Saturday, 24 September 2011

life with the apaches and comanches part 6

How long I should have lain in this semi-comatose state I know not, had I not been aroused by the Indian who seemed to have been appointed my particular guard. Bringing me a portion of tasajo and an olla of water, he placed them on the ground beside me, and removing the thongs from my wrists left me to dispatch my unpalatable food as best I might; at noon, and in the evening, he repeated the performance. With the exception of this interruption I was left to my thoughts. My reflections were of the bitterest and most gloomy nature. From my previous knowledge of the habits and characteristics of my captors I was assured that my fate was sealed; and my death only a matter of time
 captured white woman
These savages only captured male prisoners the better to enjoy their destruction. What astonished me most was that they had not put me to the torture on their arrival at the village. The fate of my poor wife was the profoundest mystery to me, as I had not seen or heard of her since our parting on entering the Indian town. While I was being conducted to my prison she was

hurried off to the other end of the village. The darkening gloom of my chamber informed me of the approach of night; and recognizing how important it was for me to secure all the repose possible, I prepared to retire. The preparations were of the simplest character; my feet being bound it was only necessary to stretch my form along the ground and I was in bed. I courted sleep with persistent endeavor; but my mind was a prey to such agonizing reflections that the drowsy god held himself aloof. I counted backwards, rolled my eyes from side to side in their sockets, and resorted to all the devices known to me, but with indifferent success.adam beach All through the night the howling of the village dogs, the wild note of the swan, and the dismal whoops of the gruya, could be heard; and it is very difficult even under circumstances more favorable than those in which I was then placed to sleep with these noises ringing in one's ears. Later, when a long residence with the tribe had made me familiar with these sounds, and their causes, I was not unfrequently startled by them. My imagination was constantly dwelling on my approaching fate; and I am sure I suffered enough mental agony to suffice for a score of physical deaths
.After Council art print by Mccarthy, Frank
 The next morning my keeper made his entry, this time without any food for me, and I was at once struck by his altered looks; he was oiled, and streaked with paint, from the crown of his head to his waist; his head dress was composed of eagles' plumes stained red, and his limbs were encased After Dust Storm art print by Mccarthy, Frank
in buckskin leggings, the seams of which were fringed with long locks of hair, which attested to his prowess, as they were composed of scalp-locks taken from the heads of his enemies slain in battle; the feet were encased in moccasins, embroidered with beads and the quills of the porcupine dyed in various colors; from his neck was suspended a collar, made of the tusks of the javali; his tomahawk hung gracefully from his waist, and a fine robe of jaguar-skins draped his back

 Such a costume I felt sure was only worn on state occasions; and his presence filled me with apprehensions. I was not long held in suspense, for stooping over me he quickly cut my fastenings, and motioning me to rise I was presently conducted up the ladder and out into the village street.
Emerging from the darkness into the bright sunlight, I was at first unable to distinguish objects, but as soon as my eyes became accustomed to the glare, I was struck with astonishment at the scene of bustle and activity that met my gaze. Indian women, children, dogs and braves, were hurrying to and fro, seemingly intent on business of a most pressing and important character. My appearance was the signal for a succession of howls and yah! yahs! from the assembled crowd. The women clustered around me and gave expression to their hate in kicks, pinches and jeers; even the dogs snapped at my heels. After a walk of a few minutes, we cleared the skirts of the village, and shaping our course towards the river that

these rebs from Timpo can easily be converted into Cavalry or Texas Rangers, just a head change then a bit of putty, you could really enhance these basic soldier types, same thing with the crescent indians shown here.

