Louise Seymour Houghton.

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Odonah. Wis.

Our Debt to the
Red Man





Louise Seymour Houghton


The Hon. Francis E. Leupp





Copyright 1918

The STRATFORD CO., Publishers

Boston, Mass.

m 27 1918

The Alpine Press, Boston, Mass., U. S. A.


Augustus Seymour Houghton


Henry Houghton

The joy of my declining years,

and whose interest in my

work has made it

doubly delightful.


THE mixed-blood Indian is so widely regarded
with disfavor, owing to the superficial criticism
heaped upon him in certain quarters, that Mrs. Hough-
ton's book will make a strong appeal to all fair-
minded students of our aboriginal race problem. The
too prevalent impression is doubtless based on the
fact that, of late years, the natural resources of some
Indian reservations have attracted speculative white
adventurers, not a few of whom, taking Indian
women to wife, have sadly neglected the children
born of their union. But, as those of us know who
are familiar at first hand with frontier conditions,
any such sweeping judgment is unjust ; for on every
side we meet squawmen Avho, though uneducated in
the ordinary sense, have proved their possession of
character and force, and have devoted their best facul-
ties to the improvement of their families and the ad-
vancement of the tribes with which they are affiliated.
In the volume before us, Mrs. Houghton has largely
confined her observations to the Indians who trace
their white blood to French sources. Her great store
of data is the fruit of a painstaking search of several
years through records ancient and modern, official
and scientific, religious and literary. I am glad to
note that, after showing how much we owe the mixed-
bloods for their contributions toward the upbuilding



of our country, she advises our responding: appreci-
atively with three measures in particular : the prompt
emancipation of all competent red wards from Gov-
ernment bondage ; the systematic revision of our
ragged mass of laws touching Indian affairs, and their
reduction to a self-consistent code; and the provision
for the opening of a court for the claims of Indians
against the United States — a step which might be
trusted to relieve honest claims of the suspicious savor
many of them have absorbed from contact with scan-
dal-tainted neighbors.

Francis E. Leupp.

Washington, D. C, March 25, 1918.



THIS book could not have been written but for
the kindly help of scores of men and women to
whom I was unknown, who have answered my letters,
directed me to sources of information and assisted
me to discover facts of importance and interest in
this field. Especially are my thanks due to various
members of the Society of American Indians, notably
to its President, Mr. Arthur C. Parker, State Arche-
ologist and member of the New York State Board of
Education, to the former chairman of its Executive
Committee, Prof. J. N. B. Hewitt of the Smithsonian
Institution, its Treasurer, Mrs. Marie Louise Bot-
tineau Baldwin, and its Secretary, Mrs. Raymond T.
Bonnin. To Miss Caroline M. Mcllvaine of the Chi-
cago Historical Society I am under many obligations,
and only in a less degree to Mr. Jacob P. Dunn,
Mrs. R. M. Dunlap, Mr. Edgar R. Harlan and Mr.
Doane Robinson, respectively of the Indiana, Min-
nesota, Iowa and South Dakota Historical Societies, as
to Dr. F. G. Speck of the University of Pennsylvania,
to Mr. Alanson Skinner of the Museum of Natural
History, to Mr. 0. H. Lipps of Carlisle Indian School
and several teachers in that institution, to Mrs. Mc-
Coy, Mr. Dagenett and other persons in the employ of
the United States Indian Bureau, to Father Gordon
of the Roman Catholic Indian Bureau, to Gen. R. H.
Pratt and to the Hon. Gabe Parker. To the Hon.
Warren K, Moorehead, formerly Indian Commis-



sioner and to Mr. Arthur C. Parker, who read the
book in manuscript and gave me valuable suggestions,
as also to the Hon. Francis E. Leupp, formerly In-
dian Commissioner, who has written the Introduc-
tion to this book, I am particularly indebted.

Louise Seymour Houghton.

Philadelphia, March, 1918.




Foreword ......

