Personal Memoirs Of A Residence Of Thirty Years With The Indian Tribes On The American Frontiers
Henry Rowe Schoolcraft

Part 3 out of 15

Chebiogan on the west side of Lake Michigan, to see a relative, but had
turned back. When the Doctor met him, he was standing by the side of a
tree, apparently unemployed. The Indian, says the Doctor, addressed him,
and said something, from which he understood they wanted them to guide
him to Chicago. As he knew he should get something to eat from them, he
concluded he would go with them as far as Chebiogan. Accordingly, he
fell in with the party about 2 P.M., and walked on until they had passed
the Manatoowack River, about three miles.

"They came to a small rise of ground, over which two of the soldiers had
passed, and the other was by the side of the Doctor's horse, and both
were just on the top. The Indian was about two rods in the rear, and was
at the foot of the hill, when a gun was fired in the rear, and Madison
received the charge in his shoulders and in the back of his neck, and
immediately fell from his horse. The Indian instantly disappeared. The
Doctor exclaimed, 'Oh! why has that Indian shot me? I never did him or
any of them any injury. To kill me, too, when I was just returning to my
wife and my little child, which I have never seen! It is more painful
than death.' His conversation was very pathetic, as related by the
soldier, and all who heard him were greatly affected.

"The Indian says he shot him without any cause or malice; that the
thought came into his head, about two minutes before, that he would kill
one of the four; and when he saw the Doctor on the top of the hill, he
concluded he would fire at him, to see how pretty he would fall off
his horse."

These things transpired late in the fall. I did not reach Albany till
late in December, and immediately began to prepare my geological report.


New-Yearing--A prospect opened--Poem of Ontwa--Indian biography--Fossil
tree--Letters from various persons--Notice of Ontwa--Professor
Silliman--Gov. Clinton--Hon. J. Meigs--Colonel Benton--Mr.
Dickenson--Professor Hall--Views of Ex-presidents Madison, Jefferson,
and Adams on geology--Geological notices--Plan of a gazetteer--Opinions
of my _Narrative Journal_ by scientific gentlemen--The impostor John Dun
Hunter--Trip up the Potomac--Mosaical chronology--Visit to Mount Vernon.

1822. _Jan. 1st_.--I spent this day a New-Yearing. Albany is a dear
place for the first of January; not only the _houses_ of every one, but
the _hearts_ of every one seem open on this day. It is no slight praise
to say that one day out of the three hundred and sixty-five is
consecrated to general hospitality and warm-hearted cordiality. If St.
Nicholas was the author of this custom, he was a social saint; and the
custom seems to be as completely kept up on the banks of the Hudson as
it ever could have been on the banks of the Rhine.

_Jan. 5th_.--My experience is that he who would rise, in science or
knowledge, must toil incessantly; it is the price at which success sells
her favors. During the last four years, I have passed not less than ten
thousand miles, and in all this time I have scarcely lain down one night
without a feeling that the next day's success must depend upon a fresh
appeal to continued effort. My pathway has certainly not lain over beds
of gold, nor my pillow been composed of down. And yet my success has
served to raise the envy and malignity of some minds. True, these have
been small minds; while a just appreciation and approval have marked the
course of the exalted and enlightened. A friend writes from Washington,
this day, assuring me that I am not forgotten in high quarters. "The
occupation," he says, "of the _Sault_ has been decided on, and I have
but little doubt of your appointment to the agency. Make your mind easy.
I am certain the government will not forget you, and I never can. I
shall not lose sight of your interest a moment."

Thus, while an envious little clique here has, in my absence,
clandestinely thrown most uncandid censure upon me and my labors, a
vista of honor is presented to my hopes from a higher source.

While recovering from the prostrating effects of my Chicago fever, I had
drawn up a memoir for the American Geological Society, which had made me
a member, on the fossil tree observed in the stratification of the Des
Plaines, of the Illinois, and took the occasion of being detained here
in making my report, to print it, and circulate copies. It appeared to
be a good opportunity, while calling attention to the fact described, to
connect it with the system of secondary rocks, as explained by
geologists. In this way, the occurrence of perhaps a not absolutely
unique phenomenon is made a vehicle of conveying geological information,
which is now sought with avidity in the country. This step brought me
many correspondents of note.

Mr. Madison (Ex-President United States) writes (Jan. 22): "The present
is a very inquisitive age, and its researches of late have been ardently
directed to the primitive composition and structure of our globe, as far
as it has been penetrated, and to the processes by which succeeding
changes have been produced. The discoveries already made are
encouraging; but vast room is left for the further industry and sagacity
of geologists. This is sufficiently shown by the opposite theories which
have been espoused; one of them regarding water, the other fire, as the
great agent employed by nature in her work.

"It may well be expected that this hemisphere, which has been least
explored, will yield its full proportion of materials towards a
satisfactory system. Your zealous efforts to share in the contributions
do credit to your love of truth and devotion to the cause of science,
and I wish they may be rewarded with the success they promise, and with
all the personal gratifications to which they entitle you."

Mr. Jefferson (Ex-President United States) sends a note of thanks (Jan.
26th) in the following words: "It is a valuable element towards the
knowledge we wish to obtain of the crust of the globe we inhabit; and,
as crust alone is immediately interesting to us, we are only to guard
against drawing our conclusions deeper than we dig. You are entitled to
the thanks of the lovers of science for the preservation of this fact."

Mr. John Adams (Ex-President United States, Jan. 27th) says: "I thank
you for your memoir on the fossil tree, which is very well written; and
the conjectures on the processes of nature in producing it are plausible
and probable.

"I once lay a week wind-bound in Portland road, in England, and went
often ashore, and ascended the mountain from whence they get all the
Portland stone that they employ in building. In a morning walk with some
of the American passengers from the Lucretia, Captain Calehan, we passed
by a handsome house, at the foot of the hill, with a handsome front yard
before it. Upon the top of one of the posts of this yard lay a fish,
coiled up in a spiral figure, which caught my eye. I stopped and gazed
at it with some curiosity. Presently a person, in the habit and
appearance of a substantial and well-bred English gentleman, appeared at
his door and addressed me. 'Sir, I perceive that your attention is fixed
on my fish. That is a conger eel--a species that abounds in these seas;
we see them repeatedly, at the depth of twelve feet water, lying exactly
in that position. That stone, as it now appears, was dug up from the
bowels of this mountain, at the depth of twenty feet below the surface,
in the midst of the rocks. Now, sir,' said he, 'at the time of the
deluge, these neighboring seas were thrown up into that mountain, and
this fish, lying at the bottom, was thrown up with the rest, and then
petrified, in the very posture in which he lay.'

"I was charmed with the eloquence of this profound philosopher, as well
as with his civility, and said that I could not account for the
phenomenon by any more plausible or probable hypothesis.

"This is a lofty hill and very steep, and in the road up and down, there
are flat and smooth rocks of considerable extent. The commerce in
Portland stone frequently calls for huge masses, from ten to fifteen
tons weight. These are loaded on very strong wheels, and drawn by ten or
twelve pair of horses. When they come to one of those flat rocks on the
side of the hill where the descent is steep, they take off six or eight
pair of horses, and attach them behind the wagon, and lash them up hill,
while one or two pair of horses in front have to drag the wagon and its
load and six or eight pair of horses behind it, backwards.

"I give you this history by way of comment on Dr. Franklin's famous
argument against a mixed government. That great man ought not to have
quoted this as a New England custom, because it was an English practice
before New England existed, and is a happy illustration of the necessity
of a balanced government.

"And since I have mentioned Dr. Franklin, I will relate another fact
which I had from his mouth. When he lived at Passy, a new quarry of
stone was opened in the garden of Mr. Ray de Chaumont, and, at the depth
of twenty feet, was found among the rocks a shark's tooth, in perfect
preservation, which I suppose my Portland friend would account for as he
did for his conger eel, though the tooth was not petrified."

Thus, my memoir was the cause of the expression of opinions and facts
from distinguished individuals, which possess an interest distinct from
the bearing of such opinions on geology.

Mr. Carter, who has just transferred the publication of the _Statesman_
from Albany to New York, writes (Jan. 10th) from the latter city, urging
me to hasten my return to that city.

_Poem on the theme of the Aborigines_.--"I have," he remarks, "read
Ontwa, the Indian poem you spoke to me about last summer. The notes by
Governor Cass are extremely interesting, and written in a superior
style. I shall notice the work in a few days."

_Geology of New York Island_.--"I wish you to give me an article on the
mineralogy and geology of Manhattan Island, in the form of a letter
purporting to be by a foreign traveler. (See Appendix, No. 2.) It is my
intention to give a series of letters, partly by myself and partly by
others, which shall take notice of everything in and about the city
which may be deemed interesting. I wish to begin at the foundation by
giving a geographical and geological sketch of the Island."

_Indian Biography_.--"Colonel Haines also wishes you to unite with him
and myself, in writing a series of sketches of celebrated Indians."

Professor Silliman writes (Jan. 20th), acknowledging the receipt of a
memoir on the fossil tree of the River Des Plaines, which was prepared
for the American Geological Society. He requests me to furnish him a
copy of my memoir on the geology of the regions visited by the recent
expedition, or, if it be too long for the purposes of the _American
Journal_, an abstract of it.

_Animal Impressions in Limestone_.--"I am much obliged to you for your
kind intention of furnishing me with a paper on the impressions in
limestone, and I hope you will bear it in mind, and execute it

"I have observed the appointment which the newspapers state that you
have received from the government, and regret that it carries you so far
south,[11] into an unhealthy climate; wishing you, however, health and
leisure to pursue those studies which you have hitherto prosecuted so

[Footnote 11: This is evidently an allusion to St. Mary's, in Georgia,
instead of Michigan.]

Professor Frederick Hall, of Middlebury College, addresses me (Jan.
14th) on the same subject. He alludes to my treatise "On the Mines,
Minerals, &c., of the western section of the United States;" a work for
which our country and the world are deeply indebted to your enlightened
enterprise and unrelaxing zeal. Before reading it, I had a very
inadequate conception of the actual extent and riches of the lead mines
of the West. It seems, according to your account, that these mines are
an exhaustless source of wealth to the United States. "I should feel glad
to have them put under your superintendence; and to have you nurture up
a race of expert mineralogists, and become a Werner among them."

Professor Silliman writes (Jan. 25th): "When I wrote you last, I had not
been able to procure your memoir on the fossil tree. I read it, however,
immediately after, and was so much pleased with it, that I extracted the
most important parts in the _American Journal_, giving credit, of
course, to you and to the Geological Society."

_Jan. 29th_. Chester Dewy, Professor, &c., in Williams College, Mass.,
writes a most kind and friendly letter, in which he presents various
subjects, in the great area of the West, visited by me.

_Chalk Formation_.--"Mr. Jessup, of Philadelphia, told me that he
believed you doubted respecting the _chalk_ of Missouri, in which you
found nodules of flints. I wish to ask if this be fact. From the
situation, and characters and uses, you might easily be led into a
mistake, for such a bed of any other earth would be far less to be
expected, and be also a far greater curiosity."

_Petrosilex, &c._--"By the way, I received from Dr. Torrey a curious
mixture of petrosilex and prehnite in radiating crystals, which was sent
him by you, and collected at the West. He did not tell me the name, but
examination showed me what it was."

_Tufa from Western New York_.--"To day, a Quaker from Sempronius, New
York, has shown me some fine tufa. I mention it, because you may, in
your travels, be able to see it. He says it covers an acre or more to a
great depth, is burned into excellent lime with great ease, and is very
valuable, as no good limestone is found near them. Some of it is very
soft, like agaric mineral, and would be so called, were it not
associated with beautiful tufa of a harder kind."

_Geology of America_.--"You have explored in fine situations, to extend
the knowledge of the geology of our country, and have made great
discoveries. I congratulate you on what you have been able to do; I hope
you may be able, if you wish it, to add still more to our knowledge."

_Jan. 29th_. Mr. McNabb says: "I have just received a specimen of
excellent pit-coal from Tioga county, Pennsylvania, near the head of the
south branch of the Tioga River, and about twenty miles south from
Painted Post, in Steuben County. The quantity is said to be
inexhaustible, and what renders it of still greater importance is, that
arks and rafts descend from within four or five miles of the mines."

