AN ACCOUNT OF THE INDIANS OF NORTH CAROLINA. (Continued)
The Sapona Indians live at the West branch of Cape Fear, or Clarendon River, which is very beautiful, and has good Land about it; it is five or six Days Journey over the Mountains to go to the South-Sea. These Mountains are very Barren, with abundance of Rocks and Marble, but no Fowl or Water are to be found in these Parts. The Indians residing here are very powerfull, but seldom make visits amongst us except it be their Traders who bring us Skins and Furs.
The Toteras are neighbouring Indians to the Saponas, and live West-ward in the Mountains; I have been informed by some of them that Trade amongst the Europeans, that they have Bazoar-stone, but I never saw any of it whilst I was in those parts.
The Keyawees live likewise on a Branch of Cape Fear River which lies to the North-west. The Lands here are very Fertile and in many places abounding with Rocks of several sorts of Stones, such as Lime-stone, Marble, and the like.
I have frequently convers’d with their Doctors, who are in great request and esteem amongst them, they told me of many great cures that they have performed, but woud never discover any thing of what they knew, or by what Herbs or plants they perfected them, notwithstanding I importun’d them and even offered rewards. These Savages in general being a very wary People, seldom or never revealing any of their secrets to the Europeans, yet are willing to assist them in any Indian disorder that should afflict them, as in the biting of Snakes or any other misfortune of that Nature wherein they have any Knowledge, but as to European Disorders they are entire Strangers, which most commonly prove fatal amongst them.
The Indians in Carolina have no Fences to part each others Lots in their Corn-Fields, but every Man knows his own proportion, and it scarce ever happens that they rob one another of so much as an Ear of Corn; which if any is found to do, he is sentenced by the Elders to Work and plant for him that was Robb’d, till he is fully recompenc’d for all the damage or loss he has sustained in his Corn-Field;this is very punctually performed, and the Thief held in disgrace that steals from any of his Friends or the Nation he belongs to.
When these Savages live near the Waters they frequent the Rivers in Summer-time very much where both Men and Women often in a Day go in naked to wash themselves, not both Sexes together, yet this is not out of any point of modesty that being a virtue or qualification that is very little regarded or make use of amongst these People.
These Indians generally are the best marks Men with Guns that are to be met with in most parts of the World, and commonly kill what they Shoot at with a single Ball; this is principally owing to the steadiness in their Limbs and the sharp Sight with which they are endued. They take a great deal of pains when they buy a Gun first, to find out if it has any fault in the Barrel, which they generally take out of the stock and cut a Notch in a Tree where they make it streight, if there be occasion, and after shoot several times at markes, that they may be acquainted with its faults and perfections, this they do before they go to kill Deer, or any other kind of Game that is to be met with as they hunt in Woods. It is remarkable in them that they will seldom stir or go abroad into the Woods to Hunt before the Sun is an Hour or two heigh, and hath exhaled most part of the Dew from the Earth, then are they indefatigable in walking from Morning till Night in pursuit of their Game. When they are Traveling in the Woods together, they always keep a constant Pace, neither will they stride over a Tree that lyes across a path in their way, but always go round it, which is a quite contrary custom to the Europeans, but for what reason the Indians use this Ceremony I never cou’d learn, though I have frequently importuned them on that Head. And what is worthy of Observation is, that none of the Indians in North-Carolina are to be met with Left Handed; whether this be owing to their method of Nursing, or otherwise, I cannot account for. When ever they cut with a Knife, they always turn the Edge towards themselves, whereas the Europeans cut and Whittle from them.
Before the Arrival of the Europeans in these parts of America, these Savages not knowing the use of Steel and Flints, they got their fire from Sticks, which by vehement collision or rubbing together kindle and take fire. This method they will sometimes practice even now when it has happen’d through rainy Weather, or some other accident, that they have wet their Spunk, or Touch-wood, which is a sort of soft Corkey substance, generally of a Cinamon colour, and grows in the Concave or hollow part of an Oak, Hickory, and several other sorts of Wood, which they dig out with an Ax as they have occasion. It is in great plenty in Carolina, and is always kept by the Europeans and Indians instead of Touch-wood and Tender, both which it exceeds.
It is very surprizing to find so many different Languages amongst them as there are, there being few Nations that understand each other. But I believe the principal reason of this great difference and confusion of Languages as are to be met with amongst them, is owing to these People seldom or never conversing with any Nation but their own. And I have often observed several of the Indians with whom I have been acquainted and freely conversed with at Bath and Edentown, that when I chanc’d to meet them in the Woods, they wou’d not speak one Word of English (which they could do tolerably well) but would either answer me in their own Language or by signs; the reason whereof I coud never understand, though I made all the strict enquiry I could. These differences in their Languages cause Jealousies and fears amongst them, which often occasion Wars, wherein they destroy each other; otherwise the Christians had not in all probability settled themselves so easily as they have done, had these tribes of Savages united themselves into one People, or general interest, or were they so but every hundred Miles together. In short, they are a strange sort of People under their present Circumstances, and have such odd and uncouth ways in their management and course of living, that it seems a miracle to us how they bring about their designs as they do, when their ways are commonly quite contrary to ours. I am perswaded that were it not for the continual Wars they have amongst themselves, they wou’d enjoy the happiest state in this World of all Mankind, being neither Slaves to Riches or Grandure, which bewitches the greatest part of the World, and occasions daily care and trouble in those that are thus in Love with it, which these Savages are entirely free from.
Drunkeness and several other Vices were intirely unknown to them before the Arrival of the Christians amongst them, and Swearing, their Lauguage cannot express, yet those that learn English soon learn that fashionable vice of Swearing, and it is generally the first thing they can talk, hearing those vile and abominable expressions so often repeated by the Europeans. The many Vices they see and hear daily practiced by the Christians, have in a great measure perverted these miserable Creatures, that they never desire to be instructed in the light of the Gospel, but rather look upon us as a more unworthy race of People than themselves; that at this very Day they are no nearer Christianity (in all appearance) than they were at the first discovery made by the Christians of this part of the World. Yet it is most certain, that they have several abominable vices amongst them, which no doubt they might be brought off, if the Europeans wou’dshow those good examples of Virtue, Piety, and Morality, which are essentially necessary for every Christian to do and practice. They have likewise several good Qualities amongst them, and are very Hospitable and fond of the Europeans, who generally look upon them with all the disdain immaginable, and very often return ill Offices for their gratitude.
