Fun With Maps

June 28, 2013

I’m someone who loves a good historical map, so one of my favorite websites is memory.loc.gov, the digital collections of the Library of Congress.  You can spend hours zooming in on neat vintage maps.  This post has snippets from eleven of them, stretching from 1674 to 1843.  They are full of cool old inaccuracies, but they also highlight important historical trends and eras in our history.  This should not be considered an exhaustive survey of the best maps out there, nor is it representative of all the LOC maps.  Really, it’s just 11 semi-random maps with my observations on what I found interesting.  Click on any map to go to the Library of Congress site where you can browse more of it.  Enjoy:

French 1674

Nouvelle decouverte de plusieurs nations dans la Nouvelle France en l’année 1673 et 1674 by Louis Joliet.  Joliet famously traveled from the Great Lakes down the Mississippi with the Jesuit Jacques Marquette in 1673.

  • Cool trees.
  • Baye des Puans: The French called the Ho-Chunk Puans, “Stinky People.”  That was a translation of the Ojibwe word Wiinibiigoo (Winnebago), which means “stinky water people.”  Green Bay is “green” in summer because of the stinky green algae that covers it.  It’s not surprising that the Ho-Chunk no longer wish to be called the Winnebago or Puans.
  • 8tagami:  The French used 8 in Indian words for the English sound “W.”  8tagami (Odagami) is the Ojibwe/Odawa/Potawatomi word for the Meskwaki (Fox) People.
  • Nations du Nord:  To the French, the country between Lake Superior and Hudson Bay was the home of “an infinity of nations,” (check out this book by that title) small bands speaking dialects of Ojibwe, Cree, and Assiniboine Sioux.
  • The Keweenaw is pretty small, but Lake Superior has generally the right shape.

French 1688

Carte de l’Amerique Septentrionnale by Jean Baptiste Louis Franquelin:  Franquelin created dozens of maps as the royal cartographer and hydrographer of New France.

  • Lake Superior is remarkably accurate for this time period.
  • Nations sous le nom d’Outouacs:  “Nations under the name of Ottawas”–the French had a tendency to lump all Anishinaabe peoples in the west (Ojibwe, Ottawa, Potawatomi, etc.) under the name Outouais or Outouacs.
  • River names, some are the same and some have changed.  Bois Brule (Brule River) in French is “burnt wood” a translation of the Ojibwe wiisakode.  I see ouatsicoto inside the name of the Brule on this map (Neouatsicoton), but I’m not 100% sure that’s wiisakode. Piouabic (biwaabik is Ojibwe word for Iron) for the Iron River is still around.  Mosquesisipi (Mashkiziibi) or Swampy River is the Ojibwe for the Bad River.
  • Madeline Island is Ile. St. Michel, showing that it was known at “Michael’s Island” a century before Michel Cadotte established his fur post.
  • Ance Chagoüamigon:  Point Chequamegon

French 1703

Carte de la riviere Longue : et de quelques autres, qui se dechargent dans le grand fleuve de Missisipi [sic] … by Louis Armand the Baron de Lahontan.  Baron Lahontan was a military officer of New France who explored the Mississippi and Missouri River valleys.

  • Lake Superior looks quite strange.
  • “Sauteurs” and Jesuits at Sault Ste. Marie:  the French called the Anishinaabe people at Sault Ste. Marie (mostly Crane Clan) the Sauteurs or Saulteaux, meaning “people of the falls.”  This term came to encompass most of the people who would now be called Ojibwe.
  • Fort Dulhut:  This is not Duluth, Minnesota, but rather Kaministiquia (modern-day Thunder Bay).  It is named for the same person–Daniel Greysolon, the Sieur du Lhut (Duluth).
  • Riviere Du Tombeau:  “The River of Tombs” at the west end of the Lake is the St. Croix River, which does not actually flow into Lake Superior but connects it to the Mississippi over a short portage from the Brule River.
  • Chagouamigon (Chequamegon) is placed much too far to the east.
  • The Fox River is gigantic flowing due east rather than north into Green Bay.  We see the “Savage friends of the French:” Outagamis (Meskwaki/Fox), Malumins (Menominee), and Kikapous (Kickapoo).

French 1742

Carte des lacs du Canada by Jacques N. Bellin 1742.  Bellin was a famous European mapmaker who compiled various maps together.  The top map is a detail from the Carte de Lacs.  The bottom one is from a slightly later map.

  • Of the maps shown so far, this has the best depiction of Chequamegon, but Lake Superior as a whole is much less accurate than on Franquelin’s map from fifty years earlier.
  • The mysterious “Isle Phillipeaux,” a second large island southeast of Isle Royale shows prominently on this map.  Isle Phillipeaux is one of those cartographic oddities that pops up on maps for decades after it first appears even though it doesn’t exist.
  • Cool river names not shown on Franquelin’s map:  Atokas (Cranberry River) and Fond Plat “Flat-bottom” (Sand River)
  • The region west of today’s Herbster, Wisconsin is lablled “Papoishika.”  I did an extensive post about an area called Ka-puk-wi-e-kah in that same location.
  • Ici etoit une Bourgade Considerable:  “Here there was a large village.”  This in reference to when Chequamegon was a center for the Huron, Ottawa (Odawa) and other refugee nations of the Iroquois Wars in the mid-1600s.
  • “La Petite Fille”:  Little Girl’s Point.
  • Chequamegon Bay is Baye St. Charles
  • Catagane: Kakagon, Maxisipi: Mashkizibi
  • The islands are “The 12 Apostles.”

