BITS AND PIECES


"What was smoked in the Indians pipes?"

Kinnikinnick (pronounced KIN-ny-kin-NICK) was a pungent blend of specially dried leaves, the blend often becoming very individualistic, but the principal ingredients being leaves of the red willow (osier) and sumac and often with the addition of dried bearberry and shredded dogwood bark. With the advent of greater white contact and Indian trade, ordinary smoking tobacco from the plant called tabac, which grew abundantly in the wild from the Kan-tuck-kee (Kentucky) region southward, was often mixed with the blend because of its constant and slow-burning attributes. The fragrance was strong but not unpleasant. Occasionally, for ritualistic purposes, especially among the tribal medicine men and seers, small amounts of crushed dried marijuana were added, but it was not a constituent of the normal kinnikinnick mixture. Marijuana at this time was very abundant as a wild plant throughout the present midwest. So far, as can be determined, marijuana had never been grown by the Indians as a crop, though tabac was, especially among the Cherokees, Creeks, and Alabamas.

"What were the pipes made of?"

The hardened red clay of which the bowl and part of the stem of the calumet was carved was of a material obtained in trade by the Shawnees from the tribes of the Ouisconsing (Wisconsin) country, primarily the Winnebagoes and the Menominees. This clay was a fine-grained, compact, partially metamorphosed material commonly called pipestone or catlinite today. It was quarried by the Indians from 16-inch beds occurring in only two known locations then. beneath heavy deposits of quartize rock, which had to be pried away to expose the clay. When first removed, usually cut out in rectangular blocks about four inches square and a foot and a half in length, the red clay was reasonably malleable and could easily be carved with steel blades into figures and patterns adorning the bowl. Much was carved immediately but often the purchasing tribes wished to have clean material to carve themselves, so the blocks were packed inside cloth packages kept moist to prevent drying and traded to other tribes as raw material. Pipes smoked by the general assemblage were normally noncarved (or lightly carved) bowls of the dried and hardened red clay. The main ceremonial pipes, however, were very intricately carved, not only on the bowls but sometimes on the stem sections as well and were heat treated by continually passing the fashioned bowl slowly through a living flame ( but not holding it in the flame for any lengthy period) until it had thoroughly dried and cured to a very hard consistency and brick-red color. Such calumets were very valuable and highly prized by the tribes who owned them and were painstackingly protected. Most ordinary ceremonial pipestone pipes, when fitted with hollowed stems of carved hickory, were about two feet long. The larger principal ritual pipes were usually about three feet long.

"What was the significance of the "bear claw" necklace?"

The grizzly bear claw necklace was perhaps the foremost symbol of any warrior's prowess and, as such, was the most prized ornamentation. It could neither be traded for nor purchased and could be obtained in ony two ways -- both extremely dangerous. Such claw necklaces normally came in 20-claw or 40-claw versions and were made of the enormous yellow-stripped claws of the grizzly bear -- 20 claws to one bear -- and were far more than merely beautiful and impressive ornamentation. The first of the two ways of procurring such a necklace was for the warrior to journey very far to the western mountains, through extremely dangerous enemy Indian territory, and there to track down and kill one or two grizzlies -- usually with only spear and knife -- and then return home with the claws to be fashioned into a necklace. The second means was equally dangerous. This entailed long periods of spying on the village of an enemy tribe -- usually Arapahoes, Crows, Blackfeet, Cheyennes, Rees, or Sioux -- until such vigilance was rewarded by sight of a warrior or chief wearing such a necklace; then watching him until he could be confronted and fought to death in hand-to-hand combat and the necklace taken -- or be killed in the attempt. More often than not, warriors who embarked on such perilous self-imposed missions were never heard of again. Thus, the prestige imparted in the owning of such ornamentation was extremely high. Hokolesqua (Cornstalk) wore a necklace of forty upturned grizzly bear claws.

"Why did parents wait ten-days to name a child?"

