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Minnesota, till then entirely undeveloped territory.
It was here that the difficulty between the Objibways
and the two governments occurred, and was appeased
by Cadotte's tact, reinforced by the Indians' confi-
dence in him. In 1792 Cadotte was in charge of the
Fond du Lac post of the Northwest Fur Company.

It is from his grandson, Mr. William Whipple
Warren, that we learn that during the war of 1812
Cadotte's two sons, also named respectively Jean
Baptiste and Michel, were either captured or enticed
into the British lines, and were given the option of
submitting to imprisonment or acting as interpreters
for Great Britain. They chose the latter, were active
in all the principal battles on Canadian soil, and se-
verely wounded. The elder, Jean Baptiste, third of the
name, held a commission under Col. Dickson, but after
peace both brothers resumed their American alle-
giance. Their two sisters, finely educated women, mar-
ried Lyman and Truman Warren of Massachusetts,
descendants of the Mayflower pilgrim Richard War-
ren, and relatives of Joseph Warren who fell at Bun-
ker Hill.

The Cadotte family is still an honorable one in
the region. The younger son of the Commandant,
Michel Cadotte, wliom the Indians called Ke-ehe-mi-


French Indians as Mediators

shane, ''great Michel," a man of liberal education,
sent his two sons to college in Montreal. Later in life
he retired to his farm, on Chequamagon Bay, where
years before he had built up a large trade, which after-
ward passed to his sons-in-law, the two Warren broth-
ers. His wife, who, like his mother, was the daughter
of a Chippewa chief, was living in 1850 at the age of
ninety. She used to tell her grandsons how in the
days when her husband and his brother were estab-
lishing trading posts in the north, the women and
children were left at Fond du Lac, as the farther re-
gions were dangerous. Her son Michel, who at the
age of sixty was living with his mother at La Pointe
(Chequamagon) could tell of many hairbreadth es-
capes of his own. He was the best Objibway inter-
preter in the Northwest.

Mr. William Whipple Warren, son of Mary Ca-
dotte, in protest against Judge Campbell's statement
that most of the Objibways supported the British
cause, says that in 1812-15 only one or two of the
9,000 on Lake Superior and the Mississippi River
joined the British, under the urgency of Colonel
Dickson, who had traded among them and married an
Indian woman. The old chief Keesh-ke-mun, grand-
father of the two young Cadottes, "nobly refused to
join them," says his great-grandson.

Upon the occupation of the Ohio valley at the
close of the Revolutionary War the metis among the
Miami and Wabash Indians were found to be useful
to the government as interpreters and go-betweens,

[ 73 ]

Our Debt to the Red Man

not only because they were bilin^al, or indeed multi-
lingual, but chiefly because, as was always the case,
they were trusted by both parties. Confidence on the
part of the Indians was especially important in the
cases of removals from lands held by them not only
by immemorial occupation, but also by treaty — re-
movals which are among the most flagrant cases of
injustice ever perpetrated by a powerful nation upon
a weaker people. Notable among mediators in such
cases was Baptiste Peoria, son of a French Canadian
trader and the daughter of a sub-chief of the Peoria
tribe. Speaking well both French and English and
greatly beloved by the Indians of the Middle West,
Peoria's integrity commended him to the United
States Government, which he served in the Indian
department nearly thirty years. He represented his
tribe at the treaty of Edwardsville in 1818, and be-
tween 1821 and 1838 assisted in the peaceable remov-
al of the Potawatomies, Shawnees, Delawares, Miamis,
and Kickapoos to Kansas, where a principal city bears
his name, Paoli, the Indian pronunciation of Peoria
being Paola. Later he collected the fragments of sev-
eral Illinois tribes scattered in that state, consolidated
them as the "Confederated Tribes," became their
chief, and led them peacefully to their newly assigned
Reservation in the Indian Territory. There, in 1873,
he died. His widow, a Brothertown Indian'' who had

2 A mixed group composed of remnants of various Algonquian tribes
of New York and New England, who, in the later 18th century,
under the leadership of the well known Indian minister Samson
Cecum, settled in Oneida County, N. Y., called their settlement


French Indians as Mediators

previously been the wife of the well known metis,
Christmas Dagney/ long survived him in ''her elegant
homestead at Paoli."

