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Michilimackinack, A Summer Resort

Native American Nations | Thirty Years with the Indians

American antiquities--Michilimackinack a summer resort--Death of Ogimau Keegido--Brothertons--An Indian election--Cherokee murders--Board of Regents of the Michigan University--Archaeological facts and rumors--Woman of the Green Valley--A new variety of fish--Visits of the Austrian and Sardinian Ministers to the U.S.--Mr. Gallup--Sioux murders--A remarkable display of aurora borealis--Ottawas of Maumee--Extent of auroral phenomena--Potawattomie cruelty--Mineralogy--Death of Ondiaka--Chippewa tradition--Fruit trees--Stone's preparation of the Life and Times of Sir William Johnson--Dialectic difference between the language of the Ottawas and the Chippewas--Philological remarks on the Indian languages--Mr. T. Hulbert.

1839. June 25th. ALEX V.V. BRADFORD, Esq., of New York, being about to publish a work on American antiquities1, solicits permission to use some of my engravings. I am glad to see an increasing interest in our archaeology, and hope to live to see the day when the popular tastes will permit books to be published on the subject.

26th. Mrs. Morris brings a letter from Hon. A.E. Wing, of Monroe. She contemplates spending the summer on the island on account of impaired health. The pure air and fine summer climate of Mackinack begin to be appreciated within a year or two by valetudinarians. It is a perfect Montpelier to them. The inhaling of its pure and dry atmosphere in midsummer is found to act very favorably on the digestive organs. No process of health-making gymnastics is prescribed by physicians. They merely direct persons to walk about and enjoy the sights and scenes about them, to saunter along its winding paths, or go fishing or gunning. Its woods are delightful, and its cliffs command the sublimest views. One would think that if the muses are ever routed from the bare hills of Olympus and the springs of Helicon, they would take shelter in the glens of Michilimackinack, where the Indian pukwees, or fairies, danced of old. I received intelligence of the death of Ogimau Keegido (Speaker Chief), the head sachem of the Saginaws. He had indulged some time in drinking, and, after getting out of this debauch, was confined by sickness three days. Death came to his relief. Some years ago this man met with an accident by the discharge of a gun, by which his liver protruded; he took his knife and cut off a small piece, which he ate as a panacea. He was a man of strong passions and ungoverned will. He visited Washington in 1836, and, with other chiefs, sold the Saginaw reservations.

The party of Saginaws who brought me the above information had among them twenty-two orphan children, whose parents had died of small-pox. They were on their way to the Manitoulines.

28th. Mud-je-ke-wis, a minor chief of Grand Traverse Bay, surrenders a belt of blue and white wampum, and a gilt gorget, which he had received from some officer of the British Indian Department in Canada, saying he renounces allegiance to that government, and reports himself, from this day, as an American.

29th. Chingossamo (Big Sail), of Cheboigan, having migrated to the Manitouline Islands with thirteen families, about seventy-nine souls, an election was this day held, at this office, by the Indians, to supply the place of ruling chief. Sticks, of two colors, were prepared as ballots for the two candidates. Of these, Keeshowa received two-thirds, and was declared duly elected. I granted a certificate of this election. The present population is reduced to forty-four souls, who live in thirteen families. This band are Chippewas.

Gen. Scott arrives at this post, on a general tour of inspection of the northern posts, and proceeds the same day to Sault St. Marie, accompanied by Maj. Whiting.

July 2d. The Wisconsin Democrat, of this date, contains an interesting sketch of the history of the Brotherton Indians, which is represented to be "composed of the descendants of the six following named tribes of Indians, viz., the Naragansetts, of Rhode Island; the Stoningtons, or Pequoits, of Groton, Connecticut; the Montauks, of Long Island; the Mohegans, Nianticks, and Farmington Indians, also of Connecticut. Several years before the American Revolution, a single Indian of the Montauk tribe left his nation and traveled into the State of New York. He had no fixed purpose in view more than (as he expressed it) to see the world. During his absence, however, he fortunately paid a visit to the Oneidas, then a very large and powerful tribe of Indians residing in the State of New York. With them he concluded to rest a short time. They, discovering that he possessed 'some of the white man's learning,' employed him to teach a common reading and writing school among them. He remained with them longer than he at first intended. During this time the Oneida chief made many inquiries respecting his (the Montauk) tribe, and the other tribes before mentioned, and received, for answer, 'that they had almost become extinct--that their game was fast disappearing--that their landed possessions were very small--that the pure blood of their ancestors had become mixed with both the blood of the white man and the African---that new and fatal diseases had appeared among them--that the curse of all curses, the white man's stream of liquid fire, was inundating their very existence, and the gloomy prospect of inevitable annihilation seemed to stare them in the face--that no 'hope with a goodly prospect fed the eye.' The Oneida chief, actuated partly with a desire to extend the hand of brotherly affection to rescue the above tribes from the melancholy fate that seemed to await them, and partly with a desire to manifest his deep sense of the valuable services rendered to him and his nation in his having taught among them a school, gave to the schoolteacher a tract of land twelve miles square for the use and benefit of his tribe, and the other tribes mentioned."

The treaty of the 14th of January, 1837, with the Saginaws, is confirmed by the Senate.

