( Originally Published 1930 )
Of all races in the world today the American Indian is the acknowledged superior in physical development. He possesses vigorous strength and yet is lithe, graceful and as straight as an arrow. He has the secret of keeping himself young, agile, strong and healthy, well into old age, and that without becoming senile. He can outrun the swiftest, out-distance the sturdiest, and always exhibits the most marvelous endurance.
What are his secrets of breathing? He never becomes exhausted or winded under the most trying circumstances.
How does he develop the long, lithe muscles, the sinuous strength, the freedom of every joint; is never muscle-bound, knotted or stiff? Though quiet, he is quick; his swift, certain movements display the strength and agility of a tiger.
How does he master himself so unflinchingly against the most cruel tortures? How does he gain the perfect control of facial expression, the control of tongue, temper, emotions, and mind? What secret underlies his perfectly controlled nerves and his stoical bravery?
He is balanced, poised and dignified, yet actively alert. How has he acquired such easy grace, such harmony of movement, such muscular control?
He is vibrant with vital power that emanates in subtle force from his calm and stoical exterior. His self-control is supreme. What powers are his for directionalizing the vital fluids and forces of his body? Of his mind? How does he develop that indomitable courage and fearlessness? How does he control his thoughts and will power? How does he master his mind?
The secret of his hidden powers lies in a certain knowledge of very definite laws natural laws. All of these secrets and many more should be yours; they are the inherent right of every American.
The Indian has much to teach us. He is wise in the ways of Nature and has preserved a secret knowledge that is of great value to the white man knowledge without which he can never become thoroughly efficient or even truly civilized !
It is true that many Indians, forced to live as they are at the present time, in the narrow confines of Government Reservations, are not up to the standard of the Indian ideal, in fact have perceptibly deteriorated since their contact with the white man. Not all Indians are intellectual any more than are all people of any other race, but the more highly intelligent and spiritually-minded Indians possess a profound knowledge concerning the physical and mental powers of man. The pity of it is that the Indians are forgetting their own philosophy and rituals, and are being discouraged in their own valuable arts, especially their knowledge of herbs and Nature and the healing art in general.
For centuries the American Indian has practiced a system of body development which was handed down from the ages antedating the Aztecs; legend has it before the Flood from Atlantis. Recently unearthed bas-reliefs and statuary, hieroglyphs and rock paintings pro-claim the red man's thorough knowledge of anatomical proportions, of scientific development and of carriage, as well as depicting feats of great skill and strength. Many of the famous Ju-jutsu tricks of the Japanese were known and practiced by Indians long before America was discovered. Their knowledge of the effects of sudden pressure upon certain nerve centers was preserved from antiquity.
The Indian is wise; having a great respect for Nature's powers and the elements, he investigates and learns how to apply them to his own use. For the same reason he carefully observes his "little brothers," the animals ; he studies their marvelous instincts, powers, quickness, strength and endurance, then adapts their methods to his own needs.
He knows that it is foolish to waste energy, therefore he wisely conserves energy. He never makes a useless motion, each is studied, scientifically analyzed and necessary. He never goes through jerky, tensed exercises, they would not be useful to him. He never becomes "muscle-bound," as do our great athletes. He has a very definite reason for every move he makes. He saves himself all undue exertion and this is often mistaken for laziness. He is economical and natural in the use of force and gets the greatest amount of power while expending the least amount of energy. His movements are quiet and rhythmic but efficient.
From the time the tiny papoose is strapped on a board and carried upon his mother's back, his training begins. It is the business of the squaws to train the little ones and train them right. No carelessness is permitted, for each child is a ward of the entire tribe. He is taught self-control in infancy; to wait upon himself as soon as he is able; not to cry or whine when hurt or peeved; to control his facial expressions, and his feelings. He is trained to be fearless and courageous, morally clean and good humored, for it is the business of the tribe to rear "Braves" who can endure anything and that without flinching and, moreover, Braves who will make for health and happiness in their community.
As soon as the toddler is able to understand, he is taught to carry himself correctly ; to walk, run, jump and dance, all according to definite rules. This becomes a habit long before he becomes a man.
The young Braves go through the most terrible and difficult endurance tests, for they must be stoical mentally, emotionally and physically self-controlled in order to be acknowledged as real men in the sight of their elders and their women.
Their manners, too are carefully cultivated according to tribal custom, for ceremonial law is strictly followed and it is requisite that they conduct themselves with becoming dignity and be a credit to their noble ancestors.
Indians are endowed with rare common sense. They encourage the use of games for both young and old, realizing their great value in making them strong, alert, mentally quick and active, and at the same time developing good humor and filling them with a joyous camaraderie. They are fully aware that in the hours of recreation come relaxation and the adjustment that counteracts later tension or mental strain. They consider the physical and mental development derived from sports, of far greater value than proficiency in the games them-selves.
The young Indian girl is also put through a strenuous physical and mental training for, otherwise, how could she teach her children or hope to rear Braves to be proud of ? She is their constant and unflinching example. Indian women do not neglect their children. The supple body of the young squaw makes child-bearing easy; she prepares for the ordeal (to her, a natural function) from childhood.
The Indian girl is an athlete and a sport. She is a daring rider, an expert swimmer, a crack shot and an adept with bow and arrow. She is also clever with her needle and mistress of basketry, bead work; pottery and the household arts. Moreover, she knows the secrets of successful farming and is capable of performing the hardest labor, quickly too, and with great ease and skill, displaying the most amazing endurance. Her soft, graceful curves conceal long, slender muscles of remarkable strength beneath the nut-brown smoothness of her natural, unspoiled skin.
The balancing power of the Zuni maiden is so perfect that she can carry a heavy water jug, poised upon her head, and run up the hundreds of rough-hewn steps to her lofty pueblo home, atop Acoma. Try carrying a water jug on your head for five miles ! Her easy, steady gait with its sinuous roll at the hip-joint is very graceful.
With small, well-formed feet these light-footed children of the Sun step through the intricacies of a hundred graceful dances, in the most perfect harmony and rhythm long, difficult dances, in which every movement of the head, eyes, hands and feet is studied and each motion of the supple body swings in harmony with every step while all are united to convey subtle interpretations filled with deep religious meaning. Not a sound of drum, not a note of lute or voice, nor the tiniest ornament worn by the dancers, but carries sacred significance. The squaws look with great disfavor upon American dancing and jazz, for to their minds it is not modest. Indian women are modest.
They also have high ideals and aspirations. Their great teachers have taught them that sex is a sacred function and not to be degraded for mere emotional satisfaction. They are taught to recognize a great creative force or energy, and, aside from being a means for propagating their race, a power to be transmuted into brain energy and used constructively for the benefit of their people.
The Indian Brave has observed that all animals are continent except in certain seasons, and he has a mind he is greater than any animal—therefore he develops self-control. The Brave who has earned the right, may wear the long, pure feather of the white eagle at the crown of his head, an emblem of victory, of aspiration, of transmuted sex energy and of wisdom.
Many secrets are his, which the white man does not yet understand and seldom believes but which, if he would study nature and her Laws, could understand and use to his great advantage.