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Dahcotah Life and Legends of the Sioux Around Fort Snelling   By: (1818-1887)

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DAHCOTAH;

OR,

LIFE AND LEGENDS OF THE SIOUX

AROUND FORT SNELLING.

BY MRS. MARY EASTMAN,

WITH

PREFACE BY MRS. C. M. KIRKLAND.

ILLUSTRATED FROM DRAWINGS BY CAPTAIN EASTMAN.

TO HENRY SIBLEY, ESQ.,

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

It was my purpose to dedicate, exclusively, these pages to my beloved parents. What correctness of sentiment appears in this book is mainly ascribable to a principle they endeavored to instil into the minds of their children, that purity of heart and intellectual attainment are never more appropriately exercised than in promoting the good of our fellow creatures.

Yet the sincere sentiments of respect and regard that I entertain for you, the remembrance of the many acts of friendship received from you during my residence at Fort Snelling, and the assurance that you are ever prompt to assist and protect the Indian, induce me to unite your name with those most dear to me in this dedication.

An additional inducement is, that no one knows better than yourself the opportunities that presented themselves to collect materials for these legends, and with what interest these occasions were improved. With whatever favor this little work may be received it is a most pleasing reflection to me, that the object in publishing it being to excite attention to the moral wants of the Dahcotahs, will be kindly appreciated by the friends of humanity, and by none more readily than yourself.

Very truly yours,

MARY H. EASTMAN.

New London, March lst, 1849.

PREFACE.

My only title to the office of editor in the present case is some practice in such matters, with a very warm interest in all, whether relating to past or present, that concerns our western country. Mrs. Eastman, wife of Captain Eastman, and daughter of Dr. Henderson, both of the U. S. army, is thoroughly acquainted with the customs, superstitions, and leading ideas of the Dahcotahs, whose vicinity to Fort Snelling, and frequent intercourse with its inmates, have brought them much under the notice of the officers and ladies of the garrison. She has no occasion to present the Indian in a theatrical garb a mere thing of paint and feathers, less like the original than his own rude delineation on birch bark or deer skin. The reader will find in the following pages living men and women, whose feelings are in many respects like his own, and whose motives of action are very similar to those of the rest of the world, though far less artfully covered up and disguised under pleasant names. "Envy, hatred and malice, and all uncharitableness," stand out, unblushing, in Indian life. The first is not called emulation, nor the second just indignation or merited contempt, nor the third zeal for truth, nor the fourth keen discernment of character. Anger and revenge are carried out honestly to their natural fruit injury to others. Among the Indians this takes the form of murder, while with us it is obliged to content itself with slander, or cunning depreciation. In short, the study of Indian character is the study of the unregenerate human heart; and the writer of these sketches of the Dahcotahs presents it as such, with express and solemn reference to the duty of those who have "the words of eternal life" to apply them to the wretched condition of the red man, who is, perhaps, with all his ignorance, quite as well prepared to receive them as many of those who are already wise in their own eyes. The very degradation and misery in which he lives, and of which he is not unable to perceive some of the causes, prepare him to welcome the instruction which promises better things. Evils which are covered up under the smoothness of civilization, stand out in all their horrible deformity in the abandon of savage life; the Indian cannot get even one gleam of light, without instantly perceiving the darkness around him... Continue reading book >>




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