Improved Order of Red Men

Warrior’s Degree


Sachem gives one rap with tomahawk, and says: Brothers, we are about to raise a worthy and well-tried Red Man to the rank and title of our Degree. Therefore, let that dignity which ever characterized the councils of the primitive Red Man mark our conduct on this occasion, so that the candidate may be properly impressed with the importance of the lessons he is about to receive. Chiefs, assume your stations. Guards, secure the wickets. Sannap, ascertain whether all present are qualified to remain.
The First Sannap performs this duty, requiring the Warriors Degree password from all those not known to him to be of the Chiefs’ Degree, then advances to place of council brand, gives the sign of respect, and says: Sachem, in obedience to your commands, I have ascertained that all the brothers are entitled to remain.
Sachem: Senior Sagamore, you will make the necessary proclamation.
Senior Sagamore: Pursuant to the command of our Sachem, I now declare the council fire of ... Tribe duly kindled in the Warriors’ Degree.
Sachem: Such is my will and command.
Gives one rap with tomahawk, and then proceeds as laid down in the ceremony of the Degree.
By the way of illustration, the following must be observed: The First Sannap and candidate having passed over the hunting grounds of the Tribe, appear upon the trail leading to the Warriors’ Council, and while picking their way over a rough and uneven path, the Junior Sagamore is seen rapidly approaching by another trail, he having discovered the Sannap and candidate, whom he takes for intruders, while descending a distant mountain, previous to the setting of the sun. He reaches foot-log over stream in advance of the others, and in concealment awaits their coming. Owing to the darkness of the night he is unable to satisfy himself as to whether they are friends or foes, and it is only when the challenge is made at the foot-log that a recognition takes place.
The trail is again taken up; the Junior reaching the council in advance of the Sannap and candidate, heralds their approach. The Warriors being in council, the candidate upon his arrival is instructed as a Hunter, and then given the Warrior’s Test of Courage.
Scene I
At the proper, time provided in the Order of Business, the council fire having been kindled in the Warriors’ Degree, the Sachem
gives one rap with the tomahawk, commanding silence, and says: Brothers, we are about to advance an adopted brother to the rank and title of our Degree. During the performance of the solemn rites through which he is to pass, you will preserve silence and decorum, so the lessons he may here receive will make a deep and lasting impression upon his memory. Sannap, at the proper time you will proceed to the forest and prepare the candidate.
Sachem gives two raps with tomahawk, when all chiefs will arise and proceed to the ante-room by floor movement similar to that used in the Degree of Adoption. The Guard of the Wigwam will arrange council chamber with all properties used in the Degree, extinguish the council brand, and report to Sachem when all is ready.
First Sannap will now proceed to the forest and address candidate as follows: Brother, your application for advancement has been received, and our chiefs in council have sent me here. Are you prepared to risk the dangers of the trail?
Brother: I am.
Sannap: Then let me prepare you.
Sannap will divest candidate of outer garment, blindfold him, and place a bow in his left hand and arrows in right, lead him through the inner wicket and over a rough and uneven path, arranged to represent, as nearly as may be, a journey over a forest pathway; brambles and undergrowth may be arranged to strike his body and limbs, but nothing to cause indignity to the candidate. They trail twice around the council chamber. As they pass on second round, both must cross on foot-log over imaginary stream, and as they step from log the Junior Sagamore, having previously entered and by a series of evolutions arrived at the stream, will approach suddenly, and say: Stand! bold intruders, stand! You cannot pass this way but at peril of your lives; then, stand!
Sannap: Wherefore, Brother, speak?
Junior Sagamore: Why, knew you not the ancient
Customs of our race, which to every Tribe
A tract assigns, on which they alone may hunt?
Sannap: Not for myself alone do I now speak.
I am of the “Totem of the Eagle,”
And well do know its wide protecting power;
But my brother, here, whose guide I am, is
Yet unskilled in Medicine’s deep art,
And cannot claim this great advantage.
He comes on an errand
To the Council of the Hunters;
Of which I will not further speak.
This is our object here, and not
To trespass on your hunting grounds.
Such are my truthful words.
Junior Sagamare: You say you are
Of the Totem of the Eagle.