ran through the centre of the valley, I was soon among a crowd of other captives.
 They were composed of Mexicans, chiefly, and all bore evidence of the struggle they had passed through, before yielding up their liberty; their clothes were torn, disclosing here and there ugly gashes, from which the blood had not yet ceased to ooze.The war-club was a staple of all Great Plains tribes on the North American continent, and the Apache were no exception.  It was constructed of a heavy wooden handle topped by a stone carefully shaped into an angular position perfect for striking opponents.  Beyond that, however, each war-club was unique to the warrior that wielded it:  the Apache would decorate their weapons with feathers, beads, precious stones, intricate carvings, and more to differentiate between different warriors’ possessions in the chaos of post-combat.  The Apache shield was very similar to the European buckler – it was a small defensive device built on a lightweight wooden frame with cleaned animal hide stretched across its front.  These shields were also heavily decorated with painted symbols of animals and other objects.
A man among them especially attracted my attention. He was dressed in the costume of the mountain trapper, and his fur cap, fitting closely to his head, was a fit accompaniment to his tunic and leggings of dressed deerskin; his face had a peculiar expression which I could not account for, until I discovered that he had only one eye
Comanches put the prisoner to work digging a hole, telling him they needed it for a religious ceremony. When the captive, using a knife and his hands, had completed digging a pit about five feet deep, they bound him with rope, placed him in it, filled the hole with dirt, packing it around his body and exposed head. They then scalped him and cut off his ears, nose, lips, and eyelids. Leaving him bleeding, they rode away, counting on the sun and insects to finish their work for them. Later, back at their encampment, they told the story as an excellent joke, one which gained them a certain celebrity throughout the tribe.
 At this time an Indian advanced toward us, bearing in his arms a quantity of small stakes; I was at loss to understand what was to transpire, when I heard my one-eyed companion mutter under his breath, "drat 'em, they be a goin' to stake us." Sure enough this was their intention; seizing us one by one, they stretched us on the turf in three files, the heads of one file resting between the feet of the row above him; driving the stakes firmly into the ground, they fastened thongs of raw hide to our wrists and ankles, and passing them around the pins, drew our feet and arms out to their utmost tension, making our joints fairly crack.
Even worse fates could befall warriors brought back alive to Nermernuh encampments. Here, especially once the victim's screams established that his medicine was broken, the work was left to the women. Most observers reported that the women were far more patient and vicious tormentors than the males. It may have been the exercise of vengeance against their lot in life, but at any rate, the females destroyed the captive by the most drawn-out and hideous means they could devise. They cut off his fingers and peeled his eyes; they stretched his tongue and charred his soles, and they invariably devoted fiendish attention to his penis and testicles. The torture went on for hours, even days, so long as the body survived.
 Pinioned in this way, our heads were the only moveable parts of our bodies, and our upturned faces had the full benefit of the sun's rays, being subjected at the same time to attacks of swarms
of insects. This torture was so very painful that many fainted, but the women soon brought the victims to consciousness by dashing an olla of water in their faces, and with yells of delight witnessed the renewal of the poor fellows' agonies
The protracted rape, humiliation, and murder of female captives began on the homeward journey after a raid, leaving a bloody trail behind the war party. This began when the warriors believed they had put enough distance behind them for security, and they could make a camp and light fires
 There was no taboo against tormenting women, but this rarely went beyond sexual assault, though Amerindians were known to impale women on rough-cut stakes, or cut their heel tendons and leave them in the wilderness. Purely sexual sadism seems to have been almost unknown, because there was little sexual frustration to feed it. More often than not, the captive female brought back to camp had more to fear from the jealousy of the Nermernuh women, who heaped abuse and even physical punishment on them.
 I was so completely disguised in dirt, that the flies seemed to pass me by in despair; and being thus in a measure relieved, I turned my attention to my companion on my right, the trapper. He seemed to be taking things very quietly, and evinced great patience and fortitude under his trials.
 The squaws were particularly attentive to him; and at the time I turned my head in his direction, two hags were amusing themselves sticking sharp pointed sticks into his body; he bore it manfully, but I saw tears of agony streaming from under his eyelids.
