Collection: Archives Of Aboriginal Knowledge

Mace or War Club

There is no instance, it is believed, among the North American Indians, in which the war-club employed by them is made of a straight piece, or has not a recurved head. Generally, this implement consists of a shaft of heavy wood, such as the rock maple, with a ball carved at one side of the head, much in the manner of the South Sea Islander, or Polynesian war-clubs. Such is the Pug-ga-ma-gun of the Algonquins. It differs from the Polynesian club, chiefly in its possessing a tabular shaft, and in its less elaborate style of carving. Clubs exhibited at the

Indian Arrowheads - Plate 18

Indian Arrowheads

A great variety of these ancient instruments was fabricated, according to the species of hunting, the size and ferocity of the animals pursued, and the ages of the persons using them. Boys were always furnished with small arrow-points, such as were expected to be spent against squirrels, or the lesser quadrupeds and birds. This was the second lesson in learning the art of hunting; the first consisted in using the blunt arrow or Beekwuk, 1This specimen is preserved in the cabinet of curiosities of Miss Crooks, of Dundas; to whose politeness I owe the favor of being permitted to copy

Indian Axe and Chisel - Plate 14

Indian Axe

Various stone implements of the antique period of the hunter occupancy of America, have received the name of “Indian Axe.” With what justice this term was applied, in relation to the use made of the European axe of iron, it is proposed to inquire. The ancient Indians, prior to the era of the discovery of America, had indeed no use for an axe, in the sense in which we apply the term now a days. Fire was the great agent they employed in felling trees and reducing their trunks to proper lengths. There was no cutting of trees. No stone

Antique Pipes - Plate 9

Indian Pipes

The American Indian takes a great pride in his pipe. There is nothing too precious for him to make it from. His best efforts in ancient sculpture were devoted to it. And there is nothing in his manners and customs more emphatically characteristic, than his habits of smoking. Smoking the leaves of the nicotiana was an ancient custom with the Indian tribes. Tobacco, which is improperly supposed to be an Asiatic plant, appears first to have been brought to England from the North American coasts by the ships of Sir Walter Raleigh, about 1588. Powhatan and his sylvan court smoked

Stone Pestle and Copper Chisel - Plate 21

Corn Pestle or Hand Bray Stone

The zea maize was cultivated by the Indian tribes of America throughout its whole extent. Cotton was raised by the Mexican and Peruvian tribes; but there is no instance on record in which the plant was cultivated by tribes living north of the Rio Grande del Norte. The Florida and Louisiana tribes raised a kind of melon, and per haps some minor vegetables; but the whole of the tribes situated in the Mississippi Valley, in Ohio, and the Lakes, reaching on both sides of the Alleghanies, quite to Massachusetts, and other parts of New England, cultivated Indian corn. It was

Medals and Gorgets - Plate 20

Indian Gorgets or Medals

Whether this was in ancient times merely an ornament, which any one might wear, or a badge of authority, it might be fruitless now to inquire. It is probable that the modern practice of conferring metallic medals on chiefs only, and of marking thereby their authority, was founded on an ancient practice of this kind existing in the original tribes. The ancient gorget or medal of the North American tribes, was formed of the inner and shining parts of large sea-shells. The instance figured in Plate 19, Figs. 3 and 4, was taken from one of the old ossuaries of Beverly,

Stone Block Prints

The Islanders of the Pacific Ocean fabricate a species of cloth, or habilimental tapestry, from the fibrous inner bark of certain trees. This bark is macerated, and extended into a comparatively thin surface by mallets of wood or stone. When the required degree of attenuation has been attained, the pieces are dyed, or colored with certain pigments, or vegetable concoctions, known to them. To impart regularity to the patterns, blocks or prints are applied. The coloring is wholly external; in no instance, of many specimens examined, does it extend through, or on both sides of the bark. A proof entirely

Rope Maker’s Reed

We can refer to no period of their traditions, when the Indian tribes were destitute of the art of making twine, and a small kind of rope. Although they had not the hemp plant, there were several species of shrubs spontaneously produced by the forest, from the inner bark of which they made these articles. They fabricated nets for fishing, which are referred to in their ancient oral tales. To tie sticks or bundles, is one of the oldest and simplest arts of mankind; and the verb to tie has, therefore, been selected by some philologists, as one of the

Amulets and Beads - Plate 25

Medaëka, or Amulets

Charms for preventing or curing disease, or for protection against necromancy, were the common resort of the Indians; and they are still worn among the remote and less enlightened tribes. These charms were of various kinds; they were generally from the animal or mineral kingdom, such as bone, horn, claws, shells, steatites, or other stone of the magnesian family. The Indian philosophy of medicine greatly favored this system of charms. A large part of their materia medica was subject to be applied through the instrumentality of amulets. They believed that the possession of certain articles about the person would render

Cooking Pot and Vase - Plate 22

Funeral Food Vase

The idea of placing food in or near the grave, to serve the departed spirit on its journey to the fancied land of rest in another world, is connected with the ancient belief in a duality of souls. This idea is shown to exist among the present tribes of the United States. 1Proceedings of the New York Historical Society. One of these souls is liberated at death, but the other is compelled to abide with the body; and it is to provide for this, that a dish or vase of food is deposited generally at this day, not in the