THE HUMAN SIDE OF THE INDIAN
|THE HUMAN SIDE OF THE INDIAN|
By ALEXANDER F. CHAMBERLAIN, Ph.D.
THE oneness of the American Indians with all races of men (including us whites) is readily admitted by those who have seen them in their human activities and not merely in their forced relations with so-called 'higher civilization.' The writer was fortunate enough, a number of years ago, to come into the friendliest contact with the Kootenay Indians of northern Idaho and southern British Columbia, one of the least spoiled aboriginal peoples of the continent, and brought back with him to the east many pleasant experiences and reminiscences of 'savage' life. Since that time the building of the Crow's Nest Pass railroad and the opening up of the Kootenay district consequent upon it have made impossible some of the incidents occurring during his visit as an investigator under the auspices of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
The Kootenays are very fond of their children, the men much more so than is commonly believed, or even supposed. To see a man carrying a little child is by no means a rare sight. Among the Lower Kootenay in Idaho, the writer saw one of the older men of the tribe playing in right human fashion with his children. The little ones ran merrily all about him, pulling his hair, pinching him, etc. One little tot of some five years of age persisted in crawling all over him. He was very affectionate toward them and even allowed this child to put its toes into his mouth. Surely white man could go no further!
About the same time, a young woman of fifteen was busy chopping firewood—and she handled the axe remarkably well. After carrying on her back to the tent the wood she had cut to pieces, she looked around for a little girl of five or six who was amusing herself at a distance. 'Tláne! tláne! (Come! come!),' she cried loudly, but the child did not or would not hear. Soon she ran over to the child, caught her, spanked her and brought her home. The spanking was quite after the fashion of the whites, and was probably learned from them, as that method of punishment is un-Indian. The Kootenays seldom, if ever, whip their children, and one of them said that he would rather die than see a white man chastise his offspring. At one of the stores in the Upper Kootenay country a little Indian boy was playing 'hide-and-seek' with a little white girl as blithely as might be. This same little