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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html


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Chapter III. — The Algonquins side with the French in the Great Struggle for Supremacy.

THE French now attempted, by taking formal possession of the Ohio valley, to unite the extreme boundaries of New France, and prevent the extension of the English colonies.

The expulsion of the Asseguns, or Bone Indians, and of the Mascoutins, from the Lake region, in all probability, occurred before the close of the fifteenth century, being prior, at least, to the first landing of Europeans. No notice of it can be found in the works of the earliest writers; the Wasbashas, 257 a tall, bold, turbulent tribe, who may be thought to correspond in character with that people, being, at a primeval period, located in the north, but, after their flight to the south, always on an affluent of the Missouri. Their traditions furnish nothing but an allegory, representing that their origin was derived from a beaver and a shell. 258 If these be symbols, they denote that they lived in a region abounding in trees (the bark of which was their food), and fish; and that their state of life was fortuitous and feeble, from natural, and not from historical causes.

It is uncertain at how early a period the French visited Lake Huron, and the upper lakes, but their first journey thither probably occurred between the year 1608, and Champlain's surrender of Quebec to Kirk, in 1629. Whatever the period was, the Algonquins appear to have then exercised dominion in the country. The Mascoutins, who, by the name, appear to have been of Algonquin lineage, were then located in that territory. The Illinese occupied the valley of the Illinois, and also the left banks of the Mississippi, from its outlet to the influx of the Ohio. The Miamies were seated in the St. Joseph's, or Grand river, valley of Michigan, and the various bands called Michigamies, 259 on the shores of Lake Michigan. The Menomonees occupied the northern shores of Green Bay, and, even as early as 1636, the Mascoutins had been driven to the country lying south of the banks of Fox river. The only acknowledged trans-Mississippian Indian tribe residing on Green Bay was that of the Winnebagoes, which, although of Dakotah origin, had an Algonquin name, and lived in amity with the Algonquins.

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That the French succeeded in arraying the numerous and scattered tribes of the Algonquins against the English colonies, is well known to every reader of Americo-Indian history. Intercourse and habits made them one in feeling and policy. Although it has been suggested that the Indian tribes appeared to feel a sense of their ability to crush the primitive English colonies, yet they lacked the power of combination, to make any general movement for that purpose. At every phasis of their history, they felt the necessity of having a European basis of power upon which to lean. In other words, they sought to be allies, and not principals, in the great contests with the colonies; and were, in reality, the flankers, and rarely, or never, the main body of fighting men. From this preference for the French by the Algonquin family of the Lenno Lenapi, the oldest member of it, agreeably to some authorities, may be excepted prior to 1742. In a public council held at Lancaster, during this year, they were ordered by the Iroquois, in a very harsh manner, to remove from the lands they occupied, because they had sold them to Penn, or to other persons, without having received authority. They were directed to take up their residence in the west, and from this date the Delawares were, and have been, regarded as being under French influence. Such reports and suspicions gathered strength from year to year, and this influence followed them westward, until they became residents of the Muskingum river, where the Christian converts were at length massacred.

It was the early developed policy of New France, to employ against the frontier settlements the Indian forces at their command; a power so eminently calculated to annoy and harass, and, without which it does not seem probable they could have so long maintained their ground against the British colonies. Indian warfare is conducted by a species of guerilla force, which, in efficacy, exceeds all others, not only on account of its sanguinary character, but also the suddenness of its attacks, its entire freedom from the annoyances of baggage, and the alacrity with which the warriors charge and disperse. There is no military arm which can at all cope with, or successfully check, these guerilla parties, as it is their policy never to risk an open battle; consequently, when the clumsy infantry and dragoon soldier is sent into the woods to cope with such a supple, and nearly invisible enemy, he appears to be little more than a target for a ball or an arrow.

A review of the French colonial policy, from the days of Champlain to those of Montcalm, develops the fact that the Indian power was one of their most effective means of offence. The great conflicts on land and ocean did not produce the most intense results; for, during all this period, extending over 150 years, 260 it was the Indian war parties and marauding expeditions, which infested the frontiers from Virginia to the small towns of New England, that committed deeds thrilling upon the senses, and frequently making the heart sick. Men, women, and children, sent unheralded into eternity, at midnight, by the war-club and scalping-knife; blazing

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tenements, cruel and prolonged captivities, death at the stake, and murder in its most horrid forms, constituted the main incidents of this epoch.

An Indian considers 100 miles but a short distance, and 1000 miles as not a long one to march, when the purpose he has in view is to glut his vengeance, or gratify himself. He is not a man who pines for the enjoyments of home, there is not much to attach him to it; to camp in the woods is his delight, and the wilderness is, comparatively, his dwelling. Time passes lightly with him, its pace never wearies him; and anything which cheats him of the very idea of its passage, is pleasant. He is always at leisure, and death itself receives a rather friendly welcome. To journey to Fort Du Quesne, Erie, Oswego, Niagara, or Quebec, for the trifling present of a gun, a blanket, or a kettle, a pound of powder, a gorget, or a flag, was, in point of enterprise, considered as nothing for an Indian chief. To him, to whom time is nothing, and wandering a pleasure, the toil is ten times overpaid by the reward. He naturally esteems gifts, and habitually loves the giver. France was, to the Indian, the beau ideal of all that was admirable in a foreign power, combining generosity with amiable manners and kindness of demeanor.

The French, by multiplying forts on the frontiers, most surely extended their influence. They had, from an early period, occupied positions on every important western river or lake; and, by taking formal possession of the Ohio valley, in 1753, they consummated a long cherished scheme, and environed the western colonies with a cincture of scorpions. Western Virginia and Pennsylvania groaned under the new inflictions of savage vengeance; and, from this time, the Indian forays on the western frontiers became incessant, being perfectly unexampled in our history for their frequency, and the cruelty, or, rather, barbarous inhumanity which characterized them; murders, ambuscades, and tortures, becoming the terror of the settlers. Not the least important feature in the policy which directed these Indian wars, was the countenance that they received from the French officials at Vincennes, Kaskaskia, Fort Chartres, Detroit, Miami, Sandusky, and other minor posts. It was these depredations, and the policy which directed them, that first brought Washington into the field.

The Gallic and Anglo-Saxon powers were now fairly pitted against each other, and it was evident that this new phasis of French aggression must soon lead to a general conflict. France or England must rule America. The British ministry had, in some measure, prepared for this struggle. The local commerce had necessitated the erection of Fort London, in the valley of Virginia. Fort Cumberland had been previously built on the Potomac, Fort Stanwix at the head of the Mohawk, Forts Anne and Edward on the sources of the Hudson, and Fort William Henry on Lake George. These formed the chief defences in the middle of the eighteenth century; and, from the close of Queen Anne's war, they were supported by occasional detachments of veteran troops, who had served under the Duke of Marlborough, and other distinguished officers. These forts served as defences to the frontiers, enabling the colonies to preserve their existence; but they were not sufficiently powerful to roll back the tide of aggression.

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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html
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