The name of Le Roy or Roy has an honorable
record among mediators. About 1703 Pierre Roy of
Quebec married the Miami girl Madeleine Quaban-
quin-quois. For several generations there were sons
and daughters of this family who married into the
best families of New France, and others who married
into Indian tribes, their descendants being found in
our Lake Superior region and elswhere in the North-
west, sometimes appearing among the Winnebagoes
as Le Roy. In 1871 Peter Roy, a metis, was sent by
the Government from Lake Superior to St. Paul as
special commissioner to investigate the fraudulent use
of Chippewa scrip. It is a long story, dating from
the treaty of 1854, by which each Chippew^a (Ob jib-
way) mixed-blood over twenty-one became entitled to
80 acres of land, secured to him by patent in the
usual form. This article was incorporated in the
treaty at the request of the most intelligent metis,
who hoped that all of their tribe would thus be in-
duced to abandon the roving life and settle upon their
land as farmers. Scrip for these lots of eighty acres
each was issued to the agent to be claimed by the
metis, and having by processes only too well under-

Brothertown (now Brotherton) and adopted the English lan-
guage. In 1833, with the Oneidas and Stockbridges, they
moved to Wisconsin, and soon after abandoned their tribal rela-
tions and became citizens. (H. A. I., I, 166).
Infra, p. 155.


Our Debt to the Red Man

stood in those days fallen into other than the proper
hands, the government investigation was finally or-
dered which Peter Roy successfully carried through,
to the discomfiture of ''some parties who had found
it profitable to get this scrip and deal in it." (Ind.


The names of metis continually occur in the
American State Papers in connection with Indian
treaties. In negotiating such treaties they were not
only especially useful but indispensable, since only by
their persuasions could the Indians be induced to
give up their lands. In 1785 there were a number of
metis among the Cassetas, Cowetas, Cherokees and
Creeks, when commissioners from those tribes (then
in Georgia and Carolina) met the American Commis-
sioners and were assured by the latter that the Amer-
icans ''want none of your lands nor anything that
belongs to you" (America State Papers, Class 2, In-
dian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 41). One is amazed to find
these tribes, notwithstanding what must have been a
painful disillusionment, still making treaties with the
American Government some fifty years later, though
apparently taking the precaution of selecting their
own (metis) interpreter, James Douzezeau, "by the
request of the lower Creeks, the two chiefs, the Hal-
lowing King of the Cowetas and the Fat King of the
Cussetas, " and others. This Douzezeau (Du Rouz-
eaux, Dureziaux, and various other orthographies)
appears in the State Papers of the first half of the


French Indians as Mediators

nineteenth century as government interpreter in the
making of treaties with the Indians of the South.

It is interesting but not surprising that French
Indians, inheriting from centuries of European ances-
try a genius for chivalry, should have thrown in their
lot with the race which has been oppressed by the
breaking of unnumbered treaties, rather than with
that of the oppressors. These treaties, made in all
good faith b}^ the less intelligent, or more correctly
the less educated, parties, were so seldom broken by
them* that as one looks through the volumes of Ameri-
can State Papers, the reading of countless instances
of unfaith on the other part makes the blood tingle
with shame. That was not the first of the list which in
1789 confirmed to the Six Nations in consideration of
$8,000 all the land west and north of Oswego Creek
in New York State 'Ho remain as a division between
the lands of the Six Nations and the territory of the
United States forever." Made without prevision of
the future, no doubt, but whose fault was that? No
wonder that only three years later (1792) Cornplanter

There appears to be no documentary evidence that Indians ever
broke a treaty, though once broken by the whites their vengeance
was often fearful. One would be glad to believe that it was in
sheer shame that treaty-making with Indians was abolished by
law in 1871 and "agreements" substituted, if so competent a
witness as ex-Commissioner Leupp were not here to testify that
the only difference has been that since the substitution Con-
gress has felt free to "take all sorts of liberties" with the
latter. A flagrant case of ill faith did indeed lead the Indian
Rights Association to bring a suit; but this, after being carried
all the way to the Supreme Court, only resulted m a decision of
that august tribunal giving the Government an absolutely free
hand in disposing of the property of Indians. Since when Con-
gress has acted as if all Indian property belonged unreservedly
to it. ("In Red Man's Land", p. 42).


