Henry Rowe Schoolcraft.

Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers online

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followed the war path _much_ in his youth, but he was now getting _old_,
and he desired _peace._ He had attended the treaty of Prairie du Chien,
to assist in fixing the lines of their lands. He recollected the good
counsel given to him at that place. He should respect the treaty, and
his ears were open to the good advice of his great American father, the
President, to whose words he had listened for the last ten years. He
referred to the treachery of the Sioux, their frequent violation of
treaties, &c. He hoped they should hear no _bad news_ (alluding to the
Sioux) on their return home, &c.

Wabishke Penais (the White Bird) solicited food. This young chief had
volunteered to carry an express from the Sub-agency of La Pointe in the
spring, and now called to announce his intention of returning to the
upper part of Lake Superior. His attachment to the American government,
his having received a small medal from his excellency Governor Cass, on
his visit to the Ontonagon River, in 1826, added to the circumstance of
his having served as a guide to the party who visited the mass of native
copper in that quarter in 1820, had rendered him quite unpopular with
his band, and led to his migration farther west. He appears, however,
recently to have reassumed himself of success, and is as anxious as
ever to recommend himself to notice. This anxiety is, however, carried
to a fault, being unsupported by an equal degree of good sense.

Annamikens (Little Thunder), a Chippewa of mixed blood, from Red River,
expressed a wish to speak, preparatory to his return, and drew a vivid
outline of his various journeys on the frontier, and his intercourse
with the Hudson's Bay and Canadian governments. This man had rendered
himself noted upon the frontier by a successful encounter with three
grizzly bears, and the hairbreadth escape he had made from their
clutches. He made, however, no allusion to this feat, in his speech, but
referred in general terms to the Indians present for testimonies of his
character as a warrior and hunter. He said he had now taken the American
government fast by the hand, and offered to carry any counsel I might
wish to send to the Indians on Red River, Red Lake, &c., and to use his
influence in causing it to be respected.

His appeal to the Indians, was subsequently responded to by the chief,
Tems Couvert, who fully confirmed his statements, &c.

Dugah Beshue (Spotted Lynx), of Pelican Lake, requested another trader
to be sent to that place. Complains of the high prices of goods, the
scarcity of animals, and the great poverty to which they are reduced.
Says the traders are very rigorous in their dealings; that they take
their furs from their lodges without ceremony, and that ammunition, in
particular, is so high they cannot get skins enough to purchase
a supply.

Visited by nine parties, comprising ninety-one souls.

_22d_. Received visits from, and issued provisions to eighty-one
persons.

_23d_. Wayoond applied for food for his family, consisting of six
persons, saying that they had been destitute for some time. I found, on
inquiry, that he had been drinking for several days previous, and his
haggard looks sufficiently bespoke the excesses he had indulged in. On
the following day, being in a state of partial delirium, he ran into the
river, and was so far exhausted before he could be got out, that he died
in the course of the night. It is my custom to bury all Indians who die
at the post, at the public expense. A plain coffin, a new blanket, and
shirt, and digging a grave, generally comprises this expense, which is
paid out of the contingent fund allowed the office.

Mizye (the Catfish) called on me, being on his return voyage from
Drummond Island, begging that I would give him some food to enable him
to reach his home at La Pointe. This Indian has the character of being
very turbulent, and active in the propagation of stories calculated to
keep up a British feeling amongst the Indians of Lapointe. The
reprimands he has received, would probably have led him to shun the
office, were he not prompted by hunger, and the hope of relief.

Whole number of visitors one hundred and thirty-five.

_24th_. Mongazid entered the office with his ornamented pipe, and
pipe-bearer, and expressed his wish to speak. He went at some length
into the details of his own life, and the history of the Fond du Lac
band, with which he appears to be very well acquainted. Referred to the
proofs he had given of attachment to government, in his conduct at the
treaties of Prairie du Chien and Fond du Lac; and to his services, as a
speaker for the Fond du Lac band, which had been acknowledged by the
Chippewas generally, and procured him many followers. Said the influence
of the old chief at Fond du Lac (Sappa) had declined, as his own had
extended, &c. He complained in general terms of the conduct of the
traders of that post, but did not specify any acts. Said he had advised
his young men to assent to their father's request respecting the copper
lands on Lake Superior, &c.

