Query. What is the name of this tribe? what language do
they speak? and what evidence is there that they are not Souriquois
or Miemacks, who have been known to us since the first settlement of
Acadia and Nova Scotia?
Indian compound words are very composite. Aco, in the names
of places once occupied by Algonquin bands, means, a limit,
or as far as, and is intended to designate the boundary or
reach of woods and waters. Ac-ow means length of area.
Accomac appears to mean, at the place of the trees, or, as far
as the open lands extend to the woods: mac, in this word, may
be either a derivative from acke, earth, or, more probably,
auk, a generic participle for tree or trunk.
21st. The editor of the North American Review directs
my attention to Delafield's Antiquities as the subject of a notice
for his pages. Delafield appears to have undertaken a course of
reading on Mexican antiquities. The result is given in this work,
with his conjectures and speculations on the origin of the race. The
cause of antiquarian knowledge is indebted to him for the first
publication of the pictorial Aztec map of Butturini.
24th. Called on Mr. Ramsey Crooks, president of the American
Fur Company, at his counting-house, in Ann street. He gave me an
interesting sketch of his late tour from La Pointe, Lake Superior,
to the Mississippi. The Chippewas were not paid at La Pointe till
October. This made him late at the country. The St. Croix River
froze before he reached the Mississippi, and he went down the
latter, from St. Peter's, in a sleigh. Bonga had been sent to notify
the Milles Lacs, Sandy Lake, and Leoch Lake Indians to come to the
payments. When he reached Leech Lake, Guelle Plat had gone, with
twenty-four canoes, to open a trade with the Hudson's Bay Factor, at
Rainy Lake. Mr. Crooks thinks that the dissatisfaction among these
bands can be readily allayed by judicious measures. Thinks the
Governor of Wisconsin ought to call the chiefs together at some
central point within the country, and make explanations. That the
payments, in future, should be made at one place, and not
divided. That the Leech Lake, and other bands living without the
ceded district, ought not to participate in the annuities.
Mr. Crook's manner is always prompt and cordial. He concentrates, in
his reminiscences, the history of the fur trade in America for the
last forty years. I have always thought it a subject of regret, that
such a man should not have kept a journal. There was much, it is
true, that could not be put down, and he was always so exclusively
an active business man that mere literary memoranda never attracted
his attention; they were not adverse to his tastes. He has nearly, I
should judge, recovered from the severe hardships and privations
which attended his perilous journey across the Rocky Mountains, on
the abandonment of Astoria, on the Pacific, in 1812.
29th. Texas and Florida continue to be the rallying points of
Indian warfare. The frontier of Texas is harassed by wandering
parties of Indians. A Mr. Morgan, who resided near the falls of
Brazos, had been killed, and three women carried off by a band of
fifteen savages. A company of rangers was sent in pursuit.
The Florida War still lingers, without decisive results. The New
Orleans Bee says that General Taylor has been very active, the
past season, in trying to bring it to a close. A writer from Tampa
Bay, of the 25th instant, who appears to have good knowledge of
matters, states three causes, particularly as opposing a successful
prosecution and consummation of it, namely:--
"1st. An ignorance of the topography of Florida--the position of the
numerous swamps and hummocks, the usual hiding-places of the
"2d. A want of proper interpreters.
"3d. A countervailing influence from some unknown quarter."
He supports his view as follows: "It is a well known fact that,
previous to the year 1836, the portion of Florida south of the
Military Road from Tampa to Garey's Ferry was unexplored and
unknown, and since that time the only information has been derived
from the hasty reconnoissances of officers, made in the progress of
the several divisions of the army through the country. Since the
organization of the Corps of Topographical Engineers, several have
been sent to this country, and are now actively engaged in making
surveys and plotting maps. Could the information they are expected
to give have been known even before the commencement of the last
campaign, it would have aided materially in the subjugation of the
enemy. A correct knowledge of this country is needed more especially
because such another theatre of war probably has not a place on the
earth; a theatre so peculiarly favorable to the Indians and
disadvantageous to the white man. Swamps may be delineated as well
perhaps as any other natural object; but such swamps as are
found in Florida, are not to be imitated in painting or described by
words. As an instance, I may mention the Halpataokee or Alligator
Water, which is made up of small islands, surrounded by water of
various depths, through which for two miles the road of the army
passed during the winter of 1838."