Then should these grounds for hunting
Be as free to you as us;
For, by the device of that noble bird—
The freest in all our land—
Which heavenward soars,
And proudly looks upon the dazzling sun,
A deed which he alone
Of all the feathered tribe can do—
Our Totem, too, is known.
Now, therefore, brothers,
And such our hearts are proud
To hail all of the Eagle,
For the seeming wrong I’ve done,
Let me quickly make amends,
And safely guide you to your journey’s end;
They advance. The action should suit the words of the dialogue.
Junior Sagamore: But ere we further
Toward the Council go, let’s to my wigwam
Bend our wearied steps, and there partake
Of what corn and vension may yet remain.
Sannap: Thanks, brother, but as yet
We are not much fatigued, and time with us
Is very precious, so with your good will,
We’d rather journey to our destined end.
Junior Sagamore: So shall it be. Lo!
Yonder through the waving pines,
Behold! the council house in view.
I did not think we were so close upon it.
I’ll now precede you and herald your approach.
Sannap: ’Tis well, brother.
Sannap and candidate will stop near inner wicket; blindfold will be removed from candidate’s eyes, how and arrows will be laid aside, and both will remain there until Scene II is ended, when they will approach the Senior Sagamore.
Scene II
Enter two runners with firebrands, who will proceed to council brand and light same, followed by Sachem, Second Sannap, Prophet and two Mystery Men. As they assemble around council brand, Senior Sagamore enters, and, advancing to council brand, says: Sachem, a runner comes this way in haste. His pace foretells a message. He is at the wicket.
Sachem: Let him be admitted at once.
Enter Junior Sagamore, who, advancing to council brand and saluting with sign of respect, will say: Sachem, while descending the trail leading to the glen, from the summit of yon divide, in the dim distance I beheld two strangers advancing with faces toward the setting sun. Thinking they were intruders upon our hunting grounds, I hastened my steps; but the shades of night had long since cast their gloom ere I reached the stream, which, after passing the gorge, meets the wood beyond. ‘T was here I o’ertook them. My challenge was answered by “One of the Totem of the Eagle,” under whose guidance a brother seeking advancement was trailing to this council. I thus herald their approach.
Sachem: Well do you fill your station, Junior. Senior Sagamore, if you find them qualified bring them to me Prophet, it is my desire that the customs of our prototypes be observed.
All Chiefs will assume stations in front of tepees. Prophet will advance to council brand, facing Senior Sagamore, and stamp his right foot twice, which will summon two Mystery Men to his side. After making gestures suggestive of his desire for the Buffalo dance, he retires to station, and Mystery Men summon both Runners by stamping their feet once. When Runners are apprised of their orders by signs and gestures, they rapidly retire to the Forest, and when the Mystery Men with their Tom-Toms are seated at council brand, the First Runner enters, followed by the Four Warriors armed with spears, bows and arrows, who proceed to council brand and engage in a short dance around the same. When they stop dancing the Second Runner enters, followed by the Four Braves, bearing with them Buffalo tails and robe. After inspection by Senior Sagamore all will be seated around council brand. The Second Sannap, bearing with him a dried stalk of corn, will advance to Prophet, showing him same. Both will proceed to council brand and by signs and gestures call attention of the Mystery Men to the condition of the cornstalk. Several motions and gestures are passed between Mystery Men as Prophet and Sannap retire to stations. The First Mystery Man arranges his brand to burn sage, as the second Mystery Man gazes skyward for floating clouds. The assembled Chiefs hum an incantation. The Second Mystery Man seeing an approaching dark cloud, seizes a bow and arrow, climbs to top of tepee and shoots. No indication of rain results, and he descends, apparently in disgrace, amid low murmurs of sorrow and despair by the Chiefs. The First Mystery Man repeats the trial. After the lapse of a few seconds a flash of lightning is seen, followed by thunder, wind and rain, during which the First Mystery Man descends, and on being escorted to the council brand by the Junior Sagamore is exalted by the Prophet.
The above must be done in pantomime, and not a sound uttered except the humming of the incantation.
At the close of the pantomime the Chiefs will assume their proper stations and the Sannap will conduct the candidate to the Senior Sagamore.
Scene III
Sannap: Senior Sagamore, this brother, having advanced to the honors of a Hunter, now seeks the rank and title of a Warrior.
