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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 II. — Geographical Explorations of Upper Louisiana, and the Country Destined to be the Future Refuge of the Indian Race.

TO ascertain the character and extent of Lousiana, and the numbers of the Indian tribes within its area, Mr. Jefferson despatched expeditions up the Missouri and Mississippi. The first was led by Merriwether Lewis and William Clark, captains in the army, both of whom were commissioned for that purpose. They left St. Louis, May 14, 1804, and ascended the Missouri through the territories of the Osages, Kansas, Otoes, and Sioux, to that of the Mandans, where they wintered. The following year they continued their route through the countries of the Tetons, Crows, and Blackfeet, to the source of the Missouri, in the Rocky Mountains, and, crossing this range, descended the valley of the Columbia to the point where it empties into the Pacific. Retracing their steps from this remote position, they descended the Missouri to St. Louis, where they landed, September 23, 1806. This was the first exploratory expedition sent, out by the Government; and its results, while they evinced the great personal intrepidity of the explorers, were suited to convey an exalted opinion of the value and resources of this newly-acquired section of the Union. It was found to be a difficult task to enumerate the Indian population of the Columbia valley, owing to the confusion of synonymes and other causes; consequently, over-estimates were inevitable. The aboriginal population was rated at 80,000 471 and the distance travelled, from the mouth of the Missouri to that of the Columbia, on the Pacific, at 3555 miles. 472 The observations made by Mr. Lewis on the Indian trade, disclosed gross irregularities, which were directly traceable to the era of Spanish rule, and such modifications were suggested as would tend to place the natives in a better position, as well as to improve the system. 473 The amount of information obtained by the officers of this expedition constituted a valuable addition to our knowledge of the Indians and their country; and the observations of General William Clark, joined to his acquired experience,

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admirably qualified him for the duties of the office to which he was, in after time, appointed, that of Superintendent of Indian Affairs at St. Louis, on this frontier.

At the same period, Lieutenant Z. M. Pike, U. S. A., was commissioned to explore the
sources of the Mississippi. He started from St. Louis with his expedition, August 5th, 1805, and, according to his own estimate, reached a point 233 miles above the
falls of St. Anthony, where the accumulated snow and ice prevented his further progress by water. He then proceeded, on snow shoes, to Sandy Lake, and was thence drawn by teams of dogs to Leech Lake, the largest southerly source of the Mississippi river. Commerce with the Indians was found to be entirely in the hands of the British traders, who wielded an influence adverse to the institutions of the United States. Early in the spring of 1806, Lieut. Pike descended the Mississippi river, arriving at his place of departure on the 30th of April. His estimates of the Indian population of the Upper Mississippi, comprise a total of 11,177 souls, including the Sioux, Chippewas, Sauks, Foxes, lowas, Winnebagoes, Menomonees, and the various scattered bands of Dakotahs, called Yanctons, Sessatons, and Tetons. 474

A considerable addition was thus made to our knowledge of the character and habits of the extreme western and northern Indians, and the duties of the Indian Department thereby greatly increased. The State of Ohio was admitted into the Union in 1803, at which period the territory of Indiana was organized, and General William Henry Harrison appointed its Governor, as well as, ex officio, Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Harrison had served as an aid to General Wayne, in his Indian campaigns, and entered upon the duties of his office with the additional experience acquired under this redoubtable chief; his skill in military tactics being fully equalled by his knowledge of the aboriginal character, which, combined with his address and activity, soon made him respected as a plenipotentiary at their council fires. For many years he shared with General Clarke, of St. Louis, the onerous and responsible duty of preserving peace on the frontiers.

Two or three elements of discord had existed in the Indian communities located along the frontiers, from the outbreak of the Revolution, which were not extinguished by its successful termination, and still smouldered, after the close of the Indian war, in 1795. Among these, was the preference of the western tribes for the British nation, arising, perhaps, from the conquest of Canada, but kept up by political fallacies, England had secured the good will of the French residents, in whose hands the important commerce with the Indians was concentrated, and still remained. The possession of the Indian trade has ever exercised a controlling influence on the policy of the Indians; which is wielded, not by ministers plenipotentiary, or high secretaries of state, but by the little local traders on the frontiers, petty clerks,

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interpreters employed by commercial houses, and couriers du bois, who never fail to make their principles square with their interests; and it is a matter of little moment to the limited ambition of this class, who influence the destinies of courts or of nations, provided they be permitted to control the traffic in beaver skins.

While the French held Louisiana, no counter-interests disturbed the harmony of their intercourse with the natives; but, when the government was vested in the Spanish crown, the rival interests of the Spanish and French merchants had produced discord between their subordinates, which extended also to the Indians. The cession of Louisiana to the United States calmed these troubles; all differences were forgotten, and the contending parties readily accommodated themselves to the American system. But in Florida there was never the least abatement in this strife for commercial supremacy; the thirst for gain acknowledging no nationality. On the contrary, during the short period when Florida was held by the British crown, a new feature was developed in the character of the Indian trade, which imparted to it additional vigor and system. We have, in a preceding page, alluded to this fact, which was the introduction of the Scottish element among the aboriginal population. One of its most important results was the intermarriage of the Scotch traders with the native females, 575 thereby giving a permanent character to their influence, and exercising a beneficial ethnological effect on the chiefs and ruling families of the native race. Though it produced, or rather precipitated, the previously existing tendency to the formation of two classes in Indian society, it gave a definite direction to the Indian mind; and, while the Galphins, the Millidges, and their compeers, reaped the harvest of trade, the M'Intoshes, the M'Gillivrays, and other chiefs of their race, by infusing their blood into the aboriginal current, gave to the Creeks, Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, and Seminoles, a higher social and national character. The fact that this intermixture of the races was coincident with the employment of African slave labor by the higher Indian class, was merely incidental. The negroes fled into the Indian territory to escape servitude in the Southern States, and voluntarily assumed the performance of labor, as an equivalent for the shelter, support, and comparative ease and enjoyment Indian life afforded them.

Along the entire northern borders, southward to the line of demarcation designated by the treaty of Versailles, and throughout Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois, as well as the present areas of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota, British capital and enterprise were the great basis and stimulus of the Indian traffic. The limits of this trade had receded very far to the north-west after the victories of Wayne; Maumee, Vincennes, Kaskaskia, Detroit, and Michilimackinac, no longer formed centres for the trade. There had been, up to the commencement of Mr. Madison's administration, no public effort made to prevent foreigners from pursuing their traffic with the Indians

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north of the shores of Lakes Huron and Michigan. One of the peculiar characteristics of the Indians is, that they are wont to give their attention to the lowest order of counsellors; not because of any preference they have for an inferior grade of intellect, but from a natural suspicion that persons in higher positions are always governed by sinister motives; and suggestions from these subordinate sources would appear, sometimes, to be invested with importance, in the precise ratio that they are removed from plausibility or truth. Whoever has, either as a plenipotentiary or a commissioner, passed through the ordeal of an Indian council, controlled by the diverse interests of the trade, and of the half-breed relations and protégées of the tribes, will appreciate the force of this remark.

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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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