They have a strange and odd Custom amongst them in making offerings of their first Fruits, and likewise throwing the first Bit or Spoonful of every Meal they sit down to, into the Ashes near the Fire, and all the reason they give for so doing is, that it is the same to them as the pulling of our Hats and talking when we go to Victuals is to us. The Indians in Carolina call Rum and Physick by the same Name, and the reason they give is, because Rum makes People sick, as if they had taken any Physical or Poysonous Plant, notwithstanding they cannot forbear drinking it to excess, when they can by any means purchase it or any other Spiritous Liquor.
They are a craving People, and if you give them any thing by way of Present, they imagine that it obliges you to give them another, and so on, until you have given them all you have; so insatiable and unreasonable are they in their Demands, that they have no bounds to them. If they give any thing as a Present, it is with a View to receive twice the Value, for they have no consideration that you shall want or have any occasion for those things you give them; for their way of Living is so contrary to ours, that neither we nor they can fathom one anothers Designs or Methods.
They set the least value upon Time of any People in the World, for if they are going out to Hunt, Fish, or any other indifferent Business, you may keep them as long as you please provided you entertain them in Discourse, and seem pleased with their Company; yet no People are more expeditious and safer Messengers than they, when any extraordinary Business that they are sent about requires it.
The Indian Women’s Work in this Province is generally to dress their Victuals for the whole Family, and make Mats, Baskets, Girdles of Possum’s Hair, and such like things, which they commonly sell to the Europeans. The Mats they make are of Rushes, about five Feet broad, and two Fathom long, sowed double, whereby they become very commodious to lay under our Beds, or to sleep upon in the Summer Season in the Day, and for our Slaves at Night. There are other Mats made of Flags, which the Tuskeruro Indians make and sell to the Planters. The Baskets our neighbouring Indians make are all of a very fine sort of Bullrushes, and sometimes of Silk-grass, which they work with the figures of Beasts, Birds, Fishes, and the like; in these they carry several sorts of Fruits, Flowers, and many other things of that nature, which they either sell or make Presents of to the Christians. The Savage Indians who live a great way from the Christians, make both their Baskets or Mats of split Reeds, which are exceedingly neat and handsome, being made only of the outward shining part of the Cane; with these I have seen Mats, Baskets and Dressing Boxes, very artificially done, they sell these to the Planters when they come down amongst them to dispose of their Deer-Skins, Furs, and other Commodities.
The Indians that live near the Christians frequently Buy or rather Barter Deer-Skins and other Commodities for Rum, which they carry to the Indians that live Westward on this and the other side of the Mountains, who never knew what it was ‘till within these few Years: This Liquor they carry in Rundlets for many hundred Miles, but sometimes they cannot forbear breaking their Cargo in their Journies, and sit down in the Woods and drink it all up; then they begin to Hollow and Shout after such a manner, that the most distracted Persons can scarce be compared to them. When they happen to carry it safe (which they seldom do without drinking some part of it, which they supply by filling up the Vessel with Water) and come amongst the Indian Towns; those that buy the Rum of them have so many Mouthfulls for a Deer-Skin, they never use or have any other kind of Measure at present: for this purpose the Buyer always makes choice of his Man who hath generally the widest Mouth, whom he brings with him to the Place where it is to be disposed of, with a Bowl to put it in.
The Indian Merchant, or Seller, looks very narrowly to the Man’s Mouth that measures it, for fear he should swallow any down, either through wilfulness, or otherwise, which if he should happen to do, the Merchant or some of his Party do not scruple immediately to knock the fellow down, exclaiming at the same time against him for false Measure, so that the Buyer is obliged to get another Mouth Piece to measure it by; most certain it is, that the Indians have not such puny Palates (as many of the Europeans have) otherwise they would find out some decent Method or other to measure their Liquor. This way of Trading must not only seem strange but very diverting, to the European Spectators, to see so much Quarreling and Controversy, as frequently happens in this new and uncommon way of Dealing or measuring Rum.
The Indian King is the Ruler of the Nation he belongs to, and has others under him to assist him, as his War Captains and Counsellors, who are chosen out of the most ancient and wise Men of his Nation. These he consults in all general Debates, concerning War or Peace, Trade, Hunting, and all the Adventures and Accidents of human Affairs, that appear or come within their Jurisdiction, where all these Matters are discoursed of and argued pro and con verydeliberately (without making any Parties or Divisions) with the greatest Conduct and Prudence immaginable, having nothing more at Heart than what may be intirely for the publick Good and safety of their Nation, always valuing that before their own private Interest. After every Man has given his Opinion freely as he thinks proper, yet he that has the most Voices, or in summing up what hath been offered, and is found to be the most reasonable, that they make use of without Jars or Wrangling, and put it in execution the first Opporttunity that offers; these being People that discharge their Duty with all the integrity and justice immaginable; every town amongst them has a Ruler or Governor over it, yet the King is absolute over his whole Nation.
The Succession falls not directly to the King’s Son, but to his Sisters, which is a sure way to prevent Impostures in the Succession. They sometimes poyson the Heir that they do not approve of, or judge incapable not to govern them. The King himself is commonly the chief Person concerned in this wicked and abominable Practice. The Indians are so well acquainted with the Poysons that this Country produces, that they have been known to poyson whole Families, and most part of the Town; and it is certain, that they can poyson a running Spring or Fountain of Water, that whoever drinks thereof, will soon after infallibly dye. When the Offender is discovered, his own Relations urge for his being put to death, whom nothing will appease but the most cruel Tortures Imagination can invent, and these executed in the most public manner that is possible for such a Tragical Scene to be acted, so great is their abhorrence of such wicked Practices. All the Nations to whom the Offender belongs, and the other Nations in Peace with them within a hundred Miles or more (if it be possible to acquaint them) are summoned to come and appear at such a Time and Place, to see and rejoyce at the Torments and Death of such a Person, who is the common and professed Enemy to all the friendly Indians thereabouts, who now lies under the Condemnation of the whole Nation, and accordingly is to be put to Death at such a time as they prefix.
