Paints for the body are mixed with grease or tallow from some animal.

Paints for ornamenting robes are mixed with water. (Clark: "Sign Language.")

Paints for lodges, totem poles, etc., were made durable by slowly melting or mixing into the grease enough rosin to make it sticky. This formed their paint oil.


Before they had the white man's vermilion they used a certain stiff yellow clay (brick clay) which, when burnt, turned dull red-i. e., brick color. This they powdered and mixed with the grease oil.

In some parts of the country there are springs strongly impregnated with iron. A log of wood dug out of this - or failing that an armful of chips long soaked in it - when taken out, dried and burnt yielded ashes of a beautiful rosy color. These worked up into a very pretty red.


Yellow clay or ochres are common in clay regions and furnish a dull yellow. Clark says that the flower of the prairie, goldenrod, yields a good yellow: also the bright yellow moss one sees on the trunks of pine trees in the Rockies. When dried and powdered this makes a sort of chrome yellow, and is also used as a dye.

"The Sioux use bull-berries" for yellow. (Clark).


They had no good blue. Blue clays come nearest to the color. Sometimes black and white mixed were used.


Soot and charcoal, ground into the paint oil, made a good black.


For white they used white clays, which are common in some regions, or burnt shells, finely powdered.

"Generally speaking, Black means joy: white, mourning: Red, beauty: and an excessive use of any of these or other colors, excitement".

"When painting for war, they use many stripes and rings of different colors, but on returning only black-colored paint is used".

"After killing an enemy, the lower part of the face might be painted black." (Clark).

Painting was universal among Indians. They did it to beautify themselves and also to protect the skins from the weather. Though we condemn them for the practice, most of our women and a great many of our men do the same thing for the same reason.

Zuni eagles 23 Am. Rep. B. A. E.

Zuni eagles 23 Am. Rep. B. A. E.

Indian Dyes

The dyes used to stain porcupine quills, spruce roots, and other strong material, of which they made ornaments and utensils, were very numerous, and some of them very beautiful.


Soak the roots in the juice of the Squaw-berry - Blitum or Mis-caw-wa. Many other berries give red or purple.


Boil the roots, etc., with the bark, branches, and berries of sumac, or the bark and chips of oak and soft maple, with some iron in the pot.


A beautiful yellow is made by boiling the inner bark of golden or black oak. Or the root of yellowroot or hydrastis. In the Rocky Mountains the yellow moss off pine trees serves.


By boiling with the inner bark of alder or sassafras.


Dye yellow first then dip in red. Most berries and barks yield a dye, and experiments with them often result in delightful discoveries.

Naming The Camp Or Keeping The Winter Count

When the return of the Grass-moon told the Indians that the New Year had come and that the old year had gone, the council debated the question: By what name shall we remember this last year? All names suggested by events were brought in. Smallpox Year, white-buffalo Year, Many-scalps Year, and so on. When a decision was reached the Keeper of the Winter-count made a pictograph in proper place on the Painted Robe, and so this record was kept.

In our tribes we select the name by which each Camp-out is likely to be remembered, and enter that in the Tally Book.

Thus we have: Camp-nothing-but-rain, Camp-bully-fun, Camp-robin's-nest-on-the-teepee, etc.


The tribe should own a Standard Target - that is, 4 feet across, circular, made of straw, with a thin oilcloth cover, marked with a 9.6 inch centre of gold (called by some of our tribes "The Buffalo's Eye"); outside of that a 4.8-inch band of red, next a similar band of blue, next of black, next of white. Sometimes black rings of the right size are made to answer.

In scoring, the gold is 9, the red 7, the blue 5, the black 3, the white 1. The shortest match range for the target is 40 yards. If it is a 3-foot target the match range is reduced to 30 yards.

A target can be made of a burlap sack about five feet square. This should be stuffed full of hay or straw, then flattened by a few quilting stitches put right through with a long packing needle. On this the target is painted of exact right size.

Each brave should have a bow that pulls from 10 pounds up; about one pound for each year of his age is a safe guide for boys up to sixteen. He should have at least 6 arrows and a quiver. The arrows 25 inches long, with 3 feathers, cone-points of steel or iron; brass points are useless. A guard or bracer for the left wrist is needed, and most boys require a glove to protect the fingers of the right hand.

Bows can be bought for $1 to $5 and arrows from 15 cents to $3 each. But it is more creditable if you make them yourself.

How To Make A Bow

Take a straight, sound piece of cedar, bodark, yew, sassafras, mulberry, apple tree, black locust, ironwood, ash, elm, hickory, or hemlock. cut it so that it is half sap and half heartwood, flat on the sapwood side (or front) and round on the heartwood side (or back). It should be about an inch thick in the middle and tapered off to 3/4 inch at each end. Cut two notches and put on a strong linen cord, either a bought bow-string or one made of many twisted linen threads. At one end it is fast to the bow by a timber hitch, at the other by a hard loop.

When strung the string should be about 5 inches from the bow.