Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/95

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Like the Australians, the Red Men "never" (perhaps we should read "hardly ever") eat their totems. Totemists, in short, spare the beasts that are their own kith and kin. To avoid multiplying details which all corroborate each other, it may suffice to refer to Schoolcraft for totemism among the Iowas[1] and the Pueblos;[2] for the Iroquois, to Lafitau, a missionary of the early part of the eighteenth century. Lafitau was perhaps the first writer who ever explained certain features in Greek and other ancient myths and practices as survivals from totemism. The Chimera, a composite creature, lion, goat, and serpent, might represent, Lafitau thought, a league of three totem tribes, just as wolf, bear, and turtle represented the Iroquois League.

The martyred Père Rasles, again, writing in 1723,[3] says that one stock of the Outaonaks claims descent from a hare ("the great hare was a man of prodigious size"), while another stock derive their lineage from the carp, and a third descends from a bear; yet they do not scruple, after certain expiatory rites, to eat bear's flesh. Other North American examples are the Kutchin, who have always possessed the system of totems.[4]

It is to be noticed, as a peculiarity of Red Indian totemism which we have not observed (though it may exist) in Africa, that certain stocks claim descent from the sun. Thus Père Le Petit, writing from New Orleans in 1730, mentions the Sun, or great chief of

  1. Schoolcraft, iii. 268.
  2. Ibid., iv. 86.
  3. Kip's Jesuits in America, i. 33.
  4. Dall's Alaska, pp. 196–198.