Upon this Summons or Notice, all that are able to appear from all the adjacent parts, with all the Joy imaginable, as if they were going to celebrate some Play or other Diversion for the Entertainment of the whole Company. At this Meeting they generally have a Feast prepared before they begin the Execution of the Criminal, which they perform in the manner following: They bring the Prisoner to the place appointed for his Execution, where he is set down upon the Ground, all the Company get about him, and there is not one sorrowful or dejected Countenance to be seen amongst them: Every thing being thus prepared, the Person appointed to be chief Executioner takes a Knife, and bids the Criminal hold out his Hands, which he does, then another cuts the Skin round the Wrist, which is drawn off like a Glove, and flead off at the Fingers end, break his Joints and Bones with great Clubs, and buffet and torment him, ‘till some violent Blow puts an end to his wretched Life: They burn him to Ashes, which they carefully gather and throw down the Rivers, as unworthy that the Earth should contain them.
As soon as this tragical Scene is over, they begin their Feast, and eat and drink chearfully, repeating all the Actions of the Tormenters, with the Prisoners behaviour during his Tortures; thus they spend the Night in one continued Scene of Mirth and Jollity, in having put to Death the common Enemy of their Nation, and all the others in Friendship with them.
These Accusations are often wrongfully laid against Indian Heroes, or a great Man they have a mind to get rid of, that has more Courage and Conduct than his Neighbouring Kings, or War Captains; it is then they alledge the Practice of Poysoning Indians against him, and make a rehearsal of every Person that died for a Year or two, and give out they were poysoned by such an Indian; this Report being once spread abroad, stirs up all the Relations of the deceased against the said Person; by such means they take an advantage against him, and he is presently put to death.
They are very reserved and politick in these Affairs, and will attend a long time with a great deal of Patience to bring about their designs, these People being never impatient or over hasty in executing any of their designs of revenge; yet they never forget injuries done by their Enemies, but always take a proper time to accomplish them, for they will endure a great many Misfortunes, Losses, and Disappointments without ever showing themselves vexed or uneasy at them.
If at any time they go by Water, and there happens a Head or contrary Wind, they never fret, or make themselves uneasy as the Europeans are most subject to do; and let what troubles or misfortunes so ever attend them they never seem to relent, but carry it off with as much resolution as any People upon Earth. Neither are they guilty of that vice so common amongst the Europeans of envying each others happiness, because their station is not equal or above their Neighbours: Of this Sin I never knew an example amongst them, though they are a People that set as great a value upon themselves as any sort of Men in the World, upon which account they find something valuable in themselves above Riches or Grandure.
Thus he that is a good Warriour is the proudest creature living, and he that is an expert Hunter is esteem’d very much by the People and himself; yet all these are natural virtues or Gifts and not Riches, which are as often in the possession of a Fool as a wise Man. Several of them are possess’d of great Quantities of Deer, and Bever Skins, Wampum,Ammunition, and many other things which are esteemed Riches amongst them, yet such an lndian is no more esteemed or regarded by them than any ordinary Fellow, provided he has no Personal Endowments, which are the only Ornaments and Perfections that must gain him credit and esteem amongst these People, for a great dealer amongst them is no otherwise valued or respected, than a Man that strains his Wits, and fatigues himself to furnish others with necessaries of Life.
There is something surprizingly undaunted in their Behaviour when they are taken Captives, and expect to die after the most miserable and tormenting manner that Savages can invent against such unfortunate Creatures, as happen to be their Prisoners; for at the very approach of Death they are observ’d to sing, and shew the greatest resolution and bravery of any People in the World; having no dread or fear to die; for they know by instinct of Nature, and daily Experience, that all things living are subject to Death, wherefore they have that great and noble gift to submit to every thing that happens, with the greatest resignation imaginable, and value nothing that attacks them in this Life.
They are never fearful in the Night, neither do the thoughts or dread of Spirits ever give them the least trouble, such as the Hobgoblins and Bug-bears, the Apprehensions of which we suck in our infancy from Nurses and Servants, who sug[g]est to us, strange and Idle Tales of Fairies and Witches, which make such impressions on us in our tender Years, that at maturity we are most commonly afraid of our own Shaddows, and carry Pigmie-souls in Giant-bodies ever after, by which means we are so much depriv’d of reason and uman’d, that we are never afterwards able to be Masters of half the Courage and Bravery nature designed for us, whilst we remain in this World. Several instances whereof are daily to be met with amongst us, which I omit as being Foreign to what we treat of. Not but that the Indians have as many lying Stories of Spirits and Conjurers as any People; but they never tell them with that disadvantage, or after that frightful manner, that the Europeans are subject to inform their Children. The old Men amongst them bring themselves into very great esteem by making the others believe their familiarity with Devils and Spirits, and what great advantage they have thereby, which if it once gain credit amongst them, they are ever afterwards held in the greatest respect and veneration imaginable; and whatever they impose upon these People for the future is received as certain Truths.
Some of them are so very poor, that they have no manner of Cloaths, only a Belt and wad of Moss, to cover their Nakedness; these are such as are lazy, or will not Work or Hunt, and are given to Gaming and Drunkenness; yet these get Victuals as well as the rest, because that is in common amongst them all: If they are caught in Theft amongst themselves, the Offender is made a Slave until such time as he makes full satisfaction to the Injured Person; but to steal from the Christians they reckon no Crime, nor think any harm in so doing; notwithstanding they are seldom guilty of this Vice amongst themselves or the Christians.
The Indians (as I observ’d before) are indefatigable and expert Travellers in the Woods, and though they have not the use of our artificial Compass to guide them, yet they are never at a loss to find their way, and let them be in never so great a Wilderness, they understand the North Point perfectly well, the principle Guide they have to instruct them, being altogether Natural, which is a short Moss that grows on some Trees exactly on the North side thereof.