_New Gazetteer of New York_.--Mr. Carter writes (Feb. 5th)
inauspiciously of the course of affairs at Washington, as not favoring
the spirit of exploration. He proposes, in the event of my not receiving
the contemplated appointment, the plan of a Gazetteer of New York, on an
enlarged and scientific basis. "I have often expressed to you my opinion
of the Spafford Gazetteer of this State. It is wholly unworthy of public
patronage, and would not stand in the way of a good work of the kind;
and such a one, I have the vanity to believe, our joint efforts could
produce. It would be a permanent work, with slight alterations, as the
State might undergo changes. My plan would be for you to travel over the
State, and make a complete mineralogical, and geological, and
statistical survey of it, which would probably take you a year or more.
In the mean time, I would devote all my leisure to the collection and
arrangement of such other materials as we should need in the compilation
of the work."

_Feb. 18th_. Professor Dewy writes, vindicating my views of the
Huttonian doctrines, respecting the formation of secondary rocks, which
he had doubted, on the first perusal of my memoir of the fossil tree
of Illinois.

_Feb. 20th_. Caleb Atwater, Esq., of Circleville, Ohio, the author of
the antiquarian papers in the first volume of _Archaeologiae Americana_,
writes on the occasion of my geological memoir. He completely confounds
the infiltrated specimen of an entire tree, in the external strata, and
of a recent age, which is prominently described in my paper, with
ordinary casts and impressions of organic remains in the elder secondary
rock column.

_Feb. 24th_. Mr. McNabb communicates further facts and discoveries of
the mineral wealth, resources, and prospects of Western New York and

* * * * *

_Narrative Journal_.--Professor Silliman (March 5th) communicates an
extract of a letter to him from Daniel Wadsworth, Esq., of Hartford, to
whom he had loaned my _Narrative_.

"I have been very much entertained with the tour to the western lakes. I
think Mr. Schoolcraft writes in a most agreeable manner; there is such
an entire absence of affectation in all he says, as well as his manner
of saying it, that no one can help being exceedingly pleased, even if
the book had not in any other respect a great deal of merit. The whole
seems such real and such absolute matter of fact, that I feel as if I
had performed the journey with the traveller.

"All I regret about it is that it was not consistent with his plans to
tell us more of what might be considered the _domestic_ part of the
expedition, the character and conduct of those who were of the party,
their health, difficulties, opinions, and treatment of each other, &c.
&c. As his book was a sort of official work, I suppose he thought this
would not do, and I wish he now would give his friends (and let us be
amongst them) a manuscript of the particulars that are not for the
public. Mrs. W. has also been as much pleased as myself."

Under the date of March 22d, Sir Humphrey Davy, in a private letter to
Dr. Hosack, says:--

"Mr. Schoolcraft's narrative is admirable, both for the facts it
develops and for the simplicity and clearness of the details; he has
accomplished great things by such means, and offers a good model for a
traveler in a new country. I lent his book to our veteran philosophical
geographer, Major Rennel, who was highly pleased with it; copies of it
would sell well in England."

Dr. Silliman apprises me that Professor Douglass expects my geological
report as part of his work.

Having now finished my geological report, I determined to take it to
Washington. On reaching New York, I took lodgings at the Franklin House,
then a private boarding-house, where my friends, Mr. Carter and Colonel
Haines, had rooms. While here, I was introduced one day to a man who
subsequently attracted a good deal of notice as a literary impostor.
This was a person named Hunter. He said that he derived this name from
his origin in the Indian country. He had a soft, compliant, half
quizzical look, and appeared to know nothing precisely, but dealt in
vague accounts and innuendoes. Having gone to London, the booksellers
thought him, it appears, a good subject for a book, and some hack was
employed to prepare it. It had a very slender basis in any observations
which this man was capable of furnishing; but abounded in misstatements
and vituperation of the policy of this government respecting the
Indians. This fellow is handled in the Oct. No. of the _North American
Review_, for 1825, in a manner which gives very little encouragement to
literary adventurers and cheats. The very man, John Dunn, of Missouri,
after whom he affected to have been named, denies that he ever heard
of him.

I had, thus far, seen but little of the Atlantic, except what could be
observed in a trip from New Orleans to New York, and knew very little of
its coasts by personal examination. I had never seen more of the
Chesapeake than could be shown from the head of that noble bay, and
wished to explore the Valley of the Potomac. For this purpose, I took
passage in a coasting vessel at New York, and had a voyage of a novel
and agreeable kind, which supplied me with the desired information. At
Old Point Comfort, I remained at the hotel while the vessel tarried. In
ascending the Potomac one night, while anchored, a negro song was wafted
in the stillness of the atmosphere. I could distinctly hear the
following words:--

Gentlemen, he come from de Maryland shore,
See how massa gray mare go.
Go, gray, go,
Go, gray, go;
See how massa gray mare go.

I reached Washington late in March, and sent in my geological report on
the 2d of April. Mr. Calhoun, who acknowledged it on the 6th, referred
it to the Topographical Bureau. Some question, connected with the
establishment of an agency in Florida, complicated my matter. Otherwise
it appeared to be a mere question of time. The Secretary of War left me
no room to doubt that his feelings were altogether friendly. Mr. Monroe
was also friendly.

_Additional Judicial District in Michigan_.--J.D. Doty, Esq., wrote to
me (April 8th) on this subject. So far as my judgment and observation
went, they were favorable to this project. Besides, if I was to become
an inhabitant of the district, as things now boded, it would be
desirable to me to dwell in a country where the laws, in their higher
aspects, were periodically administered. I had, therefore, every reason
to favor it.

_Skeptical Views of the Mosaical Chronology_.--Baptiste Irvine, Esq.,
in referring to some criticism of his in relation to the discovery of
fossils by a distinguished individual, brings this subject forward in a
letter of April 19th. This individual had written to him, impugning his

"I regret," he observes, "the cause, and shall endeavor to give
publicity to his (my friend's) observations; though hardly necessary to
him, they may yet awaken some ideas in the minds of the people on the
wonders of physics I had almost said the _slow miracles of creation_.
For if ever there was a time when matter existed not, it is pretty
evident that _millions of years_ were necessary to establish order on
chaos, instead of six days. Let Cuvier, &c., temporize as they may.
However, it is the humble allotment of the herd to believe or stare; it
is the glory of intelligent men to acquire and admire." "For the memoir
I am very thankful, and I perceive it alters the case."

_April 22d. Mount Vernon_.--In a pilgrimage to this spot, if political
veneration may assume that name, I was accompanied by Honorable Albert
H. Tracy, Mr. Ruggles, and Mr. Alfred Conkling of the House of
Representatives, all of New York. We took a carriage, and reached the
hallowed place in good season, and were politely admitted to all the
apartments and grounds, which give interest to every tread. I brought
some pebbles of common quartz and bits of brown oxide of iron, from the
top of the rude tomb, and we all broke branches of the cedars growing
there. We gazed into the tomb, through an aperture over the door, where
bricks had been removed, and thought, at last, that we could distinguish
the coffin.

_Human Feet figured on Rock at St. Louis_.--The Honorable Thomas H.
Benton, in a letter of 29th April, expresses the opinion that these are
antiquities, and not "prints," and that they are of the age of the
mounds on the American bottom.

_Mineralogy_.--J.D. Doty, Esq., transmits (May 6th) from the vicinity of
Martinsburg, New York, specimens of the geological structure of that

_Austin's Colony_.--"What you have said to me heretofore, concerning
Mr. Austin's settlement in Texas, has rather turned my attention in that
direction. Have you any means of communicating with your friend? What
are your views of that country?"


Appointed an agent of Indian affairs for the United States at Saint
Mary's--Reasons for the acceptance of the office--Journey to
Detroit--Illness at that point--Arrival of a steamer with a battalion of
infantry to establish a new military post at the foot of Lake
Superior--Incidents of the voyage to that point--Reach our destination,
and reception by the residents and Indians--A European and man of honor
fled to the wilderness.

1822. At length Congress passed an act, which left Mr. Calhoun free to
carry out his intentions respecting me, by the creation of a separate
Indian agency for Florida. This enabled him to transfer one of the
western agencies, namely, at Vincennes, Indiana, where the Indian
business had ceased, to the foot of the basin of Lake Superior, at the
ancient French village of _Sault de Ste. Marie_, Michigan. Had not this
act passed, it would have been necessary to transfer this agency to
Florida, for which Mr. Gad Humphreys was the recognized appointee. Mr.
Monroe immediately sent in my nomination for this old agency to the
Senate, by whom it was favorably acted on the 8th of May. The gentleman
(Mr. J.B. Thomas, Senator from Illinois) whose boat I had been
instrumental in saving in my descent of the Ohio in the spring of 1818,
I believe, moved its confirmation. It was from him, at any rate, that I
the same day obtained the information of the Senate's action.

I had now attained a fixed position; not such as I desired in the
outset, and had striven for, but one that offered an interesting class
of duties, in the performance of which there was a wide field for
honorable exertion, and, if it was embraced, also of historical inquiry
and research. The taste for natural history might certainly be
transferred to that point, where the opportunity for discovery was the
greatest. At any rate, the trial of a residence on that remote frontier
might readily be made, and I may say it was in fact made only as a
temporary matter. It was an ancient agency in which General Harrison
had long exercised his superior authority over the fierce and wild
tribes of the West, which was an additional stimulus to exertion, after
its removal to Lake Superior.

I called the next day on Mr. Calhoun, to express my obligation, and to
request instructions. For the latter object, he referred me to General
Cass, of Detroit, who was the superintendent of Indian affairs on the
North-Western frontier, and to whom the policy of pushing an agency and
a military post to that point is, I believe, due.

I now turned my face to the North, made a brief stay in New York,
hurried through the western part of that State to Buffalo, and ascended
Lake Erie to Detroit. At this point I was attacked with fever and ague,
which I supposed to have been contracted during a temporary landing at
Sandusky. I directed my physician to treat it with renewed doses of
mercury, in quick succession, which terminated the fever, but completely
prostrated my strength, and induced, at first tic douloureux, and
eventually a paralysis of the left cheek.

The troops destined for the new post arrived about the beginning of
July. They consisted of a battalion of the 2d Regiment of Infantry,
under Colonel Brady, from garrison duty at Sackett's Harbor, and they
possessed every element of high discipline and the most efficient
action, under active officers. Brady was himself an officer of Wayne's
war against the Indians, and had looked danger steadily in the face on
the Niagara frontier, in the Late War. In this condition, I hastily
snatched up my instructions, and embarked on board the new steamer
"Superior," which was chartered by the government for the occasion. It
was now the 2d of July.

Before speaking of the voyage from this point, it may be well to refer
to another matter. The probability of Professor Douglass publishing the
joint results of our observations on the expedition of 1820, appeared
now unfavorable. Among the causes of this, I regarded my withdrawal to a
remote point as prominent but not decisive. Two years had already
elapsed; the professor was completely absorbed in his new professorship,
in which he was required to teach a new subject in a new language.
Governor Cass, who had undertaken the Indian subject, had greatly
enlarged the platform of his inquiries, which rendered it probable that
there would be a delay. My memoir on the geology and mineralogy only was
ready. Dr. Barnes had the conchology nearly ready, and the botany,
which was in the hands of Dr. Torrey, was well advanced. But it required
a degree of labor, zeal, and energy to push forward such a work, that
admits of no abatements, and which was sufficient to absorb all the
attention of the highest mind; and could not be expected from the
professor, already overtasked.

Among the papers which were put in my hands at Detroit, I found a
printed copy of Governor Cass's Indian queries, based on his promise to
Douglass, by which I was gratified to perceive that his mind was
earnestly engaged in the subject, which he sought a body of original
materials to illustrate. I determined to be a laborer in this new field.

Our voyage up Lake Huron to Michilimackinack, and thence east to the
entrance of the Straits of St. Mary's, at Detour, was one of pleasant
excitement. We ascended the straits and river, through Muddy Lake and
the narrow pass at Sailor's Encampment, to the foot of the great
Nibeesh [12] rapids. Here the steamer came to anchor from an apprehension
that the bar of Lake George [13] could not be crossed in the existing
state of the water.

[Footnote 12: This name signifies strong water, meaning bad for
navigation, from its strength. Here _Nebeesh_ is the derogative form of
_Nebee_, water.]

[Footnote 13: The depth of water on this bar was then stated to be but
six feet two inches.]

