20th. Went to dine with Charles Fenno Hoffman, at his
lodgings in Houston Street. Found his room garnished with
curiosities of various sorts, indicative, among other things, of his
interest in the Indian race. A poet in his garret I had long heard
of, but a liberal gentlemanly fellow, surrounded by all the
elegances of life, I had not thought of as the domicil of the Muses.
Mr. Hoffman impressed me as being very English in his appearance and
manners. His forehead is quite Byronic in its craniological
developments. His eye and countenance are of the most commanding
character. Pity that such a handsome man, so active in everything
that calls for the gun, the rod, the boat, the horse, the dog,
should have been shorn of so essential a prerequisite as a leg. His
conversational powers are quite extraordinary. I felt constantly as
if I were in the presence of a lover of nature and natural things; a
bon vivant perhaps, or an epicure, a Tom Moore, in some
sense, whose day-dreams of heaven are mixed up with glowing images
of women and wine.
27th. I was directed from Washington to relieve the principal
disbursing officer at Detroit. Here then my hopes of visiting Europe
are blown sky high for the present. I must return to the north, and,
so far as labor is concerned, "heap Pelion on Ossa."
April 6th. There is hardly a word in the Indian languages
which does not readily yield to the power of analysis. They call
tobacco, Ussama. Ussa, means to put (anything inanimate).
Ma, is a particle denoting smell. The us, in the first
syllable, is sounded very slight, and often, perhaps, nearly dropt,
and the word then seems as if spelt Sa ma. The last vowel is
8th. Left the city for Detroit. In ascending the Hudson, with
so good an interpreter at my side as Mrs. Schoolcraft, whom I have
carried through a perfect course of philological training in the
English, Latin, and Hebrew principles of formation, I analyzed many
of the old Indian names, which, until we reached Albany, are all in
a peculiar dialect of the Algonquin.
SING SING.--This name is the local form of the name for rocks, and
conveys the idea of the plural in the terminal letter. Os-sin
in modern Algonquin (the Chippewa dialect), is stone, or rock.
Ing, is the local form of all nouns proper. The term may be
rendered simply place of rocks.
NYAC.--This appears to be the name of a band of Indians who lived
there. The termination in ac, is generally from acke,
CROTON.--Historically, this is known to have been the name of a
noted Indian chief, who resided near the mouth of the river. The
word appears to be derived from noetin, a wind. If we admit
the interchange of sounds of n for r, as being made,
and the ordinary change of t for d, between the
Holland and Indian races, this derivation is probable. The letter c
seems to be the sign of a pronoun.
TAPPAN SEA.--It is perceived from Vanderdonk, and from old maps and
records, that a band of Indians lived here, who were called the "Tappansees."
POUGHKEEPSIE is a derivative of Au-po-keep-sing, i.e., Place
of shelter. The entrance of the Fall Kill into the Hudson is the
COXACKIE, is evidently made up in the original from kuk, to
cut, and aukie, earth, which was, probably, in old days, as
it is in fact yet, a graphic description of a ridge cut and tumbled
in by the waters of the Hudson pressing hard on that shore.
CLAVERACK is not Indian. Clove, in the Hollandais, is an
opening or side-gorge in the valley. Rack, is a reach or bend
in the river, the whole length of which was known, as we see, to the
old skippers as separate racks. The reach of cloves
began at what is now the city of Hudson, the old Claverack landing.
TAWASENTHA.--Normanskill is the first Iroquois name noticed. It
means the hill of the dead. Albany itself has taken the name of a
Scottish dukedom for its ancient Iroquois cognomen, Ske-nek-ta-dea:
of this compound term, Ske is a propositional particle, and
means beyond; nek is the Mohawk name for a pine; and the term
ta-dea is descriptive of a valley.
18th. Reached Detroit in the steamer "Gen. Wayne," and
assumed the duties of my new appointment. One of the earliest
Washington papers I opened, gave an account of the death of Mr.
