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 We do not propose to apologize for writing this book, for the reasons that those who approve would not consider it necessary and those who oppose would not accept the apology. Therefore, we can only offer the same explanation as that made twenty-four centuries ago by the "Father of History" when he said: "To rescue from oblivion the noble deeds of those who have gone before, I, Herodotus of Halicarnassus, write this chronicle."
We deem it well, however, to mention a few of the many reasons which impelled us to attempt the somewhat laborious but congenial task of preparing this work.
First of all, we were gratified and inspired by the kind reception accorded our first literary venture, "The White Side of a Black Subject," which is now out of print after reaching twelve editions. Added to this was the still more generous treatment of our second production, "A New Negro for a New Century." Nearly a hundred thousand copies of this book have been sold up to date, and the demand is still increasing.
Having done what we could to vindicate the Afro-American, we next began to consider the First American, when by chance a copy of Thatcher's "Indian Biography" fell into our hands. We read this book with much interest, and were impressed with two facts. First of all, we noticed that while the author gave the lives of a few chiefs well known to this generation, he filled the book up with village or sub chiefs, of whom even historians of this age never heard. Then, too, the book in question was seventy-four years old.
Thatcher's biography tended to create an appetite for that kind of literature, and we inquired for other lives of noted Indians, but, strange to say, could only hear of one other book devoted to that subject. This was a small volume written by S. G. Goodrich, sixty-two years ago, and he gave only short sketches of perhaps half a dozen Indians of the United States, but the greater portion of the contents was devoted to the Indians of Peru and Mexico.
We now concluded that if there were only two books giving the lives of famous Indians, and both of these published so many years ago, there was certainly room for another book on the subject, which should be confined to the Indian tribes of the United States and cover their entire history from Powhatan to the present time.
We trust we will not be misunderstood. We know that many Indian books have been written since the date of those mentioned, but they were on "The Indian Wars," "The Pioneer and the Indian," "The Winning of the West," "The Manners and Customs of the Indian," "Folklore Tradition and Legend," and many other phases of the question. We know that Pontiac, Brant, Red Jacket, Tecumseh, Shabbona, Black Hawk, Sitting Bull, and perhaps others, have had their lives written, but in each of these cases an entire book is devoted to one Indian and his war. Our claim is that we have written the only book giving in a condensed form the lives of practically all the most famous Indian chiefs from the Colonial period to the present time.
Lest it be thought that we have an exaggerated idea of our people's interest in the Indian, we will digress long enough to prove the statement to our own satisfaction, and we trust also to that of the reader.
Mrs. Sigourney has well said with reference to this point
                "Ye say they all have passed away,
                   That noble race and brave,
                That their light canoes have vanished
                   From off the crested wave
                That 'mid the forests where they roamed
                   There rings no hunter's shout,
                But their name is on your waters
                   Ye may not wash it out.
               "Ye say their cone like cabins
                   That clustered o'er the vale
                Have fled away like withered leaves
                   Before the autumn gale.
                But their memory liveth on your hills,
                   Their baptism on your shore;
                Your everlasting rivers speak
                   Their dialect of yore."
We have ventured to add a third verse
                Ye say no lover wooes his maid,
                   No warrior leads his band.
                All in forgotten graves are laid,
                   E'en great chiefs of the clan;
                That where their council fires were lit
                   The shepherd tends his flock.
                But their names are on your mountains
                   And survive the earthquake shock.
The mark of our contact with the Indian is upon us indelibly and forever. He has not only impressed himself upon our geography, but on our character, language and literature.
Bancroft, our greatest historian, is not quite right when he says, "The memorials of their former existence are found only in the names of the rivers and mountains." These memorials have not only permeated our poetry and other literature, but they are perpetuated in much of the food we eat, and every mention of potatoes, chocolate, cocoa, mush, green corn, succotash, hominy and the festive turkey is a tribute to the red man, while the fragrance of the tobacco or Indian weed we smoke is incense to their memory.
