The Spirit of the Wolf — The American Indian Scout

Howdy! And welcome to another Tuesday blog. Before I go into the most interesting part of the blog and tell you about the awesome abilities of the American Indian scouts of old, I wanted to mention that I’ll be giving away an ebook of THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF. Just leave a comment and you are automatically entered into the drawing for the book — remember to look over the Giveaway Guidelines at the right side of this page.

One other important point:  I rely on you to come to the blog tomorrow (Wednesday — usually at night) or Thursday to see if you have won.  Unlike some other sites, we don’t necessarily contact you if you are the winner.  So please do check back.
apachescout4The reason why I’m giving away the ebook, THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF is because it is a book about a hero who is, among other things, a scout.  In researching this profession, I ran across some extremely interesting abilities that these men of old had.  Now, I find it interesting, indeed, that these men could tell from a mere trail the thoughts, health, etc. of the man/woman/animal who had left that trail.  This information, some of which I’ll quote, comes from the book, THE WAY OF THE SCOUT, by Tom Brown, Jr., a man, who as a young boy was taken under the wing of an old Apache scout, and who was trained by that man as a scout.
 Grandfather is what Mr. Brown called this old Apache scout.  So this passage is from this book.“(Grandfather) defined the tracking that we had done as typical or novice tracking, but the tracking of the scout was defined as master tracking.  Even at the onset, the difference became obvious.  Grandfather told us that the earth was like an open book, filled with stories.  These stories were written not only in the softest ground but also on every other type of soil even on rock…”arikarascoutMr. Brown goes on to say, “To this day, the greatest tracking thrill of my life was when Grandfather first showed me how to read track “compressions” in impossible soils and on solid rock…”And here is where one really begins to learn about the old American Indian Scouts (those scouts who worked for the United States army were not the scouts of old). Anyway, again, another quote from THE WAY OF THE SCOUT, “You must stop looking at the tracks as lifeless depressions in the ground. Instead, and you have noticed inside of the track is a tiny landscape.  There are hills, valleys, peaks, ridges, domes, pocks, and countless other little features.  These features the scouts developed into a science, that which they call the ‘pressure releases.’  It is through these pressure releases that the scout can know everything about the animal or man that he is tracking.  The scouts of my clan could identify and define over four thousand of these pressure releases, and I know of no peoples of the earth that have been able to do the same.

curlycrowscoutMr. Brown goes on to explain in his book how these pressure releases can be read and identified, and he goes on to say that because man or animals are stabilized by their feet on the ground, they are always in motion and always having to keep balance — even to the tiniest of moves.  It’s because of this constant need to keep balance and shift that produces the “pressure releases.”IndianScouts2Mr. Brown also says that he and his friend, Rick, who was learning about tracking also, would start to identify their own moods and look at the pressure releases and note the difference between that mood and some other emotion — and study their own tracks — he says that everyone became a source of study.

He even mentions that “Grandfather taught us to expand our awareness and tracking beyond even that level.  He would stand beside a tree, point to a missing limb and ask, “How long ago was this done?  What did it and how?  What direction did the cutter come from?  Was his axe or saw dull or sharp, was he right- or left-handed, what degree of strength did he have?  Grandfather told us that we should always hold one question in our minds at all times:  What is this telling me?”

Charles EastmanIndian&boyscoutsBy the way, the picture to the left is a picture of a young Charles Eastman, a Sioux Indian, who became a lawyer for his people.  I believe (please correct me if I am wrong) that it was Charles Eastman who had a hand in establishing the Boy Scouts long, long ago.  If he didn’t establish it, he certainly helped to create it.  Charles Eastman also wrote several books with the help of his wife, whom he met in collage.  She was white.  I believe some time ago, there was a television story concerning Charles Eastman and his wife, and I believe that Adam Beach played the part of Charles Eastman.  This was an interesting fact to learn for me, because I have never really known that the Boy Scouts came to us from the American Indian — I had never stopped to consider it until I read about it from either one of Charles Eastman’s books or another book.

adambeachascharleseastmanAt the left here is a picture of Adam Beach playing Charles Eastman.  : )

Well, that’s all for today.  Next blog I’d like to tell you a little about the water dance of the scout.  Did you know there was such a thing?  I can’t help but think sometimes that it is a shame that one culture coming in will often destroy the culture that is there already.  There is so much we could have learned from the American Indian of old.  I always look forward to these blogs so that I can tell you a little about what I’ve learned because I think it so vital to keep these things alive.

SpiritoftheWolf-The-R -- first draftAnd so today, I’m giving away a free e-book of THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF, one of my stories that delves deeply into the scout and how this influences the heroine of the story.

So come on in, leave a comment, and let me know what you think of this very vital role of the American Indian culture, the Scout.

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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
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29 thoughts on “The Spirit of the Wolf — The American Indian Scout”

  1. Wow. Such an interesting and informative post! I didn’t realize the Boys Scouts originated with our American Indians! And scouting and tracking are so fascinating…kind of like criminal scene investigation of today’s world. Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. I am very impressed with the ability of the scout to read and interpret the tracks and footprints. Thanks for a great post.