Having alluded in his speech to the strength of the band, and the amount
of their hunt, I asked him, after he had seated himself, what was the
population of Fond du Lac post. He replied, with readiness, two hundred
and twenty, of whom sixty-six were males grown, and fifty-four hunters.
He said that these fifty-four hunters had killed during the last year
(1828) nine hundred and ninety-four bears - that thirty-nine packs of
furs were made at the post, and ninety packs in the whole department.

Grosse Guelle made a formal speech, the drift of which was to show his
influence among the Indians, the numerous places in which he had acted
in an official capacity for them, and the proofs of attachment he had
given to the American government. He rested his merits upon these
points. He said he and his people had visited the agency on account of
what had been promised at Fond du Lac. Several of his people had,
however, gone home, fearing sickness; others had gone to Drummond Island
for their presents. For himself, he said, he should remain content to
take what his American father should see fit to offer him.

I inquired of him, if his influence with his people and attachment to
the American government were such as he had represented, how it came,
that so many of the Sandy Lake Indians, of whom he was the chief, had
gone to Drummond Island?

Shingabowossin requested that another Chippewa interpreter might be
employed, in which he was seconded by Kagayosh (A Bird in Everlasting
Flight), Wayishkee, and Shewabekaton, chiefs of the home band. They did
not wish me to put the present interpreter out of his place, but hoped I
would be able to employ another one, whom they could better understand,
and who could understand them better. They pointed out a person whom
they would be pleased with. But his qualifications extended only to a
knowledge of the Chippewa and French languages. He was deficient in
moral character and trustworthiness; and it was sufficiently apparent
that _the person thus recommended_ had solicited them to make this novel
application.

_28th_. The wife of Metakoossega (Pure Tobacco) applied for food for her
husband, whom she represented as being sick at his lodge, and unable to
apply himself. The peculiar features and defective Chippewa
pronunciation of this woman indicated her foreign origin. She is a Sioux
by birth, having been taken captive by the Chippewas when quite young. A
residence of probably thirty years has not been sufficient to give her a
correct knowledge of the principles or pronunciation of the language.
She often applies animate verbs and adjectives to inanimate nouns, &c.,
a proof, perhaps, that no such distinctions are known in her
native tongue.

Chacopa, a chief of Snake River, intimated his wish to be heard. He said
he had visited the agency in the hope that some respect [52] would be
shown the medal he carried. The government had thought him worthy of
this honor; the traders had also thought him deserving of it; and many
of the young men of Snake River looked up to him to speak for them.
"But what," he asked, "can I say? My father knows how we live, and what
we want. We are always needy. My young men are expecting something. I do
not speak for myself; but I must ask my father to take compassion on
those who have followed me, &c. We expect, from what our great father
said to us at the treaty of Fond du Lac, that they would all be
clothed yearly."

[Footnote 52: This term was not meant to apply to personal respect, but
to presents of goods.]

Ahkakanongwa presented a note from Mr. Johnston, Sub-agent at La Pointe,
recommending him as "a peaceable and obedient Indian." He requested
permission to be allowed to take a keg of whisky inland on his return,
and to have a permit for it in writing. I asked him the name of the
trader who had sold him the liquor, and who had _sent_ him to ask
this permit.

Wayoond's widow requested provisions to enable her to return to her
country. Granted.

_30th_. Chegud, a minor chief of Tacquimenon River, embraced the
opportunity presented by his applying for food for his family, to add
some remarks on the subject of the School promised them at the signing
of the treaty of Fond du Lac. He was desirous of sending three of his
children. The conduct of this young man for several years past, his
sobriety, industry in hunting, punctuality in paying debts contracted
with the traders, and his modest, and, at the same time, manly
deportment, have attracted general notice. He is neat in his dress,
wearing a capot, like the Canada French, is emulous of the good will of
white men, and desirous to adopt, in part, their mode of living, and
have his children educated. I informed him that the United States
Senate, in ratifying the treaty, had struck out this article providing
for a school.

