By Amorin Mello

This is one of several posts on Chequamegon History featuring the original U.S. General Land Office surveys of the La Pointe (Bad River) Indian Reservation.  An earlier post, An Old Indian Settler, features a contentious memoir from Joseph Stoddard contemplating his experiences as a young man working on the U.S. General Land Office’s crew surveying the original boundaries of the Reservation.  In his memoir from 1937, Stoddard asserted the following testimony:

Bad River Headman
Joseph Stoddard
“As a Christian, I dislike to say that the field representatives of the United States were grafters and crooks, but the stories related about unfulfilled treaties, stipulations entirely ignored, and many other things that the Indians have just cause to complain about, seem to bear out my impressions in this respect.”

In the winter of 1854 a general survey was made of the Bad River Indian Reservation.

[…]

It did not take very long to run the original boundary line of the reservation.  There was a crew of surveyors working on the west side, within the limits of the present city of Ashland, and we were on the east side.  The point of beginning was at a creek called by the Indians Ke-che-se-be-we-she (large creek), which is located east of Grave Yard Creek.  The figure of a human being was carved on a large cedar tree, which was allowed to stand as one of the corner posts of the original boundary lines of the Bad River Reservation.

After the boundary line was established, the head surveyor hastened to Washington, stating that they needed the minutes describing the boundary for insertion in the treaty of 1854.

We kept on working.  We next took up the township lines, then the section lines, and lastly the quarter lines.  It took several years to complete the survey.  As I grew older in age and experience, I learned to read a little, and when I ready the printed treaty, I learned to my surprise and chagrin that the description given in that treaty was different from the minutes submitted as the original survey.  The Indians today contend that the treaty description of the boundary is not in accord with the description of the boundary lines established by our crew, and this has always been a bone of contention between the Bad River Band and the government of the United States.

The mouth of Ke-che-se-be-we-she Creek a.k.a. the townsite location of Ironton is featured in our Barber Papers and Penokee Survey Incidents.  Today this location is known as the mouth of Oronto Creek at Saxon Harbor in Iron County, Wisconsin.  The townsite of Ironton was formed at Ke-che-se-be-we-she Creek by a group of land speculators in the years immediately following the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe.  Some of these speculators include the Barber Brothers, who were U.S. Deputy Surveyors surveying the Reservation on behalf of the U.S. General Land Office.  It appears that this was a conflict of interest and violation of federal trust responsibility to the La Pointe Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Missionary stationed at Bad River 
Reverend Leonard H. Wheeler

This post attempts to correlate historical evidence to Stoddard’s memoir about the mouth of Ke-che-se-be-we-she Creek being a boundary corner of the Bad River Indian Reservation.  The following is a reproduction of a petition draft from Reverend Leondard Wheeler’s papers, who often kept copies of important documents that he was involved with.  Wheeler is a reliable source of evidence as he established a mission at Odanah in the 1840s and was intimately familiar with the Treaty and how the Reservation was to be surveyed accordingly. 

Wheeler drafted this petition six years after the Treaty occurred; this petition was drafted more than seventy-five years earlier than when Stoddard’s memoir of the same important matter was recorded.  The length of time between Wheeler’s petition draft and Stoddard’s memoir demonstrates how long this was (and continued to be) a matter of great contemplation and consternation for the Tribe.  Without further ado, we present Wheeler’s draft petition below:

 


 

A petition draft selected from the

Wheeler Family Papers:

Folder 16 of Box 3; Treaty of 1854, 1854-1861.

 


 

To Hon. C W Thompson

Genl Supt of Indian affair, St Paul, Min-

and Hon L E Webb,

Indian Agent for the Chippewas of Lake Superior

March 30th, 1855 map from the U.S. General Land Office of lands to be withheld from sale for the La Pointe (Bad River) Reservation from the National Archives Microfilm Publications; Microcopy No. 27; Roll 16; Volume 16.  The northeast corner of the Reservation along Lake Superior is accurately located at the mouth of Ke-che-se-be-we-she Creek (not labeled) on this map.

The undersigned persons connected with the Odanah Mission, upon the Bad River Reservation, and also a portion of those Chiefs who were present and signed the Treaty of Sept 30th, AD 1854, would most respectfully call your attention to a few Statements affecting the interests of the Indians within the limits of the Lake Superior Agency, with a view to soliciting from you such action as will speedily see one to the several Indian Bands named, all of the benefits guaranteed to them by treaty stipulation.

Under the Treaty concluded at La Pointe Sept 30th, 1854 the United States set apart a tract of Land as a Reservation “for the La Pointe Band and such other Indians as may see fit to settle with them” bounded as follows.

Gichi-ziibiwishe
a.k.a.
Ke-che-se-be-we-she


Ke-che” (Gichirefers to big, or large.
se-be” (ziibirefers to a river.
we-she” (wishe) refers to rivulets.


Source: Gidakiiminaan Atlas by the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission

“Beginning on the South shore of Lake Superior a few miles west of Montreal River at the mouth of a creek called by the Indians Ke-she-se-be-we-she, running thence South &c.”

Detail of the Bad River Reservation from GLIFWC’s Gidakiiminaan Atlas. This map clearly shows that the northeast boundary of Bad River Reservation is not located at the true location of Ke-che-se-be-we-she Creek in accordance with the 1854 Treaty.  Red highlights added for emphasis of discrepancies.

