Page:Firemaking Apparatus in the U.S. National Museum.djvu/20

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546 KEroUT OF national museum, 1888. Holding the twirler vertically between the pahns of the hands, a gentle but rapid alternating rotary motion is imparted. After continuing this for about five minutes the abrasion of the softer wood causes a fiue, iujpalpable dust to collect iu the hole, from which soon issues a thin, blue line of smoke. As soon as the Indian sees this he quickly withdraws his twirler with one hand, while with the other he catches up and crushes a few dry leaves previously placed ou a dry cloth close by (having been pr.jduced from thin wrappings, iu which they have been preserved for this very purpose, to serve as tinder), and quickly but lightly spriukles them in and around the hole, over which both hands are now held protectingly, the head bent down, and the inci{)ieut fire fanned to a blaze with the breath. As soon as the blaze has fairly caught, the stick and tinder are deftly turned over upon a little pile of dry twigs and leaves, got ready beforehand, and the fire is started. This operation of getting fire is always performed by the men, and not by the squaws. The fire is invariably built iu the center of the hut, upon the ground, and, IS usually kept burning, for the Indians never slept regularly, but wlu-never they pleased, often asleep in the day time and awake nights, or vice ve>sa, as they felt in- clined. The Iroquois tire unique in America, and perhaps in the world, in making fire with the pump-drill. Several other tribes in America use the pump drill to pierce stone and shell, for which purpose it is an ex- cellent tool, but the mechanical difficulties lying in the way of making fire with it have only been overcome by the Iroquois. Pump drills aie intended for light, fine work, with uniform, light pressure; hence, with little friction. The Iroquois have added this element by increasing the size of the balance-wheel and stock. Mr. Morgan, in his " League of the Iroquois," p. 381, figures a fire drill with a wooden stock 4 feet long and 1 inch in diameter. This stock has at the upper end a string and bow, while near the lower end is a " small wheel. " Mr. Morgan says this is *' an Indian invention of great antiquity. " Mr. J. N. B. Hewitt, of the Bureau of Ethnology, has kindly given the writer a set of apparatus and valuable information with reference to tire-making among the Iroquois, especially the Onondagas and Tusca- roras. He states that at times when there is disease among the people they say it is because the fire is *' old." They then determine to make »' new fire, " so all fires are put out and two slippery-elm logs are selected and one of these is laid on the ground and a V^haped notch is cut on the upper side. In this notch some tinder of dry slippery-elm is put and three (mystic or sacred number) men at either end work the other log backward and forward until fire is generated, and from this the fires are lighted. He believes that the new fire is made at the winter feast of the Iroquois. They say that the drill with tlie weight is their own invention. They use elm for that also. In making the pump drill they sometimes cut an elm sapling and work out the drill, leaving the tap root for the fore part, the knot for the weight, and part of the stem for the top part of the drill. It is not improbable that the Iroquois — the most advanced Indians in some respects on the continent, invented this use of the widely dif- fused puinp-drill. It scarcely seems to be a practical way to make fire,