Henry Rowe Schoolcraft.

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

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have received respecting him is by an express from Toronto. From it I
learn that he is disposed to be kind and good towards the poor Indians.
As an instance of which, he intends visiting every Indian mission next
summer, in order that he may see for himself their secret wants, and how
their condition may be best ameliorated."

My brother James gives a somewhat amusing account of Indian matters at
the Sault after the leaving of their delegates for Washington.

"Since Whaiskee's departure, the whole Sault has been troubled; I mean
the 'busy bodies,' and this, by the way, comprises nearly the whole
population. A council has accordingly been held before the Major-Agent,
in which the British chief, Gitshee Kawgaosh, appeared as orator. The
harangue from the sachem ran very much as follows: - "

'Father, _why_ and for what purpose has the man Whaiskee gone to the
home of our great father? _Why_ did he leave without notifying _me_, and
the other men of _influence_ of my tribe, of the nature of his mission?
Why should he, whose _totem-fathers_ live about Shaugawaumekong (La
Pointe), be, at his own will, made the representative of the ancient
band of the red men whose _totem_ is the lofty Crane? Say, father?
Father, we ask you to know; we ask of you to tell _why_ this strange man
has so strangely gone to smoke with the great chief of the "long
knives?" Kunnah-gakunnah!'

"Here the chief, drawing the folds of his blanket with perfect grace,
and extending his right arm with dignity to the agent, seated himself
again upon the floor, while, at the same time, a warrior of distinction,
whose eagle-plumed head spoke him the fiercest of his tribe, gave to the
sachem the lighted pipe. The eyes of the red men, like those of their
snowy chief, were now riveted to the floor."

'Sons of the forest,' answered the American agent, '_I_, like
yourselves, know nothing of this strange business! _I_, the father of
all the red men, have not been consulted in this man's going beyond the
lakes to "the great waters!" _I_ am the man through whom such messages
should come! _I_, the man who should hand the wampum, and _I_, the man
to whom the red men should look for redress! Friends, your speech shall
reach the ears of our great father, and then this strange man of the
far-off _totem_ of Addik shall know that the Crane _totem_ is protected
by me, the hero of the Southern clime! Men of the forest, I am done.'

"Tobacco was then distributed to the assembly, and, after many _hoghs_,
the red men dispersed."

_24th_. Mr. Bancroft, bringing a few lines from the Secretary of War,
came to see me to confer on the character of the Indians, which he is
about to handle in the next volume of his History. This care to assure
himself of the truth of the conclusions to be introduced in his work, is
calculated to inspire confidence in his mode of research.

_28th_. Washington. My reception here has been most cordial, and such
as to assure me in the propriety of the step I took, in resolving to
proceed to the capital, without the approval of the secretary and acting
governor (Horner), who was, indeed, from his recent arrival and little
experience in this matter, quite in the dark respecting the true
condition of Indian affairs in Michigan. The self-constituted Ottawa
delegation of chiefs from the lower peninsula had preceded me a few
days. After a conference between them and the Secretary of War, they
were referred to me, under authority from the President, communicated by
special appointment, as commissioner for treating with them. It was
found that the deputation was quite too local for the transaction of any
general business. The Ottawas, from the valley of Grand River, an
important section, were unrepresented. The various bands of Chippewas
living intercalated among them, on the lower peninsula, extending down
the Huron shore to Thunder Bay, were unapprized of the movement. The
Chippewas of the upper peninsula, north of Michilimackinack, were
entirely unrepresented. I immediately wrote, authorizing deputations to
be sent from each of the unrepresented districts, and transmitting funds
for the purpose. This authority to collect delegates from the two
nations, whose interests in the lands were held in common, was promptly
and efficiently carried out; and, when the chiefs and delegates arrived,
they were assembled in public council, at the Masonic Hall, corner of
4-1/2 street, and negotiations formally opened. These meetings were
continued from day to day, and resulted in an important cession of
territory, comprising all their lands lying in the lower peninsula of
Michigan, north of Grand River and west of Thunder Bay; and on the upper
peninsula, extending from Drummond Island and Detour, through the
Straits of St. Mary, west to Chocolate River, on Lake Superior, and
thence southerly to Green Bay. This cession was obtained on the
principle of making limited reserves for the principal villages, and
granting the mass of Indian population the right to live on and occupy
any portion of the lands until it is actually required for settlement.
The compensation, for all objects, was about two millions of dollars. It
had been arranged to close and sign the treaty on the 26th of March, but
some objections were made by the Ottawas to a matter of detail, which
led to a renewed discussion, and it was not until the 28th that the
treaty was signed. It did not occur to me, till afterwards, that this
was my birth-day. The Senate who, at the same time, had the important
Cherokee treaty of New Echota before them, did not give it their assent
till the 20th of May, and then ratified it with some essential
modifications, which have not had a wholly propitious tendency.