William Ward, a most valuable clerk in the Indian Bureau; a man of a
fine literary taste, who formerly edited and established the
North-west Journal, at the City of Detroit.
19th. A singular denouement is made this morning, which
appeals strongly to my feelings. On getting in the stage at Vernon,
in Western New York, a gentleman of easy manners, good figure, and
polite address, whom we will call Theodoric, kindly made way for me
and my family, which led us to notice him, and we traveled together
quite to Detroit, and put up at the same hotel. This morning a note
from him reveals him to be a young Virginian, seeking his fortune
west, and out of funds, and makes precisely such an appeal as it is
hard, and wrong in fact, to resist. I told Theodoric to take his
trunk and go, by the next steamer, to my house at Mackinack, and I
should be up in a short time, and furnish him employment in the
25th. Rev. Mr. Lukenbach, of the Moravian towns, Canada,
writes, that the proportional annuity of the Christian Indians, for
1838, is unpaid. He says they were paid 33/100ths, in 1837, being
one-third of the original annuity. He states that Mr. Vogler and Mr.
Mickeh arrived on the Kanzas with upwards of seventy souls, having
left nearly one hundred at Green Bay, who are to follow them; and
that these two men have commenced a new mission among the Delawares.
Mr. L. says that there are but about one hundred and twenty souls
left, who propose to remain in Canada with him.
30th. Ke-bic! An exclamation of the Algonquins in passing
dangerous rocky shores in their canoes, when the current is strong.
Query. Is not this the origin of the name Quebec?
May 2d. Major Garland, my predecessor in the disbursements,
writes from Washington: "You have a heavy task on your hands for
this season; and, in addition to the hands of Briareus, you will
need the eyes of Argus."
3d. I made the payments to the Saginaw chiefs in specie,
under the treaty of the 14th of January, 1837.
10th. Mr. F.W. Shearman, the able and ingenious editor of the
Journal of Education, writes from Marshall, that it receives
an increased circulation and excites a deeper interest in the
people, with his plans for further improvements.
16th. Letters from Mackinack informs me that the Ottawas
design leaving their location in the United States for the
Manitouline Islands, in Canada, where inducements are held out to
them by agents of the British government. They fear going west: they
cling to the north.
20th. The Harpers, publishers at New York, send me copies of
the first issue of my Algic Researches, in two vols., 12mo.
They intend to publish the work on the 1st proximo.
23d. Letters from Washington speak of the treasury as being
low in specie funds.
24th. Sales of the lands of the Swan Creek and Black River
Chippewas, are made at the Land Office in Detroit, in conformity
with the treaty of May 9th, 1836. The three years that have
elapsed in this operation, have brought the prices of lands from the
summer heat to the zero of prices.
27th. Na, in the Algonquin language, means excellent or
transcendent, and wa, motion. Thus the names of two chiefs
who visited me to day on business, are Na-geezhig, excellent
or transcendent day, and Ke-wa-geezhig, or returning cloud.
Whether the word geezhig shall be rendered day, or cloud, or
sky, depends on the nature of its prefix. To move back is ke-wa,
and hence the prefixed term to the latter name.
June 4th. Received from Col. De Garme Jones, Mayor of
Detroit, sundry manuscript documents relative to the administration
of Indian affairs of Gov. Hull, of the dates of 1807, '8 and '9.
Mr. Johnstone, of Aloor, near Edinburgh, Scotland, brings me a note
of introduction from Gen. James Talmadge, of New York. Mr. J. is a
highly respected man at home, and is traveling in America to gratify
a laudable curiosity.
7th. Reached Mackinack, on board the steamer Great Western,
10th. The Albany Evening Journal has a short editorial
under the head of Algic Researches: "Such is the title of a
work from our countryman Schoolcraft, which the Harpers have just
published, in two volumes. It consists of Tales and Legends, which
the Author has gleaned in the course of his long and familiar
intercourse with the children of the Forest, illustrating the mental
powers and characteristics of the North American Indians.
