Blackfoot Oaths

The sun is called upon in the most solemn oaths. Thus, when women get into a dispute one may take the other by the chin and say “Now, we will talk to the sun. If what I say is not true, may I never live to put my foot into another snow,” etc. A man may appeal to the earth but more likely it is the sun, as, ” The sun hears me,” etc. Men usually make oaths over pipes. Thus, when a man tells an improbable story he may be asked if he will smoke upon its truth. This refers to the mode of making formal oaths. Often when laboring with a man to prevent him from taking the life of another, the head-men and relatives induce him to take an oath that he will not do the deed. A medicine man fills a pipe, paints the stem red and addresses the sun as to the purpose of the ceremony about to be per-formed; the one to take the oath then smokes the pipe which is considered most binding. The same method is often used in pledging a man to mend his evil ways.

There is another method – something like an ordeal. The point of a knife is held in the ashes at the fire and extended with the charge, “If you say what is true, touch the point of this knife with your finger.” The belief is that one will certainly be killed by a knife or other sharp instrument, if swearing falsely.


After we go live.

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