Your petioners would represent that at the time of the wording of this particular portion of the Treaty, the commissioner on the part of the United States inquired the number of miles between the mouth of the Montreal River and the mouth of the creek referred to, in reply to which, the Indians said “they had no knowledge of distance by miles” and therefore the commissioner assumed the language of “a few miles west of Montreal River” as discriptive of the creek in mind.  This however, upon actual examination of the ground, does to the Band the greatest injustice, as the mouth of the creek to which the Indians referred at the time is even less than one mile west of the mouth of the Montreal.*

*This creek at the time was refered to as having Deep water inside the Bar” sufficient for Boats which is definitive of the creek still claimed as the starting point, and is not descriptive of the most westerly creek.

The mouth of Ke-che-se-be-we-she Creek was renamed as Ironton by a group of land speculators in the years immediately following the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe.  Some of these speculators include the Barber Brothers, who were U.S. Deputy Surveyors surveying the Reservation.  Ironton is featured in our Barber Papers and Penokee Survey Incidents.

But White men, whose interests are adverse to those of the Indians now demand that the Reservation boundary commence at an insignificant and at times scarcely visible creek some considerable distance west of the one referred to in the Treaty, which would lessen the aggregate of the Reservation from 3 to 4000 acres.

The Barber Brothers worked on the 1854 survey, 1856 survey, and 1858 survey of the La Pointe (Bad River) Reservation, but these surveys are apparently not available online through the United States General Land Office or the Wisconsin State Cartographers Office websites.

Your petioners, have for years, desired and solicited a settlement of the matter, both for the good of the Indians and of the Whites, but from lack of interest the administrations in power have paid no attention to our appeals, as is also true of other matters to which we now call your attention.

1861 resurvey of Township 47 North of Range 1 West by Elisha S. Norris for the General Land Office relocating Bad River Reservation’s northeast boundary.  Ke-che-se-be-we-she Creek was relocated to what is now Graveyard Creek instead of its true location at the Barber Brother’s Ironton townsite location.  Red highlights added for emphasis of discrepancies.

As many heads of families now wish to select (within the portion of Town 47 North of Range 1 West belonging to the Reservation the 80 acre tract assigned to them) we desire that the Eastern Boundary of the Reservation be immediately established so that the subdivisions may be made and and land selected.

Your petioners would further [represent?] that under the 3d Section of the 2nd article of the Treaty referred to the Lac De Flabeau, and Lac Court Orelles Bands are entitled to Reservations each equal to 3 Townships, (See article 3d of Treaty.  These Reservations have never been run out, none have any subdivisions been made.) which also were to be subdivided into 80 acre Tracts.

Article 4th promises to furnish each of the Reservations with a Blacksmith and assistant with the usual amount of Stock, where as the Lac De Flambeau Band have never yet had a Blacksmith, though they have repeatedly asked for one.

Wisconsin State Representative
and co-founder of Ashland
Asaph Whittlesey

As the matters have referred to one of vital importance to these several Bands of Indians, we earnestly hope that you will give your influence towards securing to them, all of the benefits named in the Treaty and as the subject named will demand labor entirely outside of the ordinary duties of an Indian Agent, and as it will be important for some one to visit the Reservations Inland, so as to be able to report intelligently upon the actual State of Things, we respectfully suggest that Mr Asaph Whittlesey be specially commissioned (provided you approve of the plan and you regard him as a suitable person to act) to attend to the taking of the necessary depositions and to present these claims, with the necessary maps and Statistics, before the Commissioner of Indian Affairs at Washington, the expense of which must of necessity, be met by the Indian Department.

Asaph Whittlesey was appointed to serve as the Indian Agent at the La Pointe Indian Agency from 1861 until 1869.  We have not yet found any evidence that Whittlesey addressed any discrepancies about Bad River’s northeast boundary corner not being the true location of Ke-che-se-be-we-she Creek in accordance with the Treaty.

Mr Whittlesey was present at the making of the Treaty to which we refer, and is well acquainted with the wants of the Indians and with what they of right can claim, and in him we have full confidence.

In addition to the points herein named should you favor this commission, we would ask him to attend to other matters affecting the Indians, upon which we will be glad to confer with you at a proper time.

The undersigned L H Wheeler and Henry Blatchford have no hesitency in saying that the representations here made are full in accordance with their understanding of the Treaty, at the time it was drawn up, they being then present and the latter being one of the Interpreters at the time employed by the General Government.

Most Respectfully Yours

Dated Odanah Wis July 1861

 

Names of those connected with the Odanah Mission

[None identified on this draft petition]

 

Names of Chiefs who were signers to the Treaty of Sept 30th 1854

[None identified on this draft petition]

 


 

Although this draft was not signed by Wheeler or Blatchford, or by the tribal leadership that they appear to be assisting, Chequamegon History believes it is possible that a signed original copy of this petition may still be found somewhere in national archives if it still exists.

By Amorin Mello

Early life among the Indians
by Benjamin Green Armstrong
continued from Chapter I.

CHAPTER II

In Washington.—Told to Go Home.—Senator Briggs, of New York.—The Interviews with President Fillmore.—Reversal of the Removal Order.—The Trip Home.—Treaty of 1854 and the Reservations.—The Mile Square.—The Blinding. »

After a fey days more in New York City I had raised the necessary funds to redeem the trinkets pledged with the ‘bus driver and to pay my hotel bills, etc., and on the 22d day of June, 1852, we had the good fortune to arrive in Washington.

Washington Delegation, June 22, 1852
Engraved from an unknown photograph by Marr and Richards Co. for Benjamin Armstrong’s Early Life Among the Indians.  Chief Buffalo, his speaker Oshogay, Vincent Roy, Jr., two other La Pointe Band members, and Armstrong are assumed to be in this engraving.

