|The Female Eagle - Shawano|
I stumbled on the following at the Library of Congress, and thought it would be an interesting entry for New Year's Day. It was news to me, certainly. The excerpt is from “Recollections of New Year’s of 1854 as recalled by Charles E. Flandrau, in later life a prominent Minnesota jurist.” For more from the collection, please click on the link below.
~~~Making the Rounds on New Year's
While speaking of New Year's day, I must not forget my first New Year's day among the Indians. It was in 1857. The Sioux know the day and celebrate it. How they discovered it I am unable to say, but probably they learned it from the French missionaries. They call it "Kissing Day." I was the United States Agent for the Sioux, and was detained up at the Yellow Medicine river for some reason, I forget what. I was informed that it would be expected of me to give all the women who happened to be about the Agency a present. So I had several barrels of gingerbread baked, and purchased many bolts of calico, which I had cut up into dress pieces, ready for delivery. About ten in the forenoon the squaws began to assemble near the Agency, and I seated myself in the main room to await events. At first they were shy (I was not the grizzly old fellow then that I am now). Soon an old wa-kon-ka came sidling up like a crab, and gave me a kiss; then came another, and another, until, young and old, I had kissed and been kissed by forty-eight squaws. I kept an exact tally, especially of the young and pretty ones. They all got their gingerbread and dresses, and went away very happy; whether their joy rested wholly on the cakes and calico, I never was exactly satisfied in my own mind. So you see the civilized and the savage do not differ very much in their methods of amusing themselves. It is a serious question whether modern innovations will be an improvement over the past in such matters.
—The Frontier Holiday. Per LOC summary, "This collection of brief first-person descriptions and anecdotes chronicles how Christmas, New Year's, and Thanksgiving were celebrated in nineteenth-century Minnesota. The materials are drawn from documents at the Minnesota Historical Society, and many have appeared before in print."
Illustration: George Catlin, The Female Eagle - Shawano, 1830, from the Paul Mellon Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Photo of the painting courtesy me.