WE have but little to say of this individual, whose name, when translated, signifies Sleepy eyes, and is expressive of the character of his countenance. He is one of the hereditary chiefs of the Teton tribe, of the Dacotah nation. In person, he is large, and well pro portioned, and has rather a dignified appearance. He is a goodnatured, plausible person, but has never been distinguished either in war or as a hunter. The word Teton means boaster, and has been given to this tribe in consequence of the habit of bragging, which is said to prevail among them. They dwell in skin lodges, which are easily removed, and are constantly roving over the vast plains between the St. Peter and the Missouri. They trade on both rivers, and are very hostile to white men, whom they insult and rob, when they find them on the prairies, where such acts may be safely perpetrated. But all the tribes who live in contact with our frontier, have become so conscious of the power of the American government, as to be cautious in their depredations upon our citizens; and acts of violence are growing every day less numerous upon our borders. The Tetons are fierce, rapacious, and untameable; but are not considered braver than the other Sioux tribes.
THE word Powasheek, in the Musquakee language, signifies “To dash the water off.” The individual who bears this name is a celebrated brave of the Musquakee or Fox nation, and is numbered among their chiefs or leading men. A few years ago he was better known to the whites than any other person of his nation, and was probably at that time the most influential man among them. The superior talents of Keokuk have, however, thrown into the shade all the leaders who once stood high in the combined Saukie and Musquakee nation, and Wapella, the Fox leader, being a chief of great address, and a friend of Keokuk, Powasheek has been little heard of, during late years, in public life. He was a daring warrior, and held a respectable standing in council, as a man of prudence and capacity. The likeness is a good one, and gives a correct idea of his character. Powasheek is one of those men who, though highly respected, and holding a rank among the first men of their nation, are not distinguished by brilliant talents. Nothing very striking in his history has reached us.
KISHKALWA is nominally and legally the head chief of the Shawnee nation, but is too far advanced in life to take any active part in its affairs. He is believed to be between eighty-six and ninety years of age, and is living with a daughter upon the Kansas river, although his band have settled in the neighborhood of the Sabine. The family of this chief is numerous and very distinguished; he is one of seven brothers, all renowned warriors, one of whom was the celebrated Black Hoof, who died in 1831, at the advanced age of from ninety-five to one hundred years.
This chief was about seventeen years of age when he engaged, for the first time, in a war-party; and on that occasion he made himself conspicuous for his bravery. The expedition was of a character which strikingly illustrates the history of savage life. The Shawnee were a warlike tribe, that roved through the whole of the territory north-west of the Ohio, and were continually engaged in hostilities, at first with the English, and subsequently with their descendants, while they maintained friendly relations with the French. The latter occupied Fort Massac, a military station, on the northern shore of the Ohio, not far above its junction with the Mississippi; and were at variance with the Chickasaws, who lost no opportunity to do them an injury. Among other stratagems which were practised by these Indians, was one that was frequently adopted by all the tribes, and in which the savages were very successful. A party of warriors, disguised in the skins of deer, or of bears, would appear creeping upon the shore of the river opposite the fort. The width of the stream was so great as to render it quite possible to practise the deception with good effect, even if the imitation of the animals had been less perfect than it really was. But the Indians, accustomed to notice the habits of the brute creation, and versed in all the strategy of sylvan sport, and border war, played’ their parts with admirable fidelity to nature. Sometimes the French saw a number of bears issuing from the forest which clothed the bank, and walking sluggishly over the narrow margin of sand that fringed the river; and sometimes a herd of deer was seen, half disclosed among the bushes, as if reclining in the shade, and gazing upon the placid stream. The ardent Frenchmen, unsuspicious of danger, would cross the river hastily in pursuit of the supposed game, and fall into an ambuscade prepared by the Chickasaws. The Shawnee heard of several massacres which occurred in this manner, and determined to avenge their friends.
AMONG the Fox braves who appeared at Washington in 1837, on the occasion to which we have already alluded, was Kishkekosh, or The man with one leg, whose name, however, is not descriptive of his person; for we discovered no deficiency in the limbs of this individual. At the council which we described in the life of Keokuk, where the Sauks and Foxes were confronted with the Sioux, Kishkekosh appeared in the same hideous headdress which is exhibited in the picture, and the attention of the spectators was strongly attracted by this novel costume. The buffalo horns and skull upon the man’s head would have rendered him conspicuous in a grave assembly collected for a serious purpose, in the presence of a numerous and polished audience; but this was not sufficient for Kishkekosh, who, when his party were all seated, stood up on a bench behind them, so as to display his full stature, and attract the special notice of all eyes. It was seen that this exhibition was not lost upon the Sioux, who whispered, exchanged glances, and were evidently disturbed. Those who were merely spectators, and who knew nothing of the personal history of the strange beings before them, were amused at what they supposed to be a piece of savage buffoonery, and could not help smiling at the ludicrous contrast between the uncouth figure perched up against the wall, and the silent, motionless group of grave warriors who sat before him arrayed in all the dignity of barbarian pomp.
We learned afterwards that the intrusion of the buffalo head was not without its meaning. It seems that, on a certain occasion, when some skirmishing was going on between these hostile tribes, Kishkekosh, with a single companion, charged suddenly upon the Sioux, rushed into their ranks, killed several of their warriors, and retreated in safety, bringing off, as a trophy, this buffalo head, which Kishkekosh tore from the person of one of the slain. Such exploits, which are not uncommon among the Indians, resemble some of the deeds of antiquity, or those of the knights-errant of a later age. Acts of desperate valor, leading to no practical advantage, but undertaken in mere bravado, must often occur among a people who follow war as their main employment, and who place a high value on military glory. Among savages especially, or any rude nation whose warfare is predatory, and made up chiefly of the exploits of individuals or small parties, such deeds are estimated extravagantly, not only on account of the courage and conduct shown in them, but because they afford themes for biting sarcasm and triumphant boasting over their enemies. Such, doubtless, was the light in which this deed of Kishkekosh was viewed by his tribe; and when they were to meet their enemies in a public council, at which a large number of persons were present besides the hostile parties, they tauntingly displayed this trophy with the deliberate purpose of feeding their own hatred and insulting their foemen.