I took my party to the Metropolitan Hotel and engaged a room on the first floor near the office for the Indians, as they said they did not like to get up to high in a white man’s house. As they required but a couple mattresses for their lodgings they were soon made comfortable. I requested the steward to serve their meals in their room, as I did not wish to take them into the dining room among distinguished people, and their meals were thus served.

Undated postcard of the Metropolitan Hotel, formerly known as Brown’s India Queen Hotel.
~ StreetsOfWashington.com

The morning following our arrival I set out in search of the Interior Department of the Government to find the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, to request an interview with him, which he declined to grant and said :

“I want you to take your Indians away on the next train west, as they have come here without permission, and I do not want to see you or hear of your Indians again.”

I undertook to make explanations, but he would not listen to me and ordered me from his office. I went to the sidewalk completely discouraged, for my present means was insufficient to take them home. I paced up and down the sidewalk pondering over what was best to do, when a gentleman came along and of him I inquired the way to the office of the Secretary of the Interior. He passed right along saying,

Secretary of the Interior
Alexander Hugh Holmes Stuart
~ Department of the Interior

“This way, sir; this way, sir;” and I followed him.

He entered a side door just back of the Indian Commissioner’s office and up a short flight of stairs, and going in behind a railing, divested himself of hat and cane, and said :

“What can I do for you sir.”

I told him who I was, what my party consisted of, where we came from and the object of our visit, as briefly as possible. He replied that I must go and see the Commissioner of Indian Affairs just down stairs. I told him I had been there and the treatment I had received at his hands, then he said :

“Did you have permission to come, and why did you not go to your agent in the west for permission?”

I then attempted to explain that we had been to the agent, but could get no satisfaction; but he stopped me in the middle of my explanation, saying :

“I can do nothing for you. You must go to the Indian Commissioner,”

and turning, began a conversation with his clerk who was there when we went in.

I walked out more discouraged than ever and could not imagine what next I could do. I wandered around the city and to the Capitol, thinking I might find some one I had seen before, but in this I failed and returned to the hotel, where, in the office I found Buffalo surrounded by a crowd who were trying to make him understand them and among them was the steward of the house. On my entering the office and Buffalo recognizing me, the assemblage, seeing I knew him, turned their attention to me, asking who he was, etc., to all of which questions I answered as briefly as possible, by stating that he was the head chief of of the Chippewas of the Northwest. The steward then asked:

“Why don’t you take him into the dining room with you? Certainly such a distinguished man as he, the head of the Chippewa people, should have at least that privilege.”

United States Representative George Briggs
~ Library of Congress

I did so and as we passed into the dining room we were shown to a table in one corner of the room which was unoccupied. We had only been seated a few moments when a couple of gentlemen who had been occupying seats in another part of the dining room came over and sat at our table and said that if there were no objections they would like to talk with us. They asked about the party, where from, the object of the visit, etc. I answered them briefly, supposing them to be reporters and I did not care to give them too much information. One of these gentlemen asked what room we had, saying that himself and one or two others would like to call on us right after dinner. I directed them where to come and said I would be there to meet them.

About 2 o’clock they came, and then for the first time I knew who those gentlemen were. One was Senator Briggs, of New York, and the others were members of President Filmore’s cabinet, and after I had told them more fully what had taken me there, and the difficulties I had met with, and they had consulted a little while aside. Senator Briggs said :

“We will undertake to get you and your people an interview with the President, and will notify you here when a meeting can be arranged. ”

During the afternoon I was notified that an interview had been arranged for the next afternoon at 3 o’clock. During the evening Senator Briggs and other friends called, and the whole matter was talked over and preparations made for the interview the following day, which were continued the next day until the hour set for the interview.

United States President
Millard Fillmore.
~ Library of Congress

When we were assembled Buffalo’s first request was that all be seated, as he had the pipe of peace to present, and hoped that all who were present would partake of smoke from the peace pipe. The pipe, a new one brought for the purpose, was filled and lighted by Buffalo and passed to the President who took two or three draughts from it, and smiling said, “Who is the next?” at which Buffalo pointed out Senator Briggs and desired he should be the next. The Senator smoked and the pipe was passed to me and others, including the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Secretary of the Interior and several others whose names I did not learn or cannot recall. From them, to Buffalo, then to O-sho-ga, and from him to the four braves in turn, which completed that part of the ceremony. The pipe was then taken from the stem and handed to me for safe keeping, never to be used again on any occasion. I have the pipe still in my possession and the instructions of Buffalo have been faithfully kept. The old chief now rose from his seat, the balance following his example and marched in single file to the President and the general hand-shaking that was began with the President was continued by the Indians with all those present. This over Buffalo said his under chief, O-sha-ga, would state the object of our visit and he hoped the great father would give them some guarantee that would quiet the excitement in his country and keep his young men peaceable. After I had this speech thoroughly interpreted, O-sha-ga began and spoke for nearly an hour. He began with the treaty of 1837 and showed plainly what the Indians understood the treaty to be. He next took up the treaty of 1842 and said he did not understand that in either treaty they had ceded away the land and he further understood in both cases that the Indians were never to be asked to remove from the lands included in those treaties, provided they were peaceable and behaved themselves and this they had done. When the order to move came Chief Buffalo sent runners out in all directions to seek for reasons and causes for the order, but all those men returned without finding a single reason among all the Superior and Mississippi Indians why the great father had become displeased. When O-sha-ga had finished his speech I presented the petition I had brought and quickly discovered that the President did recognize some names upon it, which gave me new courage. When the reading and examination of it had been concluded the meeting was adjourned, the President directing the Indian Commissioner to say to the landlord at the hotel that our hotel bills would be paid by the government. He also directed that we were to have the freedom of the city for a week.

