3d. Received an application for relief from the Black
River Chippewas, near Fort Gratiot. It is astonishing how completely
the resources of the Indians have failed with the game, on which
they formerly relied. When a calamity arrives, such as a white
settlement would surmount without an effort, they at once become
objects of public charity. Kittemagizzi is their immediate cry. This
is now raised by the Black River band, under the influence of
14th. Received a copy of the treaty of the 29th of July last
with the Chippewas. This tribe, like all the other leading tribes of
the race, is destined to fritter away their large domain for
temporary and local ends, without making any general and permanent
provision for their prosperity. The system of temporary annuities
will, at last, leave them without a home. When the buffalo, and the
deer, and the beaver, are extinct, the Indian must work or die. In a
higher view, there is no blessing which is not pronounced in
connection with labor and faith. These the nation
18th. Finished my report on the additional debt claim, under
the treaty of 1836, agreeably to the instructions of the Commission
of Indian Affairs, of the 23d March last, and to the published
notice of April 10th. These claims on the debt fund of the treaty
have received the best consideration of the agent and the Indian
chiefs, with the aid of a secretary authorized at Washington, and
the result is forwarded with confidence to head-quarters.
19th. My arduous duties during the summer had thrown some of
my private correspondence in the rear. It may now be proper to
notice some of it. A letter (Aug. 20th) from St. Mary's says: "The
schooner John Jacob Astor arrived on the 18th instant from the head
of Lake Superior, and the captain brings us information of Mr.
Warren's arrival at La Pointe. He attended the treaty at St.
Peter's, concluded by Gov. Dodge. The Indians are to receive
$700,000 in annuities for twenty years, $100,000 to the half-breeds,
and $70,000 for Indian creditors."
"Captain Stanard brought down a specimen of native copper, similar
to the piece of forty-nine pounds weight in your cabinet. It was at
De l'Isle, fifteen leagues on the north shore from Fond du Lac."
Mr. John T. Blois, of Detroit (Sept. 20th), informs me that he is
preparing a Gazetteer of Michigan. "Of the topics," he remarks, "I
had proposed to submit to your consideration, one was the etymology
of the Indian nomenclature, to the extent it has been adopted in the
application of proper names to our lakes, rivers, and other
inanimate objects. In the preparation of my work, this subject has
frequently presented itself to my mind as one of interesting
importance, and whose development is more auspicious, at the present
time, than it may be at a future day. I had a particular desire to
rescue the Indian names from that oblivion to which the negligence
of the early settlers of other States has permitted them to descend,
by the substitution, for no reasonable cause, of insignificant
English or French names, without regard to either good taste or
"I wish, among other things, to ask of you the favor to inform me of
the origin and signification of the name of our adopted State,
A correspondent at Detroit (J.L.S.) writes (21st Sept.): "Bills have
been introduced into both Houses to carry out the President's
sub-treasury system, and 'tis said Calhoun will support the measure.
These bills, which were introduced by Wright and Cambreleng, propose
that treasury notes shall be issued not to exceed $12,000,000."
Mr. Palfrey (25th Sept.) suggests my reviewing Col. Stone's "Life of
Joseph Brant," and the publishers (Geo. Dearborn and Co.) transmit
me the proof sheets on sized paper. I sat down with enthusiasm to
read them (as far as sent) preparatory to a decision. Many things
are desirable, and most worthy of commendation. But there were some
errors of fact and opinions, which I could not pass over without
bringing forward facts which I felt no capacity to manage, without
giving offence to one whom I had every reason to regard as a friend.
Brant had been the scourge of my native State during all the long
and bloody war of the Revolution; and his enormities had the less
excuse to be plastered over on account of his having received a
Christian education, and speaking and writing his own language. He
was doubtless a man much above his red brethren generally, for
mental conception and boldness. It is true, I had heard all the
terrific details of his cruelties from the lips of my father, who
was an actor in the scenes described, at an age when impressions
sink deep. But I had outlived my youthful impressions, and felt
disposed to regard him as one of the most celebrated individuals of
his race, which race I had learned to regard as one of the peculiar
types of mankind. But I thought it injudicious to lay the story of
the Revolution on his shoulders--with the real causes of which his
life had about as much to do as the fly on the wagon-wheel, in
turning it. I therefore on broad grounds declined it.
The establishment of the University of Michigan and its branches
over the State, now excited considerable attention, and I began to
receive letters from various quarters on the subject. "At a meeting
of the people of this county (Kalamazoo)," says A. Edwards, Esq.,
"very advantageous offers were made to the Board, in case it was by
them deemed proper to establish here one of the two branches
contemplated within the senatorial district."
Mr. Daniel B. Woods, Dorchester, Mass., writes me respecting an
article for the "Christian Keepsake," which has passed to the hands
of the Rev. Mr. Clark, of Philadelphia.
