squaw to
her household duties, had occasion to beat her several
times. She complained of this to her tribe and they
informed him that he must not do so; if he was
dissatisfied, _let him kill her and take another_!"
"The men," he adds, "allow themselves the privilege of
shooting any woman they are tired of."

The Pomo Indians make it a special point to slaughter the women of
their enemies during or after battle. "They do this because, as they
argue with the greatest sincerity, one woman destroyed is tantamount
to five men killed" (Bancroft, I., 160), for without women the tribe
cannot multiply. A Modoc explained why he needed several wives--one to
take care of his house, a second to hunt for him, a third to dig roots
(259). Bancroft cites half a dozen authorities for the assertion that
among the Indians of Northern California "boys are disgraced by work"
and "women work while men gamble or sleep" (I., 351). John Muir, in
his recent work on _The Mountains of California_ (80), says it is
truly astonishing to see what immense loads the haggard old Pah Ute
squaws make out to carry bare-footed over the rugged passes. The men,
who are always with them, stride on erect and unburdened, but when
they come to a difficult place they "kindly" pile stepping-stones for
their patient pack-animal wives, "just as they would prepare the way
for their ponies."

Among some of the Klamath and other California tribes certain women
are allowed to attain the rank of priestesses. To be "supposed to have
communication with the devil" and be alone "potent over cases of
witchcraft and witch poisoning" (67) is, however, an honor which women
elsewhere would hardly covet. Among the Yurok, Powers relates (56),
when a young man cannot afford to pay the amount of shell-money
without which marriage is not considered legal, he is sometimes
allowed to pay half the sum and become what is termed "half-married."
"Instead of bringing her to his cabin and making her his slave, he
goes to live in her cabin and becomes her slave." This, however,
"occurs only in case of soft uxorious fellows." Sometimes, too, a
squaw will take the law in her own hands, as in a case mentioned by
the same writer (199). A Wappo Indian abandoned his wife and went down
the river to a ranch where he took another woman. But the lawful
spouse soon discovered his whereabouts, followed him up, confronted
him before his paramour, upbraided him fiercely, and then seized him
by the hair and led him away triumphantly to her bed and basket. It is
to check such unseemly "new-womanish" tendencies in their squaws that
the Californians resorted to the bugaboo performances already referred
to. The Central Californian women, says Bancroft (391), are more apt
than the others to rebel against the tyranny of their masters; but the
men usually manage to keep them in subjection. The Tatu and Pomo
tribes intimidate them in this way:

"A man is stripped naked, painted with red and black
stripes, and then at night takes a sprig of poison oak,
dips it in water, and sprinkles it on the squaws, who,
from its effects on their skins, are convinced of the
man's satanic power, so that his object is attained."
(Powers, 141.)

The pages of Bancroft contain many references besides those already
quoted, showing how far the Indians of California were from treating
their women with chivalrous, self-sacrificing devotion. "The principal
labor falls to the lot of the women" (I., 351). Among the

"_as usual_, the women are treated with great contempt
by the men, and forced to do all the hard and menial
work; they are not even allowed to sit at the same fire
or eat at the same repast with their lords" (390).

Among the Shoshones "the weaker sex _of course_ do the hardest labor"
(437), etc. With the Hupa a girl will bring in the market $15 to
$50--"about half the valuation of a man." (Powers, 85.)

Nor do matters mend if we proceed northward on the Pacific coast.
Thus, Gibbs says (198) of the Indians of Western Oregon and
Washington, "the condition of the woman is that of slavery under any
circumstances;" and similar testimony might be adduced regarding the
Indians of British Columbia and Alaska.

