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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. — Indian Tribes of Michigan, Exploration of its Boundaries, Reaching to the Upper Mississippi.

MICHIGAN had been the strongest rallying point for the Indians, from the days of Denonville. It was first visited by La Salle in 1679, and formal possession was taken of the straits between Lakes Erie and Huron, in the month of June, 1687; 532 but Detroit was not occupied by an authorized agent of the French government, at Quebec, until the year 1701. 533 One hundred and twenty years had served to spread its fame and importance in Indian wars, Indian trade, and Indian affairs. But the hand of time had still left it, a remote outpost, surrounded by the original French settlements, among which might, here and there, be found an adventurous American. The houses of the French habitans were surrounded with cedar palings, as if to resist an attack; and, in their orchards, they raised apple trees, the parent stocks of which were originally brought from Normandy. In their dress, manners, suavity, nonchalance, gaiety, and loyalty to the governing power, the French of Michigan presented a striking similitude to the peasantry under Francis I. and Louis XIII. It was at this ancient seat of French dominion on the Lakes, that Pontiac formed his confederacy, in 1760, and Tecumseh convened the natives, in 1810-11. The failure of the latter scheme, stoutly backed as it was by the British army and navy, convinced the Indians that their efforts to resist the onward march of civilization were vain, and that education, arts, and labor must triumph. This was the language of Ningwégon, in 1812.

This low position of their affairs, in a politico-economical point of view, in strength, numbers, power of combination, and every thing like national capacity, we regard as their zero point; for it now became evident that their whole system was a congeries of errors; that the pursuit of the chase only sunk them in barbarism and want; and that if they were ever elevated in the scale of society, it must be by the practice of industry, temperance, virtue, the dissemination of education, and the

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adoption of moral truth. Though this view did not strike the Indian mind at once, it was only necessary to take a wider, broader, and more comprehensive retrospect of their state to render it manifest; and the lapse of a few years made the truth apparent. The Indian tribes had been thoroughly defeated; their political institutions were but "as a rope of sand;" their fury but the rage of a madman. To learn this truth, two centuries had been necessary. The contests with Virginia, New England, and the West, had not been waged in vain; persuasion, as well as blows, had been used to produce this great result. The voices of John Eliot and Brainerd, had not been thrown to the winds; nor the sword of a Wayne, a Harrison, and a Jackson, drawn for nought. To convince the Indian of his weakness, was the first step toward his attaining strength; and herein he may be said, mentally, to have advanced.

In 1816 President Monroe appointed General Lewis Cass governor of this territory, the condition of which has been shown to have been one of extreme prostration. Desolated by wars, its inhabitants decimated by appalling murders and massacres, with but few resources, some fragments of disconnected population, and neither enterprise, nor capital, another such forlorn district could not have been pointed out in America. It had neither roads, nor bridges, and its very soil was considered so worthless, that it was deemed unfit to be given in bounty lands to the surviving soldiers of the war of 1812. The Indian tribes who had rallied under Proctor, and other weak and inhuman officers, were yet unfriendly and vindictive. By the interposition of a friendly hand, Cass' life was once saved from being taken by a rifle-ball, aimed by an Indian from behind a tree; and most of the tribes hovered around Detroit, destitute of everything, daily besieging the doors of the territorial executive. The tide of emigration had not, at that period, set strongly in that direction, and the business of the Superintendent of Indian Affairs on that frontier was, for some years, the most important function of the gubernatorial office. He commenced his negotiations with the sons of the forest at the rapids of the Miami of the Lakes, on the 29th of September, 1817. 534 This event was followed in 1818 by an important assemblage of various Algonquin tribes at St. Mary's, on the sources of the Miami; and in 1819 by the conclusion of an important treaty with the Chippewas of Saganaw, in Michigan, which gave an impetus to settlements in that territory. The wide area over which the Chippewa tribe extended; its multiplicity of bands, or tribal communities, each of which professed to be independent; and the imperfect knowledge of their location and stastistics, as well as of the geographical features and resources of their territory, induced him to call the attention of the War Department to their examination. The cherished policy of Mr. Calhoun being to keep the military posts in the West in advance of the settlements, that they might cover the progress of the new emigrants, and shield them from Indian depredations, that gentleman cordially approved of this

