« ElőzőTovább »
stigmatized in the description of Indian man
But if any sudden change in this respect is to be insisted upon, or attempted, it will probably have no other effect than to disgust both the men and the women. “The women," says Dr. Franklin, “ till the ground, dress the food, nurse and bring up the children, and preserve, and hand down to posterity, the memory of the public transactions. These employments are accounted natural and honourable.”* Heckewelder also observes, “ There are many persons who believe, from the labours they see the Indian women perform, that they are in a manner treated as slaves. These labours, indeed, are hard, compared with the tasks imposed upon females in civilized society; but they are no more than their fair share, under every consideration and due allowance of the hardships attendant upon savage life; therefore they are not only voluntarily but cheerfully submitted to: and as the women are not obliged to live with their husbands any longer than suits their pleasure or convenience, it cannot be supposed that they would submit to be loaded with unjust or unequal burdens.”+ The same writer observes, that the women take upon themselves the chief labour of the field ; nor do
• Dr. Franklin's Remarks concerning the Savages of North America.
+ Heckewelder's Account of the Indians, ch. 16.
they think it hard so to do, because this employs them only about six weeks in the twelve months, while the labours of the husband to maintain his family, by other means, last throughout the whole year. The tilling of the ground at home, getting in fire wood, and pounding corn in mortars, is frequently done by female parties much in the manner of those husking, quilting, and other frolics, as they are called, which are so common in some parts of the United States. The labour is thus quickly and easily performed. When it is over, and sometimes at intervals, they sit down to enjoy themselves, by feasting on good victuals prepared for them by the person or family for whom they work, and which the man has taken care to provide beforehand from the woods :” and he adds, “ Even the chat which passes during their joint labours is highly diverting: and so they seek to be employed in this way as long as they can, by going round to all those in the village who have ground to till."*
This is merely noticed as one of many customs where a hasty and inconsiderate attempt at alteration may prevent the attainment of those very benefits which are expected from the change. To set an Indian hunter or warrior at once to labour in the fields, and his squaw to resign the healthy and varied occupations she has been
* Heckewelder's Account of the Indians, ch. 16.
accustomed to follow in the open air with her children, and suddenly to fix her at the irksome task of a spinning wheel, will only have the effect of disgusting them with the beginnings of civilization, and inevitably prevent its progress. Keeping constantly in view that, with regard to the Indian, the slower and more gradual the attempts at change, the more sure will be the results that are ultimately looked for, it would be better to encourage the men gradually to share with the women in the labours of agriculture, than at once to separate them in their occupations, as appears to be the case with respect to some of the recent establishments for Indian improvement.
But those who look the most anxiously towards the civilization of the Indians, must direct their attention chiefly to the education of the native children. Kindness and regard shewn to the Indian parents will make them much less reluctant than they formerly were to allow their children to be taken from them: and there is no doubt-however melancholy it may be to reflect upon the cause — that the dependent and feeble state to which many of the tribes have been now reduced, will render them more disposed to agree to a partial separation from their offspring. It is at present much more difficult for an Indian, in most parts of the country, to maintain his family, than it was in earlier times : and this circumstance, together with his
personal observation of the benefit arising from the adoption of European arts and industry, will probably induce him to part with his children for the purposes of their instruction. This, of late years, appears to have been the case ; and, from the accounts given of the Indian tribes, particularly within the territory of the United States, that feeling seems to be generally on the increase, and the requisite advantage is taken of it.
A resolution having passed the house of representatives at Washington two years ago, requesting information froin the President as to the condition of the several Indian tribes within the United States, and the progress of the measures hitherto adopted for their civilization, an official Report was drawn up by Mr. Calhoun, the secretary of war, by which it appeared that there were then throughout the Union fourteen schools, chiefly established by the missionary societies, where about five hundred children, male and female, were taught; and that it was thought advisable, at the commencement of the system, to proceed with caution, and to extend their operations as experience or circumstances might dictate.
Whether the system,” says Mr. Calhoun," which has been adopted by the government, if persevered in, will ultimately bring the Indians within the pale of civilization, can only be determined by time. It has been in operation too short a period to pronounce with certainty on the
result. The present generation, which cannot be greatly affected by it, must pass away, and those who have been reared under the present system must succeed thein, before its effects can be fully tested.
As far, however, as civilization may depend on education only, without taking into consideration the force of circumstances, it would seem that there is no insuperable difficulty in effecting the benevolent intention of the government. It may be affirmed, almost without any qualification, that all the tribes within our settlements, and near our borders, are even solicitous for the education of their children.”
It cannot be doubted that the Indian may be induced, with cautious management, to permit his children to be instructed by the whites, although he at present appears but little disposed to follow their instructions himself. “ I see,” observed an Osage chief, when urged at Washington upon the subject of Indian civilization —“ I see, and admire your manner of living, your good warm houses, your extensive fields of corn, your gardens, your cattle, your waggons, and a thousand machines that I know not the use of. I see that you are able to clothe yourselves even from weeds and grass : in short, you can do almost what you choose. You
* Official Report from the Secretary of War, to the President of the United States, Feb. 8, 1822.