Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/729

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

themselves, and at the same time differed from those of the older or full-grown tree. Induced by this discovery to examine the foliage of the mature tree, he found that there was a certain regularity of variation, depending upon the position of the different forms of leaves. It is well known that a great variation exists among the leaves of our recent Liriodendron, on the same tree, and even on the same branch. There are also great differences in the forms of the leaves of fossil species, which many palæobotanists, including Prof. Newberry, regard as being significant of specific distinctions. Mr. Holm believes, and undertakes to show in his paper, that the differences in the foliage between many of the extinct species of Liriodendron are not greater than between a series of leaves from a very young tree or from a branch of an older one of our recent species.

 

Navajo Burials.—Four methods of disposing of the dead are described by Dr. R. W. Shufeldt as practiced by the Navajo Indians. The commonest method is "cliff-burial," in which the body is removed from the lodge or hogan where the death took place, and is carried to a cañon, deposited in some of the rents or fissures in its sides, and is covered and walled in with pieces of rock and smaller stones. The body is often dressed in the clothes that the person may have possessed and valued during life. A second method is "brush-burial," and is resorted to in cases where illness has been long and no hope of recovery is entertained. The patient is carried to some secluded spot near the camp, surrounded with brush-cuttings as a protection against wild animals, and is either abandoned or fed from time to time by relatives until death comes. A third method is deposition in a grave; and the fourth is "tree-burial." This is extremely rare, so that only one case has come under the author's observation. The body was wrapped in a blanket and carried up into a large piñon tree to a horizontal limb about fifteen feet above the ground. At that point a rude platform had been constructed of dead and broken limbs, the whole so arranged as to support the body firmly in a horizontal position. The burials arc all without ceremonies. The hogan is abandoned or burned immediately after the occurrence of a death within it, and is not in any event occupied by any of the tribe again. The Navajos have a notion that the devil long haunts the locality where death has taken place, and they all shun it. After a burial the party thoroughly wash themselves and make a complete change of clothing. They believe that an evil spirit is at the bottom of everything that has to do with death, and rarely speak of their dead for fear of offending him; and it has been said that one of these Indians will freeze to death rather than build a fire for himself out of the logs of a hogan in which one of their number has died. They are very jealous of any desecration of their dead; and Dr. Shufeldt was exposed to much danger in trying to get some of their skulls for scientific purposes.

 

Dances of the Passamaquoddy Indians.—In the snake dance of the Passamaquoddy Indians, as described by J. Walter Fewkes, in his paper on the folk lore of the tribe, the leader or singer begins by moving about the room in a stooping posture, shaking in his hand a rattle made of horn, beating the ground with one foot. He peers into every corner of the room, either seeking the snake or inciting the onlookers to take part, meanwhile singing the first part of the song. Then he goes to the middle of the room, and, calling out one after another of the auditors, seizes his hands. The two participants dance round the room together. Then another person grasps the hands of the first, and others join, until there is a continuous line of men and women, alternate members of the chain facing in opposite directions, and all grasping each other's hands. The chain then coils back and forth and round the room, and at last forms a closely pressed spiral, tightly coiled together, with the leader in the middle. At first the dancers have their bodies bent over in a stooping attitude, but, as the dance goes on and the excitement increases, they rise to an erect posture, especially as near the end they coil around the leader with the horn rattles, who is concealed from sight by the dancers. They call on the spectators to follow them, with loud calls mingled with the music; these cries now become louder and more boisterous, and the coil rapidly unwinds,