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Michilimackinack, A Summer Resort

Native American Nations | Thirty Years with the Indians
 

29th. Osha-wus-coda-waqua, a daughter of Wabojeeg, a celebrated war chief of the close of last century, of Lake Superior, visited the office. She states that her name is the result of a dream, by some ancient crone, who officiated at her nativity, and that it means the Woman of the Green Valley. She is now about 60 years of age. When about 15 or 16, she is said to have been a slender, comely lass, with large bright hazel eyes, and a graceful figure. At this age, she married a young gentleman from the north of Ireland, of good family and standing, and high connections, who made a wild adventure into this region. This is the origin of the Johnston family, in the basin of Lake Superior, and the Straits of St. Mary's. She has had eight children, four sons and four daughters, all of whom grew up to maturity, and all but the eldest are now living. Her husband, who became a noted merchant or outfitter, a man of great influence with the Indians, and high intelligence and social virtues, died in 1828, at the age of about 66 years. She is now subject to some infirmities; fleshy and heavy, and strongly inclined, I should judge, to apoplexy. Her father, Wabojeeg, died of consumption, not very old. She told me that the hieroglyphics and pictures which the Indians cut on trees, or draw on barks, or rocks, which are designed to convey instruction, are called KE-KEE-WIN--a word which has its plural in un. It is a noun inanimate. She laughs at the attempts of the American and foreign traders to speak the Indian, the rules of which they perpetually, she says, violate.

31st. A new species of white fish appears in the St. Mary's this spring. It is characterized by a very small mouth, and pointed head, and a crowning back, and is a remarkably fat fish. The Odjibwas call it o-don-i-bee, or water-mouth. Hence the Canadian word Tulibee.

Wakazo, an Ottawa chief of Waganukizzie, and his band visit the office, to confer on their affairs. He persists in his former determination to form an agricultural settlement with his people, on the North Black River, Michigan shore, and says that they will go down, to open their farms, soon after the payment of the annuities.

Aug. 1st. Visited by the Baron Mareschal, Austrian Minister at Washington, and Count de Colobiano, Minister of the kingdom of Sardinia. These gentlemen both impressed me with their quiet, easy manner, and perfect freedom from all pretence. I went out with them, to show them the Arched Rock, the Sugar-loaf Rock, and other natural curiosities. At the Sugar-loaf Rock they got out of the carriage and strolled about. The baron and count at last seated themselves on the grass. The former was a tall, rather grave man, with blue eyes, well advanced in years, and a German air; the latter, three or four inches shorter of stature, with black eyes, an animated look, and many years the junior.

4th. My children arrived at Mackinack this evening, from their respective schools at Brooklyn and Philadelphia, on their summer vacation, and have, on examination, made good progress.

7th. Albert Gallup, Esq., of Albany, lands on his way to Green Bay as a U.S. commissioner to treat with the Stockbridges. This gentleman brought me official dispatches relative to his mission and the expenditures of it, and, by his ready and prompt mode of acting and speaking, led me to call to mind another class of visitors, who seem to aim by extreme formality and circumlocution to strive to hide want of capacity and narrow-mindedness. Mr. Gallup mentioned a passage of Scripture, which is generally quoted wrong--"he who reads may run"--which set me to hunting for it. The passage is "that he may run that readeth it."--HABAKKUK ii. 2.

10th. Mr. Stringham, of Green Bay, reports that he had recently visited the scene of a battle or affray between the Sioux and Chippewas, on Lake St. Croix, near the mouth of the St. Croix River, Upper Mississippi. One or two Sioux, it seems, had been killed by some thoughtless young men of a party of Chippewas, about three hundred strong. This party encamped on the south shores of Lake St. Croix. They were secretly followed by the Sioux, who, watching their opportunity, fell on the camp while they were asleep, near daylight. One hundred and twenty were killed in the onset. As soon as the Chippewas discovered their position, and recovered their self-possession, they rallied, and, attacking the assailants, drove them from the field, killed twenty, and chased them to near their village. Hearing of this, the captain of the steamer, on board of which Mr. S. was, went into the lake, and they viewed the dead bodies.

24th. Returned to Mackinack, after a trip of eight days to Detroit. The Iowa papers give accounts of the recent shocking murders committed by the Sioux. "We learn," says the Burlington Patriot, "from Governor Lucas and another gentleman, who came passengers on the 'Ione,' last evening, that two hundred and twenty Indians were killed in the upper country about the 1st inst. The facts, as they were related by a young gentleman who was at the treaty, are as follows: The Sioux had invited the Chippewas to meet them at St. Peter's, for the purpose of making a treaty of everlasting friendship. The Chippewas assembled accordingly--the pipe of peace was smoked--and they parted apparently good friends. A large party of the Chippewas was encamped at the Falls of St. Anthony, and a smaller party encamped on the St. Croix, on their way home, without the least suspicion of treachery on the part of the Sioux. While they were thus peaceably encamped, they were surprised by the Sioux, who commenced their butchery. They immediately rallied, but before the battle terminated the Chippewas lost one hundred and fifty at the Falls and twenty on the St. Croix. The number of Sioux killed on the occasion amounted to about fifty. We do not much wonder at the hostility that has been exhibited by the Sauks and Foxes against the Sioux, if this latter tribe has always been as treacherous as they were on the above occasion."

Sept. 3d. A remarkable and most magnificent display of the Aurora Borealis occurred in the evening. It began a quarter before eight, as I was sitting on the piazza in front of my house, which commands a view of the lake in front, and the whole southern hemisphere. From the zenith points of light flared down the southern hemisphere. The north had none. For five minutes the appearance, was most magnificent. Streaks of blue and crimson red light appeared in several parts. At ten minutes to eight, long lines began to form on the east, then west, and varying to north-west, very bright, silvery and phosphorescent. Before nine, the rays shot up from the horizon north-east, and finally north--the southern hemisphere, at the same time, losing its brilliance. This light continued in full activity of effulgence to ten, and, after my retiring from the piazza, its gleams were visible through the windows the greater part of the night, till two o'clock or later.