"2d. The only Interpreters are Seminole negroes, who, for the
most part, find it difficult to understand English. As an instance
of the numerous mistakes occurring daily, may be mentioned the
following: The General told the interpreter to say to Nettetok
Emathla, that 'patience and perseverance would accomplish
everything.' While he was speaking to the Indian, the remark was
made that he did not know the meaning of the sentence. When
questioned the following day, he said 'patience and 'suverance mean
a little book,' Our laughter convinced him he was mistaken, and he
said 'patience mean you must be patien; I don't zackly know what 'suverance
do mean, sar!' Numerous errors of this nature are doubtless
occurring daily, and among a people who are so scrupulously nice and
formal in their 'talks,' such trifling mistakes may be injurious.
"3d. We are now to speak of the most important difficulty in
the way of termination of hostilities, and the removal of the
Seminoles to their new homes beyond the 'Muddy Water.' That the
Indians are and have been supplied by whites, Americans or
Spaniards, is a point so decisively settled that 'no hinge is left
whereon to hang a doubt.' However shameless it may appear, proofs
are not wanting to establish the fact, so much to the discredit of
our patriotism. When Coacoochee escaped from St. Augustine he
carried with him bolts of calico and factory cloths, which he
afterwards sold to the Indians in the woods for three chalks (six
shillings) per yard. It was reported to Colonel Taylor, then at Fort
Bassinger, by an Indian woman, who ran away from Coacoochee's camp,
that he had one poney packed solely with powder; that he had plenty
of lead, provisions, etc., and was determined never to come in or go
to Arkansas. On several occasions when Indians have been killed or
taken, or their camps surprised, new calico, fresh tobacco, bank
bills, and other articles of a civilized character, have been
found in their possession. Besides, this, the Indians are constantly
reporting in their talks that some persons on the other side of the
territory prevent the hostiles from complying with the treaty. Ethlo
Emathla, Governor of the Tallahassees, promised the general to be in
with his people on a specified day. It is reduced almost to a
certainty that he has been prevented from doing so by the
representations of some person or persons in a quarter, the name of
which charity alone forbids to mention. The only object is, and for
a long time has been, to keep entirely out of the way, to hide
themselves from the whites, and every effort to bring them to
battle, either by sending small or large parties among them, has
proved useless. They will not fight, and thirty thousand men
cannot find them, broken up as they are into small parties. What
then is to be done? Protect the inhabitants of the frontiers,
gradually push the Indians south, and at no distant day, the
necessary, unavoidable and melancholy consummation must arrive,
viz., the expulsion of the last tribe of red men from the soil over
which they once roamed the sole lords and possessors."
30th. The oldest man in the Ottawa nation, a chief called
Nish-caud-jin-in-a, or the Man of Wrath, died this day at L'Arbre
Croche, Michigan. He was between ninety and one hundred years of
age, withered and dry, and slightly bent, but still preserving the
outlines of a man of strength, good figure, and intellect. What a
mass of reminiscences and elements of history dies with every old
person of observation, white or red.
Feb. 4th. Mr. James H. Lanman writes respecting the prospects
of his publishing a history of Michigan--a subject which I gave him
every encouragement to go forward in, while he lived in that State.
The theme is an ambitious one, involving as it does the French era
of settlements, and the day for handling it effectively has not yet
arrived. But the sketches that may be made from easily-got, existing
materials, may subserve a useful purpose, with the hope always that
some new fact may be elicited, which will add to the mass of
materials. "I have been delayed here," he says, "in preparing the
book, and the delay has been occasioned by my publishers having
failed. It is now, however, stereotyped, and will be out in about a
21st. Mr. Bancroft writes to me, giving every encouragement
to bring forward before the public my collections and researches on
Indian history and language, and expressing his opinion of success,
unless I should be "cursed with a bad publisher."
