Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1789-1924 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the
National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. external link Learn more
Image provided by: Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Newspaper Page Text
-ONE CANOE FOR EACH BITE."
C iWIBAL RITES.
Initiation Into Northwest Indian
Secret Society Is Painful.
The existence of a genuine cannlb- I'wtic fra
ternity of Indian* in the terrltor; of British
Colun bia i-, outside of a limited number of
ethnologists, entirely unknown, and baa never
been fully described.
Among the many Indian tribes of the north
west coast, probably the most interesting in re
gard to their mysterious and spectacular cere
monials are the Kwakiutl of North Vancourei
island. Their mythology is based upon the
adventures of a number of mythical and
supernatural ancestors, who cither dn
from the sky. arose from the underworld or
emerged from the ocean. All the tribe are.
therefore, tuppoeed to bo the d< m Ddantfl of
these fabulous personages. Ttiis hns afforded
a wide range fur their superstitious imaglna
NEW-YORK TRIBUNE ILLUSTRATED SUPPLEMENT.
tlon to weave Innumerable tales and legend!
and to devise enormous and grotesque masks.
The wearing of these carved representation!
of thi-ir ancestral spirits, who are still su; ;
to be present, it is thought will bestow I
natural power ui>on the person or clan which
h.is acquired the rl^ht to use them. The magi
cal gifts, dances and crests of these spirits are
all hereditary, but can aJso be obtained by kill
ing the owner, by manias* and by initiation
into one of the - ties.
The Kviaklutl have a number Of th<
ganlsations, the most important of which i» the
Ha-matsa. The surprlsii 1 feature of the lla
. '• v, aside from the weird
«f,, re initiation. Is the employment of a flesh
biting rite, which ih rigidlj eni
acted by the eanilidate.
80 highly prized from an ethnological stand
point are the fantastic m:LSks and other para
phi rnalla of this tribe that aclentlflc institu
tions in Europe, as irefl as th"se in th!a country.
have rted with ■ at another in obt:Uning all the
material possible illustrating their customs.
THE CANNIBAL DANCE.
Through the researches of an ex-chlef of the
Kwakiutl the American Museum of Natural
History has recently acquired and Just placed
on exhibition the largest and most varied num
ber of ceremonial objects yet obtained from this
Of unusual interest, however, are the ex
chiefs photographs depicting the principal per
sonages in the weird initiation ceremony of the
Ha-matsa.' It took much coaxing on the part
of the ex-chief before the superstitious Kwakiutl
would consent to be photographed in this, their
greatest of all secret ceremonials, for the pro
fane gaze of the outside world. Equally inter
esting is his narrative telling how the candidate
is put through the various degrees in order to
become a full fledged member of the cannibal
society. The main features of the ceremony.
■which lasts several days and nights, are here
Though it has lost some of its oldtime fe
rocious qualities, when the Ha-matsa candidate
Is said actually to have devoured human flesh,
yet in Ha present modified form it is undoubted
ly one of the most remarkable Indian ceremo
nials of to-day. The origin of the Ha-matsa is
based on an old myth or tradition which is con
sidered one of the most sacred of the tribe. An
ancestor, the protector and founder of the can
nibal society, came down from the sky, and was
possessed of magic power, which he could throw
Into inert objects, making them alive, and into
men, either killing or transforming them. The
source of this supernatural power lay in a small
animal, said to be a frog, that lived in his
stomach, which caused unusual hunger. When
his appetite had to be satisfied a ceremonial
feast was given, at which he wore ornaments
of red cedar bark, which are at present the em
blems of the society. He was made invulnerable
by being rubbed with the blood of the double
headed serpent, anil, by conquering many chiefs,
acquired ranch property. Thus, to be victorious
warriors and to secure the above supernatural
qualities of their groat ancestor the Kwakiutl
Instituted the Ha-mataa,
In the initiation dances the enndidat* p^r
■ the protector I y wearing his mask and
nrn.ini.nts. BBOWmg thereby to the assembled
people that by a visit to the ahnde of the spirit
ho has obtain- 1 his powers. The ceremony of
Initiation takes place in the winter montha. Be
fore the candidate !s admitted to the Ha-matsa
he must have been a member for seven years of
■ f the lower orders. A preliminary meet
ing Is called by the ehleC who announces to the
that a certain young man is to be initi
Soon afterward the candidate disappears with
blackened face. Then the head man of the so
citty proclaims to the tribe that the cannibal
spirit has taken the young man to his abode In
the woods to prepare him for Initiation. He re
mains from three to four months hidden In the
forest, and Is supposed to be living Id touch with
"SHE MOVES TOWARD THE -DANC
AND FACING THE NOVICE WHO
"THE LARGE NECK RING IS SEIZED BY ATTENDAJ