They have likewise Names for eight of the thirty two Points, and call the Winds by their several Names as we do, but indeed more properly; for the North-West Wind they call the cold Wind, the North-East, the wet Wind, the South, the warm Wind, and so agreeably of the rest, according to what Weather is produced by each of them.
It frequently happens that they have large Rivers or Lakes to pass over, and if the Weather be so foggy, as it sometimes happens, especially in the Spring and fall of the Leaf, that they cannot see what Course to steer, in this case they being on one side of the River or Lake, they know what course such a Place (which they intend for) bears from them: Their Method in such cases is this, they get a great many Sticks and Chunks of Wood in their Canoe, and set off directly for their intended Port, and as they proceed, they keep throwing over Board a piece of Wood, which directs them; for by seeing how the Stick bears from the Sterne of the Canoe, they observe to keep right aft; this is their Compass, by which they will go over a Water of ten or twenty Leagues abroad.
They know the Head of any River, though five, six, or seven hundred Miles off, although they were never there before, as is often proved by their appointing to meet on the Head of such or such a River, where perhaps not one of them ever had been, yet they shall rendezvous there exactly at the time prefixed. If they meet with any Obstructions in their Journey, they leave certain Marks in the way, that those who come after them will understand how many have passed before them, and which way they are gone. It is not to be imagined how they will trace and find out each other in these solitary and desolate Woods and Desarts, where there are no Roads to guide, or any humane Creature to tell the way. They are also very expeditious in finding out the Negroes that frequently run away from their Masters into the Woods, where they commit many outrages against the Christians, as it happened in Virginia not long since, where above three Hundred joined together, and did a great deal of Mischief in that Province before they were suppressed. The Indian Kings are sent for on these Occasions, who soon find out their Haunts, and commonly kill many of them whenever they are sent in pursuit after them, for they never cease pursuing ‘till they destroy or hunt them out of the Woods: this they will do in the tenth part of the Time that the Europeans could do. These Negroes whenever they find the Indians in pursuit of them, they return, and chuse rather to submit to the Christians, whom they have injured, than fall into the Hands of the others, who have a natural aversion to the Negroes, and take Pleasure in putting them to the most exquisite Torments, when ever they find them thus in the Woods, being allowed so to do by the Christians.
I saw four and twenty of these Negroes hanged in Virginia, for conspiring against their Masters, who had taken Sanctuary in the Woods for some time before they were discovered, or hunted out by the Indians, who are very serviceable to the Christians in those Parts, and many other Provinces in the hands of the English.
Another Instance of this Nature happened not many Years ago in this Province; some of our neighbouring Indians made their Complaint to the Governor, that two Indians from the Mountains came to their Town when they were abroad, and had taken one of their Wives by surprize, and carried her away; the Governor desired them immediately to pursue them, and if it were possible to recover the Woman, which two of them accordingly did: In travelling some Days, they brought back the Woman, and the Skins of the Heads of their Enemies; though they had been three Days gone off with the Woman before the others pursued them; how they could discover which way they went, in those Woods, and Desarts, is not a little surprizing, and few or none can account for but themselves.
In their War Expeditions they have certain Hieroglyphicks, whereby each Party inform the other of the success or losses they have met with; all of which is so exactly performed by their Sylvan Marks and Characters, that they are never at a loss to understand one another, yet there never were found any Letters among the People in this Province, and I am persuaded that there are neither Letters or Learning to be met with amongst any of the Natives in all America.
It is admirable to see how exactly they will draw Maps of all the Rivers, Towns, Mountains, and Roads, or what you shall enquire of them, which may be drawn by their Directions, and come to a small matter of Latitude, reckoning by the Days Journies. These Maps they will draw in the Ashes of the Fire, and sometimes on a Mat or piece of Bark.
I have likewise seen a Pen put into one of their Hands, wherewith he has not only drawn the Rivers, Bays, and other parts of this Country, but likewise has imitated the Hand Writing of those in Company very nicely, but whenever they make these Discoveries to us, we must be very much in their Favour, otherwise they will not show you any thing they do or know.
There are several sorts of rich Mines in this Country, some of which the Indians are well acquainted with, and particularly one, whereof they make Bullets for their Guns to shoot Deer and other Game: I have seen some of this Oar with them, which is Lead, and of the richest sort, but they will not discover to us where they get it, especially if it be near their hunting Quarters; for, they say, it is this Metal the Europeans so much covet (as they do their Peak and Ronoak) which if they should discover to the Christians, they would settle near them, and so deprive them of the best hunting Matches they have, as they have already done where they are settled or inhabited; so that by that Means they shall be driven out of their Country to some unknown parts to live, hunt, and get their Bread in.
These are the Reasons that they give for not discovering what they know of this Nature. But amongst the Christians there have been few or no Enquiries made at present, but what were discovered by Chance; yet I am satisfied that the Mines and Minerals that this Country produces are extraordinary good and valuable, several Pieces whereof are daily to be seen amongst them, who make no other use of it than what I have already mentioned.
The principal Reason of our want of Knowledge in the Mines and Minerals, and many other valuable Secrets in Nature that are produced in this part of the World (as the Spaniards are with theirs) is for want of Encouragement amongst us; for I am certain were such an Affair managed and carried on by a Company of Wealthy Members, they would not only find their Account in so advantageous an Undertaking, but likewise be a great Means to enrich the British Monarchy. This I testifie from the Knowledge and Discovery of some Mines that were made known to me during my stay in that Country, which I shall be ready to discover when ever there is just Encouragement given. Such a beneficial Undertaking might be carried on very cheap in this Country, where there is not only the benefit of a fine healthful Climate, and all manner of Necessaries for Life in great plenty, but likewise all other Conveniences proper for carrying on such an Affair, to be had in it. I coud say a great deal more on this Head, having travelled in several parts of this Province to make the best discoverys I possibly cou’d of the valuable produce of the Country.