It was early in the morning of the 6th of July when this fact was
announced. Colonel Brady determined to proceed with his staff in the
ship's yawl, by the shorter passage of the boat channel, and invited me
to a seat. Captain Rogers, of the steamer, himself took the helm. After
a voyage of about four or five hours, we landed at St. Mary's at ten
o'clock in the morning. Men, women, children, and dogs had collected to
greet us at the old wharf opposite the Nolan House--the ancient
"chateau" of the North-West Company. And the Indians, whose costume lent
an air of the picturesque to the scene, saluted us with ball, firing
over our heads as we landed. The _Chemoquemon_ had indeed come! Thus the
American flag was carried to this point, and it was soon hoisted on a
tall staff in an open field east of Mr. Johnston's premises, where the
troops, as they came up, marched with inspiring music, and regularly
encamped. The roll of the drum was now the law for getting up and lying
down. It might be 168 or 170 years since the French first landed at
this point. It was just 59 since the British power had supervened, and
39 since the American right had been acknowledged by the sagacity of Dr.
Franklin's treaty of 1783. But to the Indian, who stood in a
contemplative and stoic attitude, wrapped in his fine blanket of
broadcloth, viewing the spectacle, it must have been equally striking,
and indicative that his reign in the North-West, that old hive of Indian
hostility, was done. And, had he been a man of letters, he might have
inscribed, with equal truth, as it was done for the ancient Persian
monarch, "MENE, MENE, TEKEL."

To most persons on board, our voyage up these wide straits, after
entering them at Point de Tour, had, in point of indefiniteness, been
something like searching after the locality of the north pole. We wound
about among groups of islands and through passages which looked so
perfectly in the state of nature that, but for a few ruinous stone
chimneys on St. Joseph's, it could not be told that the foot of man had
ever trod the shores. The whole voyage, from Buffalo and Detroit, had
indeed been a novel and fairy scene. We were now some 350 miles
north-west of the latter city. We had been a couple of days on board, in
the area of the sea-like Huron, before we entered the St. Mary's
straits. The Superior, being the second steamer built on the Lakes,[14]
had proved herself a staunch boat.

[Footnote 14: The first steamer built on the Lakes was called the
"Walk-in-the-Water," after an Indian chief of that name; it was launched
at Black Rock, Niagara River, in 1818, and visited Michilimackinack in
the summer of that year.]

The circumstances of this trip were peculiar, and the removal of a
detachment of the army to so remote a point in a time of profound peace,
had stimulated migratory enterprise. The measure was, in truth, one of
the results of the exploring expedition to the North-West in 1820, and
designed to curb and control the large Indian population on this extreme
frontier, and to give security to the expanding settlements south of
this point. It was in this light that Mr. Calhoun, the present
enlightened Secretary of War, viewed the matter, and it may be said to
constitute a part of his plan for throwing a _cordon_ of advanced posts
in front of the wide area of our western settlements. From expressions
heard on our route, the breaking up in part of the exceedingly
well-quartered garrison of Madison barracks at Sackett's Harbor, N.Y.,
was not particularly pleasing to the officers of this detachment, most
of whom were married gentlemen, having families, and all of whom were in
snug quarters at that point, surrounded as it is by a rich, thriving,
farming population, and commanding a good and cheap market of meats and
vegetables. To be ordered off suddenly a thousand miles or more, over
three of the great series of lakes, and pitched down here, on the verge
of the civilized world, at the foot of Lake Superior, amid Indians and
Indian traders, where butchers' meat is a thing only to be talked about,
and garden vegetables far more rare than "blackberries," was not,
certainly, an agreeable prospect for officers with wives and mothers
with babies. It might, I am inclined to think from what I heard, be
better justified on the grounds of _national_ than of _domestic_ policy.
They determined, however, on the best possible course under the
circumstances, and took their ladies and families along. This has given
an air of gayety and liveliness to the trip, and, united with the
calmness of the season, and the great novelty and beauty of the scenery,
rendered the passage a very agreeable one. The smoothness of the lakes,
the softness and purity of the air, the wild and picturesque character
of the scenes, and the perfect transparency of the waters, have been so
many themes of perpetual remark and admiration. The occasional
appearance of the feather-plumed Indian in his sylph-like canoe, or the
flapping of a covey of wild-fowl, frightened by the rushing sound of a
steamboat, with the quick pulsation of its paddle-strokes on the water,
but served to heighten the interest, and to cast a kind of fairy spell
over the prospect, particularly as, half shrouded in mist, we passed
among the green islands and brown rocks, fringed with fir trees, which
constituted a perfect panorama as we entered and ascended the Straits of
the St. Mary's.

We sat down to our Fourth-of-July dinner on board the Superior, a little
above the Thunder Bay Islands, in Lake Huron, and as we neared the once
sacred island of Michilimackinack, and saw its tall cliffs start up, as
it were by magic, from the clear bosom of the pellucid lake, a true
aboriginal, whose fancy had been well imbued with the poetic mythology
of his nation, might have supposed he was now, indeed, approaching his
fondly-cherished "Island of the Blest." Apart from its picturesque
loveliness, we found it, however, a very flesh and blood and
matter-of-fact sort of place, and having taken a pilot on board, who
knew the sinuosities of the Saint Mary's channel, we veered around, the
next day, and steered into the capes of that expanded and intricate
strait, where we finally anchored on the morning denoted, and where the
whole detachment was quickly put under orders to ascend the river the
remainder of the distance, about fifteen miles, in boats, each company
under its own officers, while the colonel pushed forward in the yawl. It
was settled, at the same time, that the ladies and their "little ones"
should remain on board, till matters had assumed some definite shape for
their reception.

We were received by the few residents favorably, as has been indicated.
Prominent among the number of residents who came to greet us was Mr.
John Johnston, a gentleman from the north of Ireland, of whose romantic
settlement and adventures here we had heard at Detroit. He gave us a
warm welcome, and freely offered every facility in his power to
contribute to the personal comfort of the officers and their families,
and the general objects of the government. Mr. J. is slightly lame,
walking with a cane. He is of the medium stature, with blue eyes, fair
complexion, hair which still bears traces of its original light brown,
and possesses manners and conversation so entirely easy and polite as to
impress us all very favorably.

Colonel Brady selected some large open fields, not susceptible of a
surprise, for his encampment. To this spot, as boat after boat came up,
in fine style, with its complement of men from the steamer, the several
companies marched down, and before nightfall, the entire command was
encamped in a square, with their tents handsomely pitched, and the whole
covered by lines of sentinels, and under the exact government of troops
in the field. The roll of the drum which had attracted but little
attention on the steamer, assumed a deeper tone, as it was re-echoed
from the adjoining woods, and now distinctly announced, from time to
time, the placing of sentinels, the hour for supper, and other offices
of a clock, in civil life. The French population evinced, by their
countenances and gestures, as they clustered round, a manifest
satisfaction at the movement; the groups of Indians had gazed in a sort
of silent wonder at the pageant; they seemed, by a certain air of
secrecy and suspicion, to think it boded some evil to their long
supremacy in the land. Night imperceptibly threw her dark mantle over
the scene; the gazers, group by group, went to their lodges, and finally
the sharp roll of the tattoo bid every one within the camp to his tent.
Captain Alexander R. Thompson, who had claimed the commandant as his
guest, invited me also to spend the night in his tent. We could plainly
hear the deep murmur of the falls, after we lay down to rest, and also
the monotonous thump of the distant Indian _wabeno_ drum. Yet at this
remote point, so far from the outer verge of civilization, we found in
Mr. Johnston a man of singular energy and independence of character,
from one of the most refined circles of Europe; who had pushed his way
here to the foot of Lake Superior about the year 1793; had engaged in
the fur trade, to repair the shattered fortunes of his house; had
married the daughter of the ruling Ogima or Forest King of the
Chippewas; had raised and educated a large family, and was then living,
in the only building in the place deserving the name of a comfortable
residence, with the manners and conversation of a perfect gentleman, the
sentiments of a man of honor, and the liberality of a lord. He had a
library of the best English works; spent most of his time in reading and
conducting the affairs of an extensive business; was a man of social
qualities, a practical philanthropist, a well-read historian, something
of a poet, and talked of Europe and its connections as things from which
he was probably forever separated, and looked back towards it only as
the land of reminiscences.


Incidents of the summer during the establishment of the new post at St.
Mary's--Life in a nut-shell--Scarcity of room--High prices of
everything--State of the Indians--Their rich and picturesque
costume--Council and its incidents--Fort site selected and occupied--The
evil of ardent spirits amongst the Indians--Note from Governor
De Witt Clinton--Mountain ash--Curious superstitions of the
Odjibwas--Language--Manito poles--Copper--Superstitious regard for
Venus--Fine harbor in Lake Superior--Star family--A locality of
necromancers--Ancient Chippewa capital--Eating of animals.

_1822. July 7th_. We left our pallets at the sound of the reveille, and
partook of a rich cup of coffee, with cream, which smoked on the camp
breakfast-board of our kind entertainer, Captain Thompson.[15] The ladies
and children came up from the steamer, under due escorts, during the
day, and were variously accommodated with temporary quarters. Dr.
Wheaton and lady, Captain Brant, quartermaster, and myself, were
received eventually at the table of Mr. Johnston. Captain Brant and
myself hired a small room hard by for an office to be used between us.
This room was a small log tenement, which had been occupied by one of
Mr. J.'s hands. It was about twelve by fourteen feet, with a small
window in front and in rear, and a very rural fire-place in one corner.
It is astonishing how much comfort can be enjoyed in a crowded and
ill-fitted place on a pinch. We felicitated ourselves at even this. We
really felt that we were quite fortunate in getting such a locality to
hail from. Captain N.S. Clark got an adjoining tenement, of similar
construction and use, but much larger, for his numerous family. Some of
the ladies took shelter at the domicil of an intelligent American family
(Mr. E.B. Allen's) who had preceded us a short time with an adventure of
merchandise. One or two of the ladies abode temporarily in the tents of
their husbands. The unmarried officers looked for nothing better than
life in camp. I accepted an invitation at the mess-table of the
officers. Besides this sudden influx of population, there were followers
and hucksters of various hues who hoped to make their profits from the
soldiery. There was not a nook in the scraggy-looking little antique
village but what was sought for with avidity and thronged with
occupants. Whoever has seen a flock of hungry pigeons, in the spring,
alight on the leaf-covered ground, beneath a forest, and apply the busy
powers of claw and beak to obtain a share of the hidden acorns that may
be scratched up from beneath, may form some just notion of the pressing
hurry and bustle that marked life in this place. The enhanced price that
everything bore was one of the results of this sudden influx of
consumers and occupants.

[Footnote 15: This officer fell at the battle of Ochechubby, in Florida,
as colonel of the sixth infantry, gallantly leading his men to battle.]

_8th_. I went to rest last night with the heavy murmuring sound of the
falls in my ears, broken at short intervals by the busy
thump-thump-thump of the Indian drum; for it is to be added, to the
otherwise crowded state of the place, that the open grounds and
river-side greens of the village, which stretch along irregularly for a
mile or two, are filled with the lodges of visiting Indian bands from
the interior. The last month of spring and the early summer constitute,
in fact, a kind of carnival for the natives. It is at this season that
the traders, who have wintered in the interior, come out with their furs
to the frontier posts of St. Mary's, Drummond Island, and
Michilimackinack, to renew their stocks of goods. The Indians, who have
done hunting at this season, as the furred animals are now changing
their hair, and the pelt becomes bad, follow them to enjoy themselves
along the open shores of the lakes, and share in the good things that
may fall to their lot, either from the traders at their places of
outfit, from presents issued by the British or American governments at
their chief posts, or from merchants in the towns, to whom a few
concealed skins are still reserved to trade. An Indian's time appears
to be worth but little to him at this season, if at any season. He lives
most precariously on small things, such as he can pick up as he travels
loitering along the lake shores, or strolls, with easy footsteps, about
the forest precincts of his lodge. A single fish, or a bird or squirrel,
now and then, serves to mitigate, if it does not satisfy, hunger. He has
but little, I am told, at the best estate; but, to make amends for
this, he is satisfied and even happy with little. This is certainly a
philosophic way of taking life, but it is, if I do not mistake it, stoic
philosophy, and has been learned, by painful lessons of want, from early
youth and childhood. Where want is the common lot, the power of
endurance which the race have must be a common attainment.

