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"Tame Indians"
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Tame Indians

Sarah O. Jewett.

Comparison of the Harvard Manuscript at the Houghton Library
and the published text in The Independent (27:26) April 1, 1875.

Houghton Manuscript identification:  Jewett, Sarah Orne, 1849-1909. Compositions and other papers: Guide. (bMS Am 1743.2-1743.27 ) (7) Tame Indians. A.MS.(unsigned); [n.p., n.d.]. 3s. (12p.). The manuscript material appears here by permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University.

How to read this text.

     There are no clear paragraph divisions in the manuscript, though it appears Jewett may have divided the manuscript with dash-like periods.  These hints determine paragraphing in the separate transcription. To help with readability, I have left the paragraphing as in the Independent.

      Black text is the same in both the manuscript and the Independent.

      Bracketed black text is the same in both, but was added in the manuscript.

      Red text appears in the manuscript but not in the Independent.
        - Bracketed red text was added to the manuscript.
        - Strike outs in red text indicate manuscript text Jewett wrote and crossed out.

      A red question mark after any text indicates my uncertainty about Jewett's hand-writing.

      Bracketed green text appears in the Independent but not in the manuscript.

The Combined Texts
Tame Indians

           Two little friends of mine were

     I was visiting a friend of mine in Boston not long ago, and one day Sunday afternoon her younger brother and sister asked me to tell them a story[;]. Now it is was very easy to say 'tell me a story' but I [could not] couldn't think of any but the stories ones they knew as well as I. [, and proposed reading them one, instead.] Can't you tell us about something that happened to you? said asked Bessie, while Jack said no, don't read a story -- and then I puzzled myself awhile and finally said, Did I ever tell you about my going to an Indian church once out West? 'No?' Then let us we will [all] go and sit in the bay window and I will begin.

       ["Oh! no," said Bessie; "tell us about something that you did once. Didn't the cars ever run off the track when you were traveling? Or tell us about something you have seen. I like that kind of story best."

      "So do I," said Jack. "I like to hear Indian stories, too."

      "Why," said I, "I can tell you about some tame Indians I saw once. I went to an Indian church out West." So we all went to the bay window to sit together on a cozy little sofa, and I began. ]

     ["]It was out in Wisconsin[,] about three hundred miles north of Chicago[.], on the shore of Green Bay and I [had been there a day or two and] had said once or twice how much I liked [how funny it seemed to me] to see [the] Indians* walking about the streets[.], when someone said wouldn't you like to go out to the Oneida settlement [to service some] Sunday? I was delighted you may be sure for the only Indians [The only ones] I had ever seen [before] were the forlorn creatures [who live at watering-places in the summer and] who sell baskets. [make fancy baskets to sell to the summer visitors."]

      ["Yes," said Jack, "we used to go to see some at North Conway last summer. Don't you remember, Bessie?"]

     And I had been reading a [interesting] book of Mr. Park Francis Parkmans which tells a great deal about the old Indian tribes. You must read it when you grow older.

      ["When you are older, Jack," said I, "if you are still fond of war stories, you must read Mr. Parkman's books. There is one called 'The History of the Jesuits in North America,' where you find a great deal about the old Indian tribes. I'm afraid you will not admire them quite so much as you do now -- they were so horribly cruel. Though I suppose in these days we only know the worst side of the story."]

     ["]Does [that book] it tell about the fights and (real ?) splendid Indians that went [who knew all about] hunting[?] asked Jack. [I think] Perhaps I should like to read it now. [," said Jack: while] But Bessie said[: "Please] 'go on.'["]

     ["]There were the four girls some [two] young ladies besides myself[,] and we had a man to drive us[.] with [the] two strong horses

     [and we started as early as eight o'clock; for it was a hard, long drive, at any rate, and some one told us the road was unusually bad just then. It was a sudden start -- just at dusk the night before. I had rushed to the window to see a passer-by, and came back to where my friend was standing, saying 'He wasn't an Indian, after all,' when she said:

      "'What a pity you couldn't go out to 'the Mission' to church. You would see them there to your heart's content. But, for the life of me, I can't get up any enthusiasm. I think they are stupid, lazy creatures.'