_31st_ Shanegwunaibe, a visiting Indian from the sources of Menomonie
River of Green Bay, stated his object in making so circuitous a journey.
(He had come by way of Michilimackinac), to visit the agency. He had
been induced, from what he had heard of the Lake Superior Indians, to
expect that general presents of clothing would be issued to all the
Chippewas.

"Nothing," observes the Sub-agent at La Pointe, "but their wretchedness
could induce the Indians to wander."

_Aug. 3d_. Guelle Plat returned from his visit to Michilimackinac;
states that the Agent at that post (Mr. Boyd) had given him a sheep,
but had referred him to me, when speaking on the subject of presents,
&c., saying that he belonged to my agency.

Finding in this chief a degree of intelligence, united to habits of the
strictest order and sobriety, and a vein of reflection which had enabled
him to observe more than I thought he appeared anxious to communicate, I
invited him into my house, and drew him into conversation on the state
of the trade, and the condition of the Indians at Leech Lake, &c. He
said the prices of goods were high, that the traders were rigorous, and
that there were some practices which he could wish to see abolished, not
so much for his own sake,[53] as for the sake of the Indians generally;
that the traders found it for their interest to treat him and the
principal chiefs well; that he hunted diligently, and supplied himself
with necessary articles. But the generality of the Indians were
miserably poor and were severely dealt by. He said, the last thing that
they had enjoined upon him, on leaving Leech Lake, was to solicit from
me another trader. He had not, however, deemed it proper to make the
request in public council.

[Footnote 53: He was flattered and pampered by them.]

He states that the Indians are compelled to sell their furs to _one
man_, and to take what he pleases to give them in return. That the
trader fixes his own prices, both on the furs and on the goods he gives
in exchange. The Indians have no choice in the matter. And if it
happens, as it did last spring (1828), that there is a deficiency in the
outfit of goods, they are not permitted quietly to bring out their
surplus furs, and sell them to whom they please. He says that he saw a
remarkable instance of this at _Point au Pins_, on his way out, where
young Holiday drew a dirk on an Indian on refusing to let him take a
pack of furs from his canoe. He said, on speaking of this subject, "I
wish my father to take away the sword that hangs over us, and let us
bring down our furs, and sell them to whom we please."

He says that he killed last fall, nearly one thousand muskrats, thirteen
bears, twenty martins, twelve fishers. Beavers he killed none, as they
were all killed off some years ago. He says, that fifty rats are exacted
for cloth for a coat (this chief wears coats) the same for a three point
blanket, forty for a two-and-a-half point blanket, one hundred for a
Montreal gun, one _plus_ for a gill of powder, for a gill of shot, or
for twenty-five bullets, thirty martins for a beaver trap, fifteen for
a rat trap.

Speaking of the war, which has been so long waged between the Chippewas
and Sioux, to the mutual detriment of both, he said that it had
originated in the rival pretensions of a Sioux and Chippewa chief, for a
Sioux woman, and that various causes had since added fuel to the flame.
He said that, in this long war, the Chippewas had been gainers of
territory, that they were better woodsmen than the Sioux, and were able
to stand their ground. But that the fear of an enemy prevented them from
hunting some of the best beaver land, without imminent hazard. He had
himself, in the course of his life, been a member of twenty-five
different war parties, and had escaped without even a wound, though on
one occasion, he with three companions, was compelled to cut his way
through the enemy, two of whom were slain.

These remarks were made in private conversation. Anxious to secure the
influence and good-will of a man so respectable both for his standing
and his understanding, I had presented him, on his previous visit (July
19), with the President's large medal, accompanied by silver
wrist-bands, gorget, &c., silver hat-band, a hat for himself and son,
&c. I now added full patterns of clothing for himself and family,
kettles, traps, a fine rifle, ammunition, &c., and, observing his
attachment for dress of European fashion, ordered an ample cloak of
plaid, which would, in point of warmth, make a good substitute for
the blanket.

On a visit which he made to Fort Brady on the following day, Dr. Pitcher
presented his only son, a fine youth of sixteen, a gilt sword, and, I
believe, some other presents were made by the officers of the
2d Regiment.