The ten-day customary waiting period for the naming of children was rooted in more than merely waiting for a sign from the Great Spirit to indicate what the offspring's name should be. Until a name was given, the Shawnee child had no identity and thus, if he died during this critical period of life, the body was merely disposed of without formal burial and there was little if any grief; it was as if the child never existed. By the same token, if there was some factor about the child which suggested a bad, difficult or dependent life ahead -- such as severe deformity, paralysis, seemingly incurable illness or simialar malady -- the infant could be dispatched by the parents during this first ten-day nonentity period without any onus of a crime having been committed.

"Was Tecumseh ever married?"

There is a great deal of confusion and misinformation in regards to Tecumseh and his wives. That he had three different wives at separate times is generally accepted as true, though the name of one of them has not even been recorded. Of the two about which information is recorded -- Mohnetohse and Mamate -- the available data is hopelessly confused between the two with much overlapping and considerable attributing of the details about one to the other and vice versa. The resultant hodgepodge cannot be cleared up unless at some time in the future additional documentation is uncovered that can set the record straight. While we cannot ignore the fact of the marriages and their resultant offspring, neither can we be absolutely postive of exactly what happened to whom and when.

There remains to this day a prevailing belief among the Cherokees that Tecumseh married one of their women and through her sired at least one daughter. No solid verification has been discovered to support such claim. More than likely they confuse Tecumseh with Chiksika who did have a Cherokee wife and daughter. Cherokee tradition states Tecumseh married one of their young women whose name was Tahneh, but that the name was later changed to Naomi when she became a Christian.

"Where was the Mingo Trail?"

The Mingo Trail was a long-used Indian path which ran from the present town of Mongo Junction, just below Steubenville, in Jefferson County, Ohio to present Cadiz, county seat of Harrison County, near which it reached the headwaters of the Tuscarawas River, then followed that river through the sites of present Urichville, Gnadenhutten, and Newcomerstown to the Delaware principal village of Goschachgunk, which was located on the site of the present county seat of Coshocton in the county of the same name. This was where the Walhonding and Tuscarawas rivers converged to form the Muskingum. The Shawnee village of Wapatomica was located directly across the Muskingum from Goschachgunk and a good trail led from there directly to the Pickaway Plains and the Shawnee villages at that place, which were collectively known as the Scioto villages.

"Did Tecumseh predict the meteor of November 11, 1811 and the earthquake of December 16, 1811?"

