Official journal of the Indian intercourse--Question of freedmen,
or persons not bonded for--Indian chiefs, Chacopee, Neenaby,
Mukwakwut, Tems Couvert, Shingabowossin, Guelle Plat, Grosse
Guelle--Further notice of Wampum-hair--Red Devil--Biographical
notice of Guelle Plat, or Flat Mouth--Brechet--Meeshug, a
widow--Iauwind--Mongazid, chief of Fond du Lac--Chianokwut--White
Bird--Annamikens, the hero of a bear fight, &c. &c.
1828. July 6th.--My return to the Agency at the Sault was
in the midst of its summer business. Indians and Indian traders from
remote interior positions, were encamped on every green spot. No
trader had yet renewed his license from the government to return. It
would be difficult to indicate a place more favorable than this was,
to observe the manners and customs of the Indians, and the peculiar
questions connected with the Indian trade. I amused myself a few
days, by keeping minutes of the visits of the mixed Indian and metif
12th. Antoine Mauce, Alexis Blais, and Joseph Montre,
freedmen, of Indian blood or connections, ordered from the Indian
villages last fall, presented themselves for a decision on their
Mauce stated several facts in extenuation of his offence. He said he
had served as a boatman in the Indian trade ten years, had married
an Indian wife and raised a family, and during all this time, with
the exception of short visits to Mackinac with his bourgeois,
had resided in the Indian country. On the expiration of his last
engagement he went to St. Peters, and while there, made eight canoes
for Mr. Bailly, from whom he got the few goods that were seized at
Sandy Lake by Mr. Johnston. He had intended, however, to go to Mr.
Johnston for a license, and he had used the goods, in a great
measure, to procure a mere support for his family. He had left Sandy
Lake last fall, passed the winter at La Pointe, and had come down
early in the spring, and, as he had lost a great deal of time, and
performed a very long journey, leaving his family behind him, he
requested that he might be allowed to return with a permit to trade.
I told him that his remaining inland, after the expiration of his
engagement, was contrary to instructions. That, being a Canadian by
birth, he could not be licensed as a trader. That he might go inland
in his old capacity of a boatman, should any American citizen be
willing to employ him, and give a bond for his future conduct, and
that I should refer the final decision upon his goods and peltries
to Mr. Johnston, on account of my imperfect knowledge of some
circumstances necessary to a correct decision.
Alexis Blais pleaded ignorance of the instructions which were given
to traders. He had no other object in remaining inland than to get a
livelihood. He came out as soon after being notified as his health
would allow. And he supposed, had he been willing to serve Mr. Aikin
at Sandy Lake, or to give him the avails of his hunt, no complaints
would have been made against him. No goods or peltries were found in
his possession, and he did not desire to return to the Indian
country. I informed him that the construction put on the Indian laws
prohibited any white man from following the pursuits of a hunter on
Indian land; that it also forbids the residence of boatmen at Indian
camps or villages, after they have served out their engagements, &c.
Joseph Montre is a metif, step-son of Mauce. Says he was born and
brought up in the Indian country, and has subsisted by hunting. Is
unacquainted with the laws, but will follow the directions given
him. I took pains to impress upon his mind, through the medium of an
interpreter, the situation in which he was placed with respect to
our government and laws, and the steps it would be necessary for him
hereafter to pursue.
* * * * *
CHACOPEE (The Six), a minor chief, from Snake River, on the St.
Croix, visited the office, accompanied by seven young warriors. He
brought a note from the Sub-agent at La Pointe, in which he is
recommended as "a deserving manly Indian, attached to the U.S.
Government." As he had been several days without food on his voyage
through Lake Superior, I directed a requisition to be made out for
him and his young men, and told them to call on me after they had
appeased their hunger.
Neenaby (the person who hitches on his seat), of Sault St. Marie,
lodged a complaint against Mr. Butterfield and one of his runners (i.e.
persons employed to look after credits given to Indians, or carry on
a petty traffic by visiting their camps). He states that, in making
the traverse from Point Iroquois across the straits of St. Mary, he
was met by young Holiday, who lashed his canoe alongside, and, after
giving him a drink of whisky, persuaded him to land on the Canada
shore, where they are out of reach of the trade and intercourse
laws. They landed at Point aux Chenes, where H.'s tent was
found pitched, who invited him into it, and gave him more drink. H.
then went to the Indian's canoe, and brought in his furs. Something
was then given him to eat, and they embarked together in H.'s canoe,
taking the furs, and leaving his own canoe, with his wife, to
follow. On reaching St. Marie's he was conducted to Mr. B.'s store,
and told to trade. He consented to trade six large and two small
beavers, and twenty muskrats, for which he acknowledged to have
received satisfaction. He was freely supplied with whisky, and
strongly urged to trade the other pack, containing the principal
part of his hunt, but he refused, saying he had brought it to pay a
credit taken of Mr. Johnston. This pack, he says, consisted of six
large and two small beavers, two otters, six martins, ninety
muskrats, and four minks. As an equivalent for it, they proceeded to
lay out for him, as he was told and shown next morning, a blanket,
hat, pair of leggins of green cloth, two fathoms strouds, one barrel
of flour, one bag of corn, and three kegs of whisky. He, however, on
examining it, refused to receive it, and demanded the pack of furs
to go and pay his credit. Decision deferred for inquiry into the
12th. Chegud, accompanied by a train, &c., made a visit of
congratulation on my return (after a temporary absence).
