George Copway.

Life, letters and speeches of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh, or, G. Copway, chief Ojibway nation .. online

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must be elevated.

Our prospects as a nation, are becoming brighter
through missionary efforts. There are many in Wiscon-
sin, and at Lake du Flambeau, w^hp have requested that
missionaries be sent along the south shore of Lake Su-
perior, The same may be said of those residing about
Winepeg and Red Lakes. Much of the western part
of Red Lake, is full of " the habitations of cruelty ;"
for the Chippewas and Sioux are habitually destroying
each other.

I will here give extracts from the Report of the Com-
missioners, in 1842, to the Provincial Parliament, rela-


tive to the Mission Stations ; also subjoin the names of
the villages with their condition, and the chiefs of each
village, as far as I could ascertain them, which will
show their progress, and their present state ; and also
those who have abandoned the wigwam and the chase,
and resort to farming for a living.

1. Chippewas on the River Thames.

The Chippewas and Munsees occupy a tract of land contain-
ing about 9000 acres, in the Township of Caradoc, within the
London District, a distance of about twenty-five miles from the
Moravian village. It is only within ten years that the Chippe-
was have been reclaimed from a wandering life, and settled in
their present location. The Munsees have been settled since
the year 1800, on land belonging to the Chippewas, with the
consent of that tribe. The present number of Chippewas is 378,
and of Munsees 242.

The Chippewas and Munsees are not collected in a village,
but live on small farms scattered over their tract. Some of the
Chippewas are settled on surveyed lots of twenty acres each.
This tribe occupies 76 log houses, and six wigwams ; they pos-
sess 25 bams. They have 450 acres under cultivation. Their
stock consists of 30 oxen, 27 cows, 44 heifers, 82 horses and
colts, and 400 swine Their agricultural implements include 9
ploughs, 9 harrows, 23 scythes and sickles, 19 ox chains, a
fanning mill, 4 wagons and carts, 7 spades, &c. ; they have a
blacksmith's forge, and two and a half setts of carpenter's tools

John Riley, Chief.

2. The CmppEWAs at Amherstburg.

They all profess ChrLstianity, and several of them are exam-
ples of true piety. The majority are Wesleyan Methodists, and
the others Roman Catholics. They have no place of worship
of their own. They can command the means. The Method-
ist minister, however, who is stationed in the town of Amherst-
burg, visits those of his persuasion every Sunday, and with the



aid of an Interpreter, preaches, reads, and expounds the Scrip-
tures to them. They also have a general Prayer Meeting among
themselves, once a fortnight, and they meet occasionally more
privately for social prayer; some of them maintain family wor-
ship. The Roman Catholics attend chapel at Amherstburg,
which is about three miles from their settlement.

There is at present no school among them, but they have
expressed their desire to establish one, and would gladly avail
theiTiselves of instruction for their children. When there was
one, the attendance of the scholars was very irregular, but their
ability in acquiring knowledge was in no way inferior to that
of the white children.

3. Chippewas of the St. Clair.

These Indians are among the first whom Sir John Colborne
endeavored to settle and civilize. Previously to 1830, they
were wandering heathen like their brethren elsewhere, scat-
tered over the western part of the Upper Province; they were
drunken and dissipated in their habits, and without either reli-
gious or moral restraint. In 1830 and 31, a number of them
were collected on a reserve in the Township of Sarnia, near
the head of the River St. Clair, and containing 10,280 acres.
A number of houses were built for them, and an officer was
appointed for their superintendence. Their conversion to Chris-
tianity and their progress in religious knowledge, and in the
acquisition of sober, orderly, and industrious habits, have been,
under the care of missionaries of the Wesleyan Methodist So-
ciety, both rapid and uniform. From the formation of the mis-
sion 221 adults and 239 children have been baptized and
admitted into the INIethodist community. The total number up
to the year 1839-40 does not appear to have exceeded 350.
Since then their number has increased greatly by immigration,
chiefly from the Saginaw Bay, in the State of Michigan, and
by the settlement of wandering Indians; and in 1842, as many
as 741 received presents.

The Indians of the River aux Sables have about sixty acres
under improvement, and one log house. Those at Kettle Point
have twenty acres of improved land and twc log houses. The


and on the Upper Reserve was regularly surveyed and laid
out mto farms. The chief, with the approval of the Superinten-
dent, placed most of the present occupants on these lands, but
It is not indispensable that he should be consuUed, as the mem-
bers of the tribe may choose any unoccupied spot ; when once
in possession they are secure from intrusion, but repeated ill
conduct or drunkenness would subject them to be expelled from
the reserve of the chief.