As for Iron-Mine, it is no where better and in greater plenty, yet there is none of it Manufactured at present. I will just mention one thing more about the Mines, which I had like to have forgot: Not many Years ago an Indian came privately to some of the Planters in this Province, and told them he wou’d discover a Mine for some small gratuity, but at the same time conjured them to Secrecy, for if it were known to his Nation, they woud put him to Death, and likewise that he never durst come amongst them the Second time for fear of being discovered by his Countrymen. Things being agreed upon, the Indian brings them to the Mine, and desired that they wou’d take particular care to remember and find out the place again, and immediately left them; and retired into the Woods; with transports of Joy they returne home, bringing some of the Oar with them, which was a very rich Copper-Mine, for I have seen both the Oar and some of it that was Smelted, but when they had prepared all things necessary to dig and search for it, yet they cou’d never find out the place again, or meet with the Indian afterwards.
When they are disposed to hunt in the Woods, they generally go out in great Numbers together, and several Days Journies from home. They always begin these Hunting matches at the approach of Winter, when the Leaves, are fallen from the Trees, and become dry, or when Skins and Furs are best in Season. It is then they burn the Woods, by setting fire to the wither’d Leaves, Bent and dry Grass, which they do with matches made of the Black Moss that hangs on the Trees, which is sometimes above six Feet long. This Moss when dead becomes black (though of an Ash colour before) and will then hold Fire as well as the best Match in Europe. In places where this Moss is not to be found (as towards the Mountains and Heads of the Rivers) they make Lentels of the Bark of Cypress, which serves as well.
Thus they frequently leave their Houses and retire into the Woods for four or five Months together, viz.November, December, January, February, and March, at which time the Skins are in Season, and set Fire to the Woods for many Miles together to drive out the Deer and other Game into small Necks of Lands, and other places where they fix their Guards, by which means they kill and destroy what they please, especially such as strive to escape the Fire and get through the passes they have made for that purpose.
In these Hunting matches they bring their Wives and Mistresses along with them, where they eat several kinds of Fruits which that Country produces, and live in all the Mirth and Jolity that it is possible for such People to entertain themselves with. It is in these Hunting matches they get their complement of Deer-Skins, Furs, and many other commodities to trade with the Christians, the Deer-Skins being in Season here in Winter, which is contrary in England and Ireland; most of all their small Game they kill with their Bows and Arrows, such as Geese, Turkeys, Ducks, and various kinds of wild Beasts, as Raccoons, Possums, Squirrels, and several other sorts of Vermine, judging it not worth throwing Powder and Shot after them.
The wild Turkeys being very plenty in North-Carolina, especially in the Oak Lands, as most of it is that lies any distance backwards; some of these they Roast or Boyl, others they Barbecue and eat with Bears-grease, this is accounted amongst them a good Dish, and indeed I do not doubt but it is, for the Bears-grease (as I said before) is the sweetest and least offensive to the Stomach of any Fat of Animals yet known in America; and I am very certain that the Turkeys are Fat, and exceeding good eating, if well dress’d.
The Men never beat their Corn to make Bread, that is the Women’s Work, and especially the Girls, where you shall see four of them beating with long Pestils in a narrow wooden Mortar, and every one keeping her stroke so exactly, that it is worthy of admiration, and curious to behold them when they are thus at Work; for these Indians have no manner of Mills, or any other way to make their Meal but with Mortars.
Their Cookery continues from Morning till Night, dressing their Venison after different Methods, according to each one’s Fancy, this being the Women’s business: The Hunting makes them Hungry, and they are a People that eat very often, and frequently get up at Midnight, and other unseasonable Hours to eat and satisfie their craving Appetites, notwithstanding you shall never see any of them Corpulent or Fat.
They plant several sorts of Pulse, part of which they eat green in the Summer, keeping sufficient quantities for their Winter Provision; this they carry with them to eat in theirHunting Matches. The small Red Pease are very common with them, and several other sorts, which they boyle with their Meat, or with Pigeon’s or Bear’s Fat; this Food makes them break Wind backwards, which the Men frequently do, seem well pleased, and laugh heartily, being accounted no Ill Manners amongst them; but the Women are seldom known to be guilty of that indecent Custom.
As their setting out either for War or Peace, or upon any other extraordinary Expedition, there are several Formalities amongst them, and they whose Business it is to attend their hunting Camp, are generally those that are not good or expert Hunters, therefore are employed to carry Burthens, to get Bark for their Cabins, and all other servile Work, likewise to go too and fro to their Towns, and bring News to the old People (whom they leave behind) of their Success and Welfare.
The Women are likewise obliged to carry their Loads of Grain and other Provisions with them to these randezvous, and provide Firewood to dress Victuals; for a good Hunter or Warrior, in these Expeditions is employed in no other Business than the Affairs of Game or Battle. The great quantities of Fruit that they dry in the Summer over Fires and Hurdles, and in the Sun, are at these times brought into the Field; as are also the Cakes and Quiddonies of Peaches;with this Fruit and the Bill-berries dried, they stew and make fruit Bread and Cakes, and have variety of other sorts of Fruits preserved, which are brought out upon these occasions.
In some parts of this Province, especially near the Mountains, and amongst the Indians in those Places, they have several hundred Gallons of Pigeon’s Oil or Fat, which they preserve for their Winter Stores, using it with their Pulse, Roots, and Bread, as we do Butter: These Fowl are so plenty, that Millions of them are seen in Flocks in a Day, they sometimes break large Boughs of the Pine, and other Trees whereon they perch or roost at Night, making the Ground as white as Snow with their Dung, and destroying every Herb or small Plant where it falls, being in somePlaces above half a Foot deep. The Indians take a Light of Pitch-Pine in one Hand, a long Pole in the other, and go into the Woods at Night where they are, and kill thousands of them by knocking them off the Trees; this is always done in the Winter, at which time they appear in Flocks.
Thus they remain in these hunting Camps all the Winter, and part of the Spring, ‘till such time as the Season approaches for planting their Maze, Pulse, and other Fruits. In these Quarters at spare Hours, they make Baskets and Mats to lie upon, and those that are not extraordinary Hunters, make Bowls, Dishes and Spoons, of Gum-Wood and Tulip-Tree. Others where they find a Vein of White Clay fit for their Purpose, make Tobacco Pipes, and several other things, which are often transported and bartered with other Indians that have plenty of Deer Skins, or such Commodities as they have occasion for. They buy with these Manufactures, their Raw Skins with the Hair on, which our Neighbouring Indians bring to their Towns, and in the Summer make their Slaves and bad Hunters dress them; the Winter Sun being not strong enough to dry them; those that are dried in their Cabins are black with the Light-wood Smoak, which they commonly burn.
