aboriginal race the first human inhabitants of an area, in this case, Native Americans.
the afternoon side of the river the west bank.
apprentice a student worker or beginner at a trade who labors without pay, receiving room and board, as well as tools and uniforms, while learning from a master practitioner, such as an ironworker, blacksmith, or apothecary. Apprentices, generally between fourteen and twenty one years old, agreed to a sworn and binding indenture, a formal contract to a seven-year period of study that forbade gambling, strong drink, dating, and late hours.
arbutus creeping forest heather that blooms pink and white and produces red berries.
bark-flags rectangles of birch bark that naturally sloughs off the trunk. Bark plays an important role in the novel. Young Johnny was making a bark playhouse when he was kidnapped. The makeshift structure prefigures, or hints at, the bark village that becomes True Son's home. Later, Richter refers to a curly birch rifle, a weapon bearing a stock carved from a variety of birch that sheds thin strips of bark in gracefully fluted rectangles.
bolster a long pillow or cushion that extends across the head of a bed or the back of a settee to support the head and neck.
Bouquet Henry Bouquet (1719-65), a native of Berne, Switzerland, and a lieutenant colonel of the Royal American Regiment from 1754 to 1764. His authoritative account of the expedition against the Ohio Indians was published in Philadelphia in 1765 and in London in 1766.
breech clout a loincloth worn by native American males to protect the genitals. The garment is made from a single length of leather, skin, or fabric a foot wide and four to six feet long. After it is secured in front by a belt, it is passed between the legs and looped over the back section. Loose ends, either fringed or decorated with quills of stitchery, hang in front and back.
brush net a net dragged behind a boat to snare fish.
burr the prickly outer shell of the chestnut.
buttonwood the sycamore or planetree, which produces a button-shaped blossom.
Conestogo a tribe of the Iroquois nation and kin of the Lenni Lenape. The Conestogo fought unsuccessful battles against the Mohawk and dwindled to only twenty survivors, whom whites slew in 1763.
cooper shop manufacturer of barrels and kegs.
council house a meeting lodge where tribal elders and war chiefs conduct political discussions and settle territorial disputes.
cradlers an evocative word that enhances Johnny's innocence at the time of his abduction; cradlers are grain harvesters who cut stalks with a cradle scythe.
death mallet a multipurpose war club composed of a long wooden handle armed at the lethal end with an animal tusk, iron blade, or sharpened piece of quartz or obsidian. At the other end, a thong tethers the mallet to the wrist or waist.
do an abbreviation for "ditto" in Harry's account books.
dram a standard measure used in pouring alcoholic beverages.
dugout the world's first boat, a heavy wooden canoe made by peeling bark from a stout tree trunk, flattening the bottom with a plane, and then burning out the heartwood.
fish weir an artificial V-shaped channel or dam in a stream that forces eels and fish into a net.
gallipot a small, ceramic vessel used to collect body fluids during bloodletting. A lip at one edge enables an apothecary or physician to
gauntlet a punishment course lined by facing rows of enemies who strike the runner with kicks, punches, lashes, and blows from clubs and tomahawks. The person who survives the course earns tribal respect and is spared execution.
Generals Sullivan, Broadhead, and Wayne John Sullivan, Daniel Broadhead, and "Mad" Anthony Wayne, central figures in the settlement of Pennsylvania.
ghost pipes Indian pipes, grayish forest plants that live on decaying plant matter rather than like green plants, which make food through the action of photosynthesis.
Great Spirit an English term for the Indians' creator and ruler of the universe. The Indian god reveals himself in nature. Alternately identified as Manitou, Wakan Tanka, and the All-Father, he is uniformly accepted and revered through ritual prayers and a respectful oneness with the universe, a symbol of permanence.
hazel a valuable shrub whose bark has curative powers. It is steeped into a strong, aromatic, antiseptic tea similar to rubbing alcohol for bathing scratches, sores, and sprains. Indian healers used it for treating tuberculosis.
hemlock an evergreen whose stem ends herbalists boiled as a tea to treat itch, diarrhea, and kidney disease.
hominy a cereal made from dried corn kernels soaked and boiled with oak ash to loosen the hulls. Cooks rub the inner kernels clean between their palms or whirl them in hulling pouches. After hominy is rinsed of ash, the kernels are cooked with herbs, vegetables, or seasonings or served plain with milk, like oatmeal.
hoop pole a heavy levering device that forces the metal binder in place over a ring of barrel staves to tighten the joints and keep the finished container from leaking.
Indian meal coarse-ground corn meal.
Jew's harp a small percussion instrument made of metal that emits a twang when held between the teeth and vibrated with the tip of the index finger. Movement of tongue and jaw muscles varies the sounds and rhythms.
Killbuck a community southwest of Millsburg, Ohio.
leggings leg covers made of tanned animal skin to protect the wearer from cold or nettlesome underbrush. Unlike chaps, they shield the entire leg, including the calf and thigh.
Lenni Lenape (lih nee lih nah pay) literally, "real men," the original name for the Delaware, a powerful agricultural nation established in the Delaware Valley. They are the parent tribe of the Mohican, Shawnee, Ojibway, and Nanticoke.
lum the Indian mispronunciation of "rum."
match coat the Indian machicote or matchigode, a length of cloth wrapped around the body or head as a hooded cloak. A woman's match coat was called a petticoat.