_5th_. Issued an invoice of goods, traps, kettles, &c. to the Indians,
who were assembled in front of the office, and seated upon the green for
the purpose of making a proper distribution. I took this occasion to
remind them of the interest which their great father, the President,
constantly took in their welfare, and of his ardent desire that they
might live in peace and friendship with each other, and with their
ancient enemies, the Sioux. That he was desirous to see them increase in
numbers, as well as prosperity, to cultivate the arts of peace, so far
as they were compatible with their present condition and position, to
participate in the benefits of instruction, and to abstain from the use
of ardent spirits, that they might continue to live upon the lands of
their forefathers, and increase in all good knowledge. I told them they
must consider the presents, that had now been distributed, as an
evidence of these feelings and sentiments on the part of the President,
who expected that they would be ready to hearken to his counsels, &c.

I deemed this a suitable opportunity to reply to some remarks that had
fallen from several of the speakers, in the course of their summer
visits, on the subject of the stipulations contained in the treaty of
Fond du Lac, and informed them that I had put the substance of their
remarks into the shape of a letter to the department (see Official Let.,
Aug. 2d, 1828), that this letter would be submitted to the President,
and when I received a reply it should be communicated to them.

_6th_. Shingabowossin and his band called to take leave previous to
their setting out on their fall hunts. He thanked me in behalf of all
the Indians, for the presents distributed to them yesterday.

Wayishkee (the First Born), a chief of the home band, on calling to take
leave for the season, stated that he had been disabled by sickness from
killing many animals during the last year, that his family was large,
und that he felt grateful for the charity shown to his children, &c.

This chief is a son of the celebrated war chief Waubodjeeg (the White
Fisher), who died at La Pointe about thirty years ago, from whom he
inherited a broad wampum belt and gorget, delivered to his grandfather
(also a noted chief) by Sir Wm. Johnson, on the taking of Fort
Niagara, in 1759.

The allusion made to his family recalled to my mind the fact, that he
has had twelve children by one wife, nine of whom are now living; a
proof that a cold climate and hardships are not always adverse to the
increase of the human species.

_7th_. Annamikens made a speech, in which he expressed himself very
favorably of our government, and said he should carry back a good report
of his reception. He contrasted some things very adroitly with the
practices he had observed at Red River, Fort William, and Drummond's
Island. Deeming it proper to secure the influence of a person who stands
well with the Indians on that remote frontier, I presented him a medal
of the second class, accompanying it by some presents of clothing, &c.,
and an address to be delivered to the Chippewas, at the sources of the
Mississippi, in which I referred to the friendly and humane disposition
of our government, its desire that the Indians should live in peace,
refrain from drink, &c.

Terns Couvert, in a short speech, expressed himself favorably towards
Annamikens, corroborating some statements the latter had made.

Chacopee came to make his farewell speech, being on the point of
embarking. He recommended some of his followers to my notice, who were
not present when the goods were distributed on the fifth instant. He
again referred to the wants and wishes of the Indians of Snake River,
who lived near the boundary lines, and were subject to the incursions of
the Sioux. Says that the Sioux intrude beyond the line settled at the
Prairie, &c. Requests permission to take inland, for his own use, two
kegs of whisky, which had been presented to him by Mr. Dingley and Mr.
Warren. [This mode of evading the intercourse act, by presenting or
selling liquor on territory where the laws of Congress do not operate,
shifting on the Indians the risk and responsibility of taking it inland,
is a new phase of the trade, and evinces the _moral_ ingenuity of the
American Fur Company, or their servants.]

_8th_. Grosse Guelle stated that, as he was nearly ready to return, he
wished to say a few words, to which he hoped I would listen. He
complained of the hardness of times, high prices of goods, and poverty
of the Indians, and hoped that presents would be given to them.[54] He
alleged these causes for his visit, and that of the Sandy Lake Indians
generally. Adverted to the outrage committed by the Sioux at St. Peters,
and to the treaty of Prairie du Chien, at which his fathers (alluding to
Gen. Clarke and Gov. Cass) promised to punish the first aggressors.
Requested permission to take in some whisky - presses this topic, and
says, in reply to objections, that "Indians die whether they drink
whisky or not." He presented a pipe in his own name, and another in the
names of the two young chiefs Wazhus-Kuk-Koon (Muskrat's Liver), and
Nauganosh, who both received small medals at the treaty of Fond du Lac.