Liberal provisions were made for their education and instruction in
agriculture and the arts. Their outstanding debts to the merchants were
provided for, and such aid given them in the initial labor of subsisting
themselves, as were required by a gradual change from the life of
hunters to that of husbandmen. About twelve and a half cents per acre
was given for the entire area, which includes some secondary lands and
portions of muskeegs and waste grounds about the lakes - which it was,
however, thought ought, in justice to the Indians, to be included in the
cession. The whole area could not be certainly told, but was estimated
at about sixteen millions of acres.

About the beginning of May a delegation of Saginaws arrived, for the
purpose of ceding to the government the reservations in Michigan, made
under the treaty of 1819. This delegation was referred to me, with
instructions to form a treaty with them. The terms of it were agreed on
in several interviews, and the treaty was signed on the 20th of
May, 1836.

A third delegation of Chippewas, from Michigan, having separate interest
in the regions of Swan Creek and Black River, presented themselves, with
the view of ceding the reservations made to them by a treaty concluded
by Gen. Hull, Nov. 17th, 1807. They were also referred to me to adjust
the terms of a sale of these reservations. The treaty was signed by
their chiefs on the 9th of May, 1836.

As soon as these several treaties were acted on by the Senate, I left
the city on my return. It was one of the last days of May when I left
Washington. A new era had now dawned in the upper lake country, and joy
and gladness sat in every face I met. The Indians rejoiced, because they
had accomplished their end and provided for their wants. The class of
merchants and inland traders rejoiced, because they would now be paid
the amount of their credits to the Indians. The class of metifs and
half-breeds were glad, because they had been remembered by the chiefs,
who set apart a fund for their benefit. The citizens generally
participated in these feelings, because the effect of the treaties
would be to elicit new means and sources of prosperity.

I reached Mackinack on the 15th of June, in the steamer "Columbia." I
found all my family well and ready to welcome me home, but
one - Charlotte, the daughter of Songageezhig, who had been brought up
from a child as one of my family. Her father, a Chippewa, had been
killed in an affray at the Sault St. Marie in 1822, leaving a wife and
three children. She had been adopted and carefully instructed in every
moral and religious duty. She could read her Bible well, and was a
member of the Church, in good standing at the time of her death. A rapid
consumption developed itself during the winter of my absence, which no
medical skill could arrest. She had attained about her fifteenth year,
and died leaving behind her a consecrated memory of pleasing piety and
gentle manners.

A forest flower, but few so well could claim
A daughter's, sister's, and a Christian's name.


Home matters - Massachusetts Historical Society - Question of the U.S.
Senate's action on certain treaties of the Lake Indians - Hugh L.
White - Dr. Morton's Crania Americana - Letter from Mozojeed - State of the
pillagers - Visit of Dr. Follen and Miss Martineau - Treaty
movements - Young Lord Selkirk - Character and value of Upper
Michigan - Hon. John Norvell's letter - Literary Items - Execution of the
treaty of March 28th - Amount of money paid - Effects of the treaty - Baron
de Behr - Ornithology.

1836. _June 16th_. My winter in Washington had thrown my correspondence
sadly in the rear. Most of my letters had been addressed to me directly
at Mackinack, and they were first read several months after date. Whilst
at the seat of government my duties had been of an arduous character,
and left me but little time on my hands. And now, that I had got back to
my post in the interior, the duties growing out of the recent treaties
had been in no small degree multiplied. While preparing for the latter,
the former were not, however, to be wholly neglected, or left unnoticed.
I will revert to them.

