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Owen, then agent at Shawnee Town, I. T., wrote that
they in particular were intelligent and progressive,
using all means in their control to acquire the ad-
vantage of accumulated wealth. In general those
means, like those of their ancestors, were those of


Our Debt to the Red Man

trade. The late Rev. J. A. Gilfillan, for many years
a missionary among the jib ways, wrote to the
author, shortly before his death in 1914, ''there are,
I believe, hundreds of French mixed-blood traders or
storekeepers among the Indians. This is the occupa-
tion they most naturally take to, rather than farming
or artisanship. It is perfectly natural for them to
engage in trade among the Indians; speaking their
language gives them an advantage over others."

Among the Sisseton Sioux of Dakota are at the
present day well-to-do traders bearing the names La
Framboise, La Bell and La Croix. The French an-
cestor of La Croix was a large trader who employed
many Indians, was much loved by them, and married
a Sioux girl. The ancestor of La Bell was the only
survivor of the destruction of Maillettestown, ' who,
as we have seen, escaped from the ill-fated village to
the Sioux, where his son became a trader, married
an Indian girl and had a large family. The sons took
homesteads in Babylon, twenty miles from Sisseton.
Louis La Bell is one of the largest farmers, white or
Indian, in all the region. All these families have in-
termarried among one another, and all are progressive
and extremely well to do. Indeed, ''the majority of
these metis Sioux," writes their priest, the Rev.
Odoric Derenthal, "are doing well in business and

Supra, p. 82.


French Indians and Exploration

AT the foundation of exploration lies trade,
which in fact, by supplying the means for its
support, alone in the first instance made ex-
ploration possible.

How much the exploration of the region imme-
diately beyond the boundaries of the Thirteen Colo-
nies owes to metis traders ! Not quite so deeply, per-
haps, is the successful occupation of the Far "West
indebted to them; still their part in it was large, if
subordinate. Not an insignificant number of the trad-
ing posts of which in 1805 Alexander Henry sent
returns to the American Fur Company was in exist-
ence when the Frenchman Verendrye explored the
Far West in the early eighteenth century, and nearly
every post named in Henry's report of nearly a cen-
tury later was in charge of a French mixed-blood. In
Henry's roster of a single brigade of French voy-
ageurs and ''their wives and papooses" are many
names familiar to the student of exploration : Char-
bonneaus and Renvilles, Roys and Leclaires, whose
memory after more than a century is honored in the

Though the region beyond the Rockies was not
quite such a terra incognita as Captains Lewis and
Clark supposed when in 1804, not far west of the

Our Debt to the Red Man

Little Missouri, they wrote, ''No white man has ever
been here except two Frenchmen, one of whom, Le-
page, is with us," yet it is certain that the French
Canadians who after the English Conquest of Canada
went to the Pacific Coast and established trading posts
in Oregon, as well as in Vancouver, went thither by a
far easier route than any within the present boun-
daries of the United States. That taken by Lewis and
Clark was entirely untrodden except by metis.

But for their ''half-breed" guides, interpreters
and watermen, men like Drewyer, "offspring of a
Canadian Frenchman and an Indian woman," "past
master in woodcraft, uniting in a wonderful degree the
dexterous aim of the frontier huntsman with the in-
tuitive sagacity of the Indian, in pursuing the
faintest tracks through the forest;" Crusatee, "prin-
cipal waterman," whose "fiddle resounded night
after night in the desolate camp, while the men
danced off their pains and fears ;"^ "Labiche, one of
the best trackers," the interpreters, Jessaume and
Toussaint Charbonneau, the French-Minnetaree, who,
wrote the explorers on his departure, "has been very
serviceable to us," and his wife (the intrepid 'Bird

^ Not so good a marksman as fiddler, perhaps, since he shot Captain
Lewis by accident. No harm came of it, however.

2 This Charbonnean has been characterized by some recent writers
as "a worthless fellow", and probably he does not shine forth
with the lustre which seems to have adorned his slave-wife, the
heroic Sacajawea; but he seems to have given good satisfaction
to Lewis and Clark. Later we find him an attache of the Rocky
Mountain Fur Company, and Major Andrew's interpreter with
the Arickara. Still later we hear of ''Toussaint Charbonneau,
a half-Indian boy" whose education was paid for by the Gov-
ernment — perhaps the "papoose" that accompanied Cbarbon-
neau and Sacajawea on the Lewis and Clark expedition.


French Indians and Exploration

Woman,' Sacajawea), particularly useful among
the Shoshones," all of whom in one capacity or an-
other had been in the service of traders, — but for all
these it is hard to imagine that they would ever have
won through.

