IX. Club Life

IN the old days virtually every man belonged to some club (araxu″a'tse), -- very likely joining that of his elder brothers and maternal uncles. Indeed, parents are known to have pledged an infant to take a dead brother's place when of age. But there was no obligation to do this, so that club and clan lines overlapped. Generally the society took the initiative: if a member died, they tried to fill the vacancy by offering gifts to one of his kinsmen. They were also likely to bait with presents any man of renown whose affiliation would shed luster on his club, giving it an advantage over rival groups. There was no exclusiveness: eager to add to its numbers, each club welcomed volunteers attracted by its dance or regalia. Formal initiation and entrance fees were lacking, -- in striking contrast to the Tobacco societies (p. 274).

In about 1870 the Foxes and Lumpwoods had become the most conspicuous clubs and figured as rivals, but the Big Dogs and Muddy Hands were still active. None of them was in any sense a religious fraternity, their activities being social and military. Each spring the camp chief appointed one of them to serve as police (p. 5 f.), but rotation was irregular so that the same organization might act in this capacity year after year. Every club had its distinctive regalia, decoration, dance, and peculiarities of behavior, yet all shared essentially the same scheme of "officers," who were usually paired off in parades, and likewise the mode of electing them. These men were not at all the directors of their society -- a duty informally assumed by influential older fellows. They were simply members pledged to be exceptionally brave and set off from the rank and file by honorific insignia or standards.

The system of these clubs was far from stationary, and in some measure we can get glimpses of its condition at different periods. The notion of foolhardly warriors existed as early as 1804, when Lewis and Clark discovered that a society of such braves among the Dakota was patterned on a Crow model. In

-172-

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