Among the eastern neighbors of the Californians there is one Indian
people--the Navajos of Arizona and New Mexico--that calls for special
attention, as its women, according to Horatio Hale, are not slaves but
"queens." The Navajos have lived for centuries in a rich and fertile
country; their name is said to mean "large cornfields" and the
Spaniards found, about the middle of the sixteenth century, that they
practised irrigation. A more recent writer, E.A. Graves,[210] says
that the Navajos "possess more wealth than all the wild tribes in New
Mexico combined. They are rich in horses, mules, asses, goats, and
sheep." Bancroft cites evidence (I., 513) that the women were the
owners of the sheep; that they were allowed to take their meals with
the men, and admitted to their councils; and that they were relieved
of the drudgery of menial work. Major E. Backus also noted
(Schoolcraft, IV., 214) that Navajo women "are treated more kindly
than the squaws of the northern tribes, and perform far less of
laborious work than the Sioux or Chippewa women." But when we examine
the facts more closely we find that this comparative "emancipation" of
the Navajo women was not a chivalrous concession on the part of the
men, but proceeded simply from the lack of occasion for the exercise
of their selfish propensities. No one would be so foolish as to say
that even the most savage Indian would put his squaw into the
treadmill merely for the fun of seeing her toil. He makes a drudge of
her in order to save himself the trouble of working. Now the Navajos
were rich enough to employ slaves; their labor, says Major Backus, was
"mostly performed by the poor dependants, both male and female." Hence
there was no reason for making slaves of their wives. Backus gives
another reason why these women were treated more kindly than other
squaws. After marriage they became free, for sufficient cause, to
leave their husbands, who were thus put on their good behavior. Before
marriage, however, they had no free choice, but were the property of
their fathers. "The consent of the father is absolute, and the one so
purchased assents or is taken away by force."[211]

A total disregard of these women's feelings was also shown in the
"very extensive prevalence of polygamy," and in the custom that the
wife last chosen was always mistress of her predecessors. (Bancroft,
I., 512.) But the utter incapacity of Navajo men for sympathetic,
gallant, chivalrous sentiment is most glaringly revealed by the
barbarous treatment of their female captives, who, as before stated,
were often shot or delivered up for indiscriminate violence. Where
such a custom prevails as a national institution it would be useless
to search for refined feeling toward any woman. Indeed, the Navajo
women themselves rendered the growth of refined sexual feeling
impossible by their conduct. They were notorious, even among Indians,
for their immodesty and lewd conduct, and were consequently incapable
of either feeling or inspiring any but the coarsest sensual passion.
They were not queens, as the astonishing Hale would have it, but they
certainly were queans.

Concerning other Indians of the Southwest--Yumas, Mojaves, Pueblos,
etc.--M.A. Dorchester writes:[212]

"The native Indian is naturally polite, but until
touched by civilization, it never occurred to him to be
polite to his wife." "If there is one drawback to
Indian civilization more difficult to overcome than any
other, it is to convince the Indian that he ought not
to put the hardest work upon the Indian women."

The ferocious Apaches make slaves of their women. (Bancroft, I., 512.)
Among the Comanches "the women do all the menial work." The husband
has the pleasant excitement of killing the game, while the women do
the hard work even here: "they butcher and transport the meat, dress
the skins, etc." "The females are abused and often beaten
unmercifully." (Schoolcraft, I., 236, V., 684.) The Moquis squaws were
exempt from field labor not from chivalrous feelings but because the
men feared amorous intrigues. (Waitz, IV., 209.) A Snake, Lewis and
Clarke found (308),

"would consider himself degraded by being compelled to
walk any distance; and were he so poor as to possess
only two horses, he would ride the best of them, and
leave the other for his wives and children and their
baggage; and if he has too many wives or too much
baggage for the horse, the wives have no alternative
but to follow him on foot."

Turning to the great Dakota or Sioux stock, we run against one of the
most naive of the sentimentalists, Catlin, who perpetrated several
books on the Indians and made many "fearless" assertions about the red
men in general and the Mandans in particular. G.E. Ellis, in his book,
_The Red Man and the While Man_ (101), justly observes of Catlin that
"he writes more like a child than a well-balanced man," and Mitchell
(in Schoolcraft, III., 254) declares that much of what Catlin wrote
regarding the Mandans existed "entirely in the fertile imagination of
that gentleman," Yet this does not prevent eminent anthropologists
like Westermarck (359) from soberly quoting Catlin's declaration that
"it would be untrue and doing injustice to the Indians, to say that
they were in the least behind us in conjugal, in filial, and in
paternal affection" (_L.N.N.A.I._, I., 121). There is only one way of
gauging a man's affection, and that is by his actions. Now how,
according to Catlin himself, does an Indian act toward his wife? Even
among the Mandans, so superior to the other Indians he visited, he
found that the women, however attractive or hungry they might be,

"are not allowed to sit in the same group with the men
while at their meals. So far as I have yet travelled in
the Indian country I have never seen an Indian woman
eating with her husband. Men form the first group at
the banquet, and _women and children and dogs_ all come
together at the next."

