Meriwether Lewis observed these customs during his meeting with
Northern Shoshone on August 13, 1805:
"...I now had the pipe lit and gave them smoke; they seated
themselves in a circle around us and pulled of their mockersons before they
would receive or smoke the pipe. this is a custom among them as I afterwards
learned indicative of a sacred obligation of sincerity in their profession
of friendship given by the act of receiving and smoking the pipe of a stranger.
or which is as much to say that they wish they may always go bearfoot if
they are not sincere; a pretty heavy penalty if they are to march through
the plains of their country..." (Moulton Vol. 5 1988:79).
Courtesy Lemhi Country Historical Society.
And later, when seated in the chief's lodge:
"The chief next produced his pipe and native tobacco
and began a long cerimony of the pipe when we were requested
to take off our mockersons, the Chief having previously taken
off his as well as all the warrior present. this we compyed
with; the Chief then lit his pipe at the fire kindled in this
little magic circle, and standing on the opposite side of
the circle uttered a speach of several minutes in length at
the conclusion of which he pointed the stem to the four cardinal
points of the heavens first begining at the East and ending
with the North. he now presented the pipe to me as if desirous
that I should smoke, but when I reached my hand to receive
it, he pointed the stem first to the heavens then to the center
of the magic circle smoked himself with three whifs and held
the pipe untill I took as many as I thought proper; he then
held it to each of the white persons and then gave it to be
consumed by his warriors. this pipe was made of a dense simitransparent
green stone very highly polished about 2½ inches long
and of an oval figure, the bowl being in the same direction
with the stem. a small piece of birned clay is placed in the
bottom of the bowl to seperate the tobacco from the end of
the stem and is of an irregularly rounded figure not fitting
the tube purfectly close in order that the smoke may pass.
this is the form of the pipe" (Moulton Vol. 5 1988:80-81).
Chief Tendoy's pipe.
Courtesy Lemhi County Historical Society.
This story is told by Alexander Ross, fur trader with the North
West Company, from his journal early in 1825, and illustrates
the diplomacy of peacemaking with the Cayuse at the time.
Compare with Meriwether Lewis' account of the "ceremony
of the pipe" in 1805:
"The chief's lodge was then put in order with a fire in
the center when the ceremony of ratifying the peace according
to Indian form commenced. The two Cayouse plenipotentiaries
were placed in the back of the tent by Pee-eye-em (of
the Sherry-dikas Snake, or Shoshone) and I next to
them, when eighteen Snake dignitaries next entered and squeezed
themselves down on each side of us. Lastly Pee-eye-em
sat opposite to us with his back to the door, having Ama-ketsa
on his right and another chief on his left, apparently with
the intention of keeping out all intruders and preventing
anyone from either going out or coming in during the solemn
sitting. And this completed the diplomatic circle. After which,
a silence endured for some time.
"The great medicine bag was then opened and the decorated pipe of
peace taken out of it and filled with the usual formality by Pee-eye-em
himself, who immediately after took a handful or two of sand with which
he covered a small hole by the fireside, then smoothing it over made two
small holes with his finger in the sand large enough to hold a goose egg.
This done, he then extracted from the medicine bag a small piece of wood
like a sugar tongs, with which he took up a piece of burning horse dung
and laid it in the hole of sand to his left, resting at the same time the
bowl of his pipe in the hole to the right, holding the stem of the pipe
all the time with his left hand. He then took up the same bit of wood or
tongs and with it took the burning bit of horse dung out of the hole to
the left and laid it up on his pipe, which was no sooner lighted than Pee-eye-em
taking up the pipe with both hands drew three whiffs, allowing none of the
smoke to escape; that is, he swallowed the whole of it, then taking the
pipe from his mouth held it vertically in his hands, blowing each time he
smoked the cloud out of his mouth on the stem, and this he did three successive
times at each of which he uttered a short prayer, as if invoking a blessing.
"Then holding the pipe horizontally and pointing to the east he
drew three whiffs, blowing the smoke on the stem as before, then turning
it to the west, next to the south, and lastly to the north he did the same,
always observing to repeat the short prayer every time he turned the pipe,
lastly, pointing the pipe to the ground he drew three whiffs, blowing the
smoke as before on the stem, signifying that the animosities of war might
be forever after buried beneath the earth. But in all this ceremony, Pee-eye-em
did not once, as is generally customary among Indians, hold the pipe to
or blow smoke to either the sun or firmament.
"All this time Pee-eye-em was sitting on his hams, then rising
up and turning the pipe stem he presented it to one of the Cayouses, letting
him touch it with his mouth but not inhale any smoke; the Cayouse did so.
Then withdrawing the pipe for a moment pointed it to him a second time with
the same positive injunction, which the Cayouse observed. The caution was
no doubt intended to impress him to reflect sincerely on the responsibility
of what he was going to do, for smoking with them on such occasions is the
same as an oath with us; then putting it to his mouth the third time he
said, "You may smoke now," adding after he had drawn a few whiffs,
"We are brothers" (Ross 1956:263-265).