Senior steps down and makes a pretence of examining the candidate, and then says: But I see no scalps upon his robe in witness of his prowess. What deeds of noble daring may this brother boast on which to base his claim to wear the Warrior’s emblem? That badge he first must win before he can gain admission to the Warriors’ Council.
Sannap: The tongue of good report bears witness to his-prowess; our brothers with one accord proclaim him stout of heart against oppression, wrong, and human suffering. To aid his fellow man in virtue’s cause, he left the habitation of the paleface and became engrafted on the Red Man’s Tribe; since then he has his plighted word most sacred kept. Of such deeds as these he proudly boasts, and is prepared to stand the Warriors’ test of courage.
Senior Sagamore: Then the brother surely may advance. Sannap, to our Sachem we will go, and for our brother his advancement seek.
The Senior Sagamore leading, the Sannap following with the candidate, the trail is taken to a position a short distance in front of the Sachem’s tepee. Arriving there the Senior Sagamore says: Sachem, your Sannap has brought to me this Hunter, who claims the rank and title of a Warrior. I find him worthy of the honor he seeks, and now present him for advancement.
Sachem: Confiding in your wisdom, Senior Saga-more, we consent, with our best wishes, to his enlistment as a Warrior.
The Senior Sagamore returns to his tepee. The Sachem then continues: Brother, among the primitive Red Men a member of the Tribe could not enlist as a Warrior until by deeds of bravery and endurance he had proved his courage. As a Hunter, you are entitled to seek admission to the Warriors’ Council. The trial will test to the utmost your courage and fortitude. In order that you may find a friend in time of need, receive from me this token, which will gain you friends and protection even in the moment of the greatest danger.
Sachem fastens totem on left breast of candidate, under coat.
To our Sannap I now give you in charge, and with him as your faithful guide you will safely reach the trail you seek. Sannap, conduct this Hunter to the Forest, prepare him for the war-path, and then escort him to the Warriors’ Council.
Sannap takes the candidate by the arm and conducts him to the Forest, remaining with him until signal is given to return.
A short recess may be taken, during which the council chamber will be properly arranged for the fourth scene of the Warriors’ Degree.
Introductory to Scene IV
The proper manner of giving correct dramatic effect to that portion of Scene Fourth of the Warriors’ Degree, illustrating the protecting power of the Totem, may be gathered from Cooper’s description of a similar event in which one of his characters figured. After vividly portraying the circumstances leading up to the condemnation to torture, Cooper continues as follows:
“Throughout the whole of these trying moments Uncas had alone preserved his serenity. He looked at the preparations with a steady eye, and when the tormentors came to seize him he met them with a firm and upright attitude. One among them, if possible, more fierce and savage than his fellows, seized the hunting shirt of the young warrior, and at a single effort tore it from his body. Then with a yell of frantic pleasure, he leaped toward his unresisting victim and prepared to lead him to the stake. But at that moment, when he appeared most a stranger to the feelings of humanity, the purpose of the savage was arrested as suddenly as if a supernatural agency had interposed in behalf of Uncas. The eyes of the Delaware seemed to start from their sockets; his mouth opened, and his whole form became frozen in an attitude of amazement. Raising his hand with a slow and regulated motion, he pointed with a finger to the bosom of the captive. His companions crowded about him in wonder, and every eye was, like his own, fastened intently on the figure of a small tortoise beautifully tattooed on the breast of the prisoner in a bright blue tint.”
By carefully following the action thus described, the full intent and meaning of that portion of the ceremony will be dramatically conveyed.
Scene IV
Everything being in readiness, the Sachem gives one rap with the tomahawk, and says: We are about to raise a well-tried Hunter to the rank and title of our Degree. You will at once assemble in council.
The Chiefs who are to engage in the dance will assemble around council brand, forming a complete circle.
The Sannap in the Forest will address candidate as follows: Brother, our trail lies toward the Warriors’ Council. Are you prepared to risk the dangers of the path? Think before you speak!
Candidate: I am.
The Sannap will then divest him of his coat and clothe him in a hunting shirt over his other garments. The hunting shirt should be so fastened that it may he easily torn from him at the proper time to expose the Totem. The Sannap, when signal is given by Guard of the Wigwam, will then lead him into the council chamber. As soon as they enter and the wicket is closed behind them, the Senior Sagamore will step quickly forward, seize the candidate firmly, but not roughly, by the shoulders, and in a stern voice exclaim: Stand! bold, presumptuous mortal, stand!
