Blue Water Healthy Living

OTTISSIPPI: Chapter 14 Indian Culture And Lifeways, Part I – Hunting, Fishing, and War

By Cheryl Morgan


They find a rivulet – small creek – across a meadow and make banks and ramparts with trees, which they cut down with four great sharp teeth and drag them as they swim in the water. They arrange the trees they load themselves with grass and fat earth, which they transport upon their great tails and throw it between the wood as a skilled bricklayer does. They make banks 400 to 500 paces in length, 20 feet in width, and seven to eight feet thick. Their cottages are made by skill and strength with six posts exactly in the middle of the made lake. Upon these posts, they build their house in the form of an oven made up of fat earth, herbs, and branches of trees, having three stories that they may mount up from one to the other when the water rises by rain or thaw. 

Each beaver has an apartment to himself. They enter underwater through a hole in the first floor, which is encompassed with asp woodcut in pieces to easily drag it to their cells to eat. As their common food, they lay up great heaps of it during autumn, foreseeing the cold weather will freeze up their lakes and keep them shut up two to three months in their cabins. They have no predators, but men. Their sharp cutting teeth defend them, and they never go farther than 20 paces from the edge of their lake and always set sentinels to watch who cry out when they hear the least noise. 

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Of beavers: they have so much wit, capacity, and judgment. They join in a society, of a hundred; they seem to talk and reason with one another. The savages and Couriers De Bois say they have an intelligible jargon, whereof they communicate to one another, consulting about what they must do to maintain their cottages, banks, lakes and about everything that concerns them. 

You cannot go four to five leagues, three miles, in the woods of Canada but you meet a little beaver lake. All this vast continent is a country for beaver hunting.

About the end of autumn, the savages set out from their village in a canoe to go and post themselves in the place for hunting. They argue among themselves to allot each family certain grounds. Each fires his house in the middle of that ground. There are eight to ten hunters in each cottage who have four to five lakes for their share. They lay traps with bait for otter, fox, bears, land beavers, and martins, checking them every day. They are very just and do not go out of the bounds allotted them. 

They feed well and make merry during this hunting season of four months. They find their trout, hares, wood, fowl, bears, and deer and roebucks. 

They make a great hole under their banks and drain the water off, leaving the beaver on dry ground. All are killed except a dozen females and half a dozen males. The hole is made sure to fill up with water as before. In winter, nets are laid by the holes, and the kennels are laid open with an ax. They slaughter the beasts and stretch out their skins in the air or on the ice to dry them. This employment lasts until the great thaw, then they bundle their skins and carry them to the canoes” (Lahonton II, 1703).

“There are old bachelor beavers who live by themselves, build no houses, work at no dams, but live in holes. Traps of iron or logs are used to take these and baited with popular branches. The tail is a luxurious morsel” (Alexander Henry and Schoolcraft, Project Gutenberg, the American Indians).

“The winter was the time of beaver hunting; the furs were in their best condition, thick and glossy with new winter growth. Beaver skins were valuable for the trade and for clothing. They were used as money. The meat was eaten. Front paws and the tail were delicacies. 

Beavers are quite large: they are three feet long and weigh more than 70 pounds. They have a flat paddle-like tail and large front teeth. 

Beavers eat twigs, leaves, roots, stems, and bushes. 

They are capable of felling tall trees six inches in diameter in 15 minutes. They can remain underwater for 20 minutes. They are construction experts and create dams and homes from logs, branches, and mud. In winter, their coats are thick and glossy” (Eastman).

“There is a land beaver who makes a hole or den in the earth like a rabbit or fox and never go near the water but to drink. 

The beaver carries upon its tail the clay, earth, or other materials to make their banks and kennels or huts by a wonderful instinct. Its paws are three and a half inches long, formed much like a man’s hand. The five toes are joined like those of a duck, with a membrane. Its eyes are like a rat’s eyes. Before its muzzle are four teeth or cutters, two in each jaw and it has 16 grinders. The cutters are above an inch long, ½ a half-inch broad, very strong and sharp like a cutlass and cuts down trees as big as a hogshead. A beaver has two layers of hair: one is long and of a shining black color, with grain as big as that of a man’s hair, the other is fine and smooth and, in the winter, very long. In a word, the finest down in the world. But the price varies according to goodness. In winter and autumn, the flesh of a beaver eats very well if it is roasted. 