Men first, women and dogs next--yet they are "not in the least behind
us in conjugal affection!" With his childish disregard of logic and
lack of a sense of humor Catlin goes on to tell us that Mandan women
lose their beauty soon because of their early marriages and "the
slavish life they lead." In many cases, he adds, the inclinations of
the girl are not considered in marriage, _the father selling her to
the highest bidder_.

Mandan conjugal affection, "just like ours," is further manifested by
the custom, previously referred to, which obliges mourning women to
crop off all their hair, while of a man's locks, which "are of much
greater importance," only one or two can be spared. (Catlin, _l.c._,
I., 95, 119, 121; II., 123.) An amusing illustration of the Mandan's
supercilious contempt for women, also by Catlin, will be given

The Sioux tribes in general have always been notorious for the brutal
treatment of their women. Mrs. Eastman, who wrote a book on their
customs, once received an offer of marriage from a chief who had a
habit of expending all his surplus bad temper upon his wives. He had
three of them, but was willing to give them all up if she would live
with him. She refused, as she "did not fancy having her head split
open every few days with a stick of wood." G.P. Belden, who also knew
the Sioux thoroughly, having lived among them twelve years, wrote
(270, 303-5) that "the days of her childhood are the only happy or
pleasant days the Indian girl ever knows." "From the day of her
marriage [in which she has no choice] until her death she leads a most
wretched life." The women are "the servants of servants." "On a winter
day the Sioux mother is often obliged to travel eight or ten miles and
carry her lodge, camp-kettle, ax, child, and several small dogs on her
back and head." She has to build the camp, cook, take care of the
children, and even of the pony on which her lazy and selfish husband
has ridden while she tramped along with all those burdens. "So severe
is their treatment of women, a happy female face is hardly ever seen
in the Sioux nation." Many become callous, and take a beating much as
a horse or ox does. "Suicide is very common among Indian women, and,
considering the treatment they receive, it is a wonder there is not
more of it."[214]

Burton attests (_C.S._, 125, 130, 60) that "the squaw is a mere slave,
living a life of utter drudgery." The husbands "care little for their
wives." "The drudgery of the tent and field renders the squaw cold and
unimpassioned." "The son is taught to make his mother toil for him."
"One can hardly expect a smiling countenance from the human biped
trudging ten or twenty miles under a load fit for a mule." "Dacotah
females," writes Neill (82, 85),

"deserve the sympathy of every tender heart. From early
childhood they lead worse than a dog's life.
Uncultivated and treated like brutes, they are prone to
suicide, and, when desperate, they act more like
infuriated beasts than creatures of reason."

Of the Crow branch of the Dakotas, Catlin wrote:[215] "They are,
_like all other Indian women, the slaves of their husbands_ ... and
not allowed to join in their religious rites and ceremonies, nor in
the dance or other amusements." All of which is delightfully
consistent with this writer's assertion that the Indians are "not in
the least behind us in conjugal affection."[216]

In his _Travels Through the Northwest Regions of the United States_
Schoolcraft thus sums up (231) his observations:

"Of the state of female society among the Northern Indians I
shall say little, because on a review of it I find very
little to admire, either in their collective morality, or
personal endowments.... Doomed to drudgery and hardships
from infancy ... without either mental resources or personal
beauty--what can be said in favor of the Indian women?"

A French author, Eugene A. Vail, writes an interesting summary
(207-14) of the realistic descriptions given by older writers of the
brutal treatment to which the women of the Northern Indians were
subjected. He refers, among other things, to the efforts made by
Governor Cass, of Michigan, to induce the Indians to treat their women
more humanely; but all persuasion was in vain, and the governor
finally had to resort to punishment. He also refers to the selfish
ingenuity with which the men succeeded in persuading the foolish
squaws that it would be a disgrace for their lords and masters to do
any work, and that polygamy was a desirable thing. The men took as
many wives as they pleased, and if one of them remonstrated against a
new rival, she received a sound thrashing.

