Ancient Society

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The chief of the tribe was selected from the Thunderbird clan, although the selection was apparently restricted to certain families. The functions of the chief were connected with peace. He could not lead a war party, although, according to some, he could accompany one. His lodge . . . was an asylum for all wrongdoers. No one could be killed there, and a prisoner who succeeded in making his escape to it was spared. Even a dog destined for a sacrifice at the war-bundle feast was freed if he took refuge in it. . . .

An individual might go on the warpath either alone or with a few people, but the community, in the person of the chief, insisted that he show some warrant for his action. [A native informant says:]

"If a man wishes to go on the warpath he must fast and be blessed by the spirits in a specific manner. If a man is thus blessed, he gives a feast and announces his intention of leading a war party. The chief always has a representative at such a feast (a member of the Buffalo clan), and as soon as it is over this man goes to the former and reports to him. If the chief thinks that the blessing is insufficient and might cause the death of many men he takes the war leader’s pipe and lays it across his path and the war leader is then compelled to abandon his undertaking. This action on the part of the chief is sacred and must be accepted as final. The war leader dare not step across the pipe." . . .

If then the war party chose to go, any mishap was directly chargeable to the leader who disobeyed. Should anyone be killed the leader was regarded almost in the light of a willful murderer, and the kinsmen of the deceased could demand redress.2

1Morgan, L.H.n/an/an/an/a, , 71–72.

2 Radin, P., "The Winnebago Tribe," Bur. Amer. Ethnol., Ann. Rep., 37: 156, 160–161.

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Chicago: Ancient Society in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed June 19, 2024,

MLA: . Ancient Society, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 19 Jun. 2024.

Harvard: , Ancient Society. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 19 June 2024, from