Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/93

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83
SOME LESSONS FROM BARBARISM.

culiar customs and habits of thought of the wilder tribes of Sioux a strong, typical aboriginal race and let us not be afraid or ashamed to admit that barbarism has valuable lessons for civilization.

The first thing about them to attract the attention of a stranger would probably be their dress. The ignorant and narrow-minded sneer at it because it is unlike the one to which they are accustomed to them it is nothing but " savage finery." The cosmopolitan observer, who recognizes the real superiority of most of the " na- tional costumes " of European and Asiatic countries to that con- ventional standard ugly, extravagant, and unhygienic which seems unhappily destined to supplant them this man perceives immediately the beauty and propriety of the Indian's dress.

The blanket is convenient, comfortable, and eminently grace- ful. The fringed buckskin hunting-shirt, leggings, and mocca- sins have been approved and adopted for more than a century by the intelligent frontiersman, as the best thing possible for the hunter in color, cut, and material. The moccasin especially is ac- knowledged to be the most perfect foot-covering ever invented. Absolutely comfortable, ornamental, and appropriate, it is worn very commonly by white men, and women too, who have to do with Indians or live near them, and it is the last article of native dress which the " civilized " Indian unwillingly resigns.

The loose, scant robe of the women, with wide flowing sleeves, is almost exactly similar to the well-known Japanese dress, and it is therefore unnecessary to affirm that it is pretty, modest, delight- fully comfortable, and ingeniously adapted to the necessities of a primitive existence. I have myself worn it in the wilderness with complete satisfaction, and know by experience how fully it meets the various exigencies of camp life. It requires only five yards of calico, and can be made in two hours ! Oh for the ease and free- dom, physical, mental, and moral, of a fixed standard of feminine dress which neither deforms, exaggerates, indelicately displays, nor ridiculously cumbers the female form a dress suitable for all women upon every occasion, and requiring small outlay of time or money or thought! What we all really admire is the healthy, beautiful woman not the elaborate toilet and a bit of artistic coloring or graceful lines of drapery are as attainable in a five- cent calico as in a five-dollar brocade.

Another lesson, which many over-civilized people are already learning, is that of outdoor life life close to Nature. Does not he who "camps out" all summer in the Adirondacks or on the sea-beaches become for the time being a healthy and happy sav- age ? It is scarcely worth while to expatiate upon the sanitary virtues of camp life as much for the mind as for the body. Every really natural, vigorous, live, thinking person dreads the enervat-