The Old North Trail or: Life, Legends and Religion of the Blackfeet Indians

The Old North Trail or: Life, Legends and Religion of the Blackfeet Indians❮KINDLE❯ ❦ The Old North Trail or: Life, Legends and Religion of the Blackfeet Indians ❅ Author Walter McClintock – Walter McClintock of Pittsburgh was a 1891 graduate of Yale University He traveled west in 1896 as a federal government photographer investigating national forest lands Blackfoot Indian scout William Walter McClintock of Pittsburgh was a North Trail PDF/EPUB ✓ graduate of Yale University He traveled west in as a federal government photographer investigating national forest lands Blackfoot Indian scout William Jackson or Siksikakoan became his The Old ePUB ✓ friend After completing his federal work Jackson introduced McClintock to Montana's Blackfoot community For the next years McClintock made several thousand photographs of the Blackfoot with the permission of Blackfoot elder Mad Wolf He Old North Trail eBook ✓ photographed their homelands their material culture and their ceremonies Much like the photographer Edward Curtis McClintock believed that Indian tribes were undergoing fast dramatic changes which could destroy their traditional culture Thus he sought to Old North Trail or: Life, eBook ½ create a record of a way of life that might disappear from history As part of his efforts he wrote books mounted photographic exhibitions and delivered many public lectures about the Blackfoot Indians The Old North Trail worn many generations ago by the tread of numberless Indian feet follows the Rocky Mountains from north to south its upper extremity emerging from the barren lands of the Dominion and its lower reaching into Mexico It is now overgrown in some parts and in others obliterated by white settlements As the most aggressive of the plains tribes with a brilliant record for prowess in war and the chase the Blackfeet are notably associated with the trail than any other Indians and their present dwelling places on both sides of the Canada line lie near it This doubtless is Mr McClintock's reason for making the trail furnish a title for his book to which though strictly only a narrative of personal experience he has aimed Old North Trail or: Life, eBook ½ to give the flavor of authority Repeated visits through a period of fourteen years originally as a member of a Government expedition and later as an adopted son of the Blackfeet have afforded him exceptional advantages for the accumulation of data concerning them—which he here uses modestly and with generally good effect; and the total result is a picture of Indian life and thought which is sufliciently broad to give a novice in the study of our aboriginal race a satisfactory point of departure He was fortunate in knowing them before the practical extinction of wild game in the mountains and on the great plains of the Northwest had forever stifled the independence which from time immemorial had been their crowning glory and the foundation on which was erected their entire structure of tribal life and custom Most happy too was he in the strange impulse not however without precedent which prompted Mad Wolf a prominent and influential warrior and orator of the powerful Blackfeet tribe to adopt him as a son Such adoptions were usually the act of a father to whom sons have been denied and on the new member of the family is lavished the wealth of pride affection and confidence due to him who should inherit the place of his father in the councils of the tribe Mad Wolf was a broad minded generous hearted far seeing man whose later years were filled with concern and anxiety for the future of his people To all those who love their fellow men and who would know the good in the Indian rather than the evil which alone they have been taught and to every man and woman who has known and learned to love communion with Nature—the fragrance of pine forest the music of wild bird and mountain stream the plunging riot of the waterfall the solemn beauty and silence of star lit prairie the glories of the mountain trail and the smoke of the camp fire—the work is heartily commended originally published in ; reformatted for the Kindle; may contain occasional imperfection; original spellings have been kept in place. In 1891 Walter McClintock graduated from Yale with plans to join his father’s prosperous carpet making business in smog choked Pittsburgh Luckily he was spared from a dull job by getting very sick with typhoid fever To recover he took a trip to North Dakota where he fell deeply in love with the west He worked as a photographer for a forest survey project and became friends with the team’s Blackfoot scout Siksikakoan Later Siksikakoan introduced him to the elderly chief Mad WolfOnce Mad Wolf came to trust McClintock he adopted the young lad as his son Mad Wolf hoped that if his people had a white leader they would receive better treatment from the incoming settlers many of whom were not skilled at behaving with common decency McClintock spent lots of time with a number of elders listened to many stories and several years later wrote The Old North Trail He also took than a thousand photographs many of which illustrate the book Today a century later lists his book as a best seller It’s fascinating and easy to readThe Blackfeet lived on the plains east of the Rocky Mountains from Montana up into Alberta When the painter George Catlin met them in 1832 he said they were the happiest Indians or all The Old North Trail was an ancient footpath that passed through their territory In places old ruts are still visible Today some suspect that it may have been 2000 to 3000 miles long linking Canada and Mexico Because many tribes used the trail travel was dangerous It was a common place for ambushes and tribal warsIn the old days the Blackfeet used dogs as beasts of burden Sometime before 1750 they acuired horses triggering radical change Horses greatly increased their ability to hunt feed people wage war haul trade goods