Louise Seymour Houghton.

Our debt to the red man; the French-Indians in the development of the United States online

. (page 2 of 14)
Online LibraryLouise Seymour HoughtonOur debt to the red man; the French-Indians in the development of the United States → online text (page 2 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


nearly all mixed-bloods, himself the son of a missionary and
born in a tepee, who has passed a ' long life among Indians,
writes me that even in the present generation Frenchmen mar-
ried to Indian girls, by Indian ritual merely, are usually more
faithful than Americans whose connection with Indian women
has been blessed by a religious ceremony.

[11]



Our Debt to the Red Man

uits and La Hontan never dream of accusing them of
such sins as were committed by the Spaniards in
Central and South America or the Dutch in the far
Orient. The lower stratum of this class may have
been, as Parkman says, "half savage," but they were
not brutal. Men who could endure the hardships of
the life must have been, as Professor Colby says, (op.
cit.) physically picked men. And when we consider
the stifling restrictions with which the French colony
was controlled in the 17th and early 18th centuries, we
can realize that the chief incentive of their escape to
the woods was certainly not the low motive of profit.
In an exaggerated form, as Prof. Colby says, the cou-
reur represents the energy, the dash, the boldness which
all the early settlers of New I^Vance to some extent dis-
played; and we may add that he gives evidence of
singular fidelity in other relations as well as in those
with women. It was the later voyageurs, the majority
of them with Indian blood in their veins, whom Gov.
Stevens in the early 19th century describes as "a
hardy, willing, enduring class," who need to be
treated kindly, and are ''the most obedient, hard
working fellows in the world ; ' ' but the race had not
greatly changed since the beginning.

Not coureurs and voyageurs alone, but soldiers
also were encouraged to marry Indian women, and
more than one instance is found of men of rank taking
Indian wives. Though the legend that the celebrated
interpreter Madame Montour was the daughter of
Count Frontenac is without foundation, yet such offi-

[12]



Introducing the Subject

cers in the French army as Sabrevoir de Carrie,
father of a long line of hereditary chiefs, the military
Commandant Jean Baptiste Cadotte, ancestor of men
of note in Indian diplomacy and in literature, the
Baron de St. Castin, already* mentioned, married
the daughters of Indian chiefs.

Such Canadian writers as Mr. Benjamin Suite
and the Abbe Tanguay are indeed stout in the con-
tention that very few of the scions of French nobil-
ity who made illustrious the early history of New
France married Indian women, and with some notable
exceptions they are doubtless right. But though for
many reasons a large number of young men of noble
birth were attracted to the New World, we have al-
ready seen that they were few in comparison with
the whole. Mr. John Reade's statement (Trans. Roy.
Soc. Can. 1885) that hardly any family of the lower
ranks of original settlers in Canada is without some
Indian blood is not in essential disagreement with
Mr. Suite and the Abbe Tanguay. Dr. James Douglas
(op. cit.) finds comparatively few French mixed-
bloods in Canada (he is referring to the earliest set-
tled territory), but some in New York, Ohio, Penn-
sylvania, Illinois, perhaps even in Maryland, and
many in the Northwest. In fact, owing to the century-
long enmity between the Iroquois and the French there
was an unusually large proportion of captives, many
of them women, adopted or married into the tribes
of the Six Nations. Many of their descendants are
today persons of prominence, proud to trace French-

[13]



Our Debt to the Red Man

Indian ancestry; notably such men as Prof. J. N. B.
Hewitt of the Smithsonian Institution and Mr. Arthur
C. Parker, State Archeologist and member of the
Department of Education of New York State. To a
less extent the same was the case in Northern Penn-
sylvania, the '^ South Door" of the Iroquois Long
House.

To Dr. Douglas's statement Dr. Charles Eastman
adds that there are "many French mixed-bloods in
Maine," and Dr. Speck particularizes with the state-
ment that the blood of St. Castin flows today through
the veins of seventy-five per cent of the Penobscots,
''all of whom, practically, have French blood," he
adds.