Their way of dressing their Skins is by soaking them in Water; they get the Hair off with an Instrument made of the Bone of a Deer’s Foot (some use a sort of Iron Drawing Knife, which they purchase from the Europeans) after the Hair is take off, they dissolve Deer’s Brains (which they have made into Cakes and baked in the Embers) in a Bowl of Water, where they soak and rub the Skins ‘till they have sucked up all the Water, then they dry them gently, and keep continually working them with an Oyster-shell, or some such thing to scrape withal ‘till they are dry, by which means they become soft and pliable. The Skins dressed after this manner, will not endure Wet, but become hard; they therefore Cure them in the Smoak, or Tan them with the Bark of Trees: When they have not the Brains to dress their Skins, they use the young Indian Corn beaten to Pulp, which hath the same Effect as the former, for they are never at a loss for one or the other to Cure them, but whether they have any other Method is unknown to the Christians, which I am apt to believe they have; for I have seen abundance of them drest, which would endure the Water, and were as pliable as any in Europe, and would wash as well.
They are not only good and expert Hunters of the Wild Beasts and Game of the Forest, but likewise very dextrous in taking the Fish in the Rivers and Waters near which they inhabit, and are acquainted with. Thus they that live a great way up the Rivers practice striking Sturgeon, Rock-fish or Bass, and several other sorts of fish with lights, that come up the Rivers and Creeks to Spawn.
They have Fish-gigs that are made of the Reeds or Hollow Canes, these they cut and make very sharp, with two Beards, and taper at the Point like a Harpoon; being thus provided, they either wade into the Water, or go into their Canoes, and paddle about the Edges of the Rivers or Creeks, striking all the Fish they meet with in the depth of five or six Feet of Water, or as far as they can see them; this they commonly do in dark calm Nights, and whilst one attends with a Light made of the Pitch-pine, the other with his Fish-gig strikes and kills the Fish: It is diverting to see them fish after this manner, which they sometimes do in the Day; how dexterous they are in striking, is admirable, and the great quantities they kill by this Method.
They likewise kill vast quantities of Sturgeon, which they take in Snares as we do Pike and Trout in Europe. The Herrings in March and April run a great way up the Rivers and fresh Streams to Spawn, where they make large Wears with Hedges of long Poles or Hollow Canes, that hinder their passage only in the middle, where an artificial pond is made to take them in, so that they cannot return. These Wears are common all over the Rivers, and fresh Water Streams in these parts; where they take vast quantities of Herrings, Trouts, Pikes, and several other sorts of Fish that are plentifully to be met with in them.
The taking of Craw Fish is likewise very pleasant and diverting, for when they are disposed to get these Shell Fish, they take a piece of Venison and half Barbcue or Roast it, then they cut it into thin Slices, which they stick through with Reeds about six Inches distance betwixt each piece, the Reeds are made sharp at one end, and they strike a great many of them down in the Bottom of the Water (thus baited) in small running Brooks where the Craw fish constantly frequent. Thus they sit by and attend those baited Sticks, every now and then taking them up to see how many are at the Bait, where they generally find abundance, so take them off and put them in Baskets provided for that purpose, and then stick down the Reeds again, by this method in a little time they will catch several Bushels full, which are as good as any in Europe.
Those that live or frequent near the Salt Water take abundance of Fish of several sorts, some of them are very large, which to preserve, they first Barbecue, then pull them to pieces, and dry them in the Sun, and keep them for their Necessities; as for Scate, Oysters, Cockles, and several other sorts of Shell-fish, they open and dry upon Hurdles, keeping a constant Fire under them; these Hurdles are made of Reeds or Hollow Canes, in shape of a Gridiron. Thus they dry several Bushels of them, and keep for their Provision in time of scarcety.
At the time when they are on the Salts and Sea Coasts, they have another sort of Fishery for little Shell-fish, called in England, Blackmoor’s Teeth; these they catch by tying bits of Oysters to a long String, and lay it in such places as they know these Fishes haunt; they get hold of the Oysters and suck them in, that they pull them up by the Strings in great Quantities; they carry these a great way into the Main Land to trade with the remote Indians, where they are of great value, but never near the Sea, being common, and therefore not much esteemed by them that live near the Salts.
It is an established Custom amongst all the Natives in these Parts, that the young Hunters never eat of that Buck, Bear, Fish, or any other sort of Game which happens to be the first they kill, because they believe if they should eat thereof, they never would be afterwards fortunate in Hunting. The like foolish Custom they hold when they make a Wear to take Fish in, if a Woman with Child eat of the first Dish caught therein, they say that Wear will never take much Fish in it afterwards.
The Tobacco is in such great Esteem amongst some Nations of the Indians, that they think their Gods are delighted therewith, whereupon they make Fires and cast some of the Powder thereof into it for a Sacrifice, and being in a Storm upon the Waters, to pacifie the BadSpirit, they cast some up into the Air and the Water; likewise a Wear to take Fish, being newly made, they cast some thereon, and into the Air, as also for an escape from Danger. All this is performed with strange Ceremonies and Gestures, one while Stamping, Leaping, Dancing, clapping of Hands, and uttering of strange Words.
As for killing of Snakes, most Indians avoid it, and if they even lye in their way, they will not molest them, but pass by on the other side, because their Opinion is, that if they should kill them, the Serpent’s kindred would destroy some of their Brethren, Friends, or Relations, in return. They have a thousand of these foolish Ceremonies and Customs amongst them, which they stedfastly believe, and are strict observers of, but are too tedious to mention, and would be of little or no advantage to the Readers.
There are some few of them that use the Jewish Custom of Circumcision, though this kind of Practice is but seldom used amongst them; I never knew but two Families in all the Nations of Indians I have conversed with, that were so; the Reason whereof I could never learn, notwithstanding I was very intimate with them, and have often urged them to give me an account on that Head, but could get no manner of Answer, which with them is as much as to say, I will not tell you. They have many other strange Customs amongst them, that they will render no Reason for, or give any Account of to the Europeans.