There are white beavers, but they are very scarce. 

The most valued are the fat winter beavers, called Muscovy beavers. They are made into robes by the savages and worn long enough to be thoroughly greased by contact with their bodies” (Lahonton,
“Travels through Louisiana”). 

“There were giant beavers at 2.5 meters length and weight of 100 kilograms” (Canadian History, Open Text Books, Pays d’en Haut, www).


“The Michibichi is a sort of tyger. Only less than the common tyger, the puma, American tiger cat. 

The reddish bears are mischievous creatures, for they fall upon the huntsman, whereas the black ones fly from us.

The Natives hunt elk with dogs and sometimes beaver with dogs” (Lahonton).

Bears were fat in the fall before their hibernation. Their hides were used for robes and blankets. Bear grease had many uses for cooking and the skin. It was mixed with clay or dyes to be used as war paint. Colors and symbols told the story. Red was for life. Black for mourning. Generous use on the body kept the warrior warm and waterproof. 

Deer were caught by snares, shot with arrows, or driven into an enclosed area or into the water where they were easily killed by hunters waiting in canoes with axe or spear. Deadfall traps were used, swing door pits, fire enclosures, and other enclosures. 

Deadfall and nets were used to trap otter, muskrats, and mink. 

“Buffalo – pisikious – had been in the area prior to 1800. Called oxen or wild cattle by the French. 

Sibola or cibola (was the) Spanish name for buffalo” (Kellogg).

“Moose the French called la biche. They love to eat succulent water plants; they are found in swampy areas of which we had many. Moose were also called eland and oriniack” (Kellogg).

Wildcats, lynx, panthers, and bobcats were native to the Bluewater area of East Michigan. Harts were the common deer. 

Elk – wapiti (Cervus Canadensis) – were once plentiful. 

Fishers – Fisher Cat – though not a feline, are forest dwellers. Males weigh eight to thirteen pounds and are 35 to 47 inches long, females four to six pounds and 30 to 37 inches. It feeds on small animals, fruits, nuts, mast, birds, and fungi. It is a member of the weasel family. 

Coyote – their howling was always a scary thought. Foxes were grey and red. Mink and ermine are found along the water’s edge. 

A muskrat was often passed off as a young beaver; they are two to five pounds and 20 inches long. They make holes in banks or make a dome house of mud and plant materials. They eat cattail and other aquatic plants, fish, and clams. 

River otters grow up to four feet long; they weigh over 30 pounds at maturity. Porcupine quills were much used for decoration of textiles and moccasins. Raccoons are mostly out at night. Wolves were plenteous and a nuisance. 


“Women were in the winter camp. There was much work to do tanning skins, drying meat, preparing meals, making and repairing clothing. Children helped in many ways. They hauled wood, scraped hides, brought water from the creek. 

Every nation is perfectly well-acquainted with the boundary of their own country. At the age of 15, they begin to bear arms and lay them down at 50. 

Each village has its Great Head of Warriors – Ogitchidaw – who by valor, capacity, and experience is proclaimed such by unanimous consent. This title invests him with no power over the warrior. These people are strangers to military, as well as civil subordination. Though invested with power and authority, yet they acquiesce entirely, doing what he proposes. There are other leaders that head a certain number of warriors who follow them out of friendship and respect. 

The war party meets for ceremonies addressing “The Great Spirit”, sacrificing, singing, and feasting until they march. Each man carries Indian corn in a bag of 10 pounds weight; they feed each man on this mixed with a little water without boiling. They march one after another; the last takes care to throw the ground with leaves to cover their footsteps. 

They run all night and, in the day, lay upon their bellies in the copses and thickets. These warriors show no mercy – not to women and children. There is refuge taken in the little French forts. There are some of the defeated parties who choose rather kill themselves than to be taken, prisoner. As soon as a savage is fettered, he sings his death song (Lahonton, II, 1703).

Captives are called Panis or Pawnee. Some are kept as slaves, some tortured to death in horrible ways.


