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The New York Times reported on this date in 1851 that Pategwe, a Pottawatomie Indian in the Kansas Territory, had lent Dr. Johnston Lykins, a frontier doctor (shown at left), “four small scrolls or strips of parchment, closely packed in the small compartments of a little box or locket of about an inch cubical content. On these parchments are written in a style of unsurpassed excellence, and far more beautiful than print, portions of the Pentateuch, to be worn as frontlets, and intended as stimulants to the memory and moral sense.” Pategwe reported that he had gotten it from his grandmother and that it had been in his family for half a century. “They had originally two of them,” the account continued, “but on one occasion, as the party in possession were crossing a rapid in some river... the other was irretrievably lost.” The lost scroll “was believed by the Indians to contain an account of the creation of the world.... That brought by Dr. Lykins had been kept for a very long period in the medicine bag of the tribe, used as a charm, and never allowed to suffer any exposure until, by strong entreaty and the great influence he had with Topinipee, the principal Pottawatomie chief [shown at right], he was permitted to bring it on to Washington, but under a firm pledge to restore it on his return.”
“There is some hocus-pocus about this piece of parchment... at least in our view of the subject. The Indians have not a single Jewish trait about them.” —Scientific American, January 10, 1852