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measure; to carry out the objects of which, an expedition composed of a corps of scientific observers, under the escort of a small detachment of infantry, was organized at, and despatched from, Detroit in the spring of 1820. This enterprise first brought Mr. Schoolcraft into the new field of observation on Indian life and manners. Being appointed geologist to the expedition, he became its historiographer, and, during the following year, published a journal of its progress. Its mineralogy and geology were examined, and the copper mines on the Ontonagon river and Lake Superior explored. A detached expedition visited the lead mines of Dubuque. The fresh-water conchology of the country was examined; collections made of the flora and fauna; an elaborate report of its geology presented, accompanied with a map; and conchology, as well as other departments of science considerably augmented by the addition of new species. From this source was obtained an accurate knowledge of the tribes, their location, strength, and character, and also of the natural history, climatology, resources and physical geography of that region. 535 The expedition left Detroit on the 24th of May, in large and well-constructed canoes, of the Indian model; and the explorers circumnavigated the shores of Lakes Huron and Superior. Prom the head of the latter lake, they crossed the intervening highlands to the valley of the Upper Mississippi, which they entered at Sandy Lake, and, ascending it in search of its true source, they passed its upper falls, at Pakagama, as well as the source of Leech Lake, laid down by Lieutenant Pike, in 1806, and thence through Lake Winnebeegoshish to the large body of water in lat. 47° 25' 23", 536 since denominated Cass Lake. This point is, following the course of the river, 2755 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, and was reached on the 21st of July. The Mississippi was then descended to the falls of
St. Anthony, 537 and Prairie du Chien, and the chain of the great lake basins again reached through the Wisconsin and Fox river valleys, at Green Bay, on the western shores of Lake Michigan. The extent of Indian hunting-grounds traversed was nearly 4000 miles, and at only one point, namely, St. Mary's Falls, at the lower end of Lake Superior, was there any demonstration of hostile feelings. The effect resulting from this extensive exploratory tour was, to convince the Indians that a wise government sought to ascertain the extent of their territory and its resources, as well as to bring the tribes into friendly communication with it. The Chippewas were found, with some slight change of name, to occupy the entire borders of Lakes Huron and Superior, together with the eastern side of the valley of the Upper Mississippi, above lat. 44° 53' 20" north. On the west banks, in about lat. 46°, the frames of Sioux lodges were still standing, which had evidently been but recently occupied. On the 30th of July they reached the falls of St. Anthony (
Plate XY.); between which and Prairie du Chien, but nearer to the latter, the Sioux inhabited both banks of the river. The Sacs and Foxes occupied the

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Mississippi valley between Prairie du Chien and Rock Island, at the entrance to the river Des Moines. The Winnebagoes were in possession of the Wisconsin and Rock river valleys. The Menomonees were scattered along the Fox river to Buttes des Morts and Winnebago Lake, thence quite to Green Bay, and, with interchanges of location with the Winnebagoes, to Milwaukie on Lake Michigan. The Pottawattamies, Chippewas, and Ottowas, were located at Chicago, as also in northern Illinois and southern Michigan. The Ottowas lived in Grand River valley, as well as on Little Traverse Bay; and the Chippewas on the peninsula and shores of Grand Traverse Bay. An escort of infantry having accompanied this expedition, the flag of the Union was thus displayed in regions where, previously, it had seldom or never been seen.

This expedition had the effect, not only to attract the attention of the Indians to the power and vigilance of the Government, but also to direct popular enterprise to this hitherto unceded part of the Union; the value and importance of which can already be attested by an examination of Upper Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. An instance of the interest excited in the Indian mind by this visit, occurred at Winnebago Lake. When the party halted on its shores, the geologist broke off several specimens of some novel rocky formations, with a view of determining their character. A very aged Winnebago observing this, said to his companions: "This is remarkable. Our country was long occupied by the French and the English, who were satisfied to trade with us; but no sooner have the Americans come, than they must examine our very rocks. What can they possibly expect to get from them?"