_9th_. This day I hired an interpreter for the government, to attend at
the office daily, a burly-faced, large man of some five-and-forty, by
the name of Yarns. He tells me that he was born at Fort Niagara, of
Irish parentage, to which an originally fair skin, blue eyes, and sandy
hair, bear testimony. He has spent life, it seems, knocking about
trading posts, in the Indian country, being married, has _metif_
children, and speaks the Chippewa tongue fluently--I do not know how

The day which has closed has been a busy day, having been signalized as
the date of my first public council with the Indians. It has ushered in
my first diplomatic effort. For this purpose, all the bands present were
invited to repair to camp, where Colonel Brady, at the appointed hour,
ordered his men under arms, in full dress. They were formed in a hollow
square in front of his marque. The American flag waved from a lofty
staff. The day was bright and fine, and everything was well arranged to
have the best effect upon the minds of the Indians. As the throng of
both resident and foreign bands approached, headed by their chiefs, they
were seated in the square. It was noticed that the chiefs were generally
tall and striking-looking persons, of dignified manners, and well and
even richly dressed. One of the chiefs of the home band, called Sassaba,
who was generally known by the sobriquet of the _Count,_ appeared in a
scarlet uniform, with epaulets and a sword. The other chiefs observed
their native costume, which is, with this tribe, a toga of blue
broadcloth, folded and held by one hand on the breast, over a
light-figured calico shirt, red cloth leggins and beaded moccasons, a
belt or baldric about the waist, sustaining a knife-sheath and pouch,
and a frontlet of skin or something of the sort, around the forehead,
environed generally with eagles' feathers.

When the whole were seated, the colonel informed them that I had been
sent by their great father the President to reside among them, that
respect was due me in that capacity, and that I would now address them.
I had directed a quantity of tobacco to be laid before them; and offered
them the pipe with the customary ceremonies. Being a novice in addresses
of this kind, I had sat down early in the morning, in my crowded log
hut, and written an address, couched in such a manner, and with such
allusions and appeals, as I supposed would be most appropriate. I was
not mistaken, if I could judge by the responses made at the close of
each sentence, as it was interpreted. The whole address was evidently
well received, and responded to in a friendly manner, by the ruling
chief, a tall, majestic, and graceful person named Shingabawossin, or
the Image Stone, and by all who spoke except the Count. He made use of
some intemperate, or ill-timed expressions, which were not interpreted,
but which brought out a strong rebuke from Mr. Johnston, who, being
familiar with the Indian language, gave vent in their tongue to his
quick and high-toned feelings of propriety on the occasion. Colonel
Brady then made some remarks to the chiefs, dictated by the position he
occupied as being about to take post, permanently, in their country. He
referred to the treaty of purchase made at these falls two years before
by Governor Cass. He told the Indians that he should not occupy their
ancient encamping and burial-ground on the hill, but would select the
next best site for his troops. This announcement was received with great
satisfaction, as denoted by a heavy response of approbation on the part
of the Indians; and the council closed to the apparent mutual
satisfaction of all. I augured well from all I heard respecting it, as
coming from the Indians, and was resolved to follow it up zealously, by
cultivating the best understanding with this powerful and hitherto
hostile tribe, namely the Chippewas, or, as they call themselves,
Od-jib-wae.[16] To this end, as well as for my amusement, I commenced a
vocabulary, and resolved to study their language, manners, customs, &c.

[Footnote 16: This word has its pluraling thus, Od-jib-waeig.]

_10th_. On examining the topography and advantages of the ground,
Colonel Brady determined to take possession of a lot enclosed and
dwelling, originally the property of the North West Company, and known
as the Nolin House, but now the property of Mr. C.O. Ermatinger.[17] To
this place the troops were marched, soon after the close of the Indian
council mentioned, and encamped within the area. This area was enclosed
with cedar pickets. The dwelling-house, which occupied an eminence some
eighth of a mile below the falls, was in old times regarded as a
princely chateau of the once powerful lords of the North West Fur Trade,
but is now in a decayed and ruinous state. It was nick-named "Hotel
Flanagan." Dilapidated as it was, there was a good deal of room under
its roof, and it afforded quarters for most of the officers' families,
who must otherwise have remained in open tents. The enclosure had also
one or two stone houses, which furnished accommodations to the
quartermaster's and subsistence and medical departments. Every nerve was
now directed to fit up the place, complete the enclosure, and furnish it
with gates; to build a temporary guard-house, and complete other
military fixtures of the new cantonment. The edifice also underwent such
repairs as served to fence out, as much as possible, the winds and snows
of a severe winter--a winter which every one dreads the approach of, and
the severity of which was perhaps magnified in proportion as it
was unknown.

[Footnote 17: For the property thus taken possession of, the United
States Government, through the Quartermaster's Department, paid the
claimant the just and full amount awarded by appraisers.]

_11th_. What my eyes have seen and my ears have heard, I must believe;
and what is their testimony respecting the condition of the Indian on
the frontiers? He is not, like Falstaff's men, "food for powder," but he
is food for whisky. Whisky is the great means of drawing from him his
furs and skins. To obtain it, he makes a beast of himself, and allows
his family to go hungry and half naked. And how feeble is the force of
law, where all are leagued in the golden bonds of interest to break it!
He is indeed

"Like some neglected shrub at random cast
That shades the steep and sighs at every blast."

_12th_. I received by to-day's mail a note from De Witt Clinton,
Governor of New York. America has produced few men who have united civic
and literary tastes and talents of a high order more fully than he does.
He early and ably investigated the history and antiquities of Western
New York. He views with a comprehensive judgment the great area of the
West, and knows that its fertility and resources must render it, at no
distant day, the home of future millions. He was among the earliest to
appreciate the mineralogical and geographical researches which I made in
that field. He renewed the interest, which, as a New Yorker, he felt in
my history and fortunes, after my return from the head of the
Mississippi in 1820. He opened his library and house to me freely; and I
have to notice his continued interest since my coming here. In the
letter which has just reached me, he encloses a favorable notice of my
recent _Narrative of the Expedition to the Sources of the Mississippi_,
from Sir Humphrey Davy. If there were nothing else, in such a notice
from such a source but the stimulus it gives to exertion, that alone is
worth to a man in my position "pearls and diamonds."

Colonel Brady, who is active in daily perambulating the woods, to make
himself acquainted with the environs, seeking, at the same time, the
best places of finding wood and timber, for the purposes of his command,
brought me a twig of the Sorbus Americana, a new species of tree to him,
in the American forest, of which he asked me the name. This tree is
found in occasional groups extensively in the region of the upper Lake
latitudes, where it is called the mountain ash. In the expedition to the
sources of the Mississippi in 1820, it was observed on the southern
shores of Lake Superior, which are on the average a little north of
latitude 36 deg. 30'. This tree does not in these straits attain much size;
a trunk of six to eight inches diameter is large. Its leaves, flowers,
and fruit all tend to make it a very attractive species for shade and
ornament. It must have a rich soil, but, this requisite granted, it
delights in wet moist lands, and will thrive with its roots in
springy grounds.

_15th_. One of the curious superstitions of the Chippewas, respecting
the location of spiritual existences, revealed itself to-day. There is
quite an eminence nearly a mile back of the new cantonment, which is
called La Butte de Terre by the French, and Wudjuwong,[18] or Place of
the Mountain, by the natives. This eminence is covered with a fine
growth of forest trees, and lies in the track of an ancient Indian
hunting path. About half way between the brow of the hill and the
cantonment, there formerly stood a large tree of this species, partly
hollow, from the recesses of which, Indian tradition says, there
issued, on a calm day, a sound like the voice of a spirit or monedo. It
resembled the sounds of their own drum. It was therefore considered as
the residence of some powerful spirit, and deemed sacred. To mark their
regard for the place, they began to deposit at its foot bows and twigs
of the same species of tree, as they passed it, from year to year, to
and from their hunting-grounds. These offerings began long before the
French came to the country, and were continued up to this time. Some
years ago, the tree had become so much decayed that it blew down during
a storm, but young shoots came up from its roots, and the natives
continued to make these offerings of twigs, long after the original
trunk had wholly decayed. A few days ago, Colonel Brady directed a road
to be cut from the cantonment to the hill, sixty feet wide, in order to
procure wood from the hill for the garrison. This road passed over the
site of the sacred tree, and the men, without knowing it, removed the
consecrated pile of offerings. It may serve to show a curious
coincidence in the superstitions of nations, between whom, however,
there is not the slightest probability of national affiliation, or even
intercourse, to remark that this sacred manito tree was a very large
species of the Scottish rowan or mountain ash.

[Footnote 18: _Wudijoo_, a mountain--_ong_ denotes locality.]

_16th_. I this day left the mess-table of my kind friends, the officers
of the second infantry, and went to the hospitable domicil of Mr.
Johnston, who has the warm-hearted frankness of the Irish character, and
offers the civilities of life with the air and manner of a prince. I
flatter myself with the opportunity of profiting greatly while under his
roof, in the polished circle of his household, and in his ripe
experience and knowledge of the Indian character, manners, and customs,
and in the curious philosophical traits of the Indian language. It is
refreshing to find a person who, in reference to this language, knows
the difference between the conjugation of a verb and the declension of a
noun. There is a prospect, at least, of getting at the grammatical
principles, by which they conjoin and build up words. It has been
intolerable to me to converse with Indian traders and interpreters here,
who have, for half their lives, been using a language without being able
to identify with precision person, mood, tense, or any of the first laws
of grammatical utterance.

_17th_. It is customary with the Chippewas at this place, when an
inmate of the lodge is sick, to procure a thin sapling some twenty to
thirty feet long, from which, after it has been trimmed, the bark is
peeled. Native paints are then smeared over it as caprice dictates. To
the slender top are then tied bits of scarlet, blue cloth, beads, or
some other objects which are deemed acceptable to the manito or spirit,
who has, it is believed, sent sickness to the lodge as a mark of his
displeasure. The pole is then raised in front of the lodge and firmly
adjusted in the ground. The sight of these manito poles gives quite a
peculiar air to an Indian encampment. Not knowing, however, the value
attached to them, one of the officers, a few days after our arrival,
having occasion for tent poles, sent one of his men for one of these
poles of sacrifice; but its loss was soon observed by the Indians, who
promptly reclaimed it, and restored it to the exact position which it
occupied before. There is, in fact, such a subtle and universal belief
in the doctrine and agency of minor spirits of malign or benignant
influence among the Indians who surround the cantonment, or visit the
agency, and who are encamped at this season in great numbers in the open
spaces of the village or its vicinity, that we are in constant danger of
trespassing against some Indian custom, and of giving offence where it
was least intended. It is said that one cause of the preference which
the Indians have ever manifested for the French, is the respect which
they are accustomed to pay to all their religious or superstitious
observances, whereas an Englishman or an American is apt, either to take
no pains to conceal his disgust for their superstitions, or to speak out
bluntly against them.

_18th. Sulphuret of Copper_.--I received a specimen of this mineral,
which is represented to have been obtained on the Island of Saint
Joseph's, in these straits (Saint Mary's). It has the usual brass yellow
color of the sulphurets of this metal, and furnishes a hint for seeking
that hitherto undiscovered, but valuable species of the ore in this
vicinity. Hitherto, we have found the metal chiefly in the native form,
or in the condition of a carbonate, the first being a form of it which
has not in Europe been found in large quantities, and the second not
containing a sufficient per centage to repay well the cost of smelting.

_20th. Superstitious regard for Woman_.--Some of the rites and notions
of these northern barbarians are curious. The following custom is stated
to me to have been formerly prevalent among the Chippewas: After their
corn-planting, a labor which falls to the share of the women, and as
soon as the young blades began to shoot up from the hills, it was
customary for the female head of the family to perform a circuit around
the field in a state of nudity. For this purpose, she chose a dark
evening, and after divesting herself of her machecota, held it in her
hands dragging it behind her as she ran, and in this way compassed the
field. This singular rite was believed to protect the corn from blight
and the ravages of worms and vermin, and to insure a good crop. It was
believed that neither worms nor vermin could cross the mystic or
enchanted ring made by the nocturnal footsteps of the wife, nor any
mildew or canker affect the growing stalks and ears.

_21st. Grand Island, in Lake Superior_, lies transversely in the lake,
just beyond the termination of the precipitous coast of the Pictured
Rocks. Its southern end is crescent-shaped, and forms a singularly fine
harbor for vessels, which will one day be appreciated. The Indian band
occupying it was formerly numerous. There are many stories still current
of their former prowess and traits of hospitality and generosity, and of
the skill of their old seers, and divining-men, _i.e. Jossakeeds_. Its
present Indian population is reduced to forty-six souls, of whom ten are
men, sixteen women, and twenty children. Of the men, nine are married,
one of whom has two wives, and there are two widows.

Of this band the Star family, so called, have long possessed the
chieftainship, and are remarkable on several accounts. There are eleven
children of them now living, five of whom are males, all by one mother,
who is still living. Sabboo is the principal man. The South Bird, his
elder, and the ruling chief, has removed to Bay de Nocquet. At this
island, story says, formerly lived the noted warrior and meta, Sagima;
and it was also, according to Indian mythology, the residence of
Mishosha, who owned a magic canoe, that would shoot through the water by
uttering a charmed word.

