The Indian Hunter Prized Very Highly His Flint and Steel


By Joe Bruner


The American Indian, October, 1927


            It is funny how some writers have pictured the life of Indians in the past—chasing the panting deer and the wild fox dug his hole unscared.

             The deer was not chased to any great extent because the Redman’s cunning enabled him to sneak upon the deer and kill him with his noiseless bow and arrow.  The fox was a wild animal and always waited upon nature to furnish him a home in some rock cleft.


Flint and Steel Days


             Once upon a time six Indian hunters decided to go into a strange, wild country said to be teeming with game.  After reaching the hunter’s paradise, they made camp beside a rippling stream and near the edge of the forest they were to penetrate.

            All of the hunters were very eager to kill game.  One of the warriors was so enthusiastic about his hunting that he refused to accompany his comrades and always made his excursions alone.  One night he was missing at camp.  The next day was spent in searching for him, but nowhere could he be found or traces discovered where he might have traversed.  After a tiresome search of many days, they gave up their search for their lost member and decided to return home.

             Now the story will be centered on the lost hunter.  He had penetrated so far in the forest seeking game that nightfall came on before he realized he was so far from camp.  Realizing it was foolish to attempt to find his way back that night, he prepared to spend the night in the heart of the forest.

             As he lay in his camp that night, he could hear the howl of the wandering coyote and mountain wolf.  And late at night the owls became boisterous and hooted at him.  The next day he attempted to find his way back to the camp but failed in every direction he traveled.

            For days he shot in the top of the trees and shouted in all directions to attract his comrades to his whereabouts.  His surroundings were a heaven of quietness, which added much to his loneliness.

             He was very thankful for one thing—he could always have fire to prepare his venison meal.  In those days, matches were unknown to the Indian, and he resorted to his flint and steel when he wished to have a fire.

             The steel is a piece of metal band that just fit the four fingers of the right hand.  The flint stone was about an inch square, and by the placing of a small piece of punk (dry rotten oak) just under the flint and striking it with the piece of steel, sparks of first were produced which would create a blaze.  Then the punk was placed between dry leaves, and a puff or two would give a real fire.  No Indian hunter’s equipment was complete without his flint and steel, which he always carried in his mail pouch.

             The lost hunter had now accumulated a lot of venison which was drying and hung in the trees of the camp.  One night after his great camp-fire had about died out and a full moon was flooding his surroundings, and while his soul was craving companionship, the almost unexpected happened.  He heard a soft tread on the leaves opposite the fire from him.  He rested himself on his elbow and peered across the flickering fire.  Just at that time an old gray-black wolf flopped himself beside the fire.  The young hunter decided not to harm the wolf because he was better than no company at all.

             At sunrise the wolf scampered off.  The hunter was thoughtful and warmed up some deer meat and placed it where the wolf could find it if he chanced to return.  Strange as it might be the wolf returned to his camp every evening to rest his weary bones.

            One morning the warrior decided to follow his animal friend, for it seemed to him that he always went in the direction that he thought led to the camp from which he had strayed.  Next morning he was ready to break camp and to take what venison he could carry on the trip.

            As the sun broke through the astern skies, the wolf was up and started off on his morning stroll.  After trailing the wolf all day, he finally reached the camp that was first established by his companions.  That night the old wolf scampered off never again to be seen.  The lost hunter now knew the locality in which he was.

            Upon arriving back home, a big celebration took place.  The lost hunter claimed there was a mark of kinship between his race and the wolf, and at no time should the wolf ever be molested by hunters.


Buried Treasures


            During the Revolutionary War, the Spokogees,1 the tribes living in the southeastern part of the country, were more closely allied with the English than the colonists because of the encroachment of the white man in this country.

            It is said that a treaty was made between the English and the Indians to wage war against the thirteen colonies.  This agreement was printed on parchment of dressed deer skin and wrapped with six wrappers of deer skin, and was up to a short time ago in the custody of the Creeks.

            After the English had been decisively defeated in the Revolutionary War and [were] ready to embark for their home in England, they met the Spokogees at the mouth of the Savannah River2 for a farewell meeting.

             The British troops had lots of spoil they had taken from the colonists, which included American gold, silver, and other valuables.  The Redcoats suggested to the Indians that a grave 10 feet deep and 15 feet wide be dug and all of the loot be buried together, and that the grave should not be opened until their English friends returned in a few years.

            The British officers and Indian chieftains shook hands in a farewell manner, and the Britons pushed off for their home.  The English never returned to divide the spoils, and the Spokogees were removed westward because the palefaces came like blackbirds in the spring, clamoring for more land from the Indians.                  (To be Continued)




1 Spokogees: This Creek name means “the exalted” or “near to God.”  This tribe was considered the oldest group of Muscogee.


2 Savannah River: This river runs between the states Georgia and South Carolina.