08 February 2009

Bird-Related Names Graphically Depicted in Oglala Roster of 1883

Pictograph for Big-Road.

For a mighty Oglala tribe on the plains, nature was an innate aspect of each day. The people knew outdoor scenes in intimate and depictive ways that were reflected in the manner of living, myths and legends, tribal societies and to the extent of being the origin of names for some of the people. This practice across ages of existence was certainly revealed in a winter census for the band under the guidance of Big Dog.

Birds, the winged ones, were especially of great symbolic importance. As they flew in the sky, different species known by their size and feather coloration were close to the heavens where tribal gods dwelled. This gave the winged ones power to bear messages from the heavens. An Indian attuned to the environment would notice a bird flying overhead or sitting obvious on a nearby tree branch. Each species would indicate a particular message to a tribal member, with the avian aspect conveyed in a meaningful way, such as a name designation.

The primary source of details for this pictographic census was scribed by Garrick Mallery, and published 1882-1883 in "Pictographs of the North American Indians - A Preliminary Paper" reported by the Bureau of Ethnology, published by the Smithsonian Institution.

The article presented these essential historic facts:

"Plates LII to LVIII represent a pictorial roster of the heads of families, eighty-four in number, in the band or perhaps clan of Chief Big-Road, and were obtained by Rev. S. D. Hinman at Standing Rock Agency, Dakota, in 1883, from the United States Indian agent, Major McLaughlin, to whom the original was submitted by Chief Big-Road when brought to that agency and required to give act account of his followers."

Standing Rock Agency was in the vast Dakota Territory of the northern plains of united states, west of the well-traveled Missouri River.

"Chief Big-Road and his people belong to the Northern Ogalala (accurately Oglala), and were lately hostile, having been associated with Sitting-Bull in various depredations and hostilities against both settlers and the United States authorities. Mr. Hinman states that the translations of the names were made by the agency interpreter, and although not as complete as might be, are, in the whole, satisfactory. Chief Big-Road 'is a man of fifty years and upwards, and is as ignorant and uncompromising a savage in mind and appearance, as one could well find at this late date.'
"The drawings in the original are on a single sheet of foolscap paper, made with black and colored pencils, and a few characters are in yellow ocher - watercolor paint. On each of the seven plates, into which the original is here divided from the requirements of the mode of publication, the first figure in the upper left-hand corner represents, as stated, the chief of the sub-band, or perhaps, 'family' in the Indian sense."

This roster is such an important revelation for historic ornithology. It provides details for a time when troops and settlers were invading land that had been tribal territories and homes to many native peoples with their distinct appreciation of distinctive nature. The tribe used vivid depictions rather than a bunch of words. The graphics are profound though some more words would have been helpful to provide more understanding of an era now long gone.

Here are the English name translations of the figures depicted in the Oglala Roster. There are a notable number which allude to prominent birds or birdly features. Birds were a prominent aspect for tribal life, so when it was appropriate to designate a moniker for someone's life, the new infant was attributed a name recognizing the lively and majestic eagle or hawk, the mysterious crow, or a feather or plume in a bit of subtle yet appreciative recognition. The list is simple, while the graphics are colorful and profound, while detailing an essential tribal view of bird life from a bit more than 125 years ago for the history of the Great Plains.

The renditions are presented in a simple manner, with a sketch showing a head and the presentation of their name sake hovering above. Sometimes a small amount of rouge or another color is used for a particular dramatic emphasis. Each person has an image, with only some of pertinence presented here.

Big-Road and Band
1. Big-road.
2. Bear-looking-behind.
3. Brings-back-plenty.
4. White buffalo.
5. The-real-hawk.
6. Shield-boy.
7. The-bear-stops.
8. Wears-the-feather.
9. Dog-eagle.
10. Red-horn-bull.



Low-Dog and Band
11. Low-dog.
12. Charging-hawk.
13. White-tail.
14. Blue-cloud (woman).
15. Shield.
16. Little-eagle.
17. Spotted-skunk.
18. White-bear.
19. White-hair.
20. His-fight.
21. Center-feather.
22. Kills-Crows (Indians).



The-Bear-Spares-Him and Band


23. The-bear-spares-him.
24. White-plume.
25. Fears-nothing.
26. Red-crow.
27. The-last-bear.
28. Bird-man.

Particulars for this naming could likely be enough for a completely distinct story. Would the name convey the ability to recognize the grouse, the sparrow and hawk, as well as the oriole and lark, or would it indicate an ability to move around with a flighty grace without tromping on hard ground or noisely like a romping horse?

29. Horse-with-horns.
30. Fast-elk.
31. Chief-boy.
32. Spotted-elk.
33. Carries-the-badger.
34. Red-earth-woman.
35. Eagle-clothing.
Has-a-War-Club and Band
36. Has-a-war-club.
37. Little-buffalo.
38. Has-a-point (weapon).
39. Returning-scout.
40. Little-killer.
41. Whistler.
42. Tongue.
43. Black-elk.
44. Lone-Woman.
45. Deaf-woman.




Long-Dog and Band
46. Long-dog.
47. Iron-hawk.
48. Pretty-weasel.
49. Short-buffalo.
50. Bull-with-bad-heart.
51. Four crows.
52. Tall-white-man.
53. Eagle-hawk.
54. Lone-man.
55. Causes-trouble-ahead.
56. Makes-dirt ("foul").
57. Black-road.
58. Shot-close.




Iron-Crow and Band
59. Iron-crow.
60. Running-horse.
61. Owns-an-animal-with horns.
62. Blue-cloud-man.
63. Fingers.
64. Sacred-teeth.
65. Searching-cloud.
66. Female-elk-boy.
67. Little-owl.
68. Pretty-horse.
69. Running-eagle.
70. Makes-enemy.
71. Prairie-chicken.
72. Red-flute-woman.
Little-Hawk and Band



73. Little-hawk.
74. Standing-buffalo.
75. Standing-bear.
76. Iron-white man.
77. Bear whirlwind.
78. Sacred crow.
79. Blue-hawk.
80. Hard-to-kill.
81. Iron-boy.
82. Painted-rock.
83. Yellow-wolf.
84. Made-an enemy.

Mallery included this addendum: "The information yet obtained from the author of the pictograph concerning its details is meager, and as it will probably be procured no unimportant conjectures are now hazarded. It is presented for the ideography shown, which may in most cases be understood from the translation of the several names into English as given in the preceding list."

No comments:

Post a Comment