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Workings of Unshackled Mind

Native American Nations | Thirty Years with the Indians

Workings of unshackled mind--Comity of the American Addison--Lake periodical fluctuations--American antiquities--Indian doings in Florida and Texas--Wood's New England's Prospect--Philological and historical comments--Death of Ningwegon--Creeks--Brothertons made citizens--Charles Fenno Hoffman--Indian names for places on the Hudson--Christian Indians--Etymology--Theodoric--Appraisements of Indian property--Algic researches--Plan and object.

1839. Feb. 22d. Hon. Lucius Lyon, Senator in Congress from Michigan, writes, informing me of the movements of political affairs in that State. The working of our system in the new States is peculiar. Popular opinion must have its full swing. It rights itself. Natural good sense and sound moral appreciation of right are at work at the bottom, and the lamp of knowledge is continually replenished with oil, by schools and teaching. That light cannot be put out. It will burn on till the world is not only free, but enlightened and renovated.

24th. Washington Irving kindly encloses me a letter to Colonel Aspinwall of London, commending to him my contemplated publication on the oral legends of the North American Indians. "I regret to say," he adds, "that the last time he wrote to me, he was in great uneasiness, apprehending the loss of one of his daughters, who appeared to be in a rapid decline."

25th. Mrs. Jameson, on returning from her trip to the lakes, writes for my opinion on the causes of the phenomenon of the rise in the waters of the lakes. Alluding to this subject, the Superintendent of the works in the Ohio says: "The water of Lake Erie, which has been rising for many years, and has attained a height unequaled in the memory of man, seems to have attained its maximum, and to have commenced its reflux. Since the first day of June last, as I have ascertained by means of graduated rods at different points along the coast of Lake Erie, the water has fallen perpendicularly nineteen inches, and is still falling. The meteorological character of the present season, as compared with that of several previous seasons, clearly shows the cause of the rise and fall of the lakes not to be periodical, as has heretofore been asserted, but entirely accidental. For several years the summers have been cloudy and cold, with a prevalence of easterly winds and rainy weather. The last summer has been excessively warm for the whole season, and of exceeding drought. When it is remembered that the amount of water evaporated over the surface of these vast bodies of water, during a period of warm sunny weather, greatly exceeds that which passes the outlet of one of these lakes (Niagara River, for example), the cause of the phenomenon is apparent."--See Mr. Barrett's inquiries, ante.

26th. The New York Star publishes a notice of Delafield's Antiquities. This handsomely printed and illustrated work contains four things that are new to the antiquarian inquirer: 1. A theory by the author, by which he conceives the Indian race to be descended from the ancient Cuthites, who are Hamitic. This is wrong. 2. A curious and valuable pictographic map of the migration of the Aztecs, not heretofore printed. This is an acquisition. 3. A disquisition of Dr. Lakey, of Cincinnati, on the superiority of the northern to the southern race of red men. This seems true. 4. A preface, by Bishop McIlvaine, showing the importance in all inquiries of the kind, of keeping the record of the Bible strictly in view. This is right.

27th. The Houston Telegraph of this date gays: "A party of about eighty men from Bastrop County, accompanied by Castro and forty Lipan warriors, recently made an expedition into the Comanche country, and, near the San Saba, attacked and routed a large body of Comanches, who, with their women and children, were encamped on a small branch of the stream. About thirty of the Comanche warriors were killed in the engagement, many huts and considerable baggage destroyed, and a large number of horses and mules captured. On their return, however, a few Comanches stole silently into the droves of horses, while feeding at night, and recaptured the whole except ninety-three horses, which the shrewd Castro, with ten of his warriors, had driven far in advance of the main company, and which he subsequently brought in safety to Lagrange. Only two of the citizens of Texas were injured on this expedition."

"General Burlison, at the head of about seventy men, recently encountered a large body of Indians on the Brushy, and, after one or two skirmishes, finding the enemy numerous, retreated to a ravine in order to engage them with more advantage; but the Indians, fearing to attack him in his new position, drew off and retreated into a neighboring thicket. Being unable to pursue them, he returned to Bastrop. It is reported that he has lost three men in this engagement; the loss of the Indians is not known; it, however, must have been considerable, as most of the men under Burlison were excellent marksmen, and had often been engaged in Indian warfare."

March 4th. The N. Y. Evening Post says, that a gentleman from Tallahassee, just arrived at Washington, states that murders by the Indians are of everyday occurrence in that vicinity, and that between the 17th and 21st Feb. fifteen persons had been killed.