Read Biographical Sketch of Vincent Roy, Jr. manuscript for a different perspective on their meeting the President.

The second day following this Senator Briggs informed me that the President desired another interview that day, in accordance with which request we went to the White House soon after dinner and meeting the President, he told the, delegation in a brief speech that he would countermand the removal order and that the annuity payments would be made at La Pointe as before and hoped that in the future there would be no further cause for complaint. At this he handed to Buffalo a written instrument which he said would explain to his people when interpreted the promises he had made as to the removal order and payment of annuities at La Pointe and hoped when he had returned home he would call his chiefs together and have all the statements therein contained explained fully to them as the words of their great father at Washington.

The reader can imagine the great load that was then removed from my shoulders for it was a pleasing termination of the long and tedious struggle I had made in behalf of the untutored but trustworthy savage.

Downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, circa 1857.
~ Minnesota Historical Society

On June 28th, 1852, we started on our return trip, going by cars to La Crosse, Wis., thence by steamboat to St. Paul, thence by Indian trail across the country to Lake Superior. On our way from St. Paul we frequently met bands of Indians of the Chippewa tribe to whom we explained our mission and its results, which caused great rejoicing, and before leaving these bands Buffalo would tell their chief to send a delegation, at the expiration of two moons, to meet him in grand council at La Pointe, for there was many things he wanted to say to them about what he had seen and the nice manner in which he had been received and treated by the great father.

At the time appointed by Buffalo for the grand council at La Pointe, the delegates assembled and the message given Buffalo by President Filmore was interpreted, which gave the Indians great satisfaction. Before the grand council adjourned word was received that their annuities would be given to them at La Pointe about the middle of October, thus giving them time to get together to receive them. A number of messengers was immediately sent out to all parts of the territory to notify them and by the time the goods arrived, which was about October 15th, the remainder of the Indians had congregated at La Pointe. On that date the Indians were enrolled and the annuities paid and the most perfect satisfaction was apparent among all concerned. The jubilee that was held to express their gratitude to the delegation that had secured a countermanding order in the removal matter was almost extravagantly profuse. The letter of the great father was explained to them all during the progress of the annuity payments and Chief Buffalo explained to the convention what he had seen; how the pipe of peace had been smoked in the great father’s wigwam and as that pipe was the only emblem and reminder of their duties yet to come in keeping peace with his white children, he requested that the pipe be retained by me. He then went on and said that there was yet one more treaty to be made with the great father and he hoped in making it they would be more careful and wise than they had heretofore been and reserve a part of their land for themselves and their children. It was here that he told his people that he had selected and adopted, me as his son and that I would hereafter look to treaty matters and see that in the next treaty they did not sell them selves out and become homeless ; that as he was getting old and must soon leave his entire cares to others, he hoped they would listen to me as his confidence in his adopted son was great and that when treaties were presented for them to sign they would listen to me and follow my advice, assuring them that in doing so they would not again be deceived.

Map of Lake Superior Chippewa territories ceded in 1836, 1837, 1842, and 1854.
~ Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission

After this gathering of the Indians there was not much of interest in the Indian country that I can recall until the next annual payment in 1853. This payment was made at La Pointe and the Indians had been notified that commissioners would be appointed to make another treaty with them for the remainder of their territory. This was the territory lying in Minnesota west of Lake Superior; also east and west of the Mississippi river north to the territory belonging to the Boisfort and Pillager tribe, who are a part of the Chippewa nation, but through some arrangement between themselves, were detached from the main or more numerous body. It was at this payment that the Chippewa Indians proper desired to have one dollar each taken from their annuities to recompense me for the trouble and expense I had been to on the trip to Washington in their behalf, but I refused to accept it by reason of their very impecunious condition.

It was sometime in August, 1854, before the commissioners arrived at LaPointe to make the treaty and pay the annuities of that year. Messengers were despatched to notify all Indians of the fact that the great father had sent for them to come to La Pointe to get their money and clothing and to meet the government commissioners who wished to make another treaty with them for the territory lying west of Lake Superior and they were further instructed to have the Indians council among themselves before starting that those who came could be able to tell the wishes of any that might remain away in regards to a further treaty and disposition of their lands. Representatives came from all parts of the Chippewa country and showed a willingness to treat away the balance of their country. Henry C. Gilbert, the Indian agent at La Pointe, formerly of Ohio, and David B. Herriman, the agent for the Chippewas of the Mississippi country, were the commissioners appointed by the government to consumate this treaty.

Mackinac Indian Agent
Henry C. Gilbert
~ Branch County Photographs

While we were waiting the arrival of the interior Indians I had frequent talks with the commissioners and learned what their instructions were and about what they intended to offer for the lands which information I would communicate to Chief Buffalo and other head men in our immediate vicinity, and ample time was had to perfect our plans before the others should arrive, and when they did put in an appearance we were ready to submit to them our views for approval or rejection. Knowing as I did the Indians’ unwillingness to give up and forsake their old burying grounds I would not agree to any proposition that would take away the remainder of their lands without a reserve sufficient to afford them homes for themselves and posterity, and as fast as they arrived I counselled with them upon this subject and to ascertain where they preferred these reserves to be located. The scheme being a new one to them it required time and much talk to get the matter before them in its proper light. Finally it was agreed by all before the meeting of the council that no one would sign a treaty that did not give them reservations at different points of the country that would suit their convenience, that should afterwards be considered their bona-fide home. Maps were drawn of the different tracts that had been selected by the various chiefs for their reserve and permanent home. The reservations were as follows :

One at L’Anse Bay, one at Ontonagon, one at Lac Flambeau, one at Court O’Rilles, one at Bad River, one at Red Cliff or Buffalo Bay, one at Fond du Lac, Minn., and one at Grand Portage, Minn.