List of Illustrations . . . . xi

I. Introducing the Subject ... 1
II. The Original American ... 22
III. Indians of Mixed Blood — A General

View 46

VI. French Mixed-Bloods of the Middle

West 51

V. Metis of Noble Blood on Both Sides . 60
VI. French-Indians as Mediators . . 71

VII. Metis Loyalty 79

VIII. The Gift of Tongues .... 94

IX. The Metis as a Trader . . .102
X. French Indians and Exploration . 121
XI. French Indians in the Settlement of

the West . . ... .132

XII. French Indians as Farmers . . 146

XIII. The Metis as an Industrial Worker . 153

XIV. The Metis Intellect . . . .158
XV. The French Indian in the Learned

Professions ..... 166
XVI. In Literature and Art . . . 176
XVII. The Present Situation . . .187
XVIII. French Mixed-Bloods and Our Indian

Problem 196


Rev. Joseph Martin, Wife and Child


Opposite Page

Chicago in 1831 16

Sa Batiste Perrote

. 27

John N. B. Hewitt .


Arthur C. Parker


Pierre Garreaii ....


Caroline Beaubien


''Young Joe" Rolette


Jean Baptiste Bottineau . ,


Charles E. Dagenett .


Gabe E. Parker ....


Rosa Bourassa La Plesche .


Emily P. Robitaille ....


Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin


Angel De Cora Dietz


Gertrude Bonnin ....



Introducing the Subject

OF the various races that have contributed to the
development of the United States there is one
whose part is as yet wholly unrecognized.
Through intermarriage with a certain white race the
original American, the Indian, has done more for us
than we realize, or at this distance of time shall per-
haps ever be able wholly to ascertain. We remember —
or do we not rather forget ? — that when the white men
came in their winged canoe across "the Sea of big
Stormes" to the bleak shore of the "Dawn Land,"
Chief Samoset met them with outstretched hand and
the "Welcome, Englishmen," which he had learned
from the fisher folk with whom he had traded on the
Newfoundland banks. We quite forget that during that
first cruel winter of 1620-21 it was the food and the
furs brought them by the Indians that saved our fore-
fathers from bitter death by cold and hunger; that
Squanto came in the spring and taught them how to
grow the unfamiliar corn, and that Samoset was their
protector as well as their interpreter as they threaded
the Indian-haunted forests. We forget that even ear-
lier than this our Virginia ancestors had for several
years been saved from starvation by the maize, pump-
kins and succotash, and comforted by the tobacco, with
which the Powhatans generously provided them. We


Our Debt to the Red Man

forget the early friendship between Roger Williams
and the Narragansetts, a charming though too brief
episode amid the grim realities of the early years. We
only remember that — through the misapprehensions of
the unschooled Red Men, shall we say ? — or through
the blunders of the civilized whites ? — enmity arose be-
tween them, with hatred so bitter that so early as 1637,
after the frightful massacre of Mystic River, Increase
Mather could stand up in his pulpit and thank the
Lord 'Hhat on this day we have sent six hundred
heathen souls to hell." The events that followed may
well have lent to the next generation of Puritan set-
tlers some reason for sharing the opinion of Robert
Sanford, writing home from the Carolina shore ("Re-
lation") of "natives whose Piety it is to be barbarous,
and whose Gallantry to be inhuman ; ' ' but in the be-
ginning it was not so.

Though after the event at Mystic River, Winthrop
records (quoted by Wilson, Prehistoric Man, 2: 253)
"we sent the male children to Bermuda [the adult
males having been 'sent to hell'j and the women and
maid children were dispersed about in the towns,"
through whom some strain of Indian blood must have
come into our New England ancestry ; though the first
families of Virginia and Maryland are still proud to
trace in their lineage some kinship to Pocahontas, the
fact remains that notwithstanding the probability that
the "vanishing race" has "vanished" not more
through death than through marriage with the white
folk, the contempt born of fear which came to be the


Introducing the Subject

invariable attitude of Anglo-Saxon settlers toward the
aborigines effectually prevented any mutual influence
for good between those races in the early time.

The Dutch also, as well as the people of Connect-
icut, were notoriously unkind to the Indians. Madame
Knight, in her famous journey through the region in
1704, not unnaturally, therefore, found them "the
most salvage of all the salvages of the kind I have ever
seen." The contempt thus engendered has lingered
among their descendants to this day, to our lasting
disgrace in our treatment of those who have come to be
the "wards of the nation."^ Therefore it is not among
Anglo-Saxon "half-breeds" of any period that we may
seek for any notable service of the Indians in the
development of the United States.