14th. Revisited by Chacopee and his young men. He addressed
me in a fine manly tone and air. He referred to his attendance and
conduct at the treaties of Prairie du Chien and Fond du Lac, as an
era from which it might be known that he was attached to our
government and counsel. The object of his present visit was to renew
the acquaintance he had formed with me at those places, to say that
he had not forgotten the good advice given him, and to solicit
charity for his followers. He presented an ornamented pipe as an
evidence of his friendship.
15th. Visited by Monomine Kashee (the Rice Maker), a chief
from Post Lake in that part of the Chippewa country bordering on
Green Bay. He was accompanied by Mukwakwut (Satan's Ball in the
Clouds), and five other persons composing their families. In the
speech made by this chief, whose influence and authority are, I
believe, quite limited, he said that his visit to me had been
produced by the favorable impressions he had received while
attending the treaty of Butte des Morts (Wisconsin). That he
had preserved the words which had been uttered in council by his
American fathers, and was happy that all cause of difference with
their neighbors, the Winnebagoes and Menomonies had been taken away
by fixing the lines of their lands, &c. He presented four stands of
wampum to confirm his professions of good will. His companion also
got up, and spoke for several minutes, and concluded by requesting
"that his father would not overlook him, in distributing any
presents he intended to make them." He presented a pipe. After he
was seated, I asked, as I was penning these minutes, the
signification of his name, Mukwakwut, as the meaning did not appear
obvious. He smiled and replied "that in former times his ancestors
had seen devils playing ball in the air, and that his name was in
allusion to the ball."
16th. Visited by Tems Couvert (the Lowering or Dark Cloud), a
noted war chief of Leech Lake, upper Mississippi. He states that Mr.
Oaks took from him, two years ago, nine plus1,
and has not yet paid him, together with a medal, which last was not
returned to him until his arrival at Fond du Lac this spring. He
also states that Mr. Warren took from him, while he was at La Pointe
on his way out, a pack of thirty obiminicqua2
(equal to thirty full-sized, seasonable beavers), and has not, as
yet, offered him anything in payment.
Shingabowossin (the Image Stone), Shewabeketon (the Jingling
Metals), and Wayishkee (the First-born Son), the three principal
chiefs of the Home Band, with seventy-one men, women and children,
visited me to congratulate me on my safe return from Detroit. The
old chief inquired if there was any news, and whether all remains
quiet between us and the English.
Guelle Plat, or Ashkebuggecoash (the Flat Mouth), of Leech Lake,
upper Mississippi, announced his arrival, with sixty persons,
chiefly warriors and hunters. He brought a letter from one of the
principal traders in that quarter, backed by the Sub-agent of La
Pointe, recommending him as "the most respectable man in the
Chippewa nation." He is said by general consent to be the most
influential man in the large and powerful band of Leech Lake,
comprising, by my latest accounts, seventeen hundred souls. His
authority is, however, that of a village or civil chief, his
coadjutor, the Lowering Cloud, having long had the principal sway
with the warriors.
Being his first visit to this agency, although he had sent me his
pipe in 1822, and, as he said, the first time he had been so far
from his native place in a south-easterly course, I offered him the
attentions due to his rank, and his visit being an introductory one,
was commenced and ended by the customary ceremonies of the pipe.
The chief, Grosse Guelle (Big Throat), together with Majegabowe, and
the Breche's son, all of Sandy Lake, arrived this day, accompanied
by four other persons, and were received with the customary respect
and attention. Having come a long distance, their first and most
pressing want was food. It is indeed astonishing that the desire of
showing themselves off as men of consequence in their nation, the
expectation of any presents or gratifications, or the hope of any
notice or preferment whatever should induce these people to
undertake such long and hazardous journeys with such totally
17th. The Grosse Guelle repeated his visit, saying
that his family had been so long without a meal of hearty food that
the issue of yesterday had not sufficed to satisfy them.
Magisaunikwa (Wampum-hair) applied for provisions for himself and
family, to enable them to return to his usual place of dwelling.
This man's case has been previously noticed. He happened to be
sitting in front of his lodge last spring, in a copse of woods near
the banks of Muddy Lake, at the instant when the Inspector of
Customs of St. Mary's (Mr. Agnew) had broken through the ice with
his dog-train, and had exhausted himself in vain efforts to
extricate himself. A cry reached the ever-open ear of the Indian,
who hastened to the shore, and, after much exertion and hazard,
aided by his father and family, was the means of preserving Mr. A.'s
life. After getting the body out of the water, they drew it upon a
small train to his lodge; where they applied dry clothing, prepared
a kind of tea, and were unremitting in their attentions. When
sufficiently restored, they conducted him safely to St. Mary's.
I invested him with a medal of the first class for this noble act,
wishing by this mark of respect, and the presents of clothing and
food accompanying it, to forcibly impress his mind with the high
respect and admiration such deeds excite among civilized people, and
in the further hope that it might prove a stimulus to the lukewarm
benevolence of others, if, indeed, any of the natives can be justly
accused of lukewarmness in this respect. On visiting Fort Brady, Lt.
C. F. Morton, of N.Y., presented him a sword-knot, belt, &c. Some
other presents were, I believe, made him, in addition to those given
him by Mr. Agnew himself.
18th. Miscomonetoes (the Red Insect, or Red Devil; the term
may mean both), and family and followers, twelve persons in all,
visited the office. His personal appearance, and that of his family,
bespoke wretchedness, and appeared to give force to his strong
complaints against the traders who visit Ottowa Lake and the
headwaters of Chippewa River of the Mississippi. He observed that
the prices they are compelled to pay are extortionate, that their
lands are quite destitute of the larger animals, and that the beaver
is nearly destroyed.
1: Plus, Fr. A skin's worth.
2: Obiminicqua, Alg. The value of a full
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Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the
Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers, 1851
Years with the Indians |