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Official Journal of the Indian Intercourse

Native American Nations | Thirty Years with the Indians

He also complained of white and half-breed hunters intruding on their grounds, whose means for trapping and killing animals are superior to those of the Indians. According to his statement, as high as four plus (about $20) have been paid for a fathom of strouds, and the same for a two-and-a-half point blanket, two plus for a pair of scarlet leggins, &c.

18th. Ten separate parties of Indians, numbering ninety-four souls, presented themselves at the office this day, in addition to the above, from various parts of the interior, and were heard on the subject of their wants and wishes. 19th. Guelle Plat repeated his visit with his followers, and made a speech, in which he took a view of his intercourse with the English and Americans. He had passed his youth in the plains west of Red River, and was first drawn into an intercourse with the British agents at Fort William (L. S.), where he received a medal from the late Wm. McGilvray. This medal was taken by Lieut. Pike, on visiting Leech Lake, in 1806. He has visited the agency at St. Peter's, but complains that his path to that post has been marked with blood. He was present during the attack made upon the Chippewa camp by the Sioux, near Fort Snelling, in the summer of 1827. Is not satisfied with the adjustment of this affair, but is inclined to peace, and has recommended it to his young men. They can never, however, he says, count upon the good-will of the enemy, and are obliged to live in a constant state of preparation for war. They go out to hunt as if they were going on a war party. They often meet the Sioux and smoke with them, but they cannot confide in them.

Speaking of the authority exercised over their country for the purpose of trade, he said: "The Americans are not our masters; the English are not our masters; the country is ours." He wished that traders should be allowed to visit them who would sell their goods cheaper, and said that more than one trader at each trading post was desired by him and his people.

He modestly disclaimed authority over his band; said he was no chief. The Indians sometimes followed his advice; but they oftener followed their own will. He said Indians were fond of change, and were always in hopes of finding things better in another place. He believed it would be better if they would not rove so much. He had ever acted on this principle, and recommended it. He had never visited this place before, but now that he had come this far, it was his wish to go to Michilimackinac, of which he had heard much, and desired to see it. He was in hopes his journey would prove of some service to him, &c. He solicited a rifle and a hat.

The Breche, alias Catawabeta (Broken Tooth), entered the office with one or two followers, in company with the preceding. Seeing the office crowded, he said he would defer speaking till another day. This venerable chief is the patriarch of the region around Sandy Lake, on the Upper Mississippi. He made his first visit to me a few days after the landing of the troops at this post, in 1822. In turning to some minutes of that date, I find he pronounced himself "the friend and advocate of peace," and he referred to facts to prove that his practice had been in accordance with his professions. He discountenanced the idea of the Indians taking part in our wars. He said he was a small boy at the taking of old Mackinac (1763). The French wished him to take up the war-club, but he refused. The English afterwards thanked him for this, and requested him to raise the tomahawk in their favor, but he refused. The Americans afterwards thanked him for this refusal, but they did not ask him to go to war. "They all talked of peace," he said, "but still, though they talk of peace, the Sioux continue to make war upon us. Very lately they killed three people."

The neutral policy which this chief so early unfolded, I have found quite characteristic of his oratory, though his political feelings are known to be decidedly favorable to the British government.

Omeeshug, widow of Ningotook, of Leech Lake, presented a memorandum given by me to her late husband, during my attendance at the treaty of Prairie du Chien, in 1825, claiming a medal for her infant son, in exchange for a British medal which had been given up. On inquiry, the medal surrendered originally belonged to Waukimmenas, a prior husband, by whom she also had a son named Tinnegans (Shoulder Blade), now a man grown, and an active and promising Indian. I decided the latter to be the rightful heir, and intrusted a new medal of the second size to Mr. Roussain, to be delivered to him on his arrival at Leech Lake, with the customary formalities.

Iauwind announced himself as having arrived yesterday, with twenty-eight followers belonging to the band of Fond du Lac. He had, it appeared, visited Drummond Island, and took occasion in his speech to intimate that he had not been very favorably received. Before closing, he ran very nearly through the catalogue of Indian wants, and trusted his "American father" would supply them. He concluded by presenting a pipe. I informed him that he had not visited Drummond's in ignorance of my wishes on the subject, and that if he did not receive the presents he expected from me, he could not mistake the cause of their being withheld.