11th. A chief from St. Mary's, called Iawba Waddik (Male Reindeer), visited the office. This man's name affords an evidence of the manner in which a noun or adjective prefix is joined to a noun proper, namely, by the interposition of a consonant before the noun, whenever the latter begins, and the former ends, with a vowel. We cannot say, iawba-addik--male deer; but euphony requires that, in these cases, the letter w should precede, and soften the sound of the initial a.

This chief was first introduced to me in 1822. His tall and lithe form, his ease of manners, and a certain mild and civilized air, made me notice him. He turned out to be the youngest son of a noted war chief, called the White Fisher--Wa-bo-jeeg. He had, however, never been on the war path, but addressed himself early to the art of hunting, in which he excelled, and furnished his family with a plentiful supply of food and clothing. He had had twelve children by one wife, giving an impressive lesson, that peaceful habits and a plentiful supply of the means of subsistence, are conducive to their usual results.

He is now about 45 years of age. The seventeen years during which I have known him, have not detracted from his erect figure, his mild and easy manners, or his docile and decidedly domestic disposition.

12th. The payment of the Indian annuities, which commenced on the 3d instant, was continued till the 10th, and, skipping the 11th (Sunday), finished this day. These payments were made as usual, in specie, and per capita--man, woman, and child faring alike. The annuities in provisions, tobacco, salt, &c., were, in conformity with custom, turned over to the chiefs of bands in bulk; and by them divided, with scrupulous care, among their people. The payments and deliveries have engaged the whole force of the department for seven or eight days, and have ended satisfactory to the Indians, who have been subsisted, meantime, on the public provisions, without trenching on their own stock.

13th. The Maumee Ottawas arrive at Louisville, Ky., on their way to the west. Among this band there are two chiefs, Anto-kee, the head chief, and Petonoquette, a much younger man. Anto-kee is a son of the celebrated chief Tushquaquier, who was looked upon by the Ottawas as the father of the tribe. Petanoquette is half French, son of Louisan, a distinguished chief, who was killed, when Petonoquette was a mere child, by that most barbarous and ferocious of all warriors, Kish-kau-go, who afterwards committed suicide in the Detroit jail, in which he was confined for murder. Anto-kee and Petonoquette are represented as very good men, well informed, and not much inclined to barbarity. The former is said to be a relative of the great Pontiac.

14th. Leave Mackinack for Detroit.

27th. Return from an official visit to the office at Detroit.

30th. A London paper of Sept. 4th notices a brilliant display of the aurora borealis and falling stars, on the same day of the extraordinary display of the same kind, witnessed on this island. The first impression in that city, was of a great fire in some distant part of the city, there being, at first, a dense red light. The difference between the two places is about 25 deg. of latitude. Its commencement was about half, or three quarters of an hour later. The editor says:--

"Between the hours of ten last night and three this morning in the heavens were observed one of the most magnificent specimens of that extraordinary phenomena--the falling stars and northern lights--ever witnessed for many years past. The first indication of this singular phenomenon was about ten minutes before ten, when a light crimson, apparently vapor, rose from the northern portion of the hemisphere, and gradually extended to the centre of the heavens, and by ten o'clock, or a quarter past, the whole, from east to west, was in one vast sheet of light. It had a most alarming appearance, and was exactly like that occasioned by a terrific fire. The light varied considerably; at one time it seemed to fall, and directly after rose with intense brightness. There were to be seen mingled with it volumes of smoke, which rolled over and over, and every beholder seemed convinced that it was 'a tremendous conflagration.' The consternation in the metropolis was very great; thousands of persons were running in the direction of the supposed catastrophe. The engines belonging to the fire brigade stations in Baker Street, Farringdon Street, Wattling Street, Waterloo Road, and likewise those belonging to the West of England station; in fact, every fire-engine in London was horsed, and galloped after the supposed 'scene of destruction' with more than ordinary energy, followed by carriages, horsemen, and vast mobs. Some of the engines proceeded as far as Highgate and Holloway before the error was discovered.

"These appearances lasted for upwards of two hours, and towards morning the spectacle became one of more grandeur. At two o'clock this morning, the phenomenon presented a most gorgeous scene, and one very difficult to describe. The whole of London was illuminated as light as noonday, and the atmosphere was remarkably clear. The southern hemisphere, at the time mentioned, although unclouded, was very dark, but the stars, which were innumerable, shone beautifully. The opposite side of the heavens presented a singular but magnificent contrast; it was clear to the extreme, and the light was very vivid; there was a continual succession of meteors, which varied in splendor. They apparently formed in the centre of the heavens, and spread till they seemed to burst; the effect was electrical; myriads of small stars shot out over the horizon, and darted with that swiftness towards the earth that the eye scarcely could follow the track; they seemed to burst also and throw a dark crimson over the entire hemisphere. The colors were the most magnificent that ever were seen. At half-past two o'clock the spectacle changed to darkness, which, on dispersing, displayed a luminous rainbow in the zenith of the heavens and round the ridge of darkness that overhung the southern portion of the country. Soon afterwards, columns of silvery light radiated from it; they increased wonderfully, intermingled amongst crimson vapor, which formed at the same time; and, when at the full height, the spectacle was beyond all imagination. Stars were darting about in all directions, and continued until four o'clock, and all died away. During the time that they lasted, a great many persons assembled on the bridges across the river Thames, where they had a commanding view of the heavens, and watched the progress of the phenomenon attentively."


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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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