British 1778

A new map of North America, from the latest discoveries 1778. Engrav’d for Carver’s Travels.  In 1766 Jonathan Carver became one of the first Englishmen to pass through this region.  His narrative is a key source for the time period directly following the conquest of New France, when the British claimed dominion over the Great Lakes.

  • Lake Superior still has two giant islands in the middle of it.
  • The Chipeway (Ojibwe), Ottaway (Odawa), and Ottagamie (Meskwaki/Fox) seem to have neatly delineated nations. The reality was much more complex.  By 1778, the Ojibwe had moved inland from Lake Superior and were firmly in control of areas like Lac du Flambeau and Lac Courte Oreilles, which had formerly been contested by the Meskwaki.

Dutch 1805

Charte von den Vereinigten Staaten von Nord-America nebst Louisiana by F.L. Gussefeld:  Published in Europe.

  • The Dutch never had a claim to this region.  In fact, this is a copy of a German map.  However, it was too cool-looking to pass up.
  • Over 100 years after Franquelin’s fairly-accurate outline of Lake Superior, much of Europe was still looking at this junk.
  • “Ober See” and Tschippeweer” are funny to me.
  • Isle Phillipeau is hanging on strong into the nineteenth century.

American 1805

A map of Lewis and Clark’s track across the western portion of North America, from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean : by order of the executive of the United States in 1804, 5 & 6 / copied by Samuel Lewis from the original drawing of Wm. Clark.   This map was compiled from the manuscript maps of Lewis and Clark.

  • The Chequamegon Region supposedly became American territory with the Treaty of Paris in 1783.  The reality on the ground, however, was that the Ojibwe held sovereignty over their lands. The fur companies operating in the area were British-Canadian, and they employed mostly French-Ojibwe mix-bloods in the industry.
  • This is a lovely-looking map, but it shows just how little the Americans knew about this area.  Ironically, British Canada is very well-detailed, as is the route of Lewis and Clark and parts of the Mississippi that had just been visited by the American, Lt. Zebulon Pike.
  • “Point Cheganega” is a crude islandless depiction of what we would call Point Detour.
  • The Montreal River is huge and sprawling, but the Brule, Bad, and Ontonagon Rivers do not exist.
  • To this map’s credit, there is only one Isle Royale.  Goodbye Isle Phillipeaux.  It was fun knowing you.
  • It is striking how the American’s had access to decent maps of the British-Canadian areas of Lake Superior, but not of what was supposedly their own territory.

English 1811

A new map of North America from the latest authorities By John Cary of London.  This map was published just before the outbreak of war between Britain and the United States.

  • These maps are starting to look modern.  The rivers are getting more accurate and the shape of Lake Superior is much better–though the shoreline isn’t done very well.
  • Burntwood=Brule, Donagan=Ontonagon
  • The big red line across Lake Superior is the US-British border.  This map shows Isle Royale in Canada.  The line stops at Rainy Lake because the fate of the parts of Minnesota and North Dakota in the Hudson Bay Watershed (claimed by the Hudson Bay Company) was not yet settled.
  • “About this place a settlement of the North West Company”:  This is Michel Cadotte’s trading post at La Pointe on Madeline Island.  Cadotte was the son of a French trader and an Anishinaabe woman, and he traded for the British North West Company.
  • It is striking that a London-made map created for mass consumption would so blatantly show a British company operating on the American side of the line.  This was one of the issues that sparked the War of 1812.  The Indian nations of the Great Lakes weren’t party to the Treaty of Paris and certainly did not recognize American sovereignty over their lands.  They maintained the right to have British traders. America didn’t see it that way.

American 1820

Map of the United States of America : with the contiguous British and Spanish possessions / compiled from the latest & best authorities by John Melish

  • Lake Superior shape and shoreline are looking much better.
  • Bad River is “Red River.”  I’ve never seen that as an alternate name for the Bad.  I’m wondering if it’s a typo from a misreading of “bad”
  • Copper mines are shown on the Donagon (Ontonagon) River.  Serious copper mining in that region was still over a decade away.  This probably references the ancient Indian copper-mining culture of Lake Superior or the handful of exploratory attempts by the French and British.
  • The Brule-St. Croix portage is marked “Carrying Place.”
  • No mention of Chequamegon or any of the Apostle Islands–just Sand Point.
  • Isle Phillipeaux lives!  All the way into the 1820s!  But, it’s starting to settle into being what it probably was all along–the end of the Keweenaw mistakenly viewed from Isle Royale as an island rather than a peninsula.

American 1839 

From the Map of Michigan and part of Wisconsin Territory, part of the American Atlas produced under the direction of U.S. Postmaster General David H. Burr.

