Nothing could have been more respectable than the silence and gravity of the Indians during the investigation. The hostages particularly, were really imposing in their appearance; an air of solemnity overspread their manly countenances, whilst their eyes bespoke that unquailing spirit which the habits and vicissitudes of a sylvan life are calculated rather to raise than depress. The Indians, when uncontaminated by the vices of the whites, are really a fine people; and it is melancholy to reflect that in a few centuries the red-man will be known only by name, for his total extinction seems almost inevitable.
The upshot of this affair proved that the Indians’ statement was correct, and a few presents was then thought sufficient to compensate the tribe for this most unwarrantable outrage.
The fact of the prisoners being set free on their parole, proves the high character they maintain with the whites. An officer who had seen a great deal of service on the frontiers, assured me that, from experience, he had rather fall into the hands of the Indians, than of the backwoodsmen. Once, while crossing one of the immense prairies in the Missouri territory during the winter season, this gentleman, Mr. R——, was seized with rheumatic pains, and unable to proceed. His party, consisting only of a few men, had no provisions, nor had they any means of taking him with them, being completely exhausted themselves—he was left on the plains to die. An old Indian chief, of one of the hostile tribes, chanced to find him; he carried him home, and nourished him until he was sufficiently recovered to eat with the warriors; when they came to the hut of his host, in order as they said to do honour to the unfortunate white chief. He remained in their village for two months; at the expiration of which time, being sufficiently recovered, they conducted him to the frontiers, took their leave, and retired.
Clements Burleigh, who resided thirty years in the United States, says, in his “Advice to Emigrants,” “It may be objected by some that it is dangerous to go to the frontier country, on account of the Indians, wild beasts, &c.; this is no more than a scarecrow. Indians in time of peace are perfectly inoffensive, and every dependence may be placed on them. If you call at their huts, you are invited to partake of what they have—they even will divide with you the last morsel they have, if they were starving themselves; and while you remain with them you are perfectly safe, as every individual of them would lose his life in your defence. This unfortunate portion of the human race has not been treated with that degree of justice and tenderness which people calling themselves Christians ought to have exercised towards them. Their lands have been forcibly taken from them in many instances without rendering them a compensation; and in their wars with the people of the United States, the most shocking cruelties have been exercised towards them. I myself fought against them in two campaigns, and was witness to scenes a repetition of which would chill the blood, and be only a monument of disgrace to people of my own colour.