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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 78, no date [newspaper clipping]

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Identifier: DX04101487

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 78, no date [newspaper clipping]

Description: Newspaper clipping about cannibal named ''Swift Runner.''


CANNIBALISM is happily an unknown practice in this country, and although some persons who are “coarse feeders” will eat almost anything that is placed before them in the shape of meat, yet they would probably decline to patronise even the most accommodating “slink butcher” if he were convicted on evidence that left no room for doubt of palming off human flesh on his customers as genuine meat. It seems to us incomprehensible that a diet of this nature should exercise an actual fascination over those who have once indulged in it; such, however, seems to be a fact, and a man whose execution is recorded by the American papers is a case in point. The culprit was an Indian known as “Swift Runner,” and he was hanged at Fort Saskatchewan on the 20th December, 1879 [‘1879’ handwritten by Gunn] this being the first legal execution in the North-West Territory. “Swift Runner,” in other respects an estimable character, had an irrepressible appetite for his fellow-creatures. He was a cannibal, not from necessity but from preference, and nothing pleased him more than cooking and eating his own immediate relations. He was convicted on his own confession of having killed and eaten his mother, his wife, and seven children last winter. Under these circumstances, and making every allowance for the hardness of the season, it was felt that “Swift Runner” had forfeited all claim to merciful consideration; and his untimely fate seems to have called forth no general sympathy. We should have looked upon him here as a thorough barbarian, but we ought not to forget that cannibalism was once not an uncommon practice even in Europe. St. Jerome states that when he was a little boy living in Gaul he beheld the Scots, a people of Britain, eating human flesh, and though there were plenty of cattle and sheep at their disposal, yet they would prefer a ham of the herdsman as a luxury. Saints, however, were sometimes rather “wild” in their statements.


Rights: NoC-US



Type(s): Diary


Subjects: Cannibalism
Indians of North America
Public executions


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