When all is ready, the doctor pops his head out of the wigwam, on his hands and knees. At this moment the young men fire at the little bark animal, blowing it to atoms; when the doctor jumps at the bowl, thrusting his face into the water, grunting, groaning and making a vast deal of fuss. Suddenly a woman jumps upon his back, then dismounts, takes the doctor by the hair, and drags him back into the teepee. All fragments of the bark animal are then collected and burned. The ceremony there ceases. If the patient does not recover, the doctor says he did not get the right animal. The reader must be convinced that it is not for want of the most strenuous exertions on the part of the physician.
These are some of the customs of the Dahcotahs, which, however absurd they may appear to us, are held in sacred reverence by them. There are some animals, birds and fishes, that an Indian venerates; and the creature thus sacred, he dare neither kill nor eat. The selection is usually a bear, buffalo, deer, otter, eagle, hawk or snake. One will not eat the right wing of a bird; another dare not eat the left: nor are the women allowed to eat any part that is considered sacred.
The Sioux say it is lawful to take revenge, but otherwise it is not right to murder. When murder is committed, it is an injury to the deceased; not a sin against the Great Spirit. Some of their wise men say that the Great Spirit has nothing to do with their affairs, present or future. They pretend to know but little of a future state. They have dreamy ideas of large cities somewhere in the heavens, where they will go, but still be at war with their enemies and have plenty of game. An Indian woman’s idea of future happiness consists in relief from care. “Oh! that I were dead,” they will often say, “when I shall have no more trouble.” Veneration is much regarded in all Indian families. Thus a son-in-law must never call his father-in-law by his name, but by the title father-in-law, and vice versa. A female is not permitted to handle the sac for war purposes; neither does she dare look into a looking-glass, for fear of losing her eyesight.