Joseph Stoddard (photo c.1941) worked on the 1854 survey of the Bad River Reservation exterior boundaries, and shared a different perspective about these surveys.
~ Bad River Tribal Historic Preservation Office

The boundaries were to be as near as possible by metes and bounds or waterways and courses. This was all agreed to by the Lake Superior Indians before the Mississippi Chippewas arrived and was to be brought up in the general council after they had come in, but when they arrived they were accompanied by the American Fur Company and most of their employees, and we found it impossible to get them to agree to any of our plans or to come to any terms. A proposition was made by Buffalo when all were gathered in council by themselves that as they could not agree as they were, a division should be drawn, dividing the Mississippi and the Lake Superior Indians from each other altogether and each make their own treaty After several days of counselling the proposition was agreed to, and thus the Lake Superiors were left to make their treaty for the lands mouth of Lake Superior to the Mississippi and the Mississippis to make their treaty for the lands west of the Mississippi. The council lasted several days, as I have stated, which was owing to the opposition of the American Fur Company, who were evidently opposed to having any such division made ; they yielded however, but only when they saw further opposition would not avail and the proposition of Buffalo became an Indian law. Our side was now ready to treat with the commissioners in open council. Buffalo, myself and several chiefs called upon them and briefly stated our case but were informed that they had no instructions to make any such treaty with us and were only instructed to buy such territory as the Lake Superiors and Mississippis then owned. Then we told them of the division the Indians had agreed upon and that we would make our own treaty, and after several days they agreed to set us off the reservations as previously asked for and to guarantee that all lands embraced within those boundaries should belong to the Indians and that they would pay them a nominal sum for the remainder of their possessions on the north shores. It was further agreed that the Lake Superior Indians should have two- thirds of all money appropriated for the Chippewas and the Mississippi contingent the other third. The Lake Superior Indians did not seem, through all these councils, to care so much for future annuities either in money or goods as they did for securing a home for themselves and their posterity that should be a permanent one. They also reserved a tract of land embracing about 100 acres lying across and along the Eastern end of La Pointe or Madeline Island so that they would not be cut off from the fishing privilege.

It was about in the midst of the councils leading up to the treaty of 1854 that Buffalo stated to his chiefs that I had rendered them services in the past that should be rewarded by something more substantial than their thanks and good wishes, and that at different times the Indians had agreed to reward me from their annuity money but I had always refused such offers as it would be taking from their necessities and as they had had no annuity money for the two years prior to 1852 they could not well afford to pay me in this way.

“And now,” continued Buffalo, “I have a proposition to make to you. As he has provided us and our children with homes by getting these reservations set off for us, and as we are about to part with all the lands we possess, I have it in my power, with your consent, to provide him with a future home by giving him a piece of ground which we are about to part with. He has agreed to accept this as it will take nothing from us and makes no difference with the great father whether we reserve a small tract of our territory or not, and if you agree I will proceed with him to the head of the lake and there select the piece of ground I desire him to have, that it may appear on paper when the treaty has been completed.”

The chiefs were unanimous in their acceptance of the proposition and told Buffalo to select a large piece that his children might also have a home in future as has been provided for ours.

Kiskitawag (Giishkitawag: “Cut Ear”) signed earlier treaties as a warrior of the Ontonagon Band and became associated with the La Pointe Band at Odanah.
~C.M. Bell, Smithsonian Digital Collections

This council lasted all night and just at break of day the old chief and myself, with four braves to row the boat, set out for the head of Lake Superior and did not stop anywhere only long enough to make and drink some tea, until we reached the head of St. Louis Bay. We landed our canoe by the side of a flat rock quite a distance from the shore, among grass and rushes. Here we ate our lunch and when completed Buffalo and myself, with another chief, Kish-ki-to-uk, waded ashore and ascended the bank to a small level plateau where we could get a better view of the bay. Here Buffalo turned to me, saying: .

“Are you satisfied with this location? I want to reserve the shore of this bay from the mouth of St. Louis river. How far that way do you you want it to go?” pointing southeast, or along the south shore of the lake.

I told him we had better not try to make it too large for if we did the great father’s officers at Washington might throw it out of the treaty and said:

“I will be satisfied with one mile square, and let it start from the rock which we have christened Buffalo rock, running easterly in the direction of Minnesota Point, taking in a mile square immediately northerly from the head of St. Louis Bay”

As there was no other way of describing it than by metes and bounds we tried to so describe it in the treaty, but Agent Gilbert, whether by mistake or not I am unable to say, described it differently. He described it as follows: “Starting from a rock immediately above and adjoining Minnesota Point, etc.”

We spent an hour or two here in looking over the plateau then went back to our canoe and set out for La Pointe. We traveled night and day until we reached home.

During our absence some of the chiefs had been talking more or less with the commissioners and immediately on our return all the Indians met in a grand council when Buffalo explained to them what he had done on the trip and how and where he had selected the piece of land that I was to have reserved in the treaty for my future home and in payment for the services I had rendered them in the past. The balance of the night was spent in preparing ourselves for the meeting with the treaty makers the next day, and about 10 o’clock next morning we were in attendance before the commissioners all prepared for a big council.