These statements are not necessarily in contra-
diction to the assertions of the Canadian writers just
mentioned. The members of the ruling class naturally
remained in the cities, Quebec, Montreal, and later
Detroit, Mobile, New Orleans. It was the humbler
folk who penetrated the forests and married among
the Indians, and whose mixed-blood children bore a
part, and as I hope to show a not unimportant part, in
the early civiliation of the United States. Not a few
of these Frenchmen of lower degree married the
daughters of Indian chiefs. ''Antoine Gamelin, mes-
senger," as he signs himself in a State paper so late
as 1832, was son-in-law of a Wabash or Miami chief.
As early as 1693 a member of La Salle's expedition
married the daughter of the chief of the Kaskaskia
Indians. We shall later find the commandant of the

[14]



Introducing the Subject

important post of Ste. Marie du Sault, as also the
French nobleman who became the father of "the
Father of Wisconsin," and other men of prominence,
becoming sons-in-law of chiefs of the Sioux, Potawat-
omie, Winnebago and other tribes, and the ancestors
of men to whom our country is deeply indebted.

However it may be in Canada, it is certain there
is much Indian blood among the descendants of those
Frenchmen who were the earliest settlers of a large
part of the Middle States and of some parts of the
Northwest. In the southern and western part of
Pennsylvania were the Shawnees, who early in the
18th century had migrated from Carolina and settled
on the western branches of the Susquehanna. Many
of these were trading with the French before the
Proprietory Government had extended its interest so
far westward. More than one historic French name
appears among this branch of the Shawnees, among
them that of Cavalier, the famous Camisard leader.
Nearly all the earlier cities of our western states,
from Chicago to the Rocky Mountains, grew up, like
Vincennes, around a French fur trading post, some-
times for convenience established, as were Milwaukee
and Prairie du Chien, in an Indian village, sometimes,
like Michilimackinac and later, Chicago, at a conve-
nient site for a military outpost, whither the Indians
flocked for trade ; and in either case French and In-
dians mingled in marriage.

In fact, only in Detroit and Kaskaskia, of all the
Middle West, was intermarriage of the French and

[15]



Our Debt to the Red Man

Indians not general in the early days. The late John
Gilmary Shea said that few French families of this
region are without some descent from ''the noble Illi-
nois tribe." Prof. Alvord of the University of Illi-
nois thinks, indeed, that marriage between French and
Indians was not so generally practised in Illinois as is
commonly believed, yet the Handbook of American
Indians appears to agree with Shea: "Few families of
French descent in Illinois and Missouri are free from
Indian blood. ' ' Mrs. Kinzie states in ' ' Waubun ' ' that
most of the inhabitants of Chicago in 1831 (the year
after the place was laid off in town lots) were Cana-
dians or French mixed bloods with "occasionally a
stray Yankee." It was in the next year, 1832, that
Maximilian, Prince of Wied, on his travels through
the West, found at Council Bluffs Agency, Mo., a num-
ber of French servants of the American Fur Company
married to Omaha or Oto (Siouan) women. On the
Osage Eiver he also found many French-Osage In-
dians. So recently as 1845 very much the larger pro-
portion of the white inhabitants of Minnesota were
Canadian or Swiss French, and most of these inter-
married with Indians. English was spoken by not
more than three families in the State. In the Red
River country in 1848 there were no white women.
The inhabitants were French Canadians or metis, 405
of them with Indian wives, whose children were set
down on the record as white.

Well into the third decade of the nineteenth cen-
tury all the traders in Michigan were- French mixed-

[16]




■^ 'n ^



§1!

Els






Introducing the Subject

bloods or Frenchmen with Indian wives, such honored
names as Rolette, Beaubien and Grignon being among
them. ''No doubt the proportion of Indian blood in
the United States is far larger than has been sup-
posed," writes a student of the subject in a private
letter.

It is painful to read in a text book designed, and
very widely used, for the advanced instruction of
youth, (An American History, David Sanders Muzzy,
Ph. D., Barnard College, Columbia University), so ut-
ter a misapprehension of the relations between the two
races in the early days as the following: (pp. 85, 86}
"These wild Frenchmen often sacrificed their native
tongue, their religion, even their very civilization it-
self, and joined the aboriginal American tribes, marry-
ing Indian squaws, eating boiled dog and mush,^ daub-
ing their naked bodies with greasy war paint, leading
the hideous dance and the murderous raid." Mr.
Muzzy 's estimate of the Peace of Paris is that "for
Canada it meant the breaking of that unnatural alli-
ance with savages;" utterly ignoring the true charac-
ter of that alliance as its features are spread upon
every page of early chronicle and later story of our
western states. The only cogent, and the quite suffi-
cient, protest against this historian 's misreading of the
data of history lies not in argument, but in the serious



^ Mr. Muzzy apparently forgets that the crime of eating mush (hasty
pudding) was universally committed by our New England ances-
tors, our Dutch forbears, too, and even persists to this very day
among many who can claim no Indian blood. The soldiers of
the Revolutionary army were mainly fed upon it, as the Amer-
ican public was lately (May 1917) reminded.