"Mr. Schoolcraft has traveled far into the western wilds. He has
lived much with the Indians, and has studied their character
thoroughly. He is withal a scholar and a gentleman, whose name is a
sufficient guarantee for the excellence of all he writes."
11th. I set out to complete the appraisement of the Indian
improvements on the north shore of Lake Huron, under the 8th article
of the treaty of March 28th, 1836.
12th. Paid the Indians of L'Arbre Croche villages at Little
Traverse Bay, the amount of the appraisement of their public
improvements, made under the treaty of 1836.
13th. Proceed to Grand Traverse Bay, to view the location of
a mission by Messrs. Dougherty and Fleming. Found it located on the
sands, near the bottom of the bay, where a vessel could not unload,
at a point so utterly destitute of advantages that it would not have
been possible to select a worse site in the compass of the whole
bay, which is large, and abounds in ship harbors. Condemned the site
forthwith, and the same day removed the site of operations to Kosa's
village, on a bay near the end of the peninsula. I afterwards
encamped on the open lake shore, behind a sand drift, to avoid the
force of the wind, and, as soon as the waters of the lake lulled,
made the traverse to the Beaver Islands, to appraise the value of
the Indian improvements at that place, and, having done this, put
across to the main shore north, for the same purpose. In this trip
Mr. Turner accompanied me to keep the lists, and Dr. Douglass to
vaccine the Indians, the latter of whom reported 214 persons as
having submitted to receive the virus.
The Albany papers continue to publish notices of Algic Researches.
The Argus of the 13th June, says: "Mr. H.R. Schoolcraft has
added another to his claims upon the consideration of the reading
public, by a recent work (from the press of the Messrs. Harper),
entitled 'Algic Researches, comprising inquiries respecting
the mental characteristics of the North American Indians.' It is the
first of a series, which the author promises to continue at a future
day, illustrative of the mythology, distinctive opinions, and
intellectual character of the aborigines. These volumes comprise
their oral tales, with preliminary observations and a general
introduction. The term Algic, is introduced by the author, in
a generic sense, for all the tribes, with few exceptions, that were
found in 1600 spread out between the Atlantic and the Mississippi.
"To those who care to look into the philosophy of the Indian
character, these oral fictions will be read with interest. They are
curious in themselves, and not less so as a material step in the
researches that may serve, in the sequel, to unveil the origin, as
well as the intellectual traits, of these tribes. They will at least
establish the fact of 'an oral imaginative lore' among the
aborigines of this continent, of which they give us faithful
"Probably no man in this country is better qualified to pursue these
researches than Mr. Schoolcraft. A long residence in the Indian
country, and official intercourse with the tribes, have given him an
access to the Indian mind which few have enjoyed, and which none
have improved to a greater extent by habits of observation and
philosophical investigation. A residence at Mackinaw is of itself
calculated to beget, as it is to gratify, a taste for the
prosecution of these inquiries. It is described by Miss Martineau as
'the wildest and tenderest piece of beauty that she had yet seen on
God's earth.' It is indeed a spot of rare attractiveness. Standing
upon the promontory, in the rear of the fort and town, the view
embraces to the north the head waters of the Huron and the far-off
isles of St. Martin, to the west Green Isle and the straits of
Mackinaw, and to the east and south Bois Blanc and the Great Lake.
It is a delightful summer retreat, and many are the legends and
reminiscences of the scenes of enjoyment passed here in absolute,
and we are assured happy, exclusion from the outward world, during
the winter months. It has been regarded, at no distant day, as
important not only as the rendezvous of the Fur Companies' agents
and employers and the Indian traders, but as a government military
post. It is still a great resort of the northern Indians. Often
their lodges and their bark canoes, of beautiful construction, line
the pebbly shore; and the aboriginal habits and mental
characteristics may be studied on the spot.
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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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