Mackinac Indian Agent
Henry Clark Gilbert
~ Branch County Photographs

Agent Gilbert started the business by beginning a speech interpreted by the government interpreter, when Buffalo interrupted him by saying that he did not want anything interpreted to them from the English language by any one except his adoped son for there had always been things told to the Indians in the past that proved afterwards to be untrue, whether wrongly interpreted or not, he could not say;

“and as we now feel that my adopted son interprets to us just what you say, and we can get it correctly, we wish to hear your words repeated by him, and when we talk to you our words can be interpreted by your own interpreter, and in this way one interpreter can watch the other and correct each other should there be mistakes. We do not want to be deceived any more as we have in the past. We now understand that we are selling our lands as well as the timber and that the whole, with the exception of what we shall reserve, goes to the great father forever.”

Bureau of Indian Affairs Director
George Washington Manypenny
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

Commissioner of Indian affairs. Col. Manypenny, then said to Buffalo:

“What you have said meets my own views exactly and I will now appoint your adopted son your interpreter and John Johnson, of Sault Ste. Marie, shall be the interpreter on the part of the government,” then turning to the commissioners said, “how does that suit you, gentlemen.”

They at once gave their consent and the council proceeded.

Buffalo informed the commissioners of what he had done in regard to selecting a tract of land for me and insisted that it become a part of the treaty and that it should be patented to me directly by the government without any restrictions. Many other questions were debated at this session but no definite agreements were reached and the council was adjourned in the middle of the afternoon. Chief Buffalo asking for the adjournment that he might talk over some matters further with his people, and that night the subject of providing homes for their half-breed relations who lived in different parts of the country was brought up and discussed and all were in favor of making such a provision in the treaty. I proposed to them that as we had made provisions for ourselves and children it would be only fair that an arrangement should be made in the treaty whereby the government should provide for our mixed blood relations by giving to each person the head of a family or to each single person twenty-one years of age a piece of land containing at least eighty acres which would provide homes for those now living and in the future there would be ample room on the reservations for their children, where all could live happily together. We also asked that all teachers and traders in the ceded territory who at that time were located there by license and doing business by authority of law, should each be entitled to 160 acres of land at $1.25 per acre. This was all reduced to writing and when the council met next morning we were prepared to submit all our plans and requests to the commissioners save one, which we required more time to consider. Most of this day was consumed in speech-making by the chiefs and commissioners and in the last speech of the day, which was made by Mr. Gilbert, he said:

“We have talked a great deal and evidently understand one another. You have told us what you want, and now we want time to consider your requests, while you want time as you say to consider another matter, and so we will adjourn until tomorrow and we, with your father. Col. Manypenny, will carefully examine and consider your propositions and when we meet to-morrow we will be prepared to answer you with an approval or rejection.”

Julius Austrian purchased the village of La Pointe and other interests from the American Fur Company in 1853.  He entered his Town Plan of La Pointe on August 29th of 1854. He was the highest paid claimant of the 1854 Treaty at La Pointe.  His family hosted the 1855 Annuity Payments at La Pointe.
~ Photograph of Austrian from the Madeline Island Museum

That evening the chiefs considered the other matter, which was to provide for the payment of the debts of the Indians owing the American Fur Company and other traders and agreed that the entire debt could not be more than $90,000 and that that amount should be taken from the Indians in bulk and divided up among their creditors in a pro-rata manner according to the amount due to any person or firm, and that this should wipe out their indebtedness. The American Fur Company had filed claims which, in the aggregate, amounted to two or three times this sum and were at the council heavily armed for the purpose of enforcing their claim by intimidation. This and the next day were spent in speeches pro and con but nothing was effected toward a final settlement.

Col. Manypenny came to my store and we had a long private interview relating to the treaty then under consideration and he thought that the demands of the Indians were reasonable and just and that they would be accepted by the commissioners. He also gave me considerable credit for the manner in which I had conducted the matter for Indians, considering the terrible opposition I had to contend with. He said he had claims in his possession which had been filed by the traders that amounted to a large sum but did not state the amount. As he saw the Indians had every confidence in me and their demands were reasonable he could see no reason why the treaty could not be speedily brought to a close. He then asked if I kept a set of books. I told him I only kept a day book or blotter showing the amount each Indian owed me. I got the books and told him to take them along with him and that he or his interpreter might question any Indian whose name appeared thereon as being indebted to me and I would accept whatever that Indian said he owed me whether it be one dollar or ten cents. He said he would be pleased to take the books along and I wrapped them up and went with him to his office, where I left them. He said he was certain that some traders were making claims for far more than was due them. Messrs. Gilbert and Herriman and their chief clerk, Mr. Smith, were present when Mr. Manypenny related the talk he had with me at the store. He considered the requests of the Indians fair and just, he said, and he hoped there would be no further delays in concluding the treaty and if it was drawn up and signed with the stipulations and agreements that were now understood should be incorporated in it, he would strongly recommend its ratification by the President and senate.

Naagaanab of Fond Du Lac
~ Minnesota Historical Society

The day following the council was opened by a speech from Chief Na-gon-ab in which he cited considerable history.

