Page:American Indian Freemasonry.djvu/20

This page has been validated.

only because they were ancient and were supposed to be of magical value. There were many "lost words" and in some instances certain portions of the rituals were not intelligible because nearly every word was a portion of a lost ritualistic language.

There can be no doubt that certain Indian societies had secret words that their members might use in conversation or as signals. The possession of ritualistic words that belonged exclusively to the cult or fraternity was jealously guarded. With the Indians words had a significance entirely apart from their meaning. Words were things; names were things. So deeply was this doctrine inculcated that a man's very name could be taken from him by the proper authorities. He could likewise be forbidden to utter certain words, because words and names were property, and might be used or shared only by those justly entitled to receive the same.

The Masonry of the Indians as builders and as philosophers dealing with moral truths grew out of their experiences with nature and with the actions of human kind. The wise men of the tribes knew that a band of men pledged to uphold morality and to enact rituals showing its advantages would constitute a dynamic influence.

Was the Red Man a Craftsman and Builder?

Except in the south-west the Indians erected no great buildings of stone. In the north-west, especialy along the coast, there were elaborate buildings of wood, built in the familiar log cabin style, but having carved pillars, posts and heraldic devices. Not strange to relate, perhaps, is the fact that in these two areas where building and craftsmanship was so highly specialized, numerous