and zoom across the plains at superhuman velocity Corn farmers became highly vulnerable to horse mounted raids by neighboring tribes forcing many to abandon their fields and become nomadic After 1780 the Blackfeet were hammered by wave after wave of deadly diseases Their population dropped by maybe 90 percentBy 1883 white folks had succeeded in nearly exterminating the buffalo and this made the traditional Blackfoot life impossible The tribe was forced onto reservations given ration tickets treated like dogs and were not allowed freedom of travel Missionaries introduced them to sin hell damnation guilt and submission Teachers taught youths the ABC’s of civilization using the English languageBy the time McClintock arrived many young Blackfeet were disoriented victims of cultural genocide largely indifferent to their tribe’s customs traditions and religion During important ceremonies many would be drinking gambling or horseracing Only the elders still remembered the traditional ways and their days were numbered McClintock wanted to record the story of these people before their culture ceased to exist The Blackfeet people fascinated McClintock and he described them in a respectful mannerHis book is a magical 500 page voyage into another time and place Readers can soar away from the spooky nightmare world of automobiles and cell phone zombies and imagine living in wildness and freedom The Blackfeet elders shared fond memories of a way of life that was far in balance with the circle of life In the good old days “the mountain slopes abounded in beaver wapiti moose mountain sheep and grizzly bears while immense herds of antelope and buffalo roamed over the plains”One night McClintock awoke to discover a huge grizzly bear stepping over him to finish off his dinner leftovers Grizzlies were still common Wolves and coyotes often howled passionate serenades under the stars Humans were not the dominant species; they were delicious two legged meatballs Modern folks obsessed with glowing screens would not have lasted long in a reality where man eating carnivores were never far away To survive folks actually had to pay careful attention to reality and behave in an intelligent manner Imagine thatThe people wore clothing of animal hides and lived in tipis in an ecosystem of scorching summers and long blast freezer winters Powerful storms could race across the plains at astonishing speed On a pleasantly warm November day McClintock noticed distant turbulent clouds that were rushing across the plains in his direction Danger The temperature sharply dropped howling winds pounded him and a whiteout blizzard commenced He lost all sense of direction and freezing to death was a strong possibility He managed to return to camp The storm lasted ten daysMcClintock wrote “The Blackfeet subsisted mainly upon buffalo meat when it could be secured They also used sarvis berries wild cherries buffalo berries and vegetables such as camas wild turnips wild onions wild potatoes bitter root and wild rhubarb They secured wild ducks and geese by striking them over the head with long sticks Beaver tails were considered a great delicacy”A vegetarian would soon starve on the plains The Blackfeet survived by killing and eating their animal relatives When natives died their corpses were returned to the circle of life The dead were placed upon scaffolds built in trees called death lodges like THIS or THIS The Blackfeet did not arrogantly interrupt the circle dance of life with buried caskets or cremationMcClintock was amazed by how well the Blackfeet lived without thrashing their ecosystem Whites did amazing things with science and industry but the Blackfeet were superior in terms of their personal integrity In no Blackfoot community could you find the “depravity misery and consuming vice which involve multitudes in the industrial centers of all the large cities of Christendom” By thriving in a lifestyle with few wants they did not deteriorate into infantile consumersThe last chapter in the book has pissed off many reviewers The preceding thirty eight chapters did not provide in any way a flattering impression of settler society In 1910 respect for savages was politically incorrect and publishers were not fond of risky projects The Blackfeet were hopelessly screwed Whites were here to stay Happy endings sold booksSo the story concludes with a jarring shift McClintock praised the integrity of the Blackfoot people and was proud of their heroic advance toward Christian civilization “The industrious are rapidly becoming self supporting Some of them live in well made and comfortable houses and own ranches with large herds of cattle and horses They wear white men’s clothes purchased from the trading stores own high priced wagons and buggies and make use of modern farming implements” HoorayAnyway the book provides readers with a wonderful peephole into a way of life that was not insane Children were raised in a land that was wild free and thriving — grizzly bears not teddy bears The good power Great Spirit was everywhere in everything — mountains plains winds waters trees birds and animals Everyone was on the same cultural channel free from the friction of diversity and wealth ineuality They grew up in coherent communities where it was rare to see a stranger Cool excerptMcClintock’s book described how a healthy culture disintegrated into incoherence over the course of just one generation Beliefs got us into this mess not genes I’m very optimistic that the coming decades of resource depletion climate change and the collapse of our economic system will provide a miraculous cure for consumer fever Survival will reuire paying careful attention to reality and behaving in an intelligent manner Radical change in one generation is not totally impossible when the time is ripe Think positive This is an extended review of this classic book regarding the Blackfeet tribeOver a century ago in 1896 a Blackfoot Indian named Siksikakoan invited Walter McClintock to visit