Danger of Younger Braves

“‘I guess a traveler in those days wouldn’t have been found dead here, would he?'” Bill ventured.

“‘No, kid,'” said our informant, “‘not dead probably, because the Kansas Indians didn’t do much killing; but if he happened to meet a bunch of young Pawnee braves out on a prowl, he would sure as fate be left afoot, and mebbe naked, to get back as best he could. That was their idea of a joke.'”

But it wasn’t exactly a joke, even to the Indians. Oh, of course, they enjoyed it as an entertaining and profitable incident, but it was really a matter of business. And that, I have since found out, was why a small party of young braves was more dangerous to encounter than a much larger party under an old chief.

They were trying to establish themselves, both financially and in the matter of prestige. A young Indian had nothing to start with. Emphatically he had to bring home his own bacon in order to give suitable presents to his bride’s father and to set up housekeeping. The regular proceeding was to take it away from some other tribe, but a few lone white men were a bonanza. They had better horses, so that it took fewer animals to make a suitable exchange for a nice young squaw. The warpath, for a young Indian, was almost in the nature of a business venture.

We have never been students of Indian customs and are only giving the point of view of the trail journalists; but there there seems to have been a wide gulf the headstrong young fry, who presumably had no dignity to injure, and the wise men, elders, and chieftains. These latter might demand tribute in person, but they are not commonly reported as coming to beg. They often, it is said, counseled good conduct and moderation in dealing with the Americans, and less often enforced it, and a tribe traveling under the personal supervision of its chief always, in peacetime, much safer to meet than a scattered band of young braves.