This begins a series of blogs that I want to do on the Scout and the American Indian. I’ll also be giving away a free copy of the ebook, THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR. All you have to do to enter into the drawing is to come in and join the discussion and leave a comment. Void where prohibited.
The first comment that I’d like to make is that the Boy Scouts and their teaching of tracking, cooking over a fire, communication in the woods, etc. come directly from the American Indian. Forgive me for forgetting exactly which tribe that was and who was responsible for first setting this up — because most of my books are in boxes (as my husband and I relocate), I’m unable to tell you exactly who set this into motion, but my gut instinct thinks that it might be Charles Eastman of the Sioux. If you know this datum, please do refresh my memory on this.
Much of my information on scouting and the American Indian comes from the book, THE SCOUT, by Tom Brown, Jr., who as a young boy was taken under the wing of an old Apache Scout, who taught him the ways of the scout.
It was a well known fact in the Old West that an Indian could come upon you from behind and you would never suspect it or know of it. But beyond using the scouts in the military — as Custer and others did — little was really known about the scout.
Boys who were to become scouts were trained by the Old Scouts of the tribe. Interestingly, other people in the tribe seldom knew who their scouts were — it was kept secret for a reason, and mostly for the safety of the scouts, themselves. Sometimes the boys didn’t even know who the men were who were the scouts, since the scouts often were in disguise.
From the book, THE SCOUT, I learned that boys were trained to follow trails at an early age. To memorize everything they saw so that they could recite it back perfectly days, weeks, months later. They were also trained to memorize everything quickly. Thus, when a real scout came into a room, his glance (which we might think was quick) would take in everything in the room instantly and memorize it. It was an ability trained in the scout early.
One of the tasks of young boys in the making to become a scout, was to follow trails — starting with larger trails and gradually becoming more and more able to follow the slightest of trails — even to tracking ants.
They were taught to memorize when the rains came and other natural forces — how many days ago — so as to determine when a particular track was made. But even beyond this — because the earth records everything about a man or woman making the track, they were able to tell from different indentations in the track the general overall make up of the person — as to what he was thinking when he made the track — whether he was happy, frustrated, scared — and also how healthy the person was who made the track. Unless one reads Tom Brown, Jr.’s book, this sounds a little far-fetched — until he describes exactly how it is done.
Another skill the scout had was the art of disguise. Using mud, a scout could make himself look wolf-like and if he also had a wolf skin, it would complete the disguise. The scouts often wore the disguise when at home with the tribe so as to protect his identity. But there were other disguises, as well. Whatever was in nature where the scout was going would become a disguise of some sort.
The ability to see all, to hear all and to witness all and report it back to the tribe made the scouts one of the most important men in the tribe. Upon their witness stood the fate and the safety of their people. They were taught to be honest to a fault and report exactly as it is/was with no embellishment. To the scout, to be discovered was the worst thing that could happen to him. He was expected to see without being seen, to hear without being heard and to draw the right conclusions from the evidence found.
Well, that’s all for today. This blog was meant to be an introduction into the realm of scouting — in further posts, I hope to go into this art in more detail. The books that I have which have a hero who is a scout is THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF, THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR, THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF, THE LAST WARRIOR and to some degree RED HAWK’S WOMAN.
THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR is on sale now at http://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/4964/the-angel-and-the-warrior. You can purchase it in either e-book or tradepaper.