Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/71

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themselves the Eagles. They not only had no culture, but scorned it, preferring the advantages of barbarism. Their occupation was hunting, which was fully furnished them by the game in the mountain regions, which they found unclaimed, and took possession of. They lived upon the flesh of wolves and pumas,—their smaller dishes were weasels, moles, and mice, without objecting to lizards, snakes, grasshoppers, and earthworms.

The Chichimecs seem to have wandered about completely naked, with skins of beasts to protect them from the occasional cold of their mild climate. Their houses were, for the most part, caves or cracks in the rocks, but they knew how to build rude huts, roofed with palm leaves. Gourds were their drinking vessels, and they could make a rude sort of pottery, out of which they fashioned jugs, and also little balls used for bullets in war, which could make dangerous wounds. They were always at war with their neighbors, and protected their own territory from incursions with their bows and arrows, and clubs, which they handled with great vigor.

Each warrior of the Chichimecs wore a bone at his waist, which carried a mark for every enemy he had killed. Competition was sure to keep these bones well marked, as it was a distinction to bear the record of the most victims. Their battles were bloodthirsty. Prisoners were scalped upon the field of battle, and their heads carried in triumph back to camp, while dances of victory were performed. They had the reputation of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of their victims.