The Red Devil came to take leave, as he had sent his canoe to the head of the rapids, and was ready to embark. He made a very earnest and vehement speech, in which he once more depicted the misery of his condition, and begged earnestly that I would consider the forlorn and impoverished situation of himself and his young men. He presented a pipe. I told him it was contrary to the commands of his great father, the President, that presents should be given to any of his red children who disregarded his wishes so much as to continue their visits to foreign agencies. That such visits were very injurious to them both in a moral and economical point of view. That they thereby neglected their hunting and gardens, contracted diseases, and never failed to indulge in the most immoderate use of strong drink. That to procure the latter, they would sell their presents, pawn their ornaments, &c., and, I verily believed, were their hands and feet loose, they would pawn them, so as to be forever after incapable of doing anything towards their own subsistence. I told him that if, under such circumstances, I should give him, or any other Indian, provisions to carry them home, they must not construe it into any approbation of their late conduct, but must ascribe it wholly to feelings of pity and commiseration for their situation, &c.

Mongazid (the Loon's Foot), a noted speaker, and Jossakeed, or Seer of Fond du Lac, arrived in the afternoon, attended by eleven persons. He had scarcely exchanged salutations with me when he said that his followers and himself were in a starving condition, having had very little food for several days.

Oshogay (the Osprey), solicited provisions to return home. This young man had been sent down to deliver a speech from his father, Kabamappa, of the river St. Croix, in which he regretted his inability to come in person. The father had first attracted my notice at the treaty of Prairie du Chien, and afterwards received a small medal, by my recommendation, from the Commissioners at Fond du Lac. He appeared to consider himself under obligations to renew the assurance of his friendship, and this, with the hope of receiving some presents, appeared to constitute the object of his son's mission, who conducted himself with more modesty and timidity before me than prudence afterwards; for, by extending his visit to Drummond Island, where both he and his father were unknown, he got nothing, and forfeited the right to claim anything for himself on his return here.

I sent, however, in his charge, a present of goods of small amount, to be delivered to his father, who has not countenanced his foreign visit.

Thirteen separate parties, amounting to one hundred and eighty-three souls, visited the office and received issues of provisions this day.

21st. Mikkeingwum, of Ottoway Lake, made complaint that his canoe had been stolen, and he was left with his family on the beach, without the means of returning. On inquiring into the facts, and finding them as stated, I purchased and presented him a canoe of a capacity suitable to convey his family home.

Chianokwut (Lowering Cloud), called Tems Couvert by the French, principal war chief of Leech Lake, addressed me in a speech of some length, and presented a garnished war-club, which he requested might be hung up in the office. He said that it was not presented as a hostile symbol. He had done using it, and he wished to put it aside. He had followed the war path much in his youth, but he was now getting old, and he desired peace. He had attended the treaty of Prairie du Chien, to assist in fixing the lines of their lands. He recollected the good counsel given to him at that place. He should respect the treaty, and his ears were open to the good advice of his great American father, the President, to whose words he had listened for the last ten years. He referred to the treachery of the Sioux, their frequent violation of treaties, &c. He hoped they should hear no bad news (alluding to the Sioux) on their return home, &c.

Wabishke Penais (the White Bird) solicited food. This young chief had volunteered to carry an express from the Sub-agency of La Pointe in the spring, and now called to announce his intention of returning to the upper part of Lake Superior. His attachment to the American government, his having received a small medal from his excellency Governor Cass, on his visit to the Ontonagon River, in 1826, added to the circumstance of his having served as a guide to the party who visited the mass of native copper in that quarter in 1820, had rendered him quite unpopular with his band, and led to his migration farther west. He appears, however, recently to have reassumed himself of success, and is as anxious as ever to recommend himself to notice. This anxiety is, however, carried to a fault, being unsupported by an equal degree of good sense.