Far otherwise, however, were the relations of
French settlers with the red people. The difference in-
hered in the initial motives for the settlement of the
New World. Mr. John C. Covert, former American
Consul at Lyons, in Les Frangais au Nouveau Monde,
written about 1890 to encourage French emigration to
the United States, reminds his readers that the pur-

1 "Wards of an irresponsible guardian," says ex-Commissioner Fran-
cis E. Leupp. "A composite guardianship," he adds, pointing
out the vicious circle in which this trust is worked. The Presi-
dent must have permission of Congress for any measure, and both
are helpless before an adverse mandate of the Courts, which
themselves are the creatures of the President and Congress. He
instances the Pembina Chippewas, of whom we shall later hear
more: "As their guardian it (the Government) disciplined them
when they disregarded its admonitions, as their guardian it took
possession of large slices of their estate whenever it could claim
that they were using their land unwisely and therefore would be
better without it ; as their guardian it concluded that they were
likely to grow faster in grace if their wild-game supply were cut
off. and on this pretext compelled them to give up hunting and
submit to be fed and clothed like paupers at public expense — ".


Our Debt to the Red Man

pose of early French emigration was the conversion of
the natives, rather than commerce. For that matter,
the first Royal Charter granted to the Colony of Mass-
achusetts affirms that ' ' to wynn and incite the natives
of the Country to the Knowledge and Obedience of the
onlie true God and Saviour of Mankind is our Royall
Intencion ; ' ' and the first Seal of Massachusetts Colony
showed the figure of an Indian with the legend ' ' Come
over and help us;" but the slender interest lent to
Eliot's devoted service shows how small a place the
conversion of the natives held in the "Intencion" of
Puritan or Pilgrim/

Prof. C. W. Colby of McGill University reminds
us ("Canadian Types of the Old Regime," pp. 82, 3)
that while ' ' to glorify God by the conversion of native
races became a prime object with pious sovereigns and
with the Latin Church in general," the comparative
apathy of Protestant peoples is not to be attributed
"altogether to a lower degree of spiritual force than
existed in the Catholic Church ' ' but chiefly to the dif-
ference between the sacramental scheme of salvation
(in which to baptize a dying child or man was to save
a soul from perdition), and the predestinarian theol-
ogy of Calvinism, which offered a less strong incentive
to missionary activity. It cannot be denied, however,
that with the English government the motive of com-
mercial profit loomed larger than that of love for

-Dr. James Douglas ("New England and New France", pp. 451^
452) says that no attempt was made by England to Christianize
the Indians. Eliot's work Avas an individual enterprise in which
the colonists had little or no part. Cotton Mather does not

even mention it.


Introducing the Subject

souls. "The great object of colonization upon the
continent of North America," said the Lords Com-
missions for Trade and Plantations in 1772 (quoted
by Turner, ''Fur Trade" p. 75) "is to improve and
extend the commerce and manufactures of this king-
dom; therefore," they continue, "the Indians should
not be disturbed in their hunting grounds" and "all
colonization should be discouraged." That the fur
trade was not profitable enough to warrant continuing
the war was Lord Shelborne's defence for ceding the
Northwest to the American colonies in 1783.

This contrast between the English and tne French
view of relations with the aborigines is aptly shown
by Mr, Vincent Hazard in his report to the Smithson-
ian Institution in 1879. The English, he says, re-
garded the Indians simply as an obstacle to progress,
a natural foe against whom they waged a war of exter-
mination, while the French ' ' from the first recognized
in the red man a fellow being entitled to considera-
tion." Very naturally, therefore, the colonization of
New France being effected not by families but mainly
by single men of enterprise and daring, the French
youth of the colony early sought wives among the
daughters of their Indian friends, and French priests
gladly blessed their union with rites which deeply im-
pressed the native folk, by nature and long inheritance
devoted to ritual. From these unions sprang a people
who played an important though usually a humble
part in the colonization and civilization of the West, a
people who far from "uniting the worst qualities of


Our Debt to the Red Man

both races, ' ' as the author of a popular historic study
has permitted himself to assert/ does in fact, as I hope
to show, unite many of the best qualities of both.