Our Debt to the Red Man

was moved to utter the protest which in the light of
all that has since occurred overwhelms the white
American with shame: ''Father Washington, we
know that you are very strong and we have heard
that you are wise, and we wait to hear that you are
just." It was again from inability to foresee the fu-
ture that our Government secured lands east of the
Mississippi to the Choctaws and Cherokees "as long
as water runs and grass grows," only in 1870 to re-
move them to the Indian Territory. For nearly a
century the Government went on lightly making and
breaking treaties, from sheer incapacity to anticipate
the growth of population ; and in the face of remon-
strances of Indian agents and Commissioners it has
continued the process after that excuse has ceased to
serve. It appears only to have learned how to be
"just" now that there are no more lands of which to
defraud its " wards. "^

Alas, not even yet I The "still pending" claims of the Pembina
Chippewas (p. 118 infra), the long drawn out Senatorial contro-
versy over the payment to the ' lloyal Creeks" who were freely
giving their lives for the Union (supra p. 24), for the cattle taken
from them by Government to feed its army during the Civil War,
all spread upon our Congressional records, are a disgraceful monu-
ment to the bad faith of the American people ; for in a govern-
ment of a people by the people not one citizen is without
responsibility for its misdeeds.


Metis Loyalty

IN view of facts like those mentioned in the pre-
vious chapter one is ashamed to use the words
''Indian treachery," yet the idea has become
almost an axiom of American thought. How much de-
pends upon the point of view ! The conspiracy of
Pontiac, for example/ was an unselfish, independent
attempt to be loyal to the French, who had always
been the friends of the Indians, and under whose sub-
jugation by the hated English the high minded In-
dian chief found it as impossible to sit down tamely
as the English of today under the violation of Bel-
gium's territory.

From these same motives, a generation later, the
Potawatomies, ''tall, fierce and haughty" from the
English point of view, who, said the Jesuits in 1640,
"of all the peoples are the most docile toward the
French," whose early friendship with the French re-
mained unbroken through all vicissitudes, but who
(like the French, with whom they largely inter-mar-
ried), were capable of accepting the accomplished

1 H. A. I., art. "Pontiac" gives this chieftain Indian parents, (though
their ancestors might have been of mixed blood). John Rey-
nolds ("Pioneer History of Ind.", 1852), who, however, is not
always accurate, says he had French blood. In any case he
hated England, and "declared before the Great Spirit, the
Master of life, eternal hostility to the English", as Hannibal to
Rome, says Reynolds. "His soul, like that of Patrick Henry,
was fired with pure patriotism.''


Our Debt to the Red Man

fact of English domination, perpetrated, out of pure
loyalty to the English, then at war with United States,
that massacre at Fort Dearborn which is the first
event in the history of Chicago. Yet here again, ac-
cepting the accomplished fact, the Potawatomies
ceded all that region to the United States, and for
twenty years more dwelt peaceably among the white
people of Illinois, until they were peaceably removed
to a western reservation.

Loyalty may thus be the inheritance of the metis
alike from his French and his Indian ancestors. Not-
withstanding the fact that even the well born and
well educated among them appear to prefer to be
reckoned as Indians and to cast in their lot with In-
dians (and this, generations before such a choice in-
volved a share in reservation lands, ^) their story from
the earliest days shows a singular loyalty toward the

In the unsettled years of the latter part of the
18th century, the Kaskaskia tribe in Illinois had a

2 The number and the quality of men and women having some French
blood who in times past and to the present day have elected to
identify themselves with their Indian relatives gives not a little
surprise to the student who does not appreciate the Indian
character. In fact the attraction exerted by Indians over
whites of any race is a matter of history. School text books
tell of white captives who when rescued managed to find their
way back to their captors. Dr. Donehoo (op. cit.) tells of the
missionary Pont who, having been sent to Carlisle in 1762 as
escort to a large body of Indians and their white captives, had
from the very outset trouble in keeping the captives from run-
ning away and returning to their Indian homes. These captives
were from the Ohio region and therefore were presumably French.
And again two years later, when Col. Bouquet came to Carlisle
bringing home the white captives of the Tuscaroras, they "had
to be bound to keep them from returning to their Indian homes
in the villages of the Red Men."


