Monday, August 24, 2009

Sex, Drugs and Rockahomine, Two

Part 2 of 3

Watercolor drawing "Indian Conjuror" by John White (created 1585-1586).

In “An Account of the Indians of North Carolina” (from A New Voyage to Carolina) by John Lawson (1709), we find detailed instructions on how to “husquenaugh” the youth with hallucinogenic drugs and harsh treatment. “Psychosis builds character” seems to be the idea behind this rite of passage.

There is one most abominable Custom amongst them, which they call Husquenawing their young Men; which I have not made any Mention of as yet, so will give you an Account of it here.

You must know, that most commonly, once a Year, or, at farthest, once in two Years, these People take up so many of their young Men, as they think are able to undergo it, and husquenaugh them, which is to make them obedient and respective to their Superiors, and (as they say) is the same to them, as it is to us to send our Children to School, to be taught good Breeding and Letters.

This House of Correction is a large strong Cabin, made on purpose for the Reception of the young Men and Boys, that have not passed this Graduation already; and it is always at Christmas that they husquenaugh their Youth, which is by bringing them into this House, and keeping them dark all the time, where they more than half-starve them.

Besides, they give them Pellitory-Bark, and several intoxicating Plants, that make them go raving mad as ever were any People in the World; and you may hear them make the most dismal and hellish Cries, and Howlings, that ever humane Creatures express'd; all which continues about five or six Weeks, and the little Meat they eat, is the nastiest, loathsome stuff, and mixt with all manner of Filth it's possible to get.

Lawson's 1709 map of Carolina

After the Time is expired, they are brought out of the Cabin, which never is in the Town, but always a distance off, and guarded by a Jaylor or two, who watch by Turns. Now, when they first come out, they are as poor as ever any Creatures were; for you must know several die under this diabolical Purgation. Moreover, they either really are, or pretend to be dumb, and do not speak for several Days; I think, twenty or thirty; and look so gastly, and are so chang'd, that it's next to an Impossibility to know them again, although you was never so well acquainted with them before.

I would fain have gone into the mad House, and have seen them in their time of Purgatory, but the King would not suffer it, because, he told me, they would do me, or any other white Man, an Injury, that ventured in amongst them; so I desisted.

They play this Prank with Girls as well as Boys, and I believe it a miserable Life they endure, because I have known several of them run away, at that time, to avoid it. Now, the Savages say, if it was not for this, they could never keep their Youth in Subjection, besides that it hardens them ever after to the Fatigues of War, Hunting, and all manner of Hardship, which their way of living exposes them to.

Besides, they add, that it carries off those infirm weak Bodies, that would have been only a Burden and Disgrace to their Nation, and saves the Victuals and Cloathing for better People, that would have been expended on such useless Creatures.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And I thought football practice in August was bad.