The limits of this study will not permit more than
an allusion to the established fact of the importance
of mixed races in the history of civilization. Wilson
in the work already quoted observes that ''the half-
breed has played a most important part in the advance
of mankind to the stage of progress that it has reached
today," a fact also incidentally shown by Mr. James
Mooney of the Bureau of Ethnology, who writes (in
the Handbook of American Indians, 1, 914) that
"much of the advance in civilization made by the
Cherokees has been due to the intermarriage among
them of white men, chiefly (French) traders of the
ante-Revolutionary^ period." Professor Franz Boas
of Columbia University strongly holds this theory of
the value of mixed races. It is well stated by M. Jop-
pincourt in L'Expansion Colo7iiale: "Half-breeds all
over the world," he says, "have played a most impor-
tant part in the advance of mankind, ' ' showing by way
of illustration that it was ' ' by allying themselves with
the willing daughters of the Abenaki that the sons of
France created that vigorous Acadian stock whose
spirit more than once kept at bay the proud invaders
of Old and New England." A case in point may be
found in the descendants of Baron Jean Vincent de St.
Castin, who held a Seigneurie on the Penobscot, and

» S. A. Drake, "The making of the Ohio Valley States", p. 262;
Scribner, 1894.


Introducing the Subject

married the daughter of the high-souled Abenaki chief
Madockawando (the heroine of Longfellow's Atlantic
Monthly poem, Vol. 29, p. 334). St. Castin was
adopted by the tribe and made their chief; he had
many children and educated them all. Parkman calls
him a terror and a menace to the English colonists, but
all the evidence goes to prove that he rendered them
more than one service before Governor Dongan
claimed jurisdiction over the region including his
Seigneury. He had no part in the outbreak of the war,
though after it was declared he naturally took the
French side. It is clear, however, that during its pro-
gress he had no share in any of those acts of barbarity
which make its memory a horror.

We may safely assume that similar intermar-
riages, quite as much as military alliances, had a part
in the maintenance of French dominion in Canada and
the West, notwithstanding the immense numerical
superiority of the English colonies, during the secular
struggle between England and France.* ''What a
pity that the French were defeated! "lamented the
Indians after the capture of Quebec; "their young
men used to marry our daughters. ' '

While these words w^ere being written, several
years ago, a current issue of New York Times was in-

* The overwhelming numerical superiority of English over French
settlers of North America is a matter of common knowledge. In
1688 there were about 1100 French on the continent and nearly
twenty times as many English. The population of Canada in
1721 was 18,000, that of the English colonies more than 400,000.
Furthermore, at the time of the conquest of Canada, the English
colonies were still compactly settled between the Atlantic and
the Alleghenies, while the French were distributed from the
mouth of the St. Lawrence to the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.


Our Debt to the Red Man

forming its readers that American Medecine had taken
issue with Professor Boas, and incidentally with other
ethnologists, in the matter of the importance of mixed-
bloods, basing its contention on the physical weakness
of the mulatto. The illustration was ''well found,"
since it was the only one that could be found. Mr.
George Bird Grinnell ("The Indians of Today," p.
165) had already pointed to the fact that, in striking
contrast with the offspring of negroes and whites,^
Indian mixed-bloods are a stout and hardy race, proli-
fic and apparently not especially subject to consump-
tion or other diseases. With the more recent findings
of the census of 1910, he believes the increase of our
Indian population since 1890 to be largely among
mixed-bloods (p. 196). How far the physical weak-
ness of mulattoes is due to special conditions American
Medecine does not ask; nor has it apparently sought
for a basis for its sweeping assertion that ' ' half-breeds
are a nuisance to themselves and to each parent
stock ; ' ' but before recommending ' ' a little more biol-
ogy" to Professor Boas and other distinguished eth-
nologists, it might be well for American Medecine to
acquire a little more history.

The French, says Mr. Arthur Oilman ("History
of the American People " ) , adopted different means
and left more lasting memories of success than the
English or the Spaniards. They fraternized with the

• Dr. F. G. Speck of the University of Pennsylvania finds that the
admixture of Negro and Indian blood among the Creeks of Okla-
homa has produced some splendid specimens of virility, and it
is within the writer's knowledge that two generations ago (1869-
1875) Florida could show the same.