Know ye not that the truly brave alone
Have e’er had fortitude to pass this way?
Sannap: Senior, this Brother is a Brave,
And from the Council of the Hunters comes
To boldly join your Warriors in the dance.
His stout heart eagerly doth pant
To deck his robes with scalps, the noblest
Trophies your daring Warriors wear.
Senior Sagamore: Then let him at once proceed to taunt the foe.
The Senior Sagamore presents the war club.
From me receive this blood-stained club,
And quickly bear it to their camp
In token of our Tribe’s intent. But mark!
Should they in turn present the arrows closely tied
With the envenomed serpent’s skin,
Retain them not, but boldly
Hurl them at their feet, in contempt.
If you do this, and escape the vengeance which
The act invokes, it will gain for you an
Audience with our faithful chief, who will then
Confer the boon you crave.
Will you proceed?
The candidate must assent.
The Sannap will conduct the brother around the council chamber, and while they are passing around, the Mystery Men and Prophet will seat themselves in the centre of the council chamber and the Mystery Men beat time upon the war drums, while the Junior Sagamore, Warriors and Braves engage in the war dance. Any loud noise, yelling, or the like, is prohibited. The officiating chiefs should time their dance to an Indian chant. Warriors and Braves start first, finally all joining in concert, so timing their dance that it will end just as the Sannap and candidate have completed their second time around the council chamber. The Sannap calls the attention of the candidate to the dance just as all the chiefs join therein, and says: The chance we seek! They are warriors enlisting for the war-path. We will join them.
With the candidate he forces his way within the circle of dancers, and exclaims in a loud voice: Warriors! behold the red-stained club My brother bears with greetings from his Tribe;
You know its meaning.
The Junior takes the club and hands it to the Prophet.
Junior Sagamore: Words bravely spoken!
And in proof that we well do understand
The sanguinary import of that gory club,
From us, in turn, receive these arrows,
Securely with the serpent’s skin tied up;
For ere tomorrow’s sun reclines behind
Yon jutting knoll, your Tribe may need them.
The Junior Sagamore hands the brother the arrows tied together with a serpent’s skin. The Sannap directs him to cast them at their feet, which he does.
Junior Sagamore: Warriors, behold! he hurls them from him
In contempt! Seize him, and with
Your clubs beat out his forfeit life.
First bind him fast, and my faithful knife shall
Let forth the purple current from his veins
And we will drink it up. Seize him, I say,
And let the unpitying torture rack his limbs.
The whole effect of the work will depend upon the action, which must be timed by the spoken words. No roughness, buffoonery, or indignity to the candidate is permissible. The Warriors seize the candidate and secure his arms at the elbows. A tableau is formed of the Warriors and Braves with clubs uplifted in the act of striking. As the Junior Sagamore draws back his arm to plunge the knife into the bosom of the candidate, he tears off the hunting shirt and discovers the Totem of the Sachem pinned on the breast. His knife drops from his hand and he points in amazement to the Totem, while at the same instant the Prophet springs briskly forward, interposing the red club, exclaiming: Warriors, forbear! Behold! the red-stained club
Bears the device of our Totem.
See! Upon his breast the same device,
The token of our Sachem’s protection! Truly
He is of the Totem of the Eagle,
Therefore our relation. Warriors, retire,
Nor harm a hair upon this brother’s head.
The Warriors retire and the Chiefs assume their proper stations.
Sannap, conduct him to our Senior,
And in proof of my regard,
Let oar brother bear this arrow,
Its crimsoned barb pointing to the earth
The brother receives the arrow, and the Sannap conducts him to the Senior Sagamore’s tepee.
Sannap: Senior Sagamore,
Behold the Brother’s safe return,
And to prove that he has braved the torture
With nerve and courage, he brings
With him our Prophet’s peaceful sign.
Senior Sagamore: It is the Prophet’s sign, indeed;
Now from my willing hands again receive the emblem
And learn well its deep symbolic power;
Which, speaking ever through the Red Man’s eye,
Will penetrate his heart, and gain for you
A brother’s watchful care; and when you have
To our Prophet shown it,
Present it to our Sachem, whose
Favor you will gain, and with it the secret
You have nobly won. So have I spoken.
