One evening in the corn planting moon, she was making ready her seed for the morrow’s planting. She had a string of braided ears lying beside her. Of these ears she chose the best, broke off the tip and butt of each, and shelled the perfect grain of the mid-cob into a wooden bowl. Baby-like, I ran my fingers through the shiny grain, spilling a few kernels on the floor.
“Do not do that,” cried my grandmother. “Corn is sacred; if you waste it, the gods will be angry.”
White people seem to think that Indian children never have any play and never laugh. Such ideas seem very funny to me. How can any child grow up without play? I have seen children at our reservation school playing white men’s games—baseball, prisoners’ base, marbles. We Indian children also had games. I think they were better than white children’s games.
I look back upon my girlhood as the happiest time of my life. How I should like to see all my little girl playmates again! Some still live, and when we meet at feasts or at Fourth-of-July camp, we talk of the good times we had when we were children.
My little half sister was my usual playmate. She was two years younger than I, and I loved her dearly. She had a pretty name, Cold Medicine. On our prairies grows a flower with long, yellow root. In old times, if a warrior was running from enemies and became wearied he chewed a bit of the root and rubbed it on his eyelids. It made his eyes and tongue feel cold and kept him awake. The flower for this reason was called cold medicine. When my father spoke my sister’s name, it made him think of this flower and of the many times he had bravely gone out with war parties.
We had a game of ball much like shinny. It was a woman’s game, but we little girls played it with hooked sticks. We also had a big, soft ball, stuffed with antelope hair, which we would bounce in the air with the foot. The game was to see how long a girl could bounce the ball without letting it touch the ground. Some girls could bounce it more than a hundred times. It was lots of fun.
A girl now lay downward on the hide. With a quick pull, the others tossed her into the air, when she was expected to come down on her feet, to be instantly tossed again. The game was to see how many times she could be tossed without falling. A player was often tossed ten or more times before she lost her balance.59 Each time, as she came down, she kept turning in one direction, right or left. When at last she fell, the pile of weeds saved her from any hurt.
Boy and Girl looking out at the night
Doing the laundry
Young girl with outstretched arms
Looking after the baby
Children gathering flowers
Children playing on the beach
Newly-born infants are shaven; but as they grow up, a little circle at the crown is left untouched. At first the circle is small, but it grows larger with years; and at six or seven, boys let all their hair grow and crop them when too long, just like their elders. Girls, before they leave this “poppy-head” stage as it is called, have little queues on the crown, tied less closely than men’s in the old days. Next, at ten or more, they have their hair done in a more complicated manner; sometimes the tresses are tied together at the crown and made into bows, and sometimes the hair is gathered at the top and parted into two tresses, right and left, which are made into vertical loops, joined together at the side, the joint being covered with a piece of ornamental paper. It has of late become an almost universal custom with school-girls to tie their hair with a ribbon and let it down loose or plaited on their backs.
Lady leaning over a child in bed
The Cooking Lesson
Kids under a tree
Boy and Girl
Two boys and old lady
I have often noticed longing eyes watching the pan of boiling sugar at the corner of some thoroughfare, or under the porch of some well-frequented temple in China ; and as the desired consistency was attained, the sugar-stick drawn out to the proper thickness, the elegant spiral twist given by a dexterous movement of the hand, and as the long scissors snipped the transparent and fast-hardening stick into convenient inches,
You notice that the figure in our sketch has two baskets, or rather tubs, the one containing his goods in the form of sweetmeats of various devices, the other the fire-pans and implements necessary for their manufac-ture. When he moves from place to place, that short pole which is resting by his side is laid upon his shoulder, and a tub hangs on a hook at either end. Listen ! He is striking with a flat piece of brass his little sounding gong, which, with its clang, clang, clang, invites customers. Each trade has its own particular cry or call, some vocal, some, as in this case, instrumental. See ! an urchin, whose fingers are evidently so burnt with the money that they can hold it no longer, is running forward to make a purchase. You may tell he is very young, for his tail is not yet grown, his head is entirely shaved, save two little tufts of hair, which are twisted and bound up into a soft horn, and orna-mented with a piece of crimson silk. Though so young, yet he has his own mind about his money, and very likely will prefer giving that funny-look-ing wheel in front of the sweetmeats a turn, to know whether he is to have double the worth of his money in sugar, or none at all. The gambling spirit is even strong in infancy, and though the chances are that the sweetmeat-seller will gain, yet he cannot resist the temptation ; only think, if he should get two pieces of sugar instead of one ! If he loses, he will stand there watching while others take their turn ; if he wins, he will run home delighted with his success. Children are children all the world over, they will have their fun and frolic, the sweet tooth can never be pulled out; if it could, what would become of the poor lollipop-makers !
