Monday, February 27, 2012

The Indians had no written laws. Their customs were handed down from generation to generation and from age to age by the old men, and had all the force of well-defined and positive statutes, more so than the "common law."
The aborigines of this country enjoyed absolute freedom. Their sachems made their own tools for war and husbandry. They worked the grounds in common with other tribes.
They entered into no great war or scheme without the consent of the whole people or movement of a public nature.
If their council declared in favor of war, their warriors declared their approbation by painting themselves with various colors, and rendering themselves horrid in the extreme to their enemies. In this shape they would rush furiously into the council and begin the war dance, accompanying their steps with fierce gestures expressive of their thirst for vengeance, and describing the manner in which they would wound, kill and scalp their victims; after which they would sing their own glories, exploit the glories of their ancestors and of the nation in the ancient times.
Their festivals consisted of dancing around in a circle of curved posts or a fire built in a convenient part of the town, each having his rattle in his hand, or his bow and arrow or tomahawk.
They dressed themselves in branches of trees or other strange accoutrement.
They had no idea of distinct or exclusive property.
Every man could cultivate and abandon whatever land he pleased. They reckoned their years by the coming and going of the wild geese — "cohunks" they called them — a noise made by these birds.   This coming was once a year.
They distinguished the parts of the year by five seasons, viz. : The budding or blossoming of the spring;  the earing of the corn or roasting ear time;  the summer or high sun;  the corn gathering, or fall of the leaf; and the winter, or the "cohunks."
They counted the months by the moons, though not with so many in the year as we do, but they made them return again as the Corn Moon,  the First and the Second Moon of Cohunks.
They had no distinctions of the hour of the day, but divided them into three parts — the rise, power and lowering of the sun.
They kept their accounts by knots on strings, or notches on sticks.  They were grossly superstitious and idolatrous.
He was the most improvident animal existing; his present necessities satisfied, and he was happy.
He wasted no thought on the morrow.
A man could have as many wives as he could support.  He could abandon one and seek another when he pleased, and the wife could do the same.

hon. james henry miller  1906

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