In Franklin's _Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea_ we are informed
(160) that the women are obliged to drag the heavily laden sledges:

"Nothing can more shock the feelings of a person
accustomed to civilized life than to witness the state
of their degradation. When a party is on a march the
women have to drag the tent, the meat, and whatever the
hunter possesses, whilst he only carries his gun and
medicine case."

When the men have killed any large beast, says Hearne (90), the women
are always sent to carry it to the tent. They have to prepare and cook

"and when it is done the wives and daughters of the
greatest captains in the country are never served till
all the males, even those who are in the capacity of
servants, have eaten what they think proper."

Of the Chippewas, Keating says (II., 153), that "frequently ... their
brutal conduct to their wives produces abortions."

A friend of the Blackfoot Indians, G.B. Grinnell, relates (184, 216)
that, while boys play and do as they please, a girl's duties begin at
an early age, and she soon does all a woman's "and so menial" work.
Their fathers select husbands for them and, if they disobey, have a
right to beat or even kill them. "As a consequence of this severity,
suicide was quite common among the Blackfoot girls."

A passage in William Wood's _New England Prospect_, published in
1634,[217] throws light on the aboriginal condition of Indian women in
that region. Wood refers to "the customarie churlishnesse and salvage
inhumanitie" of the men. The Indian women, he says, are

"more loving, pittiful and modest, milde, provident,
and laborious than their lazie husbands.... Since the
_English_ arrivall comparison hath made them miserable,
for seeing the kind usage of the _English_ to their
wives, they doe as much condemne their husbands for
unkindnesse and commend the _English_ for love, as
their husbands, commending themselves for their wit in
keeping their wives industrious, doe condemn the
_English_ for their folly in spoiling good working

Concerning the intelligent, widely scattered, and numerous Iroquois,
Morgan, who knew them more intimately than anyone else, wrote (322),
that "the Indian regarded woman as the inferior, the dependent, and
the servant of man, and, from nature and habit, she actually
considered herself to be so." "Adultery was punished by whipping; but
the punishment was inflicted on the woman alone, who was supposed to
be the only offender" (331). "Female life among the Hurons had no
bright side," wrote Parkman (_J.C._, XXXIII.). After marriage,

"the Huron woman from a wanton became a drudge ... in
the words of Champlain, 'their women were their mules.'
The natural result followed. In every Huron town were
shrivelled hags, hideous and despised, who, in
vindictiveness, ferocity, and cruelty, far exceeded the

The _Jesuit Relations_ contain many references to the merciless
treatment of their women by the Canadian Indians. "These poor women
are real pack-mules, enduring all hardships." "In the winter, when
they break camp, the women drag the heaviest loads over the snow; in
short, the men seem to have as their share only hunting, war, and
trading" (IV., 205). "The women here are mistresses and servants"
(Hurons, XV.). In volume III. of the _Jesuit Relations_ (101), Biard
writes under date of 1616:

"These poor creatures endure all the misfortunes and
hardships of life; they prepare and erect the houses,
or cabins, furnishing them with fire, wood, and water;
prepare the food, preserve the meat and other
provisions, that is, dry them in the smoke to preserve
them; go to bring the game from the place where it has
been killed; sew and repair the canoes, mend and stitch
the skins, curry them and make clothes and shoes of
them for the whole family; they go fishing and do the
rowing; in short, undertake all the work except that
alone of the grand chase, besides having the care and
so weakening nourishment of the children....

"Now these women, although they have so much trouble,
as I have said, yet are not cherished any more for it.
The husbands beat them unmercifully, and often for a
very slight cause. One day a certain Frenchman
undertook to rebuke a savage for this; the savage
answered, angrily: 'How now, have you nothing to do but
to see into my house, every time I strike my dog?'"

Surely Dr. Brinton erred grievously when he wrote, in his otherwise
admirable book, _The American Race_ (49), that the fatigues of the
Indian women were scarce greater than those of their husbands, nor
their life more onerous than that of the peasant women of Europe
to-day. Peasants in Europe work quite as hard as their wives, whereas
the Indian--except during the delightful hunting period, or in
war-time, which, though frequent, was after all merely episodic--did
nothing at all, and considered labor a disgrace to a man, fit only for
women. The difference between the European peasant and the American
red man can be inferred by anyone from what observers reported of the
Creek Indians of our Southern States (Schoolcraft, V., 272-77):

"The summer season, with the men, is devoted to war, or
their domestic amusements of riding, horse-hunting,
ball-plays, and dancing, and by the women to their
customary hard labor."