his home on the Blackfeet reservation McClintock accepted For the next fourteen years he would spend significant time among the Blackfeet recording and photographing their customs ceremonies and way of life The book that resulted The Old North Trail became an invaluable ethnographic history of the Blackfeet The Old North Trail is especially valuable because it describes the Blackfeet at an important time in tribal history Because of the near extermination of bison on the Great Plains by 1883 various Plains tribes had to accept reservation life in the last decades of the 1800s their mobile lifestyle based on bison hunting over This change endangered tribal customs and traditions McClintock recognized this threat to traditional values when he wrote “I saw that the younger generation was indifferent to their tribal customs tradition and religion” v As a result “It seemed inevitable that with the passing of the old chiefs and medicine men their ancient religion and folk lore would fall into oblivion” v The Old North Trail is McClintock’s effort to help preserve knowledge of traditional Blackfeet cultureIt took McClintock time to overcome the prejudices of the Blackfeet against whites but he did so through an honest endeavor to help them and learn their culture As a result he was able to write an ethnographic history based on first hand observation over fourteen years In fact McClintock gained the confidence of the Blackfeet to such an extent that after two years the leader Mad Wolf decided to adopt McClintock into the tribe as his son giving him the name A pe ech eken or White Weasel Moccasin McClintock then began taking part in various ceremonies of the tribe and he provides fantastic descriptions of the ceremonies For example when he gains his Blackfoot name he dons sacred paint and takes part in the Buffalo Dance He also witnesses the opening of the Beaver Bundle Mad Wolf’s sacred medicine bundle from which he derives his supernatural powers In addition to his detailed descriptions McClintock photographed many Blackfoot ceremonies including both the participants and some of the other sacred medicine bundles He even made graphophone records of sacred songsIn further describing Blackfeet religion McClintock found the Blackfeet conception of the afterlife was not an especially hopeful one The dead do not proceed to the spirit world immediately but haunt their former home as ghosts before moving on and some spirits never become contented However the Blackfeet honored their dead highly Mourning often included caring for the bones of the deceased self denial and self torture to show indifference to pain This mourning process sometimes lasted for monthsSuperstitions also played a part in Blackfeet religious beliefs McClintock gives many examples of how tribal leaders might interpret certain religious events favorably or unfavorably The Blackfeet feared owls because the spirits of the dead often appeared in owl form In addition one should not copy the designs of another’s tipi; doing so might result in sickness or death for the offender Proper observance of rituals centered on the medicine bundles or other sacred items such as the Medicine Pipe or Bear Spear; these brought the favor of the Great Spirit or Good Power The Blackfeet offered prayers to the Sun or to animals like the grizzly bear buffalo wolf raven eagle or beaver that had a large amount of the Good Power within themThe most important religious ceremony of the Blackfeet is the Sun Dance McClintock witnessed the Sun Dance ceremony several times in his fourteen years He claims that “The Sun Dance was not as has been commonly believed ‘merely an occasion for the self torture of youths who are candidates for admission to the full standing of warriors’” 170 Instead it was their most important religious event always initiated by a pure woman’s vow and meant to help the sick recover Even though thousands of Blackfeet and members of other tribes gathered for the Sun Dance there was little disturbance and no violence thanks to the policing role of the Mad Dog societyMcClintock details several other aspects of tribal life Marriage customs the division of labor between men and women how individuals received names how various tribal societies like the Kit Foxes and Brave Dogs earned their titles and the meaning of tipi designs all receive attention He also recorded tribal stories many of which included animals with the ability to speak or other human characteristics Often these stories explained how certain items like the Medicine Pipe or various medicine bundles became endowed with their supernatural powersOccasionally McClintock ventures to compare what he sees in Blackfeet society with his own American society His comparisons often find much to admire about the Blackfeet although the high level of superstition is one trait that does not impress McClintock But several other statements show his admiration When camping with a band of North Piegans he says “We could look in vain in such camps as that of the North Piegans nestled among the cottonwoods to find the depravity misery and consuming vice which involve the multitudes in the industrial centres of all the large cities of Christendom” 394 When he describes the lives of important chiefs such as Mad Wolf or Brings down the Sun McClintock sees a sharp contrast with his own society “Their unselfish and patriotic lives devoted to the welfare of their tribe rise before me in strange and painful contrast with the selfish and sordid lives of many of the rich and powerful of my race” 509Despite its publication date over one hundred years ago The Old North Trail remains well worth reading The insights McClintock developed over fourteen years the stories he wrote down the ceremonies people and landscapes he photographed all combine to immerse the reader in Blackfeet society The fact that he had permission to photograph the medicine bundles and other sacred items and participate in some ceremonies gives authenticity