3d. The Arkansas Little Rock Gazette, of this date, states that the long existing feud in the Cherokee nation, which has divided its old and new settlers, has terminated in a series of frightful murders. Its language is this:--

"We briefly alluded in our last to a report from the west that John Ridge, one of the principal chiefs of the Cherokee nation, had been assassinated. More recent accounts confirm the fact, and bring news of the murder of Ridge's father, together with Elias Boudinot and some ten or twelve men of less distinction (some accounts say thirty or forty), all belonging to Ridge's party.

"These murders are acknowledged to have been committed by the partisans of John Boss, between whom and Ridge a difference has for a long time subsisted, growing out of the removal of the Cherokees from the old nation to the west, Ridge having uniformly been favorable to that course and Ross opposing it."

A council was recently held to consult in relation to the laws to be adopted by the united nation in their present country, there being some essential differences between the code by which that portion of the nation recently emigrated from the east had been governed, and the laws adopted by the old settlers in the west. Each party contended for the adoption of its own code, and neither would concede to the other, and the council finally broke up without being able to come to any understanding on the subject. On his way from this council, Ridge was murdered. Ridge, although a recent emigrant, we understand agreed with the old settlers in regard to the adoption of their laws, while Ross contended for those of the old nation east.

After the murder of Ridge, General Arbuckle, the commander of the United States forces on this frontier, sent a detachment of dragoons to Ross, with a request that he would come to the garrison, who declined unless he could be allowed to bring with him some six or seven hundred of his armed partisans, and take them into the garrison with him. This, of course, could not be allowed, and so the detachment returned to the garrison, and after that the murders subsequent to that of Ridge were committed. One of them was perpetrated within the bounds of Washington County, in this State, and we hope the necessary steps will be taken by our authorities to secure and bring to trial the murderer, and thus preserve inviolate the jurisdiction of our State over her own soil. "We learn that a council was called of the whole nation, to be held yesterday, with a view of settling the existing difficulties, and we hope it may result in establishing peace among them."

3d. I received a letter introducing Mr. and Mrs. Kane, of Albany. We love an agreeable surprise. I recognized in Mrs. K. the daughter of an old friend--a most lady-like, agreeable, and talented woman; and deemed my time agreeably devoted in showing my visitors the curiosities of the island.

6th. The business of my superintendency calls me to Detroit. Fiscal questions, the employment of special agents, the collection of treasury drafts, the payment of annuities; these are some of the constant cares, full of responsibilities, which call for incessant vigilance. I reached the city in the steamer "Gen. Wayne," at 8 o'clock, in the morning.

8th. John A. Bell, and Sand Watie, Cherokee chiefs, publish in the Arkansas Gazette, an appeal to public justice, on the murder of the Ridges and Boudinot, which took place on the 22d of June previous.

13th. Rev. Mr. Duffield informs me of some geological antiquities, reported to have been recently discovered in Ohio, made in the course of the excavations on the line of the canal, between Cleaveland and Beaver.

15th. The Board of Regents of the University of Michigan inform me, by their secretary, of my having been placed on a committee, as chairman, to report "such amendments to the organic law of the University, as they shall deem essential, with a view to their presentation to the next legislature."

25th. Being on my passage from Detroit to Mackinack, on Lake Huron, a Mr. Wetzler, of Rock River, Wisconsin, stated to me that a Mr. Davy, an English emigrant, found, in making an excavation in his land near "Oregon," some antiquities, consisting of silver coins, for which Mr. Wetzler offered him, unsuccessfully, $50. The story looks very much like a humbug, but it was told with all seriousness by a respectable looking man.

A Mr. Ruggles, of Huron, Ohio, who was aboard of the same vessel, said, that hacks of an axe were found in buried cedars, some years ago, at a depth of about 40 feet below the surface, near the east edge of Huron County, Ohio. There are no cedars, he adds, now growing in that section of Ohio.

The Burlington Gazette (Iowa) says, "that a Sac and Fox war party recently returned from the Missouri, bringing eight scalps, and a number of female prisoners, and horses. The Indians murdered were of the Omaha tribe. The party consisted of ten men, with their squaws; and, although only eight scalps were brought in, it is supposed that not a single man escaped. We are not aware that feelings of hostility have heretofore existed between these nations. The ostensible object of the Sac and Fox party was to chastise the Sioux. The expedition was headed by Pa-ma-sa, the bold and daring brave who recently inflicted a dangerous wound upon the person of Ke-o-kuk."

26th. Arrived at Mackinack, in the steamer "United States," at 4 o'clock in the morning, after an absence of about twenty days.

27th. Mr. John R. Kellogg says, that during the early settlement of Onondaga, N.Y., say about 1800, in cutting into a tree, in the vicinity of Skaneateles, iron was struck. On searching, they cut out a rude chain, which was wound about in the wood, and appeared to have been fastened above. Query, had this been a pot trammel of some ancient explorer? Onondaga is known to have been early visited.

He also stated that three distinct hacks of an axe, of the ordinary size, were found, in cutting down an oak, at the same period, in Ontario County. Six hundred cortical layers were found outside of these antique hacks, indicating that they were made in the 12th century. I record these archaeological memoranda merely for inquiry.

1: This work was published, I think, in 1841.

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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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