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Send Your Boy or Girl to Me
If they are ambitious, desirous of
* EDITORIALS &
By THOS. E. WATSON
The Story of the South and West
(Copyright by Thos. E. Watson, 1911.)
AY I devote another chapter to the Red Men? They deserve it. A more fascinating subject would be difficult to find. Thomas Jefferson came under the spell of it, as did Fenimore Cooper. John Esten Cooke, Sam Houston and hundreds of other Caucasian statesmen and authors.
Was there ever a robust American schoolboy who did not long for a bow-and-arrow? We used to run the three words into one, you remember, and speak of the "bow'narrer."
Was there ever a full-sexed lad who did not "thrill" over stories of Indian fights? Lord! how much genuine pleasure we used to get out of the dime-novels that told us of the blood-curdling adventures of the white hunters and trappers of the West. We became intimately acquainted with "Prairie Pete," "Pawnee Bill," Kit Carson, Dan-. iel Boone, and Big-Foot Wallace. We followed "The Pathfinder," and prieved with "The Last of the Mohicans." Our sympathies were strongly with these Children of the Forest, who kept the original white settlers from starving; and whose kindness was repaid by such cruel ingratitude. We felt intensely
ashamed of the barbarous treatment of such Indian chiefs as Massasoit, King Philip, Red Jacket, Logan, Osceola, and Corn Tassel. We couldn't help admiring Tecumseh and Big Warrior and Pontiac. They were great men, great soldiers; and they were fighting for wife and child and native land. Deep down in our hearts, we believe that our dealings with this native race has been one long record of broken faith, ruthless disregard of natural rights, and murder prompted by sordid motives. The Indians have seldom violated a treaty; our Government has seldom observed one. The perfidious and shameless rape that was committed on Columbia, when we robbed her of the Panama Canal Zone, is an excellent illustration of how we have wronged the Red Tribes.
More than 200 years ago, Mr. Jefferson published his Notes on Virginia, a work of which the world took little notice then, and of which slight notice is taken now. Nevertheless, it is much more valuable than those collected "Letters" which fill so many volumes. In the "Notes," he devotes much space to the Virginia Indians; and after de
scribing their customs, characteristies, and form of government, he gives a list of the tribes which were not extinct at the time he was writing the book. (1786.)
Of the Mattaponies, he said that only three or four men were left, and that even these had "more negro than Indian blood in them." He adds this surprising detail: "They have lost their language." They had sold off their land until they had only 50 acres left.
"The Pamunkies are reduced to about 10 or 12 men, tolerably pure from mixture with other colors, The older ones among them preserve their language, in a small degree, which are the last vestiges on earth, so far as we know, of the Powhatan language."
He proceeds to describe their location as being about 300 acres of land, on Pamunkey river, very fertile, and" so encompassed by water that a gate shuts in the whole." This means, of course, that they owned a bend in the river, which was so narrow, at the land outlet, that a gate could close the gap-the river almost running back into itself. (There are 800 acres in the bend, instead of 300.)
With pleasure you will learn that the Pamunkies still exist; and that their home is on the same river-bend which Mr. Jefferson described, in 1786. They now number about 125 men, women and children, of pure Indian blood. They live in comfortable, modern cottages; the women and children make beautiful crops, on the same soil that their ancestors were cultivating when our forefathers first landed.
The men of the tribe are the best
hunters and fishermen on the Atlantic coast. They hire negroes for what work their women cannot do; and they never allow a negro to remain on the reservation at night. They reject with scorn the proposal of black men to intermarry into the tribe; and they rarely permit one of their women to wed a white man. Their laws are few and simple; public profanity is forbidden; and slander is severely punished.
They have lost their language, and speak English. There is a school-house, where a white teacher gives every boy and girl an Eng
(Poor things! I wonder why they don't have some Solomon Samson teach 'em Latin and Greek, and physiology and geometry and astronomy and algebra and other useful, practical, indispensable knowledge.)
My dear friends, the Socialists, will yell for joy when I state the fact that the Pamunkies still adhere to the communal ownership of land. Their fathers before them had it, they have it, and their children will have it. Apparently, the system works as satisfactorily today as it did in the time of Powhatan and Pocahontas. Each man's farm is alloted to him by the head men of the tribe; but the produce grown on it, is his own property.
Only the land is held in common; personalty, of all kinds, belongs to the individual.
Each male, 18 years old, and upwards, pays a dollar a year, toward defraying the cost of government. Twenty-five dollars a year is all it costs. Let us hope none of our town and city grafters will ever intrude upon that idyllic situation!
Until recently, the chief held his office by inheritance; but, for some reason, the tribe changed this, and he is now elected by ballot. Two candidates are put up, numbered "1" and "2." Number 1 is voted for with grains of corn; number 2, with beans. The highest vote decides. They have not yet learned how to stuff the ballot-box, or to physic the returns.
The land is held under a state grant; but the State very seldom has to meddle with the tribe. They keep the peace, maintain good order, and bother nobody. Annually, they present to the Governor of Virginia a brace of duck, a wild turkey, or a deer. This is done regularly and ceremoniously-much as the yearly banner, or peppercorn, is presented to the King of England by some Duke whose title reaches back to feudal times, and feudal fiefs.
Because slave traders stole some of their children, to sell to Southern planters, the Pamunkies took sides with the North during the Civil War; and, as scouts, must have been of great service to the Union army.
It is said that there has been many a bloody fight, at the gate across the outlet, when lawless white men sought to enter the reservation. With desperate courage, the Indians resisted the would-be robbers; and, in each instance, the Red Men drove the marauders away. By the bye, it is a historic fact that the typical savage of North America, the Pequods, the Iroquois, the Huron the Comanche, the Sioux, the Creek and the Seminole was a splendid fighting man. Generally, they whipped the whites, when con
ditions and numbers were anywhere near equal.
Their language lost, their ancient style of dress abandoned, their tepees supplemented by the white man's cottage, the Pamunkies yet preserve their traditions. At least one of them, they celebrate every year--the rescue of Captain John Smith by Pocahontas. As the Passion play of the Danube illustrates the crucifixion of Christ, so the pantomine on the Pamunkey exhibits the old emperor, Powhatan; the warriors with their clubs; the captive prone upon the ground, with his head on the stone, and the Indian maiden who is the angel of deliverance.
If I could tell you when this annual commemoration of the SmithPocahontas story was first begun, you would have a clearer conception of its value to history. Unfortunately, it is not in my power to give you the information.
This may be as good place as any, to discuss the story itself, for everyone is familiar with it, and few have rejected it. At the time chapters 8 and 9 of this series were written, the narrative of Captain John Smith was not in my possession. The historians seem to be unanimously of the opinion that the incident happened; but the very reasoning which John Fiske and John Esten Cooke used in support of the tradition, aroused my doubts. This being so the original narrative of Smith himself became indispensable. Judge of my utter astonishment at learning from this highest and best evidence that Smith's life was in no peril when he went before Powhatan: that he was received as