25th. Letters were received to-day from the Secretaries of
the Presbyterian, and from the Methodist Boards of Missions at New
York, proposing the establishment of missions for the Ottawas and
Chippewas, under the fourth article of the treaty of 1836. I advised
Mr. Lowry, the organ of the former, and also the Methodist Society,
to select positions south of this island in Lake Michigan.
27th. The first snow falls for the season.
30th. The chiefs of the Ottawas at L'Arbre Croche request
that I would procure and send them vaccine matter, having heard that
the small-pox existed at Grand River, and at Maskigo,
An Ottawa Indian, called Mis-kweiu-wauk (Red Cedar) brought a
counterfeit half dollar, saying that he had received it at the
payments, from Major Garland. It seemed to me that such was not the
fact, but that he had been sent by some saucy fellow. But I thought
prudent to give him a good half dollar in its place.
Nov. 4th. Information was received, that a strong party of
Boisbrules and Indians, who went west from Red River early in the
fall, to hunt the buffalo agreeably to their custom, were met and
attacked by the Gros Venters and Sioux of the plains, and one
hundred of their number killed in the affray.
10th. Completed arrangements to leave the office during the
winter in charge of Mr. F. W. Shearman.
11th. Embarked at Mackinack on board the steamer "Madison,"
for the lower country.
18th. Arrived at Detroit, and resumed the duties of the
superintendency at that point. Charles Rodd reports that three
hundred Saginaws have taken shelter on the St. Clair, from the
ravages of the small-pox, that they will pass the winter in the
vicinity of Point au Barques; and that, consequently, they will not
attend the payments at Saginaw this fall.
17th. Asked H. Conner, Esq., the signification 'of "Monguagon,"
He replied, the true name is Mo-gwau-go [nong], and was a man's
name, signifying dirty backsides. It was the name of a Wyandot who
died there. Mo, in the Algonquin, means excrement; gwau
is a personal term; o, the accusative; and nong,
place. I observe that, in the Hebrew, the same word Mo,
denotes semen. The mode of combination, too, is not diverse; thus,
mo-ab, in Hebrew, is a substantive of two roots, mo,
semen, and ab, father.
Paukad [Hebrew], Hebrew, means to strike upon or against any person
or thing. Pukatai Chip, is to strike anything animate or inanimate.
Paukad, in the same tongue, means a stroke of lightning.
17th. Judge Riggs, who has charge of affairs at Saginaw,
reports that about twenty Indians have been carried off by the
small-pox, on the Shiawassa, and the same number on the Flint River.
Says the disease was first brought to Saginaw by Mr. Gardiner D.
Williams, and it was afterwards extended to the Flint by Mr. Campau.
21st. Rev. J. A. Agnew, of N.Y., addresses me as one of the
Regents of the University, under a belief that the Board will, very
soon, proceed to the election of a chancellor and professors. He
takes a very just view of the importance of making it a fundamental
point, to base the course of instruction on a sound morality, and of
insuring the confidence of religious teachers of evangelical views,
25th. Mr. Conner brought me, some days ago, a cranium of an
Indian, named B-tow-i-ge-zhig (Both Sides of the Sun), who was
killed and buried near his house in a singular way.
It seems that another Indian, a young man, had fallen from a tree,
and, in his descent, injured his testicles, which swelled up
amazingly. Etowigezhig laughed at him, which so incensed the young
fellow that he suddenly picked up a pot-hook and struck him on the
skull. It fractured it, and killed him. So he died for a laugh. He
was a good-natured man, about forty-five, and a good hunter. I gave
the skull to Mr. Toulmin Smith, a phrenological lecturer.
26th. Mr. Cleaveland (Rev. John) preached his farewell sermon
to the First Presbyterian Church, Detroit, from Jonah iii. 2: "Arise
and go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching
that I bid thee." This message he has faithfully and ably delivered
to them for about five years that he has occupied this pulpit.
27th. A letter of this date, from Fort Union, on the
Missouri, published in the St. Louis Bulletin, gives a frightful
account of the ravages of the small-pox among the Mandans,
Aurickerees, Minitares and Gros Venters, of the Missouri. This
disease, which first broke out about the 15th of July, among the
Mandans, carried off about fifteen hundred of that tribe. It left
about one hundred and thirty souls2.
It spread rapidly, and during the autumn carried off about half of
the two tribes mentioned. It was carried to the Blackfeet, Crees,
and Assinaboines, who also suffered dreadfully. Upwards of one
thousand of the Blackfeet perished, and about five hundred Minitares.
