Hannah of Kentucky - James Otis

The Religion of the Indians

Colonel boone, not meaning in any way to excuse their terrible deeds, says that among these savages the young Indian who would be looked upon as a man by his fellows must take the scalps of either white men, or those Indians who are the enemies of his tribe, and that the stealing of horses and cattle is to them an indication of bravery and skill, even as is good marksmanship, or wrestling, or running to our people.

Father told Billy and me what sounded like an odd story about the religious belief of the Shawnees and Cherokees. They believe that long, long ago a baby was found in the water, drifting around in a canoe made of bulrushes. She was brought to the lodge of the chief and, after growing up to be a woman, did many wonderful things. She turned water into dry land and made this whole country, for it was, at first, only a tiny island, so small that people could not find room enough on it to run about. This squaw called upon the water turtles and the muskrats to bring mud and sand up to the shore. This they did until that small island became the land where we are now living. Because the country was thus made by one of their people the Indians claim that the white men have no right to live here, much less to hunt or trap.

[Illustration] from Hannah of Kentucky by James Otis

They do not seem to be at all particular about what they worship, for while believing in one Great Being, they burn tobacco and buffalo and deer bones as sacrifices to many little gods; but they will not use the bones of bears or elks for such a purpose. When an eagle perches on a tree near their lodges just at sunset, or an owl comes around the village, they burn bones or tobacco in order that the eagle or the owl may carry good reports of that tribe to the other gods. If they come across an elk or a deer which is misshapen, or of a peculiar color, they claim that it is in some way connected with the Great Being and worship it after their fashion, which means by burning bones, dancing, shrieking, and otherwise making themselves hideous.

[Illustration] from Hannah of Kentucky by James Otis


Front Matter

At Boonesborough
Beginning of the Story
Boone on the Yadkin
Boone Moves his Family
Ready for the Journey
What we Wore
Driving Cattle and Sheep
Camping at Nightfall
The Long Halt
Jimmy Boone Goes to Clinch
Murder of Jimmy Boone
A Time of Mourning
The Faint-hearted Return
A New Home
Making Moccasins
Tanning Leather
Governor Dunmore
Our Home on the Clinch
Household Duties
Attacked by a Wildcat
Fighting the Wildcat
Boone and Father Return
The Wilderness Road
Building the Forts
Gathering Salt
Our Home in the Fort
Ready for Cooking
Furnishing the House
The Hominy Block
The Supply of Water
Sports Inside the Fort
Wrestling and Running
Religion of the Indians
Indian Babies
Colonel Callaway Arives
News from Eastern Colonies
Venturing Outside the Fort
Dividing the Land
Who Owned Kentucky?
Ready to Build a Home
Billy's Hard Lot
Preparing Flax
Spinning and Soap Making
Broom Making
More Indian Murders
Indian "Signs"
Woodcraft and Hunting
Pelts Used as Money
Petition of the Settlers
Making Sugar
Building Fences
Capture of the Girls
My Willful Thoughts
Finding the Trail
The Pursuit
The Story Told by Jemima
Elizabeth's Heroism
Rescuing the Girls
Alarm Among the Settlers
Indians on the Warpath
The First Wedding
The Wedding Festivities
The Brides Home
The Housewarming
Attacks by the Indians
Besieged by the Savages
In the Midst of the Fight
The Assault by the Indians
Failure of the Assault
Watchfulness of the Indians
The Sortie
My Father Wounded
Our Wounded