  3. Hi Connie!

    Thank you so much for your comment and for coming to the blog today. I, too, am impressed with the scout. This e-book delves into the realm of the scout a bit, but soon (knock on wood) I hope to be posting the new series that I’m engaged upon writing, The Clan of the Wolf — which was the society of the scout. THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF is the first book in that series and my newest book, BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY should be coming out toward the end of this year. It is the second book in that series.

    Thanks again.

  4. Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa) was a doctor who studied at Boston University School of Medicine. (B.U. is where I went to college. 🙂 ) Although he was a Santee Sioux he served on the Oglala Pine Ridge Reservation, S.D., for a time as a government physician and witnessed the massacre at Wounded Knee firsthand. He also served in the Bureau of Indian Affairs at various times and was a lobbyist, reformist and activist for Indians throughout his life. He also represented the Santee Sioux with their claims against the US govt for more than 25 years.

    He was associated with and supported the YMCA and Boy Scouts but I’m not certain he actually helped start them up. (It depends on which biography you read.) He was the first major Indian author to write from an Indian perspective and many of his books included stories of animals and their places in life, probably very helpful for the young of the YMCA and Boy Scouts.

    BTW, Adam Beach (a Saulteaux, a branch of the Ojibwe) played the adult Eastman in the HBO film “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” based on the Dee Brown book.

    • I forgot to include: The Boy Scouts of America credit the British army officer Baden-Powell serving with ill-prepared soldiers in India as the founder of the Boy Scouts. His first book “Aids to Scouting” was meant to teach adults frontier survival skills but found young English boys at home were interested, so then his next book was “Scouting for Boys.” And it went on from there. American men Boyce, Seton and Beard are given credit too for bringing it to America. It was also associated with the YMCA back then. I had forgotten that as a girl scout (WAY back when!) we learned about Baden-Powell and the startup of the Girl Scouts about two years later by American Juliette Gordon Low.

      • Thanks Eliza. I’ll have to check my resources, as well, for I know that I have read in at least two accounts that Charles Eastman was instrumental in helping to set up the Boy Scouts –just can’t recall the exact sources at present. At first I thought he had founded them, but I went on to learn that he was instrumental in their set up — that he didn’t actually found them. Interesting info.

    • Hi Eliza!

      Thank you so much for this info. I have read many of Charles Eastman’s books and am always impressed with his sharing of himself and his knowledge for generations to come.

  5. Hi Karen! Fascinating post, as always! I learn so much from you about the Native Americans. As I am from a German/English/American descent, I always worry about ‘writing it wrong’ when I portray other cultures in my stories so I research like crazy. One thing I came across just this week, (and probably one you already know) is the story of Charles Curtis — half NA/half English/Scot — born in 1860, who became the Vice President of the United States!

    I enjoy your posts about the scouts. As MH mentioned above, they were the criminal investigators of their time. Your new series, based on them, sounds like it will be terrific!

  6. Hi Kathryn!

    You know I didn’t know about Charles Curtis — I will have to research that because it sounds so fascinating. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.

    Actually, the scout wasn’t a criminal investigator — he wasn’t the least concerned with criminality — I guess our outfits today have taken that part of the scout and used it for a means for which it was never intended. Interesting.

    In reality, the scout’s duty was to the tribe and to keep the tribe safe. Upon his ability depended the entire life of the tribe. Even chiefs bowed to the wisdom and information of the scout. Their duties were never to investigate criminality — their duties were to discover where game was — to know where the enemy was and to keep the tribe safe from harm. To this end, he learned to sense movements and intentions far away — he learned how to track to the inth degree in order to determine who he was tracking and their intentions. He learned to survive in any environment so as to aid his tribe and he was extremely secretive — often people in his own tribe didn’t know who were their scouts for even in camp, he cloaked a disguise.

    He never warred, nor took a life unless his own or someone else’s life was threatened. He learned to fight and win — but rarely used those abilities unless pressed to use them. He intentions truly were to help the tribe survive and to keep them safe from harm.

    I find it interesting that those abilities are now tied to “clicks” whose intentions might or might not be of a survival nature to the people whom they serve — or to humanity in general.

    Anyway, that’s my take on it.

  7. Eliza,

    Thank you for correcting me on Charles Eastman’s profession — you’re right, he was a doctor, but didn’t he also learn the law?

    I’ll have to go back and research this again. My books are all packed away, but hopefully I can find his books and reacquaint myself with him.

    • Karen, since he acted as legal rep for the Santee people and worked with the BIA, as well as various other Indian rights organizations, I’m sure he was very knowledgeable in Indian legal rights. (So were my Lakota friends highly aware of their rights and their own history including govt doings.) But in all the sources I checked the word “attorney” occurred just once with the word “acting” in front of it; all of the other sources used the term “legal representative.”

      As for the Boy Scouts, many sources note his involvement, but all sources focus on his YMCA work, I think because he established around 30-some Indian Y youth groups.

      Funny bit my Indian books are in boxes, too, including Eastman’s works, but since I was so involved with the Lakota I have those boxes readily available (and labeled), as I do my Cherokee books because of my family genealogy work.

  8. Another wonderful post Karen. So informative. Really very sad because we could have learned so much from the old ones. Thank you for this post.

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