      "She said this because I was so excited about them and had been asking her to look at every one I saw. Next morning was Sunday, and I was waked very early and hurried all the time I was eating my breakfast, because we were really going to Oneida, and I was so glad. I can't tell you much about the drive, only that it was dreary and tiresome. There were no hills, but there were rough places enough in the road.]

     for it was It was a dozen miles out (and ?) to Oneida and It was a dreary drive enough. [It was] It was early in [November and the sky was gray.] November [weather] and the [The] day before had been rainy so the roads were frightfully bad[,] and we had nearly a dozen miles to drive[,]out[most of it] through the forest, (unreadable strikeout) or what had been a forest before those awful prairie fires of 1871 had swept through it. [We were not many miles from Peshtigo. You remember hearing of the terrible fires there, don't you, at the time Chicago was burnt -- when whole villages were destroyed and ever so many lives lost?] It was the [most dismal] loneliest place I ever saw. [I think those woods were more dismal than any place I ever had been in before.] The green (unreadable change to green, greener?) [ferns] [and] + bushes [underbrush,] which had made it look less desolate [must have made it pleasanter] in the summer, [had] wereall [been] killed by the frost. [There were [[half-frozen]] pools of water] everywhere [in the low places,] and the charred [and](+ ?) blackened trunks of the pine trees stood straight all around [were standing everywhere as far as you could see, and black cinders and broken branches that had fallen were scattered over the ground. It] and it seemed [to me as if the long miles never would come to an end +] as if we never should come out of those forlorn woods and see the fields again. [to the end of that forlorn road and find houses and fields again.] But by and by we heard a [church] bell [church-bell] ringing and soon after we (unreadable strikeout) saw the church itself still a mile or two off [; and then the sun came out, and presently we saw the farms and the church itself, and there was the Mission at last, and we left the woods behind us. The] and the driver whipped up his horses[,] and on we went in a hurry[;] but [we still had some distance to go, and] were late, after all. ["]

      ["What did the wigwams look like?" said Jack.

      "There were no wigwams at all," said I; "only log cabins and small frame-houses. It looked almost like any other little Western settlement.] I was [so] disappointed[, for it] the settlement did not look at all as if Indians lived there. There were some comfortable looking farm houses and plenty of log cabins. but and the [The] church looked [was] like any little country church.["]

      ["]Oh[!] what a pity[,"] said Jack. [both the children.] I should have been so sorry! There were horses fastened to the fence about the church [+ a great many dogs -- some standing in the church door with (their? them?)] and we left ours and went in.

     ["But when we left the horses and went in -- oh! I wish you could have] I wish you had seen the congregation! If the houses had looked like ordinary houses[,] their owners certainly did not look like ordinary people for they were such unmistakeable Indians that I thought at once of the braves in my [. Their faces were just like the pictures of Indians in my old story-books, and I think I shouldn't have been much surprised if I had been] picture books and half expected to be scalped and [or] tomahawked on the spot. They seemed very [looked stupid and] peaceable and devout and said their prayers devoutly. [seemed very devout; and the] The church was well filled[,] all except the strangers['] pew.["]

      ["]What kind of a church was it[?"]said[asked] Bessie.

     ["]Episcopal[,"] said I, ["]and was it was so strange that the Sunday before I should have been at church at Grace church,* in New York[,] where everything is so beautiful and the people so elegantly dressed, [such a contrast to these;] and then one week afterward here I was[, a thousand miles away,] at the Oneida Missions,[--] myself + [my] [, my] friends, +[and] the clergyman the only white people [to be seen] in the congregation. I was so sorry that I was just too late to hear them say the creed and the [Creed;] [but I heard] the responses of course [afterward,] and they sang two hymns in their own language. One was ["My soul be on thy guard."]* ['Am I a Soldier of the Cross?'] They do not have all the usual Church service[;] but a much shorter and simpler one[, leaving out parts they could not understand. We had Prayer Books with the Indian on one side and the English on the other, and a few hymns translated at the end.] They seemed (unreadable two words stricken out -- very familiar?) [to] know it all [the hymns] by heart, and their singing [was very good and] interested me more than anything. Their voices are so different from ours, and the* tune [The tunes] sounded so familiar and the words so strange.["]

     ["]Do you remember any of the words[?" asked] said Jack.