On one occasion, according to Aesop, a man and a lion got into an argument as to which of the two was the stronger, and thus contending they walked together until they came to a statue representing a man choking and subduing a lion. "There," exclaimed the man, "that proves my point, and demonstrates that a man is stronger than a lion." To which the king of beasts replied, "When the lions get to be sculptors, they will have the lion choking and overcoming the man."
The Indians are neither sculptors, painters nor historians.
The only record we have of many of their noblest chiefs, greatest deeds, hardest fought battles, or sublimest flights of eloquence, are the poor, fragmentary accounts recorded and handed down by their implacable enemies, the all-conquering whites.
It is hard indeed for one enemy to do another justice. The man with whom you are engaged in a death struggle is not the man to write your history; but such has been the historian of the Indian. His destroyer has covered him up in an unmarked grave, and then written the story of his life.
Can any one believe that the Spaniards, cruel, hard-hearted and remorseless as the grave, who swept whole nations from the earth, sparing neither men, women nor children, could or would write a true story of their silent victims?
Is it not reasonable to believe that had Philip, Pontiac, Cornstalk, Tecumseh, Black Hawk or Chief Joseph been able to fling their burning thoughts upon the historic page, it would have been very different from the published account?
We believe that God will yet raise up an Indian of intellectual force and fire enough to write a defense of his race to ring through the ages and secure a just verdict from generations yet unborn.
In the preparation of this work we have honestly tried to do the subject justice, and have endeavored to put ourself in the Indian's place, as much as it is possible for a white man to do.
We have prosecuted the self-imposed task with enthusiasm and interest from its inception to its completion. We fully agree with Bishop Whipple when he said: "Our Indian wars were most of them needless and wicked. The North American Indian is the noblest type of a heathen man on the earth. He recognizes a Great Spirit; he believes in immortality; he has a quick intellect; he is a clear thinker; he is brave and fearless, and until betrayed, he is true to his plighted faith; he has a passionate love for his children, and counts it joy to die for his people. Our most terrible wars have been with the noblest types of the Indians, and with men who had been the white man's friend. Nicolet said the Sioux were the finest type of wild men he had ever seen. Old traders say it used to be the boast of the Sioux that they had never taken the life of a white man. Lewis and Clark, Governor Stevens and Colonel Steptoe bore testimony to the devoted friendship of the Nez Percé for the white man."
One evidence that our Indian wars were unnecessary is seen in the fact that while our country has been constantly involved in them, Canada has not had any; although our Government has spent for the Indians a hundred dollars to their one.
They recognize, as we do, that the Indian has a possessory right to the soil. They purchase this right, as we do, by treaty but their treaties are made with the Indian subjects of His Majesty, the King, while our Government has enacted the farce of making treaties with Indian tribes or their representatives, as if they were sovereign nations. Those tribes of blanket Indians, roaming the wilderness and prairie, living by hunting, trapping, fishing or plundering, without a code of laws to practice, or a government to maintain, are not nations, and nothing in their history or condition could properly invest them with a treaty-making power.
There are other lessons we can learn from Canada concerning the Indian question. They set apart a permanent reservation for them; they seldom move them, while our Government has continually moved whole tribes at the demand of greedy white men who were determined to have the Indian's land by fair means or foul, generally the latter. Moreover, the Canadian government selects agents of high character, who receive their appointments for life; they make fewer promises, but they fulfil them; they give the Indians Christian missions, which have the hearty support of Christian people and all their efforts are toward self help and civilization.
In 1862 Bishop Whipple visited Washington, and had a long talk with President Lincoln. Said he: "I found the President a willing listener. As I repeated the story of specific acts of dishonesty (on the part of Indian agents of that period) the President said: 'Did you ever hear of the Southern man who bought monkeys to pick cotton? they were quick; their long, slim fingers would pull out the cotton faster than Negroes; but he found it took two overseers to watch one monkey. This Indian business needs ten honest men to watch one Indian agent.'" In speaking of this interview with the Bishop, Lincoln afterwards said to a friend "As I listened to Bishop Whipple's story of robbery and shame, I felt it to my boots;" and, rising to his full height, he added: "If I live this accursed system shall be reformed." But unfortunately he did not live to carry out his plans. However, we are glad to note an improvement in the condition of our Indians, of recent years, which shows that the public conscience has at last been aroused, and one object of this book is to further that good work.