“My friends,” he said, “I have been chosen by our chief, Buffalo, to speak to you. Our wishes are now on paper before you. Before this it was not so. We have been many times deceived. We had no one to look out for us. The great father’s officers made marks on paper with black liquor and quill. The Indian can not do this. We depend upon our memory. We have nothing else to look to. We talk often together and keep your words clear in our minds. When you talk we all listen, then we talk it over many times. In this way it is always fresh with us. This is the way we must keep our record. In 1837 we were asked to sell our timber and minerals. In 1842 we were asked to do the same. Our white brothers told us the great father did not want the land. We should keep it to hunt on. Bye and bye we were told to go away; to go and leave our friends that were buried yesterday. Then we asked each other what it meant. Does the great father tell the truth? Does he keep his promises? We cannot help ourselves! We try to do as we agree in treaty. We ask you what this means? You do not tell from memory! You go to your black marks and say this is what those men put down; this is what they said when they made the treaty. The men we talk with don’t come back; they do not come and you tell us they did not tell us so! We ask you where they are? You say you do not know or that they are dead and gone. This is what they told you; this is what they done. Now we have a friend who can make black marks on paper When the council is over he will tell us what we have done. We know now what we are doing! If we get what we ask our chiefs will touch the pen, but if not we will not touch it. I am told by our chief to tell you this: We will not touch the pen unless our friend says the paper is all right.”

Na-gon-ab was answered by Commissioner Gilbert, saying:

“You have submitted through your friend and interpreter the terms and conditions upon which you will cede away your lands. We have not had time to give them all consideration and want a little more time as we did not know last night what your last proposition would be. Your father. Col. Manypenny, has ordered some beef cattle killed and a supply of provisions will be issued to you right away. You can now return to your lodges and get a good dinner and talk matters over among yourselves the remainder of the day and I hope you will come back tomorrow feeling good natured and happy, for your father, Col. Manypenny, will have something to say to you and will have a paper which your friend can read and explain to you.”

When the council met next day in front of the commissioners’ office to hear what Col. Manypenny had to say a general good feeling prevailed and a hand-shaking all round preceded the council, which Col. Manypenny opened by saying:

“My friends and children: I am glad to see you all this morning looking good natured and happy and as if you could sit here and listen to what I have to say. We have a paper here for your friend to examine to see if it meets your approval. Myself and the commissioners which your great father has sent here have duly considered all your requests and have concluded to accept them. As the season is passing away and we are all anxious to go to our families and you to your homes, I hope when you read this treaty you will find it as you expect to and according to the understandings we have had during the council. Now your friend may examine the paper and while he is doing so we will take a recess until afternoon.”

Detail of Benjamin Armstrong from a photograph by Matthew Brady
~ Minnesota Historical Society

Chief Buffalo, turning to me, said:

“My son, we, the chiefs of all the country, have placed this matter entirely in your hands. Go and examine the paper and if it suits you it will suit us.”

Then turning to the chiefs, he asked,

“what do you all say to that?”

The ho-ho that followed showed the entire circle were satisfied.

I went carefully through the treaty as it had been prepared and with a few exceptions found it was right. I called the attention of the commissioners to certain parts of the stipulations that were incorrect and they directed the clerk to make the changes.

The following day the Indians told the commissioners that as their friend had made objections to the treaty as it was they requested that I might again examine it before proceeding further with the council. On this examination I found that changes had been made but on sheets of paper not attached to the body of the instrument, and as these sheets contained some of the most important items in the treaty, I again objected and told the commissioners that I would not allow the Indians to sign it in that shape and not until the whole treaty was re-written and the detached portions appeared in their proper places. I walked out and told the Indians that the treaty was not yet ready to sign and they gave up all further endeavors until next day. I met the commissioners alone in their office that afternoon and explained the objectionable points in the treaty and told them the Indians were already to sign as soon as those objections were removed. They were soon at work putting the instrument in shape.

“One version of the boundaries for Chief Buffalo’s reservation is shown at the base of Minnesota Point in a detail from an 1857 map preserved in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Other maps show a larger and more irregularly shaped versions of the reservation boundary, though centered on the same area.”
~ DuluthStories.net

The next day when the Indians assembled they were told by the commissioners that all was ready and the treaty was laid upon a table and I found it just as the Indians had wanted it to be, except the description of the mile square. The part relating to the mile square that was to have been reserved for me read as follows:

“Chief Buffalo, being desirous of providing for some of his relatives who had rendered them important services, it is agreed that he may select one mile square of the ceded territory heretofore described.”

“Now,” said the commissioner,

“we want Buffalo to designate the person or persons to whom he wishes the patents to issue.”

Buffalo then said:

“I want them to be made out in the name of my adopted son.”

This closed all ceremony and the treaty was duly signed on the 30th day of September, 1854. This done the commissioners took a farewell shake of the hand with all the chiefs, hoping to meet them again at the annuity payment the coming year. They then boarded the steamer North Star for home. In the course of a few days the Indians also disappeared, some to their interior homes and some to their winter hunting grounds and a general quiet prevailed on the island.