Annamikens (Little Thunder), a Chippewa of mixed blood, from Red River, expressed a wish to speak, preparatory to his return, and drew a vivid outline of his various journeys on the frontier, and his intercourse with the Hudson's Bay and Canadian governments. This man had rendered himself noted upon the frontier by a successful encounter with three grizzly bears, and the hairbreadth escape he had made from their clutches. He made, however, no allusion to this feat, in his speech, but referred in general terms to the Indians present for testimonies of his character as a warrior and hunter. He said he had now taken the American government fast by the hand, and offered to carry any counsel I might wish to send to the Indians on Red River, Red Lake, &c., and to use his influence in causing it to be respected.

His appeal to the Indians, was subsequently responded to by the chief, Tems Couvert, who fully confirmed his statements, &c.

Dugah Beshue (Spotted Lynx), of Pelican Lake, requested another trader to be sent to that place. Complains of the high prices of goods, the scarcity of animals, and the great poverty to which they are reduced. Says the traders are very rigorous in their dealings; that they take their furs from their lodges without ceremony, and that ammunition, in particular, is so high they cannot get skins enough to purchase a supply.

Visited by nine parties, comprising ninety-one souls.

22d. Received visits from, and issued provisions to eighty-one persons.

23d. Wayoond applied for food for his family, consisting of six persons, saying that they had been destitute for some time. I found, on inquiry, that he had been drinking for several days previous, and his haggard looks sufficiently bespoke the excesses he had indulged in. On the following day, being in a state of partial delirium, he ran into the river, and was so far exhausted before he could be got out, that he died in the course of the night. It is my custom to bury all Indians who die at the post, at the public expense. A plain coffin, a new blanket, and shirt, and digging a grave, generally comprises this expense, which is paid out of the contingent fund allowed the office.

Mizye (the Catfish) called on me, being on his return voyage from Drummond Island, begging that I would give him some food to enable him to reach his home at La Pointe. This Indian has the character of being very turbulent, and active in the propagation of stories calculated to keep up a British feeling amongst the Indians of Lapointe. The reprimands he has received, would probably have led him to shun the office, were he not prompted by hunger, and the hope of relief.

Whole number of visitors one hundred and thirty-five.

24th. Mongazid entered the office with his ornamented pipe, and pipe-bearer, and expressed his wish to speak. He went at some length into the details of his own life, and the history of the Fond du Lac band, with which he appears to be very well acquainted. Referred to the proofs he had given of attachment to government, in his conduct at the treaties of Prairie du Chien and Fond du Lac; and to his services, as a speaker for the Fond du Lac band, which had been acknowledged by the Chippewas generally, and procured him many followers. Said the influence of the old chief at Fond du Lac (Sappa) had declined, as his own had extended, &c. He complained in general terms of the conduct of the traders of that post, but did not specify any acts. Said he had advised his young men to assent to their father's request respecting the copper lands on Lake Superior, &c.

Having alluded in his speech to the strength of the band, and the amount of their hunt, I asked him, after he had seated himself, what was the population of Fond du Lac post. He replied, with readiness, two hundred and twenty, of whom sixty-six were males grown, and fifty-four hunters. He said that these fifty-four hunters had killed during the last year (1828) nine hundred and ninety-four bears--that thirty-nine packs of furs were made at the post, and ninety packs in the whole department.

Grosse Guelle made a formal speech, the drift of which was to show his influence among the Indians, the numerous places in which he had acted in an official capacity for them, and the proofs of attachment he had given to the American government. He rested his merits upon these points. He said he and his people had visited the agency on account of what had been promised at Fond du Lac. Several of his people had, however, gone home, fearing sickness; others had gone to Drummond Island for their presents. For himself, he said, he should remain content to take what his American father should see fit to offer him.

I inquired of him, if his influence with his people and attachment to the American government were such as he had represented, how it came, that so many of the Sandy Lake Indians, of whom he was the chief, had gone to Drummond Island?

Shingabowossin requested that another Chippewa interpreter might be employed, in which he was seconded by Kagayosh (A Bird in Everlasting Flight), Wayishkee, and Shewabekaton, chiefs of the home band. They did not wish me to put the present interpreter out of his place, but hoped I would be able to employ another one, whom they could better understand, and who could understand them better. They pointed out a person whom they would be pleased with. But his qualifications extended only to a knowledge of the Chippewa and French languages. He was deficient in moral character and trustworthiness; and it was sufficiently apparent that the person thus recommended had solicited them to make this novel application.

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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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