5th. Finished the perusal of William Wood's "New England's Prospects," a work of 98 12mo pages, printed at London, 1634. This was fourteen years after the first landing of the pilgrims at Plymouth, and the same year that John Eliot came over. Its chief claim to notice is its antiquity. "Some have thought," he says, "that they (the Indians) might be descendants of the Jews, because some of their words be near unto the Hebrew; but by the same rule they may conclude them to be some of the gleanings of all nations, because they have words which sound after the Greek, Latin, French, and other tongues. Their language is hard to learn, few of the English being able to speak any of it, or capable of the right pronunciation, which is the chief grace of their tongue. They pronounce much after the diphthongs, excluding B and L, which, in our English tongue, they pronounce with much difficulty, as most of the Dutch do T and H, calling a lobster, a nobstan."

The examples of a vocabulary he gives show them to be Algonquins, and not "Skroellings," or Esquimaux, as they are represented to have been by the Scandinavians (vide Ant. Amer.), who visited the present area of Massachusetts in the tenth century.

The close alliance of their language with the existing Chippewa and Ottawa of the north, is shown by the following specimens:--

                New England Tribes.             Chippewa of Lake Superior.
                            1634.                                             1839.
,             Squa,                                  E-qua.
,                 Nip-pe,                             Ne-be.
A raccoon
,         Au-supp,                             A se-bun.
,             Tawonis,                             O-dau-nis.
A duck
,                 Sea-sceep,                         She-sheeb.
,             Se-quan,                             Se-gwun.
                     Squi,                                     Mis-qui.
A house
,             Wig-wam,                         Weeg-wam.

He divides the tribes into:--

Churhers (local tribes even then under instruction).
Aberginians (Algonquins of the St. Lawrence, probably).
Narragansetts (a tribe of the N.E. Algonquins with dialectic peculiarities).
Pequants         ("         "             ")
Nepnets             ("         "                 ")
Connectacuts         ("         "         ")
Mohawks (a tribe of Iroquois).

The people whom he calls "Tarrenteens," are clearly Abenakies.

Cotton Mather, L. of E., 1691, p. 78, denominates the Indians "the veriest ruins of mankind. Their name for an Englishman was a knifeman; stone was used instead of metal for their tools; and for their coins they have only little beads, with holes in them, to string them upon a bracelet, whereof some are white, and of these there go six for a penny; some are black or blue, and of these go three for a penny; this wampum, as they call it, is made of shell fish, which lies upon the sea-coast continually."

P. 79. "Nokehick, that is, a spoonful of parched meal with a spoonful of water, which will strengthen them to travel a day."

"Reading and writing are altogether unknown to them, though there is a stone or two in the country that has unaccountable characters engraved upon it."

The intention of the King in granting the royal charter to Massachusetts was, says Cotton Mather:--

"To win and invite the natives of that country to the knowledge and obedience of the only true God and Saviour of mankind, and the Christian faith, is our Royal intentions, and the adventurer's free profession is the principal end of the plantation."--Life of Eliot, p. 77.

10th. Died at Little Traverse Bay, on Lake Michigan, Ningwegon, or the Wing, the well-known American-Ottawa chief--a man who distinguished himself for the American cause at Detroit, in 1812, and was thrown into prison by the British officers for his boldness in expressing his sentiments. He received a life annuity under the treaty of 28th March, 1836.

11th. Received notice of my election as a corresponding member of the Brooklyn Lyceum.

12th. A small party of chiefs of the Seneca tribe under the command of "Blacksmith," successor to Red Jacket, arrived in this city yesterday from Washington, and took lodgings at the Western Hotel in Courtland Street. They were received by the Mayor at the Governor's room about 12 o'clock. In the address made by one of the number, it was stated that the object of their visit had been to urge upon the President the impropriety of driving them from their present possessions.

13th, PEACE AMONG THE INDIANS.--The two nations of Upper and Lower Creeks, who were hostile while residing east of the Mississippi, have, in their new homes in Arkansas, united in general council, at which fifteen hundred were present. The oratory on this occasion, of smoking the calumet, is described as of the highest order.

14th. Judge Bronson, of Florida, last evening, at a party at his cousin's (Arthur Bronson, 46 Bond Street, N. Y.), states that, as Chairman of a Committee in Congress, a few years ago, he had reported a bill for allowing the Brotherton Indians to hold their property in Wisconsin individually, and to enjoy the rights of citizenship; and that this bill passed both houses.

This site includes some historical materials that may imply negative stereotypes reflecting the culture or language of a particular period or place. These items are presented as part of the historical record and should not be interpreted to mean that the WebMasters in any way endorse the stereotypes implied.

Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers, 1851

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