My friends, when my spirit is fled – is fled
Ah, put me not bound in the dark and cold ground
Where light shall no longer be shed – be shed
But lay me up, scaffolded high – all high
Where my tribe shall say, as they point to my clay,
He never from foe sought to fly – to fly
He never from foe sought to fly. 
And children who play on the shore – the shore
And children who play on the shore
As the War Dance they beat, my name shall repeat,
And the fate of their Chieftain Deplore – Deplore
And the fate of their Chieftain Deplore.

This death song was shared by Ed Baldwin, friend and speaker, near Lansing, Michigan. He loves to research and share Indian artifacts and history. 


“To the Indian, it was deeds that counted, not conquest and annihilation. To strike an enemy with the hand, or an object held in the hand, was one of his greatest achievements. 

The war club, or tomahawk, was a symbol of bravery and personal hand-to-hand combat. Those Natives who served in the U.S. armed forces were denied admission to the Old Time Warriors Club, the reason being the White man’s war is just shooting, and there was no chance to be close to the enemy and earn real honors” (Richard A. Pohrt, Michigan Archaeologist, vol. 3, #2, 6 – 15 – 1957).

Getting close enough to touch an enemy without harming, touching a live enemy and getting away unharmed, this was counting coup. The warrior earned an eagle feather for this brave act. 

Bravery was a high moral virtue, absolute self-control. The truly brave man yields neither to fear nor anger, desires nor agony. He is at all times master of himself. 

“Let neither cold, hunger, pain, fear of them, nor danger, nor death itself prevent you from doing a good deed,” said an old chief to a scout sent out to relieve a starving people. 

The slayer of a man in battle mourned 30 days, blackening his face and loosening his hair. A sign of reverence for the departed spirit. It was no sin to take the life of an enemy. The killing of women and children, without a husband or protector, was a pitiable case. The warrior’s spirit was content if no  widow or orphan was left to suffer, want, and weep.

Wanton cruelties, and more barbarous customs of war, greatly increased by the coming of the White man. Fiery liquid and deadly weapons aroused the Indians’ worst, provoking revenge and cupidity – greed and bounties for scalps of the innocent men, women and children. 

The boys at seven years old were taught by the men to fish and hunt. 

The men had tool factories and workshops. 

Bows are made of many types of wood: ironwood, red cedar, or hickory were the best choices, along with bone, etc. 

Arrowheads are made of quartz, flint, chert, and other types of stone of an imperishable nature. Bone, copper, and other metals were also used. Flint is of many colors: white, black, red, and mottled. The shaft is made from wild rose and other long strait wood types. Heat and bear grease are used to straighten it, the head is split, the arrowhead inserted into the shaft and tied on with leather.  

The ammunition was hidden away for future use in cache holes. Slings with stones were also used. 

Shields were made of wood covered with moose or deer hide. The shields were often decorated and used to ward off arrows in war. 

In Charles Eastman’s book, Indian Boyhood, he talks about “buffalo skin boats as round as tubs”. 

Charles Eastman

Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa), born in Minnesota in 1858, lived on Lake Huron in Canada at Desdarats. He died in Detroit, Michigan, where his son lived. He is buried there in Evergreen Cemetery. His grave was unmarked until 1984. Raymond Wilson and the Dartmouth Club Indian University placed the stone there. 

“Ohiyesa”, his mother and father believed dead at Wounded Knee, was raised in Canada by an uncle and went to Dartmouth College in New York. He was the first Indian writer to write from an Indian perspective. A teacher, writer, and physician for the government at Wounded Knee in Dakota, he wrote for Boy’s Life, the magazine of the Boy Scouts of America. He gave Scout Talks at his camp to teach boys about Native American ways. He wrote the Boy Scout Guide, teaching wilderness survival. In 1925, he became the U.S. government Indian inspector of Indian reservations. He made two trips to England to speak to their people about Indians. 

Charles Eastman was an educated man; he went East for his college education and became a medical doctor, a full-blooded Sioux. He was a wonderful man who, with his Scout Talks, was an inspiration and a founder of The Boy Scouts, teaching the Native American lifeways to many. He was also an early worker who helped establish the YMCA. He has written several superior books on Indian culture. Indian Boyhood (1902) is especially fitting for this section on hunting. The following are from his work. 

