The Pipe of Peace
BY MONSIEUR JONTEL (1679)
WHILE we halted on the bank of a river to eat, we heard the tinkling. of some small bells. This made us look about and we
spied an Indian with a naked sword-blade in his hand. It was adorned with feathers of several colors, and two large hawks'
bells, which made the noise we had heard.
PIPE OF PEACE.
He made signs for us to come to him, and gave US to understand that he was sent by the leaders of the Indians to meet us,
and bring us to their village. He caressed us in a strange way. I noticed that he took pleasure in ringing the hawks' bells.
Having travelled a while with him, we saw a dozen other Indians coming towards us. They made much of us and conducted us
to the village, to the chief's cottage. There we found dried bear-skins laid on the ground. They made us sit on these. We were
shell treated with eatables, and a throng of women came to see us.
The next day the elders came to visit us. They brought us two buffalo hides, the skins of four others,
one white wild goat's skin, all of them well dried. They also gave us four bows. These things they gave in return for the present
we had before made them. The chief and another Indian came again some time after, bringing two loaves, the finest and the best
we had yet seen.
Towards evening, we were entertained with a ceremony we had not seen before. A company of elders, with some young men
and women, came to our cottage in a body, singing as loud as they could roar. The foremost had a calumet, so they call a very
long sort of tobacco-pipe, adorned with several sorts of feathers. When they had sung a while, before our cottage, they entered
it, still singing on for about a quarter of a hour.
After that they took our priest, whom they considered our chief, and led him in solemn manner out of the cottage, holding him
under the arms. When they were come to a place they had ready, one of them laid a great handful of grass on his feet. Two
others brought clean water in an earthen dish and washed his face. Then they made him sit down on a skin, put there for the
When the priest was seated, the elders took their places, sitting round about him. The master of the
WEAPONS OF WAR.
ceremonies fixed in the ground two little wooden forks. He laid a stick across these; all the things were painted red. He placed
on them a buffalo hide dried, a goat's skin over that, and then laid the pipe thereon.
The song was begun again, the women joining in the chorus. The concert was made louder by great hollow gourds, in which
there were large gravel stones.
The Indians struck upon these, keeping time with the notes of the choir. And the most amusing of all was that one of the
Indians placed himself behind our priest, to hold him up; at the same time he shook and candled him from side to side, doing all
in time with the music.
The concert was hardly ended, when the master of the ceremonies brought two maids, one having in her hand a sort of collar,
and the other an otter's skin. These they placed on the wooden forks, at the ends of the pipe. Then he made them sit down on
each side of our priest, facing each other and with their feet spread out on the ground.
Then one of the elders fastened a dyed feather to the back part of the priest's head, tying it to his hair. The singing went on all
that time. But the priest grew tired of all this and made signs to us. We made it known to the chief that the priest was not well.
So two of the Indians took hold of him under the arms and led him back to the cottage. They made signs to him to take a rest.
This was at about nine in the evening and the Indians spent all that night singing. In the morning they went again to the priest,
took him again out of the cottage, with the same ceremony, but made him sit down while the singing-was going on.
Then the master of the ceremonies took the pipe, filled it with tobacco and lighted it, next he offered it to the priest; but he
drew back and came forward six times before he gave it to him. Having at last put it in his hands, the priest made motions as if
he were smoking, and gave it back to them. Then they made us all smoke round, every one of them in his turn, the music still
The sun was growing very hot, and the bare headed priest made signs that it did him harm. Then at last they stopped singing
and took him back into the cottage. They took the pipe and put it into a case made of wild goat's skin, with the two wooden
forks and the red stick that lay across them. All of these one of the elders offered the priest.
They told him that he might pass through all the Indian nations which were their friends. Because he had this sign of peace, he
would every where meet with kindness. This was the first place where we saw the calumet, or pipe of peace.
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