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' whisper in' 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.
On every Sunday before Halloween up until the 1990's the Chicago Tribune ran Injun Summer by Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist John T. McCutcheon on the front cover of their Magazine section. It was a Halloween tradition as much as the the Night Before Christmas was to December 24th.
I suspect that if you are over forty it was a part of your Halloween as well since papers across the country usually found the column inches to print the generations old story.
But the tradition of running the story every Sunday before Halloween died in 1992.
According to the Tribune:
"The "Injun Summer" era ended on Oct. 25, 1992, when it appeared for the last time. The drawings may be timeless, but the text had outlived its day. Complaints had been voiced for several years about its offensiveness to Native Americans. Wisps of smoke have continued to rise from those smoldering leaves, however. Every fall, some readers complain that they miss it."
You can read more from the Tribune about McCutcheon's "Injun Summer" here.