Between 1810 and 1820 there were many metis
voyageurs in Spokane, servants of the American Fur
Company. Captain Bonneville, whose adventures
were immortalized by Irving, had a notable metis
guide and interpreter, Antoine Godin by name. So
agile and vigorous was he that he could hunt a buffalo
on foot and kill it with arrows. His name is per-
petuated in a river near Fort Hall, Oregon. Astor's
experiment at Astoria brought to the Pacific Coast
many more voyageurs, some of them English half-
breeds, but most of them French-Indians, the enter-
prise being deemed too difficult and dangerous for
any but Canadians. Their metisse wives were reputed
to be good housewives, very good-looking and clever,
speaking French and English.

Baptiste Dorion, son of a French trader whom
Lewis and Clark met on the Upper Missouri and a
Yankton woman, whose adventures with her children
after Dorion 's death would figure well in a romance
(''First Settlers on the Oregon," by Alexander Ross),
was with the Astor party as a child in 1810, and in
1834 was guide to John K. Townsend when he crossed
the Rocky Mountains. Townsend, with whom was
also "Goddin's son" (Antoine Godin), found, as
Lewis and Clark had also found, the ''spirits of the
[ 123 ]

Our Debt to the Eed Man

mercurial young half-breeds" an important factor in
the endurance of his party. On the farther side of
the range he came in contact with *'a great variety
of French Canadians calling themselves white, but
nearly as dark as the Indians," the metis fur traders
of the Northwest, the men who had reached the Pacific
long before American explorers had entered Oregon,
and who, wild and reckless as they might be, prepared
the way for advancing civilization.^ So late as 1858
it was Michel La Framboise, living on the Willamette,
who took the initiative in signing a petition to the
Government in Washington asking its protection, and
begging it to occupy the territory of Oregon.

Up to 1849, the only population other than In-
dian between the Upper Mississippi River and the
British possessions was the Pembina settlement in
Minnesota (supra, p. 118), a settlement perpetuating
a post established soon after Verendrye built Fort
Rouge in 1734. Captain Pope, who in 1849 was ex-
ploring this region for the Government, reported that
these French mixed-bloods had explored the whole
country and described it to him as exceptionally fer-
tile and rich. With the usual American contempt of
Indian intelligence Captain Pope discredited their
statement as extravagant, though admitting that these
Pembinas ''could be favorably compared in enter-
prise, industry, and law-abiding character with any
people on earth. By far the greater number speak

^ Wilkes, who crossed the Rocky Mountains previous to any American
• settlement, found in Oregon 700 or 800 French Canadians, mainly
metis, and about 250 in what is now Washington.


French Indians and Exploration

both languages equally well, ' ' he adds ; " in dress and
manners more French than Indian." Captain Pope
took some of them to guide and help him on a long
canoe excursion, and in his report he expatiates up-
on their '' strangely fascinating manners," adding
that they ''are absolutely unwavering in fidelity to
agreements with the United States."

Alas, that the same cannot be said of the fidelity
of the other party ! One blushes to read in the recent
argument of their attorney, the late Jean Baptiste
Bottineau, Esq. (Sen. Doc. 444), that the Pembina
Indians are in a very poor and helpless condition be-
cause of depredations of white people on their prop-

The outstanding aid lent to American explora-
tion by French mixed-bloods was of course in the ca-
pacity of scouts and interpreters, though their part in
augmenting the food supply is not to be overlooked.
We have read Captain Lewis's tribute to his hunter
Drewyer, and noticed the prowess of Antoine Godin
in the chase. Maximilien of Weid, to whose western
explorations in 1832-34 we owe much, had a number
of French mixed-blood hunters, among them Des-
champs, whose entire family was afterward mur-
dered at Fort Union.

When in 1853 President Pierce selected Gen.
Stevens to carry out his policy of exploration and set-
tlement of the great west from the Mississippi to the
Pacific, the major part of which was still unexplored,
the guides selected by Gen. Stevens were one Beland,