_22d_. I have heard much of the ancient Chippewa capital of La Pointe,
as the French call it, or Chegoimegon, in Lake Superior, situated near
its west end, or head. The Chippewas and their friends, the old traders
and _Boisbrules_, and Canadians, are never tired of telling of it. All
their great men of old times are located there. It was there that their
Mudjekewis, king or chief ruler, lived, and, as some relate, that an
eternal fire was kept up with a sort of rude temple service. At that
place lived, in comparatively modern times, Wabojeeg and Andaigweos, and
there still lives one of their descendants in Gitchee Waishkee, the
Great First-born, or, as he is familiarly called, Pezhickee, or the
Buffalo, a chief decorated with British insignia. His band is estimated
at one hundred and eighteen souls, of whom thirty-four are adult males,
forty-one females, and forty-three children. Mizi, the Catfish, one of
the heads of families of this band, who has figured about here this
summer, is not a chief, but a speaker, which gives him some _eclat_. He
is a sort of petty trader too, being credited with little adventures of
goods by a dealer on the opposite, or British shores.

_23d_. There are few animals which the Indians reject as food. On this
subject they literally fulfil the declaration of Paul, "that every
creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused;" but I fear the poor
creatures, in these straits, do anything but show the true spirit of
thanksgiving in which the admonition is given. There is nothing
apparently in the assertion respecting Indians distinguishing between
clean and unclean beasts; I have heard, however, that crows and vultures
are not eaten, but, when they are pushed by hunger, whatever can sustain
life is taken.

The truth is, the calls of hunger are often so pressing to these
northern Indians, that anything in the shape of animal fibre, that will
keep soul and body together, is eaten in times of their greatest want. A
striking instance of this kind has just occurred, in the case of a horse
killed in the public service. The animal had, to use the teamster's
phrase, been snagged, and was obliged to be shot. To prevent unpleasant
effects in hot summer weather, the carcass was buried in the sand; but
as soon as the numerous bands of Indians, who are encamped here, learned
the fact, they dug up the animal, which was, however, nowise diseased,
and took it to their camp for food.


Murder of Soan-ga-ge-zhick, a Chippewa, at the head of the falls--Indian
mode of interment--Indian prophetess--Topic of interpreters and
interpretation--Mode of studying the Indian language--The Johnston
family--Visits--Katewabeda, chief of Sandy Lake--Indian mythology, and
oral tales and legends--Literary opinion--Political opinion--Visit of
the chief Little Pine--Visit of Wabishkepenais--A despairing

1822. _July 26th_. A tragic occurrence took place last night, at the
head of the portage, resulting in the death of a Chippewa, which is
believed to be wholly attributable to the use of ardent spirits in the
Indian camps. As soon as I heard the facts, and not knowing to what
lengths the spirit of retaliation might go, I requested of Colonel Brady
a few men, with a non-commissioned officer, and proceeded, taking my
interpreter along, to the spot. The portage road winds along about
three-fourths of a mile, near the rapids, and all the way, within the
full sound of the roaring water, when it opens on a green, which is the
ancient camping ground, at the head of the falls. A footpath leads still
higher, by clumps of bushes and copsewood, to the borders of a shallow
bay, where in a small opening I somewhat abruptly came to the body of
the murdered man. He was a Chippewa from the interior called
Soan-ga-ge-zhick, or the Strong Sky. He had been laid out, by his
relatives, and dressed in his best apparel, with a kind of cap of blue
cloth and a fillet round his head. His lodge, occupied by his widow and
three small children, stood near. On examination, he had been stabbed in
several places, deeply in both thighs. These wounds might not have
proved fatal; but there was a subsequent blow, with a small tomahawk,
upon his forehead, above the left eye. He was entirely dead, and had
been found so, on searching for him at night, by his wife. It appeared
that he had been drinking during the evening and night, with an Indian
half-breed of the Chippewa River, of the name of Gaulthier. This fellow,
finding he had killed him, had taken his canoe and fled. Both had been
intoxicated. I directed the body to be interred, at the public charge,
on the ancient burial hill of the Chippewas, near the cantonment. The
usual shroud, on such occasions, is a new blanket; a grave was dug, and
the body very carefully dressed, laid in the coffin, beside the grave.
Before the lid was fastened, an aged Indian came forward, and pronounced
a funeral oration. He recited the traits of his character. He addressed
the dead man direct. He told him that he had reached the end of his
journey first, that they should all follow him soon to the land of the
dead, and again meet. He gave him directions for his journey. He offered
a brief admonition of dangers. He bid him adieu. The brother of the
deceased then stept forward, and, having removed the head-dress of the
slain man, pulled out some locks of hair as a memento. The head-dress
was then carefully replaced, the lid of the coffin fastened, and the
corpse let down into the ground. Two stout poles were then laid over the
open grave. The brother approached the widow and stood still. The orator
then addressed a few words to both, telling the survivor to perform a
brother's part by the widow. He then took her by the hand, and led her
carefully across the open grave, over the two poles. This closed the
ceremony, and the grave was then filled, and the crowd of white and red
men dispersed. At night a small flickering fire was built by the Indian
relatives of the murdered man, at the head of the grave.

_27th_. Making inquiries respecting the family of Soan-ga-ge-zhick, in
order to direct some provisions to be issued to them, I learned that the
widow is a prophetess among her people, or in other words a female
Jossakeed, and is supposed to have much influence in this way. This
denotes that the prophetic office is not, as has been supposed, confined
to males. I cannot better indicate the meaning of the word Jossakeed
than to say that it is a person who makes oracular responses from a
close lodge of peculiar construction, where the inmate is supposed to be
surrounded by superhuman influences, which impart the power of looking
into futurity. It is, manifestly, the ancient office of a seer, and
after making interrogatories about it, from persons supposed to be best
acquainted with the manners and customs of the people, the existence of
such an order of persons among them offers a curious coincidence with
one of the earliest superstitions of mankind. I further learn that
there is nothing hereditary in the descent of such priestly functions;
that any one, who acquires a character for sanctity or skill therein
among the bands, may assume the duties, and will secure a rank and
respect in proportion to his supposed skill therein. Having spoken of
descent, it is added, by my informants, that the widow of Strong Sky, is
a granddaughter of the noted war-chief Wabodjeeg,[19] of Chegoimegon,
Lake Superior, who, some half a century ago, had obtained a high
reputation with his people for his military skill and bravery, in the
war against the Ottogamies and Sioux. They talk of him as having been a
sort of Rajah, who could at any time get men to follow him.

[Footnote 19: White Fisher. The fisher is a small furred animal
resembling the mustela.]

_28th_. I have had an interview to-day with Ka-ba-konse (Little Hawk),
brother of the murdered Strong Sky.

It does not seem possible to obtain much information respecting their
secret beliefs and superstitions direct from the Indians. The attempts I
have made thus far have, at least, been unsuccessful, partly, perhaps,
because the topic was not properly apprehended by them, or by my
ordinary office interpreter, who, I find, is soon run a-muck by anything
but the plainest and most ordinary line of inquiry. A man of the Indian
frontiers, who has lived all his life to eat and drink, to buy and sell,
and has grown old in this devotion to the means necessary to secure the
material necessaries of life is not easily roused up to intellectual
ardor. I find this to be the case with my present interpreter, and he
is, perhaps, not inferior to the general run of paid interpreters. But
as I find, in my intercourse, the growing difficulties of verbal
communication with the Indians on topics at all out of the ordinary
routine of business, I begin to feel less surprised at the numerous
misapprehensions of the actual character, manners, and customs of the
Indians, which are found in books. I speak as to the communication
of exact ideas of their beliefs. As to literal exactitude in
such communications, my inquiries have already convinced me
that there must be other and higher standards than a hap-hazard
_I-au-ne-kun-o-tau-gade_, or trade interpreter, before the thing can be
attempted. Fortunately, I have, in my kind and polite friend Mr.
Johnston, who has given me temporary quarters at his house, and the
several intelligent members of his family, the means of looking deeper
into the powers and structure of the language, and am pressing these
advantages, amidst the pauses of business, with all my ardor and

The study of the language, and the formation of a vocabulary and grammar
have almost imperceptibly become an absorbing object, although I have
been but a short time at the place, and the plan interests me so much,
that I actually regret the time that is lost from it, in the ordinary
visits of comity and ceremony, which are, however, necessary. My method
is to interrogate all persons visiting the office, white and red, who
promise to be useful subjects of information during the day, and to test
my inquiries in the evening by reference to the Johnstons, who, being
educated, and speaking at once both the English and Odjibwa correctly,
offer a higher and more reliable standard than usual.

Mr. Johnston's family consists of ten persons, though all are not
constantly present. He is himself a native of the county of Antrim, in
the north of Ireland, his father having possessed an estate at Craige,
near the Giant's Causeway. He came to America in the last presidential
term of General Washington, having a brother at that time settled at
Albany, and after visiting Montreal and Quebec, he fell into company
with the sort of half-baronial class of north-west fur traders, who
struck his fancy. By their advice, he went to Michilimackinack and Lake
Superior, where he became attached to, and subsequently married the
younger daughter of Wabojeeg, a northern Powhatan, who has been before
mentioned. There are four sons and four daughters, to the education of
all of whom he has paid the utmost attention. His eldest son was first
placed in the English navy, and is now a lieutenant in the land service,
having been badly wounded and cut in the memorable battle with Commodore
Perry on Lake Eric, in 1813. The next eldest is engaged in commerce. The
eldest daughter was educated in Ireland, and the two next at Sandwich,
near Detroit. These constituted the adults; there are two sons and a
daughter, still in their school-days. All possess agreeable, easy
manners and refinement. Mrs. Johnston is a woman of excellent judgment
and good sense; she is referred to on abstruse points of the Indian
ceremonies and usages, so that I have in fact stumbled, as it were, on
the only family in North West America who could, in Indian lore, have
acted as my "guide, philosopher and friend."

_30th_. I received yesterday a second visit from Ka-ta-wa-be-da, or the
Broken Tooth chief of Sandy Lake, on the Upper Mississippi, who is
generally known by his French name of Breshieu, and at the close of the
interview gave him a requisition on the commissary for some provisions
to enable him to return to his home. The Indians must be led by a very
plain path and a friendly hand. Feeling and preference are subsequent
manifestations. I took this occasion to state to him the objects and
policy of the government by the establishment at these falls of a post
and agency, placing it upon its true basis, namely, the preservation of
peace upon the frontiers, and the due observance, by all parties, of the
laws respecting trade and intercourse with the tribes, and securing
justice both to them and to our citizens, particularly by the act for
the exclusion of ardent spirits from the Indian country. By the agency,
a door was opened through which they could communicate their wishes to
the President, and he was also enabled to state his mind to them. All
who opened their ears truly to the voice of their American father would
be included among the recipients of his favors. He felt kindly to all,
but those only who hearkened to his council would be allowed, as _he_
had been, to share in the usual privileges which the agency at this
place secured to them. Having drawn his provisions, and duly reflected
on what was said by me, he returned to-day to bid me adieu, on his
setting out to go home, and to express his thanks for my kindness and
advice. The old chief, who has long exercised his sway in the region of
Sandy Lake, made a well-considered speech in reply to mine of yesterday,
in which he took the ground of neutrality as between the United States
and Great Britain, and averred that he had ever been the friend of the
white race and of traders who came into the country, and declared
himself the friend of peace.

At the conclusion of this interview, I gave him a small sea-shell from
my cabinet, as a mark of my respect, and a token which would remind him
of my advice. I remembered that the Indians of the continent have always
set a high value on wampum, which is made solely from sea-shells, and
have attributed a kind of sacredness for this class of productions.

_31st. Indian Mythology_.--Nothing has surprised me more in the
conversations which I have had with persons acquainted with the Indian
customs and character, than to find that the Chippewas amuse themselves
with oral tales of a mythological or allegorical character. Some of
these tales, which I have heard, are quite fanciful, and the wildest of
them are very characteristic of their notions and customs. They often
take the form of allegory, and in this shape appear designed to teach
some truth or illustrate some maxim. The fact, indeed, of such a fund of
fictitious legendary matter is quite a discovery, and speaks more for
the intellect of the race than any trait I have heard. Who would have
imagined that these wandering foresters should have possessed such a
resource? What have all the voyagers and remarkers from the days of
Cabot and Raleigh been about, not to have discovered this curious trait,
which lifts up indeed a curtain, as it were, upon the Indian mind, and
exhibits it in an entirely new character?