"Father Duponceau," he says, "won his prize out of your books, and
Gallatin owes much to you. Go on; persevere; build a monument to
yourself and the unhappy Algonquin race."
Making every allowance for Mr. Bancroft's enthusiastic way of
speaking, it yet appears to me that I should endeavor to publish the
results of investigations of Indian subjects. My connection with the
Johnston family has thrown open to me the whole arcanum of the
I wrote an article for Dr. Absalom Peter's Magazine, expressing my
dissent from the very fanciful explanations of the Dighton Rock
characters, as given by Mr. Magrusen in the first volume of the
Royal Society of Northern Antiquarians, published at Copenhagen. It
appears to me that those characters (throwing out two or three) are
the Indian Kekewin--a species of hieroglyphics or symbolic
devices, still in vogue among them. To this view of the matter Mr.
Bancroft assents. "If you have a proof-sheet of your article on the
Daneschrift, send it me. All they say about the Dighton Rock is, I
think, the sublime of humbuggery."
What is said in the interpreted Sagas, of the Skroellings or
Esquimaux being in New England at the date of Eric's voyage (A. D.
1001) is, I think, problematical. Those tribes are not known to have
extended further south than the Straits of Belleisle, about 60 deg.,
or to parts of Newfoundland. The term deduced from the old journals
appear to belong to the Esquimaux proper, rather than to the New
England class of the Algonquins. The Esquimaux had the free use of
the sound of the letter l, which was not used at all by the
Mr. Gallatin, in a letter of Feb. 22, in response to me on this
subject, says: "The letter L occurs in every Esquimaux
dialect of which I have any knowledge. Thus heaven or sky, is in
Greenland, Killak; Hudson's Bay, Keiluk; Kadick
Islands, Kelisk; Kotzebue's Sound, Keilyak; Asiatic
"I am not so certain about the v, which I find used only by
Egede, or Crantz (not distinguished from each other in my
collection) for the Greenland dialect. In their conjurations I find
'we (sing. and dual) wash them' Ernikp-auvut, and Ernikp-auvuk. In
the Mithradites, the same letter v is repeatedly used in dual
examples of the Greenland and Labrador dialects, principally (as it
appears to me) but not exclusively in the pronominal terminations,
picksaukonik, akeetvor, tivut, Profetiv-vit! that is, good
ours, debtors ours, a prophet art thou.
"By comparing this with the pronouns of the other Esquimaux
dialects, I suspect that oo and w in these, are used
instead of v. But the difference may arise from that in the
mother tongue, or in the delicacy of the ear, of those who have
supplied us with other verbal and pronominal forms or vocabularies."
22d, The Indian names may be studied analytically.
Ches (pronounced by the Algonquin Indians Chees),
signifies a plant of the turnip family. Beeg is the plural,
and denotes water existing in large bodies, such as accumulations in
the form of lakes and seas. If these two roots be connected by the
usual sound in Algonquin words, thus Ches-a-beeg, a sound much
resembling Chesapeake would be produced. The Nanticokes, who
inhabited this bay on its discovery, were of the Algonquin stock.
Potomac appears to be a clipped expression, derived, I believe, from
Po-to-wau-me-ac. Po-to-wau, as we have it, in Potawattomie, means to
make a fire in a place where fires, such as council fires, are
usually made. The ac in the word is apparently from ak
or wak, a standing tree. The whole appears descriptive of a
burning tree, or a burning forest.
Megiddo in the Algonquin means he barks, or a barker. Hence me-giz-ze,
an eagle or the bird that barks.
2: He afterwards re-cast the work, and it was
published by the Harpers as one of the volumes of their library.
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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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