A great deal of controversy exists as to whether Tecumseh accurately predicted the greatest earthquake ever recorded on the North American continent. Since earthquakes are not precisely predictable, even with the most sophisticated of modern technology, most historians tend to discount the alleged Tecumseh prediction entirely and contend that it is part of the mythology that has evolved over the years in regard to Tecumseh, or else they merely slide over the matter with bare mention, or else do not address the issue at all. Nevertheless, the facts that exist and considerably intertwine in this respect really do require that a closer look be given to the matter in as unbiased a manner as possible. It is known that Tecumseh first announced his grand plan at the beginning of 1801 and that at that time, while he was not, so far as the written record goes, specific about what his sign would be, it is well established that he did say it would be a sign given to all tribes simultaneously. When he began visiting various tribes that same year of 1801, and continued to do so through the end of 1811, he told each group he addressed of his plan for the great amalgamation of the tribes, and that all of these tribes would, at a predicted time, be given a specific sign by which they would know that the time had come for them all to converge and array themselves for the great confrontation with the whites. No record or account has ever turned up in regard to these early talks that specifically mentions either the great meteor or the subsequent earthquake. Yet it seems inconceivable that he could have fired these disparate tribes with the determination to cast aside their intertribal animosities as well as their own tribal identities and join him in such an amalgamation without giving them some sort of explanation as to when the great sign he spoke of would come and what that sign would be, especially when he kept saying that it was something that would be recognized immediately by all tribes simultaneously when it came. It also stands to reason he would have had to tell them where to converge. Nevertheless, there is no clear record or account that during these earlier years of organizing his amalgamation of tribes that he did, in fact, predict an earthquake, or when it would occur, or to what rendezvous point the Indians were to converge. When, in 1810, he had the sacred slabs carved and distributed, they pointed rather more directly to the specifics of his earthquake prediction, yet again there is no written account that indisputably records such an earthquake prediction, although the time frame for its occurance, to the very day, had been laid out, through the sacred slabs and red sticks. One might argue that such a written account occurs in the very symbols of the slabs, yet that is tricky ground, since the literal translation of the symbolic message of the slabs was not made until well after the occurence of the earthquake. The same argument can be used in respect to the great meteor that occurred precisely thirty days before the earthquake. The first actual written accounts of Tecumseh predicting an earthquake did not come prior to the earthquake, but afterwards by a few months, these accounts based on interviews of Indians and traders who were in attendance when Tecumseh made the alleged predictions. After leaving his council with William Henry Harrison at Vincennes at the end of July 1811, Tecumseh immediately went to the southern tribes where, on a number of occasions during his visits with various chiefs and warriors, it is finally stated that he told them clearly when he returned to the north he would stamp his foot and cause the earth to shake so terribly that water jugs would break, buildings and trees would fall, people and animals would be knocked down, rivers would run backwards, lakes would be swallowed up and others would appear where none had been known before. All this is very explicit, but nonetheless written after the earthquake had occurred, which makes it suspect, since this is the usual technique of mythology in attributing prior knowledge of a known fact. Still, to be fair, one must take into consideration that a good many people, Indians and whites alike, have all stated that they were on hand among the southern tribes when Tecumseh made such predictions at different places and at different times; witnesses using virtually the same phraseology in their quoting of him, yet these witnesses largely unknown to one another, which seems a most improbable set of coincidences to account for unless Tecumseh had actually used the words ascribed to him.Tecumseh's father, Pucksinwah, was recorded as being able to predict future events, including his own death. Such was the case, as well, with Tecumseh'd elder brother, Chiksika. Tenskwatawa's rise to become the Shawnee Prophet and his continuance in that station were founded almost entirely upon accurate predictions which Tecumseh gave him to relay to the people. The weight of known evidence -- the gathering together of the tribes, the promises of signs, the scared slabs and the red sticks, the post-earthquake testimony of so many people in so startling similar a manner of his pre-earthquake predictions, the fact that Tecumseh was at the epicenter of the earthquake when it occurred, and Tecumseh's ultimate well-witnessed prediction of his own death -- all these things, when combined, seem to indicate that Tecumseh did indeed have a certain prophetic ability and that he very likely did predict the meteor and gigantic earthquake that struck in 1811.

"Why was the Shawnee tribe divided into clans?"

Each of the five Shawnee septs or clans had a particular function to the tribe as a whole. The Chalahgwtha and the Thawegila septs were basically in charge of political matters that affected the tribe as a whole, as well as with the relationships the Shawnees had with other tribes, and it was from one of these two septs that the principal leaders of the tribe were always chosen; by tradition, no leader of the other three clans was eligible to become principal chief of the tribe. In addition, it was usually from both of these septs that those who would be tribal historians were chosen and trained. Broadly speaking, the Thawegilas were essentially the Southern Shawnees, while the Chalagawthsa were the Northern Shawnees, though there was always much intermingling between them. So far as the other three septs were concerned, the Maykujays were in charge of matters pertaining to health and medicine -- the Peckuwe sept, were in charge of spiritual matters -- the worship of Moneto, the Great Spirit, and the lesser deities or spirits and the Kispokotha sept was the warrior clan, largely providing the warriors and war chiefs of the nation and whose principal chief, though never eligible to become principal chief of the tribe, was next in power and prestige to the nation's chief. The chief of each sept was autonomous in matters pertaining to his own sept, but under the direction of the nation's principal chief in matters pretaining to the tribe as a whole. However, except for the designation as principal chief of the nation, most of these demarcations were very flexible, as for example in later years when Blue Jacket --Wehyehpihehrsehnwah-- (adopted into the tribe) became war chief of the entire tribe and Tenskwatawa-- who was of the Kispokotha sept-- became medicine man and prophet.

