Oct. 2d. Mr. J.H. Kinzie, of Chicago, mentioned to me, in
a former interview, a striking trait of the barbarity of the
Potawattomies in the treatment of their women. Two female slaves, or
wives of Wabunsee, had a quarrel. One of them went, in her excited
state of feeling, to the chief, and told him that the other had
ill-treated his children. He ordered the accused to come before him.
He told her to lie down on her back on the ground. He then directed
the other (her accuser) to take a tomahawk and dispatch her. She
split open her skull, and killed her immediately. He left her
unburied, but was afterwards persuaded to direct the murderess to
bury her. She dug a grave so shallow, that the Wolves dug out the
body that night and partly devoured it.
3d. James L. Schoolcraft brought me some mineralogical and
geological specimens from Isle Cariboo--the land of golden
dreams and fogs in Lake Superior. The island has a basis of
5th. The Oneida Whig mentions the death, on the 20th
ultimo, near Oneida Castle, New York, of Ondayaka, head chief of the
Onondagas, aged about ninety-six. At the time of his death, Ondayaka,
and the subordinate chiefs and principal men of his nation, were on
their way to join in the ceremonies of electing a head chief of the
Oneidas. Within a few miles of the council house of the latter
tribe, Ondayaka placed himself at the head of the deputation of the
Onondagas, and commenced the performance of the ceremonies observed
on such occasions, when he was suddenly seized with the bilious
colic. Calling the next chief in authority to fill his station, he
withdrew to the road side, when he soon after expressed a
consciousness that "it was the will of the Great Spirit that
he should live no longer upon the earth." He then sent for his
people, and took leave of them, after counseling them to cultivate
and practice temperance and brotherly love in their councils and
among the people of the nation, and friendship and integrity with
all. He soon after became unable to speak, and in a few hours his
spirit was gathered to the Great Spirit who gave it.
7th. The following is an Odjibwa tradition. Adjejauk and
Oshugee were brothers, living at St. Mary's Falls. Oshugee was the
elder. One day he took his brother's fishing-pole into the rapids,
and accidentally broke it. This caused a quarrel. Oshugee went off
south, and was referred to as Shawnee. This was the origin of that
tribe who call the Chippewas Younger Brother, to this day.
This is said by Nabunwa. The Shawnee (southman) here named is not
the Shawnee tribe. With this explanation, the tradition may be
admitted. It was probably the origin of the Potawattomies.
10th. Two plum trees, standing in front of the agency, which
had attained their full growth, and borne fruit plentifully, for
some few years, began to droop, and finally died during the autumn.
I found, by examination, that their roots had extended into cold
underground springs of water, which have their issue under the high
cliff immediately behind the agency. They had originally been set
out as wall fruit, within a few feet of the front wall of the house,
on its southern side. The one was the common blue plum, the other an
A mountain ash, standing some twenty feet west of them, had
protruded its roots into a similar cold moisture, but, so far from
injuring it, the tree grew more luxuriantly, putting forth leaves
and berries in the greatest profusion. Seeing this disposition to
flourish by its proximity to underground currents, I cut the bark of
the tree, which is of a close binding character, to allow it to
expand, and found this to have an excellent effect. This tree bears
a white bell-shaped cluster of blossoms, which originate the most
beautiful scarlet berries in the autumn. The one species is a
native, the other an exotic.
12th. Pemid-jee, signifies in Chippewa across,
sideways. Go-daus is a garment, or cloth designed for it.
Hence mad-jee-co-ta a skirt or side-cloth.
17th. Col. Wm.L. Stone writes that he is making progress in
his Life and Times of Sir William Johnson, and begs a copy of
the old Military Orderly Book, in my possession, detailing the siege
and taking of Fort Niagara, &c. He says of Algie Researches:
"By the way, what a delightful book you furnished us. Don't you
remember that I told you not to go to ---- for revision? He would
have spoiled your simple and beautiful tales. President Wayland, my
brother-in-law, was delighted with them."
Dec.5th. Abraham Schoolcraft, Special Emigrating Agent,
reports the safe arrival of the Swan Creeks at their destination on
the river Osage. The lands are fertile, the waters good, forest
trees in abundance for fire-wood and fences. Everything promises
well for their future prosperity.
13th. Wrote to Col. Stone, transmitting him a copy of the old
journal, before alluded to, of the siege of Niagara, in 1759, the
march of Gen. Bradstreet for the relief of Detroit, in 1763, &c.
26th. Mackinack has again assumed its winter phase. We are
shut in from the tumult of the world, and must rely for our sources
of intellectual sustenance and diversion on books, or researches,
such as may present themselves.
The following words, I am assured, are different, in the Ottawa and
|3. Spring (season),
|6. Stop; cease; be still,
|7. It's flown away,
|8. Maple tree,
|10. Small lake, or pond,
|11. He smokes,
|12. It is calm,
|13. It will be a severe, or bad day,
|14. I will visit,
|15. He will quarrel (with) you,
|16. He will strike you,
|19. My mother,
It is evident that these dialectic differences arise, not from
the use of a different language, but a different mode of applying
the same language--a language in which every syllable has a
well-known primitive meaning. Thus, in the name for maple tree(8),
the Chippewa means, spouted, or man tree (alluding to its being
tapped for its sap), and the Ottawa, stoned, or cut tree, alluding
to the same feature. The same terms are equally well known, and
proper in both dialects. So in 10, the one says a collection of
running water, the other, a little mass of water. So in 13, the one
says, literally, it will be a bad day; the other, it will storm. So
in 17, the one says strike-instrument; the other swing-instrument.
