Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/153

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

Reviews. 127

joining Mr. Edward S. Curtis in his expedition to the Blackfeet of Montana; we camped on the prairie, being in daily contact with these Indians. It would be foolish if I pretended that this superficial knowledge of a few Indians constituted me an authority on their manners and customs, though incidentally I did manage to pick up a fair amount of information which has enabled me to check the author in a few instances, and, needless to add, I have not caught him tripping. But what was of more value to me, on this occasion, and when, some years previously, I saw a little of the Pawnee in Oklahoma, I obtained a glimpse of the religious life of the Indian ; I sat through one night of the Morning Star ceremony of the Skidi Pawnee, danced the Medi- cine Pipe Dance of the Catchers' band, and also sweated with Blackfeet in a sweat-lodge. These and other experiences have profoundly impressed me with the deep religious feeling which permeates the minds of the older men, and I have thus been enabled more fully to understand the writings of Frank Cushing, — whose death was a great loss to American ethnology, — and the remarkable, sympathetic studies of Alice Fletcher; and now M'Clintock's "book revives my own memories, and will enable those who have no personal acquaintance with American Indians to appreciate the wonderful spirituaHty and strength of character that lies behind the severe visage which serves as a mask when in contact with others. Mr. M'Clintock has lifted this veil, and he and his Indian friends have shown us the essential man behind it. This alone was well worth doing, but in addition we have a personal narrative of travel and adventure, and an interesting account of the varied aspects of that camp life of the Indians which is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. The stories told by the old men, and the narratives of the author, Grinnell, and Schultz, enable us to recover somewhat of the joy of life in the days when the bison roamed the prairie in countless numbers. Then, before the advent of the white man, the Blackfeet and other tribes lived the life of men ; now, alas ! " Ichabod " is writ large over their destiny, and their prospects are not reassuring. The iron heel of material progress has ground them down, and, unless they march with the times, the citizens of the United States have "no use" for them.