Samuel Gardner Drake.

The aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index online

. (page 111 of 131)
Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 111 of 131)
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secured to a tall vertical pole, planted at about 40 yards from his lodge. He
then began to dance round this pole, at the commencement of this fast, fre-
quently swinging himself in the air, so as to be supported merely by the cords
which were secured to the strips of skin separated from his arms and breast.
He continued this exercise with few intermissions durinj? the whole of his


fast, until the fourth day about 10 o'clock, A. M., when the strip of skin from
his breast gave way ; notwithstanding which he interrupted not the dance,
although supported merely by his arms. At noon the strip from his left arm
snapped off: his uncle then thought that he had suffered enough," and with his
knife cut the last loop of skin, and Wanotan fell down in a swoon, where he
lay the rest of the day, exposed to the scorching rays of the sun. After this he
gave away all his property, and with his two squaws deserted his lodge. To
such monstrous follies does superstition drive her votaries !

In Tanner's Narrative, there is an interesting account of an expedition of
an uncle of Wawnahton, at the head of 200 Sioux, against the Ojibbewas. Waw-
nrihton was himself of the party, but he had not then become so distinguished
as he was afterwards. They fell upon a small band of Crees and Assinne-
boins, and after a fight of near a whole day, killed all the Ojibbewas but one,
the Little-dam, two women and one child, about 20 in number. This hap-
pened not far from Pembina. In 1822, he very much alarmed that post, by
murdering some Assinneboins in its neighborhood. ||

BLACK-THUNDER, or Mackkatananamakee, was styled the celebrated
patriarch of the Fox tribe. He made himself remembered by many from an

* Wanotan, in Long's Expe I. to St. Peters, i. 448.

f Yanktoan, (Long, ib. 4l4,) which signifies descended from the fern leaves.
\ Facts published by W. J. Snelling, Esq. It is said by Keating, in Long's Exped. i.
(48, that he was about 28 war; of age. This was in 1823.
Tanner's Narrative, 138. U West's Red River Colony, 84.


excellent spe ch which he made to the Ani'.'rican commissioners, \vlio had
;isscnil>l<'(l many chiefs at a place called the Portage, .lidy, 1815, to hold a
talk with tin-in upon the state of their allairs ; particularly as it was believed
by the Americans that the Indians meditat -d hostilities. An American com-
missioner opened the talk, and unbecomingly accused the Indians of breach
of former treaties. The first chief that answered, spoke with a tremulous
voice, and evidently betrayed guilt, or perhaps fear. Xot so with the upright
chief Black-thunder. He felt equally indignant at the charge of the white
man, and the unmanly cringing of the chief who had just spoken, lie
began :

"My father, restrain your feelings, and hear calmly what I shall say. I
shall say it plainly. I shall not speak with fear and trembling. I have never
injured you, and innocence can feel no lear. I turn to you all, red-skins and
white-skins where is the man who will appear as my accuser? Father, I
understand not clearly how things are working. I have just been set at
liberty. Am I again to be plunged into bondage? Frowns are all around
me ; but I am incapable of change. You, perhaps, may be ignorant of what
I tell yon; but it is a truth, which I call heaven and earth to witness. It is a
fact which can easily be proved, that I have been assailed in almost every
possible way that pride, fear, feeling, or interest, could touch me that I have
been pushed to the last to raise the tomahawk against you ; but all in vain. I
never could be made to feel that you were my enemy. If^this be the conduct
of an enemy, I shall never be your friend. You are acquainted with my re-
moval above Prairie des Chiens.* I went, and formed a settlement, and called
my warriors around me. AVe took counsel, and from that counsel we never
have departed. We smoked, and resolved to make common cause with the
U. States. I sent you the pipe it resembled this and I sent it by the Mis-
souri, that the Indians of the Mississippi might not know what we were doing.
You received it. I then told you that your friends should be my friends
that your enemies should be my enemies and that I only awaited your signal
to make war. If this be the conduct of an enemy, I shall never be your friend.
Why do I tell you this? Because it is a truth, and a melancholy truth, that
the good things which men do are often buried in the ground, while their evil
deeds are stripped naked, and exposed to the world, f When I came here, I
came to you in friendship. I little thought I should have had to defend my-
self. I have no defence to make. If I were guilty, I should have come pre-
pared ; but I have ever held you by the hand, and I am come without ex-
cuses. If I had fought against you, I would have told you so : but I have noth-
ing now to say here in your councils, except to repeat what I said before to
my great father, the president of your nation. You heard it, and no doubt
jemember it. It was simply this. My lands can never be surrendered; I
was cheated, and basely cheated, in the contract; I will not surrender my
country but with my life. Again I call heaven and earth to witness, and I
feraoke this pipe in evidence of my sincerity. If you are sincere, you will
receive it from me. My only desire is, that we should smoke it together
that I should grasp your sacred hand, and I claim for myself and my tribe
ths protection of your country. When this pipe touches your lip, may it
operate as a blessing upon all my tribe. May the smoke rise like a cloud, and
cany away tvith it all the animosities which have arisen between us" I