"The women perform all the labor, both in the house and
field, and are, in fact, but slaves to the men, without
any will of their own, except in the management of the

"A stranger going into the country must feel distressed
when he sees naked women bringing in huge burdens of
wood on their shoulders, or, bent under the scorching
sun, at hard labor in the field, while the indolent,
robust young men are riding about, or stretched at ease
on some scaffold, amusing themselves with a pipe or a

The excesses to which bias and unintelligent philanthropy can lead a
man are lamentably illustrated in the writings of the Moravian
missionary, Heckewelder, regarding the Delaware Indians.[218] He
argues that

"as women are not obliged to live with their husbands
any longer than suits their pleasure or convenience, it
cannot be supposed that they would submit to be loaded
with unjust or unequal burdens" (!) "Were a man to take
upon himself a part of his wife's duty, in addition to
his own [hunting (!), for the Delawares were then a
peaceful tribe], he must necessarily sink under the
load, and of course his family must suffer with him."

The heartless sophistry of this reasoning--heartless because of its
pitiless disregard of the burdens and sufferings of the poor women--is
exposed in part by his own admissions regarding the selfish actions of
the men. He does not deny that after the women have harvested their
corn or maple sugar the men arrogate the right to dispose of it as
they please. He relates that in case of a domestic quarrel the husband
shoulders his gun and goes away a week or so. The neighbors naturally
say that his wife is quarrelsome. All the odium consequently falls on
her, and when he gets back she is only too willing to drudge for him
more than ever. Heckewelder naively gives the Indian's recipe for
getting a useful wife:

"Indian, when he see industrious squaw, which he like,
he go to _him_ [her], place his two forefingers close
aside each other, make two look like one--see _him_
[her] smile--which is all _he_ [she] say, _yes!_ so he
take _him_ [her] home. Squaw know too well what Indian
do if _he_ [she] cross! Throw _him_ [her] away and take
another! Squaw love to eat meat! no husband! no meat!
Squaw do everything to please husband! he do same to
please squaw [??]! live happy."

When that Indian said "he do the same to please the squaw," he must
have chuckled at his own sarcasm. Heckewelder does, indeed, mention a
few instances of kindness to a wife _(e.g._, going a great distance to
get some berries which she, in a pregnant state, eagerly desired;) but
these were obviously exceptional, as I have found nothing like them in
other records of Indian life. It must be remembered that, as Roosevelt
remarks (97) these Indians, under the influence of the Moravian
missionaries, had been

"transformed in one generation from a restless, idle,
blood-thirsty people of hunters arid fishers into an
orderly, thrifty, industrious folk; believing with all their
hearts the Christian religion."

It was impossible, however, to drive out the devil entirely, as the
facts cited show, and as we may infer from what, according to Loskiel,
was true a century ago of the Delawares as well as the Iroquois:
"Often it happens that an Indian deserts his wife because she has a
child to suckle, and marries another whom he presently abandons for
the same reason." In this respect, however, the women are not much
better than the men, for, as he adds, they often desert a husband who
has no more presents to give them, and go with another who has. Truly
Catlin was right when he said that the Indians (and these were the
best of them) were "not in the least behind us in conjugal affection!"

Thus do even the apparent exceptions to Indian maltreatment of
women--which exceptions are constantly cited as illustrations of the
rule--melt away like mists when sunlight is brought to bear upon them.
One more of these exceptions, of which sly sentimentalists have made
improper use, must be referred to here. It is maintained, on the
authority of Charlevoix, that the women of the Natchez Indians
asserted their rights and privileges even above those of the men, for
they were allowed to put unfaithful husbands to death while they
themselves could have as many paramours as they pleased. Moreover, the
husband had to stand in a respectful posture in the presence of his
wife, was not allowed to eat with her, and had to salute her in the
same way as the servants. This, truly, would be a remarkable
sociological fact--if it were a fact. But upon referring to the pages
of Charlevoix (264) we find that these statements, while perfectly
true, do not refer to the Natchez women in general, but only to the
princesses, or "female suns." These were allowed to marry none but
private men; but by way of compensation they had the right to discard
their husbands whenever they pleased and take another. The other women
had no more privileges than the squaws of other tribes; whenever a
chief saw a girl he liked he simply informed the relatives of the fact
and enrolled her among the number of his wives. Charlevoix adds that
he knew of no nation in America where the women were more unchaste.
The privileges conferred on the princesses thus appear like a coarse,
topsy-turvy joke, while affording one more instance of the lowest
degradation of woman.