4. Chippewas at Walpole Island.


These Indians are also known under the name of Chippewas
of Chenaille Ecarte. The Chippewas who have long hunted
over the waste lands about the Chenaille Ecarte and Bear Creek,
are a branch of the same nation which is settled in Sarnia, and
share in the same annuity.

The Pottawatamies are recent immigrants from the United

The settlement at Walpole Island was commenced at the
close of the American war, when Col. M'Kie, called by the
Indians ^' White Elk," collected and placed upon the island
which lies at the junction of the River and Lake St. Clair, the
scattered remains of some tribes of Chippewas who had been
engaged on the British side. Being left for many years with-
out any interference or assistance on the part of the Govern-
nent, they became a prey to the profligate whites settled on the
frontier, who, by various frauds and in moments of intoxica-
tion, obtained leases and took possession of the most fertile and
valuable part of the island.

5. Chippewas of the River Credit.

These Indians are the remnant of a tribe which formerly
possessed a considerable portion of the Home and Gore Dis-
tricts, of which in 1818, they surrendered the greater part, for
an annuity of ^532.10, reserving only certain small tracts a1
the River Credit, and at Sixteen and Twelve Mile Creeks.


They were the first tribe converted to Christianity in Upper

Previous to the year 1823, they were wandering pagans. Tn
that year, Messrs. Peter and John Jones, the sons of a white sur-
veyor and a Alississaga woman, having been converted to Chris-
tianity, and admitted members of the Wesleyan Methodist
Church, became anxious to redeem their countrymen from
their degraded state of heathenism and destitution. They,
accordingly, collected a considerable number together, and by
rote and frequent repetitions, taught the first principles of
Christianity to the adults, who were too far advanced in years
to learn to read and write. In this manner the Lord's Prayer,
the Creed, and the Commandments, were committed to me-
mo^}^ As soon as the tribes were converted, they perceived
the evils attendant on their former state of ignorance and va-
grancy. They began to work, which they never had done before;
they recognized the advantage of cultivating the soil ; they totally
gave up drinking, to which they had been greatly addicted, and
became sober, industrious, and consistent Christians..

J. Jones, War Chief

6. The Chippewas of Alnwick.

These Indians were converted to Christianity in the years
1826 - 7. They were then pagans, wandering in the neighbor-
hood of Bellville, Kingston, and Gananoque, and were known
under the name of the Mississagas of the Bay of Quinte ; in
those years, between 200 and 300 were received into the Wes-
leyan Methodist Church, and settled on Grape Island, in the
Bay of Quinte, six miles from Bellville, where they commenced
planting, and where schools were established by the missionary
for their instruction. On this island they resided eleven years,
subsisting by agriculture and hunting. Their houses were
erected partly by their own labor, and partly at the expense
of the Methodist Missionary Society. The number, at length,
amounted to twenfy-three ; besides which, they had a commo-
dious building for religious service and school, another room


for an infant school, a hospital, smithery, a shoemaker's shop,
and a building for joiners' and cabinet work.


G. CoMEGO, Ch. & M. Inter.


7. Chippewab at Rice Lake.

These Indians belong to the same tribe, the Mississagas, or
Chippewas of Rice Lake, who, in 1818, surrendered the greater
part of the tract now forming the Newcastle District, for an
annuity of ^6740. They have all been reclaimed from their
primitive\randering life, and settled in their present locations
within the last ten or twelve years.

The Rice Lake settlement is on the northem side of the lake,
and at about twelve miles from Peterborough. The number of
Indians is 114. They possess about 1550 acres of land, which
are subdivided into 50 acre lots; of this, 1120 acres were granted
in April, 1834, to trustees, ^4n trust, to hold the same for the
benefit of the Indian tribes in the Province, and with a view to
their conversion and civilization ;" and the remaining 430 have
been since purchased with their own funds. They have rather
more land cleared than the Indians of Alnwick, about 400
acres ; but the cultivation is not so good. The village contains
thirty houses, three bams, a school-house, and a chapel with a
bell. The head chief of the tribe resides here. For some time
these Indians were under the charge of an officer appointed by
the Indian Department, who assisted in their settlement; but at
present they have no special Superintendent.