“In hunting songs, the animals are introduced; they come to offer their bodies for the sustenance of his tribe. 

The side of the tree with lighter colored bark and most regular branches is the South. It is also, more rough and not weathered. 

The leaves of trees are more vertical on the North side, reaching for the light. Moss color and thickness also tells the secret of the North side. 

Know exactly where you are before starting out. Look for natural landmarks, check the wind. 

The Big Dipper handle points West and North in summer. The Milky Way lies North and South. 

Never approach a grizzly’s den from the front; go behind and throw your blanket or a stone in front of the hole. He comes out and sits before any attack; aim at his heart then. Taught to outwit savage beasts. 

Most large game moves continually about, except the doe in spring. Call with a birchen doe caller. Be very watchful; a large wildcat understands the call of the doe perfectly well. If you are not equipped for a pitched battle, the only way to make him retreat is to take a long sharp-pointed pole for a spear and rush toward him. No wild beast will face this, unless he is cornered and already wounded. The fierce beasts are generally afraid of the common weapon of the larger animals – the horns, long and sharp – they dare not risk an open fight. There is one exception: the grey wolf will attack fiercely when hungry. But their courage depends upon their numbers; they will stampede a herd of buffalo to get the calves or rush upon a herd of antelope, but they are always careful about attacking a man. 

Young men are expected to endure hardship without complaint and must be an athlete used to undergoing all sorts of privations, able to go without food and water two to three days without displaying any weakness. Or run a day and night without any rest. Traverse a pathless and wild country without losing his way, day or night. He must do these things if he aspires to be a warrior. Must fast all day and blacken our faces with charcoal. 

A sudden war-whoop over my head in the morning, sound asleep, I am expected to leap up with perfect presence of mind. Always ready to grasp a weapon and give a shrill whoop in reply or shoot off his gun, giving blood-curdling yells. I became used to this. I wished to be a brave man, as much as a White boy desires to be a great lawyer or president. 

Our manners and morals were not neglected. Adults were respected; we were not allowed to speak in their presence.

We were taught to be strong of heart, be patient. No tobacco use, in any form until a warrior of record. 

A wife before 22 or 23 years and a brave man was sneered at; he must also be a skillful hunter. He cannot be a good husband unless he brings home plenty of game. 

Boys were a prince of the wilderness with little work to do but practice simple arts in warfare and the chase. He was master of his time, games and plays, keen competition; he strove to excel all others, practicing what we expected to do when grown up. Feats of bow and arrow, foot and pony races, wrestling, swimming, imitation of our fathers, customs, and habits. We enjoyed our sports to the fullest extent molded by the life and customs of our people. A precarious life, full of dreadful catastrophes. 

A born hunter with an inborn depth of native caution, noiseless like a cat, scanned every object, the hunting instinct to chase and kill. Bow, arrow, knife, hatchet of bone, or sharp stones were used to kill small birds, rabbits, squirrel, and grouse. 

Boys would imitate calls with or without birch bark, horn or other adjunct. They would offer food and rove in their domain without doing them harm. 

A slingshot and bow and arrow were the favorite weapons. A leather pouch with a dozen small rounded stones, a buckskin thong 18 inches long with a piece of rawhide two inches square, was a long-distance gun. Boys learned to throw stones accurately by hand with coordination and strength. We hunted with stones. We would deceive by daubing our bodies with mud and lay motionless on the shore, using mudballs to only stun then quickly gather. 

Bows of four to five feet long were made from a modest young elm, oak, hickory, ash, dogwood, or ironwood, or elkhorn, sheep horn, and buffalo ribs worked to a perfect shape by steam. A boy’s ordinary bow was made from any kind of wood, a sapling to get elasticity. 

We would find new and strange things in the woods, examined for the slightest sign of life. Climb large trees, trapping, putting sharp burrs in the rabbit’s path. Nooses of twisted horse hair and slip knot on, limb down to the track. Chipmunk hunt, imitate call with wild oat straws. We prepared meals of the game on a stick. A large tripe, washed and tied, suspended between four stakes, filled with cold water; meat is boiled by adding red hot stones. 

A doe was called with a thin piece of birch bark between two flattened sticks. 