May apple an important purgative and liver cleanser among native American herbs. The fruit is edible, but the roots are poisonous.
miasma a forest vapor, fog, or gas thought to bear disease or create an unwholesome atmosphere. A fearful example of miasma is the "bad air" named "malaria," a disease that still claims lives in marshy areas worldwide.
millstone a great disk of stone that rotates against a paired stone to grind grain that trickles through a central hole into the space between.
Mingo a nation consisting of Erie, Mingua, and Susquehannock. The Mingo settled in Sandusky, Ohio, in the 1750s. A rival of Algonquin-speaking tribes, they are marked by a distinct language called Mingo.
mocker nut a hickory nut. It is called a mocker because the outside hull is large, but the nut meat is small.
Mohawk a woodland tribe native to New England and Canada.
Month of the First Snow November; the first of a series of native divisions of the year according to natural happenings rather than arbitrary names like January or May.
nib of his quill the sharpened point on a goose-feather pen.
northern meridian the designation of midsummer, which falls on June 24.
Ottawa an Algonquin-speaking tribe living north of the Great Lakes that sided with American settlers during the French and Indian Wars.
panther kit a young panther.
paroquet the small, long-tailed parakeet that once flourished in the eastern wild before hunters slaughtered them wholesale.
patch box a container for pieces of greased cloth or leather used as wadding for rifle charges or as cleaning rags forced down the bore by the tip of a ramrod.
Peshtanks the original pronunciation of Paxton, a township in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The bloody history of the area strikes fear in True Son/Johnny, who connects it with a Peshtank massacre.
pied variegated or mismatched, a description of the patchwork scalp that Half Arrow sews from discarded trimmings.
pour the contents from the catch basin into a beaker for heating, stirring, examining, or testing.
purging a medical treatment employing strong laxatives and emetics, which cause a patient to expel poisonous or harmful body fluids.
Quakers a religious sect of pacifists who defended Indians. (Indians often referred to Quakers as "Quekel.")
Quekel the Indian pronunciation of "Quaker."
redded dialect for "readied."
redoubt a log structure used as a defendable stronghold against attack.
riffle a shallow or fording place in a stream bed.
sassafras a tall, fragrant laurel tree. Indians used sassafras twigs, oil, roots, and bark in tea, which herbalists prescribed as cough medicine or a seasonal tonic.
scalping the removal of skin and hair from a human skull. The practice ranged from removal of a quarter-sized circle from the crown to stripping the entire scalp and ears. The act was not a death sentence. In cases where the victim survived, damage to the cranium caused a lifetime hardship. Although the origin of scalping is unclear, history implicates European bounty hunters in its beginnings. Captain Pipe, a Delaware chief, reported to the British in 1781 that white authorities forced him to scalp victims and supplied hatchets for the task.
shad tree the shadbush, serviceberry, or juneberry, a shrub bearing sweet, juicy reddish-purple fruit. Indians used shadberries as flavoring for stews and pemmican, a trail food made of dried spiced meat stuffed into animal intestines.
Shawanose the Shawnee, a nomadic tribe native to the Ohio Valley and members of the Algonquin language group. In the seventeenth century, the Iroquois ousted them from their ancestral home and forced a permanent migration to Pennsylvania. The most famous Shawanose were twin brothers, Tecumseh and Tenkswatawa, charismatic leaders and heroes of the Battle of Tippecanoe Creek on November 7, 1811. Tecumseh was killed in battle; his brother retired to Canada before resettling in Kansas.
the single-tree lugged a swinging wooden bar attached by lugs or bolts to a frame that runs parallel to the front of a farm wagon. The bar provides a flexible connection between wagon bed and the straps that harness dray horses or oxen.
snaith the curved handle of a mowing scythe.
spice bush the Caroline allspice or sweet bubby bush, a healing plant used as a stimulant.
squaw as used by Kate, an insulting reference to an Indian female. Originally, the Narraganset term was a synonym for woman or wife.
stockade an enclosure or defensive wall formed of sharpened poles set in the earth in order to inhibit attackers.
strouding a wool blanket worn as a cloak.
Susquehanna a river that runs from New York and Maryland into Pennsylvania.
terrapin an edible freshwater or coastal turtle prized for its eggs and meat. The shells are made into cups, spoons, dishes, and rattles used in ceremonial dance and healing rituals.
thong a rawhide tether sliced from dried animal skin and used like cord or twine.
thwart the rower's seat, which crosses a boat and attaches to each side To place an object athwart means to lay it crosswise, from side to side, which is the safest and handiest way to rest a rifle when the boat is in motion.
tow wallet a rough pouch woven of flax or hemp.
wolverine a four-footed mammal akin to the weasel.
Wyandotte (wy uhn daht) also known as the Huron, a tribe of woodsmen, hunters, farmers, and traders of the Iroquois nation who once inhabited Ontario and the north-central plains states.
the yellow vomit a native description of disease, perhaps yellow fever, one of the European maladies introduced by newcomers to the Western Hemisphere, which through vomiting and diarrhea quickly depletes the body.
Yengwes (yeeng wees) a native pronunciation of "English" and likely forerunner of the word "Yankee."