About one hundred years ago the notorious whiskey-trader, Alexander Henry, already mentioned, went into the Missouri region. He was a man of strange character, of heroic frame and mind, but unscrupulous and sordid. His only interest and business among the Indians was beating them out of their furs with potations of cheap alcohol. This fearless ruffian penetrated the far Northwest, was the first trader to meet certain Western tribes, and strange to tell he wrote a full, straightforward and shocking account of his wanderings and methods among the red folk he despised for not being white. In spite of arrogance and assumed superiority, his narrative contains much like the following:
"The Flatheads on the Buffalo Plains, generally encounter the Piegans and fight desperately when attacked. They never attempt war themselves, and have the character of a brave and virtuous people, not in the least addicted to those vices so common among savages who have had long intercourse with Europeans. Chastity is particularly esteemed, and no woman will barter her favors, even with the whites, upon any mercenary consideration. She may be easily prevailed upon to reside with a white man as his wife, according to the custom of the country, but prostitution is out of the question -she will listen to no proposals of that nature. Their morals have not yet been sufficiently debauched and corrupted by an intercourse with people who call themselves Christians, but whose licentious and lecherous manners are far worse than those of savages. A striking example is to be seen throughout the N. W. country, of the depravity and wretchedness of the natives; but as one advances into the interior parts, vice and debauchery become less frequent. Happy those who have the least connection with us, for most of the present depravity is easily traced to its origin in their intercourse with the whites. That baneful source of all evils, spirituous liquor, has not yet been introduced among the natives of the Columbia. To the introduction of that subtle poison among the savage tribes may be mainly attributed their miserable and wretched condition." [So at once he set about introducing it. E. T. S.] (A. Henry's Journal, 1811; pp. 710-11).
Jonathan Carver, who traveled among the Sioux from 1766-9, says:
"Adultery is esteemed by them a heinous crime, and punished with the greatest rigor." (Travels, 1796; p. 245).
George Catlin, after his eight years among the wild Man-dans of the Missouri (1832), says of them:
"Their women are beautiful and modest - and amongst the respectable families, virtue is as highly cherished and as inapproachable, as in any society whatever." (Vol. I., p. 121).
Colonel R. I. Dodge, an Indian fighter and hater, says:
"The Cheyenne women are retiring and modest, and for chastity will compare favorably with women of any other nation or people . . . almost models of purity and chastity." ("Hunting-grounds of the Great West," p. 302).
I am well aware that the Crows, the Arapaho and some West coast tribes were shockingly immoral in primitive times, but these were the exceptions, and in consequence they were despised by the dominant tribes of the Plains.