La Pointe Bands Part 1

April 19, 2015

By Leo Filipczak

lapointeband

(Click to Enlarge)

On March 8th, I posted a map of Ojibwe people mentioned in the trade journals of Perrault, Curot, Nelson, and Malhoit as a starting point to an exploration of this area at the dawn of the 19th Century. Later the map was updated to include the journal of John Sayer

In these journals, a number of themes emerge, some of which challenge conventional wisdom about the history of the La Pointe Band.  For one, there is very little mention of a La Pointe Band at all.  The traders discuss La Pointe as the location of Michel Cadotte’s trading depot, and as a central location on the lakeshore, but there is no mention of a large Ojibwe village there.  In fact, the journals suggest that the St. Croix and Chippewa River basins as the place where the bulk of the Lake Superior Ojibwe could be found at this time.

In the post, I repeated an argument that the term “Band” in these journals is less identifiable with a particular geographical location than it is with a particular chief or extended family.  Therefore, it makes more sense to speak of “Giishkiman’s Band,” than of the “Lac du Flambeau Band,” because Giishkiman (Sharpened Stone) was not the only chief who had a village near Lac du Flambeau and Giishkiman’s Band appears at various locations in the Chippewa and St. Croix country in that era.  

In later treaties and United State’s Government relations, the Ojibwe came to be described more often by village names (La Pointe, St. Croix, Fond du Lac, Lac du Flambeau, Lac Courte Oreilles, Ontonagon, etc.), even though these oversimplified traditional political divisions.  However, these more recent designations are the divisions that exist today and drive historical scholarship.

So what does this mean for the La Pointe Band, the political antecedent of the modern-day Bad River and Red Cliff Bands?  This is a complicated question, but I’ve come across some little-known documents that may shed new light on the meaning and chronology of the “La Pointe Band.”   In a series of posts, I will work through these documents.

This series is not meant to be an exhaustive look at the Ojibwe at Chequamegon.  The goal here is much narrower, and if it can be condensed into one line of inquiry, it is this:

Fourteen men signed the Treaty of 1854 as chiefs and headmen of the La Pointe Band: 

Ke-che-waish-ke, or the Buffalo, 1st chief, his x mark. [L. S.]

Chay-che-que-oh, 2d chief, his x mark. [L. S.]

A-daw-we-ge-zhick, or Each Side of the sky, 2d chief, his x mark. [L. S.]

O-ske-naw-way, or the Youth, 2d chief, his x mark. [L. S.]

Maw-caw-day-pe-nay-se, or the Black Bird, 2d chief, his x mark. [L. S.]

Naw-waw-naw-quot, headman, his x mark. [L. S.]

Ke-wain-zeence, headman, his x mark. [L. S.]

Waw-baw-ne-me-ke, or the White Thunder, 2d chief, his x mark. [L. S.]

Pay-baw-me-say, or the Soarer, 2d chief, his x mark. [L. S.]

Naw-waw-ge-waw-nose, or the Little Current, 2d chief, his x mark. [L. S.]

Maw-caw-day-waw-quot, or the Black Cloud, 2d chief, his x mark. [L. S.]

Me-she-naw-way, or the Disciple, 2d chief, his x mark. [L. S.]

Key-me-waw-naw-um, headman, his x mark. [L. S.]

She-gog headman, his x mark. [L. S.]

If we consider a “band” as a unit of kinship rather than a unit of physical geography, how many bands do those fourteen names represent?  For each of those bands (representing core families at Red Cliff and Bad River), what is the specific relationship to the Ojibwe villages at Chequamegon in the centuries before the treaty?

The Fitch-Wheeler Letter

Chequamegon History spends a disproportionately large amount of time on Ojibwe annuity payments.  These payments, which spanned from the late 1830s to the mid-1870s were large gatherings, which produced colorful stories (dozens from the 1855 payment alone),  but also highlighted the tragedy of colonialism.  This is particularly true of the attempted removal of the payments to Sandy Lake in 1850-1851.  Other than the Sandy Lake years, the payments took place at La Pointe until 1855 and afterward at Odanah.  

The 1857 payment does not necessarily stand out from the others the way the 1855 one does, but for the purposes of our investigation in this post, one part of it does.  In July of that year, the new Indian Agent at Detroit, A.W. Fitch, wrote to Odanah missionary Leonard Wheeler for aid in the payment:

Office Michn Indn Agency

Detroit July 8th 1857

Sir,

 

I have fixed upon Friday August 21st for the distribution of annuities to the Chippewa Indians of Lake Supr. at Bad River for the present year.  A schedule of the Bands which are to be paid there is appended.