CoPWAY, > Chiefs.
Crow, 3

Chippewas at Mud Lake.

The Mud Lake Indians are settled on a point of land on the
Mud or Chemong Lake, sixteen miles north-west of Peterbo-
rough. They are ninety-four in number, and possess twenty
dwelling houses, with three stables. They occupy a grant of



1600 acres in the township of Smith, made to the New Eng-
land Company for their benefit, in April, 1837, of which about
200 acres are in cuUivation. These Indians were for some
time under the management of the late Mr. Scott, agent for the
the New England Company, and belong to the Wesleyan Me-
thodist Church. A chapel is in the course of erection at the
village, where there is already a mission house and a school


Iron, > Chiefs.

McKuE, S

9. Chippewas at Balsam Lake.

The Balsam Lake Indians, ninety in number, are at present
settled within the Township of Bexley, on a point of land jut-
ting out into Lake Balsam, which is the most northerly of the
chain of lakes, running northwest across the back Townships
of the district of New Castle. The reserve which was granted
to them by the Crown, is 1206 acres in extent. Of this they
have about 200 acres in cultivation. Their village contains
twelve houses, a barn, and a commodious school-house, in
which divine service is .performed by a resident Methodist mis-
sionary. But within the present year, (1843,) these Indians
having become dissatified with the climate and the quality of
the land at the Balsam Lake, have purchased six hundred acres
on the banks of Lake Scugog, to be paid out of their share of
heir annuity, and are making preparations for removing from
their former settlement. Their improvements will be sold for
their benefit. Their reason for removing evinces their desire
to advance in the pursuit of agriculture.

Crane, Chief.

10. Chippewas of Rama,

These Indians formerly occupied the lands about Lake Sim-
coe, Holland River, and the unsettled country in the rear of the
Home District. General Darling reported of them in 1828, that
they had expressed a strong desire to be admitted to Christian-
ity, and to adopt the habits of civilized life ; and that in these
respects they might be classed with the Mississagas of the Bay


of Quinte and Rice Lake, but were then in a more savage state.
In 1830, Lieutenant-Governor Sir J. Colborne, collected them
on a tract of land on the northwest shore of Lake Simcoe. of
9800 acres in extent, where they cleared a road between that
lake and Lake Huron. They consisted of three tribes of Chip-
pewas, under chiefs Yellowhead, Aisance, and Snake, and a
band of Pottawataniies from Drummond Island ; their number
was about 500, imder the care of Mr. Anderson, now the Super-
intendent at Manitoulin, who was appointed to take charge of
their settlement and civilization; they m.ade a rapid progress*
The tribe under -^he chief Yellowhead, now settled at Rama,
were located at the Narrows on Lake Simcoe; Aisance's tribe,
at present residing at Beausoleil, Matchadash Bay, was settled
at Coldwater at the other extremity of the reserve, the distance
between them being fourteen miles.

Yellowhead, ^

Na-nah-ge-skung, > Chiefs.
Big Shillinge, _)

11. Chippewas of Beausoliel Island, Matchadash Bay, Lake

This band, under the chief '^ Aisance," is the same which
was settled by Sir John Colbome, at Coldwater. Their present
village, which is not very distant from the former settlement,
was only commenced last year. It contains fourteen houses,
and a bam; the number of the band is 232. They have about
100 acres under cultivation.

The majority of these Indians are Roman Catholics. They
have not as yet any place of worship, or schooL In the former
settlement they were occasionally vished by the Roman Catho-
lic priest, resident at Penetanguishene.
James Ka-dah-ge-quon,

y Chiefs.
h J

12. Chippewas of Snake Island, Lake Simcoe.

This body of Indians was one of the three bands established
at Cold water and the Narrows, and separated from them on the
abandonment of those settlements. They now occupy one of


the three Islands on Lake Slmcoe, which was set apart for thifl
tribe many years ago. They are 109 in number, and occupy
twelve dwelling houses. They have also two bams and a school
house, in which their children aie instructed by a respectable
teacher, and Divine Service is performed by a resident Mission-
ary of the Methodist persuasion, to which these Indians belong.
They have about 150 acres in cultivation, and are improving in
habits of industry and agricultural skill. Their missionary,
who has been acquainted with them since July, 1839, states that
the majority of them are strictly moral in their character, that
most of the adults are decidedly pious, and that many of them
for consistency of character, would not suffer by a comparison
with white Christians of any denomination.