  • Three years before the Ojibwe cede the Lake Superior shoreline of Wisconsin, we see how rapidly American knowledge of this area is growing in the 1830s.
  • The shoreline is looking much better, but the islands are odd.  Stockton (Presque Isle) and Outer Island have merged into a huge dinosaur foot while Madeline Island has lost its north end.
  • Weird river names:  Flagg River is Spencer’s, Siskiwit River is Heron, and Sand River is Santeaux. Fish Creek is the gigantic Talking Fish River, and “Raspberry” appears to be labeling the Sioux River rather than the farther-north Raspberry River.
  • Points:  Bark Point is Birch Bark, Detour is Detour, and Houghton is Cold Point. Chequamegon Point is Chegoimegon Point, but the bay is just “The Bay.”
  • The “Factory” at Madeline Island and the other on Long Island refers to a fur post.  This usage is common in Canada:  Moose Factory, York Factory, etc.  At this time period, the only Factory would have been on Madeline.
  • The Indian Village is shown at Odanah six years before Protestant missionaries supposedly founded Odanah. A commonly-heard misconception is that the La Pointe Band split into Island and Bad River factions in the 1840s. In reality, the Ojibwe didn’t have fixed villages.  They moved throughout the region based on the seasonal availability of food.  The traders were on the island, and it provided access to good fishing, but the gardens, wild rice, and other food sources were more abundant near the Kakagon sloughs.  Yes, those Ojibwe married into the trading families clustered more often on the Island, and those who got sick of the missionaries stayed more often at Bad River (at least until the missionaries followed them there), but there was no hard and fast split of the La Pointe Band until long after Bad River and Red Cliff were established as separate reservations.

American 1843

Hydrographical basin of the upper Mississippi River from astronomical and barometrical observations, surveys, and information by Joseph Nicollet.  Nicollet is considered the first to accurately map the basin of the Upper Mississippi.  His Chequamegon Region is pretty good also.

  • You may notice this map decorating the sides of the Chequamegon History website.
  • This post mentions this map and the usage of Apakwa for the Bark River.
  • As with the 1839 map, this map’s Raspberry River appears to be the Sioux rather than the Miskomin (Raspberry) River.
  • Madeline Island has a little tail, but the Islands have their familiar shapes.
  • Shagwamigon, another variant spelling
  • Mashkeg River:  in Ojibwe the Bad River is Mashkizibi (Swamp River).  Mashkiig is the Ojibwe word for swamp.  In the boreal forests of North America, this word had migrated into English as muskeg.  It’s interesting how Nicollet labels the forks, with the White River fork being the most prominent.

That’s all for now folks.  Thanks for covering 200 years of history with me through these maps.  If you have any questions, or have any cool observations of your own, go ahead and post them in the comments.

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This post is on of several that seeks to determine how many images exist of Great Buffalo, the famous La Pointe Ojibwe chief who died in 1855.  To learn why this is necessary, read this post introducing the Great Chief Buffalo Picture Search.

Today’s post looks at two paintings from the 1820s of Ojibwe men named Bizhiki (Buffalo).  The originals are lost forever, but the images still exist in the lithographs that follow.

Pee-che-kir: A Chippewa Chief Lithograph from McKenney and Hall’s History of the Indian Tribes of North America based on destroyed original by Charles Bird King; 1824. (Wikimedia Images)

Pe-shick-ee: A Celebrated Chippeway Chief from the Aboriginal Port-Folio by James Otto Lewis.  The original painting was done by Lewis at Prairie du Chien or Fond du Lac of Lake Superior in 1825 or 1826 (Wisconsin Historical Society).

1824 Delegation to Washington

Chronologically, the first known image to show an Ojibwe chief named Buffalo appeared in the mid-1820s at time when the Ojibwe and the United States government were still getting to know each other. Prior to the 1820s, the Americans viewed the Ojibwe as a large and powerful nation. They had an uncomfortably close history with the British, who were till lurking over the border in Canada, but they otherwise inhabited a remote country unfit for white settlement. To the Ojibwe, the Americans were chimookomaan, “long knives,” in reference to the swords carried by the military officers who were the first Americans to come into their country.  It was one of these long knives, Thomas McKenney, who set in motion the gathering of hundreds of paintings of Indians. Two of these showed men named Buffalo (Bizhiki).

Charles Bird King: Self portrait 1815 (Wikimedia Images)

McKenney was appointed the first Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1824. Indian Affairs was under the Department of War at that time, and McKenneyʼs men in the West were mostly soldiers. He, like many in his day, believed that the Indian nations of North America were destined for extinction within a matter of decades.  To preserve a record of these peoples, he commissioned over 100 portraits of various Indian delegates who came to Washington from all over the U.S. states and territories. Most of the painting work fell to Charles Bird King, a skilled Washington portrait artist. Beginning in 1822, King painted Indian portraits for two decades.  He would paint famous men like Black Hawk, Red Jacket, Joseph Brandt, and Major Ridge, but Kingʼs primary goal was not to record the stories of important individuals so much as it was to capture the look of a vanishing race.

No-tin copied from 1824 Charles Bird King original by Henry Inman. Noodin (Wind) was a prominent chief from the St. Croix country.  King’s painting of Buffalo from St. Croix was probably also copied by Inman, but its location is unknown (Wikimedia Images).

In July of 1824, William Clark, the famous companion of Meriwether Lewis, brought a delegation of Sauks, Foxes, and Ioways to Washington to negotiate land cessions. Lawrence Taliaferro, the Indian agent at Fort St. Anthony (now Minneapolis), brought representatives of the Sioux, Menominee, and Ojibwe to observe the treaty process. The St. Croix chiefs Buffalo and Noodin (Wind) represented the Ojibwe.