_August 1st_. Every day increases the interest which the question of the
investigation of the Indian languages and customs assumes in my mind. My
facilities for pursuing these inquiries and for the general transaction
of the official business has been increased this day by my removing into
a new and more convenient office, situated some ninety or a hundred
yards west of my former position, but on a line with it, and fronting,
like the former room, on an ancient green on the river's banks. The St.
Mary's River is here about three-fourths of a mile wide, and the green
in front of my office is covered with Indian lodges, and presents a
noble expanse. I have now a building some thirty-six feet square, built
of squared timber, jointed with mortar and whitewashed, so as to give it
a neat appearance. The interior is divided into a room some twenty feet
by thirty-six, with two small ante-rooms. A large cast iron Montreal
stove, which will take in three feet wood, occupies the centre. The
walls are plastered, and the room moderately lighted. The rear of the
lot has a blacksmith shop. The interpreter has quarters near by. The
gate of the new cantonment is some three hundred yards west of my door,
and there is thus brought within a small compass the means of
transacting the affairs of the agency during the approaching and
expected severe winter. These are the best arrangements that can be
made, better indeed than I had reason to expect on first landing here.

_3d_. I wrote to-day to Dr. Hosack, expressing my thanks for the extract
of a letter, which he had enclosed me from Sir Humphrey Davy, dated
London, March 24th, 1822, in which this eminent philosopher expresses
his opinion on my _Narrative Journal_, a copy of which Dr. Hosack had
sent him. "Schoolcraft's _Narrative_ is admirable," observes Sir
Humphrey Davy, "both for the facts it develops, and for the simplicity
and clearness of the details. He has accomplished great things by such
means, and offers a good model for a traveler in a new country. I lent
his book to our veteran philosophical geographer, Major Kennel, who was
highly pleased with it. Copies of it would sell well in England."

A friend sends me a prospectus for a paper under the title of
"_Washington Republican_," which has just been established at the seat
of government, earnestly advocating the election of John C. Calhoun for
the presidency in 1824.

_4th_. A chief of a shrewd and grave countenance, and more than the
ordinary cast of thought, visited me this morning, and gave me his hand,
with the ordinary salutation of Nosa (my father). The interpreter
introduced him by the name of Little Pine, or Shingwalkonee, and as a
person of some consequence among the Indians, being a meta, a wabeno, a
counselor, a war chief, and an orator or speaker. He had a tuft of beard
on his chin, wore a hat, and had some other traits in his dress and gear
which smacked of civilization. His residence is stated to be, for the
most part, on the British side of the river, but he traces his lineage
from the old Crane band here. I thought him to be a man of more than the
ordinary Indian forecast. He appeared to be a person who, having seen
all the military developments on these shores during the last month,
thought he would cross over the channel with a retinue, to see what the
Chemoquemon [20] was about. He had also, perhaps, a shrewd Indian inkling
that some presents might be distributed here during the season.

[Footnote 20: Chemoquemon, an American; from _Gitchee_ great, _moquemon_
a knife.]

_10th_. A strange-looking Indian came in from the forest wearing an
American silver medal. He looked haggard and forsaken. It will be
recollected by those who have read my _Narrative Journal_ of the
expedition of 1820, that Governor Cass became lost and entangled among
the sharp mountainous passes of the River Ontonagon, in his attempts to
reach the party who had, at an early part of the day, gone forward to
the site of the Copper Rock; and that he bestowed a medal on a young
Chippewa, who had rendered his party and himself services during its
stay on that river. This individual was among the earlier visitors who
presented himself at my office. He recognized me as one of the party on
that occasion. He was introduced to me by the name of Wabish-ke-pe-nace,
or the White Bird, and seemed to rouse up from a settled look of
melancholy when referring to those events. It appears that his conduct
as a guide on that occasion had made him unpopular with the band, who
told him he had received an honor for that which should be condemned.
That it was a crime to show the Americans their wealth, and the Great
Spirit did not approve it. His dress had something wild and forlorn, as
well as his countenance.

_17th_. A week or two ago, an Indian, called Sa-ne-baw, or the Ribbon,
who encamped on the green in front of my office, fell sick. I requested
Dr. Wheaton to visit him, but it did not appear that there was any
disease of either an acute or chronic character which could be
ascertained. The man seemed to be in a low desponding state. Some small
medicines were administered, but he evinced no symptoms of restoration.
He rather appeared to be pining away, with some secret mental canker.
The very spirit of despair was depicted in his visage. Young Wheaton, a
brother of the Doctor, and Lieutenant C. Morton, United States Army,
visited him daily in company, with much solicitude; but no effort to
rally him, physically or mentally, was successful, and he died this
morning. "He died," said the former to me, "because he _would_ die." The
Indians seem to me a people who are prone to despond, and easily sink
into frames of despair.

I received a letter to-day from the veteran geographer, Mr. W. Darby, of
Philadelphia, brought by the hands of a friend, a Mr. Toosey, through
whom he submitted to me a list of geographical and statistical queries
relating to some generic points, which he is investigating in connection
with his forthcoming Gazetteer of the United States.


A pic-nic party at the foot of Lake Superior--Canoe--Scenery--Descent of
St. Mary's Falls--Etymology of the Indian names of Sault Ste. Marie, and
Lake Superior--The wild rice plant--Indian trade--American Fur
Company--Distribution of presents--Death of Sassaba--Epitaph--Indian
capacity to count--Oral literature--Research--Self-reliance.

1822. _August 20th_. I Went with a pic-nic to Gross Cape, a romantic
promontory at the foot of Lake Superior. This elevation stands on the
north shore of the straits, and consequently in Canada. It overlooks a
noble expanse of waters and islands, constituting one of the most
magnificent series of views of American scenery. Immediately opposite
stands the scarcely less elevated, and not less celebrated promontory of
Point Iroquois, the Na-do-wa-we-gon-ing, or Place of Iroquois Bones, of
the Chippewas. These two promontories stand like the pillars of Hercules
which guard the entrance into the Mediterranean, and their office is to
mark the foot of the mighty Superior, a lake which may not, inaptly, be
deemed another Mediterranean Sea. The morning chosen to visit this scene
was fine; the means of conveyance chosen was the novel and fairy-like
barque of the Chippewas, which they denominate _Che-maun_, but which we,
from a corruption of a Charib term as old as the days of Columbus, call
_Canoe_. It is made of the rind of the betula papyracea, or white birch,
sewed together with the fine fibrous roots of the cedaror spruce, and is
made water-tight by covering the seams with boiled pine rosin, the whole
being distended over and supported by very thin ribs and cross-bars of
cedar, curiously carved and framed together. It is turned up, at either
end, like a gondola, and the sides and gunwales fancifully painted. The
whole structure is light, and was easily carried by two men on their
shoulders; yet will bear a weight of more than a ton on the water. It is
moved with cedar paddles, and the Canadians who managed it, kept time in
their strokes, and regulated them to the sonorous cadence of some of
their simple boat songs. Our party consisted of several ladies and
gentlemen. We carried the elements of a pic-nic. We moved rapidly. The
views on all sides were novel and delightful. The water in which the men
struck their paddles was pure as crystal. The air was perfectly
exhilarating from its purity. The distance about three leagues. We
landed a few moments at Point aux Pins, to range along the clean sandy
shore, and sandy plains, now abounding in fine whortleberries. Directly
on putting out from this, the broad view of the entrance into the lake
burst upon us. It is magnificent. A line of blue water stretched like a
thread on the horizon, between cape and cape, say five miles. Beyond it
is what the Chippewas call _Bub-eesh-ko-be,_ meaning the far off,
indistinct prospect of a water scene, till the reality, in the feeble
power of human vision, loses itself in the clouds and sky. The two
prominences of Point Iroquois and Gross Cape are very different in
character. The former is a bold eminence covered with trees, and having
all the appearance of youth and verdure. The latter is but the end, so
to say, of a towering ridge of dark primary rocks with a few stunted
cedars. The first exhibits, on inspection, a formation of sandstone and
reproduced rocks, piled stratum super stratum, and covered with boulder
drifts and alluvion. The second is a massive mountain ridge of the
northern sienite, abounding in black crystaline hornblende, and flanked
at lower altitudes, in front, in some places, by a sort of trachyte. We
clambered up and over the bold undulations of the latter, till we were
fatigued. We stood on the highest pinnacle, and gazed on the "blue
profound" of Superior, the great water or Gitchegomee of the Indians. We
looked down far below at the clean ridges of pebbles, and the
transparent water. After gazing, and looking, and reveling in the wild
magnificence of views, we picked our way, crag by crag, to the shore,
and sat down on the shining banks of black, white, and mottled pebbles,
and did ample justice to the contents of our baskets of good things.
This always restores one's spirits. We forget the toil in the present
enjoyment. And having done this, and giving our last looks at what has
been poetically called the Father of Lakes, we put out, with paddles and
song, and every heart beating in unison with the scene, for our
starting-point at Ba-wa-teeg, or Pa-wa-teeg, alias Sault Ste. Marie. But
the half of my story would not be told, if I did not add that, as we
gained the brink of the rapids, and began to feel the suction of the
wide current that leaps, jump after jump, over that foaming bed, our
inclinations and our courage rose together to go down the formidable
pass; and having full faith in the long-tried pilotage of our guide, Tom
Shaw, down we went, rushing at times like a thunderbolt, then turned by
a dab of the pole of our guide, on a rock, shooting off in eschelon, and
then careering down another _schute_, or water bolt, till we thus dodged
every rock, and came out below with a full roaring chorus of our
Canadians, who, as they cleared the last danger, hoisted our starry flag
at the same moment that they struck up one of their wild and
joyous, songs.

_22d_. I have questioned the Indians closely for the names of Sault Ste.
Marie and Lake Superior. They are destined to hold an important rank in
our future geography. But the result is not agreeable to preconceived
poetic notions. When the French first came to these falls, they found
the Chippewas, the falls signifying, descriptively, Shallow water
pitching over rocks, or by a prepositional form of the term, at the
place of shallow water, pitching over rocks. Such is the meaning of the
words Pa-wa-teeg and Pa-wa-ting. The terms cover more precisely the idea
which we express by the word cascade. The French call a cascade a Leap
or Sault; but Sault alone would not be distinctive, as they had already
applied the term to some striking passes on the St. Lawrence and other
places. They therefore, in conformity with their general usage, added
the name of a patron saint to the term by calling it Sault de Ste.
Marie, i.e. Leap of Saint Mary, to distinguish it from other Leaps, or
Saults. Now as the word Sainte, as here used, is feminine, it must, in
its abbreviated form, be written Ste. The preposition _de_ (the) is
usually dropped. Use has further now dropped the sound of the letter _l_
from Sault. But as, in the reforms of the French dictionary, the ancient
geographical names of places remain unaffected, the true phraseology is

Having named the falls a _Sault_, they went a step further, and called
the Odjibwa Indians who lived at it, _Saulteurs,_ or People of the
Sault. Hence this has ever remained the French name for Chippewas.

In the term Gitchegomee, the name for Superior, we have a specimen of
their mode of making compounds. _Gitche_ signifies something great, or
possessing the property of positive magnitude. _Gomee_ is itself a
compound phrase, denoting, when so conjoined, a large body of water. It
is the objective member of their term for the sea; but is governed by
its antecedent, and may be used in describing other and minor, even the
most minute liquid bodies, as we hear it, in the compound term
_mushkuagomee, i.e._ strong drink. Under the government of the term
_gitchee_, it appears to express simply the sense of great water, but
conveys the idea, to the Indian mind, of sea-water. I have cast about,
to find a sonorous form of elision, in which it may come into popular
use, but find nothing more eligible than _I-go-mee_, or _Igoma_. A more
practical word, in the shape of a new compound, may be made in Algoma, a
term in which the first syllable of the generic name of this tribe of
the Algonquin stock, harmonizes very well with the Indian idea of goma
(sea), giving us, Sea of the Algonquins. The term may be objected to, as
the result of a grammatical abbreviation, but if not adopted
practically, it may do as a poetical synonym for this great lake. Such
is, at least, the result of a full discussion of these names, with the
very best speakers of the language.

_30th. The Wild Rice Plant_.--Having received a request for some of this
native grain to send abroad, and knowing that the smoked rice, such as
the Indians usually bring in, will not germinate, I this day dispatched
my interpreter in a canoe, with some Indians, to the northern shores of
the straits to gather some of it for seed; the result was successful.
This plant may be deemed a precious gift of nature to the natives, who
spread over many degrees of northern latitude. They call it _mon-o-min_,
a compound descriptive phrase, which differs only from their name for
the zea maize in putting an _o_--the third syllable--for the imperative
future in _dau_.