Another object is to disprove the oft-quoted saying of General Sherman that "the only good Indian is a dead one." {FN} We have written the biographies of twenty or more famous chiefs, any one of whom was a good Indian, or would have been had he received kind treatment from the whites, who were almost invariably the aggressors. It makes one's soul sick to read of the white men selling the Indian "firewater," to brutalize and destroy; of violated treaties; of outrageous treatment which aroused the worst passions of the Indian's nature.
{FN} General Sherman used this phrase at a banquet at Delmonico's, New York, in the winter of 1879.
In selecting the subjects for our biographical sketches, we were confronted with an embarrassment of riches. And while there are none in the book which could well have been omitted, yet there are many outside richly deserving a place in it. There are so many famous chiefs, we found it impossible to give them all a place in one volume. So we tried to select those who, in our judgment, were the greatest, those who for special reasons could not be omitted, and those whom we thought would make the most interesting sketches.
We may say in this connection, that we refrained from writing the biographies of mixed breeds, such as Osceola Powell, Weatherford or Red Eagle, simply because we knew, from our experience with other books, that people would be prone to say that their greatness was due to the infusion of the blood of the superior white race. As far as we know, all of our subjects treated at length were full-blooded Indians, except Sequoyah and Quanah Parker, and most of them, as we shall see, were nature's noblemen.
We have enjoyed peculiar facilities for prosecuting our studies on Indian biography and history, having free access to the four great libraries of Chicago.
For the benefit of others interested in the same subject, we will mention a few of the many books we found helpful, in the preparation of this work, besides the two already named.
At the head of the list we place Roosevelt's "Winning of the West," Parkman's "Conspiracy of Pontiac," Mason's "Pioneer History," Ellis's "Indian Wars of the United States." In our judgment these are about the strongest books we have read on the subject, especially in relation to the Indian, the pioneer, and the border wars.
In the next group we place Dunn's "Massacres of the Mountains," Finerty's "War-path and Bivouac," Helen Hunt Jackson's "Century of Dishonor," and Eggleston's "Biographies of Brant, Red Jacket, Tecumseh," etc.
In addition to our library work, we spent much time traveling among the Indian tribes and making the acquaintance of many of the most famous living chiefs, and cultivating their friendship, so we record many of the incidents in the book as an eye-witness.
We referred to the Indian in this introduction as a so-called "vanishing race." As a matter of fact the Indian is not vanishing at all but slowly increasing in numbers. The census of 1890 gave the number of Indians in the United States as 248,258, while that of 1900 gave the total as 270,544, a net gain of 22,291 in ten years.
Another erroneous conception many people have of the Indian we can only call attention to here. They somehow have come to believe that the Red Man is very dignified and solemn, has no appreciation of the ludicrous, or conception of a joke. Never was a greater mistake. No one enjoys what he considers a good joke more than an Indian. You will find some evidence that he can be as funny as his white brother, in the chapter on "Indian Anecdotes."
We determined to have the illustrations one of the very best features of the book, fully in keeping with the subject matter; and, wherever possible, absolutely authentic. For this reason alone, the publication has been held back several months, the publishers sparing neither pains nor expense in procuring pictures from photographers and collectors, who made a specialty of the Indian, such as D. F. Barry, Drake, the Field Museum, the Newberry Library and the Ethnological Bureau at Washington; some of the latter being copies of paintings made before photography was known. We also procured photographs of several rare paintings never published in any book before.
Should the book prove instructive in demonstrating that there is a brighter, better side to Indian life and character than is usually seen, the author will feel that he has not written in vain, and he will be gratified if, in addition to this, it also gives pleasure.


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