I will thank you to apprise the LaPointe Indians of the time of payment, so that they should may be there on the day.  It is not necessary that they should be there before the day and I prefer that they should not.

And as there was, according to my information a partial failure in the notification of the Lake De Flambeau and Lake Court Oreille Indians last year, I take the liberty to entrust their notification this year to you and would recommend that you dispatch two trusty Messengers at once, to their settlements to notify them to be at Bad River by the 21st of August and to urge them forward with all due diligence.

It is not necessary for any of these Indians to come but the Chiefs, their headmen and one representative for each family.  The women and children need not come.  Two Bands of these Indians, that is Negicks & Megeesee’s you will notice are to be notified by the same Messengers to be at L’Anse on the 7th of September that they may receive their pay there instead of Bad River.

I presume that Messengers can be obtained at your place for a Dollar a day each & perhaps less and found and you will please be particular about giving them their instructions and be sure that they understand them.  Perhaps you had better write them down, as it is all important that there should be no misunderstanding nor failure in the matter and furthermore you will charge the Messenger to return to Bad River immediately, so that you may know from them, what they have done.

It is my purpose to land the Goods at the mo. of Bad River somewhere about the 1st of Aug. (about which I will write you again or some one at your place) and proceed at once to my Grand Portage and Fond Du Lac payments & then return to Bad River.

Schedule of the Bands of Chipps. of Lake Supr. to be notified of the payment at Bad River, Wisn to be made Friday August 21st for the year 1854.

____________________________

 

La Pointe Bands.

__________

 

Maw kaw-day pe nay se [Blackbird]

Chay, che, qui, oh, [Little Buffalo/Plover]

Maw kaw-day waw quot [Black Cloud]

Waw be ne me ke [White Thunder]

Me she naw way [Disciple]

Aw, naw, quot [Cloud]

Naw waw ge won. [Little Current]

Key me waw naw um [Canoes in the Rain]  {This Chief lives some distance away}

A, daw, we ge zhick [Each Side of the Sky]

Vincent Roy Sen.  {head ½ Breeds.}

 

Lakes De Flambeau & Court Oreille Bands.

__________

 

Keynishteno [Cree]

Awmose [Little Bee]

Oskawbaywis [Messenger]

Keynozhance [Little Pike]

Iyawbanse [Little Buck]

Oshawwawskogezhick [Blue Sky]

Keychepenayse [Big Bird]

Naynayonggaybe [Dressing Bird]

Awkeywainze [Old Man]

Keychewawbeshayshe [Big Marten]

Aishquaygonaybe–[End Wing Feather]

Wawbeshaysheence [Little Marten] {I do not know where this Band is but notify it.}

__________

And Negick’s [Otter] & Megeesee’s [Eagle] Bands, which (that is Negicks and Megeesees Bands only) are to be notified by the same Messengers to go to L’Anse the 7th of Sept. for their payt.

 

Very respectfully

Your Obedt Servt,

A W Fitch

Indn. Agent

 

Rev. L H Wheeler

Bad River msn.

Source:  Wheeler Family Papers, Wisconsin Historical Society, Ashland, WI

This letter reveals that in 1857, three years after the Treaty of La Pointe called for the creation of reservations for the La Pointe, Lac du Flambeau, and Lac Courte Oreilles Bands, the existence of these bands as singular political entities was still dubious.  The most meaningful designation attached to the bands in the instructions to Wheeler is that of the chief’s name.  

Canoes in the Rain and Little Marten clearly live far from the central villages named in the treaty, and Nigig (Otter) and Migizi (Eagle) whose villages at this time were near Lac Vieux Desert or Mole Lake aren’t depicted as attached to any particular reservation village. 

Edawigijig (Edawi-giizhig “Both Sides of the Sky”), 1880 (C.M. Bell, Smithsonian Digital Collections)

Additionally, Fitch makes no distinction between Red Cliff and Bad River.  Jechiikwii’o (Little Buffalo) and Vincent Roy Sr. representing the La Pointe mix-bloods could be considered “Red Cliff” chiefs while the rest would be “Bad River.”  However, these reservation-based divisions are clearly secondary to the kinship/leadership divisions.

This indicates that we should conceptualize the “La Pointe Band” for the entire pre-1860 historical period as several bands that were not necessarily all tied to Madeline Island at all times.  This means of thinking helps greatly in sorting out the historical timeline of this area.

