Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

Disagreeable Visitors

However, our company did not spend the evening visiting the strangers; on the contrary, they were forced to entertain others, for before supper had been cooked and eaten about three hundred Kansas Indians, men, women, and children, some walking, some riding, came into camp.

The emigrants whom our people had intended to visit were overrun even as we were, and during two hours or more the beggars remained watching for an opportunity to steal something, or striving to trade their skeleton-like ponies for our horses and mules.

Some of the visitors were clad in buckskin, others had leggings of elk hide, with buffalo skins over their shoulders, while many wore only greasy, ragged blankets and leggings so besmeared with blood and dirt that one could not tell what the material might be.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

Many of the men had long hair, while the heads of others were shaved close to the skin, save for a tuft extending from the forehead over the crown and down to the neck, much like the comb of a rooster.

Some had their faces painted in a fanciful manner with red, while others had only their eyelids and lips colored. Again, there were those with various colored noses or ears, and I failed to see any two who were decked out, either with garments or by paint, in the same manner.

The costumes and decorations of the women were as varied as those of the men, and equally filthy. All, from the smallest papoose to the oldest brave, were repulsive, at least to me, because of their uncleanliness.