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Traditions of the North American Indians, Vol. 1   By: (1791-1854)

Book cover

First Page:

TRADITIONS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS:

BEING

A SECOND AND REVISED EDITION OF

"TALES OF AN INDIAN CAMP."

BY

JAMES ATHEARN JONES.

IN THREE VOLUMES.

VOL. I.

LONDON: HENRY COLBURN AND RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BULINGTON STREET. 1830 F. SHOBERL, JUN., LONG ACRE.

[Illustration: Designed & Etched by W. H. Brooks, A. R. H. A. I bore her away in my arms from the battle of Warriors. page 23 . London, Published by Colburn & Bentley, April 1830 .]

TO

WASHINGTON IRVING, ESQ.

THESE VOLUMES ARE RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED BY HIS FRIEND AND COUNTRYMAN, THE AUTHOR.

ADVERTISEMENT.

It has been thought that the introduction prefixed to the first edition, and which was intended as a mere framework upon which to hang the traditions, was not satisfactorily contrived, and that the title did not set forth the true nature of the work. I think so myself, and have therefore suppressed that introduction, and given to the work a strictly accurate title. I have supplied the place of the introduction with a brief statement of the opportunities I have had of studying the Indian character, and with an exhibition of proofs of the genuineness of the traditions themselves. The public having been pleased to say that " if the matter was genuine, the manner was good," and that a successful attempt to "stamp the legends with the character of authenticity" would elevate them to the dignity of "historical records," I have been at some pains to collect and offer the required proofs.

INTRODUCTION.

I was born within twelve miles of a principal tribe of Indians, within two miles of a small band, and within six miles of two other small bands, of that tribe. They were a remnant of the Pawkunnawkuts, who, at the first settlement of the country, were a very numerous, powerful, and warlike nation, but at the time of my birth had dwindled in numbers to about five hundred souls, and were restricted in territory to some six or seven thousand acres. They then, and at present, sank their primitive appellation in the less poetic name of Gayheads, which was given them by the white people with reference to the little elbow or promontory of land where they lived. Though the manners and customs of the Whites had made sad inroads on the primitive Indian character, there yet remained, at the time of my birth, enough to make them objects of ardent and profitable interest.

The recollections of my earliest childhood are of Indians. My grandfather had an old Indian woman in his house for the greater part of the first fifteen years of my life. Our house servants and field labourers were chiefly Indians. It was my grandfather's custom, and had been that of his ancestors, ever since their settlement, a hundred and fifty years ago, in the vicinity of the tribe, to take Indian boys at the age of four or five years, and keep them until they had attained their majority, when they usually left us, chiefly to become sailors an employment in which their services were specially valued. During my minority we had three of these little foresters in our house, and these drew around them their fathers, and mothers, and sisters, and brothers: very frequently our house was an "Indian Camp" indeed. From the boys I learned the sports and pastimes of Indian childhood, and, from the aged, their traditional history and wild legends of supernatural horrors. So thoroughly has my mind become imbued with their superstitions, that at times I find difficulty in reconciling myself to the plain matter of fact narratives of the men of my own creed and colour. I have to pinch myself like one awaking from an unpleasant dream, and to say to the wild creations of Indian fancy, "Ye are shadows all."

It is quite impossible that any one, who has not been among and "of" the North American Indians, should be able to form even a tolerable idea of the extent to which they are acted upon by their superstitions... Continue reading book >>




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