1824 group

Charles Bird King painted portraits of most of the Indians listed here in the the 1824 Washington group by Niles’ Weekly Register, July 31, 1824. (Google Books)

The St. Croix chiefs were treated well: taken to shows, and to visit the sights of the eastern cities. However, there was a more sinister motivation behind the governmentʼs actions. McKenney made sure the chiefs saw the size and scope of the U.S. Military facilities in Washington, the unspoken message being that resistance to American expansion was impossible. This message seems to have resonated with Buffalo and Noodin of St. Croix as it is referred to repeatedly in the official record.  McKenney pointed Buffalo out as a witness to American power at the Treaty of Fond du Lac (1826). Schoolcraft and Allen mention Buffalo’s trip in their own ill-fated journey up the St. Croix in 1832 (see it in this post), and Noodin talks about the soldiers he saw in Washington in the treaty deliberations in the 1837 Treaty of St. Peters.

While in Washington, Buffalo, Noodin, and most of the other Indians in the group sat with King for portraits in oil. Buffalo was shown wearing a white shirt and cloak, holding a pipe, with his face painted red. The paintings were hung in the offices of the Department of War, and the chiefs returned to their villages.

James Otto Lewis

The following summer, St. Croix Buffalo and Noodin joined chiefs from villages throughout the Ojibwe country, as well as from the Sioux, Sac and Fox, Menominee, Ho-Chunk, Ioway, Ottawa, and Potawatomi at Prairie du Chien. The Americans had called them there to sign a treaty to establish firm borders between their nations. The stated goal was to end the wars between the Sioux and Ojibwe, but it also provided the government an opportunity to assert its authority over the country and to set the stage for future land cessions.

McKenney did not attend the Treaty of Prairie du Chien leaving it to Clark and Lewis Cass to act as commissioners. A quick scan of the Ojibwe signatories shows “Pee-see- ker or buffalo, St. Croix Band,” toward the bottom. Looking up to the third signature, we see “Gitspee Waskee, or le boeuf of la pointe lake Superior,” so both the St. Croix and La Pointe Buffalos were present among the dozens of signatures. One of the government witnesses listed was an artist from Philadelphia named James Otto Lewis.  Over the several days of negotiation, Lewis painted scenes of the treaty grounds as well as portraits of various chiefs. These were sent back to Washington, some were copied and improved by King or other artists, and they were added to the collection of the War Department.

The following year, 1826, McKenney himself traveled to Fond du Lac at the western end of Lake Superior to make a new treaty with the Ojibwe concerning mineral exploration on the south shore. Lewis accompanied him and continued to create images.  At some point in these two years, a Lewis portrait of an Ojibwe chief named Pe-schick-ee (Bizhiki) appeared in McKenneyʼs growing War Department collection.

Lithographs

By 1830, McKenney had been dismissed from his position and turned his attention to publishing a portfolio of lithographs from the paintings in the War Department collection.  Hoping to cash in his own paintings by beating McKenney to the lithograph market, Lewis released The Aboriginal Port Folio in May of 1835. It included 72 color plates, one of which was Pe-schick-ee: A Celebrated Chippeway Chief.

Pencil sketch of Pee-che-kir by Charles Bird King. King made these sketches after his original paintings to assist in making copies.  (Herman J. Viola, The Indian Legacy of Charles Bird King.)

Due to financial issues The History of the Indian Tribes of North America, by McKenney with James Hall, would not come out in full release until the mid 1840s. The three-volume work became a bestseller and included color plates of 120 Indians, 95 of which are accompanied by short biographies. Most of the lithographs were derived from works by King, but some were from Lewis and other artists. Kingʼs portrait of Pee-Che-Kir: A Chippewa Chief was included among them, unfortunately without a biography.  However, we know its source as the painting of the St. Croix Buffalo in 1824. Noodin and several others from that delegation also made it into lithograph form. The original War Department paintings, including both Pee-Che-Kir and Pe-schick-ee were sent to the Smithsonian, where they were destroyed in a fire in 1858.  Oil copies of some of the originals, including Henry Inmanʼs copy of Kingʼs portrait of Noodin, survive, but the lithographs remain the only known versions of the Buffalo portraits other than a pencil sketch of the head of Pee-Che-Kir done by King.

The man in the Lewis lithograph is difficult to identify. The only potential clue we get from the image itself is the title of “A Celebrated Chippeway Chief,” and information that it was painted at Prairie du Chien in 1825. To many, “celebrated” would indicate Buffalo from La Pointe, but in 1825, he was largely unknown to the Americans while the St. Croix Buffalo had been to Washington. In the 1820s, La Pointe Buffaloʼs stature was nowhere near what it would become.  However, he was a noted speaker from a prominent family and his signature is featured prominently in the treaty.  Any assumptions about which chief was more “celebrated”  are difficult.

In dress and pose, the man painted by Lewis resembles the King portrait of St. Croix Buffalo. This has caused some to claim that the Lewis is simply the original version of the King.  King did copy and improve several of Lewisʼ works, but the copies tended to preserve in some degree the grotesque, almost cartoonish, facial features that are characteristic of the self-taught Lewis (see this post for another Lewis portrait). The classically-trained King painted highly realistic faces, and side-by-side comparison of the lithographs shows very little facial resemblance between Kingʼs Pee-Che-Kir and Lewisʼ Pe-schick-ee.