[Footnote 54: By visiting Drummond's Island contrary to instructions,
this chief and his band had excluded themselves from the distribution
made on the 5th of August.]

Katewabeda, having announced his wish to speak to me on the 6th instant,
came into the office for that purpose. He took a view of the standing
his family had maintained among the Sandy Lake Indians from an early
day, and said that he had in his possession until very lately a French
flag, which had been presented to some of his ancestors, but had been
taken to exhibit at Montreal by his son-in-law (Mr. Ermatinger, an
English trader recently retired from business). He had received a
muzinni'egun [55] from Lieut. Pike, on his visit to Sandy Lake, in 1806,
but it had been lost in a war excursion on the Mississippi. He concluded
by asking a permit to return with some mdz. and liquor, upon the sale of
which, and not on hunting, he depended for his support [56] I took
occasion to inform him that I had been well acquainted with his
standing, character, and sentiments from the time of my arrival in the
country in the capacity of an agent; that I knew him to be friendly to
the traders who visited the Upper Mississippi, desirous to keep the
Indians at peace, and not less desirous to keep up friendly relations
with the authorities of both the British and American governments; but
that I also very well knew that whatever political influence he exerted,
was not exerted to instil into the minds of the Indians sentiments
favorable to our system of government, or to make them feel the
importance of making them strictly comply with the American intercourse
laws, &c. I referred to the commencement of my acquaintance with him,
twenty days after my first landing at St. Mary's, and by narrating
facts, and naming dates and particulars, endeavored to convince him that
I had not been an indifferent observer of what had passed both _within_
and _without_ the Indian country. I also referred to recent events here,
to which I attributed an application to trade, which he had not thought
proper or deemed necessary to make in _previous_ years.

[Footnote 55: A paper; any written or printed document.]

[Footnote 56: This is one of the modern modes of getting goods into the
country in contravention of law, Mr. Ermatinger being a foreigner
trading on the Canadian side of the river.]

I concluded by telling him that he would see that it was impossible, in
conformity with the principles I acted upon, and the respect which I
claimed of Indians for my counsels, to grant his request.

_11th_. Guelle Plat came to take leave preparatory to his return. He
expressed his sense of the kindness and respect with which he had been
treated, and intimated his intention of repeating his visit to the
Agency during the next season, should his health be spared. He said, in
the course of conversation, that "there was one thing in which he had
observed a great difference between the practice of this and St. Peter's
Agency. _There_ whisky is given out in abundance; _here_ I see it is
your practice to give none."

_12th_. Invested Oshkinahwa (the Young Man of the totem of the Loon of
Leech Lake), with a medal.

_15th_. Issued provisions to the family of Kussepogoo, a Chippewyan
woman from Athabasca, recently settled at St. Mary's. It seems the name
by which this remote tribe is usually known is of Chippewa origin (being
a corruption of _Ojeegewyan_, a fisher's skin), but they trace no
affinity with the Chippewa stock, and the language is radically
different, having very little analogy either in its structure or sounds.
It is comparatively harsh and barren, and so defective and vague in its
application that it even seems questionable whether nouns and verbs
have number.

_18th_. Visited by the Little Pine (Shingwaukonce), the leading chief on
the British shore of the St. Mary's, a shrewd and politic man, who has
united, at sundry periods, in himself the offices and influence of a war
chief, a priest, or Jossakeed, and a civil ruler. The giving of public
presents on the 5th had evidently led to his visit, although he had not
pursued the policy expected from him, so far as his influence reached
among the Chippewas on the American shores of the straits. He made a
speech well suited to his position, and glossed off with some fine
generalities, avoiding commitments on main points and making them on
minor ones, concluding with a string of wampum. I smoked and shook hands
with him, and accepted his tenders of friendship by re-pledging the
pipe, but narrowed his visit to official proprieties, and refused
his wampum.

_22d._ Magisanikwa, or the Wampum-hair, renewed his visit, gave me
another opportunity to remember his humane act in the spring, and had



Online LibraryHenry Rowe SchoolcraftPersonal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers → online text (page 30 of 66)