The sex of deer is determined by the footprint: the females is sharper and narrower, the male has rounded points to the hoofs, the toes widely spread – playing close run for life. At the end of the trail, they make two loops and conceal themselves to catch the pursuer or to escape. Displacement of leaves, grass, broken sticks, dew marks with the reflection of the sun all tell the direction. The Indian is a close reader of character with insight and great powers of observation.

‘The Stone Boy’ story: he was turned to stone; he abused his strength and destroyed for mere amusement the lives of creatures given to him for sustenance use only” (C. Eastman, Indian Boyhood, 1902).


“The eagle is the most war-like bird, the most Kingly, of all birds, his feathers, unlike any others. This is the reason why they are used to signify the deeds of bravery. 

For coup, the after stroke or touching of, after he has fallen is much more difficult to accomplish than shooting one from a distance (an enemy). It requires a strong heart to face the whole body of the enemy in order to count, the coup on the fallen one who lies under the cover of his kinsman’s fire. When a warrior approaches his foe, dead or alive, he calls upon the other warriors to witness. Upon return, the heralds announce all deeds of valor which then become a part of the man’s war record. Any brave who wears the eagle feathers must give proof of his right to do so. Wounded in some battle, he counted his coup, he wears the feather hanging downward. When wounded but no count, he trims his feather, and it need not be an eagle feather. All other feathers are merely ornamental.

A feather with a round mark means he slew his enemy. When the mark is cut into the feather and painted red, it meant he took a scalp. 

A brave successful in 10 battles are entitled to a war bonnet and if a recognized leader, he was allowed to wear one with long trailing plumes. The Plains Indians wore bonnets, the Woodland Indians did not.

Those who counted many coups may tip the ends of the feathers with bits of white or colored down. Sometimes the eagle feather is tipped with a strip of weasel skin; this means the wearer had the honor of killing, scalping, and counting the first coup upon the enemy all at the same time. 

All feathers worn by common Indians mean nothing; they have never gone on the warpath, they may wear any other kind of feather but not an eagle’s. Sometimes one is worn of a great occasion by the child of a noted man to indicate the father’s dignity and position” (C. Eastman).

“Dogs are taken hunting; every man had a dog. The dogs’ barking scared bear or wolf away. They also helped in the hunt. 

Only old Medicine Men wear bear claws regularly. The son of a great warrior who kills a grizzly may wear them upon a public occasion. It is always better to earn them yourself. 

White ermine was given for all achievements at home and at war. Buffalo hair trim, for taken many scalps. 

The buffalo tail was only used on the pole of the chief. No one else may do so without the authority of the tribe. 

The highest degree conferred only on men tried, again and again, by every conceivable ordeal. Heroism is common; the universal spirit of gallantry and chivalry requires it. 

The honors were shared with the war horse; the horse wears the eagle plume in its forelock as proudly as his master, the tail and mane trimmed and dyed according to the rider’s war record, or to mourn by having it cut quite short. 

Sometimes a long pipe or war club is adorned with honors. 

A man may wear none, not awarded in council of his tribe” (Eastman).

“There are two kinds of scouts: hunting scouts and war scouts. Scouts were much in demand for the White man, their tracking skills legendary, their mapping skills unparalleled. 

The person of an envoy, currier, or messenger was sacred among the Indian tribes. To maltreat one was the worst possible of insults.

Snares were used in hunting. This allowed men to be in several places at the same time. A snare was made of long fibrous basswood or nettle fiber or other materials. It was placed along paths used by the animals. When the animal came along and was caught in the snare, it quickly tightened the snare as it struggled to be free. Calls were used for hunting; the voice, twigs, grass, etc. were used to make calls. 

Women and children used snares near camp to catch rabbits for meat. The snares were checked daily or frequently for the catch. 

The men in canoes, by torchlight, hunted deer along the shore of the lake. 

The animals were considered people in those days. The Indians always made an offering to the Great Spirit for taking their sustenance. They asked forgiveness of the animal. 

Indians traded with the animals; finding their cache of nuts stored for winter would replace what they took with other food for the animals. The Indian knew he was only a part of the Great Spirit’s creation and had a reverence for all things. The animals were his brothers in creation.