J. Snake, Chief.

13. Chippewas of Saugeen, (Lake Huron.)
It was from these Indians, and their brethren, since settled
at Owen's sound, that Sir Francis Head, in 1836, obtained a
surrender of the vast tract of land lying north of the London
and Gore Districts, and between the Home District and Lake
Huron, containing 1,600,000 acres. He reserved, at the same
time, for the Indians, the extensive peninsula, lying between
Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, north of Owen's Sound, and
supposed to contain about 450.000 acres.

J. Metegoub, J
Alexander, > Chiefi
Ah-yah-bance, }

14. Chippewas of Big Bay, in Owen's Sound, Lake Huron.

These Indians were formerly either wanderers in the Sau-
geen tract, surrendered to Sir F. Head, or Vved in scattered
wigwams, on the shores of Big Bay. According to the agree-
ment then made with them, it was proposed that they should
either repair to Manitoulin or to that part of their former terri-
tory which lies north of Owen's sound; upon which it was
promised '• that houses should be built for them, and proper
assistance given, to enable them to become civilized, and to
cultivate land."

John Jones, ? ^, . o
Porn, l^''"^-


15. Chippewas and others, in the Township of Bedford.

Within a few years past, some stragglers from the Rice Lake
tribe have settled in the township of Bedford, about twenty-five
miles north of the town of Kingston ; and recently, they have
been joined by a band of eighty-one Indians from Lower Canada^
belonging to the post of the Lake of Two Mountains. As the
settlement is of recent formation, and the claim of these Indians
upon the attention of the Department of Upper Canada has
only been brought forward last year, they have not yet been
visited by any officer of the Department, and no account can
be given of the settlement. By Instructions issued in 1843, they
were transferred from the Roll of Lower Canada to that of the
Upper Province, and, accordingly, received their presents for
the first time in that Province.

My beloved Reader — I am now about closing my
narrative, and in doing this there are but a few things
to say. Throughout the work, I have confined my re-
marks chiefly to my own nation. But it must not be
supposed, on this account, that I am forgetful of my
brethren of the other Indian nations. The prayers and
benevolent efforts of all Christendom should be directed
towards all men every where. The gospel should be
preached to every creature ; and the field is the wide


The Menomenees in Wisconsin, the Winebagoes
and Potawatamie.s in Iowa, the warlike nations of the
Sacs and Foxes, the Osages, Pawnees, Mandans, Kan-
sas, Creeks, Omahas, Otoes, Delawares, lowas, and a
number of others elsewhere, must perish as did their
brethren in the Eastern States, unless the white man
send them the Gospel, and the blessings of education.
There is field enough for all denominations to labor in,
without interfering with each other. It is too late in


the day to assert that the Indians cannot be raised up
out of their degraded state, and educated for God and
heaven. None need be discouraged since the Ojebwas
in Western Canada have been converted. No lan-
guage is adequate to portray the misery, wretchedness,
and degradation in which we were, when the word of
God was first brought and preached to us.

It is not necessary to detail each and every wrong,
that my poor people have suffered at the hands of the
white man. Enough has already been said in various
parts of the work, to prove that they have been most
grossly abused, peeled, and wronged. Nor shall I
notice the personal wrongs that I myself have received ;
and from those, too, of w^hom I had good reason to hope
better things. I once thought, that there were some
things that I could never forgive ; but the rehgion of
Jesus, and the law of love, have taught me differently.
I do forgive them ; and may God forgive them and me

I have sometimes heard it said, that our forefathers
w^ere cruel to the forefathers of the whites. But was
not this done through ignorance, or in self defense ?
Had your fathers adopted the plan of the great philan-
thropist, William Penn, neither fields, nor clubs, nor
waters, would have been crimsoned with each other's
blood. The white men have been like the greedy
lion, pouncing upon and devouring its prey. The)
have driven us from our nation, our homes, and posses-
sions ; compelled us to seek a refuge in Missouri,
among strangers, and wild beasts ; and will, perhaps,
soon compel us to scale the Rocky Mountains ; and,


for aught I can tell, we may yet be driven to the
Pacific Ocean, there to find our graves. My only trust
is, that there is a just God. Was it to perpetrate such
acts that you have been exalted above all other nations ?
Providence intended you for a blessing and not a curse
to us. You have sent your missionaries to Burmah,
China, the Sandwich Islands, and to almost every part
of the world ; and shall the Indians perish at your own
door ?

