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Descendant of One Spared at the Massacre of St. Bartholomew's

Native American Nations | Thirty Years with the Indians
 

15th. A letter of this date from Council Bluffs, describes a most shocking and tragic death of a Sioux girl, of only fourteen years of age, who was sacrificed to the spirit of corn, by the Pawnees, on the 22d of February last. For this purpose she was placed on a foot-rest, between two trees, about two feet apart, and raised above the ground, just high enough to have a torturing fire built under her feet. Here she was held by two warriors, who mounted the rest beside her, and who applied lighted splinters under her arms. At a given signal a hundred arrows were let fly, and her whole body was pierced. These were immediately withdrawn, and her flesh cut from her bones in small pieces, which were put into baskets, and carried into the corn-field, where the grain was being planted, and the blood squeezed out in each hill.

CHEROKEE EMIGRATION.--A letter from Gen. Scott of this date, to the Governor of Georgia, states that, of the two parties of Cherokees, or those who are for and against the treaty of New Echota, only about five hundred (including three hundred and seventy-sixty Creeks) remain east of the Mississippi, and of the anties a little over five thousand souls. About two thousand five hundred of these had been emigrated in June, when the emigration was suspended on account of sickness. An arrangement was made in the month of September, by which John Ross was, in effect, constituted the contractor for the removal of the remainder (twelve thousand five hundred) of his people.

16th. Mr. J. Toulmin Smith, the phrenologist, of Boston, writes: "I perfectly concur with you in your remarks on the minor details of phrenology. They have hitherto been loose and vague, but though at first sight they seem minor, they will be found, in truth, of great importance to the thorough elucidation and application of the subject.

"The Indian tribes do, indeed, present most interesting subjects for examination, and it is an anxious wish of my mind to be able to examine them thoroughly (per crania), and also to compare them with the crania found in their ancient burial-places, supposed to be the remnants of an anterior race. Not only will this throw light on their history, but it will do so also on those 'minor' but most interesting points, to the elucidation of which my attention has been, and is particularly directed. I should be exceedingly happy to be able to compare also one or two female Indian skulls with the males of the same tribe. The females, I presume, may be easily recognized phrenologically; it may be done with facility by the large philoprogenitiveness, and the smaller general size of the head."

22d. Rumor says that Mr. Harris, Com. Indian Affairs, had entered into land speculations in Arkansas, which led Mr. Van Buren to call for a report, which, being made, the President returned it with the pithy and laconic endorsement "unsatisfactory," whereupon Mr. H. tendered his resignation. Rumor also says, that Mr. T. Hartley Crawford, of Pennsylvania, is appointed in his stead. This gentleman is represented to be a person of some ability; an old black-letter lawyer, but a man who is apt to lose sight of main questions in the search after technicalities. They say he is very opinionated and dogmatical; personally unacquainted with the character of the Indians, and the geography of the western country, and not likely, therefore, to be very ready or practical in the administrative duties of the office. Time must test this, and time sometimes agreeably disappoints us.

29th. I reached Detroit this day, with my family, in the new steamer "Illinois," having had a pleasant passage, for the season, from Mackinack. The style of the lake steamboats is greatly improved within the last few years, and one of the first-class boats bears no slight resemblance to a floating parlor, where every attention and comfort is promptly provided. He must be fastidious, indeed, who is not pleased.

31st. Col. Whiting called at my office to get the loan of an elementary work on conchology. Dr. Pitcher stated that the Board of Regents of the University of Michigan had adopted a plan of buildings to be erected at Ann Arbor. Four Saginaw delegates are sent in by Ogema Kegido, to ascertain the time and place of their annuity payments.

Nov. 4th. The Regents of the University of Michigan adopt resolutions respecting the establishment of branches in the counties, which are apprehended to be rather in advance of their means; but the measure is stated to be popular.

3d. Mr. James Lawrence Schoolcraft, the acting agent of Indian Affairs at Michilimackinack, writes respecting the additional claim of the estate of John Johnston, an Irish gentleman of the upper country, whose name is mentioned in a prior part of these memoirs: "I have looked over the old books belonging to the estate, and find the following result upon the most critical examination.

"William's account of the beaver skins due was 7,221. Mr. Edmonds' account was 4,313. My own 6,043. William's account exceeded mine 1,178. Mine exceeds Mr. Edmonds' 1,730. In my account I have cast out all debts (or skins) charged for liquor. William did not. Mr. Edmonds did.

"I found all the books but one in the box, which one, according to William's account, contained five hundred and sixty skins. From these five hundred and sixty, I made deductions corresponding with the skins found to be charged in all the other books, so that the difference can be but very trifling, and, by the liberal discount made, I think, will be in favor of the claim."

The account stands thus:--

Due 6,043 beavers at $4 = $24,172 00 Average loss on four years' trade, from 1813 to 1816, at $2,014 per annum = $8,056 00

Add:--

Item 2 as allowed in 1836. $6,040 00 " 6 " " . $9,192 00 " 7 " " . $1,141 00 " 8 " " . $44 90 = $10,384 72 ----------$42,612 72 Allowed in 1836. = $32,436 72 ----------$10,176 00

"Books are shown from 1816 to 1828, a period of twelve years; consequently twelve divided into 24,172 will give the average loss for the four years' trade, for which no books are shown. Mr. Edmonds made an error in computing the number of skins due; the other difference was, of course, in consequence. I am inclined to think Mr. E. was prejudiced against the claim, as I cannot see how he could so much reduce the number of skins due."

6th. The Rev. Mr. Potter, a missionary for sixteen years among the Cherokees, called and introduced himself to me. He said that he thought the Cherokees had received enough for their lands; that they were peaceably emigrating west, but had been delayed by low water in the streams. While thus waiting, about five hundred persons had died.

This gentleman had been stationed at Creek Path, where the morally celebrated Catherine Brown and her brother and parents lived. While there, he had a church of about sixty members, and thinks they exhibited as good evidences of Christianity as the same number of whites would do. He speaks in raptures of the country this people are living in, and are now emigrating from, in the Cumberland Mountains, as full of springs, a region of great salubrity, fertility, and picturesque beauty. Says a portion of the country, to which they are embarking west, is also fertile.

Florida, the papers of this date tell us, is now free from Indians. This can only be strictly true of the towns on the Apalachicola, &c. The majority of them are doubtless gone.

A Wyandot, of Michigan, named Thomas Short, complains that his lands, at Flat Rock, are overflowed by raising a mill-dam. Dispatched a special agent to inquire into and remedy this trespass.

The Swan Creeks complain that a Frenchman, named Yaks, having been permitted to live in one of their houses at Salt River, on rent, refuses to leave it, intending to set up a pre-emption right to the lands. I replied, "That is a matter I will inquire into. But you have ceded the land without stipulating for improvements, and cannot prevent pre-emptions."

7th. I received instructions from Washington, dated 29th Oct., to draw requisitions in favor of the Ottawas and Chippewas, for the amounts awarded for their public improvements in the lower peninsula, agreeably to the estimates of Messrs. MacDonnel and Clarke, under the treaty of March 28th, 1836.

Eshtonaquot (Clear Sky), principal chief of the Swan Creeks, states that his people will be ready to remove to their location on the Osage, by the middle of next summer. He states that his brother-in-law, an Indian, living at River Au Sables, in Upper Canada, reports that a large number of Potawattomies have fled to that province from Illinois; and that many of the Grand River Ottawas, during the past summer, visited the Manitoulines, and gave in their names to migrate thither. Little reliance can be placed on this information. Besides, the government does not propose to hinder the movements of the Indians.

Maj. Garland states that he was present, a few years ago, at Fort Snelling, Upper Mississippi, at the time the fracas occurred in which the Sioux fired on the Chippewas and killed four of their number. Col. Snelling exhibited the greatest decision of character on this occasion. He immediately put the garrison under arms, and seized four Sioux, and put them in hold till their tribe should surrender the real murderers. Next day the demand was complied with, by the delivery of two men, to replace two of the four hostages, the other two of the prisoners being, by hap, the murderers. The Indian agent vacillated as to the course to be adopted. Col. Snelling said that he would take the responsibility of acting. He then turned the aggressors over to the Chippewas, saying: "Punish them according to your law; and, if you do not, I will." The Chippewas selected nine of their party as executioners. They then told the prisoners to run, and shot them down as they fled. Two were shot on the very day after the murder, and two the following day, when they were brought in. One of the latter was a fine, bold, tall young fellow, who, having hold of the other prisoner's hand, observed him to tremble. He instantly threw his hand loose from him, declaring "that he was ashamed of being made to suffer with a coward."

8th. Col. Whiting exhibited to me, at his office, several bound volumes of MSS., being the orderly book of his father, an adjutant in a regiment of Massachusetts Continentals, during the great struggle of 1776. Many of the orders of Gen. Washington show the exact care and knowledge of details, which went to make up a part of his military reputation.

12th. Texas is involved in troubles with fierce and intractable bands of Indians. Among these the Camanches are prominent, who have shown themselves, in force, near Bexar, and in a conflict killed ten Americans with arrows.


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Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers, 1851

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