Summing up the most ancient and trustworthy evidence regarding Mexico,
Bandelier writes (627):

"The position of women was so inferior, they were
regarded as so far beneath the male, that the most
degrading epithet that could be applied to any Mexican,
aside from calling him a dog, was that of woman."

If a woman presumed to don a man's dress her death alone could wipe
out the dishonor.


So much for the Indians of North America. The tribes of the southern
half of the continent would furnish quite as long and harrowing a tale
of masculine selfishness and brutality, but considerations of space
compel us to content ourselves with a few striking samples.

In the northern regions of South America historians say that "when a
tribe was preparing poison in time of war, its efficacy was tried upon
the old women of the tribe."[219]

"When we saw the Chaymas return in the evening from their gardens,"
writes Humboldt (I., 309),

"the man carried nothing but the knife or hatchet
(machete) with which he clears his way among the
underwood; whilst the woman, bending under a great load
of plantains, carried one child in her arms, and,
sometimes, two other children placed upon the load."

Schomburgk (II., 428) found that Caribbean women generally bore marks
of the brutal treatment to which they were subjected by the men. Brett
noted (27, 31) that among the Guiana tribes women had to do all the
work in field and home as well as on the march, while the men made
baskets, or lay indolently in hammocks until necessity compelled them
to go hunting or fishing. The men had succeeded so thoroughly in
creating a sentiment among the women that it was their duty to do all
the work, that when Brett once induced an Indian to take a heavy bunch
of plantains off his wife's head and carry it himself, the wife (slave
to the backbone) seemed hurt at what she deemed a degradation of her
husband. One of the most advanced races of South America were the
Abipones of Paraguay. While addicted to infanticide they, contrary to
the rule, were more apt to spare the female children; but their reason
for this was purely commercial. A son, they said, would be obliged to
purchase a wife, whereas daughters may be sold to a bridegroom
(Dobrizhoffer, II., 97). The same missionary relates (214) that boys
are laughed at, praised and rewarded for throwing bones, horns, etc.,
at their mothers.

"If their wives displease them, it is sufficient; they
are ordered to decamp.... Should the husband cast his
eyes upon any handsome woman the old wife must move
merely on this account, her fading form and advancing
age being her only accusers, though she may be
universally commended for conjugal fidelity, regularity
of conduct, diligent obedience, and the children she
has borne."

In Chili, among the Mapuches (Araucanians) the females, says Smith
(214), "do all the labor, from ploughing and cooking to the saddling
and unsaddling of a horse; for the 'lord and master' does nothing but
eat, sleep, and ride about." Of the Peruvian Indians the Jesuit Pater
W. Bayer (cited Reich, 444) wrote about the middle of the eighteenth
century that wives are treated as slaves and are so accustomed to
being regularly whipped that when the husband leaves them alone they
fear he is paying attention to another woman and beg him to resume his
beating. In Brazil, we are informed by Spix and Martins (I., 381),

"the women in general are slaves of the men, being
compelled when on the march to carry everything needed,
like beasts of burden; nay, they are even obliged to
bring home from the forest the game killed by the men."

Tschndi (_R.d.S.A._, 284, 274) saw the marks of violence on many of
the Botocudo women, and he says the men reserved for themselves the
beautiful plumes of birds, leaving to the women such ornaments as
pig's claws, berries, and monkey's teeth. A peculiar refinement of
selfishness is alluded to by Burton (_H.B._, II., 49):

"The Brazilian natives, to warm their naked bodies,
even in the wigwam, and to defend themselves against
wild beasts, used to make their women keep wood burning
all night."