_April 28th_. The Massachusetts Historical Society this day approved a
report from a committee charged with the subject - "That, in their
opinion, the dissertation on the Odjibwa language with a vocabulary of
the same, contemplated by Mr. Schoolcraft, would be a suitable and
valuable contribution to our collections, and that he be requested to
proceed and complete the work, and transmit it to the society for
publication." This was communicated to me by Hon. Thomas L. Winthrop,
their president, on the 2d of May, and opened an eligible way for my
bringing forward my investigations of this language, without expense to
myself. The difficulty now was, that the offer had come, at a time when
it was impossible to complete the paper. I was compelled to defer it
till the pressure of business, which now began to thicken on my hands,
should abate. It was in this manner, and in the hope that the next
season would afford me leisure, that the matter was put off, from time
to time, till it was in a measure cast behind and out of sight, and not
from a due appreciation of the offer.

_May 17th_ In the letter of appointment to me, of this date, from the
Secretary of War, to treat with the Saginaws, it is stated: "You are
authorized to offer them the proceeds which their lands may bring,
deducting such expenses as may be necessary for its survey, sale, &c.
You will take care that a sufficient fund is reserved to provide for
their removal, and such arrangements made for the security and
application of the residue as will be most beneficial to them." These
instructions were carried out, in articles of a compact, in which the
government furthermore agreed, in view of the lands not being
immediately brought into market, to make a reasonable advance to these
Indians. Yet the Senate rejected it, not, it would seem, for the
liberality of the offer of the nett proceeds of the lands, but for the
almost _per necessitate_ offer of a moderate advance, to enable the
people to turn themselves in straitened circumstances, which had been
the prime motive for selling.

The advance was, in fact, as I have reason to believe, a mere bagatelle,
but the chairman of the Indian Committee in the Senate was rather on the
lookout for something, or anything, to embarrass or disoblige General
Jackson and his agents, having fallen out with him, and being then,
indeed, a candidate for President of the U.S. himself, at the coming
election. If I had not heard the pointed expressions of Hon. Hugh L.
White, on more than one occasion, in which my three treaties were before
him, in relation to this matter of not affording the presidential
incumbent new sources of patronage, &c., I should not deem it just to
add the latter remark. He was a man of strong will and feelings, which
often betrayed themselves when subjects of public policy were the
topics. And, so far as he interfered with the principles of the treaties
which I had negotiated with the Lake Indians in 1836, he evinced an
utter ignorance of their history, character, and best interests. He
violated, in some respects, the very principle on which alone two of the
original cessions, namely, those of the Ottawas and Chippewas and of the
Saginaws, were obtained; and introduced features of discord, which
disturb the tribes, and some of which will long continue to be felt. And
the result is a severe caution against the Senate's ever putting
private reasons in the place of public, and interfering with matters
which they necessarily know but little about.

_16th_. Dr. Samuel George Morton, of Philadelphia, makes an appeal to
gentlemen interested in the philosophical and historical questions
connected with the Indians, to aid him in the collection of crania - to
be used in the comprehensive work which he is preparing on the subject.

_26th_. Hon. J. B. Sutherland expresses the wish to see an Indian
lexicography prepared under the auspices of the Indian Department, and
urges me to undertake it.

_30th_. Mozojeed, or the Moose's Tail, an Ojibwa chief of Ottawa Lake,
in the region at the source of Chippewa River of the Upper Mississippi,
dictates a letter to me. The following is an extract: -

"My Father - I have a few remarks to make. Every _morning of the year_ I
wish to come and see you. As soon as I take up my paddle I fall sick. It
is now two years since I began to be sick. Sometimes I am
better - sometimes worse. I am pained in mind that I am not to see you
this summer.

"Since you gave me the shonea nahbekawahgun (silver medal) I think I
_have walked in your commands_. I have done all I could to have the
Indians sit still. Those that are far off I could not sway, but those
that are near have listened to me."

His influence to keep the Indians at peace, and the reasons which have
hindered the influence in part, are thus, partly by symbolic figures, as
well expressed as could be done by an educated mind. I have italicised
two sentences for their peculiarity of thought.