This is highlighted in a curious 1928 statement by John Cloud of Bad River regarding the lineage of his grandfather Edawi-giizhig (Each Side of the Sky), one of the chiefs who signed the 1854 Treaty), to E. P. Wheeler, the La Pointe-born son of Leonard Wheeler:   

AN ABRAHAM LINCOLN INDIAN MEDAL
Theodore T. Brown

This medal was obtained by Rev. E. P. Wheeler during the summer of 1928 at Odanah, on the Bad River Indian Reservation, from John Cloud, Zah-buh-deece, a Chippewa Indian, whose grandfather had obtained it from President Abraham Lincoln. His grandfather, A-duh-wih-gee-zhig, was a chief of the La Pointe band of Chippewa. His name signifies “on both sides of the sky or day.” His father was Mih-zieh, meaning a “fish without scales.” The chieftain- ship of A-duh-wih-gee-zhig was certified to by the U. S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs on March 22, 1880.

His father, Mih-zieh, was one of the three chiefs who led the original migration of the Chippewa to Chequamegon Bay, the others being Uh-jih-jahk, the Crane, and Gih-chih-way-shkeenh, or the “Big Plover.” The latter was also sometimes known as Bih-zih-kih, or the “Buffalo.”

A-duh-wih-gee-zhig was a member of the delegation of Lake Superior Chippewa chiefs who went to Washington to see President Lincoln under the guidance of Benjamin G. Armstrong, during the winter of 1861…

~WISCONSIN ARCHEOLOGIST. Vol. 8, No. 3 pg.103

The three chiefs mentioned as leading the “original migration” are well known to history.  Waabajijaak, the White Crane, was the father of Ikwezewe or Madeline Cadotte, the namesake of Madeline Island.  According to his great-grandson, William Warren, White Crane was in the direct Crane Clan lineage that claimed chieftainship over the entire Ojibwe nation.  

Mih-zieh, or Mizay (Lawyerfish) was a prominent speaker for the La Pointe band in the early 19th Century.  According to Janet Chute’s research, he was the brother of Chief Buffalo, and he later settled at Garden River, the village of the great “British” Ojibwe chief Zhingwaakoons (Little Pine) on the Canadian side of the Sault.

Bizhiki, of course, is Chief Buffalo, the most famous of the La Pointe chiefs, who died in 1855.  Gichi-Weshkii, his other name, is usually translated meaning something along the lines of “Great First Born,” “Great Hereditary Chief,” or more literally as “Great New One.”  John Cloud and E. P. Wheeler identify him as the “Big Plover,” which is interesting.  Buffalo’s doodem (clan) was the Loon, but his contemporary Zhingwaakoons was of the Plover doodem (Jiichiishkwenh in Ojibwe).  How this potentially relates to the name of Buffalo’s son Jechiikwii’o (identified as “Snipe” by Charles Lippert) is unclear but worthy of further investigation.

The characterization of these three chiefs leading the “original migration” to Chequamegon stands at odds with everything we’ve ever heard about the first Ojibwe arrival at La Pointe.  The written record places the Ojibwe at Chequamegon at least a half century before any of these chiefs were born, and many sources would suggest much earlier date.  Furthermore, Buffalo and White Crane are portrayed in the works of William Warren and Henry Schoolcraft as heirs to the leadership of the “ancient capital” of the Ojibwes, La Pointe.  

Warren and Schoolcraft knew Buffalo personally, and Warren’s History of the Ojibways even includes a depiction of Buffalo and Daagwagane (son of White Crane, great uncle of Warren) arguing over which of their ancestors first reached Chequamegon in the mists of antiquity.  Buffalo and Daawagane’s exchange would have taken a much different form if they had been alive to see this “original migration.”

Still, Cloud and Wheeler’s statement may contain a grain of truth, something I will return to after filling in a little background on the controversies and mysteries surrounding the timeline of the Ojibwe bands at La Pointe.

 TO BE CONTINUED

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By Amorin Mello

The Ashland Weekly Press became the Ashland Daily Press.

January 5, 1878.

The Survey of the Penoka Range and Incidents Connected with its Early History.

Number VII.

The “great commercial storm” was the Panic of 1857; a precursor to the American Civil War.  It had dramatic impacts across the United States including Milwaukee and the south shore of Lake Superior.
“Cream City” refers to Milwaukee and its manufacturing of bricks made with light yellow-colored clay from the Menomonie River Valley.

