Page:Firemaking Apparatus in the U.S. National Museum.djvu/22

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548 REPORT OF NATIONAL MUSEUM, 1888. apparatus that be made use of was four sticks placed end to end to form a square cross. This was oriented, and at the junctioji of the sticks new fire was made by friction.* The Choctaws (also Muskogean) of Mississippi, Mr. M. F. Berry writes, make fire in tlie following way: One stick of dry wood that has a hole in it, with a smaller hole at the bottom going through, is placed between the feet. Another piece made round and about 3 feet long is made to revolve rapidly back and forth between the hands in the hole, and the fire drops through the small hole below. When new fire was wanted for the Green Corn Dance, or other ])urposes, three men wouhl place themselves so that each in turn could keep the stick re- volving without a stop, until fire would drop down through the hole, which was nursed with dry material into a flame. This form of the fire hearth is not represented in the collections of the Museum ; the only other description of a process closely like it was given by Mr. Thomas C. Battey, who observed it among the Kiowas. It was shown him at that time as a revival of the ancient method (p. 543). The pierced fire hearth is somewhat impracticable, except in the Malay sawing method. In the rotary drill the small hole would come over the axis of least friction and heat. Unless provision was made for the dust to fall freely underneath by a double cone perforation worked from both sides the dust is likely to become obstructed and smother the fire. It will be seen, too, that it departs very much from the simplicity of the usual fire drill in the fact that a hole must be made through the piece of wood, a matter of some difliculty before the introduction of iron awls. The Seminoles of Florida, the most Southern Muskoki, have neglected the art of fire making by simple liiction, unless at the starting ot the sacred fire for the Green Corn Dance, says Mr. Clay MacCauley.f A fire is now kindled either by the common matches, matci, or by steel and flint. Thus it is seen that wherever in the. earlier period of the exploration in this country the observation has been made, the Indian, almost with out exception, was tbund to be using the friction apparatus, consisting of two sticks of wood. Some tribes had improved on the working of the invention, while a very few others had i)erhaps arrived at the use of the higher invention of the flint and pyrites. Heturning to the tribes of the wiiie central plains of our country, we find that the flint and steel soon displaced the fire-sticks, except for religious purposes. The Mandans, of the great Sioiian stock, were using flint and steel at the time of Mr. Catlin's visit in 183Lt There seems to be a great misapi)rehension among some of the writers

  • Benj. Hawkins' Sketch of the Creek Country. 1798-'yi). 68-72, cited in Pickett's

History of Alabama, i, j). 108. t Fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology. 1883-'84. p. 51H. I The George Catlin Indian Gy-Hery. Sniiihsouian Report. 1885. ii, p. 456.