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An Indian Woman Builds a Church

Native American Nations | Thirty Years with the Indians
 

8. The misuse of the indefinite article, which is wanting, in the Indian.

9. The habitual non-use of the imperative mood.

10. The transitive character of verbs requiring objective inflections, for the nominative, &c.

11. The absence of simple possessives.

12. The want of the auxiliary verbs have, are, is, &c.

John Sunday came to St. Mary's in the autumn of 1832. His prayers and exhortatory teaching completely non-plussed the Chippewas. They heard him refute all their arguments in their own language. He had, but a short time before, been one like themselves--a Manito worshiper, an idler, a drunkard. He produced a great sensation among them, and overthrew the loose fabric of their theology and mythology with a strong hand. I had never before heard the Chippewa language applied to religion, and listened with great interest to catch his phrases. I was anxious to hear how he would get along in the use of the dual pronoun we, as applied to inclusive and exclusive persons. He spoke at once of the affections as they exist between a father and his children, and addressed the Deity at all times as Nosa, which is the term for my father. He thus made God the inclusive head of every family, and brushed away the whole cobweb system of imaginary spirits, of the native Jossakeed, Medas, and Wabanos.

March 7th. "My heart was made glad," writes Mr. Boutwell from Lake Superior, "that Providence directed you to Detroit at a season so timely, bringing you into contact with the great and the good--giving you an opportunity of laying before them facts relative to the condition of the Indians, which eventuated in so much good. We do indeed rejoice in the formation of the 'Algic Society,' which is, I trust, the harbinger of great and extensive blessings to this poor and dying people."

8th. Mr. L. M. Warren reports from La Pointe, at the head of Lake Superior: "Since my last, Mr. Ayer has arrived from Sandy Lake. He reports that there have been two war parties sent out against the Sioux, by the Sandy Lake Band, thirty or forty men each, without accomplishing anything. Afterwards a third party of sixty men assembled and went out under the command of Songegomik--a young chief of distinguished character of the Sandy Lake Band. They discovered a Sioux camp of nineteen lodges, and succeeded in approaching them before daylight undiscovered, until they reached, in the form of a circle, within ten yards. They then opened a tremendous fire, and, as fast as the Sioux attempted to come from their lodges, they were shot dead, The yelling of Indians, screaming of women, and crying of children were distressing. One Sioux escaped unhurt, and notified a neighboring camp. Their approach to the assistance of their friends was ascertained by a distant firing of guns. The Chippewas, who by this time had exhausted their ammunition, began, and effected a retreat, leaving nineteen of their enemy dead, and forty wounded. This victory was achieved without the loss of a man on the part of the Chippewas.

"Since that battle was fought, a body of one hundred Sioux have attacked a fortified camp of the Mille Lac and Snake River band, and killed nine men and one woman."

18th. Mr. Trowbridge writes from Detroit: "We have just heard of the adjournment of Congress; a new tariff has been passed, together with a law empowering the President to enforce the collection of duties by calling in aid the force of the Union. These bills are accompanied by Mr. Clay's Law of Compromise, providing for the gradual reduction of duties to a revenue standard. So that the dreaded Carolina question will, it is supposed, blow over, leaving the Union as it was. The great men, too, who have been on opposite sides of this question, have shaken hands at parting, and this is looked upon as another auspicious sign.

"The release of the missionaries in Georgia, having settled that disagreeable and disgraceful affair to the State, although not done with that magnanimity which ought to have characterized the proceeding, leaves no general question at issue, but the Indian question; and from the prudent measures of government in that regard, it is to be hoped that that also will be, at length, amicably arranged.

"I mention these facts because I am told that no newspapers will be sent to the upper country."

18th. Lieut. J. Allen, U.S.A., way topographer on the recent expedition, sends me maps of Leech Lake, Cass Lake, and Itasca Lake, to be used in my narrative of the journey to the source of the Mississippi River. Correspondents appear solicitous for a published account of this expedition, and frequently allude to it, and to the opportunity it gave for extending our knowledge of the geology and natural history of the country.

April 8th. Dr. J.B. Crawe, of Waterton, N.Y., proposes an interchange of specimens in several departments of science. Hon. Micah Sterling, of the same place, commends to my notice Dr. Richard Clark, who is ordered on this frontier, as a "young man of merit and respectability." My correspondence with naturalists, in all parts of the Union, and my list of exchanges, had, indeed, for some years been large and active, and was by no means diminished since my last two expeditions. But new sympathies have been awakened, particularly during the last two years, with philanthropists and Christians, which added greatly to the number of my correspondents, without taking from its gratifications.

