THE Indian woman is a
She is alone when her
child is born, and rarely does she let it out of her sight until it is
able to care for itself. As she toils at her duties, her babe, in its
pocket-cradle, swings from the friendly arm of a tree. She sings to it a
heart-song, or hushes its fretfulness by calling its attention to the
twittering birds, or the breath of the Spirit in the quivering leaves.
To the older little ones
she chants her legends.
Often has my
foster-mother led me into the Sleep-Land in the footsteps of some great
hero of the past, the telling of whose wonderful deeds expressed the
hopes of her mother-heart for me. And she had the mother-heart for me as
well as for her own two boys and girl.
Giawamahye (Kiowa-Girl), was an agreeable, diligent child. She responded
well to her mother’s teaching.
The Indian woman is
careful to guard her little girl from evil and to train her in virtue
and modesty and industry.
(One Horse) and Seeseh (Arrow-Head)—and I were not always as agreeable
as Giawamahye. We children loved each other as well as do those of any
well-regulated, civilised family, but we boys were as rough in our
playing as little brother-bears. So there were frequent bites and
scratches to call Mother’s attention to us. Her reproof was all that was
needed to shame us into agreement.
Our parents were always
kind to us. Indeed all Indian parents greatly loved their children, and
they taught them to obey.
Obedience is the first
law of the savage Indian. He believes it as vital to his existence as to
that of animal creation. As the buffalo, the deer, the beaver and the
turkey trained their young to obey, so did our parents train us.
For us to disobey meant a
day shut up in the tepee alone, or sitting apart with no food when all
the others ' were eating. Rarely, if ever, did a father or mother punish
a child by whipping.
The nearest I ever came
to getting a thrashing— which was, by no means, the nearest I ever came
to needing one—was one day when Mother was pounding up some dried meat.
She was sitting by the tepee door, not far from where I was playing. I
decided it would be> fun to throw a handful of sand into the meat. I
threw it. Mother had the fun. She grabbed me by the hair and gave it a
vigorous jerk. I squalled.
reproachfully through the doorway. Mother, meeting his look, hung her
head as though she had been caught in a crime. She softened at once,
threw her arms around me, gave me a kiss, and sent me back to my play
with a light heart.
Father—the big, strong
warrior, known by his enemies as the relentless Zepkhoeete—was as loving
and tender towards us as is any white civilised man towards his
children. For hours at a time he would dandle little Giawamahye upon his
knee, singing her a Sleep-song the while. And at times he would romp
with us as though we were all young bears together.
We always had the
greatest respect for our parents. To me my father was the greatest man
that lived; my mother the best and wisest of women.
When we boys were able to
take care of ourselves around the camp, we enjoyed a wide range of
liberty. We went and came when we pleased, slept when we felt like it,
ate when we were hungry. But night always found us at Mother’s tepee.