The Chalahgawtha, unlike the other four Shawnee septs did not orignate on this continent. In the beginning it was created and dwelt in a foreign country and the Thawegila alone was the Shawnee sept out of which the chief ruler of the nation was chosen. The Chalahgawtha sept, migrating eastward toward this continent, came to an end of the land upon which they lived. From this point they continued to the east upon thick, unbroken ice until at length this gave way to a narrow and shallow open sea. The chief thereupon told his people to call upon the opa-wa-kon-wa, which is the living creature each individual had merited, through possession of which the individual aid and inspiration of the Great Spirit are obtained. This was done as he requested and out of all those animals which appeared at the summonses he chose the turtle and the grizzly bear, since they were most accustomed to water.
Those Shawnees for whom these two animals were opa-wa-kon-wa at once entrusted themselves in this exodus of theirs to the backs of the creatures and were thus carried through the water to dry land across the strait, thereby becoming the leaders of the rest of the people in this part of the exodus. In this way all the Chalahgawtha people were brought across to the shore of this continent and continued their journey eastward.
In the meanwhile, the Thawegila sept had begun a journey westward and camped one night at a small brook. Far into the night these Thawegila people suddenly heard voices approaching on the other side of the brook and, at the warning from their chief, they listened in silence. To their great surprise they found that the language of those approaching was their own Shawnee tongue. Finally the ones approaching stopped for the night in the same manner the Thawegila had done, unaware anyone else was near.
They were amazed, next morning, to find a camp of people so near and at the same time the Thawegila chief demanded to know who they were and how they knew the Shawnee language. The Chalahgawtha chief told him where they had come from and that he and his people were Shawnees whose blood was unadultersted. The Thawegila then inquired if the Chalahgawtha had a Meesawmi.
The Meesawmi is known only to the Shawnee tribe. It is a free gift of the Great Spirit with which he originally endowed each sept composing of the Shawnee nation. Its potency or inspiration always remains with the sept as the very symbol of its life. It is represented by some material object, but what this object is no one knows save those who have the right and authority to open the parcel in which it is contained after having undergone the ceremony connected with it; something very seldom done unless absolutely necessary. A strange thing about the Meesawmi of the two chief septs is that the parcel in which it is contained is never kept in the wegiwa of the chief who has charge of it, but it is always on his premises somewhere -- sometimes atop a pole set in the ground. It is wrapped with layers of buckskin and covered with some common material to protect it from the elements. The ground about the pole is always carefully swept and no weed is allowed to grow there. The Meesawmi is held sacred and secret by all and it is considered wrong to speak of it outside or in public. Therefore, no one except the chiefs who have charge of it know its true nature.
When the Chalahgawtha chief replied that he had a Meesawmi, he was then questioned as to its powers and, upon learning them, the Thawegila chief said there must be a test to determine which of them had the most powerful Meesawmi. This was agreed to.
First to be tested, the Chalahgawtha chief prepared a small bow and arrow with a sharp point. He said that his test would be to shoot at the sun and if it turned bloody, this would show the power of his Meesawmi. At noon, in the presence of the people, he shot this little arrow at the face of the sun, which quickly became blood red and the air became dark for a while. Then it cleared.
Impressed, the Thawegila chief then tested his Meesawmi. Preparing a still smaller bow and arrow, he took a wooden basin filled with water and set it in the midst of the two septs. He then shot at the reflection of the sun in the water, whereupon the water became blood red and the air darkened as before.
Upon completion of these two tests, the chiefs and their people declared the power of these two Meesawmis as equal and at once the chiefs grasped hands and decreed that henceforth the chiefs of the Shawnee nation must be chosen only from one or the other of these two septs. By tradition, the greatest Shawnee leaders could not come from the Peckuwes or the Maykujays or, the Kispokothas.