The issue of this council was amicable, and, on the 14 Sept. following,
Black-thunder met commissioners at St. Louis, and executed a treaty of

ONGPATONGA, or, as he was usually called, Big-elk, was chief of the
s, or Omawhaws, whose residence, in 1811, was upon the Missouri. || Mr.

* The upper military post upon the Mississippi, in 1818.
t ' This passage forcibly reminds us of that in Shakespeare :"

' The evil that men do lives after them ;

The good is often interred with their'bones."

: Philadelphia Lit. Gazette.

$ Onvue-pon-we, in Iroquois, was ''men surpassing all others." Hist. Fire Nations.

|| "The O'JMahas, in number 2250, not long ago, abandoned their old village on the soutlj




Brackenridge visited his town on the 19 May of that year, in his voyage up
that river. His " village is situated about three miles from the river, and con-
tains about 3000 souls, and is 836 miles from its mouth."* We shall give
here, as an introduction to him, the oration he made over the grave of Black-
buffalo, a Sioux chief of the Teton tribe, who died on the night of the 14
July, 1811, at " Portage des Sioux," and of whom Mr. Brackenridge remarks :f
" The Black-buffalo was the Sioux chief with whom \ve had the conference at
the great bend ; and, from his appearance and mild deportment, I was induced
to form a high opinion of him." After being interred with honors of war,
Ongpatonga spoke to those assembled as follows: "Do not grieve. Misfor-
tunes will happen to the wisest and best men. Death will come, and always
comes out of season. It is the command of the Great Spirit, and all nations
and people must obey. What is passed, and cannot be prevented, should not
be grieved for. Be not discouraged or displeased then, that in visiting your
father | here, [the American commissioner,] you have lost your chief. A mis-
fortune of this kind may never again befall you, but this would have attended
you perhaps at your own village. Five times have I visited this land, and
never returned with sorrow or pain. Misfortunes do not flourish particularly
in our path. They grow every where. What a misfortune for me, that I
could not have died this day, instead of the chief that lies before us. The
trifling loss my nation w r ould have sustained in my death, would have been
doubly paid for by the honors of my burial. They w r ould hove wiped off
every thing like regret. Instead of being covered with a cloud of sorrow, my
warriors would have felt the sunshine of joy in their hearts. To me it would
have been a most glorious occurrence. Hereafter, when I die at home, instead
of a noble grave and a grand procession, the rolling music and the thundering
cannon, with a flag waving at my head, I shall be wrapped in a robe, (an old
robe perhaps,) and hoisted on a slender scaffold to the whistling winds, soou
to be blown down to the earth ; || my flesh to be devoured by the wolves, and
my bones rattled on the plain by the wild beasts. Chief of the soldiers, [ad-
dressing Col. Miller,] your labors have not been in vain. Your attention shall
not be forgotten. My nation shall know the respect that is paid over the
dead. When I return, I will echo the sound of your guns."

Dr. Morse saw Ongpatonga at Washington in the winter of 1821, and dis-
coursed with him and Ishkatappa, chief of the republican Paunees, " on the
subject of their civilization, and sending instructors among them for that
purpose." The doctor has printed the conversation, and we are sorry to
acknowledge that, on reading it, Big-elk suffers in our estimation ; but his
age must be his excuse. When he was asked who made the red and white
people, he answered, "The same Being who made the white people, made
the red people ; but the ivhite are better than the red people ." This acknowledg-
ment is too degrading, and does not comport with the general character of the
American Indians. It is not, however, very surprising that such an expression
should escape an individual surrounded, as was Ongpatonga, by magnificence,
luxury, and attention from the great.