Of the Patagonians Falkner says (125) that the women "are obliged
to submit to every species of drudgery." He gives a long list of their
duties (including even hunting) and adds:

"No excuse of sickness, or being big with child, will
relieve them from their appointed labor; and so rigidly
are they obliged to perform their duty, that their
husbands cannot help them on any occasion, or in the
greatest distress, without incurring the highest

Even the wives of the chiefs were obliged to drudge unless they had
slaves. At their marriages there is little ceremony, the bride being
simply handed over to the man as his property. The Fuegians, according
to Fitzroy, when reduced to a state of famine, became cannibals,
eating their old women first, before they kill their dogs. A boy being
asked why they did this, answered: "Doggie catch otters, old women
no." (Darwin, _V B._, 214.)

Thus, from the extreme north to the extreme south of the American
continent we find the "noble red man" consistent in at least one
thing--his maltreatment of women. How, in the face of these facts,
which might be multiplied indefinitely, a specialist like Horatio Hale
could write that there was among the Indians "complete equality of the
sexes in social estimation and influence," and that

"casual observers have been misled by the absence of
those artificial expressions of courtesy which have
descended to us from the time of chivalry, and which,
however gracious and pleasing to witness, are, after
all, merely signs of condescension and protection from
the strong to the weak"[220]

--surpasses all understanding. It is a shameful perversion of the
truth, as all the intelligent and unbiassed evidence of observers from
the earliest time proves.


Not content with maltreating their squaws, the Indians literally add
insult to injury by the low estimation in which they hold them. A few
sample illustrations must suffice to show how far that adoration which
a modern lover feels for women and for his sweetheart in particular is
beyond their mental horizon.

"The Indians," says Hunter (250), "regarding themselves as the lords
of the earth, look down upon the squaws as an inferior order of
beings," created to rear families and do all the drudgery; "and the
squaws, accustomed to such usage, cheerfully acquiesce in it as a
duty." The squaw is not esteemed for her own sake, but "in proportion
to the number of children she raises, particularly if they are males,
and prove brave warriors." Franklin says (287) that the Copper Indians
"hold women in the same low estimation as the Chippewayans do, looking
upon them as a kind of property which the stronger may take from the
weaker." He also speaks (157) "of the office of nurse, so degrading in
the eyes of a Chippewayan, as partaking of the duties of a woman."
"The manner of the Indian boy toward his mother," writes Willoughby
(274), "is almost uniformly disrespectful;" while the adults consider
it a disgrace to do a woman's work--that is, practically any work at
all; for hunting is not regarded as work, but is indulged in for the
sport and excitement. In the preface to Mrs. Eastman's book on the
Dakotas we read:

"The peculiar sorrows of the Sioux woman commence at
her birth. Even as a child she is despised, in
comparison with her brother beside her, who is one day
to be a great warrior."

"Almost everything that a man owns is sacred," says Neill (86), "but
nothing that the woman possesses is so esteemed." The most insulting
epithets that can be bestowed on a Sioux are coward, dog, woman. Among
the Creeks, "old woman" is the greatest term of reproach which can be
used to those not distinguished by war names. You may call an Indian a
liar without arousing his anger, but to call him a woman is to bring
on a quarrel at once. (Schoolcraft, V., 280.) If the Natchez have a
prisoner who winces under torture he is turned over to the women as
being unworthy to die by the hands of men. (Charlevoix, 207.) In many
cases boys are deliberately taught to despise their mothers as their
inferiors. Blackfeet men mourn for the loss of a man by scarifying
their legs; but if the deceased is only a woman, this is never done.
(Grinnell, 194.) Among all the tribes the men look on manual work as a
degradation, fit only for women. The Abipones think it beneath a man
to take any part in female quarrels, and this too is a general trait.
(Dobrizhoffer, II., 155.)[221] Mrs. Eastman relates (XVII.) that

"among the Dakotas the men think it undignified for
them to steal, so they send their wives thus unlawfully
to procure what they want--and woe be to them if they
are found out."