A hunting bonfire was made, every man went out at daybreak. The first to return with a deer was to be envied. The deer was thrown down at the door of his wife’s mother’s home, according to custom. 

Hunting with snowshoes in the winter, sleds of buffalo ribs and hickory saplings, runners were bound with rawhide, hair side down. Used to haul game or furs back to camp.

We hunt and trap alone or with a companion, a knife, hatchet, bow, and arrows, maybe a canoe. Build a shelter of whatever material is most abundant. A lean-to is two trees close together with a pole in the forks. The poles were then covered with evergreen boughs or grass or rushes. Fire is the best protector. A wickiup is poles set in the ground with willow wands tying the tops. Any mat for covering, protection from the cold, wind, rain, a canoe to crawl under a great hollow tree. All trapped animals were cooked and eaten, except the marten. 

It takes a trained mind to reach the height and physical system of endurance, long building produces results. 

Conscious of his relations to all life. The spiritual world is real to him. The splendor of life stands out preeminently. Beyond all and in all dwells the Great Mystery, the Great Spirit, or Master of Life” (Eastman).

“They always ask for the pardon of an animal killed” (Schoolcraft, “Travels in Minnesota and Wisconsin”).

“Lichen and the inner bark of certain trees are famine foods; we familiarize ourselves with the edible roots, herbs, fruits, and fungi – mushrooms. Jerking meat in thin strips and drying on poles in the sun. Berries and wild fruits are easily dried for future use. 

For fires, cattail down, dry punk wood, shredded birch bark, or dry pine needles. A drill and bow. A spit to roast meat, planked, against a flat rock toward a hot fire. Tripe or rawhide to boil in, or case food in wet clay and bury deep in ashes or sand under a good fire. With birds, only wet the feathers before burying them; they are juicy and delicious under a black coat that peels off like the skin of an onion. 

Fish, potatoes, green fresh corn, shellfish – almost anything is done in two or three hours or leave all day if necessary without harm. 

A cache is well-hidden by building a fire over it or covering it with rocks, brush, dry leaves, or sand” (C. Eastman, Indian Boyhood).


“A blaze trail is made to the meat killed and hung up and a direct road home. A slash or mark three inches long and three feet from the ground is made on trees. At every turn, a sapling is felled at the same height as the blaze, the felled top pointing in the desired direction. 

Game trail blazes are smaller and five feet high on the tree and farther apart. At each turn, the jack is deeper on the left or right of the tree to give direction. 

A trapper trail is even higher on the tree, opposite the first trap, a double hack or twig clipped. Along the lakeshore or river, a stick marks traps, broken off two feet from the ground and bent over until it touches the water, for a trap in the water that cannot be reached onshore designates a birch bark twig trap in a hole.  

When hiking, a bunch of grass tied to a low branch on the right side of the road he takes. If off the path, a stick with a knot of grass on top is bending in the right direction. 

For ‘return and meet others’, break two opposite twigs toward one another. If ‘to camp’, he draws a circle on the ground. 

In a group of trees, a right-angled gash pointing straight to the next blaze. 

Above the blaze, two hacks and arrowhead mark – follow blaze 200 paces in direction of the arrow, then search for another mark. Diagonally arrow mark leads to the lake of camp. 

A small blaze and figure of an animal is for found game. 

Stone piles to give information, a pointing arrow in the direction with a trail of others behind the main pile. 

‘Enemy’ is made with a small stone on either side of a bigger control stone. 

An ‘obstacle’ is made with two stones in front of the control one. 

The stones are used again and again on the prairie-blazed trail” (C. Eastman, Indian Boyhood).  

“Being constantly in motion and covering a large area each year, the people communicated from a distance by using signals: smoke and mirrors, blankets, drum, yodels, or musical shouts. Imitation calls were used to convey messages. 

A fire keeper’s bag was a man’s role. It held flint, tinder, and needles to start a fire. A fire was smothered with coarse green grass and earth around it to make smoke signals using a blanket to regulate the message” (Eastman). 

During the WWII Theater, Indian Code Talkers from 18 tribes were very instrumental in sending messages for the U.S. government. Their codes were never cracked by the enemy. 