Big-elk was a party to several treaties made between his nation and the
United States, previous to his visit to Washington in 1821.

PETALESHAROO was not a chief, but a brave of the tribe of the Pau-
nees. (A brave is a warrior who has distinguished himself in battle, and is
next in importance to a chief.H) He was the son of Letelesha, a famous chief,
commonly called the Knife-chief, or Old-knife. When Major Long and his
company travelled across the continent, in 1819 and '20, they became ac-
quainted with Petalesharoo. From several persons who were in Long's

side of the Missouri, and now dwell on the Elk-horn River, due west from their old village,
80 miles west-north-west from Council Bluffs." Morse's Indian Report, 251.

* Brackenridge, ut sup. 91. t Jour, up the Missouri, 240.

\ Governor Edwards or Colonel Miller.

It is a custom to expose the dead upon a scaffold among some of the tribes of the west
See Brackenridge, Jour., 186. ; Pike's Expedition ; Long's do.

|| The engraving- at the commencement of Book II. illustrates this passage.

U Long's Expedition, i. 356 3 and Dr. Morse's Indian Report, 247.


company, Dr. Morse collected the particular of liiin which he gives in bis
INDIAN REPORT as an anecdote.

In the winter <>f J^'-l, PetalesJiaroo visited Washington, being one of a
deputation from his nation to the American government, on a business

This brave was of elegant form and countenance, and was attired, in his
visit to Washington, as represented in the engraving. In Ib21, he was
about 25 years of age. At the age of 21, he was so distinguished by his
abilities and prowess, that he was called the "bravest of the braves." But few ,
years previous to 1821, it was a custom, not only with his nation, but those
adjacent, to torture and burn captives as sacrifices to the great Star. In an
expedition performed by some of his countrymen against the Iteans, a female
was taken, who, on their return, was doomed* to suffer according to their
usages. She was fastened to the stake, and a vast crowd assembled upon
the adjoining plain to witness the scene. This brave, unobserved, had sta-
tioned two fleet horses at a small distance, and was seated among the crowd,
as a silent spectator. All were anxiously waiting to enjoy the spectacle of
the first contact of the flames with their victim ; when, to their astonishment,
a brave was seen rending asunder the cords which bound her, and, with the
swiftness of thought, bearing her in his arms beyond the amazed multitude ;
where placing her upon one horse, and mounting himself upon the other,
he bore her off safe to her friends and country. This act would have endan-
gered the life of an ordinary chief; but such was his sway in the tribe, that
no one presumed to censure the daring act.

This transaction was the more extraordinary, as its performer was as
much a son of nature, and had had no more of the advantages of education
than the multitude whom he astonished by the humane act just recorded.

This account being circulated at Washington, during the young chief's
stay there, the young ladies of Miss White's seminary in that place resolved
to give him a demonstration of the high esteem in which they held him on
account of his humane conduct ; they therefore presented him an elegant
silver medal, appropriately inscribed, accompanied by the following short but
affectionate address : " Brother, accept this token of our esteem ahva}'s
wear it for our sakes, and when again you have the power to save a poor
woman from death and torture, think of this, and of us, and fly to her
relief and her rescue." The brave's reply : " This [taking hold of the
medal which he had just suspended from his neck] will give me more ease than
I ever had, and I will listen more than I ever did to white men. I am glad that
my brothers and sisters have heard of the good act I have done. My brothers and
sisters think that I did it in ignorance, but I now know what I have done. 1
did it in ignorance, and did not know that I did good ; but by giving me this
medal I know it."