_Sept. 1st. Indian Trade_.--Congress has provided a code of laws to
regulate this, the object of which is a good one, and the provisions of
the various enactments appear to be founded on the highest principles of
justice and benevolence. It is still a question, it appears to me,
whether some of these provisions do not merely sanction by the forms of
law what was formerly done, not always well, without it, and whether
the measure of protection which they afford to the tribes against the
cupidity of the whites is very efficacious. It was heretofore pretended
by the British traders that all this country belonged to Great Britain,
and they told the Indians that the war of 1812 would settle all this. It
did so; but, contrary to their wishes and the predictions to the
Indians, it settled it precisely on the basis of the treaty of 1783,
which ran the boundary line through the straits of Saint Mary's and Lake
Superior to the Lake of the Woods. As soon as the smoke of the war
cleared off, namely, in 1816, Congress enacted that British traders and
capital should be excluded from the American lines, that no British
subjects should receive licenses to trade, and that all such persons who
went inland in subordinate capacities should be bonded for by the
American traders who employed them. This law seemed to bear particularly
on this section of country, and is generally understood to have been
passed to throw the old North West Company, and other British traders,
trading on their own account, out of this hitherto very lucrative branch
of trade. John Jacob Astor, of New York, went immediately to Montreal
and bought out all the posts and factories of that company, situated in
the north-west, which were south of the lines. With these posts, the
factors, trading clerks, and men were, as a matter of course, cast on
the patronage and employment of that eminent German furrier. That he
might cover their employment, he sent an agent from Montreal into
Vermont to engage enterprising young men, in whose names the licenses
could be taken out. He furnished the entire capital for the trade, and
sent agents, in the persons of two enterprising young Scotch gentlemen,
from Montreal and New York to Michilimackinack, to manage the business.
This new arrangement took the popular name of the American Fur Company.
In other respects, except those related, the mode of transacting the
trade, and the real actors therein, remained very much as they were.
American lads, whose names were inscribed in the licenses at
Michilimackinack, as principals, went inland in reality to learn the
business and the language; the _engagees_, or boatmen, who were chiefly
Canadians or metifs, were bonded for, in five hundred dollars each. In
this condition, I found things on my arrival here. The very thin
diffusion of American feeling or principle in both the traders and the
Indians, so far as I have seen them, renders it a matter of no little
difficulty to supervise this business, and it has required perpetual
activity in examining the boats and outfits of the traders who have
received their licenses at Mackinack, to search their packages, to
detect contraband goods, _i.e._ ardent spirits, and grant licenses,
passports, and permits to those who have applied to me. To me it seems
that the whole old resident population of the frontiers, together with
the new accessions to it, in the shape of petty dealers of all sorts,
are determined to have the Indians' furs, at any rate, whether these
poor red men live or die; and many of the dealers who profess to obey
the laws wish to get legally inland only that they may do as they
please, law or no law, after they have passed the flag-staff of Sainte
Marie's. There may be, and I trust there _are_, higher motives in some
persons, but they have not passed this way, to my knowledge, the present
season. I detected one scamp, a fellow named Gaulthier, who had carried
by, and secreted above the portage, no less than five large kegs of
whisky and high wines on a small invoice, but a few days after my
arrival. It will require vigilance and firmness, and yet mildness, to
secure anything like a faithful performance of the duties committed to
me on a remote frontier, and with very little means of action beyond the
precincts of the post, and this depends much on the moral influence on
the Indian mind of the military element of power.

_6th. First Distribution of Presents_.--In fulfilment of a general
declaration of friendly purposes, made on my opening speech to the
Chippewas in July last, the entire home band of St. Mary's, men, women,
and children, were assembled on the green in front of my office, this
morning, to receive a small invoice of goods and merchandise, which were
distributed amongst them as presents. These goods were the best that
could be purchased in the Detroit market, and were all of the best
description; and they were received with a lively satisfaction, which
betokened well for my future influence. Prominent among the pleased
recipients were the chiefs of the village, Shin-ga-ba-was-sin, the Image
Stone, She-wa-be-ke-tone, the Man of Jingling Metals, Kau-ga-osh, or the
Bird in Eternal Flight, Way-ish-kee, or The First Born Son, and two or
three others of minor note. Behind them were the warriors and young men,
the matrons and maids; and peppered in, as it were, the children of all
ages. All were in their best attire. The ceremony began by lighting the
pipe, and having it passed by suitable officials to the chiefs and
warriors in due order, and by placing a pile of tobacco before them, for
general use, which the chiefs with great care divided and distributed,
not forgetting the lowest claimant. I then stated the principles by
which the agency would be guided in its intercourse with them, the
benevolence and justice of the views entertained by their great father,
the President, and his wishes to keep improper traders out of their
country, to exclude ardent spirits, and to secure their peace and
happiness in every practicable way. Each sentence, as it was rendered
into Indian, was received with the response of Hoh! an exclamation of
approbation, which is uttered feebly or loud, in proportion as the
matter is warmly or coldly approved. The chiefs responded. All looked
pleased; the presents were divided, and the assembly broke up in harmony
and good will. It _does_ seem that, according to the oriental maxim,[21]
a present is the readiest door to an Indian's heart.

[Footnote 21: "Let thy present go before thee."--Proverbs of Solomon.]

_25th_. The Indian mind appears to lack the mathematical element. It is
doubtful how far they can compute numbers. The Chippewas count
decimally, and after ten, add the names of the digits to the word ten,
up to twenty; then take the word for twenty, and add them as before, to
thirty; and so on to a hundred. They then add them to the term for a
hundred, up to a thousand.

They cannot be made to understand the value of an American dollar,
without reducing it to the standard of skins. A striking instance of
this kind happened among the Potowattomies at Chicago last year (1821).
The commanding officer had offered a reward of thirty dollars for the
apprehension of a deserter. The Potowattomies pursued and caught him,
and received a certificate for the reward. The question with them now
was, how much they had got. They wished to sell the certificate to a
trader, and there were five claimants. They sat down and counted off as
many racoon skins. They then made thirty equal heaps, substituting
symbols for skins. Taking the store price of a racoon at five skins to
the dollar, they then found they had received the equivalent of one
hundred and fifty racoons, and at this price they sold the order or

_26th. Death of Sassaba,[22] or the Count_.--This chief, who has from the
day of our first landing here, rendered himself noted for his sentiments
of opposition to the Americans, met with a melancholy fate yesterday. He
was in the habit of using ardent spirits, and frequently rose from a
debauch of this kind of two or three days' continuance. Latterly he has
exhibited a singular figure, walking through the village, being divested
of every particle of clothing except a large gray wolf's skin, which he
had drawn over his body in such a manner as to let its tail dangle down
behind. It was in this unique costume that I last saw him, and as he was
a tall man, with rather prominent features, the spectacle was the more
striking. From this freak of dress he has been commonly called, for some
time, My-een-gun, or the Wolf. He had been drinking at Point aux Pins,
six miles above the rapids, with Odabit and some other boon companions,
and in this predicament embarked in his canoe, to come to the head of
the portage. Before reaching it, and while still in the strong tide or
suck of the current, he rose in his canoe for some purpose connected
with the sail, and tipped it over. Odabit succeeded in making land, but
the Count, his wife and child, and Odabit's wife, went over the rapids,
which was the last ever seen of them. Sassaba appeared to me to be a man
of strong feelings and an independent mind, not regarding consequences.
He had taken a deep prejudice against the Americans, from his brother
having been shot by his side in the battle under Tecumseh on the Thames.
This appeared to be the burden of his complaints. He was fond of
European dress, and articles of furniture. It was found that he had in
his tent, which was of duck, a set of silver tea and tablespoons,
knives, forks, cups and saucers, and a tea tray. Besides his military
coat, sword, and epaulets, and sash, which were presented to him, he had
some ruffled linen shirts, gloves, shoes and stockings, and an umbrella,
all of which were kept, however, in the spirit of a virtuoso, and he
took a pride in displaying these articles to visitors.

[Footnote 22: The word means finery.]

Many a more worthless man than Sassaba has had his epitaph, or elegiac
wreath, which may serve as an apology for the following lines:--

The Falls were thy grave, as they leapt mad along,
And the roar of their waters thy funeral song:
So wildly, so madly, thy people for aye,
Are rapidly, ceaselessly, passing away.
They are seen but a moment, then fade and are past,
Like a cloud in the sky, or a leaf in the blast;
The path thou hast trodden, thy nation shall tread,
Chief, warrior, and kin, to the _Land_ of the _Dead_;
And soon on the lake, or the shore, or the green,
Not a war drum shall sound, not a smoke shall be seen.

_27th. Oral Literature of the Indians_.--"I am extremely anxious,"
writes a friend, "that Mr. Johnston and his family should furnish full
and detailed answers to my queries, more particularly upon all subjects
connected with the language, and, if I may so speak, the polite
literature of the Chippewas (I write the word in this way because I am
apprehensive that the orthography is inveterately fixed, and not because
I suppose it is correct)[23]. There is no quarter from which I can expect
such full information upon these topics as from this. I must beg you to
aid me in the pursuit. Urge them during the long winter evenings to the
task. The time cannot be more profitably or pleasantly spent, and, as I
am told you are somewhat of an aboriginal scholar, you can assist them
with your advice and judgment. A perfect analysis of the language is a
great desideratum. I pray you, in the spring, to let me have the fruits
of their exertions."

[Footnote 23: I had written, announcing the word _Od-jib-wa_ to be the
true Indian pronunciation, and recommending its adoption.]

With a strong predisposition to these inquiries, with such additional
excitement to the work, and with the very highest advantages of
interpretation and no little fixity of application from boyhood, it must
go hard with me this winter if I do not fish up something from the well
of Indian researches and traditionary lore.

Go, student, search, and if thou nothing find,
Go search again; success is in the mind.--ALGON.

_28th. The right spirit, humble yet manful_.--A young man of purpose
and some talent, with considerable ambition, who is diligently seeking a
place in the world, writes me from Detroit to-day, in this strain: "True
it is, I have determined to pass the winter either in New York or
Washington, probably the latter place. But, my dear sir, my hope of
doing anything for myself in this world is the faintest possible, and I
begin to fatigue with the exertion. If I do not succeed this winter in
obtaining something permanent,[24] I shall probably settle down, either
in this place or somewhere in New York, _a poor devil!_--from all which,
and many other things, 'good Lord deliver us!' Farewell; my best wishes
be with you this winter, to keep you warm. I shall expect next spring to
see you an accomplished _nichee_" [25] [Ne-je].

[Footnote 24: He did succeed at W.]

[Footnote 25: A term signifying, in the Chippewa, _my friend_, but
popularly used at the time to some extent at Detroit to denote
an Indian.]


My first winter at the foot of Lake Superior--Copper mines--White
fish--A poetic name for a fish--Indian tale--Polygamy--A
reminiscence--Taking of Fort Niagara--Mythological and allegorical tales
among the aborigines--Chippewa language--Indian vowels--A polite and a
vulgar way of speaking the language--Public worship--Seclusion from
the world.

1822. _Oct. 1st. Copper Mines of Lake Superior._--On the 8th of May
last, the Senate of the United States passed a resolution in
these words:--

"_Resolved_, that the President of the United States be requested to
communicate to the Senate, at the commencement of the next session of
Congress, any information which may be in the possession of the
government, derived from special agents or otherwise, showing the
number, value, and position of the copper mines on the south shore of
Lake Superior; the names of the Indian tribes who claim them; the
practicability of extinguishing their title, and the probable advantage
which may result to the Republic from the acquisition and working
these mines."

The resolution having been referred to me by the Secretary of War, I,
this day, completed and transmitted a report on the subject, embracing
the principal facts known respecting them, insisting on their value and
importance, and warmly recommending their further exploration and

[Footnote 26: See Public Doc. No. 365, 2d Sess., 17th Congress.]