If there were male prisoners, the normal practice was to try to bring them back for the pleasure of the women. When this was impractical, they were killed on the trail. Since bravery was the supreme virtue among Amerindians, torture was the supreme test. The tormentors got the same psychic satisfaction from breaking a victim's spirit while they destroyed his nerves and body as they derived from mutilating the dead. However, because valor was so respected in this war culture, the tortured captive who died bravely gained honor even in the eyes of enemies, a nicety most European minds failed to grasp. The victim who was defiant to the last even won a sort of triumph: he made bad magic for his killers. There is one documented case of a nameless white man on the plains who laughed in the faces of his Nermernuh captors with complete coolness as they graphically threatened his genitals with fire and steel. Abashed, a war chief ordered him released unharmed, as having a magic too powerful to challenge.Perhaps the most readily recognizable Native North American weapon is the tomahawk; and for good reason, as it has been found in nearly every corner of the continent in some form or another.  The steel “peace pipe tomahawk” was actually a European invention created to serve as essentially the first “tourist trap” by combining two Native American traditions:  the peace pipe and the tomahawkUntil they acquired gunpowder weapons, the Apache relied on the ancient bow and arrow to fight at a distance.  Masters of the military technology, they put it to great use against other tribes as well as invading Europeans in war-time.  Traditional arrows were made from wood and tipped with razor-sharp flint, creating a powerful projectile that could tear through flesh and internal organs to lodge in bones.  The Apache used the bow and arrow to feed themselves on wild game and to defend themselves in warfare, making it absolutely necessary that every man in the tribe knew how to use the offensive system as near to perfectly as was possible.  However, once firearms became available to the Apache the bow and arrow was quickly fazed out of use in favor of the new, modern and more efficient technology.  
 This new invention became incredibly popular among the North American tribes, so much so that it is commonly believed that it was invented by the people of the New World, not the Old.  The tomahawk was a vicious weapon capable of being thrown with great accuracy at distances up to ten meters away, as well as serving in melee combat as an effective killing tool.  Before European steel was introduced to them the Apache used tomahawks composed of wood and sharpened stone, making for a heavy weapon that could shear flesh from bone.  Oftentimes two or three tomahawks would be carried to the battlefield, with some balanced for throwing and others for personal fighting.  Additionally, the tomahawks could be used alongside the Apache shield.
 Presently the air was filled with yells and whoops; our tormentors rushed off pell-mell, the guards only remaining. I asked what was the meaning of this new outbreak; to which the trapper replied that he supposed it was caused by the arrival of a new lot of those "gosh darned red niggers
The Comanches on the whole were probably the most skilled of Indian horsemen-athletic riders, expert breeders and trainers, they maintained the largest herd. They were also among the most warlike people, a hazard to voyagers through their domain as well as to settlers beyond it, frequently mounting raids into northern Mexico for slaves, horses, and women.
It was probably not surprising, this warlike tendency. It's a cultural thing. From infancy, young men were trained to become warriors. It was unthinkable for a young man to want to do anything besides gain warrior status. Those who fell short were disposed of, usually by the warriors who had raised them. There were no adult male non-warriors hanging around the Comanche camps. In another break with what the white community saw as tradition, the Comanche did not have Chiefs. Only warriors. Other warriors might follow one individual warrior so he was treated much like a chief, but there was no such title till the latter years.
If a youngster kidnapped from an enemy tribe or from white settlers obtained warrior status, he was a Comanche warrior, regardless of the color of his skin or the color of his hair, and he was not considered different from the natural-born Comanche warriors. It is interesting to consider that a baby kidnapped from the Comanche's most bitter enemy, the Apaches, and then raised as a Comanche could become a highly respected Comanche warrior, or the wife of a highly respected warrior who hated Apaches.
After centuries of these kidnappings, first from the other enemy tribes and then from the Spanish and other Europeans, there wasn't really a pure-bred Comanche left. What made them Comanche was their lifestyle and the way they were raised. Bloodlines had no more meaning than hair or skin color.The women wore deerskin or broadcloth dresses with wide, open sleeves and a slightly flared skirt falling to" below the knees. A shorter piece of cloth, called an "apron", was tied around the waist. They carried a fan with a wooden handle and long feathers, a "purse" that was usually beaded and wore moccasins that came up to calf level. For pictures, google Comanche Indian Dress and you'can see photos from the last Pow-wow in Oklahoma.Ys9Pk8rY

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