The Savages in these parts are never known to be guilty of that abominable Sin called Sodomy, as many in the Philippian Islands are said to be. Mr. Candish in his Travels reporteth, ‘That the Savages in Capul,an Island near Manila in the West Indies, have a very strange Custom amongst them, which is this, every Man and Male Child hath a Nail of Tin thrust through the Head of his Private Member, being split and rivited at the lower End, this is done whilst they are young, and the place groweth up again without any great pain to the Child, this Nail they can take out and in as there is occasion,’ And the same Author, as a Confirmation of the Truth hereof, says, ‘We ourselves have taken one of these Nails out of the Private Member of a King’s Son, who was ten Years old.’ This Custom he likewise says, was granted at the Request of the Women in that Country, who finding their Men to be given to Sodomy, desired some Remedy against that Mischief, and obtained this of the Magistrates.
They are very great Conjurers, of whom there are several strange Stories related who perform their Exorcism,after the following Manner. The Sorcerer apparells himself in a clean dres’d Deer Skin; they make a large Fire in the middle of the Plantation, the Indians all sitting round it; the Conjurer is blindfolded very secure, and surrounds the Fire three times; leaving the Company at the Fire, he went some distance into the Woods, where he stayed a short time, at his Return he surrounded the Fire as before, and leaving them a second time, he went into the Woods, where he remained about half an Hour, he performed this Exorcism the third time, after this he made a very strange and frightful Howling, which being finished, an Indian immediately caught hold of him, and led him to the Fire; by this time he was so feeble and weak that he could not stand alone, being all over in a Sweat, and as wet as if he had fallen into the River, after some little time he recovers his Strength, and gives them an Account of what they demand.
It is reported by several Planters in those parts, that they raise great Storms of Wind, and that there are many frightful Apparitions that appear above the Fires during the time of their Conjuration, that large Swarms of very strange and uncommon sorts of Flies have been seen to hover over the Fire for some time and then to fall into it, where they were all visibly consum’d, and likewise the Appearance of several frightful sorts of Birds, and lastly a strong smell of Brimstone, whilst they are performing these Charms.
I shall mention some of their practices, and so leave them to the Judgment of every Reader; these Conjurers are the Priests and Doctors of every Nation amongst the Indians, to whom the common People give great Credit and Respect, because they believe them to be great Magicians, that they frequently converse with the good and bad Spirit. They likewise make the Orations at every Feast or publick Meeting.
These Conjurers likewise serve them instead of Physitians and Surgeons, who constantly attend the sick, and always carry about them a bag full of Herbs to cure their disorders, these make Harangues about the deceas’d, let his Death be occasioned after ever so different a manner, for if it shou’d be occasion’d by Sickness, then he tells the People that it is the bad Spirit that occasion’d his Death. But if it shoud happen that an Indian comes to an untimely Death by any accident, then the Doctor makes an Oration suitable to the Occasion.
For it happen’d not many Years ago, that an Indian was kill’d by Lightning, and before the Interment, according to their Custom, every one had some hot Victuals or Yaupan-Tea given him, which he did with what he pleased. Then the Doctor began to talk, and told the People what Lightning was, that it kill’d every thing upon the Earth, that the very Fishes did not escape, for it often reach’d the Whales, Porpoises, and other Fishes, and destroyed them; that everything strove to shun it, except the Mice, who he said were the busiest in eating their Corn in the Fields when it Lightned and Thunderd the most. He likewise added, that no Wood or Tree cou’d withstand it, except the Black-Gum, and that it wou’d run round that Tree a great many times to enter therein, but cou’d not effect it. Now you must understand that sort of Gum will not split or rive; therefore I suppose the Story might arise from thence. Lastly he began to tell ridiculous absurd lyes about Lightning, that cou’d be invented; as that an Indian of their Nation had once got Lightning in the likeness of a Partrige, that no other Lightning cou’d hurt him whilst he had that about him, that after he had kept it for several Years it got away from him, and that then he became as liable to be struck with Lightning as any other Man; thus they amuse the People with a Thousand such like ridiculous stories, which they receive for the most infallible Truths.
They likewise deliver the hearers several traditional stories of great Battles that were fought by their Ancestors, of strange Beasts and Birds that were to be met with many Years ago, and that a great Rattle Snake that lived in a Creek in North-Carolina kill’d abundance of Indians, but at last a Bald Eagle kill’d it, and they were rid of a Serpent that us’d to devour whole Canoes full of Indians at a time. So that you may see how easie these Wretches are to be impos’d upon by these old Cunting Knaves, who I am perswaded understand a little better than to give credit to any such Fooleries.
I will in the next place give some account of their Physick and Surgery. These Doctors or Conjurors are those (as I said before) that visit and attend the sick, who use many charms of Witchcraft, and to gain a greater esteem and credit amongst these People, they tell them that all their Destempers are the effects of the bad or evil Spirit, who has struck them with this or that malady. Therefore none of these Doctors undertake any distemper, but that he first comes to an Exorcism to effect the Cure, and acquaints the sick parties Friends or Relations, that he must converse with the good Spirit, to know whether the Patient will recover or not; if so, then he will drive out the bad Spirit, and then the sick Person will recover and become well.
When an Indian is sick, if they think there is much danger of Life, and that he is a great Man, or hath good Friends, their method or behaviour in curing is as follows. The Doctor is immediately sent for, and as soon as he comes into their Cabin, the sick Person is placed on a Mat or Skin stark naked, lying on his Back all uncover’d, except some small trifle that covers their nakedness when ripe, otherwise in Children, or young People there is nothing about them. In this manner the Patient lies when the Conjurer or Doctor appears, and generally the King of that Nation comes to attend him with a Rattle made of a Gourd with Pease or Indian-Corn in it, which the King delivers into the Doctors Hands, whilst another brings a Bowl of Water and sets it down.