Our Debt to the Red Man

Henry and Paul Beaulieu, Le Frambois and Pierre
Bottineau, all of them metis, and all except the first
named of metis families long distinguished in west-
ern settlement. Of these Pierre Bottineau calls for
special mention. Guide, voyageur, counsellor, lifelong
advocate of the interests of his tribe, he had well
earned Stevens's description as a "most interesting
companion. . . the great guide and voyageur of Min-
nesota . . . famous as a buffalo hunter, ' ' who ' ' surpasses
all his class in truthfulness and great intelligence . . .
with the broadness of view of an engineer. . .greatly
esteemed, and known througli all the Territory ... a
natural gentleman. ' ' A few years earlier he had gone
with Captain Fisk as guide and Objibway interpreter
of a large party of emigrants from St. Paul to what is
now the State of Washington. An appropriation had
been made by Congress to protect home seekers from
the Indians, the Sioux and jib ways being then at
war. A member of the command wrote an interesting
journal of the expedition, still preserved in manu-
script. In Bottineau's home at St. Anthony's Falls,
where Stevens breakfasted with his family, he "saw
exhibited the most refined and courteous manners. ' '

This Bottineau was one of three brothers, Pierre,
Severe and Charles, all well known in the Northwest,
who were born on the Red River of the North of a
French father of Huguenot extraction whose ancestor
came to Boston with the Faneuils, to whom he is said
to have been distantly related, and who married Mar-
garet Sougab, of the Ahdik (Reindeer) clan of the
great jib way (Chippewa) tribe. The sons followed

French Indians and Exploration

the life of their father, that of voyageur, trapper and
hunter. In 1835 Pierre married Grenevieve La Ranee
— a full blood Ojibway, notwithstanding the decidedly
French sound of her name, — and settled in what later
became St. Paul, Minn. Through his marriage he be-
came related to the most noted Indians of the Ojib-
way tribe. The descendants traced from his mother,
Margaret Sougab, in 1910 constituted 60 per cent of
the Ojibway tribe.

Pierre Bottineau had been Gen. Sibley's inter-
preter at Fort Snelling in 1837, and was later his
guide in exploring the Missouri River and the Far
Northwest. He is described (''Hist, of St. Paul and
Ramsey County," J. Fletcher Williams, p. 107) as
' ' one of the most notable characters of the North-
west. " " Perhaps no man in the Northwest, ' ' contin-
ues the historian, ''has passed a life of more romantic
adventures, exciting occurrences, hairbreadth escapes,
and 'accidents by flood and field', than Mr. Bottineau.
He has travelled over every foot of the Northwest and
knows the country like a map. He speaks almost
every Indian language in this region. ' '

Early in the fifties Pierre Bottineau went with
Gov. Miller, as hunter and guide, from Minnesota to
Puget Sound, the two Beaulieus being of the party.
With Col. Noble Bottineau explored Eraser River in
1859, and Idaho with Captain Fisk in 1862. A coun-
ty in South Dakota is named for him. Like Antoine
Leclaire in Davenport and Charles Picotte in Yankton
in later years, he was extremely generous to his
adopted city, St. Paul. In 1846 he bought a new tract,

Our Debt to the Red Man

later called Bottineau's Addition, at St. Anthony's
Falls and gave it to tlie city.

''These Bottineau brothers were especially nota-
ble for their relations with the natives," says Morice
(op. cit.), ''and numerous metis descendants have done
much for their fathers' cause and for the evangelizing
of their mothers' people." Severe Bottineau was
hardly less prominent in St. Paul and the adjacent re-
gion than his brother Pierre. Pierre's son, Jean Bap-
tiste, later counsellor of the Pembinas, (sup. p. 125 and
inf. p. 170) and his granddaughter, Mrs. Marie Louise
Bottineau Baldwin, (inf. p. 173), have worthily con-
tinued the family tradition. Pierre Bottineau died
at Eed Lake Falls, Minn., in 1895, at the age of 81.
With him passed the days of the voyageur, the" cou-
reur du bois, of which he was one of the most noted.
He was easily the most famous in the long trail from
the Falls of St. Anthony to old Fort Garry. A mighty
hunter, trapper and guide, he was the last of a long
line of hardy pioneers that France gave to America,
following in a later generation in the paths of Perrot,
Le Suer, Du Luht, Charlevoix and La Salle.

Antoine La Roux, a Chippewa metis, was a cele-
brated guide in the Southwest, as was his son Charles.
The family is now living on the White Earth Reserva-

Indirectly science, especially geographical science,
owes something to French mixed-bloods, aside from
the services which they have rendered to exploration.
They have also borne some part in map-making. The
metis Francois Beaubien, born in 1771, became Sir
[128] ..