Upon the arrival of Gen. Cutler and myself at Milwaukee, December 25th, 1857, we found that the affairs of the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Company were in a very different condition, financially, from what they were when we left home, nearly eight months before. The great commercial storm, that, like a tidal wave, had swept over the country that year from Maine to California, had left its mark in wrecking many of the best business men of the “Cream City,” as well as elsewhere. Among these were some of the original stock holders of our company, who, unable to stand their assessments any longer, had, previous to our arrival, given place to others as green as they were originally themselves. Even some of the new stock holders were also subsequently compelled to sell out to other parties, not being any better able to respond when the call for more money was made upon them, than had their illustrious predecessors, thereby losing not only all they had invested, but what they had in prospect to make, as well.

Dr. Henry Harrison Button’s wife was a distant cousin of Thomas A. Greene.  The two men signed a partnership agreement on October 1, 1848 to operate a wholesale and retail drug business in Milwaukee and remained in business together for the rest of their lives. Greene was an amateur geologist who collected 75,000 specimens of fossils and minerals.
John W. Pixley was a merchant and land speculator in Milwaukee.
Simeon N. Small and John B.D. Coggswell were introduced in Numbers III and IV of this series.
R.B. Bell & Co. was a wholesale merchant of alcohol and tobacco in Milwaukee.

Among those who stepped into the trap at this time and who remained in to the end were Messrs. Green & Button, who yet hold stock, John W. Pixley, Simeon N. Small, J.B.D. Coggswell and R.B. Bell, a one-horse banker who came to our city about that time. The outs being John Lockwood, who, in imagination, had been a large capitalist, and worth at least two hundred thousand dollars; but whose liabilities so far exceeded his ability to pay when brought to the front as to make him a hopeless bankrupt, was, with Palmer, Greves and Cummings, compelled to retire.

The amount of money expended up to this time, in order to obtain possession of this imaginary bonanza had not only floored these gentlemen, leaving them high and dry upon the shoals of commercial bankruptcy, but had so far exceeded the amount originally contemplated, as to make those of us who remained fear the wrath to come in view of the stringency of the money market, as well as the general stagnation of business, particularly, as from past experience, it was not possible to calculate with certainty what further amounts would be required, in order to insure success. A large force was still upon the Range, neither could it be withdrawn until the lands were entered, except at the risk of losing all that had been done. These men were to be paid as well as fed during the winter, which would of itself, require no inconsiderable sum; besides we must pay the Government for the land. Money must be raised, consequently, to go back was impossible; to go forward, equally so. But to go ahead was our motto, and the amount necessary for these purposes was at once raised by assessment upon those of us who were yet solvent, and the “pot kept a boiling.”

Wheelock townsite claim at Ballou Gap in the Iron Range with sugar maples, springs, and useless compasses. (Detail of Stuntz survey from May of 1858)

Wheelock’s unmarked townsite claim at Ballou Gap in the Iron Range with sugar bushes, artesian springs, and useless compasses. (Detail of Stuntz’s survey during September of 1857)

According to the July 8th, 1871 issue of the Bayfield Press, only “a few hundred pounds” were ever extracted by the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Company.  This means they extracted more maple sugar than iron from the Penokee Mountains.

During the winter the improvements upon the Range spoken of as contemplated were pushed steadily forward under the skillful management of A.B. Wheelock, who was in every way, the man for the place, as in addition to completing the two block houses in good shape, twelve hundred pounds of sugar and forty gallons of molasses were made under his direction during the spring. The tubs for holding the sugar and syrup were all made during the winter at Penoka, by that Jack of all trades, Steve Sanborn, who could do almost as good work with a hatchet, knife, saw, auger and draw shave, as half the coopers and carpenters in the country, with a full set of tools.

Perhaps a short sketch of this singular mortal, so well known to many of Ashland’s early men, may not be uninteresting to your readers.

Steven Sanborn was introduced in the Number VI of this series.
Pike’s Peak is located among the copper ranges south of Superior City.  However, this Pike’s Peak could be a reference to Mount Ashwabay in the Pikes Creek watershed southwest of Bayfield.

In height he was about five feet six inches, broad shoulders, arms long and sinewy, head large and wide; dark complexion, long, dark brown hair, blue eyes, face smooth and beardless, high cheek bones, long, wide, projecting chin, that was always getting up a muss with his nose, which was also long, and slightly hooked. He walked heavily, his knees usually about six inches in advance of his toes, giving his legs, which were bowed, the shape of an obtuse angle. Such was his personale. His conversational powers were not of the highest order – in fact he seldom spoke to any one; was fond of hunting and trapping, a vocation he usually followed every winter, remaining out alone for weeks together, at the Marengo, living upon mink, martin, muskrat, or any other kind of rat. He was always restless and uneasy, and could get outside of more bean soup and shanty bread at a sitting than any two men upon the Range. Such are my recollections of Stephen Sanborn. The last known of him was at Pike’s Peak, where, if living, he is no doubt following the same hermit life he loved so well upon Lake Superior.