Thomas L. McKenney painted in 1856 by Charles Loring Elliott (Wikimedia Images)

Of the 147 War Department Indian portraits cataloged by William J. Rhees of the Smithsonian prior to the fire, 26 are described as being painted by “King from Lewis,” all of which are from 1826 or after. Most of the rest are attributed solely to King. Almost all the members of the 1824 trip to Washington are represented in the catalog. “Pee-che-ker, Buffalo, Chief of the Chippeways.” does not have an artist listed, but Noodin and several of the others from the 1824 group are listed as King, and it is safe to assume Buffalo’s should be as well. The published lithograph of Pee-che-kir was attributed solely to King, and not “King from Lewis” as others are.  This further suggests that the two Buffalo lithographs are separate portraits from separate sittings, and potentially of separate chiefs.

Even without all this evidence, we can be confident that the King is not a copy of the Lewis because the King portrait was painted in 1824, and the Lewis was painted no earlier than 1825. There is, however, some debate about when the Lewis was painted. From the historical record, we know that Lewis was present at both Prairie du Chien and Fond du Lac along with both the La Pointe Buffalo and the St. Croix Buffalo. When Pe- schick-ee was released, Lewis identified it as being painted at Prairie du Chien.  However, the work has also been placed at Fond du Lac.

The modern identification of Pee-che-kir as a copy of Pe-schick-ee seems to have originated with the work of James D. Horan. In his 1972 book, The McKenney-Hall Portrait Gallery of American Indians, he reproduces all the images from History of the Indian Tribes, and adds his own analysis. On page 206, he describes the King portrait of Pee-che-kir with:

“Peechekir (or Peechekor, Buffalo) was “a solid, straight formed Indian,” Colonel McKenney recalled many years after the Fond du Lac treaty where he had met the chief. Apparently the Chippewa played a minor role at the council.

Original by James Otto Lewis, Fond du Lac council, 1826, later copied in Washington by Charles Bird King.”

Presumably, the original he refers to would be the Lewis portrait of Pe-schick-ee. However, Horanʼs statement that McKenney met St. Croix Buffalo at Fond du Lac is false. As we already know, the two men met in 1824 in Washington. It is puzzling how Horan did not know this considering he includes the following account on page 68:

The first Indian to step out of the closely packed lines of stone-faced red men made McKenney feel at home; it was a chief he had met a few years before in Washington. The Indian held up his hand in a sign of peace and called out:
“Washigton [sic]… Washington… McKenney shook hands with the chief and nodded to Lewis but the artist had already started to sketch.”

McKenneyʼs original account identifies this chief as none other than St. Croix Buffalo:

In half an hour after, another band came in who commenced, as did the others, by shaking hands, followed, of course, by smoking. In this second band I recognized Pee-che-kee, or rather he recognized me–a chief who had been at Washington, and whose likeness hangs in my office there. I noticed that his eye was upon me, and that he smiled, and was busily employed speaking to an Indian who sat beside him, and no doubt about me. His first word on coming up to speak to me was, “Washington”–pointing to the east. The substance of his address was, that he was glad to see me–he felt his heart jump when he first saw me–it made him think of Washington, of his great father, of the good living he had when he visited us–how kind we all were to him, and that he should never forget any of it.

From this, Horan should have known not only that the two men knew each other, but also that a portrait of the chief (Kingʼs) already was part of the War Department collection and therefore existed before the Lewis portrait. Horanʼs description of Lewis already beginning his sketch does not appear in McKenneyʼs account and seems to invented. This is not the only instance where Horan confuses facts or takes wide license with Ojibwe history.  His statement quoted above that the Ojibwe “played a minor role” in the Treaty of Fond du Lac, when they were the only Indian nation present and greatly outnumbered the Americans, should disqualify Horan from being treated as any kind of authority on the topic.  However, he is not the only one to place the Lewis portrait of Pe-schick-ee at Fond du Lac rather than Prairie du Chien.

Between, 1835 and 1838 Lewis released 80 lithographs, mostly of individual Indians, in a set of ten installments. He had intended to include an eleventh with biographies. However, a dispute with the publisher prevented the final installment from coming out immediately. His London edition, released in 1844 by another publisher, included a few short biographies but none for Pe-schick-ee. Most scholars assumed that he never released the promised eleventh installment. However, one copy of a self-published 1850 pamphlet donated by Lewisʼs grandson exists in the Free Library of Philadelphia. In it are the remaining biographies. Number 30 reads:

No. 30. Pe-shisk-Kee. A Chippewa warrior from Lake Huron, noted for his attachment to the British, with whom he always sided. At the treaty held at Fond du Lac, when the Council opened, he appeared with a British medal of George the III. on his breast, and carrying a British flag, which Gen. Cass, one of the Commissioners, promptly and indignantly placed under his feet, and pointing to the stars and stripes, floating above them, informed him that that was the only one permitted to wave there.

The Chief haughtily refused to participate in the business of the Council, until, by gifts, he became partly conciliated, when he joined in their deliberations. Painted at Fond du Lac, in 1826.

This new evidence further clouds the story. Initially, this description does not seem to fit what we know about either the La Pointe or the St. Croix Buffalo, as both were born near Lake Superior and lived in Wisconsin. Both men were also inclined to be friendly toward the American government. The St. Croix Buffalo had recently been to Washington, and the La Pointe Buffalo frequently spoke of his desire for good relations with the United States in later years. It is also troubling that Lewis contradicts his earlier identification of the location of the portrait at Prairie du Chien.

