Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Woodland Indian Travel.

Their Travels they perform altogether on foot, the fatigue of which they endure to admiration. They make no other provision for their Journey, but their Gun or Bow, to supply them with Food for many hundred miles together. If they carry any Flesh in their marches, they barbicue it, or rather dry it by degrees, at some distance, over the clear Coals of a Wood fire; just as the (haribees are said, to preserve the Bodies of their Kings and Great men from Corruption. Their Sauce to this dry Meat, (if they have any besides a good Stomach) is only a little Bears Oyl, or Oyl of Acorns; which last they force out, by boyling the Acorns in a strong Lye. Sometimes also in their Travels, each man takes with him a pint or quart of Rockahomonie, that is, the finest Indian, Corn, parched, and beaten to powder. When they find their Stomach empty, (and cannot stay for the tedious Cookery of other things,) they put about a spoonful of this into their Mouths, and drink a draught of Water upon it, which stays their Stomachs, and enables them to pursue their Journey without delay. But their main dependence is upon the Game they kill by the way, and the natural Fruits of the Earth. They take no care about Lodging in these Journeys; but content themselves with the shade of a Tree, or a little High Grass.
When they fear being discover'd, or follow'd by an Enemy in their Marches; they, every morning, having first agreed where they shall rendezvouze

at night, disperse themselves into the Woods, and each takes a several way, that so, the Grass or Leaves being but singly prest, may rise again, and not betray them. For the Indians are very artful in following a track, even where the Impressions are not visible to other People, especially if they have any advantage from the looseness of the Earth, from the stiffness of the Grass, or the stirring of the Leaves, which in the Winter Season lye very thick upon the ground; and likewise afterwards, if they do not happen to be burned.
When in their Travels, they meet with any Waters, which are not fordable, they make Canoas of Birch Bark, by slipping it whole off the Tree, in this manner. First, they gash the Bark quite round the Tree, at the length they wou'd have the Canoe of, then slit down the length from end to end; when that is done, they with their Tomahawks easily open the Bark, and strip it whole off. Then they force it open with Sticks in the middle, slope the underside of the ends, and sow them up, which helps to keep the Belly open; or if the Birch Trees happen to be small, they sow the Bark of two together; The Seams they dawb with Clay or Mud, and then pass over in these Canoes, by two, three, or more at a time, according as they are in bigness. By reason of the lightness of these Boats, they can easily carry them over Land, if they foresee that they are like to meet with any more Waters, that may impede their March; or else they leave them at the Water-side, making no farther account of them; except it be to repass the same Waters in their return.

Robert Beverley 1705.