French-Chippewa, Turtle Mountain Band

See p. 169

French Indians and Exploration

John Franklin's guide and drew him a map which
was of considerable service to him. Jean Baptiste
Adam, a metis, also served Franklin as interpreter.
M. Jean Baptiste Nicollet, "the scholarly and dis-
tinguished astronomer in the employ of the United
States," as Monette calls him, who in his report of
1843 presented to Government an invaluable chart of
the Upper Mississippi, had as his principal guide the
metis Frangois Brunet, "a man six feet three inches
high, a giant of great strength, but at the same time
full of the milk of human kindness and withal an
excellent geographer," says Monette; adding that it
was due to this guide that Nicollet was able ''with
such wonderful accuracy" to set down " in his chart
many lakes, rivers, creeks and islands which he did
not see."

The younger Joseph La Framboise* drew for
Catlin a map of the Pipestone quarry in South Dakota
and guided him thither. It was probably Joseph's
son, whose mother was a full blood Indian, who inter-
preted for Audubon when he was in that region.

Schoolcraft owed much of his understanding of
the Indians to the French Chippewas of his first wife 's
tribe. In 1820 he received the hospitality of the aged
Michel Cadotte,^ then living in comfortable retire-
ment on his farm on Chequamagon Bay. Catlin was
more than once under obligation to metis, notably to
the son of a French clerk of the American Fur Com-
pany, Pierre Le Blanc and a Sisseton woman, who

Supra, p. 110,
Siipra, p. 73.


Our Debt to the Red Man

protected Catlin from the rudeness of the Indians
on that Reservation. This young man was probably
the Sisseton scout Pierre Le Blanc, who served the
United States during the Civil War.

Louis Cadotte, a descendant of Jean Baptiste
Cadotte, was a carpenter at Sault Ste. Marie when
Catlin made him the head of a company of Sauteurs
that he took to London with him.

Audubon depended largely upo^i metis in his
travels and investigations. Amid the general chorus
of approval of this useful class of men his is almost
the only voice to express a lack of confidence. "I
fear that all my former opinions of the half-breeds
are likely to be realized, and that they are more an fait
at telling lies than anything else," he writes, remark-
ing also elsewhere that they are so uncertain he can't
tell whether they will move a step or not. Yet even
Audubon dwells with affectionate gratitude upon
''our good hunter Michaud," and gives due credit to
Joseph Basile, "an excellent marksman and very
brave in action," as well as to Francois Detaille,
who offered to accompany him through the Bad
Lands, where he would find for him various quad-
rupeds; and also to "one Primaux," who had pre-
viously interpreted for Maximilian of Wied, and who
appears to have been the metis son of the well-known
fur trader after whom Fort Primaux, S. D., was

"How much Audubon owed to people of French
descent for his work ! ' ' saj^s one writer. In Natchez,
Nicolas Berthoud, who owned a keel boat and took


French Indians and Exploration

Audubon in it to New Orleans; M. Garnier, hotel
keeper; Charles Carre, son of a nobleman of the old
regime. All these were perhaps of pure French ex-
traction, though there was not a little intermarriage
between the Choctaws and the French of Natchez, and
indeed of Mobile, Biloxi and New Orleans.



French Indians in the Settlement of
the West

THE subject has been indicated but not ex-
hausted in previous chapters. Such names as
Grignon, Le Claire, La Framboise, Beaubien,
Rolette, not to refer to many less conspicuous, per-
haps, but hardly less important in the opening and
development of the vast region which at the dawn
of our national history was hardly even a name, illu-
minate the story of French mixed-bloods and should
always be remembered as a part of our own. But
to the already long list other names must be added.

Senator Clapp tells of the metis Bouche, a
character in the early days of Wisconsin, who had
much to do with getting settlers there and "making
things pleasant for them. ' ' Such a part, in the forma-
tive days of any region, is by no means an insignifi-
cant one.

It was in 1837 that the region west of the Missis-
sippi, which in 1848 was organized as Minnesota Ter-
ritory, was thrown open to settlement by a treaty with
the Indians, Gov. Henry Dodge of Wisconsin nego-
tiating the treaty, Alexis Bailly, J. A. La Framboise
and A. Roque, all of them French mixed-bloods, be-
ing interpreters, and the Hon. Joel R. Poinsett,
Special Commissioner ; other Americans being present.

[ 132 ]

French Indians in the Settlement of the West

As we shall see, Bailly became a member of the Min-
nesota Legislature, taking office in 1849.