“Sign language and secret codes are used. We are taught to be silent, to listen to nature. Our wireless was the gesture language. The whole body speaks. All oratory is accompanied by graceful and significant gestures, charm, rapidity, and movement. 

The shadow of the sun tells the time. Hunger is a good guide, as is the distance traveled.  Weather and animals give signs. The wolf, give the storm call the evening before. Horses kick and stomp. Buffalo low nervously. Waterfowl have a strange agitation. The wind in the leaves, the color of the grass and leaves. Waves whisper, a ring around the sun. Opacity and disk of the moon. Old wounds ache and swell with a change in the atmosphere. Birds give a sign in the morning and evening skies” (Eastman).


“Vengeance in the field of battle was a lofty virtue. In some ways, we despised the White race, whose powers bordered on the supernatural. 

How gentle is the wild man when at peace, how quick and masterful in action.  A sound and efficient body is what he must be to overcome difficulties, to resist pain and hardship and win the object of his quest” (Eastman).

“Warfare is an institution of the Great Mystery. In Indian culture, it was an organized tournament, with elaborate rules and counts for the coveted honor of the eagle feather,  to develop manliness, and it was patriotic. It was never for the overthrow of a brotherly nation or territorial aggrandizement. It was a great display of daring and horsemanship. Those wounded and killed were scarcely more than a football game” (C. Eastman, The Soul of the Indian).

“Gather in summer, scatter in winter for trapping and hunting, hugging the river bottoms. Trained for all-around natural life and all emergencies, manful, honest, unhampered existence. My horse and dog my closest companions, they were regarded as brothers. I went out to seek inspiration and store up strength for coming manhood” (C. Eastwood, From the Deep Woods to Civilization).

“When they route their enemies, they pull the bark off the trees, for five to six feet everywhere they stop and paint a totem of victory with coal painted with jot and ayl. These pictures explain to passersby what exploits they have done, who they are” (Lahonton II, 1703).


“The Iroquois that are caught expect a fearful torture. The least punishment is obliging the poor wretches to put their fingers into the mouth of a lighted pipe. Some burn their prisoners, others keep them in slavery. 

Approaching their own villages, they make a cry for as many dead as they have lost men. And when it is accompanied by a musket shot repeat, it is for the number of slain enemies. The youth 12 to 15 years old make a lane, and armed with sticks, beat the prisoners as they enter, the warriors carrying the hair of those they have slain upon the end of their bows. The next day, the old men distribute prisoners commonly to women or maids who have lost relations in the expedition and to those that want slaves. The women then chose to keep them as a family or make them slaves to work or sell or torture. The women prisoners are distributed among the men who are sure to grant them their lives” (Lahonton II, 1703).

“Prisoners have their nails torn from their hands, fingers are put into the smoke pipe. Burning firebrands are applied to burn to the bone. A necklace of glowing hatchets is placed and not removed until cold. They cut off flesh and broil it and eat at once. They pour boiling water over wounds, pierce the neck and armpits with red hot irons, burn genitals with birch bark. Every nerve and artery is set with fire or knife. Then they are scalped, and hot ashes and sand are put on the bleeding flesh. The blow of the hatchet on the head, or stab in the heart, or cut off the head. The Iroquois burn by inches for five or six days. Humanity is regarded as cowardice” (Cadillac).

Cheryl will be back in two weeks with more on Indian Culture And lifeways. To purchase a copy of Cheryl’s book, Ottissippi, click here.



Andreas. History of St. Clair County, Michigan. University of Michigan, 1884.

Armstrong, Virginia Irving. I Have Spoken: Indian Oratory. Swallow Press, 1971. ISBN – 10: 0804005303, 13: 978-0804005302

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The Smithsonian, 2014, Amanda Foreman, The Birth of American Freedom and the Founding of the Union

This book came about after a visit to the library where I could not find local Indian History. I grew up in the St. Clair and Black River area of Michigan, fishing on all the area waters with my father and brothers. I loved books, libraries, horses and puzzles; I was not a tech person. I love to cook, garden, travel, and camp. I was determined to find and share the truth. This has been a difficult journey in every way. I give you, the reader, the truth and blessings I also reaped. Cheryl Morgan

Cheryl Morgan lives near Port Huron, Michigan with her husband Tom and dog Fred.

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