NIU Libraries Digitization Projects
Lincoln/Net Prairie Fire Illinois During the Civil War Illinois During the Gilded Age Mark Twain's Mississippi Back to Digitization Projects Contact Us
BACK

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


Next section

Chapter I. — The Chippewas of the Upper Mississippi Cede Their Territory to the Mouth of the Crow Wing River.

MR. VAN BUREN, on assuming the reins of government on the 4th of March of this year, recognised the Indian colonization plan as a settled policy of the Government. In his first annual message, he informed Congress that their transfer from the limits of the States had been steadily progressing during the year. "The decrease in numbers, of the tribes within the limits of the States and Territories, has been most rapid. If they be removed, they can be protected from those associations and evil practices which exert so pernicious and destructive an influence over their destinies. They can be induced to labor, and to acquire property; and its acquisition will inspire them with a feeling of independence. Their minds can be cultivated, and they can be taught the value of salutary and uniform laws, and be made sensible of the blessings of free government, and capable of enjoying its advantages." 659

The policy of removal had been fully vindicated by its practical operation.

Mr. Monroe uttered a momentous truth, when, in 1824, he expressed his conviction that, if the tribes remained in the locations they then occupied, they must necessarily perish. The Presidential influence had been, from an early period, directed toward averting such a catastrophe; but, subsequently to 1824, this truth became more forcibly impressed upon the minds of all well-wishers of the aborigines; and the dread of being

-- 483 --

surrounded by a dense white population, as were their co-tribes in the Southern and Middle States, also operated on the tribes in the north and north-west. The experience of thirteen years had made obvious the truth of an assertion which, in 1824, appeared more like the deductions of a philosopher than those of a statist; and experience proved that the policy was not less sound as a political than as a moral question. While the tribes lived in a condition of acknowledged dependence, within the jurisdiction of the States, in the tracts of wilderness on the frontier borders of those States, or on the reservations allotted them, their position excited the public sympathy; but when the white population expanded, and the Indians were brought more immediately into contact with influences which degraded them, it became evident that they could not permanently reside in their existing locations. When these moral considerations were strengthened by the addition of a political question, originated by some of the more advanced tribes, claiming the right of framing their own laws, and establishing their own institutions, irrespective of the State sovereignty, they sealed their own political doom, and their expulsion became imperatively necessary. Interference with State rights could not be permitted by the General Government; and its toleration in aboriginal tribes, however advanced in the scale of civilization, would have been subversive of every maxim of government, and contrary to all historical precedents.

The entire mass of the tribes, and remnants of tribes, still residing east of the Mississippi, was still much disturbed by the discussion of the question of their removal; and the hope of improving their social condition by the acceptance of lands in the West, induced them to make frequent treaties. A retrospect of the succession of these is essential to the proper understanding of their history.

The important treaty and cessions made at Washington, March 28, 1836, by the Ottowas and Chippewas, and the beneficial effects of it on the affairs of those tribes, caused their more westerly brethren and kinsfolk, on the Upper Mississippi, to meditate seriously on pursuing the same course. The Odjibwas 660 comprise an infinity of bands, scattered over an immense surface of territory. A treaty with the western and northern bands of these people was concluded by General Henry Dodge, at St. Peters, July 29, 1837. By this treaty, in which the Pillager tribe of Leech lake is first introduced to notice, the Chippewa nation ceded the country from a point opposite the junction of the Crow Wing river with the Mississippi, to the head of Lake St. Croix, and thence along the ridge dividing the Ochasawa river from a northern tributary of Chippewa river, to a point on the latter, twenty miles below the outlet of Lac de Flambeau. From this point, the cession absorbed the whole Chippewa boundary to the lines of the Menomonees, on the Wisconsin and the Sioux rivers.

This important compact ceded a large part of the present area of Southern Minnesota,

-- 484 --

with its valuable pineries, fertile prairies, beautiful lakes, and flowing rivers. By this cession they secured an annuity of $38,000 for twenty years, payable in money, goods, and provisions, beside obtaining the services of mechanics and farmers, and a supply of agricultural implements. The sum of $70,000 was appropriated to the payment of their debts, and $100,000 to be divided among their half breed descendants.

This treaty collected into one group, families and bands of the same stock, who had wandered over hundreds and thousands of miles of country, comprising the far-reaching shores of Lake Superior, and the almost illimitable steppes of the Upper Mississippi.

The Chippewas of Saganaw, in Michigan, by a treaty concluded December 20, 1837, ceded their lands in the region of the Flint, the Shiawassa, the Titabawassa, and the Saganaw rivers. By this treaty, the United States granted them the entire proceeds of the sales of their lands in the public land office, together with an amount of fertile lands in the West equal to those ceded, and an annual appropriation for schools and agricultural purposes, while resident during a limited period in the country. The Saganaws had previously been regarded as refugees from various bands of the Algonquin stock. Their central location had been occupied in former times by the warlike tribe of the Sauks; hence the term Sauk-i-nong, from which originated the name Saganaw. About the year 1712, the Sacs united with the Foxes, and made an attack on the French at Detroit. The failure of the attempt of these two restless and warlike tribes, drove them at first to the banks of the stream, since known as the Fox river of Wisconsin, whence they afterwards migrated to the west of the Mississippi.

On the 17th of January, 1837, the co-tribes of the Chickasaws and Choctaws entered into a treaty, 661 under the auspices of the United States, which provided that the Chickasaws should be located in a separate district of the Choctaw territory, west of the Mississippi, and should enjoy equal political rights and privileges with them, excepting only in questions relative to their fiscal affairs. In consideration of this location, and of the rights and privileges granted them, the Chickasaws agreed to pay the Choctaws $530,000; $30,000 of this sum to be paid down, and the remainder to be invested by the United States in stocks for their benefit, under prescribed regulations. This initial step toward the reunion of tribes speaking dialects of the same language, is important, as foreshadowing a further and final tribal reunion.

The tendency of affiliated tribes to coalesce, after long periods of separation, weary wanderings, and disastrous adventures, was first demonstrated in the history of the Iroquois, who, we are informed, in ancient times warred furiously against each other. 662 By the confederation, in the fifteenth century, of the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas, a native power was created, which made itself feared and respected by the other tribes; and, at the period when the colonies were sent west, they held a position

-- 485 --

among the other savage tribes which fully verified the axiom, that in union there is strength. Nothing analogous to this organization existed among the Algonquins, the New England tribes, or the Illinois. These had no public council, or general convocation, where important questions relative to their political affairs were discussed. The Dakotah tribe is also composed of discordant materials; there being no controlling organization for the public welfare, each tribe being the sole and independent judge of what it considers right and politic.

The Sacs and Foxes coalesced on a firmer basis, social, it is true, but so closely united by the ties of language, intermarriage, customs, and by local influences, that they have preserved the co-tribal relation.

Very similar, and only weakened by their dispersion over the wide country they occupy, is the coalescence, or social league, existing between the Chippewas, Ottowas, and Pottawattamies.

-- 486 --

Next section


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
Powered by PhiloLogic