North America Indian Story & Song - online book

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When the white race first visited the Indians in the Mississippi valley, they found among them a ceremony common to a large number of tribes; and it was observed that, whenever the symbolic objects peculiar to this ceremony were displayed, they were treated with profound respect.
These sacred objects were two perforated sticks, like pipe stems, one painted blue to represent the sky, and the other green to typify the earth; and among their bright-coloured decorations were the plumages of particular birds and wing-like pendants of eagle feathers. They symbolised the heavens and the earth and the mysterious power that per­meates all nature. In their presence the Indians were taught that they should care for their children, think of the future welfare of the people, put aside personal grievances, repress anger and warlike emo­tions, and be like kindred, at peace with one another. Different names were given to these peculiar objects by the different tribes; and they were classed by our early travellers with the "calumets," or pipes of peace, although they were not pipes, for they had no bowl and could not be smoked.
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