     ["]Not one. I'm so sorry! ["]* There They had some music. There was a melodeon or cabinet organ played by a young man who had been away to school or college and who was a [looked] very intelligent. When the sermon began the clergyman didn't preach in Indian but in English, and at the side of the desk close by the chancel rail [The service was all in Indian, but the sermon was in English and there was an Indian interpreter. At the side of the pulpit, just inside the chancel-rail,] was a place like a small[, old-fashioned] old fashioned square pew[; and here] where stood an [a solemn] old Indian[,] who listened to the English sentence and then repeated it in Indian his own language. He had a fine[, deep] voice and a grave earnest manner[,] and used many gestures, so it [he] reminded me of [what I had read of] the speeches one reads of [that used to be made] round the old council fires. [the braves made around the council-fires."]

      ["]Was it like the ones [sermons] we have Sundays [here]?["] asked Bessie.

     ["]Yes[,] only shorter and very [much more] simple -- just such a sermon as would be preached to little children and they listened and behaved much better than we do. [I remember I liked it exceedingly."]

      ["How were they dressed?] But were they dressed just like other people said Jack. I suppose they wouldn't have feathers in their hair for church, anyway. [," said Jack.]

     ["Oh! no," said I. "] The men wore rough[, plainclothes,] plain clothes like other men[;] but the squaws were very droll[.] They had no bonnets[,] on though one or two some had felt hats and the rest [I used to see them in the town, sometimes, with big felt hats. There at church they all] wore gay colored cotton[bright-colored] handkerchiefs[,] folded once cornerwise and tied over their heads and under their chins. (theire?) they had on very bright calico dresses and dazzling woolen shawls.[They wore gay-colored calico and woolen dresses, and some of their shawls, which they used now instead of the old-time blankets, were fairly dazzling.] Their faces were brown as berries and their eyes very black. They had dark complexions + very black eyes.

     [They all looked lazy and good-humored--except a few of the older ones, whose eyes were like hawks -- and] They looked heavy stupid and + lazy and but good-humored as if they never heard of going on the warpath[war-path,] or of burning peoples [people's] houses and murdering them in the night [in their beds], or of carrying them off captive through the woods [in winter]. They were not your [favorite] kind of red men [Indians,] Jack. I'm afraid you would have been disappointed. [they would disappoint you. I think the Oneidas were always a peaceable tribe. This company that I saw at Duck Creek, as they call the settlement, are all that are left of the great tribe, and it was pitiful to think how they have been pushed further and further back from the sea and are being crowded out of the world."

      "But I'm ever so glad," said Bessie, energetically. "It makes me afraid even to read about Indians, and I think these are the nicest ones I ever heard of. I am glad there isn't room enough in the world for them. Wicked things!"

      And I thought if we only would crowd the wicked thoughts from our hearts by putting better ones in it would be a capital plan, and then it flashed into my head that the Indians had been like weeds in the garden, which have to make room for the flowers always; but that the white people, some of them, have no right to the Indians' places, for they are no better than they were. And I was just going to say something about this to the children, when I happened to think how funny the Indian babies were.]

     (unreadable strikeout) ["]After service was over[," said I, "] we watched the people go away[,] and laughed to see all the papooses* [pappooses] hoisted on ride off in triumph [state] on their mothers' backs, [rolled up] [comfortably] [so cozily] in the bright shawls.["]

           ["Oh! do tell us some more about the pappooses!" said Bessie, eagerly. "Had they been in church all the time?"]

           Oh you didn't tell me about the papooses, said Bessie eagerly. Were there papooses and did they come to church?

     ["]Why[,] certainly said I, and they behaved very well[;] only sometimes [one] they would be [a little] noisy and but if they cried very too loud the squaws would take them out and either whip or quiet them and walk about with them a while. [talk a little, and that would put it into the minds of the rest, who would follow, like chickens. Once in a while one cried a little; but they were evidently used to being in church. There was such a serious baby in the next pew to me, who stared hard at me nearly all the time with his little, round, black eyes.] One solemn baby sat in the next pew to me and stared hard at me with his little black eyes.