Whether Alexis Bailly was related to Joseph
Bailly of Chicago, (supra, p. 105), is not definitely es-
tablished ; he was certainly connected with the promi-
nent metis family of Indiana, whose ancestor, Joseph
Aubert de Gaspe Bailly de Messein of Mackinac
Island, was a nephew of Bishop Bailly de Messein.
The nephew, Joseph Bailly of Baillytown, Indiana,
was a Frenchman of great energy and ability who set-
tled in the wilderness of sand dunes of Northern
Indiana, having come thither from Michilimackinac by
way of Pare aux Vaches, Michigan Territory, in 1820,
when this region was still a part of Indian Territory.
His wife, Marie Le Fevre, was a metisse widow of the
Ottawa tribe. This metis family was prominent in
the early history of Indiana; it became enormously
wealthy and furnished much romance. One of the
daughters, Rose Victoire, in 1841 married Francis
Howe of Puritan descent, whose father, General Heze-
kiah Howe, served in the War of 1812. Frances R.
Howe, a daughter of "the beautiful Rose Bailly
Howe, ' ' wrote a book which throws an interesting light
on the early history of Indiana — ''An Old French
Homestead in the Northwest," in which her metisse
grandmother, Marie Le Fevre, figures prominently.

Among those present at the treaty of 1837 was
Jean Baptiste Faribault, whose father, born in Paris,
had come to Canada in 1754 as Secretary of the Mar-
quis Du Quesne's army (Tanguay). The son, Jean


Our Debt to the Red Man

Baptiste, had come to this region in 1820, bringing
Leavenworth's horses. He had been in the service
of the Northwest Company and had married a Sioux
metisse, Pelagic Kinney.' She became the mother
of Alexander Faribault, founder and principal land
owner of the city of that name, and builder of the
first Roman Catholic chapel in Minnesota. For more
than sixty years Jean Baptiste Faribault, whose in-
fluence over the Indians was very great, had a large
part in the settlement and civilization of the North-
west. His mixed-blood sons and grandsons, especially
David and George, continued that influence.

With Louis Provencalle, Faribault was identified
with every movement of trade in the Territory. Pro-
vencalle, who was a metis and a man of great good
sense, knew many Indian dialects, and invented a sys-
tem of picture writing for his accounts with the In-
dians with whom he traded.

Among otlier metis settlers of early Minnesota
was Oliver Rousseau, who lived in St. Paul when the
Territory was organized; the son probably, of one
of ' ' two fur traders by name of Rousseau, ' ' who lived
there in 1823. The name is found with many variants
in Canada.

Joseph Ronde, a French trader, who married the
Kootenais metisse Josephine Beaulieu, or Boileau, a
name widely known among French mixed-bloods,
early settled in the Territory. The sister or niece
"of Josephine Boileau, Elizabeth Beaulieu or Boileau,

^ "La dite P^lagie Kinney est la fille de Francois Kinney par une
femme de notre nation", runs a treaty.


French Indians in the Settlement of the West

married a Danish gentleman, Dr. Charles W. Borup,
who came to Minnesota as general manager of the
American Fur Company. Of their several children,
one daughter married an officer in the United States
Army, another, an officer in the Navy. Two sons
were long prominent in railroad business, a third.
Col. Dana Borup, IT. S. A., retired, was for a time
in charge of the harbor of New York. With Mr.
Charles H. Oakes of Vermont, who married another
Boileau sister. Dr. Borup in 1853 established in St.
Paul the first banking house in Minnesota, which
weathered all the financial storms that swept over
the Territory in its early history.

Among many French mixed-bloods who ren-
dered valuable service in the early settlement of the
Dakota Territory stands pre-eminent the French-
Sioux, Charles F. Picotte, son of Honore Picotte and
a Dakota (Sioux) girl. Honore Picotte, his brother
Joseph and nephew Henry, were French traders with
the Columbia Company on the upper Mississippi in
1820, Honore becoming the leading partner in the
great company. He was one of the party of govern-
ment road-makers that aided greatly in the develop-
ment of Dakota. Very venturesome, and trusted by
the generally hostile Sioux, he could go where he
would among them without a military escort. His
metis son Charles, born at Fort Tecumseh about 1823,
was educated in St. Louis, but went back and married
first a woman of his mother's band, and after her
death a Yankton Sioux, living with her tribe. Charles
F. Picotte was greatly useful to General Harney in

Our Debt to the Red Man

1855-56, and was made third Chief of the Yanktons.
He was with Captain Todd in the winter of 1857-8,
and it was he who induced fifteen Yankton head men
to accompany him to "Washington, where in April,

1858, a treaty was effected by which the Yankton
Sioux relinquished all the Dakota territory except the
Yankton Reservation, to which the tribe removed in

1859. It is interesting to note, as an illustration of
the degree of education attained by these remote In-
dians at that relatively early time, that twelve of
these fifteen signed their names to this treaty, Picotte
signing for the other three.

Picotte 's influence over the Indians was great,
and in all their treaties he carefully safeguarded their

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