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Somatology
The Siouan Mythology
The Mdewakantonwan
Alphabet
Tribal Nomenclature
The Sisitonwan Or Sisseton
The Oohe-nonpa Or Two Kettles
Phonetic And Graphic Arts
Designation And Mode Of Camping
The Siha-sapa Or Blackfeet


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Toiwe're
Winnebago
The Waqpe-kute
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The Osage
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3 _{~latin Small Letter Turned T~}{~latin Small Letter Open O~}iwe´re_ (_people Of This Place_)
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Phonetic And Graphic Arts





The Siouan stock is defined by linguistic characters. The several tribes
and larger and smaller groups speak dialects so closely related as to
imply occasional or habitual association, and hence to indicate community
in interests and affinity in development; and while the arts (reflecting
as they did the varying environment of a wide territorial range) were
diversified, the similarity in language was, as is usual, accompanied by
similarity in institutions and beliefs. Nearly all of the known dialects
are eminently vocalic, and the tongues of the plains, which have been most
extensively studied, are notably melodious; thus the leading languages of
the group display moderately high phonetic development. In grammatic
structure the better-known dialects are not so well developed; the
structure is complex, chiefly through the large use of inflection, though
agglutination sometimes occurs. In some cases the germ of organization is
found in fairly definite juxtaposition or placement. The vocabulary is
moderately rich, and of course represents the daily needs of a primitive
people, their surroundings, their avocations, and their thoughts, while
expressing little of the richer ideation of cultured cosmopolites. On the
whole, the speech of the Siouan stock may be said to have been fairly
developed, and may, with the Algonquian, Iroquoian, and Shoshonean, be
regarded as typical for the portion of North America lying north of
Mexico. Fortunately it has been extensively studied by Riggs, Hale,
Dorsey, and several others, including distinguished representatives of
some of the tribes, and is thus accessible to students. The high phonetic
development of the Siouan tongues reflects the needs and records the
history of the hunter and warrior tribes, whose phonetic symbols were
necessarily so differentiated as to be intelligible in whisper, oratory,
and war cry, as well as in ordinary converse, while the complex structure
is in harmony with the elaborate social organization and ritual of the
Siouan people.

Many of the Siouan Indians were adepts in the sign language; indeed, this
mode of conveying intelligence attained perhaps its highest development
among some of the tribes of this stock, who, with other plains Indians,
developed pantomime and gesture into a surprisingly perfect art of
expression adapted to the needs of huntsmen and warriors.

Most of the tribes were fairly proficient in pictography; totemic and
other designs were inscribed on bark and wood, painted on skins, wrought
into domestic wares, and sometimes carved on rocks. Jonathan Carver gives
an example of picture-writing on a tree, in charcoal mixed with bear's
grease, designed to convey information from the Chipe'ways (Algonquian)
to the Naudowessies,(22) and other instances of intertribal
communication by means of pictography are on record. Personal decoration
was common, and was largely symbolic; the face and body were painted in
distinctive ways when going on the warpath, in organizing the hunt, in
mourning the dead, in celebrating the victory, and in performing various
ceremonials. Scarification and maiming were practiced by some of the
tribes, always in a symbolic way. Among the Mandan and Hidatsa scars were
produced in cruel ceremonials originally connected with war and hunting,
and served as enduring witnesses of courage and fortitude. Symbolic
tattooing was fairly common among the westernmost tribes. Eagle and other
feathers were worn as insignia of rank and for other symbolic purposes,
while bear claws and the scalps of enemies were worn as symbols of the
chase and battle. Some of the tribes recorded current history by means of
winter counts or calendaric inscriptions, though their arithmetic was
meager and crude, and their calendar proper was limited to recognition of
the year, lunation, and day--or, as among so many primitive people, the
snow, dead moon, and night,--with no definite system of fitting
lunations to the annual seasons. Most of the graphic records were
perishable, and have long ago disappeared; but during recent decades
several untutored tribesmen have executed vigorous drawings representing
hunting scenes and conflicts with white soldiery, which have been
preserved or reproduced. These crude essays in graphic art were the germ
of writing, and indicate that, at the time of discovery, several Siouan
tribes were near the gateway opening into the broader field of scriptorial
culture. So far as it extends, the crude graphic symbolism betokens
warlike habit and militant organization, which were doubtless measurably
inimical to further progress.

It would appear that, in connection with their proficiency in gesture
speech and their meager graphic art, the Siouan Indians had become masters
in a vaguely understood system of dramaturgy or symbolized conduct. Among
them the use of the peace-pipe was general; among several and perhaps all
of the tribes the definite use of insignia was common; among them the
customary hierarchic organization of the aborigines was remarkably
developed and was maintained by an elaborate and strict code of etiquette
whose observance was exacted and yielded by every tribesman. Thus the
warriors, habituated to expressing and recognizing tribal affiliation and
status in address and deportment, were notably observant of social
minutiae, and this habit extended into every activity of their lives. They
were ceremonious among themselves and crafty toward enemies, tactful
diplomatists as well as brave soldiers, shrewd strategists as well as
fierce fighters; ever they were skillful readers of human nature, even
when ruthless takers of human life. Among some of the tribes every
movement and gesture and expression of the male adult seems to have been
affected or controlled with the view of impressing spectators and
auditors, and through constant schooling the warriors became most
consummate actors. To the casual observer, they were stoics or stupids
according to the conditions of observation; to many observers, they were
cheats or charlatans; to scientific students, their eccentrically
developed volition and the thaumaturgy by which it was normally
accompanied suggests early stages in that curious development which, in
the Orient, culminates in necromancy and occultism. Unfortunately this
phase of the Indian character (which was shared by various tribes) was
little appreciated by the early travelers, and little record of it
remains; yet there is enough to indicate the importance of constantly
studied ceremony, or symbolic conduct, among them. The development of
affectation and self-control among the Siouan tribesmen was undoubtedly
shaped by warlike disposition, and their stoicism was displayed largely in
war--as when the captured warrior went exultingly to the torture, taunting
and tempting his captors to multiply their atrocities even until his
tongue was torn from its roots, in order that his fortitude might be
proved; but the habit was firmly fixed and found constant expression in
commonplace as well as in more dramatic actions.





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