Some time after the attempt to sacrifice the Itean woman, one of the
warriors of Letelesha brought to the nation a Spanish boy, whom he had
taken. The warrior was resolved to sacrifice him to Venus, and the time
was appointed. Letelesha had a long time endeavored to do away the custom,
and now consulted Petalesharoo upon the course to be pursued. The young
brave said, "I will rescue the boy, as a warrior should, by force." His father
svas unwilling that he should expose his life a second time, and used great
exertions to raise a sufficient quantity of merchandise for the purchase of the
captive. All that were able contributed, and a pile was made of it at the
lodge of the Knife-chief, who then summoned the warrior before him. When
he had arrived, the chief commanded him to take the merchandise, and
deliver the boy to him. The warrior refused. Letelesha then waved his
war-club in the air, bade the warrior obey or prepare for instant death.
"Strike," said Petelesharoo, " / will meet the vengeance of his friends." But the
prudent and excellent Letelesha resolved to use one more endeavor before
committing such an act. He therefore increased the amount of property,
which had the desired effect. The boy was surrendered, and the valuable
collection of goods sacrificed in his stead.* This, it is thought, will be the

* Long-, ut supra, 35-78,


last time the inhuman custom will be attempted in the tribe. " The origin
of this sanguinary sacrifice is unknown ; probably it existed previously to
their intercourse with the white traders." * They believed that the success
of their enterprises, and all undertakings, depended upon their faithfully
adhering to the due performance of these rites.

In his way to Washington, he staid some days in Philadelphia, where
Mr. Neagle had a fine opportunity of taking his portrait, which he performed
with wonderful success. It was copied for Dr. Godmarfs Natural History,
and adorns the second volume of that valuable work.

METEA, chief of the Pottowattomies, is brought to our notice on account
of the opposition he made to the sale of a large tract of his country. In
1821, he resided upon the Wabash. To numerous treaties, from 1814 to
1821, we find his name, and generally at the head of those of his tribe.
At the treaty of Chicago, in the year last mentioned, he delivered the follow-
ing speech, after Governor Casshad informed him of the objects of his mission.

"My father, We have listened to what you have said. We shall now

v /

retire to our camps and consult upon it. You will hear nothing more from
us at present. [This is a uniform custom of all the Indians. When the
council was again convened, Metea continued.] We meet you here to-day,
because we had promised it, to tell you our minds, and what we have agreed
UDon among ourselves. You will listen to us with a good mind, and believe
wliat we say. You know that we first came to this country, a long time ago,
and when we sat ourselves down upon it, we met with a great many hard-
ships and difficulties. Our country was then very large ; but it has dwindled
away to a small spot, and you wish to purchase that ! This has caused us to
reflect much upon what you have told us ; and we have, therefore, brought
all the chiefs and warriors, and the young men and women and children of
our tribe, that one part may not do what the others object to, and that all
may be witness of what is going forward. You know your children. Since
you first came among them, they have listened to your words with an at-
tentive ear, and have always hearkened to your counsels. Whenever you
have had a proposal to make to us, whenever you have had a favor to ask of
us, we have always lent a favorable ear, and our invariable answer has been
' yes.' This you know ! A long time has passed since we first came upon
our lands, and our old people have all sunk into their graves. They had
sense. We are all young and foolish, and do not wish to do any thing that
they would not approve, were they living. We are fearful we shall offend
their spirits, if we sell our lands; and we are fearful we shall oifend you, if
we do not sell them. This has caused us great perplexity of thought, because
we have counselled among ourselves, and do not know how we can part with
the land. Our country w r as given to us by the Great Spirit, who gave it to us
to hunt upon, to make our cornfields upon, to live upon, and to make down
our beds upon when we die. And he would never forgive us, should we
bargain it away. When you first spoke to us for lands at St. Mary's, we said
we had a little, and agreed to sell you a piece of it; but we told you we
could spare no more. Now you ask us again. You are never satisfied!
We have sold you a great tract of land, already ; but it is not enough ! We
sold it to you for the benefit of your children, to farm and to live upon.
We have now but little left. We shall want it all for ourselves. We know
not how long we may live, and we wish to have some lands for our children
to hunt upon. You are gradually taking away our hunting-grounds. Your
children are driving us before them. We are growing uneasy. What lands
you have, you may retain forever ; but we shall sell no more. You think,
perhaps, that I speak in passion ; but my heart is good towards you. I speak
like one of your own children. I am an Indian, a red-skin, and live by
hunting and fishing, but my country is already too small ; and I do not know
how to bring up my children, if I give it all away. We sold you a fine tract
of land at St. Mary's. We said to you then it was enough to satisfy your
children, and the last we should sell : and we thought it would be the
.ast you would ask for. We have now told you what we had to say. It is