Whole lodges were swept away, and the desolations created were
28th. Mr. F. Ayer writes from Pokegoma, on Snake River, of
the St. Croix Valley of the Upper Mississippi: "Shall we be molested
by government soon, or at a future time; or, in case the government
sell the land to a company, or to individuals, will they consider
our case and make any reservation in our favor?"
Dec. 2d. Rev. Oren O. Thompson writes in relation to
"1. Have you a missionary engaged for that station?
"2. Do you feel the importance and necessity of obtaining one who is
already acquainted with the Indian language?
"3. Do you wish to engage one for that station, who is in sentiment
"4. Are there appropriations for his support?
"5. What will be his business particularly?
"6. How long will he probably be wanted there?
"7. What, in your opinion, is the prospect of his usefulness there?"
Dec. 1st. Mr. Hamill, of Lawrenceville, N.J., responds to my
inquiry for a suitable school for my son--a matter respecting which
I am just now very solicitous.
13th. Set out by railroad for Flint River, accompanied by
Major Garland and Mr. Conner. Weather very cold, and the snow
forming a good road. At Pontiac, we took a double sleigh, and drove
out to Flint Village. I was invited to his house by Mr. Hascall, who
did everything to render the visit agreeable. Between 400 and 500
Indians were assembled. They appeared poorly clad, and needy, having
suffered greatly from the small-pox during the autumn and winter.
About 40 had died on the Shiawassa River, and some 30 on the Flint.
After the Major had completed the payment of their annuities and
delivery of goods, I opened a negotiation with them to complete the
sale of their reservations.
16th. In a letter of this date, Dr. Greene, Sec. of the A.B.C.,
for F. Missions, adverts to the positions heretofore taken, by that
board, respecting the missionary establishment at Mackinack. The
moral position of that Board, with respect to that Mission,
appears to me to be wrong. This mission involves the mission cause,
in some important respects, with the entire question of missionary
operations over the North-west--reaching from lat. 42 deg. to 49
deg., with many degrees of longitude; for, from all this region, the
Indian boys and girls of the mission have been collected. It began
operations with them, I think, in 1822; and having, in this
interval, expended many thousand dollars, and erected expensive
buildings, it now drops the thing, just at the point when the
Indians have commenced important cessions, and when their condition
is such that they are not only inclined to receive interior teachers
and evangelists, which have been raised at that central point, but,
by these cessions to the government, they have provided funds for
schools and teachers.
Merely because the excellent superintendent determined, two or three
years ago, to leave this important point and enter into secular
business, to provide for a growing family; and because the
attraction of foreign fields carries young clergymen abroad, to the
detriment of the home field, it does not, I think, fulfil the
highest requisitions of duty to abandon the field, and thereby to
leave it to be said that the Board doubts God's purposes with regard
to the red man. If the missionary himself, who has so many years
conducted the concern with approbation, was not willing to trust his
rewards to a higher power, but aimed, as it were, to steady himself
by stretching forth his hand, it seems to me the race ought not to
be the sufferers for such a course. They constitute a vastly more
appropriate field of labor than the "millions of foreign lands," who
sit, to a large extent, unaffected by the Gospel. Not, indeed, that
those fields should be neglected; but the Indian race, and these
large families of it, are worthy of a warmer sympathy than I can see
in Dr. Greene's letters, or the decisions of the Board by whom he is
20th. Signed a supplementary treaty with the Saginaws at
Flint. By this treaty the Saginaws relinquish their reserves in this
valuable and rapidly settling portion of the country, and agree to
accept a location on the head waters of the Osage, which their
chiefs, have explored. They are to occupy two of their reservations
on the west shores of Saginaw Bay, for five years. The government is
to pay them the entire proceeds of the land, as sold in the public
land offices. They set apart funds for schools, and to pay their
debts. This tribe has now no instructors. They have the reputation
of being turbulent, and averse to all plans of improvement. Their
history is fraught with deeds of violence. They made bloody inroads
on the settlements of Western Virginia and Pennsylvania, after the
close of the war of the Revolution, and brought away captives. One
of these was the notorious and infamous John Tanner. They lived
under a perfect dictator, in the person of Kish-ka-ko, who made and
altered laws to suit a strong-willed savage mind. They were
originally a band of Chippewa refugees. They settled here when the
Sauks in the 17th century were driven off. Their name is derived
from this. The true sound of the word is Saukinong, or Place
of the Sauks. It has been improperly assimilated to Saganosh,
23d. Rev. John A. Clark, of Philadelphia, writes, requesting
a contribution to the "Christian Keepsake," which denotes the
interest in the Indian subject to be unabated.
2: The report that they were entirely
extinguished was an error. The survivors fled to their relatives,
the Minnitares, where they increased rapidly, when they returned to
their ancient villages on the Missouri, where they now (1851)
reside, numbering about five hundred souls.
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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