The Twenty-one Precepts or Moral Commandments of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan, by Which They Were Governed in Their Primitive State, Before They Came in Contact With White Races in Their Country.

  • 1st. Thou shalt fear the Great Creator, who is the over ruler of all things.
  • 2d. Thou shalt not commit any crime, either by night or by day, or in a covered place: for the Great Spirit is looking upon thee always, and thy crime shall be manifested in time, thou knowest not when, which shall be to thy disgrace and shame.
  • 3d. Look up to the skies often, by day and by night, and see the sun, moon and stars which shineth in the firmament, and think that the Great Spirit is looking upon thee continually.
  • 4th. Thou shalt not mimic or mock the thunders of the cloud, for they were specially created to water the earth and to keep down all the evil monsters that are under the earth, which would eat up and devour the inhabitants of the earth if they were set at liberty.
  • 5th. Thou shalt not mimic or mock any mountains or rivers, or any prominent formation of the earth, for it is the habitation of some deity or spirit of the earth, and thy life shall be continually in hazard if thou shouldst provoke the anger of these deities.
  • 6th. Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land.
  • 7th. Honor the gray-head persons, that thy head may also be like unto theirs.
  • 8th. Thou shalt not mimic or ridicule the cripple, the lame, or deformed, for thou shall be crippled thyself like unto them if thou shouldst provoke the Great Spirit.
  • 9th. Hold thy peace, and answer not back, when thy father or thy mother or any aged person should chastise thee for thy wrong.
  • 10th. Thou shalt never tell a falsehood to thy parents, nor to thy neighbors, but be always upright in thy words and in thy dealings with thy neighbors.
  • 11th. Thou shalt not steal anything from thy neighbor, nor covet anything that is his.
  • 12th. Thou shalt always feed the hungry and the stranger.
  • 13th. Thou shalt keep away from licentiousness and all other lascivious habits, nor utter indecent language before thy neighbor and the stranger.
  • 14th. Thou shalt not commit murder while thou art in dispute with thy neighbor, unless it be whilst on the warpath.
  • 15th. Thou shalt chastise thy children with the rod whilst they are in thy power.
  • 16th. Thou shalt disfigure thy face with charcoals, and fast at least ten days or more of each year, whilst thou are yet young, or before thou reachest twenty, that thou mayest dream of thy future destiny.
  • 17th. Thou shalt immerse thy body into the lake or river at least ten days in succession in the early part of the spring of the year, that thy body may be strong and swift of foot to chase the game and on the warpath.
  • 18th. At certain times with thy wife or thy daughters, thou shalt clean out thy fireplaces and make thyself a new fire with thy fire-sticks for the sake of thyself and for the sake of thy childrens' health.
  • 19th. Thou shalt not eat with thy wife and daughters at such time, of food cooked on a new fire, but they shall be provided with a separate kettle and cook their victuals therein with an old fire and out of their wigwam, until the time is passed, then thou shalt eat with them.*
  • 20th. Thou shalt not be lazy, nor be a vagabond of the earth, or, be hated by all men.
  • 2lst. Thou shalt be brave, and not fear any death.

If thou shouldst observe all these commandments, when thou dies thy spirit shall go straightway to that happy land where all the good spirits are, and shall there continually dance with the beating of the drum of Tchi-baw-yaw-booz, the head spirit in the spirit land.

But if thou shouldst not observe them, thy spirit shall be a vagabond of the earth always, and go hungry, and will never be able to find this road, " Tchi-bay-kon," in which all the good spirits travel.