The General Land Office in Superior City was the epicenter of scandals that received nationwide media coverage.  The topics of the Superior office and the boys’ “little affidavits” will be featured on this blog in the future.
Abandoning the Gogebic Iron Range with implies that the company obtained fraudulent preemption claims.

At length, after a winter of unusual mildness, similar to what the present one promises to be, gentle spring once more showed her smiling face, a signal to us to hurry up and complete our work; and as the returns of the survey were now all made, and the lands subject to entry, the necessary funds for entering them were placed in my hands, with which I returned to the Range, took the boys to Superior City, where they made their little affidavits, got their duplicates, and returned with me to La Pointe, where we met the General, who had followed me from Milwaukee, where the work of transferring the titles to the company was at once commenced and completed successfully with all except A.S. Stacy, who traitor-like, (to use a commercial term), “laid down” on us, refusing to convey, unless paid a bonus of one thousand dollars, which, if my memory is correct, and I’ll bet it is, he never got. The duplicates once in our possession, the patents were soon forthcoming, through influence brought to bear at Washington, after which, there being no prospect of doing anything with the lands at present, owing to the financial condition of the country, as well as the almost total prostration of the iron interest. The personal property was placed in store at Sibley’s and other points, until again wanted, and the Range abandoned about July 1, 1858. This abandonment, however, which was at the time supposed to be only temporary, proved in the end, to us at least, eternal. The fruits of our labors are not enjoyed by others. “We shook the bush and they caught the bird.” Notwithstanding that a railroad,- the Ashland and Iron Mountain, of which I, with others, was a corporator, was chartered in 1859, it was, as is well known, never built. We were finally compelled, after all, to see this whole thing, upon which we had spent so much money, and suffered so many hardships, slip from our grasp, and pass into the hands of those who had not labored for it. But so it is ever; one planeth, and another gathereth.

Such, Mr. Editor, is the history in brief, of the way, as well as by whom, the Penoka Range was first surveyed and located, and although we underwent much hardship and privation, yet I look back today upon that summer, as the pleasantest, in many respects, that I ever spent in Wisconsin. Neither would I hesitate, even now, to undertake the same again, and would like very much to see the old cabin at Penoka, which I am told is yet standing, in which I spent so many happy days in 1857.

The history of the Range from that time to the present is as well known to you as to me, and need not be dwelt upon further than to say that its possession did not make millionaires of any of us.

Increase A. Lapham surveyed the Penokee Iron Range on behalf of the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Company during 1858.

Increase A. Lapham surveyed the Penokee Iron Range on behalf of the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Company during 1858.

But what a change have these twenty years brought to the members, as well as the employees of the old company! Of the company, Palmer, Gen. Cutler, H. Hill, Sidebotham, Pixley, J.B.D. Cogswell, Small and Ripley have passed from earth. Lockwood and Harris are in New Orleans; J.F. Hill, J. Cummings and myself in Milwaukee, and Greves in California. Of the others I have no knowledge. Of the employees, Wheelock is upon a farm in Dakota; J.C. Cutler, at his home in Dexter, Maine; Whitcomb is in Milwaukee; Valliant, Stevens and Chase were killed in the late unpleasantness, and H.C. Palmer died in Milwaukee. Of the others I know not.

The “late unpleasantness” is a folk name for the American Civil War.
Asaph Whittlesey’s spiel about Augustus Barber’s death was featured in Numbers III and V.

There are, however, many yet living with whom I became acquainted at that time, in Ashland and vicinity, for whom I have ever cherished the warmest personal friendship. If these sketches and reminiscences of long long ago have interested or amused them, I am glad. The writing of them has brought to mind many scenes and faces, that were almost forgotten, but which are as vivid now as though occurring yesterday. I hope, the coming season to see you all, and talk over old times, and make a trip to the Range over the old trail, every foot of which is accurately mapped in my eye. And now, as my task is done, at least for the present, I will bid the Press readers good-bye, and

Let Brother Whittlesey “spiel” it a while.
About that wonderful siege of Barlile.

J.S. Buck
Milwaukee, Dec. 18, 1877.