"Injun Summer" was written by John McCutcheon for the Chicago Tribune and first appeared in print on September 30, 1907, surrounding two color drawings. The first of a boy and his pipe-smoking grandfather looking out over a field of dry corn shocks as the sun sets in a cloud of haze and a smoldering campfire burns in front of them, and the second is the same picture after dark, with the moon where the sun was, the shadows of "Injun sperrits" dancing around the moon and campfire, and tepees where the corn shocks used to be.
It's a beautiful, relaxing, nostalgic cartoon which the Chicago Tribune reprints on September 30 every year. Poster copies are always available from the Chicago Tribune Gift Store in downtown Chicago. In recent years, the publication has attracted a number of letters protesting the stereotyping of Native Americans, but the majority of the Tribune's readers pay them no mind. In my opinion, the cartoon is nore more or less offensive than Huckleberry Finn. It was and is a sign of its time, and the drawings to this day are a serene reminder of what all Chicagoans, in their heart, love about autumn and the Midwest.
The drawings, as of this writing, can be found online at http://dagwood.wvec.k12.in.us/hhe/founders/annie.htm
Yep, sonny, this is sure enough Injun summer. Don't know what that is, I reckon, do you?
Well, that's when all the homesick Injuns come back to play. You know, a long time ago, long afore yer granddaddy was born even, there used to be heaps of Injuns around here--thousands--millions, I reckon, far as that's concerned. Reg'lar sure 'nough Injuns--none o' yer cigar store Injuns, not much. They wuz all around here--right here where you're standin'.
Don't be skeered--hain't none around here now, leastways no live ones. They been gone this many a year.
They all went away and died, so they ain't no more left.
But every year, 'long about now, they all come back, leastways their sperrits do. They're here now. You can see 'em off across the fields. Look real hard. See that kind o' hazy, misty look out yonder? Well, them's Injuns--Injun sperrits marchin' along an' dancin' in the sunlight. That's what makes that kind o' haze that's everywhere--it's jest the sperrits of the Injuns all come back. They're all around us now.
See off yonder; see them tepees? They kind o' look like corn shocks from here, but them's Injun tents, sure as you're a foot high. See 'em now? Sure, I knowed you could. Smell that smoky sort o' smell in the air? That's the campfires a-burnin' and their pipes a-goin'.
Lots o' people say it's just leaves burnin', but it ain't. It's the campfires, an' th' Injuns are hoppin' 'round 'em t'beat the old Harry.
You jest come out here tonight when the moon is hangin' over the hill off yonder an' the harvest fields is all swimmin' in the moonlight, an' you can see the Injuns and the tepees jest as plain as kin be. You can, eh? I knowed you would after a little while.
Jever notice how the leaves turn red 'bout this time o' year? That's jest another sign o' redskins. That's when an old Injun sperrit gits tired dancin' an' goes up an' squats on a leaf t'rest. Why, I kin hear 'em rustlin' an' whisperin' an' creepin' 'round among the leaves all the time; an' ever' once'n a while a leaf gives way under some fat old Injun ghost and comes floatin' down to the ground. See--here's one now. See how red it is? That's the war paint rubbed off'n an Injun ghost, sure's you're born.
Purty soon all the Injuns'll go marchin' away agin, back to the happy huntin' ground, but next year you'll see 'em troopin' back--th' sky jest hazy with 'em and their campfires smolderin' away jest like they are now.