We cannot, short of the Jews or the Chinese, perhaps, find more complete respect for their parents than among the Indians. Catlin says:
"To each other I have found these people kind and honorable, and endowed with every feeling of parental, of filial, and conjugal affection, that is met in more enlightened communities. I have found them moral and religious; and I am bound to give them credit for their zeal, which is often exhibited in their modes of worship, however insufficient they may seem to us, or may be in the estimation of the Great Spirit." (Vol. II., p. 242).
While Hunter, after living with the Kansas Indians for nineteen years, says:
"They are very assiduous and attentive to the wants and comforts, particularly, of the aged; and kind to all who require their assistance. And an Indian who failed in these respects, though he otherwise merited esteem, would be neglected and despised. To the credit of their morals, few such are to be found, except where debauched by the vices of the white people." (Hunter's "Captivity," 1798-1816; p. 251).
Among the maxims laid down by the venerable Chief of the Kansas, was:
"Obey and venerate the old people, particularly your parents." ("Teachings of Tshut-che-nau, Chief of the Kansas;" Hunter; p. 21).
Father J. F. Lafitau, the Jesuit missionary, was far from being predisposed in favor of savage ways or views, yet says of the Eastern Indians:
"Toward each other, they behave with a natural politeness and attention, entertaining a high respect for the aged." (Moeurs des Sauv. Am., 1724).
"The Indians always took care of their aged and helpless. It was a rare exception when they did not." (Francis La Flesche, Conversation, April 27, 1912).
There have been cases of Indians abandoning their very aged to die, but it was always done by request of the victims, under dire stress of hunger or travel, and was disapproved and denounced by all their great teachers.
During my Northern journey in 1907 I selected for one of my guides a fine young Indian named Freesay. At the end of our first journey I said to him: "Would you like to go with me still farther, to the Far North country, and see the things your people have not yet seen? I will give you good wages and a big present".
He replied: "Yes; I would like to go very much, but my uncle [his adoptive father] told me not to go beyond Pike's Lobstick, and so I cannot go." And he did not, though his uncle was 350 miles away. This was one case out of several noted, and many heard of. The Fifth Commandment is a very big, strong law in the wigwam.