Introducing the Subject

natives in a manner not thought of by any other na-
tionality-, so that their names remain not only in Can-
ada and Nova Scotia but in the western Lake region
and in the Valley of the Mississippi. Mr. Gilman in-
stances Jean Nieolet, the first white man to see Michi-
gan and Wisconsin, whom Champlain sent to live with
the Algonquin tribes to learn their languages, and who
married an Indian woman and lived like the Indians.
The late Reuben Gold Thwaites ("Colonies" p. 48)
draws a contrast between the French and the earlier
Spanish colonists: "Unlike the Spaniards they rather
improved the savage stock [by intermarriage] than
were degraded by it."

Mr. Elliot Coues, in his recent Introduction to
Chittenden's "American Fur Trade," observes that
"the extensive intermarriage of the two races [French
and Indian] during more than a century, under the
regime of the fur trade, has done more than any other
one thing toward the ultimate civilization of an al-
most untamable race." Such tribes as the Peorias,
Miamis, Choctaws, Cherokees and others which early
intermarried with the French, are today among the
most intelligent Indian tribes, and have made the best
progress toward civilization.

History has until recently paid scant attention to
the doings of common folk, yet between the lines of
the earliest narratives of those high born adventurers
of France who, while Jamestown was struggling for
existence and Plymouth Rock had not yet been heard
of, had penetrated by Avay of the St. Lawrence and the


Our Debt to the Red Man

Ottawa well into the west, we may discern as sharing
their adventures a considerable proportion of humbler
folk, the "poor whites" of France. It must have
been so. From the fur-bearing animals of the new
world, France, the clothier of Europe, gained more
wealth than Spain from all the gold of the south
country, and to the fur traffic working folk were
essential. As time went on they came by the ship load
to serve as hunters, as trappers, as burden bearers.

Not all of these, indeed, were of the lower classes.
Men with good blood in their veins, but full of the
spirit of adventure, cast in their lot with these
humbler folk, chiefly preceding them in fact as cou-
reurs and voyageurs. To these the United States owes
an immense debt. They were the pioneers of commerce
on Lake Superior and on other northern waters; in
their bark canoes they crossed and recrossed the con-
tinent long before other white men had crossed the
Alleghenies. They were the first roadmakers, broad-
ening for their burden bearers the Indian trails that
followed the buffalo tracks, showing the way for the
military road, the plank road and the railroad.
''Broadly speaking," says Mrs. John M. Kinzie, the
author of "Waubun," "the continent has been opened
by these men. "**

With them or closely following them came priests.

In 1914 New York and Massachusetts celebrated with interesting
ceremonies the recognition of the Mohawk Trail between those
states. Like most other Indian trails this one was in existence
long before white men saw this region, but it was quite as much
through French as English traders that even this trail became a
highway of the white people.


Introducing the Subject

who for the weal of all concerned encouraged their
marriage with Indian girls and baptized their children
— children who bore a notable part in the development
of our Northwest, to the very shores of the Pacific.
Many of these alliances were necessarily without other
than Indian ceremony, for as the years went on, cou-
reiirs and voyageurs, ' ' that wonderful race of men, ' ' as
Parkman calls them, went farther afield than the good
Fathers, with all their devoted enterprise, could fol-
low; but relatively few of these bonds were broken.
However universal the reputation of the French for
marital infidelity, that reputation is not borne out by
the relations of the French with Indian women from
that day to this/

Not that these men were models of all the virtues.
The Jesuits in their "Relations" and La Hontan in
his "Voyages^' give them a pretty bad name. The
priests were afraid of their brandy and of the in-
fluence of their recklessness upon their Indian con-
verts. Intendants who, like Duchesneau, desired to es-
tablish the colony of New France upon a stable basis
deprecated the influence of "the call of the wild,"
though Duchesneau doubtless exaggerates when he
says (1680) that "forty per cent of adult males are
running wild in the woods. ' ' The worst of them were
no doubt profane and disreputable, but even the Jes-

"^ The Rev. John P. "Williamson, a missionary to Indians who are

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Online LibraryLouise Seymour HoughtonOur debt to the red man; the French-Indians in the development of the United States → online text (page 1 of 14)