Is it not well known that the Indians have a generous
and magnanimous heart ? I feel proud to mention in
this connection, the names of a Pocahontas, Massasoit,
Skenandoah, Logan, Kusic, Pushmataha, Philip, Te-
cumseh, Osceola, Petalesharro, and thousands of others.
Such names are an honor to the world! Let a late
Governor of Massachusetts* speak for our fathers, when
they first beheld the trembling white man : —

" Brothers ! when our fathers came over the great
waters, they were a small band. The red man stood
upon the rock by the seaside, and saw our fathers. He
might have pushed them into the water and drowned
them. But he stretched out his arms to our fathers and
said, ' Welcome, white men !' Our fathers w^ere
hungry, and the red man gave them corn and venison.
Our fathers were cold, and the red man wrapped them
up in his blanket. We are now numerous and power-
ful, but we remember the kindness of the red man to
our fathers."

And what have we received since, in reti m ? Is it

* Edward Everett, Esq.


for the deeds of a Pocahontas, a Massasoit, and a host
of others, that we have been plundered and oppressed,
and expelled from the hallowed graves of our ances-
tors ? If help cannot "be obtained from England and
America, where else can we look ? Will you then,
lend us a helping hand ; and make some amends for
past injuries ?

It is often said, that the Indians are revengeful ^ cruel
and ungovernable But go to them with nothing but
the Bible in your handsy and Love iii your hearts, and
you may live with them in perfect safety, share their
morsel with them, and, like the celebrated Bartram,
return to your homes unharmed. They very soon
learn to venerate the Bible ; as a proof of this, I will
give an instance, that came under my own eye: —
While at the Rabbit River Mission, a chief from the
west, visited me. After reading to him several chap-
ters from the Bible, he said, with much surprise, " Is
this the book, that I hear so much about in my country ?"
I replied, yes ; and these are the words of Ke-sha-mon-
e-doo (the Great Spirit.) *' Will you not," said he,
" o-ive me one ? I wish to show it to my people." I
told him, not without you first promise that you will
take care of it. He promised me that he would. I
handed it to him ; he took it, and turned it over and
over, and then exclaimed, *' Wonderful, wonderful!
this is the book of the Great Spirit .'" He then wrapped
It up hi a silk handkerchief, and the handkerchief in
three or four folds of cloth. I heard, afterwards, from
the trader, that the book was still kept sacred. 0, if
my poor brother could but read and understand that


blessed volume, how soon would his dumb idols be
** cast down to the moles and to the bats!" Will no
one go and tell him and his nation, of the boundless,
beseeching, bleeding, dying love of a Saviour ; and
Urge upon them the importance of such a preparation of
heart, as will enable them ** to give up their account
with joy V The Great Spirit is no respecter of persons;
He has made of one blood all the nations of the earth ;
He lo\cs all his children alike; and his highest attri-
butes are loue, mercy, and justice. Tf this be so, — and
who dare doubt it "? — will He not stretch out his hand
and help them, and avenge their wrongs'? **If offences
must come," let it be recollected, that woe is denounced
against them "from icliom they come."

I again propose that the territories of the Indians, in
the British dominions, be annexed to that Government,
and those in the American dominions to the Federal
Union.^ And, finally, in the language of that excellent,
magnanimous, and benevolent friend of the poor chil-
dren of the forest, Col. Thomas McKenney, I would

" 1 have already referred, in the conimencement of
this proposal to annex the Indian territory to our Union,
to those good men, who, in the character of missiona-
ries, have kept side by side with the Indians in so many
of their afflictions and migrations. I will again refer to
them, and implore them by all the lost labor of the
past, and by the hopes of the future ; by the critical con-
dition of the pacific relations that exist between the
Indians and us ; and by the sacredness of the cause in
which they are engaged, to look well and earnestly into
this subject, and learn from the past what must attend
upon their labors in the future, if the change I propose,



or some other change equivalent to it, be not brought

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Online LibraryGeorge CopwayLife, letters and speeches of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh, or, G. Copway, chief Ojibway nation .. → online text (page 10 of 15)