_31st_. Mr. Featherstonehaugh expresses a wish to have me point out the
best map extant of the eastern borders of the Upper Mississippi, above
the point visited by him in his recent reconnoissance, in order "to
avoid gross blunders - _all_ I do not expect to avoid!" Why undertake to
make a map of a part of the country which he did not see?

_31st_. Rev. Alvan Coe, of Vernon, O., expresses his interest in the
provisions of the late treaty with the Ottawas and Chippewas, which
regards their instruction.

_June 1st_. Mr. W. T. Boutwell, from Leech Lake, depicts the present
condition of the Odjibwas on the extreme sources of the Mississippi.

"There has been nothing, so far as I have discovered, or been informed,
like a disposition to go to war this spring. There is, evidently, a
growing desire on the part of not a few, to cultivate their gardens more
extensively and better. These are making gardens by the side of me. I
have furnished them with seed and lent them hoes, on condition that they
do not work on the Sabbath. From fifteen to twenty bushels of potatoes I
have given to one and another to plant.

"The Big Cloud has required his two children to attend regularly to
instruction; others occasionally. The Elder Brother has procured him a
comfortable log house to be built - bought a horse and cow. I have bought
a calf of Mr. A. for him.

"I am making the experiment whether I can keep cattle here. They have
wintered and passed the spring, and we are now favored with milk, which
is a rarity and luxury here.

"Mr. Aitkin is establishing a permanent post at Otter Tail Lake. G.
Bonga had gone with a small assortment of goods to build and pass the
summer there. The Indians are divided in opinion and feeling with regard
to the measure. Those who belong to this lake, or who make gardens in
this vicinity, are opposed to the measure. Those who pass the summer in
the deer country and make rice towards the height of land, are in its
favor. It is on the line dividing us and our enemies - some say, where we
do not wish to go. Whether he has consulted the agent on the subject,
I know not.

"The past winter has been severe - the depth of snow greater, by far,
than has fallen for several years. Feb. 1 the mercury fell to 40° below
zero. This is the extreme. Graduated on the scale I have - it fell nearly
into the ball."

_9th_. The Secretary of War writes me a private letter, suggesting the
employment of Mr. Ryly, of Schenectady, in carrying out the large
deliveries of goods ($150,000) required by the late treaty, and speaking
most favorably of him, as a former resident of Michigan, and a patriotic
man in days when patriotism meant something.

_14th_. My brother James writes in his usual frank and above-board
manner: "If the Indians are to audit accounts against the Indians
(agreeably to the Senate's alteration of the treaty), there will be a
pretty humbug made of it; then he that has most _whisky_ will get
most _money_."

_July 5th_. Dr. Follen and lady, of Cambridge, Mass., accompanied by
Miss Martineau, of England, visited me in the morning, having landed in
the ship Milwaukee. They had, previously, visited the chief curiosities
and sights on the island. Miss Martineau expressed her gratification in
having visited the upper lakes and the island. She said she had, from
early childhood, felt an interest in them. I remarked, that I supposed
she had seen enough of America and the Americans, to have formed a
definite opinion, and asked her what she thought of them? She said she
had not asked herself that question. She had hardly made up an opinion,
and did not know what it might be, on getting back to England. She
thought society hardly formed here, that it was rather early to express
opinions; but she thought favorably of the elements of such a mixed
society, as suited to lead to the most liberal traits. She spoke highly
of Cincinnati, and some other places, and expressed an enthusiastic
admiration for the natural beauties of Michilimackinack. She said she
had been nearly two years in America, and was now going to the seaboard
to embark on her return to England.

_9th_. Instructions were issued at Washington for the execution of the
treaty, which had been ratified, with amendments, by the Senate.

_10th_. The admission of Michigan as one of the States, had left the
office of Superintendent of Indian Affairs, for the region, vacant. An
Act of Congress, passed near the close of the session, had devolved the
duties of this office on the agent at Michilimackinack. Instructions
were, this day, issued to carry this act into effect.

_12th_. The chiefs in general council assembled by special messengers at
the Agency at Mackinack, this day assented to the Senate's alterations
of the treaty. Its principles were freely and fully discussed.

_13th_ and _14th_. Signatures continue to be affixed to the articles of

_15th_. I notified the various bands of Indians to attend in mass, the
payments, which were appointed to commence on the 1st of September.