[17]



Our Debt to the Red Man

study of the contribution of French Indians to the
development of our country and its civilization.

It must be admitted that such a study is not an
easy one. The slow method of hand-picked facts, from
chance allusions in local histories, in the publications
of Historical societies and in Colonial and American
State Papers, supplemented by correspondence and in-
terview, alone avails, since the subject is as yet un-
worked. The difficulty is enhanced not only by the
orthographical difficulties with which we shall find the
priests struggling in efforts to register marriages and
baptisms, but by others which have been encountered
by later writers, making it not easy to trace the parent-
age of mixed-bloods/

Moreover, certain names truly French are identi-
cal with names as certainly English or at least British.
There is a fair probability that the George Morgan
who in 1777 was Superintendent of Indian Affairs, as
well as others of the name Morgan whom we meet in
the old Illinois Country, were descended from some
member of the family of the Sieur de Vinsenne after
whom Vincennes, Indiana, was named, and whose fam-
ily name was Morgane. Francois Morgan, nephew of



'Mr. Carrow" of the Lewis and Clark expedition, for instance,
was probably a mixed-blood by name Pierre Garreau, son jr
reputed son of a Frenchman or French- Canadian. (Fort Pierre:
S. Dak. Coll: 1, p. 187.) "He was courteous in his manners
very intelligent and was highly esteemed by all his associates,
white and Indian. When I knew him he had no children left, . . .
three of his sons were killed by the King." (Private letter
to the librarian of the Chicago Historical Library.) This is one
of scores of instances. The honorable metis name Boileau has
three different spellings today; La Framboise has more than
three. Viall, Vieux, are found for Viaud, etc.



[18]



Introducing the Subject

the Sieur de Vinsenne, was the second Commandant at
Ouatenon, near the later Vincennes. Yet we cannot
be sure that this name, often occurring among Indians,
even to the existence of an Indian village of that
name on the Mississippi River, is not the result of
adoption rather than of blood inheritance/

Admiration, a grace of which the Indian is emin-
ently capable, has its share in the difficulties of the
student of this subject. ' ' Logan the Mingo, ' ' the son
of a Frenchman adopted into the Oneida tribe, effect-
ively concealed that French blood which, if recog-
nized, would have made him more than ever abhorred
and dreaded by the whites of New York and Pennsyl-
vania, by taking the name of his admired friend James
Logan, Secretary and for a time Acting Governor of
Pennsylvania.' (H. A. I., 1 ; 772) .

The absence of data for differentiating between
French and other mixed-bloods, and even between full
and mixed-bloods, greatly complicates this study. The
first attempt of the American Government to establish



1 This was the opinion of so well informed a person as Senator

Clapp (to whom I am much indebted), who, however, had for-
gotten until I reminded him of it that Morgan was the family
name of the first (French) governor of Vincennes.

2 The ethnologist, Mr, J. N. B. Hewitt (H. A. I. 2; 548) quotes

John Bartram as saying that Chief Shikellamy, Logan's father,
was a Frenchman "born in Montreal, captured and adopted by
the Oneidas." "A trusty good man and a great lover of the
English", says the Governor of Pennsylvania in 1731. The Rev.
George B. Donehoo, writing in "The Red Man" (Dec. 1914),
says that Shikellamy made possible the settlement of Pennsyl-
vania, if not the American Nation ; and though we may take this
judgment with a grain of salt, it seems certain that the English
must have blundered fearfully in other acts beside that brutal
murder of Indians, including a number of relatives of Shikel-
lamy' s son Logan, by white settlers on the Ohio in 1774, which
made Logan the inveterate and fearful enemy of the whites
which he became.



[19]



Our Debt to the Red Man

the latter distinction was made in the census of 1910,
the results of which have been but lately given to the
public, (published in 1915). In this census, however,
no effort is made to distinguish between nationalities
in the parentage of mixed-bloods, and inferences must
chiefly be based upon what history tells us as to the
localities in which the French for the most part en-
tered into relations with the Indians. Even the invalu-
able Handbook of American Indians (H. A. I., Bulletin
30 of the publications of the Smithsonian Institution),
"the Indian's Bible" as students of Indian subjects
are apt to call it, seldom undertakes to make this dis-
tinction. The only studies of the subject as yet ap-
pearing in print are Mr. V. Hazard's already quoted
"French Half-breeds of the North-west," made for
the Smithsonian in 1879, and the Rev. A. G. Morice's
recent Dictionaire des Metis^ neither of which contem-
plates our immediate subject. This differentiation is
however not less important as a contribution to our
past history than for the light it throws upon the
Indian character.