The Sannap conducts him to the Prophet.
Sannap: Prophet, I present this brother, bearing the white-feathered arrow. He wishes to be received into our Totemic Bond and sit with our Warriors in council.
Prophet: Sannap, conduct the brother to our Sachem and request that the Warriors be assembled to receive him into the Totemic Bond. Bear with you the token of peace in proof of my friendship.
The Sannap conducts the candidate to a position in front of the Sac hem, and says: Sachem, by direction of our Prophet, I report that this brother has successfully passed the ordeal, and proved by his courage his right to be raised to the Warriors’ Council. Our Prophet requests that you assemble our Warriors in council to admit the brother into the Totemic Bond. As evidence of the confidence reposed in him, he brings the Prophet’s peaceful sign.
Hands arrow to the Sachem.
Sachem: We receive the emblem from your hand in token of your good intent. Our brothers have consented to raise you to the Warriors’ Council, and they trust that your future conduct will justify the confidence thus reposed in you.
Chiefs, you will now form the Totemic Bond.
The Sachem calls up the officiating chiefs. The chiefs form a complete circle around council brand, with backs to same, clasping hands. Sachem, Sannaps, Senior and Junior Sagamores, Prophet and candidate within circle. All being in position, the Sachem will say: My brother, cast your eyes around you; behold yourself encircled by a band of Warriors. This symbolizes the Totemic Bond of our Order, which has never been broken. Be faithful to them, and they will be faithful to you. Aid them in their distress, and they will aid you. The unbroken circle which surrounds you typifies that strength which comes from FRIENDSHIP, the motto of the Warriors’ Degree. Attack from without cannot break it. Only by discord and dissension within can danger come.
Sachem gives one rap with tomahawk, and all chiefs will assume sitting position in circle, facing inward. The Sannap places the brother facing the Sachem, and takes a position in the circle. The Sachem says: Brother, I will now impart to you the unwritten language of this Degree, and teach you to work your way into and out of the Warriors’ Council.
When you desire to enter the Warriors’ Council you will give the same alarm at the outer wicket as in the Degree of Adoption. When the Guard responds, you will communicate to him the password of this Degree, which is ... Having received this, he will permit you to pass the outer wicket. You will then clothe yourself in regalia, which for this Degree is a blue sash. You will then advance to the inner wicket and give this alarm ... This will call the attention of the Guard of the Wigwam, to whom you will announce your name and the name and number of the Tribe to which you are attached. The Guard will report the same to the Senior Sagamore, who, if there be no objection, will direct him to admit you if correct. The Tribe shall be the judge of the validity of any objection. You will then again communicate the password of this Degree. Having received this, he will permit you to pass the inner wicket.
Having entered the council chamber, you will advance to the place of the council brand, and, facing the Sachem, salute him thus ... He will recognize your salutation thus ... This will insure you a welcome.
You will then be seated.
Should you wish to leave the council chamber before the council fire has been quenched, you will advance to the place of the council brand and salute the Sachem with the same sign as on entering. Being recognized, you are at liberty to retire.
The brother is now seated upon a stump covered with skins or a buffalo robe. The Sachem then continues: Brother, the Degrees of our Order, like those in the schools of the palefaces; have wise and salutary purposes. Knowledge is gained only by degrees, and as you advance step by step, you will attain a knowledge of the workings and mysterious beauties of our organization. Be attentive, therefore, to their teachings, and let their precepts be indelibly stamped upon your mind.
All the ceremonies of our Order are historical of that wonderful race the paleface supplanted. The ceremony communicated to you may be briefly explained as follows:
On your admission you were given the bow and arrows, because hunting was a most essential calling; the bow and arrows being its chief implements, and emblems of industry and utility.
You were blindfolded and conducted over a rough and uneven path, to give you a faint illustration of the suffering frequently endured by primitive hunters. From this, we, as Red Men, should learn to bear the various trials and reverses in life with firmness and becoming resignation.
Your path was rudely crossed by a hunter, to illustrate an ancient custom by which a clearly defined tract of country was assigned to each Tribe, intrusion upon which was sure to result in war.