12th. Rev. Ansel R. Clark of Hudson, Ohio, an agent of the Education Society, writes on the importance of that cause, on the state and prospects of American society, the spread of vital morals in neighborhoods on the great line of the frontiers, Indian civilization, &c. In connection with the last topic, he acknowledges the receipt of the proceedings published by the Algic Society, and expresses his interest in its objects.

This society, by its standing committee here, received Elder John Sunday in the autumn, furnished him with lodgings while at the place, and an outfit for his missions to the Indians at Keweena Bay in Lake Superior. It also furnished John Cabeach and John Otanchey--all converted Chippewas from the vicinity of Toronto, U.C., with the means of practical teaching and traveling among various bands of the Northern Chippewas. It sent an express in the month of January to La Pointe, L.S., to communicate with the mission family there, with their papers, letters, &c. Regular monthly meetings of the St. Mary's committee were held, and the proceedings denote the collection of much information of high interest to the cause of the red man.

15th. I was anxious now to extend the sphere of my observation to Europe. I had been engaged twelve consecutive years out of a period of fifteen (omitting 1823, 1828, 1829 and 1830) in journeys chiefly in the great Valley of the Mississippi, the vast flanks of the Rocky Mountains, the Upper Lakes, and the north-western frontiers. And I began to sigh for a prospect of older countries and institutions. The time seemed favorable, in my mind, for such a movement, and I wrote to a friend high in influence at Washington, on the subject. In a reply of this date, he throws, with adroitness, cold water on the subject. He weighs matters in scales which will only keep their equipoise at the place of the seat of government; and, if I may say so, require their equipoise to be kept up by casting on the golden weights of political expediency. Like those seemingly mysterious charms which produce the variations in the compass, the effects are always instantly visible, we see the dip and intensity of the needle, while the causes are in great measure out of sight.

A correspondent at Washington writes--"The President" talks of a tour to the East. He will probably leave here about the last of May. He will go to Portland, then through New Hampshire and Vermont to Lake Champlain, and thence through the western part of New York to Buffalo. This was originally the programme of Gen. Jackson's tour to New England in 1833.

16th. Charles Cleland, Esq., of Detroit, writes: "My partner, Franklin Sawyer, Jr., has, for some months past, been collecting materials to enable him to publish a history of Detroit, and he has this moment requested me to solicit your friendly aid. You might have in your possession many interesting facts, and much information which might give great value to the work."

The true history of Detroit lies scattered abroad in the public archives of Paris and London, and in the Catholic College of Quebec. It is inseparable in a measure, not only from the history of Michigan, but New France.

17th. George L. Whitney, of Detroit, writes me respecting the printing of the narrative of my expedition to Itasca Lake.

19th. Rev. John Clark writes from New York, that the Methodist Society have determined to establish a mission among the Chippewas at Sault St. Marie--that he is pleased to hear the "native speakers" (Sunday, Cabeach and Tanchay) have wintered in the county, and that he expects to reach St. Mary's by the 10th of June.

20th. Dr. D. Houghton transmits from Detroit, a map necessary to illustrate my narrative of the expedition to Itasca Lake.

May 9th. Wm. Cooper, of New York, undertakes to describe the collection of fresh-water shells made on the recent expedition. "You are not, perhaps, aware," he adds, "that Dr. Torrey is gone to Europe. He sailed rather unexpectedly in February, and will be absent until next October. I hope this will not be too great a delay for you, as it would be difficult to find another botanist equally capable of describing your plants.

"Dr. Dekay is in New York at present, and I have no doubt will contribute his assistance in the examination of your collection."

Major H. Whiting remarks: "The lake here is about two feet lower than it was at this time the last year. How is the level with you? I have the cause fixed on record this time. Mem.--Not much snow during the winter, and a dry, a very dry spring--only one brief rain during the months of March and April. We must watch over these things and fix data, which will show that the theorizing of the past, has sprung mostly from the barrenness of observation.

"Emigration is settling again this way, as if the East were in love with the West. I am not surprised at it. An admirer of the picturesque might like the hills of the former, but a farmer would prefer to see them lie down on one of our prairies--such as Prairie Rond. I found out all their fascination when lately on a visit to the St. Joseph's country."

20th. I had now performed my last labor at St. Mary's--which was the preparation of my narrative of the expedition to Itasca Lake. I looked, in parting, with fond regret at the trees I had planted, the house I had built, the walks I had constructed, the garden I had cultivated, the meadow lands I had reclaimed from the tangled forest, and the wide and noble prospects which surrounded Elmwood. All was to be left--and I only waited for a suitable vessel to embark, bag and baggage, for the sacred island whose formal polysyllables had formed the dread of my spelling days at school--Michilimackinack.


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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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