It is unlikely that Pe-schick-ee depicts a third chief given that no men named Buffalo other than the two mentioned signed the Treaty of Fond du Lac, and the far-eastern bands of Ojibwe from Lake Huron were not part of treaty councils with the Lake Superior bands. One can speculate that perhaps Lewis, writing 25 years after the original painting, mistook the story of Pe-schick-ee with that one of the many other chiefs he met in his travels, but there are some suggestions that it might, in fact, be La Pointe Buffalo.

The La Pointe Band traded with the British in the other side of Lake Superior for years after the War of 1812 supposedly confirmed Chequamegon as American territory.  If you’ve read this post, you’ll know that Buffalo from La Pointe was a follower of Tenskwatawa, whose brother Tecumseh fought beside the British.  On July 22, 1822, Schoolcraft writes:

At that place [Chequamegon] 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.

It’s possible that it was La Pointe Buffalo with the British flag.  Archival research into the Treaty of Fond du Lac could potentially clear this up.  If I stumble across any, I’ll be sure to add it here.  For now, we can’t say one way or the other which Buffalo is in the Lewis portrait.

The Verdict

Not Chief Buffalo from La Pointe: This is Chief Buffalo from St. Croix.

Inconclusive:  This could be Buffalo from La Pointe or Buffalo from St. Croix.

Sources:
Horan, James David, and Thomas Loraine McKenney. The McKenney-Hall Portrait Gallery of American Indians. New York, NY: Bramhall House, 1986. Print.
KAPPLER’S INDIAN AFFAIRS: LAWS AND TREATIES. Ed. Charles J. Kappler. Oklahoma State University Library, n.d. Web. 21 June 2012. <http:// digital.library.okstate.edu/Kappler/>.
Lewis, James O., The Aboriginal Port-Folio: A Collection of Portraits of the Most Celebrated Chiefs of the North American Indians. Philadelphia: J.O. Lewis, 1835-1838. Print.
———– Catalogue of the Indian Gallery,. New York: J.O. Lewis, 1850. Print.
Loew, Patty. Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal.
Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, 2001. Print.
McKenney, Thomas Loraine. Sketches of a Tour to the Lakes of the Character and Customs of the Chippeway Indians, and of Incidents Connected with the Treaty of Fond Du Lac. Baltimore: F. Lucas, Jun’r., 1827. Print.
McKenney, Thomas Loraine, and James Hall. Biographical Sketches and Anecdotes of Ninety-five of 120 Principal Chiefs from the Indian Tribes of North America. Washington: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1967. Print.
Moore, Robert J. Native Americans: A Portrait : The Art and Travels of Charles Bird King, George Catlin, and Karl Bodmer. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1997. Print.
Niles, Hezekiah, William O. Niles, Jeremiah Hughes, and George Beatty, eds. “Indians.” Niles’ Weekly Register [Baltimore] 31 July 1824, Miscellaneous sec.: 363. Print.
Rhees, William J. An Account of the Smithsonian Institution. Washington: T. McGill, 1859. Print.
Satz, Ronald N. Chippewa Treaty Rights: The Reserved Rights of Wisconsin’s Chippewa Indians in Historical Perspective. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, 1991. Print.
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe, and Philip P. Mason. Expedition to Lake Itasca; the Discovery of the Source of the Mississippi,. [East Lansing]: Michigan State UP, 1958. Print.
Schoolcraft, Henry R. Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers: With Brief Notices of Passing Events, Facts, and Opinions, A.D. 1812 to A.D. 1842. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and, 1851. Print.
Viola, Herman J. The Indian Legacy of Charles Bird King. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1976. Print.
Warren, William W., and Theresa M. Schenck. History of the Ojibway People. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 2009. Print.

Special thanks to Theresa Schenck of the University of Wisconsin and Charles Lippert for helping me work through this information, and to Michael Edmonds of the Wisconsin Historical Society, and Alice Cornell (formerly of the University of Cincinnati) for tracking down the single copy of the unpublished James Otto Lewis catalog.

In the Fall of 1850, the Lake Superior Ojibwe (Chippewa) bands were called to receive their annual payments at Sandy Lake on the Mississippi River.  The money was compensation for the cession of most of northern Wisconsin,  Upper Michigan, and parts of Minnesota in the treaties of 1837 and 1842.  Before that, payments had always taken place in summer at La Pointe.  That year they were switched to Sandy Lake as part of a government effort to remove the entire nation from Wisconsin and Michigan in blatant disregard of promises made to the Ojibwe just a few years earlier.

There isn’t enough space in this post to detail the entire Sandy Lake Tragedy (I’ll cover more at a later date), but the payments were not made, and 130-150 Ojibwe people, mostly men, died that fall and winter at Sandy Lake.  Over 250 more died that December and January, trying to return to their villages without food or money.

George Warren (b.1823) was the son of Truman Warren and Charlotte Cadotte and the cousin of William Warren. (photo source unclear, found on Canku Ota Newsletter)

If you are a regular reader of Chequamegon History, you will recognize the name of William Warren as the writer of History of the Ojibway People.  William’s father, Lyman, was an American fur trader at La Pointe.  His mother, Mary Cadotte was a member of the influential Ojibwe-French Cadotte family of Madeline Island.  William, his siblings, and cousins were prominent in this era as interpreters and guides.  They were people who could navigate between the Ojibwe and mix-blood cultures that had been in this area for centuries, and the ever-encroaching Anglo-American culture.