"Who was the first "white" man to settle across the Allegheny mountains?"

In 1742 John Fraser crossed the Alleghenies and settled not far from present Pittsburgh on the Monongahela River at the site of the present city of Braddock, Allegheny Co., Pa. In so doing he became the first permanent white settler west of the Alleghenies. He was only a vanguard. In 1748 the Ohio Company, organized by wealthy planters in Virginia and Maryland, with Thomas Lee (president of the Virginia Council and acting governor of the Dominion of Virginia) as its president, recieved from King George II a grant of 500,000 acres in Virginia west of the Alleghenies and thereby opening the gates to settlement of Indian territory. Lee at this time somewhat revises the already expansive area claimed by Virginia with his proclamation that the Virginia boundaries are now "the Atlantic on the east, North Carolina on the south, the Potomac on the north, and the Great South Sea (Pacific Ocean) on the west, including California" (since California at this time is thought to be an island). At once they sent out the experienced frontiersman Christopher Gist to make a survey down the Ohio River as far as the Falls (adjacent to present Louisville). Simultaneously they sent another distinguished frontiersman, Thomas Cresap, with Delaware Chief Nemacolin to chart out a road from the eastern Pennsylvania settlements, over the mountains and all the way to the lands claimed by the Ohio Company, this road to be called Nemacolin Trail. Cresap had arrived in Maryland from England in 1717 and had soon become very prominent on the Appalachian border. In 1734 he served as captain in the Maryland Militia and this military title stuck with him the remainder of his life. Lee also authorized a party under Dr. James Walker and John Lewis, who represented the Loyal Company, to survey an additional 800,000 acres beyond the southwestern Alleghenies. In doing so, Walker discovered a large natural gap in the mountains providing easy access to the Kentucky wilderness, and the Shawnee River. He promptly named them both after the current prime minister of England, the Duke of Cumberland -- hence, Cumberland Gap and the Cumberland River.

"Is the name "Tippecanoe" Shawnee and if so, what does it mean?"

Kehtipaquononk, "the great clearing", was the name of a large Shawnee village which was destroyed by whites in 1791. The name was corrupted and became Tippecanoe. Tippecanoe remained the name of the river but the village became known as Prophet's town. The precise location of the village was initially just over 2.5 miles downstream from the mouth of the Tippecanoe River on the north bank of the Wabash at the point where State Route 225 crosses the Wabash River, 1.5 miles southeast of the present village of Battle Ground, Tippecanoe Co., and extending for .25 mile upstream toward the mouth of the Tippecanoe. The cabins of Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa were located atop the benchland 70 feet above the level of the wabash at almost exactly the place where the small unimproved road called 2R East Road crosses State Route 225.

"Were women ever "Chief's of shawnee clans?"

Nonhelema known to the whites as the "Grenadier Squaw" was the cheif of her own village on the Scioto River. She was not unattractive, she stood six and a half feet tall and had a well formed body in good proportion to her height. She was the sister of Hokolequa, "Cornstalk." She married Moluntha. When Logan raided their village in October 1786, Moluntha surrendered after being assured that no harm would come to him or his wives. But one officer, when hearing that Moluntha had been at the battle of Blue Licks, burried a tomahawk in his skull, killing him instantly. Moluntha had fallen with the safe conduct pass still in his hand. Nonhelema had shrieked with rage and launched herself at the white man, but the guards leaped upon her and, with difficulty, brought her to the ground, subduing her.She was released in December 1786, very thin and drawn, as she was kept in confinement the whole duration of her captivity because of the whites being uncomfortably aware of the warriorlike fighting ability of this powerful woman.

This page is under construction. If you have any questions Please e-mail me and I will try to find the answers for you and print them here.
Reference:"A Sorrow in Our Heart" by Allan W. Eckert

"Bits and Pieces"...Page 2

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