Metis Loyalty

metis chief named Ducoigii, ' ' a cunning half-blood of
considerable talents" (Reynolds, op. cit.), who was
noted for his allegiance to the American government,
and whose boast it was that neither he nor his nation
had ever shed a drop of white blood. His well-proved
friendship for the United States gained him the
hatred of all the other chiefs, "and ought to be an
inducement with us to provide for his happiness as
well as his safety," wrote General Harrison, who had
many dealings with him, to the Secretary of War.
Ducoign signed the treaty of Vincennes ; his name is
preserved in the town of Ducoign, Perry Co., 111.^

It was before Clark's expedition to the Iflinois
country that the three hundred metis who were the
only male inhabitants of Mailletstown, learning from
their founder, Paulette Maillet, of the defeat and cap-
ture by the British of "Mr. Tom" Brady of Kaskas-
kia, at La Salle's old fort St. Joseph on Lake Michi-
gan, uprose as one man, marched swiftly and secretly
across the prairie, captured the fort, though defended
by British regulars and cannon, took all the stores,
and brought them with the wounded of Brady 's party
to Cahokia; thus showing, two years before Father
Gibault and Francis Vigo, an instinctive conviction
of the righteousness of the American cause.

Sadly was their loyalty rewarded! At that
time Mailletstown, a metis village on the present site

3 Senator Clapp is my authority for saying that towns with French
names are "nearly all named after Indians", that is, after
French mixed-bloods.


Our Debt to the Eed Man

of Peoria, 111., was the home of '*a quiet, peaceable
people, with no schools and few who could read and
write, but in manners, conversation and refinement
comparing well with educated folk," (N. Matson,
''French and Indians of the Illinois River"). ''Only
the merchants and priests could read, a gay, happy,
sociable people, living in harmony with the Indians,
having no laws and paying taxes to no power."
Thirty-four years later, in 1812, it was still a village
of French mixed-bloods, gay, social and ignorant, liv-
ing at peace with all the world, far from any Ameri-
can settlement, and not so much as knowing that there
was war between the United States and Great Britain.
Suddenly, one Sunday morning, as they were all in
church, they were attacked by an armed force of Illi-
nois militia with cannon; their town — church, mill
and every house — set on fire, their goods plundered,
the women insulted, the men all taken prisoners and
marched away, leaving women and children helpless
and destitute. It had been done at the order of Gov-
ernor Ninian Edwards, who, deceived by false reports,
and perhaps with the recent event at Fort Dearborn
in mind, assuming that these peaceable people, being
both French and Indian, must be traitors to the
United States, had thus set an example to the invaders
of Belgium. One man alone escaped, Antoine La Bell.
He carried the news to neighboring Indians, who has-
tened to the rescue of the naked and starving women
and children, and carried them in bark canoes to Ca-
hokia. With what must have seemed to him bitter


Metis Loyalty

irony Captain Maillet had before this been rewarded
by Congress for loyalty.

La Bell took refuge in Prairie du Chien and later
joined the Sionx. In 1882 his descendant, Charles
La Bell, was sent to Washington to represent his peo-
ple in a suit for the recovery of their land — then
largely covered by the city of Peoria. Naturally his
mission failed, and it was not until after long litiga-
tion that eighteen claimants, representing the wid-
owed and orphaned survivors of the massacre, re-
ceived from the subsequent occupants of the land a
considerable sum as damages. At the present day the
La Bells are prosperous and influential among the
metis Sioux of South Dakota.

In Custer's party in the tragic event on the Little
Big Horn were a number of Crow Indians, — Crows,
whom Catlin has described as ''one of the most loyal,
honest and highminded races on earth," and who in
this conflict gave full proof of these qualities. It was,
however, a French-Sioux, Mich Bouya, who on this
occasion gave the supreme illustration of loyalty to
this country. He had been captured in childhood by
the Crows and brought up among them, marrying the
daughter of a Frenchman who had become a member
of the Crow tribe. Mich Bouya was leader of the
Indians in the action on the Little Big Horn, and had
the gallant Custer heeded his warning the awful mas-
sacre of that day might not have occurred. Bouya
had ascertained that there Avere more Sioux and


Our Debt to the Red Man

Cheyennes in the valley than Custer supposed. He
went with his head men to the Council and warned
the officers that it would be death to open the attack
before Gen. Reno could be brought up. The answer
was that if the Crows were afraid they might stay in
camp. ''The Crows are not afraid to die," was Bou-
ya's answer, and perfectly clear-sighted as to the re-
sult he led his braves to the attack. The Sioux, know-
ing Bouya to be of their own tribe, made every effort
to take him alive. He died by torture at their hands,
and his grave is near the top of the hill where Custer