The Warrens have a mixed legacy when it comes to the Sandy Lake Tragedy.  They initially supported the removal efforts, and profited from them as government employees, even though removal was completely against the wishes of their Ojibwe relatives.  However, one could argue this support for the government came from a misguided sense of humanitarianism.  I strongly recommend William W. Warren: The Life, Letters, and Times of an Ojibwe Leader by Theresa Schenck if you are interested in Warren family and their motivations.  The Wisconsin Historical Society has also digitized several Warren family letters, and that’s what prompted this post.  I decided to transcribe and analyze two of these letters–one from before the tragedy and one from after it.

The first letter is from Leonard Wheeler, a missionary at Bad River, to William Warren.  Initially, I chose to transcribe this one because I wanted to get familiar with Wheeler’s handwriting.  The Historical Society has his papers in Ashland, and I’m planning to do some work with them this summer.  This letter has historical value beyond handwriting, however.  It shows the uncertainty that was in the air prior to the removal.  Wheeler doesn’t know whether he will have to move his mission to Minnesota or not, even though it is only a month before the payments are scheduled.     

Bad River

Sept 6, 1850

Dear Friend,

I have time to write you but a few lines, which I do chiefly to fulfill my promise to Hole in the Day’s son. Will you please tell him I and my family are expecting to go Below and visit our friends this winter and return again in the spring. We heard at Sandy Lake, on our way home, that this chief told [Rev.?] Spates that he was expecting a teacher from St. Peters’ if so, the Band will not need another missionary. I was some what surprised that the man could express a desire to have me come and live among his people, and then afterwards tell Rev Spates he was expecting a teacher this fall from St. Peters’. I thought perhaps there was some where a little misunderstanding. Mr Hall and myself are entirely undecided what we shall do next Spring. We shall wait a little and see what are to be the movements of gov. Mary we shall leave with Mr Hall, to go to school during the winter. We think she will have a better opportunity for improvement there, than any where else in the country. We reached our home in safety, and found our families all well. My wife wishes a kind remembrance and joins me in kind regards to your wife, Charlotte and all the members of your family. If Truman is now with you please remember us to him also. Tomorrow we are expecting to go to La Pointe and take the Steam Boat for the Sault monday. I can scarcely realize that nine years have passed away since in company with yourself and Pa[?] Edward[?] we came into the country.

Mary is now well and will probably write you by the bearer of this.

Very truly yours

L. H. Wheeler

By the 1850s, Young Hole in the Day was positioning himself to the government as “head chief of all the Chippewas,” but to the people of this area, he was still Gwiiwiizens (Boy), his famous father’s son. (Minnesota Historical Society)

Samuel Spates was a missionary at Sandy Lake.  Sherman Hall started as a missionary at La Pointe and later moved to Crow Wing.

Mary, Charlotte, and Truman Warren are William’s siblings.

The Wheeler letter is interesting for what it reveals about the position of Protestant missionaries in the 1850s Chequamegon region.   From the 1820s onward, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions sent missionaries, mostly Congregationalists and Presbyterians from New England, to the Lake Superior Country.  Their names, Wheeler, Hall, Ely, Boutwell, Ayer, etc. are very familiar to historians, because they produced hundreds of pages of letters and diaries that reveal a great deal about this time period.  

Leonard H. Wheeler (Wisconsin Historical Society)

Ojibwe people reacted to these missionaries in different ways.  A few were openly hostile, while others were friendly and visited prayer, song, and school meetings. Many more just ignored them or regarded them as a simple nuisance.  In forty-plus years, the amount of Ojibwe people converted to Protestantism could be counted on one hand, so in that sense the missions were a spectacular failure.  However, they did play a role in colonization as a vanguard for Anglo-American culture in the region. Unlike the traders, who generally married into Ojibwe communities and adapted to local ways to some degree, the missionaries made a point of trying to recreate “civilization in the wilderness.”  They brought their wives, their books, and their art with them.  Because they were not working for the government or the Fur Company, and because they were highly respected in white-American society, there were times when certain missionaries were able to help the Ojibwe advance their politics.  The aftermath of the Sandy Lake Tragedy was such a time for Wheeler.

This letter comes before the tragedy, however, and there are two things I want to point out.  First, Wheeler and Sherman Hall don’t know the tragedy is coming.  They were aware of the removal, and tentatively supported it on the grounds that it might speed up the assimilation and conversion of the Ojibwe, but they are clearly out of the loop on the government’s plans. 

Second, it seems to me that Hole in the Day is giving the missionaries the runaround on purpose.  While Wheeler and Spates were not powerful themselves, being hostile to them would not help the Ojibwe argument against the removal.  However, most Ojibwe did not really want what the missionaries had to offer.  Rather than reject them outright and cause a rift, the chief is confusing them.  I say this because this would not be the only instance in the records of Ojibwe people giving ambiguous messages to avoid having their children taken.