_27th_. A friend writes from Detroit: "Lord Selkirk, from Scotland,
is on his route to Lake Superior, and, as he passes through Mackinack, I
write to introduce him to you, as a gentleman with whom you would be
pleased to have more than a transient association. The name of his
father is connected with many north-western events of much interest and
notoriety, and a most agreeable recollection of his mother, Lady
Selkirk, has recommended him strongly to our kindness. I feel assured
you will befriend him, in the way of information, as to the best means
of getting on to the Sault St. Marie."

I found the bearer an easy, quiet, young gentleman, with not the least
air of pretence or superciliousness, and one of those men to whom
attentions ever become a pleasure.

_Aug. 2d_. Hon. John Norvell, U.S.S., calls my attention to the recent
annexation to Michigan of the vast region north of the Straits of

"Your personal knowledge," he observes, "of the country on Lake
Superior, which, by a late act of Congress has been annexed to, and made
a part of the State of Michigan, induces me respectfully to request of
you information concerning the nature and extent of the territory thus
attached to the State; the qualities of its various soils; the timber
and water-powers embraced in it; its minerals and their probable value;
the extent of lake-coast added to Michigan; the fisheries and their
probable value and duration; the capabilities and conveniences of Lake
Superior and the northern Michigan shores, and the cheapness and
facility with which a communication may be opened with the lower lakes;
together with such other information as it may be in your power to
furnish, and as may enable the people of Michigan duly to appreciate the
importance of the acquisition." _Vide_ Letters of Albion in reply.

_16th_. Mr. Daniel B. Woods, of New York, announces the project of the
publication of "a religious and missionary souvenir," and solicits my
aid in the preparation of an article.

_26th_. The citizens, merchants, and traders of the town agree not to
sell or furnish whisky or ardent spirits to the Indians during the
payments and preliminary examinations - a conclusive evidence this that,
where the _interests_ of the population combine to stop the traffic in
ardent spirits, it requires no Congressional or State laws.

_Sept. 26th_. John G. Palfrey, Esq., editor of the _North American
Review_, wishes me to review Mr. Gallatin's forthcoming paper on the
Indian languages, which is about to appear in the second volume of the
collections of the American Antiquarian Society.

_28th_. A busy business summer, replete with incident and excitement on
the island, closes this day by the termination of the several classes of
payments made under the treaty of March 28th, 1836. Upwards of four
thousand Indians have been encamped along the pebbly beaches and coves
of the island, and subsisted by the Indian Department for about a month.
To these an annuity of $42,000 has been paid _per capita_. Of these
there were 143 chiefs, namely, 25 of the first class, 51 of the second,
and 67 of the third class, who received an additional payment of
$30,000. In addition to the provisions consumed, two thousand dollars
worth of flour, pork, rice, and corn were delivered to the separate
villages in bulk prior to their departure, and one hundred and fifty
thousand dollars in the best quality of Indian goods and merchandise,
cutlery, and other articles of prime necessity, systematically divided
amongst the mass. The sum of two hundred and twenty thousand dollars has
been paid on accounts exhibited to the agent, and approved by the
creditors of the two tribes. One hundred and fifty thousand dollars have
also been paid to the half-breed relatives of the two tribes on
carefully prepared lists.

These several duties required care and involved responsibilities of no
ordinary character. They have been shared by Major H. Whiting, the
Paymaster of the Northern Department, by whom the funds were exclusively
paid, and John W. Edwards, Esq., of New York, who divided the half-breed
fund, to both of whom I am indebted for the diligence with which they
addressed themselves to the duty, and the kindness and urbanity of
their manners.

So large an assemblage of red and white men probably never assembled
here before, and a greater degree of joy and satisfaction was never
evinced by the same number. The Indians went away with their canoes
literally loaded with all an Indian wants, from silver to a steel trap,
and a practical demonstration was given which will shut their mouths
forever with regard to the oft-repeated scandal of the stinginess and
injustice of the American government.

Not a man was left, of any caste or shade of nativity, to utter a word

Online LibraryHenry Rowe SchoolcraftPersonal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers → online text (page 51 of 66)