Yuchi Rite of the Emetic

Now that the sun was about at the zenith and the medicines had been steeping in the sun long enough, it was time for the men to take the emetic in accordance with the instructions of the mythical Sun deity who declared that, as long as he rose from the east and beheld his people taking the sacred emetic, he would continue their tribal existence.

The first to take the emetic were the town chief and the three other square-ground Chiefs. (See Plate XV, 1.) They were followed by the four square-ground Warriors. Then four more Chiefs and four more Warriors took theirs. They dipped up the medicine with cups, two dipping from each pot. They always walked around the north side of the fire in approaching the pots. Nearly a quart was drunk by each individual. After the first drink the men returned to their respective lodges of rank, and the four Chiefs led again for a second drink in the same order as before. The town chief after this started toward the open space north of the square followed by the rest of the townsmen from the square, and there in the field copious quantities of the medicine were thrown up aided by fingers or weeds. (See Plate XV, 2, also diagram of square.)

After a short interval, when all had taken their places in the square again, the emetic was taken by the four yatcigi’ in the same manner as their predecessors. When they had furnished great relief was manifest throughout the camp, as the ordeal was practically over, and everything so far had gone on all right.

The second chief then led all the men in single file eastward toward the running water, where their paint was washed off and their hands also cleansed. The town chief, however, kept his place at the square, and on the forelog of the west arbor put four ears of green com. When the procession from the creek returned, all passed before these ears and rubbed their hands over them and then over their faces. All then seated themselves in the proper lodges. Some cobs of last year’s corn were thrown in the fire as incense, the act symbolizing the passing out of use of the old crop.

Tobacco was then passed around and they smoked. The town chief made a short speech relative to their fidelity, to the ritual and the successful termination of the ceremonies. He invited them to take their fill of food and reminded them of the forgiveness due to petty offenders during the past season. Hearty approbation was manifested toward his remarks. When he took his seat and a few moments were passed in general deliberation, the food was distributed among those in the lodges and general feasting ensued.

The post at the southeast comer of the square was then taken down in attestation of the close of the taboo against aliens on the public square.

After eating, the next duty was to proceed to the nearest timber, where every man secured a branch of wood which he carried to a pile near the square. As he threw down his contribution, each gave a loud shout. This wood was destined for consumption that night when the dances were to be performed. The duties of the ceremonial officers were now over.

Now that the ceremony was over for the time, the participants dispersed to their respective camps and enjoyed a period of social intercourse and rest. After some hours of rest a ball game was arranged by the elders for the young boys, for the purpose of giving them practice. By the middle of the afternoon, sides were chosen among the young men for the more serious game, which was played for several hours. Captains for the opposite sides were picked from among the best players. A ceremonial sentiment under-laid the game, as no betting was indulged in this time.

By evening, when all had partaken of food and gotten a little rest, the fire was replenished and men and women assembled in the lodges as on the preceding night. The dancing was to continue all night, and a great number of the dances were to be celebrated. The general spirit of the gathering had then lost its severity and restraint. Laxity prevailed in every respect, together with some debauchery and licensed immorality which were treated with remarkable toleration by parents and elders.


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