Horse-stealing alone is considered worthy of superior man. But the
most eloquent testimony to the Indian's utter contempt for woman is
contributed in an unguarded moment by his most ardent champion. Catlin
relates (_N.A.I._, I., 226) how he at one time undertook to paint the
portraits of the chiefs and such of the warriors as the chiefs deemed
worthy of such an honor. All was well until, after doing the men, he
proposed also to paint the pictures of some of the squaws:

"I at once got myself into a serious perplexity, being
heartily laughed at by the whole tribe, both by men and
by women, for my exceeding and (to them) unaccountable
condescension in seriously proposing to paint a woman,
conferring on her the same honor that I had done the
chiefs and braves. Those whom I had honored were
laughed at by the hundreds of the jealous, who had been
decided unworthy the distinction, and were now amusing
themselves with the _very enviable honor_ which the
_great white medicine man_ had conferred _especially_
on them, and was now to confer equally upon the


It might be inferred _a priori_ that savages who despise and abuse
their women as the Indians do would not allow girls to choose their
own husbands except in cases where no selfish reason existed to force
them to marry the choice of their parents. This inference is borne out
by the facts. Westermarck, indeed, remarks (215) that "among the
Indians of North America, numberless instances are given of woman's
liberty to choose her husband." But of the dozen or so cases he cites,
several rest on unreliable evidence, some have nothing to do with the
question at issue,[222] and others prove exactly the contrary of what
he asserts; while, _more suo_, he placidly ignores the mass of facts
which disprove his assertion that "women are not, as a rule, married
without having any voice of their own in the matter." There are, no
doubt, some tribes who allow their women more or less freedom. Apache
courtship appears to be carried on in two ways, in each of which the
girl has the power to refuse. In both cases the proposal is made by
pantomime, without a word being spoken. According to Cremony (245).
the lover stakes his horse in front of the girl's "roost." Should she
favor his suit, she takes his horse, gives it food and water, and
secures it in front of his lodge. Four days comprise the term allowed
for an answer. Dr. J.W. Hoffman relates[223] that a Coyotero Apache,
having selected the girl he wants, watches to find out the trail she
is apt to frequent when she goes to pick berries or grass seed. Having
discovered it, he places a row of stones on both sides of it for a
distance of ten or fifteen paces:

"He then allows himself to be seen by the maiden before
she leaves camp, and running ahead, hides himself in
the immediate vicinity of the row of stones. If she
avoids them by passing to the outside, it is a refusal,
but should she continue on her trail, and pass between
the two rows, he immediately rushes out, catches her
and ... carries her triumphantly to camp."

Lewis and Clarke relate (441) that among the Chinooks the women "have
a rank and influence very rarely found among Indians." They are
allowed to speak freely before the men, their advice is asked, and the
men do not make drudges of them. The reason for this may be found in a
sentence from Ross's book on Oregon (90): "Slaves do all the laborious
work." Among such Indians one might expect that girls would have their
inclinations consulted when it came to choosing a husband. In the
twelfth chapter of his _Wa-Kee-Nah_, James C. Strong gives a graphic
description of a bridal chase which he once witnessed among the
Mountain Chinooks. A chief had an attractive daughter who was desired
by four braves. The parents, having no special choice in the matter,
decided that there should be a race on horseback, the girl being the
winner's prize. But if the parents had no preference, the girl had;
she indulged in various ingenious manoeuvres to make it possible for
the Indian on the bay horse to overtake her first. He succeeded, put
his arm round her waist, lifted her from her horse to his own, and
married her the next day.

Here the girl had her way, and yet it was only by accident, for while
she had a preference, she had no liberty of choice. It was the parents
who ordered the bridal race, and, had another won it, she would have
been his. It is indeed difficult to find real instances of liberty of
choice where the daughter's desire conflicted with the wishes of the
parents or other relatives. Westermarck claims that the Creeks
endeavored to gain the girl's consent, but no such fact can be
gathered from the passage he refers to (Schoolcraft, V., 269).
Moreover, among the Creeks, unrestrained license prevailed before
marriage, and marriage was considered only as a temporary convenience,
not binding on the party more than a year; and finally, Creeks who
wanted to marry had to gain the consent of the young woman's uncles,
aunts, and brothers. Westermarck also says that among the Thlinkets
the suitor had to consult the wishes of the "young lady;" yet on page
511 he tells us that among these Indians, "when a husband dies, his
sister's son _must_ marry the widow." It does not seem likely that
where even widows are treated so unceremoniously, any deference is

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