When the buffalo had forsaken their hunting grounds and their corn was suffering for want of rain, the Mystery Men sent out their runners to call together their young men, who assembled masked and robed, with buffalo horns on their heads, and armed with bows, arrows and spears. They engaged in a dance, for the purpose of inducing the buffalo to return; or they assembled in a wigwam and spent the day in incantation and prayer, burning aromatic herbs as an incense, and invoking the Great Spirit for rain. One of their number, with bow and arrows, was sometimes sent to the roof of a wigwam to watch for an approaching cloud, and shoot at it to let out its watery contents. If it failed to rain, he descended at the setting of the sun in disgrace. On the following sun another was in like manner sent out; and thus they continued to try their skill until rain fell, when he whose propitious arrow was supposed to have penetrated the watery cloud and set free its contents, was exalted as deserving of the highest arcana of their sacred mysteries.
On your admission to the Warriors’ Council you were given a Red Club as a hostile symbol to another Tribe. The arrows tied with a serpent’s skin, with which you were presented, were considered a fit answer to the challenge intended by the red-stained club. Upon casting the arrows from you, you were condemned to death, to illustrate the custom of slaying a victim and drinking his blood, previous to entering battle, with the belief that so doing would inspire the warriors with more enduring courage.
Just as the Sagamore was about to plunge his knife into your heart, having torn aside your hunting shirt to make more sure his stroke, he beheld upon your breast the protecting Totem which the Sachem had previously placed there to shield you. At the same instant, while the Sagamore drew back in amazement to find you were of his Tribe and people, the Prophet also discovered the device of the Eagle on the Red Club, and rushed to your rescue. This illustrates the protective power and influence of the Totemic Bond, an heraldic institution maintained among various Tribes, the sign manual or emblem of which was a sure protection against injury, even amidst battle. The Totems were distinguished by various devices, usually by a bird or animal, and in our Order, we are known as of the “Totem of the Eagle.”
The white-feathered arrow was then given you by the Prophet, as a token and messenger of peace.
My brother, you are now advanced and raised to a knowledge of the arts and mysteries of the Warriors’ Degree. Be jealous of the privileges it implies; be faithful to its precepts, and there will be no bar to your future progress in our Order.
The Sachem will call up the officiating Chiefs, and continue: Brother, I now invest you with the sash of the Warriors’ Degree. Let the unfading blue of which it is composed, the color of heaven’s firmament, the symbol of sincerity among men, ever keep fresh in your memory the pledge you took on being accepted in this Order. Believe not each singing bird which whispers rumors in your ear of a brother’s mistakes, but spread the mantle of Charity over his indiscretions.
Be faithful to the undying FRIENDSHIP of our Totemic Bond, and the power and influence of our beloved Order will never pass from the land.
And now, by the authority invested in me as Chief of this Council, I greet you as a Warrior, and bid you welcome to your rank and honors.
The Chiefs will respond.
Brothers: Welcome to the Warrior!
The Sachem, presenting a red tomahawk, says: But hold! There is yet another duty to be performed. This emblem I wish delivered to the Chiefs in Council. Brother, you are the last among us; to you I confide this sacred trust. Will you fulfill it?
Brother: I will.
Sachem: Then our task is done.
The Senior and Junior Sagamores will advance within the circle to positions between Second and Third Warriors, and heading respective columns, as it were, will make a complete circle around council brand; Senior Sagamore advancing to right, followed by Second Warrior, First Warrior, Fourth Brave, Third Brave; Junior Sagamore advancing to left, followed by Third Warrior, Fourth Warrior, First Brave, Second Brave. Runners or Mystery Men will stand by candidate, backs to council brand, Sannaps, Sachem and Prophet will stand facing council brand, until Senior and Junior Sagamores, leading columns, reach them, when, with San-naps in lead, they will form double line to forest, passing with Mystery Men or Runners and candidate between them. All will retire to forest and disrobe. The following ode will be sung during the march:
Come, Red Men all of this Degree,
And let your voices hail
The brother who, with courage bold,
Has crossed the Warrior’s trail.
May Charity and Friendship joined,
His efforts ever bless;
And when life’s o’er may he be crowned
With endless happiness.
After the Chiefs have disrobed they will return to council chamber by same floor movement as in retiring, and the council fire must be quenched in the Warriors’ Degree and rekindled in the Chiefs’, for the further transaction of Tribal business.