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OF THE MANNERS, CUSTOMS, RELIGIOUS OPINIONS AND CERE
MONIES OF THE INDIANS.
Thus have I made a true and full narration of the
state of our Plantation, and such things as were most 162 3. remarkable therein since December, 1621. If I have
omitted any thing, it is either through weakness of memory, or because I judged it not inaterial. I confess my style rude, and unskilfulness in the task I undertook ; being urged thereunto by opportunity, which I knew to be wanting in others, and but for which I would not have undertaken the same. Yet as it is rude, so it is plain, and therefore the easier to be understood; wherein others may see that which we are bound to acknowledge, viz. that if ever any people in these later ages were upheld by the providence of God after a more special manner than others, then
and therefore are the more bound to celebrate the memory of his goodness with everlasting thankfulness. For in these forenamed straits, such was our state, as in the morning we had often our food to seek for the day, and yet performed the duties of our callings, I mean other daily labors, to provide for after time; and though at some times in some seasons at noon I
RELIGION OF THE INDIANS.
have seen men stagger by reason of faintness for want CHAP. of food, yet ere night, by the good providence and blessing of God, we have enjoyed such plenty as though the 1623. windows of heaven had been opened unto us.
How few, weak, and raw were we at our first beginning, and there settling, and in the midst of barbarous enemies! Yet God wrought our peace for us. How often have we been at the pit's brim, and in danger to be swallowed up, yea, not knowing till afterward that we were in peril! And yet God preserved us; yea, and from how many that we yet know not of, He that knoweth all things can best tell. So that when I seriously consider of things, I cannot but think that God hath a purpose to give that land as an inheritance to our nation, and great pity it were that it should long lie in so desolate a state, considering it agreeth so well with the constitution of our bodies, being both fertile, and so temperate for heat and cold, as in that respect one can scarce distinguish New England from Old.
A few things I thought meet to add hereunto, which I have observed amongst the Indians, both touching their religion and sundry other customs amongst them. And first, whereas myself and others, in former letters, (which caine to the press against my will and knowledge,) wrote that the Indians about us are a people without any religion, or knowledge of any God,' therein I erred, though we could then gather no better; for as they conceive of many divine powers, so of one, whom they call Kichtan, to be the principal and maker of all the rest, and to be made by none. He, they say, created the heavens, earth, sea and all creatures
antiquity; for Chise is an old man, ? The meaning of the word and Kichchise a man that exceedeth Kiehtan, I think, hath reference to in age. - Winslow's Note.
KIEHTAN, THE INDIAN GOD.
CHAP. contained therein ; also that he made one man and
one woman, of whom they and we and all mankind 162 3. came ;' but how they became so far dispersed, that
know they not. At first, they say, there was no sachimn or king, but Kiehtan, who dwelleth above in the heavens, whither all good men go when they die, to see their friends, and have their fill of all things. This his habitation lieth far westward in the heavens, they say; thither the bad men go also, and knock at his door, but he bids them quatchet, that is to say, walk abroad, for there is no place for such ; so that they wander in restless want and penury. Never man saw this Kiehtan; only old men tell them of him, and bid them tell their children, yea to charge them to teach their posterities the same, and lay the like charge upon them. This power they acknowledge to be good; and when they would obtain any great matter, meet together and cry unto him ; and so likewise for plenty, victory, &c. sing, dance, feast, give thanks, and hang up garlands and other things in memory of the same.
Another power they worship, whom they call Ilobbamock, and to the northward of us, Ilobbamoqui ;3 this, as far as we can conceive, is the devil. Him they call upon to cure their wounds and diseases. When they are curable, he persuades them he sends the same
"" They relate how they have it believe that the souls of mon and from their fathers, that Kautantow women go to the southwest; their wit inade one man and woman of great and good inen and women to a stone, wluch disliking he broke Kautantowwii's house, where they them in pieces, and made another have hopes, as the Turks have, of man and woman of a tree, which
joys; murtherers, thieves were the fountains of all mankind." and liars, their souls, say they, Roger Williams's Key, ch. xxi. wander restless abroad." Wil
Kaulantowwit, the great south- liams's Key, ch. xxi. west God, to whose house all souls 3 Wood, in his New England's go, and from whom came their Prospect, ch. xix. spells this word corn and beans, as they say. They Abamacho.
THE POWOW, OR MEDICINE MAN.
for some conceived anger against them; but upon their CHAP. calling upon him, can and doth help them ; but when they are mortal and not curable in nature, then he 1623. persuades them Kiehtan is angry, and sends them, whom none can cure ; insomuch as in that respect only they somewhat doubt whether he be simply good, and therefore in sickness never call upon him. This Hobbamock appears in sundry forms unto them, as in the shape of a man, a deer, a fawn, an eagle, &c. but most ordinarily a snake. He appears not to all, but the chiefest and most judicious amongst them; though all of them strive to attain to that hellish height of honor. Ile appeareth most ordinary and is most conversant with three sorts of people. Onc, I confess I neither know by name nor office directly; of these they have few, but esteem highly of them, and think that no weapon can kill them; another they call by the name of powah ; and the third pniese.
The office and duty of the powah is to be exercised principally in calling upon the devil, and curing diseases of the sick or wounded. The common people join with him in the exercise of invocation, but do but only assent, or as we term it, say Amen to that he saith; yet sometime break out into a short musical note with him. The powah is eager and free in speech, fierce in countenance, and joineth many antic and laborious gestures with the same, over the party diseased. If the party be wounded, he will also seem to suck the wound; but if they be curable, (as they say,) he toucheth it not, but askooke, that is, the snake, or wobsacuck, that is, the cagle, sitteth on his shoulder, and licks the same. This nonc scc but the powal, who tells them lie doth it
· See page 317.
THE POWOW'S PRACTICES.
CHAP. himself. If the party be otherwise diseased, it is ac
counted sufficient if in any shape he but come into the 16 2 3. house, taking it for an undoubted sign of recovery.
And as in former ages Apollo had his temple at Delphos, and Diana at Ephesus, so have I heard them call upon some as if they had their residence in some certain places, or because they appeared in those forms in the same. In the powah's speech, he promiseth to sacrifice
skins of beasts, kettles, hatchets, beads, knives, and other the best things they have to the fiend, if he will come to help the party discascd ; but whether they perform it, I know not. The other practices I have seen, being necessarily called sometimes to be with their sick, and have used the best arguments I could to make them understand against the same. They have told me I should see the devil at those times come to the party ; but I assured myself and them of the contrary, which so proved; yea, themselves have confessed they never saw him when any of us were present. In desperate and extraordinary hard travail in child-birth, when the party cannot be delivered by the ordinary means, thicy send for this powah ; though ordinarily their travail is not so extreme as in our parts of the world, they being of a more hardy nature ; for on the third day after child-birth, I have seen the mother with the infant, upon a small occasion, in cold weather, in a boat upon the sea.
Many sacrifices the Indians use, and in some cases kill children. It seemeth they are various in their religious worship in a little distance, and grow more and more cold in their worship to Kiehtan; saying, in their memory he was much more called upon. The Nanohiggansets exceed in their blind devotion, and have a