If the time for idealizing "the noble red man"
after the manner of Chateaubriand and early novelists
of his school is long past, past is also the time for
contempt and objurgation of the race. Now, though
late, is the time for a candid attempt to understand
the Indian people, and if some exercise of the idealiz-

3 To avoid repetition of an awkward compound I shall henceforth fre-
quently adopt the Canadian usage, designating French mixed-
bloods as "metis" a word which, though denoting mixed-bloods of
whatever races, has in Canada and in our Northwest come to be
restricted to persons of French-Indian ancestry.

[20]



Introducing the Subject

ing faculty is necessary for such understanding, this
is no more than is necessary for arriving at any truth.
There was pathetic cogency in an utterance at the first
convention of the Society of American Indians, held
at Columbus, Ohio, in 1911 : ''I do believe our growing
disbelief in ourselves is due to our having been mis-
represented so long, and deferring everything to the
white man's opinion of us."

"Think of me at my best," said Steerforth. It
is the earnest longing of every intelligent Indian that
his race should be thought of at its best. And because
such Indians recognize that in general their best, at
least from the white man 's view point, are the French
mixed-bloods, the present inquiry, pursued during a
number of years, has in every instance been welcomed
and facilitated by Indians and mixed-bloods, and also
by whites who have been closely associated with them
as scientists, artists, missionaries, teachers, postmasters
or Indian agents. Such whites are well nigh unanim-
ous in their judgment that, so far from ''uniting the
worst characteristics of both," the French mixed-
bloods who form no unimportant fraction of our In-
dian population have for the most part inherited the
best characteristics of their ancestors of both races,
and are, generally speaking, superior either to full
bloods or to mixed bloods of other white lineage.



[21]



II .

The Original American

YET if we are to think of the Indians of the pres-
ent day at their best, we must first ask what
were the original inhabitants of this country,
what were their standards, their ideals, before the
white man came. ''Warlike, ruthless, without settled
homes or productive industries," comes the prompt
reply from the vague knowledge or the satisfied ignor-
ance with which we have until now been content/

Even if this were a correct description of the In-
dian of that period, which it certainly is not, we must
remind ourselves that it also describes all human be-
ings, even whites, at certain stages of their existence.
These are the accidents, not the essential characteris-
tics, of any race. Each race is differentiated from any
other far more by intellectual and moral characteris-
tics — ideals, aspirations, standards of conduct —
than by the physical traits of color, height, form of
head or slant of eye, by which the unthoughtful dis-



1 Mr. A. C. Parker, writing in the "Quarterly Journal of the Society
of American Indians" (June 1915), distinctly refutes the allega-
tion that American Indians were nomads. They were sedentary,
and cultivated the ground for the greater part of their food,
though at certain periods of the year they went far afield to hunt
the animals which were necessary to them for clothing quite as
much as for food. With regard to productive industry, the fact
that our Government is now endeavoring at some expense to re-
vive the well-nigh lost industries of various tribes is a sufficient
answer, even without the witness of the moccasin, the Navajo
blanket, much exquisite pottery and basketry, and the pemmican
without which Arctic and Antarctic exploration would be im-
possible.

[22]



The Original American

tinguish them. Cruelty, for example, no more charac-
terized Samoset and Massasoit and Squantum of the
earliest days of white immigration, than it charac-
terized the Mohican Samson Occum who went to Eng-
land with Whitefield, and so interested the people of
that realm that not only private persons of influence
but the King himself made contributions to the amount
of $60,000 which were by Occum appropriated to the
founding of Dartmouth College for the education of
Indian youth. The undesirable qualities which we
constantly ascribe to Indians no more necessarily
characterize them than at the present day they char-
acterize the full-blood Sioux 0-hi-ye-sa, whom we bet-
ter known as Dr. Charles A. Eastman, lately Agency
surgeon for the Government, and in 1914 Director of
the permanent Boy Scout Camp on Chesapeake Bay,
whose writings and whose life have done much to re-
move the stigma which unjustly rests upon the Indian ;
or the Apache Dr. Carlos Montezuma, for long years
Government physician on various Reservations, and
later Professor in the College of Physicians and Sur-
geons and in the Post-Graduate Medical School, Chi-
cago ; or the gifted young Winnebago minister Henry
Roe Cloud, a graduate of Yale. We are quite ready to
give these men rank with men of any race, but we are
not so ready to recognize that such as they are legiti-
mate interpreters of Indian character, true exponents
of the forces that our country has wasted by its fail-
ure to give the Indian a chance to realize his best.
Such was the Creek orator Opothleyaholo, who
[23]