to McClintock’s narrative The narrative itself is clear and descriptive Perhaps he could have subjected some aspects of Blackfeet society to closer scrutiny such as the relationship between the Blackfeet and the Indian Agent for their reservation McClintock glosses over this important issue almost entirely But that is a small criticism when compared with the many positives that The Old North Trail has to offer the reader Anyone interested in the history of Blackfeet at the turn of the last century will benefit enormously from reading The Old North Trail In fact many of the tribal ceremonies and medicine bundles McClintock discusses might be unknown to tribal outsiders if not for this book One must of course approach the text with a fair bit of empathy and a willingness to remember that the United States of today is not the United States of 1910 when McClintock published With that in mind however this is a terrific book and true classic despite its age Fascinating look into the lives and customs of the Blackfeet Indians East side of what is now Glacier National Park The author makes an interesting and easy to read narrative about the Indians that could have been easily made boring and difficult to readIt took me a while to get through book so I'll only uote some uotes I likedthought were interesting towards the end of the book There is a well known trail we call the Old North Trail It runs north and south along the Rocky Mountains No one knows how long it has been used by the Indians My father told me it originated in the migration of a great tribe of Indians from the distant north to the south and all the tribes have ever since continued to follow in their tracks The Old North Trail is now becoming overgrown with moss and grass but it was worn so deeply by many generations of travelers that the travois tracks and horse trail are still plainly visible Brings down the SunI had no idea that the Indians were such a violent society It was also interesting how their communal tribes would work to preserve the buffalo It was also interesting how they used piskuns to get buffalo and other game before horses were available It was sad to read about the loss of their old ways as they were pushed on the reservations and how the people became lazy because of it but even so some started to adapt and prosper under the new conditions Originally published in 1910 this is the author's account of his times living among the Blackfeet Indians in North Central Montana for a period of time near the turn of the last century He came into contact with the Blackfeet while on expedition with Gifford Pinchot in 1886 to establish the first Forest Reserves in the United States Because of differences in writing style and word usage books written during period are often difficult to read at least for me However I found this book was well written and easy to read I was also amazed that the book contained many photographs taken by the author to accompany his text This alone must have been a major undertaking considering the living conditions and photographic euipment availableSeveral things about this book truly impress me about this book One is the level of detail in the descriptions of Blackfeet daily life culture ceremony myth and legend The author must have kept copius notes and journals while living a nomadic lifestyle Another is the fact that his accounts were written at a time when the Blackfeet were beginning their downhill slide into poverty and despair The buffalo were gone and Wounded Knee was 10 15 years removed Even as this book was being published many practioners of the old ways were gone and tribal members had begun to forget what had made them BlackfeetIn my estimation this is a very valuable book from an historical perspective Mr McClintock takes the reader back in time and you can almost smell and touch all he describes His conversations with chiefs and descriptions of the dancers and their origins are captivatingThe old legends of the natives are so uniue and valuable Let's hope our current tribal leaders will resurrect them and teach them to tribal youth Excellent history of a noble people group Slow at times when the details of ceremony are involved but overall a super story telling experience Classic work Interesting history of the Blackfeetl their traditional and relision I will read this again The information is vast HelpHow do I disable the review section after reading a book? I'm tired of giving reviews I just want to read Our tour guide at Glacier National Park called this the best book on the Blackfeet Indian culture At over 500 pages it seemed daunting but once I started it I was surprised at how readable it is The author Walter McClintock weaves his discussion of the Blackfeet culture with a narrative of his life and adventures among them beginning in 1896 At that time the Blackfeet were led by a generation of leaders dedicated to peace while remembering the warfare with other tribes that were such a large part of their culture One of these chiefs Mad Wolf adopted McClintock as a son and taught him the rich cultural practices and beliefs of the Blackfeet people I took my time with this wonderful book to better remember the details of the legends retold and specific cultural descriptions The book's short chapters made this a great choice for reading in the evening to close the dayThe author traveled to Blackfeet country as part of the early work of the National Forest Service He was uniuely ualified to tell this story His scientific background makes him an excellent objective observer of the native culture practices language and religious beliefs In addition his talent in drawing and photography provide the book's abundant illustrations The book was published 15 years after leaving his life with the Blackfeet and is at once a adventure story filled with vivid description of wilderness a collection of the author's drawings and photographs and an objective description of a culture at the height of its glory