A ring is formed by the players joining hands, whilst one child, who is to "drop the handkerchief," is left outside. He walks round the ring, touching each one with the handkerchief, saying the following words:
"I wrote a letter to my love,
But on my way, I dropped it;
A little child picked it up
And put it in his pocket.
It wasn't you, it wasn't you,
It wasn't you—but it was you."
When he says "It was you," he must drop the handkerchief behind one of the players, who picks it up and chases him round the ring, outside and under the joined hands, until he can touch him with the handkerchief. As soon as this happens, the first player joins the ring, whilst it is now the turn of the second to "drop the handkerchief."
Children sitting under a tree
Children sitting at the table
In the olden times this game was known by the name of "Hood-man Blind," as in those days the child that was chosen to be "blind man" had a hood placed over his head, which was fastened at the back of the neck.
In the present day the game is called "Blind Man's Buff," and very popular it is among young folk.
A ring of children
[Children seemed to be well behaved in the old days]
Two girls watching a family of ducks
Children listening to a story
Two of the players join hands, facing each other, having agreed privately which is to be "Oranges" and which "Lemons." The rest of the party form a long line, standing one behind the other, and holding each other's dresses or coats. The first two raise their hands so as to form an arch, and the rest run through it, singing as they run:
"Oranges and Lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement's;
You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin's;
When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.
I do not know,
Says the big bell of Bow.
Here comes a chopper to light you to bed!
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head!"
At the word "head" the hand archway descends, and clasps the player passing through at that moment; he is then asked in a whisper, "Oranges or Lemons?" and if he chooses "oranges," he is told to go behind the player who has agreed to be "oranges" and clasp him round the waist.
The players must be careful to speak in a whisper, so that the others may not know what has been said.
The game then goes on again, in the same way, until all the children have been caught and have chosen which they will be, "oranges" or "lemons." When this happens, the two sides prepare for a tug-of-war. Each child clasps the one in front of him tightly and the two leaders pull with all their might, until one side has drawn the other across a line which has been drawn between them.
Hide-then go seek
Girl walking heel to toe
Girl washing her doll
Girl playing with her doll
Curly-headed girl sitting up in bed
Girl eating banana
There are many curious customs regarding Chinese children. One takes place when a little boy is one year old. A great bamboo sieve, such as farmers use, is placed upon the table. Upon it are spread many articles—money-scales, shears, a measure, a mirror, a pencil, ink, paper, inkstone, books, the counting-board, objects of gold or silver, fruits, etc. The baby, all dressed in his best clothes, is then set in the midst of the objects, on the sieve. His parents and friends watch anxiously to see which of the articles he will grasp. They believe it will show what he will do when he is a man. If he takes the money-scales or the gold or silver, he will become a rich merchant; if he takes the book or pencil, he will be a great scholar, and so on.
Two children watching for mother
boy and girl talking
Mother and daughter
A family sitting around reading
Little girl standing in a puddle at the beach while lots of other children play in the background
Seven little children are all pointing at one little girl
Mother breaking up fight among her four children