Anyway, that’s my guess on what’s going on with the school comment, but you can’t be sure from one letter.  Young Hole in the Day was a political genius, and I strongly recommend Anton Treuer’s The Assassination of Hole in the Day if you aren’t familiar with him.

c

I read this as “passed away since in company with yourself and Pa[?] Edward we came into the country.”  Who was Wheeler’s companion when a young William guided him to La Pointe?  I intend to find out and fix this quote.  (from original in the digital collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society)

The second letter I transcribed from the Warren Papers is from La Pointe Indian Agent John Watrous to William in August 1851.  This was the summer after the tragic removal attempt, which Watrous had been in charge of.  The government was trying to force the Ojibwe to remove again less than a year after the first removal attempt claimed 400 lives.  Needless to say, the Ojibwe were refusing to go back to Sandy Lake.

In 1851, Warren was in failing health and desperately trying to earn money for his family.  He accepted the position of government interpreter and conductor of the removal of the Chippewa River bands.   He feels removing is still the best course of action for the Ojibwe, but he has serious doubts about the government’s competence.  He hears the desires of the chiefs to meet with the president, and sees the need for a full rice harvest before making the journey to La Pointe.   Warren decides to stall at Lac Courte Oreilles until all the Ojibwe bands can unite and act as one, and does not proceed to Lake Superior as ordered by Watrous.  The agent is getting very nervous.

Clement and Paul (pictured) Hudon Beaulieu, and Edward Conner, were mix-blooded traders who like the Warrens were capable of navigating Anglo-American culture while maintaining close kin relationships in several Ojibwe communities.  Clement Beaulieu and William Warren had been fierce rivals ever since Beaulieu’s faction drove Lyman Warren out of the American Fur Company.  (Photo original unknown:  uploaded to findadagrave.com by Joan Edmonson)

For more on Cob-wa-wis (Oshkaabewis) and his Wisconsin River band, see this post.

Perish?

“Perish” is what I see, but I don’t know who that might be.  Is there a “Parrish”, or possibly a “Bineshii” who could have carried Watrous’ letter?  I’m on the lookout.  (from original in the digital collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society)

La Pointe

Aug 9th 1851

Friend Warren

I am now very anxiously waiting the arrival of yourself and the Indians that are embraced in your division to come out to this place.

Mr. C. H. Beaulieu has arrived from the Lake Du Flambeau with nearly all that quarter and by an express sent on in advance I am informed that P. H. Beaulieu and Edward Conner will be here with Cob-wa-wis and they say the entire Wisconsin band, there had some 32 of the Pillican Lake band come out and some now are in Conner’s Party.

I want you should be here without fail in 10 days from this as I cannot remain longer, I shall leave at the expiration of this time for Crow Wing to make the payment to the St. Croix Bands who have all removed as I learn from letters just received from the St. Croix.  I want your assistance very much in making the Crow Wing payment and immediately after the completion of this, (which will not take over two days[)] shall proceed to Sandy Lake to make the payment to the Mississippi and Lake Bands.

The goods are all at Sandy Lake and I shall make the entire payment without delay, and as much dispatch as can be made it; will be quite lots enough for the poor Indians.  Perish[?] is the bearer of this and he can tell you all my plans better then I can write them.  give My respects to your cousin George and beli[e]ve me

Your friend

       J. S. Watrous

W. W. Warren Esq.}

P. S.     Inform the Indians that if they are not here by the time they will be struck from the roll.  I am daily expecting a company of Infantry to be stationed at this place.

                                                                                                                        JSW

As far as we can tell, no one set out to murder 400 people during the Sandy Lake annuity payments in the winter of 1850-51.  Mistakes and oversights were made by various government officials during the process with deadly consequences.  That doesn’t mean, however, that we can call the Sandy Lake Tragedy an accident.  The Ojibwe were lied to, manipulated, and their wishes were ignored throughout the process.  The removal was not only unethical, it was probably also illegal.  However, no one served time for it, no one was fired for it, and while accusations and criticisms were leveled, no one was ever officially reprimanded.  

There are individuals who history needs to hold accountable for what happened.  Minnesota Territorial governor Alexander Ramsey has been justifiably given a large portion of the blame, but what about the people who were directly involved in carrying out the removal?  How much blame does William Warren deserve for being on the government payroll?  What about Watrous?  Chief Buffalo of La Pointe and other prominent Ojibwe leaders put the fault squarely on him, but others (including Warren) defended the agent’s actions in that horrible winter.  Watrous didn’t order the removal.  He didn’t cause congress to send the payments late.  He wasn’t even hired until the removal was already in the works, so how do we judge him?
Ultimately, we have to determine guilt by the way these men acted during the second removal attempt in the summer and fall of 1851.  Letters like the one transcribed above show that Warren was attempting to do right by his Ojibwe relatives even though he was working for the government.  His hands aren’t completely clean, but he maintained the trust of the Ojibwe leadership and ultimately worked to get them their desired audience with the president.  Watrous, however, was calling for troops and threatening to kick people off the annuity rolls less than a year after all that death occured under his watch.  To me, that has to put him among the most guilty in this dark chapter of history.   
Sources:
Schenck, Theresa M., William W. Warren: The Life, Letters, and times of an Ojibwe Leader. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2007. Print.
Treuer, Anton. The Assassination of Hole in the Day. St. Paul, MN: Borealis, 2010. Print.
Warren, William W., and Theresa M. Schenck. History of the Ojibway People. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 2009. Print.