Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/439

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425
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

others when paid for it. They make their living by hunting wild fowl and animals, of which the most valuable to them appears to be the rabbit. Their clothing was chiefly made of rabbit and reindeer-skins before they came in contact with the white men. Rabbit-skins sewed together make the warmest of blankets, even though the fingers may be pushed through them anywhere, and an Indian child dressed up in them, like "baby bunting," is a funny-looking but very cozy creature. The Indian babies seem never to cry, never to squall, as more civilized babies are in the habit of doing, and are never chastised. "It would be thought very unnatural and cruel in a mother to flog or strike her child." All the Indians treat with much ceremony and respect the body of any bear they may have killed. He is placed in a sitting posture against a tree, and long speeches are made of apology and regret for having been under the disagreeable necessity of killing him. Then, as the bear may come to life again even after he has been disemboweled, a stick is put into his mouth to keep it wide open, and a profuse and humble apology is made to him for the additional indignity. The supposed necessity for this precaution is believed to have arisen from the fact that a bear, thought to be dead, came to life again while being carried home, and took a mouthful out of one of his Indian bearers. With a small tribe called the Dog-ribs, or slaves, the custom prevails of wrestling for the right to a wife, "the lady sitting by, an apparently careless and indifferent spectator of the struggle for possession. No other ceremony is required than that the victor, whether her former husband or not, claims his wife." Another custom, and an unfortunate one, is that on the death of a near relative these Indians must destroy every article of property of value that they possess, excepting perhaps an old deer-skin robe and a few other articles. They, moreover, can not hunt during the season in which the loss occurs, and are thus exposed to great poverty. With nearly all the Indians, a certain favorite piece of deer or bird is tabooed to the women, and they dare not taste it, or even come near where it is cooking, under a severe penalty. With the Chippewas it is the moose-nose, with the Wood Crees some part of the wild-goose, and with the Dog-ribs the reindeer head. A peculiarity of the Hudson Bay Company's tariff, which has been considerably misrepresented, is that far higher prices, in proportion to their value, are paid to the Indians for inferior furs than for the finer ones. The object of this regulation is simply to prevent the undue hunting of the more expensive. furs. "I fear," says Dr. Rae, "that little can be done for these northern Indians, unless they can be reasoned out of their prejudices and superstitions, which, with their imprudences and wastefulness, are the cause of their being so poor."

 

Ass's Milk for Infants.—M. Parrot, physician at the Hospital for Assisted Children in Paris, has recently made a report of the success which has attended the efforts he has made to introduce an improved system of alimentation into the nursery of that institution. His conclusions, confirmed as they are by the observations of his colleague, M. Tarnier, who had the charge of an important class of young nurses, deserve the particular attention of hospital and municipal administrations. Good nurses are very scarce, and it is hard to keep a strict watch upon the children consigned by the public charities to their care. On the other hand, a goodly number of these poor little ones come into the world afflicted with diseases which forbid their being committed to a nurse, because they would be in danger of infecting her. At the Children's Hospital, where the proportion of these wretched infants is always considerable, it has been found necessary to feed them from the bottle in the halls of the infirmary. Notwithstanding the most intelligent care, this means has not been efficient to restore the strength of the infants, who were, in fact, nearly moribund with disease contracted in their mother's womb. M. Parrot had a single chance to save them and tried it; it was to nurse them directly at the teat of an animal. The nursery which has been established in the gardens of the Hospital for Assisted Children has been in operation for about a year, and the results of the experiments have been so satisfactory that no reason exists for waiting for a longer trial before making them known. In the face