_4th. White Fish Fishery_.--No place in America has been so highly
celebrated as a locality for taking this really fine and delicious fish,
as Saint Mary's Falls, or the _Sault_,[27] as it is more generally and
appropriately called. This fish resorts here in vast numbers, and is in
season after the autumnal equinox, and continues so till the ice begins
to run. It is worthy the attention of ichthyologists. It is a
remarkable, but not singular fact in its natural history, that it is
perpetually found in the attitude of ascent at these falls. It is taken
only in the swift water at the foot of the last leap or descent. Into
this swift water the Indians push their canoes. It requires great skill
and dexterity for this. The fishing canoe is of small size. It is
steered by a man in the stern. The fisherman takes his stand in the
bows, sometimes bestriding the light and frail vessel from gunwale to
gunwale, having a scoop-net in his hands. This net has a long slender
handle, ten feet or more in length. The net is made of strong twine,
open at the top, like an entomologist's. When the canoe has been run
into the uppermost rapids, and a school of fish is seen below or
alongside, he dexterously puts down his net, and having swooped up a
number of the fish, instantly reverses it in water, whips it up, and
discharges its contents into the canoe. This he repeats till his canoe
is loaded, when he shoots out of the tail of the rapids, and makes for
shore. The fish will average three pounds, but individuals are sometimes
two and three times that weight. It is shad-shaped, with well-developed
scales, easily removed, but has the mouth of the sucker, very small. The
flesh is perfectly white and firm, with very few bones. It is boiled by
the Indians in pure water, in a peculiar manner, the kettle hung high
above a small blaze; and thus cooked, it is eaten with the liquid for a
gravy, and is delicate and delicious. If boiled in the ordinary way, by
a low hung pot and quick fire, it is soft and comparatively flabby. It
is also broiled by the inhabitants, on a gridiron, after cutting it open
on the back, and brought on the table slightly browned. This must be
done, like a steak, quickly. It is the most delicious when immediately
taken from the water, and connoisseurs will tell you, by its taste at
the table, whether it is immediately from the water, or has lain any
time before cooking. It is sometimes made into small ovate masses,
dipped into batter, and fried in butter, and in this shape, it is called
_petite pate._ It is also chowdered or baked in a pie. It is the great
resource of the Indians and the French, and of the poor generally at
these falls, who eat it with potatoes, which are abundantly raised here.
It is also a standing dish with all.

[Footnote 27: This word is pronounced as if written _so_, not _soo_. It
is a derivative, through the French, from the Latin _saltus_.]

_A Poetic Name for a Fish._--The Chippewas, who are ready to give every
object in creation, whose existence they cannot otherwise account for,
an allegorical origin, call the white fish _attikumaig_, a very curious
or very fanciful name, for it appears to be compounded of attik, a
reindeer, and the general compound _gumee_, or _guma_, before noticed,
as meaning water, or a liquid. To this the addition of the letter _g_
makes a plural in the animate form, so that the translation is _deer of
the water_, an evident acknowledgment of its importance as an item in
their means of subsistence. Who can say, after this, that the Chippewas
have not some imagination?

_Indian Tale_.--They have a legend about the origin of the white fish,
which is founded on the observation of a minute trait in its habits.
This fish, when opened, is found to have in its stomach very small white
particles which look like roe or particles of brain, but are, perhaps,
microscopic shells. They say the fish itself sprang from the brain of a
female, whose skull fell into these rapids, and was dashed out among the
rocks. A tale of domestic infidelity is woven with this, and the
denouement is made to turn on the premonition of a venerable crane, the
leading Totem of the band, who, having consented to carry the ghost of a
female across the falls on his back, threw her into the boiling and
foaming flood to accomplish the poetic justice of the tale.

_17th. Polygamy_.--This practice appears to be less common among the
Chippewas than the more westerly tribes. An instance of it came to my
notice to-day, in a complaint made by an Indian named Me-ta-koos-se-ga,
i.e. Smoking-Weed, or Pure Tobacco, who was living with two wives, a
mother and her daughter. He complained that a young woman whom he had
brought up had left his lodge, and taken shelter with the family of the
widow of a Canadian. It appears that the old fellow had been making
advances to this girl to become his _third wife_, and that she had fled
from his lodge to avoid his importunities.

_18th. Historical Reminiscences_.--This day sixty-three years ago,
General Wolf took Quebec, an event upon which hinged the fall of Canada.
That was a great historical era, and it is from this date, 1759, that we
may begin to date a change in the Indian policy of the country. Before
that time, the French, who had discovered this region of country and
established trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes, were
acknowledged supreme by the natives. Since this event, the English rule
has been growing, and the allegiance of the tribes has been gradually
strengthened and fixed. It is not a light task to change habits of
political affiance, cemented by so many years. The object which is only
sought so far as the tribes fall within the American lines, may,
however, be attained by a mild, consistent, and persevering course of
policy. Time is a slow but sure innovator. A few years will carry the
more aged men, whose prejudices are strongest, to their graves. The
young are more pliant, and will see their interests in strengthening
their intercourse with the Americans, who can do so much to advance
them, and probably long before half another period of sixty-three years
is repeated, the Indians of the region will be as firmly attached to us
as they ever were to the French or the English.

Never to doubt, and never to despair,
Is to make acts what once but wishes were. ALGON.

_26th. Allegorical and Mythological Tales_.--"I shall be rejoiced,"
observed Governor C., in a letter of this day, in reply to my
announcement of having detected fanciful traditionary stories among the
Chippewas, "to receive any mythological stories to which you allude,
even if they are enough to rival old Tooke in his Pantheon." He had put
into my hands, at Detroit, a list of printed queries respecting the
Indians, and calls me to remember them, during my winter seclusion here,
with the knowledge of the advantages I possess in the well-informed
circle of the Johnston family.

_25th. Chippewa Language_.--There is clearly a polite and a vulgar way
of speaking the language. Tradition says that great changes have taken
place, and that these changes keep pace with the decline of the tribe
from their ancient standard of forest morals and their departure from
their ancient customs. However this may be, their actual vocabulary is
pretty full. Difficulties exist in writing it, from the want of an exact
and uniform system of notation. The vowels assume their short and
slender as well as broad sounds. The language appears to want entirely
the consonant sounds of f, l, r, v, and x. In conjugating their verbs,
the three primary tenses are well made out, but it is doubtful how much
exactitude exists in the forms given for the oblique and conditional
tenses. If it be true that the language is more corrupt now than at a
former age, it is important to inquire in what this corruption consists,
and how it came about. "To rescue it," I observe at the close of a
letter now on my table to his Excellency Governor C., transmitting him a
vocabulary of one hundred and fifty words, "To rescue it from that
oblivion to which the tribe itself is rapidly hastening, while yet it
may be attempted, with a prospect of success, will constitute a novel
and pleasing species of amusement during the long evenings of that
dreary cold winter of which we have already had a foretaste."

_31st. Public Worship_.--As Colonel Brady is about to leave the post for
the season, some conversation has been had about authorizing him to get
a clergyman to come to the post. It is thought that if such a person
would devote a part of his time as an instructor, a voluntary
subscription could be got among the citizens to supply the sum requisite
for his support. I drew up a paper with this view this morning, and
after handing it round, found the sum of _ninety-seven dollars_
subscribed--seventy-five dollars of which are by four persons. This is
not half the stipend of "forty pounds a year" that poor Goldsmith's
brother thought himself rich upon; and it is apprehended the colonel
will hardly find the inducement sufficient to elicit attention to so
very remote a quarter.

_Nov. 1st_. We have snow, cold, and chilly winds. On looking to the
north, there are huge piles of clouds hanging over Lake Superior. We may
say, with Burns,

"The wintry wind is gathering fast."

This is a holiday with the Canadian French--"All Saints." They appear as
lively and thoughtless as if all the saints in the calendar were to join
them in a dance. Well may it be said of them, "Where ignorance is bliss,
'tis folly to be wise."

_20th. Seclusion from the World realized_.--We are now shut out from the
world. The season of navigation has closed, the last vessel has
departed. Philosophers may write, and poets may sing of the charms of
solitude, but when the experiment comes to be tried, on a practical
scale, such as we are now, one and all, about to realize, theories and
fancies sink wonderfully in the scale. For some weeks past, everything
with the power of motion or locomotion has been exerting itself to quit
the place and the region, and hie to more kindly latitudes for the
winter. Nature has also become imperceptibly sour tempered, and shows
her teeth in ice and snows. _Man-kind_ and _bird-kind_ have concurred in
the effort to go. We have witnessed the long-drawn flight of swans,
brant, and cranes, towards the south. Singing birds have long since
gone. Ducks, all but a very few, have also silently disappeared, and
have probably gone to pick up spicy roots in the Susquehannah
or Altamaha.

Prescient in the changes of the season, they have been the first to go.
Men, who can endure greater changes and vicissitudes than all the animal
creation put together, have lingered longer; but at last one after
another has left Pa-wa-teeg, till all who _can_ go have gone. Col. Brady
did not leave his command till after the snow fell, and he saw them
tolerably "cantoned." The last vessel for the season has departed--the
last mail has been sent. Our population has been thinned off by the
departure of every temporary dweller, and lingering trader, and belated
visitor, till no one is left but the doomed and fated number whose duty
is here, who came here to abide the winter in all its regions, and who
cannot, on any fair principle or excuse, get away. They, and they alone,
are left to winter here. Of this number I am a resigned and willing
unit, and I have endeavored to prepare for the intellectual exigencies
of it, by a systematic study and analysis of the Indian language,
customs, and history, and character. My teachers and appliances are the
best. I have furnished myself with vocabularies and hand-books,
collected and written down, during the season. I have the post library
in my room, in addition to my own, with a free access to that of "mine
host" of the Emerald Isle, Mr. Johnston, to while away the time. My huge
Montreal stove will take long billets of wood, which, to use the
phraseology of Burns, "would mend a mill." The society of the officers
and their families of the garrison is at hand. The amusements of a
winter, in this latitude, are said to be rather novel, with their dog
trains and creole sleighs. There are some noble fellows of the old
"North West" order in the vicinity. There are thus the elements, at
least, of study, society, and amusement. Whatever else betide, I have
good health, and good spirits, and bright hopes, and I feel very much in
the humor of enjoying the wildest kind of tempests which Providence may
send to howl around my dwelling.

We have, as the means of exchanging sentiment, one English family of
refinement and education, on the American side of the river, and two
others, an English family and the Hudson Bay House in charge of a Scotch
gentleman, on the Canada shore. We have the officers attached to a
battalion of infantry, most of them married and having their ladies and
families with them, and about a dozen American citizens besides, engaged
in traffic and other affairs. These, with the resident _metif_
population of above 300 souls, and the adjacent Indian tribes,
constitute the world--the little isolated world--in which we must move
for six months to come. About fifty miles off, S.E., is the British post
of Drummond Island, and about forty west of the latter, the ancient
position and island settlement of Michilimackinack, that bugbear to
children in all our earlier editions of Webster's Spelling Book.

All the rest of the United States is a far-off land to us. For one, I
draw around my fire, get my table and chair properly located, and resort
to my books, and my Indian _ia-ne-kun-o-tau-gaid_ let the storm whistle
as it may.

_25th_. Zimmerman may write as much as he pleases about solitude. It is
all very well in one's study, by his stove, if it is winter, with a good
feather bed, and all comforts at hand; but he who would test his
theories should come _here_. It is a capital place, in the dead of
winter, for stripping poetic theories of their covering.


Amusements during the winter months, when the temperature
is at the lowest point--Etymology of the word Chippewa--A
meteor--The Indian "fire-proof"--Temperature and weather--Chippewa
interchangeables--Indian names for the seasons--An incident in
conjugating verbs--Visiting--Gossip--The fur trade--Todd, McGillvray,
Sir Alexander Mackenzie--Wide dissimilarity of the English and Odjibwa
syntax--Close of the year.

_1822. December 1st_. We have now plunged into the depths of a boreal
winter. The blustering of tempests, the whistling of winds, and the
careering of snow drifts form the daily topics of remark. We must make
shift to be happy, with the most scanty means of amusement. Books and
studies must supply the most important item in this--at least, so far as
I am concerned.

It is observed by Dr. Johnson "that nothing can supply the want of
prudence, and that negligence and irregularity, long continued, will
render knowledge useless, wit ridiculous, and genius contemptible." This
sententious apothegm is thrown out in contemplating the life of Savage,
one of the English poets who united some of the highest requisites of
genius with the lowest personal habits. But how much instruction does it
convey to all! It does not fall to the lot of all to have wit or genius,
or to be eminent in knowledge. None, however, who are not absolute
idiots are without some share of the one or the other. And in proportion
as these gifts are possessed, how fruitless, and comparatively useless
do they become, if not governed by prudence, assiduity, and regularity!

_3d_. The Indian tribes in this vicinity call themselves Ojibwaeg. This
expression is in the plural number. It is rendered singular by taking
off the _g_. The letter _a_, in this word, is pronounced like _a_ in
hate, or _ey_ in obey. Chippewa--often written with a useless terminal
_y_--is the Anglicized pronunciation. The meaning of this seems obscure.


Back to Full Books