Things being thus prepared, the Doctor then begins and utters some few Words softly; afterwards he smells to the Patients Navel, and sometimes Scarifies him a little with a Flint, or an Instrument made of Rattle-Snake’s Teeth forthat purpose, then he Sucks the part, and gets out a Mouthful of Blood and Serum, but Serum, chiefly, which he spits into the Bowl of Water, by which means he pretends to Suck out what occasions the Distemper.
Then he begins to mutter and talk apace; and at last to cut Capers and clap his Hands on his Britch and sides till he is all over in a Sweat, which to an European woud not only seem a very odd and strange Sight, but likewise that he was running Mad, every now and then Sucking the Patient, till such time as he gets great quantities of Blood and ill colour’d Matter, out of the Belly, Armes, Breast, Forehead, Temples, Neck, and most other parts of the Body, still continuing his Grimaces and Antick Postures, which to Europeans woud seem more like the Actions of Men in Bedlam than Doctors attending the Sick.
At last you will see the Doctor all over in a Sweat, and so feeble, that he is scarce able to stand or utter one Word, having quite spent himself, then he will cease for a while to recruit his Spirits, and begin again, ‘till he comes to the same pitch of raving and seeming Madness as before; during all this time and these performances of the Doctor, the sick Person never so much as moves, although doubtless the Scarifying and Sucking must be a great punishment to him.
But they are the most patient under the Misfortunes of Life, of any People I ever saw in all my Travels: Lastly, the Doctor makes an end, and tells the Patient’s Friends whether the sick Person will Live or Dye, and then some one that waits at this Ceremony takes the Blood away (which remains in a Lump in the middle of the Water) and immediately Buries it very secretly in the Ground, the Place being unknown to any but he that inters it.
These People are great Inchanters, and use many Charms of Witchcraft, for when they are troubled with the Headach, they tye a great Stone with a String to a Stick or Pole, and with certain Prayers, or bewitching expressions, they lift up the Stone from the Ground to the top of the Pole, which sometimes with all a Man’s strength they cannot stir from the place; and at other times they lift as easy as a Feather; by this Spell and certain Ceremonious Words, they expect to have immediate ease and help for the Patient. I am thoroughly satisfied that these Conjurors are very great Impostures, yet I have seldom or never known their Judgment fail in regard of the Patients living or dying, though I have seen them give their opinion after this manner several times: Some affirm that there is a smell of Brimstone in the Cabins whilst they are thus Conjuring, which I cannot contradict, nor will I take upon me to argue how it came there, but shall proceed to another relation of one of their Indian Kings being sick, and the method us’d by the Doctor for the recovery of his health, which is something like the former, viz.
One of their Kings being sick, the Doctor was immediately sent for, and as soon as he arriv’d, he orderd a Bowl of Water to be brought him and placed before the King, on whom he sprinkled some part out of his Mouth, then he took a string of Ronoak about too Feet long (which is like a string of small Beads) this he held at one end between his Fingers, and the other touched the Kings Stomach; he began to mutter many expressions or Words, and to use many grimaces for sometime, at length the string of Beads that hung thus perpendicular, turn’d up as an Eel woud do, and without any motion of his Hand came all up in a Lump under his Hand, and remain’d so for a considerable time, he never closing his Hand all the while; at last they returned to their former shape and length; at which the European Spectators were much surprized, some of them confidently affirmed, that they heard something answer him whilst he muttered some Words, though there was nothing to be seen. The Doctor told the Company that the King would recover, and that his Disorder would remove into his Leg, that it would be much inflam’d and swell’d, which happened exactly as he foretold.
They also conjure for stollen Goods, though Robbery and Theft are not common Vices amongst them, yet they are sometimes guilty of these Crimes; and steal Ronoak and Deer Skins from each other; when they cannot discover the Thief, they immediately send for the Conjurer to find him out, and as soon as he appears, he begins after the following manner. First he orders three Fires to be made after a triangular Form, which is accordingly done; he is then hood-winked very securly with a Deer Skin, doubled two or three times, over his Face; when this is done, he is placed in the center of the three Fires: after he has made some Motions (as always these Conjurers do) he went directly out of one of the three gaps of the Fire, as directly as if he could see, muttering to himself, having a Stick in his Hand, with which, after some time, he gives two strokes very hard upon the Ground, and made thereon a kind of Cross, after which he told the Name of the Person that had stolen the Goods, and said he would have a Mark like a Cross on his Back, which proved accordingly, for when he was taken and search’d, there appeared two great Wheals on his Back one cross the other.
There are several other Stories of this Nature, which the most substantial and credible Planters in these parts affirm for Truth, and that they have been Eye-witnesses to. They also report that they have seen one of these Conjurers take a Hollow Cane about two Feet long, in his Mouth, and stand by a Creek side, where he called with the Reed two or three times, at last opened his Arms, and flew over a Creek about a quarter of a Mile broad, as if he had been running upon Terra Firma. I shall urge no Man’s belief in this, having never seen it done by any of them, and only give it as reported above; but some of the former I have been a Witness to, therefore dare boldly assert as Fact.
As to their Religion, it is impossible to give any true Description of it, for as they can neither read nor write, whatever they have of this kind is founded meerly upon Tradition. There are a great many Customs, or rather Absurdities amongst them, which they keep as the most profound Secret; that they never will acquaint any of the Christians with the Knowledge thereof, notwithstanding the many Methods used, such as making them Drunk, the promise of Rewards, &c. but to no purpose, for so subtile and cunning are they, that it is next to an impossibility to make them discover it, or to fathom out their secret Designs, whether they do this because they are sensible of their own Weakness in practicing them, or any other Motive they may have to induce them so to do, is known to none but themselves, let other Writers pretend what they will to give a true Notion of their Worship; you shall see them amongst their Idols and dead Kings in their Quiogoson or Charnel Horse, wherethe Bones of the deceased are laid (a Custom like this we read of practiced by the Indians in the Kingdom of Pegu in the East Indies) into which place the King, with the Conjurers and some few old Men are admitted to go, but as for the young Men, and the chiefest Number of the Indians, they are kept as ignorant of what the Elders are as any European, let him be in ever so great Esteem and Friendship with the King or great Men; he is not admitted to enter the House at those times, or to have Knowledge of their Secrets or what they are doing.