Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the year 1852 / by Randolph B. Marcy ; assisted by George B. McClellan. Page: 48 of 368
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SAGACITY OF INDIANS.
the buffaloes are passing back and forth in their migrations during the
spring and winter.
The parties of Indians whose trails we crossed in our march to-day
were going south, and not having their families with them, our interpreter
infers that they are bound for Mexico upon a foray. Had we
met them and learned that such was their intention, we might perhaps
have dissuaded them from proceeding further. They may have seen
our trail: if so, and they are friendly, they will visit us. Should they
not come in, however, I shall send out an Indian after them to ascertain
where they encamped and the time they left. In consequence of their
known hostility, our Delawares are getting somewhat cautious about
encountering them. The interpreter says he would not be afraid to
meet five or six, but thinks he would avoid a greater number. I directed
him, in the event of his meeting a party, to invite them to come to camp,
as I had a talk for them. He replied, "Suppose he want to kill me-I
not tell him."
This man has often been among the prairie Indians, understands their
language and character well, and the moment he sees a trail made by
them, or an old deserted camp, he at once determines of what nation
they were ; the number of horses and mules in their possession; whether
they were accompanied by their families, and whether they were upon
a war expedition or otherwise; as also the time (within a few hours) of
their passing, with many other facts of importance.
These faculties appear to be intuitive, and confined exclusively to the
Inaian: I have never seen a white man that could judge of these matters
with such certainty as they. For example, upon passing the trail of
the Indians to-day, one of our Delawares looked for a moment at the
foot-prints, picked up a blade of grass that had been crushed, and said
the trail was made two days since, when to us it had every appearance
of being quite fresh; subsequent observations satisfied us that he was
Upon another occasion, in riding along over the prairie, I saw in the
sand what appeared to me to be a bear-tiack, with the impression of all
of the toes, foot, and heel; on pointing it out to one of the Indians, he
instantly called my attention to some blades of grass hanging about ten
inches over the marks, and explained to me that while the wind is blowing,
these blades are pressed towards the earth, and the oscillation thereby
produced had scooped out the light and into the form I have mentioned.
This, when explained, was perfectly simple and intelligible;
but I am very much inclined to believe the solution of it would have
puzzled the philosophy of a white man for a long time.
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Marcy, Randolph Barnes. Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the year 1852 / by Randolph B. Marcy ; assisted by George B. McClellan., book, 1854; Washington, DC. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6105/m1/48/: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .