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Native American Nations | Thirty Years with the Indians
 

13th. Iawbeance, The Little Male, a young man.

14th. Margret, wife of Metakoosega, came in the name of her husband, confined by a sore hand and unable to work. 3, 10.

15th. Wabishkipenaysee, 6, 18, an Ontonagon Indian, who thinks he is abandoned by his Manito.

16th. Naugitshigome and band, 12, 48. This is an old man, a chief by descent, but has neither medal nor flag from the British or American government. His followers, consisting of some relations, entitle him to some respect, although his foreign attachments have prevented my receiving him as a chief. His visits are, however, constant, and he professes himself friendly. His prejudices have evidently given way a good deal, and the kindness and charity shown to him, mixed with admonition, have produced a sensible change in his feelings.

18th. Caubaonaquet, 6, 36.

21st. Moazomonee, 4, 14, of St. Croix, L.S., made a speech, stating the circumstances which brought him down, and imploring charity in clothes, &c. Presented a pipe to him; gave him an axe, spears, chisel, fire-steel, leggings, &c.

24th. Oaugaugee, Little Crow, 4, 12, a son-in-law of Naugitchigome, brought some hares as a present.

27th. Ochipway, a stout, athletic young Indian, having a wife and children. He said his youngest child was ill, and requested a physician to be sent to see him.

27th. Negaubeyun, 12, 36.

Oshawano. Told him to come some other time. Axe and spears.

29th. Akewaizee applied for provisions and an axe, saying his axe had been stolen; that he wished to go down the river. I taxed him with selling his axe for liquor, but he denied this, saying that he never sold what he received as presents, and that it was stolen while he was fishing. Gave him an axe, with an injunction that he must take better care of it than he did of the last. Ten rations.

30th. Metacosseguay and wife. Said he had not been able to hunt or fish for some time, and had been disappointed in getting flour for some fish he had sold; that the trader had promised him flour when the vessel came, but no vessel had come. This being the third visit of this man and family within three weeks, I told him that while he was unwell I had given him, but now he was able to hunt or trap or fish, he must do so; that he came to me too often, and sometimes after he had sold the avails of his hunt, and taken the whole in liquor, he relied upon me for provisions; that I saw clearly what was going on about me, and he could not deceive me by idle stories, &c.; that he was constantly calling me father, and entreating me to look upon him as a child, and I did so, not only in giving, but also in refusing; that reasonable children did not trouble their fathers too often, and never requested anything but when they were really in need, &c. I ordered him a plug of tobacco, and told him to go to his lodge and smoke upon my words, and he would find them good. He went away seemingly as well pleased as if I had met his requests, shaking me and my interpreter cordially by the hand, and his wife dropping a curtsey as she left the office.

30th. Moazomonee, nephew, and brother-in-law, came for some muskrat traps I had promised him on his last visit. As this man belongs to a band on the head of River St. Croix, 700 miles inland, and will return there in the spring, the opinions he may imbibe of our government may have an important influence with his relatives, and I therefore determined to make a favorable impression upon him by issuing some presents. In his lodge are four men, three women, and a number of children. Issued sixteen rations.

Decr. 1st. Cath. and Gikkaw applied for awls.

2d. Oshawano and his youngest son. Said he had three daughters who had to cut wood every day, and had no axe of their own; that he was in want of an ice-chisel; fever in family. Gave him twenty rations. Thanked me and bade me good-day.

4th. Caubamossa, nephew, wife, and child. Twelve rations.

4th. Odawau, Refused provisions. Elder brother to Oshawano, alias Weenekiz.

4th. Getsha Akkewaize. Refused provisions. Told him that on account of visits to D.I., &c.

4th. Moazonee came for traps promised him, also a knife and fire-steel. Told him to hunt assiduously, but if he could procure nothing, to come to me for provisions.

7th. Merchand. Old iron to mend.

7th. Nauwaquaygahig. 12, axe, &c.

9th. Namewunagunboway. 12.

9th. Merchand. Twenty rations, five persons.

9th. Meesho.

13th. Ketetckeewagauboway. Axe and spears.

13th. Gitshee Ojibway.

13th. Metackossegay.

17th. Naugitchigome called at house. Sent off with, a reprimand never to call on Sunday.

18th. Iaubence brought some birds. Gave rations.

My correspondence during the autumn was by no means neglected. Col. McKenney, Com. Ind. Affairs, writes (Oct. 17th) in his usual friendly vein. The official influence of his visit to this remote portion of the country is seen in several things. He has placed a sub-agent at La Pointe. He has approved the agent's course of policy pursued here, and placed the Indian affairs generally on a better basis.

In his "sketches" of his recent tour, he seeks to embody personal and amusing things which daily befell the party--matters upon which he was quite at home. I had mentioned to him, while here, that the time and labor necessary to collect information on Indian topics, of a literary character, imposed a species of research worthy of departmental patronage; that I was quite willing to contribute in this way, and to devote my leisure moments to further researches on the aboriginal history and languages, if the government would appropriate means to this end. I took the occasion to put these views in writing, and, by way of earnest, enclosed him part of a vocabulary.

Nov. 1st. The false views of Indian history and philology, engendered in some degree by the misapprehensions of Mr. Heckewelder and some other writers, which were exposed by a glowing article in the North American Review last year, have had the effect to provoke further discussion. C. is disposed to prepare another article for that paper, and is looking about him keenly for new facts. In a letter of this date, he says: "I am extremely anxious for your conjugation of the Chippewa substantive verb. Let nothing prevent you from sending it to me, as it is more essential than I have time to explain to you. Send me also your observations on the Chippewa language. Let them come as you had them. Take no time to copy them."

11th. Mr. R. S. writes one of his peculiar letters, in which the sentiments seem to be compressed, as if some species of finesse were at work--an attenuated worldly precaution which leads him perpetually to half conceal sentiment, purpose and acts, as if the operations and business of life were not ten times better effected by plain straightforwardness than by any other mode. He has, however, so long dealt with tricky fur-traders and dealers in interested sentiment, that it seems his intellectual habits are formed, to some extent, on that model. What annoys me is, that he supposes himself hid, when, like the ostrich, it is only his own head that is concealed in the sand. Yet this man is alive to general moral effort, unites freely in all the benevolent movements of the day, and has the general air of friendliness in his personal manners. It continually seems that all the outer world's affairs are well judged of, but when he comes to draw conclusions of moral men who have the power of affecting his own interests, there is apparent constraint, or palpable narrow-mindedness.

29th. Professor Chas. Anthon, of Columbia College, writes for specimens of Indian eloquence. The world has been grossly misled on this subject. The great simplicity, and occasional strength, of an Indian's thoughts, have sometimes led to the use of figures and epithets of beauty. He is surrounded by all the elements of poetry and eloquence--tempests, woods, waters, skies. His mythology is poetic. His world is replete with spirits and gods of all imaginable kinds and hues. His very position--a race falling before civilization, and obliged to give up the bow and arrow for the plough--is poetic and artistic. But he has no sustained eloquence, no continuous trains of varying thought. It is the flash, the crack of contending elements. It is not the steady sound of the waterfall. Such was the eloquent appeal of Logan, revised and pointed by Gibson. Such was the more sustained speech of Garangula to La Barrie, the Governor-General of Canada, with La Hontan as a reporter. Such were the speeches of Pontiac and the eloquent Sagoyawata, or Red Jacket, the readiest reasoner of them all, which were diluted rather than improved by admiring paragraphists. Many persons have purposed to write a volume of Indian eloquence. Mr. Conant's design on this subject is fresh. The present request is to supply Mr. Barker, the publisher of "Stephen's Greek Thesaurus," Cambridge, England. What under the sun do the learned world suppose the Indians are made of? A man spending his time painfully to catch a beaver, or entrap an enemy, without stores of thought, without leisure, with nothing often to eat, and nothing to put on but tatters and rags, and, withal, with the whole Anglo-Saxon race treading on his toes and burning out his vitals with ardent spirits. Such is the Indian.

I sent the learned professor some perfectly truthful specimens, recently delivered here on the occasion of a surgeon from the fort digging up the body of an Indian woman for dissection. They expressed plain truth without eloquence, and I never heard anything more of the professor.

30th. Science in America.--I received a friendly letter from Dr. Samuel L. Mitchell, N. Y. There are, of recent years, more purely scientific men in the land, no doubt, than the venerable doctor. But could this have been said truly even ten years ago? He is now, perhaps, the best ichthyologist in the Union. He is a well-read zoologist, an intelligent botanist and a general physiologist, and has been for a long series of years the focus of the diffusion of knowledge on a great variety of subjects. Gov. Clinton has well called him the "Delphic Oracle" in one of his Letters of Hibernicus, because every one who has a scientific question to ask comes to him.

"The Lyceum of Natural History," he writes, "is going on prosperously in the collection of articles and in the publication of intelligence. The museum is enlarging and the annals progressing. The intercourse of New York city with almost numberless parts of the globe, aided by the enterprise and generosity of our navigating citizens, is productive of an almost constant supply of natural productions, some familiar, some known to naturalists, but not before seen by us, and others new to the whole class of observers."

Dec. 1st. Much leisure during the four years I have been at this agency, added to an early developed distaste for the ordinary modes of killing time, has enabled me to give no little of my leisure to literary pursuits. The interesting phenomena of the Indian grammar have come in for a large share of my attention. This has caused me to revise and extend my early studies, and to rummage such books on general grammar and philology as I could lay my hands on. Every winter, beginning as soon as the navigation closes and the world is fairly shut out, has thus constituted a season of studies. My attention has been perpetually divided between books and living interpreters. This may be said to be my fourth year's course with the Johnstons on the languages.

I have also resumed, as an alternate amusement, "The Literary Voyager." I wrote this year "The Man of Bronze," an essay on the Indian character, which has contributed to my own amusement, nor have I determined to show it to a human eye.

            Let others write what others deftly may,
            I aim with thought to fill my wintry day.


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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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