* Long, ut supra, 357-8.


what w.'is determined on, in a council among ourselves; and what I have
spoken, is the voice of my nation. On this account, all our people have
conn: here to listen to me; but do not think we have a had opinion of
you. When- should we get a had opinion of you ? We speak to \ou
with a good heart, and the feelings of a friend. You are acquainted with
this piece of land the country we live in. Shall we give it up? Take
notice, it is a small piece of land, and if we give it away, what will become
of us ? The Great Spirit, who has provided it for our use, allows us to keep
it, to bring up our young men and support our families. We should incur his
anger, if we bartered it away. If we had more land, you should get more,
but our land has been wasting away ever since the white people became our
neighbors, and we have now hardly enough left to cover the bones of our
tribe. You ffre in the midst of your red children. What is due to us in
money, we wish, and will receive at this place; and we want nothing more.
We ail shake hands with you. Behold our warriors, our women, and chil-
dren. Take pity on us and on our words."

Notwithstanding the decisive language held by Metea in this speech, against
selling land, yet his name is to the treaty of sale. And in another speech of
about equal length, delivered shortly after, upon the same subject, the same
determination is manifest throughout.

At this time he appeared to be about forty years of age, and of a noble
and dignified appearance. He is allowed to be the most eloquent chief of
his nation. In the last war, he fought against the Americans, and, in the
attack on Fort Wayne, was severely wounded ; on which account he draws a
pension from the British government.*

At the time of the treaty of Chicago, of which we have made mention,
several other chiefs, besides Metea, or, as his name is sometimes written,
Meeteya, were very prominent, and deserve a remembrance. Among them
may be particularly named

KEEWAGOUSHKUM, a chief of the first authority in the Ottowa nation.
We shall give a speech which he made at the time, which is considered
very valuable, as well on account of the history it contains, as for its merits
in other respects. INDIAN HISTORY by an Indian, must be the most valuable
part of any work about thehi. Keewagoushkum began :

"My father, listen to me! The first white people seen by us were the
Frencn. When they first ventured into these lakes, they hailed us as children ;
they came with presents and promises of peace, and we took them by the
hand. We gave them what they wanted, and initiated them into our mode
of life, which they readily fell into. After some time, during which we had
become well acquainted, we embraced their father, (the king of France,) as
our father. Shortly after, these people that wear red coats, (the English,)
came to this country, and overthrew the French ; and they extended their
hand to us in friendship. As soon as the French were overthrown, the British
told us, 'We will clothe you in the same manner the French did. We will
supply you with all you want, and w r ill purchase all your peltries, as they did.'
Sure enough! after the British took possession of the country, they fulfilled
ill I their promises. When they told us we should have any thing, we were
sure to get it; and we got from them the best goods. Some time after the
British had been in possession of the country, it was reported that another
people, who wore white clothes, had arisen and driven the British out of the
land. These people we first met at Greenville, [in 1795, to treat with General
Wayne,] and took them by the hand. When the Indians first met the Ameri-
can chief, [Wayne,] in council, there were but few Ottowas present; but he
said to them, ' When I sit myself down at Detroit, you will all see me.'
Shortly ait'T, he arrived at Detroit. Proclamation was then made for all the
Indians to come in. We were to!d, [by the general,] 'The reason I do not
push those British farther is, that we may not forget their example in giving
you presents of cloth, arms, ammunition, and whatever else you may require.'
Sure enough! The first time, we were clothed with great liberality. You
gave us strouds, guns, ammunition, and many other things we stood in need

* Schoolcraft's Travels.


of, and said, ' This is the way you may always expect to be used.' It was
also said, that whenever we were in great necessity, you would help us.
When the Indians on the Maumee were first about to sell their lands, we
heard it with both ears, but we never received a dollar. The Chippewas,
the Pottowattomies, and the Ottowas ivere, originally, but one nation. We
separated from each other near Michilimackinac. We were related by the
ties of blood, language and interest ; but in the course of a long time, these
things have been forgotten, and both nations have sold their lands, without

Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 111 of 131)