During the progress of this memorable exploration, several instances were observed of the Indian mode of communicating ideas by pictographic inscriptions on scrolls of bark. 538 Statistics of their population and trade were obtained, and accurate knowledge acquired of their manners and customs, feelings, and disposition. One of the peculiar customs observed while in the Dakotah country, was that of offering the first ears of the green corn to the Great Spirit; 539 of which ceremony the party were, by permission of the chiefs, allowed to be spectators.
Plate XV.

In the Chippewa territories, extending from the precincts of Rock Island to the
sources of the Mississippi, the ruling power was found to be exercised by certain totemic families, who claimed the right by descent. This right, however, was ascertained to be nugatory when not supported by the popular voice of the clans; which act virtually bestowed upon it all the force of a representative system. The ancient seat of the Chippewas, located at Sault Ste. Marie, at the lower end of Lake Superior, had for its ruling chief Shingabawassin, a tall, well-made, grave man, who possessed an easy, dignified, and pleasing manner. 540 (
Plate XVI.) The Indians residing on the upper shores of the lake were ruled by a chief called Pezhikee, or Buffalo, and Sappa. At Sandy

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Lake, on the Upper Mississippi, Katawabeda, Babesikundabay, and Guele Plat, were the presiding chiefs. The Mendawakantons, or Dakotahs of the river, acknowledged the government of the younger Wabasha. The Winnebagoes were ruled by De Corrie and Tshoop, the quatre jamb, or "Four Legs," of the French. The Pottawattamies acknowledged the sway of Topinabee, an aged man, who had signed the treaty of peace concluded at Greenville by General Wayne in 1794. At Grand river, presided the Ottowa chief, Nawagizhi, or Noon-Day; at Grand Traverse Bay, Aishquagonabi, or the
Feather of Honor; and at the Ottowa towns of L'Arbre Croche, the very old chief, Nishcaudjinine, or the Angry Man, and Pauskooziegun, or the Smoker.

The Indian government being founded on certain established customs and prescriptions, was clearly controlled by popular opinion, which changed with the passage of time and the occurrence of events. Although the totemic sovereignty was hereditary, yet the tribal succession could be set aside at any time when it was thought necessary to reward with the chieftancy bravery on the war-path, great energy of character, talent as a speaker, or skill as a magician; and the tribes were thenceforth ruled by the newly-installed chief.

Treaties were concluded with the Indians at L'Arbre Croche, 541 and at Sault Ste. Marie. 542 An incident occurred at the latter which for a time foreboded serious difficulty. The negotiations for this treaty were commenced about the middle of June; at which period of the year, the hunting season being ended, the Indians crowd to the towns nearest the frontiers, to enjoy themselves in dancing, feasting, and the celebration of ceremonies. But four or five years having elapsed since the conclusion of the war, there was still a vivid feeling of hostility existing among them towards the Americans. It chanced that, among the large number assembled, was the war-captain who had led the Chippewas into action, and an ambitious chief, called Sassaba, of the reigning totem of the Crane, whose brother had been killed fighting beside Tecumseh, at the battle of the Thames. An attempt was made to deter the party from carrying the American flag through the Chippewa country. Sassaba, having broken up a public council, raised the British flag on a brow of the height where the Indians were encamped, and it was observed that, at the same moment, women and children were precipitately sent from the lodges, across the river, to the Canada shore. Vivid apprehensions were entertained of a hostile encounter; the party grasped their rifles, and stood ready for conflict. General Cass, by his knowledge of the Indian character, his cool self-possession, and decision, disconcerted their plans, and averted the danger. Unarmed, and accompanied only by an interpreter, he ascended the elevated plain on which the Indians were encamped, and, proceeding to the lodge of Sassaba, he pulled down the flag, and addressed the Indians in terms of just reproof for this act of bravado. This rebuke was received without any further demonstration of hostility. On the following day, negotiations were renewed, and the treaty concluded, which recognised the old grant to the French by a cession of territory four miles square. 543

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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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