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Sharp Nose

 Native American Nations | Among the Arrapaho                    


    Sharp Nose is Black Coal's lieutenant, or head soldier, and the finest scoot I have encountered on the plains. He derives his name from a physiognomical fact, and not, from acute scent, which, however, he possesses in an astonishing degree. His eyes are as bright and as piercing as an eag1e's. Nothing escapes his vision. In Colonel Mackenzie's winter campaign against the Cheyenne in 1876-77, Sharp Nose reordered invaluable service. His son, an intelligent and active little fellow of eight summers, frequently accompanies him upon less hostile expeditions.

     Judged by the Caucasian standard of beauty, a handsome buck or squaw I rarely found among the Arapaho, although fine physiques are common; but the reverse obtains with their children.  In them roundness of outline conceals high cheek-bones and other prominent angularities, and they are generally pretty and very prepossessing in manner. They are obedient, and seldom quarrel; hence they are not often punished. Parental affection and filial are equally strong. As I have before remarked, the squaws are generally ill treated by the buck, but otherwise fighting is uncommon, and thefts seldom occur. Individual differences are amicably adjusted; if of a serious nature, by arbitration. Murder unless the massacre of their enemies, against whom they fiendishly delight to perpetrate every atrocity, be so regarded is almost unknown. These facts appear the more remarkable when their mode of life is considered.

    Two or more families are not infrequently crowded into a single lodge, but great delicacy characterizes their intercourse. Does the civilized lover ask how this warrior of the plains wooer? There are no moon-lit groves for him; only the boundless and treeless prairie. But he folds his blanket around his nut brown mistress, and under its common shelter they sue and sigh undisturbed. And this barbarian, as we call him, when he receives his death-wound, calmly surrenders to the knife of his adversary a scalp-lock neatly braided by himself in anticipation of this very fatality. Than this nothing in modern warfare savors more strongly of the chivalric courtesy of feudal ages.

     In approaching the buffalo range a dance ensues. The tribe assembles about an open space, in the middle of which arc squatting many of the young men of the village, hideously painted and almost naked. A monotonous chant, accompanied by a regular beating upon "tom toms," is begun. The shrill treble of the squaws mingles not discordantly with the guttural tones of the bucks; and the wild refrain the central group begin rude and savage dance, hopping upon one foot and then upon the other, and yelling horribly the while. Those who join in this grotesque sport thus enroll themselves as a sort of "citizen soldiery," the chief purpose of which is the prevention of any interference with the buffaloes until, by a concerted action of the village, a "big surround" and great slaughter can be effected.

     A buffalo hunt by Indians has been often described. The buffaloes are generally approached from such direction that, in the chase that ensues, they will run toward camp, and by this means facilitate the transportation of their own flesh. Hundreds are killed, and the meat, cut into thin slices, is hung upon poles outside the lodge to dry in the sun. Cured by this process, it is said to be "jerked." Nothing pertaining to the animal is thrown away.  The entrails, and especially the tripe, indifferently cleaned, are eaten raw, or thrown upon live coals, where they shrivel mid broil into fragrant crispness. The skull is cracked, and the squaws insert their slender fingers into its crevices, and greedily devour the bloody and uncooked brains.

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