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Official Journal of the Indian Intercourse

Native American Nations | Thirty Years with the Indians

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 multitude.

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 respective cases.

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 facts.

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 inadequate means.

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 beaver skin.

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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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