           ["]After the people had [they had all] gone away, I found one of my friends was talking with the rector missionary who had just come out of the church. He had a sweet, kind face and I had a nice talk with him. He told me the Indians were perfect children and but were well-behaved + (seeming or seemed?) to do the best they could. They were fond of church going very constant at church and were going to begin a new stone church for which they had been saving money getting ready for a long time. They were lazy he said and would not work steadily and never rarely had anything saved any money for themselves. So when they grew [ill +] old and sick they were pitiful [enough] and had to be taken care of. He The clergyman had lived there in that lonely place for twenty years. and the parish We went into his house which was very pleasant and he showed us bead work and deer* skin moccasins some of them beautifully embroidered.

     [we had a pleasant little talk with the missionary, who told us he had lived there twenty years, and that the people were going to build a new stone church soon. And he showed us bead-work and pretty moccasins that the squaws had worked, and told us how much they are like children, and that they rarely save money; so when they are ill and old they are very forlorn. They are superstitious and remember many of the strange old legends; and I should like so much to have talked a great while longer, and to have asked him to tell me the legends and more about his parish. He had a sweet, kind face and seemed so fond of them and so proud of their progress since he came to live with them. The mission-house was very pleasant and he did not seem lonely.]

           ["]Then we said good bye to him and came away. [, and, as] We had It was so long a drive that we had brought a [our] lunch in a basket[,] and we ate this on the way home, and had [and we] had a very merry time. [eating it, and the sun was bright, and we were quite jolly going home.] We passed the [several] Oneidas [families] [several Oneida families,] on their way home for the farms are widely scattered and they never walked side by side[.] but in true Indian file ['Indian file,'] children and all, and the papooses[pappooses] peeping out from the shawl [shawls]. It was such a wonder to me that they didn't slip down to the ground.["]

           ["]Suppose we try with Tatters? There's Mamma's shawl [carriage-shawl] in the hall[,"] said Jack, who is very fond of experiments. [But] but the little dog was nowhere to be found[,] and his master came back to ask if there was any more of the story.

           But ["]No[,] there is was not,["]for said my friend[,] his elder sister, [who had come down stairs][down-stairs]. ["]But we are going for a walk + [and] to see the sunset[,]+ [and] you and Bessie may come with us [too,] if you like. ["]

[Jewett's notes

Apparently on the last page of the manuscript, Jewett has written notes that may suggest revisions she considered. She has written her title twice on the page in what appears to be her handwriting, whereas the title that appears at the beginning of the manuscript may not be in her hand.]

      Tame Indians

      Jack asks if I saw any --

      If there were any some old wigwams

     Tell him about the Indians being moved away from their old homes

     Tame Indians

 Editor's Notes

Indians: It appears Jewett wrote "indians" and changed it to "Indians."

church: In Jewett's handwriting, it is difficult to determine when she intends a capital C. This instance is not capitalized in the Independent text, but virtually all instances of the word "church" in the manuscript appear to be capitalized. I have elected to follow the Independent only because it represents conventional usage of the period.

My soul be on thy guard: Jewett appears to have left a blank for the name of the hymn and then filled it in later.

My soul, be on thy guard
George Heath, 1781

      My soul, be on thy guard;
ten thousand foes arise;
the hosts of sin are pressing hard
to draw thee from the skies.

O watch, and fight, and pray;
the battle ne'er give o'er;
renew it boldly every day,
and help divine implore.

Never think the victory won,
nor lay thine armor down;
the work of faith will not be done,
till thou obtain the crown.

Fight on, my soul, till death
shall bring thee to thy God;
he'll take thee, at thy parting breath,
to his divine abode.

and the tune: It appears Jewett changed "they" to "the."

I'm so sorry! ["]: This quotation mark appears neither in the manuscript nor in the Independent.

 papooses: The Independent spells this word "pappoose" consistently, while the manuscript spells it "papoose."

 deer: Jewett seems to have changed "dear" to "deer."

Edited and annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College

Uncollected Pieces for Young Readers
Main Contents & Search
"Tame Indians"
More Readable Transcription