So in 20, one uses an affirmative particle, the other says,
31st. Rev. Thomas Hulbert, of the Pic, on the north shores of
Lake Superior, writes about the orthography and principles of the
Indian languages. When this gentleman was on his way inland, he
stopped at my house, and evinced much interest in the oral
traditions of the Indians, as shown in Algic Researches, and
presented me the conjugation of the Indian verb "to see,"
filling many pages of an old folio account book--all written in the
wretched system of notation of Mr. Evans2.
I stated to him the analytical mode which I had pursued in my
lectures on the structure of the languages, with the very best helps
at St. Mary's; and that I had found it to yield to this
process--that the Algonquin was, in fact, an aggregation of
monasyllabic roots: that words and expressions were formed entirely
of a limited number of original roots and particles, which had
generic meanings. That new words, however compounded, carried these
meanings to the Indian ear, and were understood by it in all
possible forms of accretion and syllabication. That the derivatives
founded on these roots of one or two syllables, could all be taken
apart and put together like a piece of machinery. That the
principles were fixed, philosophical, and regular, and that,
although the language had some glaring defects, as the want of a
feminine pronoun, and many redundancies, they were admirably adapted
to describe geographical and meteorological scenes. That it was a
language of woods and wilds. That it failed to convey
knowledge, only because it had apparently never been applied to it.
And that those philologists who had represented it as an
agglutinated mass, and capable of the most recondite,
pronominal, and tensal meanings, exceeding those of Greece and Rome,
had no clear conceptions of what they were speaking of. That its
principles are not, in fact, polysynthetic, but on the contrary
unasynthetic: its rules were all of one piece. That, in fine, we
should never get at the truth till we pulled down the, erroneous
fabric of the extreme polysynthesists, which was erected on
materials furnished by an excellent, but entirely unlearned
missionary. But that this could not be done now, such was the
prestige of names; and that he and I, and all humble laborers in
the field, must wait to submit our views till time had opened a
favorable door for us. It was our present duty to accumulate facts,
not to set up new theories, nor aim, by any means, to fight these
intellectual giants while we were armed but with small weapons.
Mr. Hurlbut entered into these views. He had now reflected upon
them, and he made some suggestions of philological value. He was an
apt learner of the language, as spoken north of the basin of Lake
"Orthography," he writes, "though of much importance, did not engage
so much of my attention as the construction of the language. I am
not so sanguine as to that performance (the conjugation of the verb
to see) as to be anxious to bring forward another. I am aware
that an Indian speaker, who had never studied his own language,
would pronounce much of that incorrect (in following a particular
system imposed on him), particularly in the characterizing
(definitive) form, for in this conjugation the root always undergoes
a change. If the first syllable be short, it is lengthened, as
be-moo-za, ba-moo-zad. If it be long, another is added, as
But when a particle is used, as is more generally the case, the root
resumes its original form, as guu-ouu-bed. I thought it best
to preserve uniformity. I inserted a note explaining this. Upon
this, principle of euphony, Mr. Evans' orthography will answer
better than may at first appear. When the towel is short, the final
consonant is sharp, as mek, muk, met; but when the vowel is
long, it sounds like meeg, seeg, neeg, nuug, meed."
I had thought of making a collection of words, as a commencement for
a lexicon, but there are impediments in jay way for the present:
1st, I want a plan; I want the opinion of those versed in the
language, as two roots frequently coalesce and form compound terms,
and sometimes two verbs and a noun amalgamate by clipping all; and
it requires a skillful hand to dissect them and show the originals.
Should all these compound terms be introduced (in the contemplated
lexicon), it would swell the work to a good size. If this be not
done, we must find some rule for compounding the terms, that
the learner may be able to do it for himself. This (the rule) I have
not yet ascertained.
"I am favorably situated for making philological observations. I
observe that the Cree, although essentially the same language as the
Chippewa, yet drops, or never had, many of the suffix expletive
particles of the latter, though the prefix particles are pretty much
the same in both. The Cree has not, I believe, the double negative
nor the adverbial and plaintive forms of verbs, as I have termed
them. This renders the language less complex, and much more easy of
acquisition than the Chippewa.
"One thought was forcibly impressed on my mind while perusing the
publications of the American Antiquarian Society. In these
publications they introduce the names of things in order to show the
affinity of different tribes. From my knowledge of Indian, I am
inclined to think that the names of things change the soonest in any
language, and that, in order to ascertain the original stock of any
tribe or nation by comparing languages, we must descend to the
groundwork of the languages and search, not so much for similarity
of sound as for the arrangement and essential and peculiar
principles of the languages.
"A principle that prevails in the American languages, as far as my
information extends, is, that the verb, with its nominative and
objective cases, be inseparably connected. The Delaware, the
Chippewa (under whatever name), and the Cree, &c., make the change
in person, number, &c., by a change in the prefix or suffix. But the
Mohawk and Chippewyan4
make the change, in some cases, in the middle of the word, when the
Chippewa and others always remain unchanged."
2: A Wesleyan missionary, some time at Port
Sarnia, opposite Fort Gratiot, Canada.
3: This is in Mr. Evans' System of Orthography.
4: It must be remembered that the Chippewas and
Chippewyans, are diverse tribes. The two words are both Chippewa;
but the tribes are of different groups. The one is ALGONQUIN; the
other ATHAPASCA. The Mohawk belongs to a third group of languages,
namely, the IROQUOIS.
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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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Years with the Indians