Our Debt to the Red Man

after long effort to save the lands of his people in
Georgia for their possession, finally withdrew from
that Nation when it decided, against all his eloquence,
to espouse the Confederate cause, and with about a
third of the Creeks joined the Union, leading them as
they fought their way from Carolina to Kansas^ — a
migration which for tragedy may rank with "The
Flight of a Tartar Tribe."" Such were a large num-
ber of the Nez Perces, a tribe of unmixed blood, who in
1831 sent over the Rocky Mountains to St. Louis a
delegation to ask for ''the white man's Book of
Heaven," and who during the Civil War served as
volunteers, never asking nor receiving a dollar of pay.
This tribe eventually earned for itself a bad name by
breaking out in protest against the outrages of white
settlers on their lands. Its then Chief, Joseph, after
a masterly campaign, in which however he was worsted
by the United States forces, led his people, their old
men, women and children, toward Canada, in "a re-
treat worthy to be remembered with that of Xeno-
phen's Ten Thousand" (H. A. I. 1 : 634), but which is
none the less memorable for its witness to the compas-
sionate heart of the Chief, who, almost within sight of
the promised land, was moved by the sufferings of the
non-combatants of the party to accept the bitter humil-



2 Tliey started with women and children for Kansas, three hundred
miles away, pursued by men of their own race whom they re-
sisted in many bloody battles. "Freezing, starving and dying,
they at length reached Kansas. . . . The able bodied men en-
listed, and the history of these three Indian regiments presents
as honorable a record as any in the army." (George A. Rey-
nolds, Agent. "Indian Affairs, 1869", p. 417.)



[24]



The Original American

iation of surrender to the pursuing troops of the
United States.

Such were John Otherday and Paul Mazakula-
mana, Christian Indians of the Sisseton band, who
after the Spirit Lake massacre in 1857 followed the
bloody trail of Chief Inkpaduta^ and rescued the two
surviving prisoners/ Such was the Seminole Chief
John Chapko, a ^'splendid specimen," writes the agent
in 1869, "sergeant in an Indian regiment of the
United States Army during the Civil War," who
"loves Lincoln," and "is an earnest church member."
Such was Chief Ouray of the Southern Utes, noted for
his services in suppressing the outbreak of his tribe, a
man whom Carl Schurz thought the noblest man, of
any race, he had ever known. ^

It is not fair, it is eminently unfair, to judge
of the original American by the Reservation In-
dian of today. "The Reservation Indian is not the
noble red man of yesterday," writes Mr. Parker
(Quart. Journ. S. A. I., 1, 1915), "though all the



3 This fearful massacre is often adduced as an illustration of the re-
vengeful character of the Indian. It cannot be denied that when
it comes to avenging injuries he is ruthless, cunning, in many-
respects barbarous, but as Dr. T. C. Moffett ("The American
Indian on the New Trail," p. 22) points out, the Indian is never
the aggressor. There are two sides to the dreadful Spirit Lake
massacre, whose leader Inkpaduta has been characterized as
"too vile to be even countenanced by the Sioux"; for as Dr.
Moffett reminds us (op. cit. p. 24, n.), "if the grievances of the
Indians which led to this massacre were narrated as the Indians
felt them it would lighten much of its dark hue."

* John Otherday not only rescued Mrs. Gardner in 1857 but in 1862
helped in the rescue of a missionary party of forty-three.

^ Mr. Edwin Willard Deming, the well known painter of Indians,
from his wide acquaintance with this people, is of opinion that,
without detracting from the praise due to Chief Ouray, there
have been many nobler Indians than he.



[25]



Our Debt to the Red Man

elements of nobility have not departed." He points
out that even in Oklahoma the depressing effect of
conditions evolved a people upon whom the agencies
of human development there given took scant effect,
' ' The miseries ' ' of the Indian 's external life ' ' are the
result of a bewildered, disappointed and darkened
mind. ' ' We may add that the doubtful status of the


2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Online LibraryLouise Seymour HoughtonOur debt to the red man; the French-Indians in the development of the United States → online text (page 2 of 14)