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Cherokee Phoenix
Vol. I No. 45
Wednesday January 21, 1829
Pg. 1 Col. 4a

 

INDIANS

THE DOG RIB INDIANS.

 From Franklin's second expedition to the Polar Seas.

 The first man, they said, was, according to the tradition of their fathers, named Chapewee.  He found the world well stocked with food, and he created children, to whom he gave two kinds of fruit, the black and the white, but forbade them to eat the black. Having thus issued his commands for the guidance of his family, he took leave of them for a time, and made a long excursion for the purpose of conducting the sun to the world.- During this, his first absence, his children were obedient, and ate only the white fruit, but they consumed it all; the consequence was, that when he a second time absented himself to bring the moon,and they longed for fruit, they forgot the orders of their father, and ate of the black,which was the kind remaining. He was much displeased on his return, and told them that in future the earth would produce bad fruits, and that they would be tormented by sickness and death--penalties which have attached to his descendants to the present day.  Chapewee himself lived so long that his throat was worn out,and he could no longer enjoy life, but he was unable to die, until, at his own request, one of his people drove a beaver tooth into his head.

 The same, or another Chapewee (for there is some uncertainty on this head,) lived with his family on a strait between two seas.  Having there constructed a weir to catch fish, such a quantity were taken that the strait was choked up, and the water rose and over flowed the earth.  Chapewee embarked with his family in a canoe,taking with them all manner of birds and beasts.  The waters covered the earth for many days; but, at length, Chapewee said, we cannot live always thus, we must land again-and he accordingly sent a beaver to search for it.  The beaver was drowned, and his carcass was seen floating on the water; on which Chapewee despatched a musk-rat on the same errand.- The second Messenger was long absent, and when he did return was near dying with fatigue; but he had a little earth in his paws.  The sight of the earth rejoiced Chapewee, but his first care was about his diligent servant, the rat, which he rubbed gently with his hands, and cherished in his bosom until it revived.  He next took up the earth,and molding it wit his fingers, placed it on the water, where it increased by degrees until it formed an island in the ocean.  A wold was the first animal Chapewee placed on the infant earth, but the weight was too great, it began to sink on one side, and was in danger of turning over.  To prevent this accident the wolf was directed to move round the island, which he did for a whole year, and in that time the earth increased so much in size, that all on board the canoe were able to disembark on it.  Chapewee, on landing,stuck up a piece of wood, which became a fir-tree, and grew with amazing rapidity, until its top reached the skies.  A squirrel ran up this tree, ad was pursued by Chapewee who endeavored to knock it down, but could not overtake it.  He continued the chase, however, until he reached the stars, where he found a plain and a eaten road.  I this road he set a snare made of his sister's hair,and then returned to the earth.  The sun appeared as usual in the heavens in the morning, but at noon it was caught by the snare which Chapewee had set for the squirrel,and the sky was instantly darkened.  Chapewee's family on this said to him, you must have done something wrong when you were aloft, for we no longer enjoy the light of day: " I have" replied he, "but it was unintentional."  Chapewee then endeavored to repair the fault he had committed, and sent a number of animals up the tree to release the sun, by cutting the snare; but the intense heat of that luminary reduced them all to ashes.  The efforts of the more active animals being thus frustrated, a ground mole, though such a groveling and awkward beast succeeded by borrowing under the road in the sky, until it reached and cut asunder the snare which bound the sun.  It lost its eyes, however, the very instant it thrust its head into the light, and its nose and teeth have ever since been brown; as if burnt.- Chapewee's island , during these transactions, increased to the size of the present American Continent; and he traced the course of the rivers, and scraped out the lakes by drawing  his fingers through the earth.  He next allotted to the quadrupeds, birds and fishes, their different stations, and endowing them with certain capacities, he told them that they were in future to provide for their own safety, because man would destroy them whenever he found their tracks; but to console them, he said, that when they died they should be like seed of grass, which, when thrown into the water, springs again into life.  The animals objected to this arrangement,and said, let us, when we die, be as a stone which, when thrown into the lake, disappears forever from the sight of man.  Chapewee's family complained of the penalty of death entailed upon them for eating the black fruit, on which he granted such of them as dreamed certain dreams should be men of medicine, capable of curing diseases and of prolonging life.  In order to preserve this virtue, they were not to tell their dreams until a certain period had elapsed.  To acquire the power of foretelling events, they were to take an ant alive,and insert it under the skin of the palm of the hand, without letting anyone know what they had done.  For a long time Chapewee's descendants were united as one family,but at length some young men being accidentally killed in a game, a quarrel ensued, and a general dispersion of mankind took place.  One Indian fixed his residence on the borders of the lake, taking with him a dog big with young.  The pups in due time were littered, and the Indian, when he went out to fish carefully tied them up to prevent their straying.  Several times as he approached his tent, he heard a noise of children talking and playing; but on entering it he only perceived the pups tied up as usual.  His curiosity being excited by the noises he had heard, he determined to watch, and one day pretending to go out and fish, according to custom, he concealed himself in a convenient place.  In a short time, he again heard voices, and rushing suddenly into the ten, beheld some beautiful children sporting and laughing, with the dog skins lying by their side.  He threw the skin into the fire,and the children, retaining their proper forms, grew up, and were the ancestors of the dog-rib nation.