The name of the town of Keokuk, Iowa, preserves
the memory of a metis chief who was also a friend of
the whites, not only at personal risk but at the peril
of his ambitions, for Keokuk, "Watchful Fox," the
son of a Fox father and a metisse mother"^ was not
born of a ruling family. Through his unrivalled ora-
tory and ability in negotiation he rose to be head
chief of the Sa^ik and Fox nation. Always a loyal
friend of the Americans he played into their hands
during the Black Hawk War. His greatest oratorical
achievement was a debate with representatives of the
Sionx and other tribes, in which he established the
claim of the Sauks and Foxes to the territory of ' ' The
Beautiful Land, ' ' which we know by its Indian name,

* His daughter, from whom these facts were indirectly obtained, is
still living, the wife of a white man, and his grand daughter,
reckoned as an Indian, was recently graduated from Carlisle.

^ So H. A. I. "The Ohio Archeological and Historical Quarterly",
1900-1901, says that his father was half French and his mother
a full blood Sauk.


Metis Loyalty

Iowa. He later peacefully led his tribe from Iowa to
Kansas Territory and there died in 1848. In 1883 his
remains were brought to Keokuk and buried in the
public park, a fine monument being erected over them
by citizens of the town. Catlin, who has much to say
about him, painted his portrait. McKinney and Hail
("Indian Tribes" 2; 20) speak of him as "in all
respects a magnificent savage .... an able
negotiator .... dignified and graceful." A
bronze bust of Keokuk stands in the Capitol at Wash-
ington, sharing with Sequoyah, the father of Cherokee
literacy, the only honor thus paid to an original

His son, Chief Moses Keokuk, also a metis, con-
tinued the tradition of friendship with the United
States. He had, says Mr. Charles Dagenett who knew
him as an old man, much of his father's ability, was
perhaps even his intellectual superior, and of higher
ethics. Moses Keokuk died at the Sauk and Fox
agency in Oklahoma in 1903, his death being regarded
as a tribal calamity. The Report of the Indian Com-
missioner to the Secretary of War in 1902 speaks of
him as "a remarkable Indian," "84 years old, in-
telligent, progressive, of the very highest character,
who with his father have been chief counsellors of the
Sac and Fox Indians for 75 years." Moses Keokuk
"has done every thing to induce his people to use to
good purpose the money they receive for the sale of
lands, has taught them to improve their farm houses,
stock .... every council meeting is as it were a school


Ouii Deut to the Red Man

of instruction." Moses Keokuk became very religious
in liis later years, was l)ai)tize(l in tlie Baptist Clmrcli,
though always a close friend of the Roman Catholic
missionary. He ''never ceased to love the old-time life
and its associations", says Mr. Dagoiett.

Though Keokuk's state, Towa, stands alone among
states of the Mississi])pi basin in having no French
names in its early animls, yet it still delights to honor
tin; memory of its greatest benefactor, Keokuk's
friend, the French Potawatomie Antoine Le Claire.
Fort Armstrong, built in ISUJ on Rock Island, was the
only American settlement in the state when in 1818
Antoine Le Claire, then a youth of twenty, later ''the
first citizen of Daven])ort," came as Government in-
terpreter. He was the son of a Canadian French
trader of Micliilimackinac who had married the grand-
daughter of a Potawatomie chief. The elder Le
Claire had traded at Fort Dearborn, where in 1812
he espoused the American cause, though surrounded
by hostile tribes. TTappening to be in ]\Jailletstown
on business when Governor Edwards ordered the
destruction of that village, he was taken prisoner with
the other men. While he was still in prison, his son
Antoine, whose linguistic abilities were already, at
the age of fourteen, remarkable — he speaking French
and some fourteen Indian languages — was taken into
the governnient sci'vice and sent to school to learn
English. From 1816 to 1842 he was government in-
terpreter, serving at many treaties by which vast ter-
ritories were conveyed by the Indians to the whites.


Metis Loyalty

The most important of these was the Black Hawk pur-
chase of 1832, when, at the price of $20,000 annually
paid for thirty years, the extinguishment of the debts
of the tribe, and the support of a gunsmith and a
blackmith among them, the United States acquired
from the Sauks and Foxes 6,000,000 acres west of the
Mississippi. During this negotiation Le Claire's warm
friend Keokuk, the metis chief of the Sauks and
Foxes, had stipulated that out of the tract a square

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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 6 of 14)