Portrait of the Steamer North Star from American Steam Vessels, by Samuel Ward Stanton, page 40.
~ Wikimedia.org

About the second week in October, 1854, I went from La Pointe to Ontonagon in an open boat for the purpose of purchasing my winter supplies as it had got too late to depend on getting them from further below. While there a company was formed for the purpose of going into the newly ceded territory to make claims upon lands that would be subject to entry as soon as the late treaty should be ratified. The company consisted of Samuel McWaid, William Whitesides, W. W. Kingsbury, John Johnson, Oliver Melzer, John McFarland, Daniel S. Cash, W. W. Spaulding, all of Ontonagon, and myself. The two last named gentlemen, Daniel S. Cash and W. W. Spaulding, agreeing to furnish the company with supplies and all necessaries, including money, to enter the lands for an equal interest and it was so stipulated that we were to share equally in all that we, or either of us, might obtain. As soon as the supplies could be purchased and put aboard the schooner Algonquin we started for the head of the lake, stopping at La Pointe long enough for me to get my family aboard and my business matters arranged for the winter. I left my store at La Pointe in charge of Alex. Nevaux, and we all sailed for the head of Lake Superior, the site of which is now the city of Duluth. Reaching there about the first week in December—the bay of Superior being closed by ice—we were compelled to make our landing at Minnesota Point and take our goods from there to the main land on the north’ shore in open boats, landing about one and-one half miles east of Minnesota Point at a place where I desired to make a preemption for myself and to establish a trading post for the winter. Here I erected a building large enough for all of us to live in, as we expected to make this our headquarters for the winter, and also a building for a trading post. The other members of the company made claims in other places, but I did no more land looking that winter.

Detail of Superior City townsite at the head of Lake Superior from the 1854 U.S. General Land Office survey by Stuntz and Barber.

About January 20th, 1855, I left my place at the head of the lake to go back to La Pointe and took with me what furs I had collected up to that time, as I had a good place at La Pointe to dry and keep them. I took four men along to help me through and two dog trains. As we were passing down Superior Bay and when just in front of the village of West Superior a man came to us on the ice carrying a small bundle on his back and asked me if I had any objections to his going through in my company. He said the snow was deep and the weather cold and it was bad for one man to travel alone. I told him I had no objections provided he would take his turn with the other men in breaking the road for the dogs. We all went on together and camped that night at a place well known as Flag River. We made preparations for a cold night as the thermometer must have been twenty-five or thirty degrees below zero and the snow fully two feet deep. As there were enough of us we cut and carried up a large quantity of wood, both green and dry, and shoveled the snow away to the ground with our snow shoes and built a large fire. We then cut evergreen boughs and made a wind break or bough camp and concluded we could put in a very comfortable night. We then cooked and ate our supper and all seemed happy. I unrolled a bale of bear skins and spread them out on the ground for my bed, filled my pipe and lay down to rest while the five men with me were talking and smoking around the camp fire. I was very tired and presume I was not long in falling asleep. How long I slept I cannot tell, but was awakened by something dropping into my face, which felt like a powdered substance. I sprang to my feet for I found something had got into my eyes and was smarting them badly. I rushed for the snow bank that was melting from the heat and applied handful after handful to my eyes and face. I found the application was peeling the skin off my face and the pain soon became intense. I woke up the crew and they saw by the firelight the terrible condition I was in. In an hour’s time my eyeballs were so swollen that I could not close the lids and the pain did not abate. I could do nothing more than bathe my eyes until morning, which I did with tea-grounds. It seemed an age before morning came and when it did come I could not realize it, for I was totally blind. The party started with me at early dawn for La Pointe. The man who joined us the day before went no further, but returned to Superior, which was a great surprise to the men of our party, who frequently during the day would say:

“There is something about this matter that is not right,”

and I never could learn afterward of his having communicated the fact of my accident to any one or to assign any reason or excuse for turning back, which caused us to suspect that he had a hand in the blinding, but as I could get no proof to establish that suspicion, I could do nothing in the matter. This man was found dead in his cabin a few months afterwards.

At La Pointe I got such treatment as could be procured from the Indians which allayed the inflamation but did not restore the sight. I remained at La Pointe about ten days, and then returned home with dog train to my family, where I remained the balance of the winter, when not at Superior for treatment. When the ice moved from the lake in the spring I abandoned everything there and returned to La Pointe and was blind or nearly so until the winter of 1861.

Returning a little time to the north shore I wish to relate an incident of the death of one of our Ontonagon company. Two or three days after I had reached home from La Pointe, finding my eyes constantly growing worse I had the company take me to Superior where I could get treatment. Dr. Marcellus, son of Prof. Marcellus, of an eye infirmary in Philadelphia, who had just then married a beautiful young wife, and come west to seek his fortune, was engaged to treat me. I was taken to the boarding house of Henry Wolcott, where I engaged rooms for the winter as I expected to remain there until spring. I related to the doctor what had befallen me and he began treatment. At times I felt much better but no permanent relief seemed near. About the middle February my family required my presence at home, as there was some business to be attended to which they did not understand. My wife sent a note to me by Mr. Melzer, stating that it was necessary for me to return, and as the weather that day was very pleasant, she hoped that I would come that afternoon. Mr. Melzer delivered me the note, which I requested him to read. It was then 11 a. m. and I told him we would start right after dinner, and requested him to tell the doctor that I wished to see him right away, and then return and get his dinner, as it would be ready at noon, to which he replied:

“If I am not here do not wait for me, but I will be here at the time you are ready for home.”

Mr. Melzer did return shortly after we had finished our dinner and I requested him to eat, as I would not be ready to start for half an hour, but he insisted he was not hungry. We had no conveyance and at 1 p. m. we set out for home. We went down a few steps to the ice, as Mr. Wolcott’s house stood close to the shore of the bay, and went straight across Superior Bay to Minnesota Point, and across the point six or eight rods and struck the ice on Lake Superior. A plain, hard beaten road led from here direct to my home. After we had proceeded about 150 yards, following this hard beaten road, Melzer at once stopped and requested me to go ahead, as I could follow the beaten road without assistance, the snow being deep on either side.

“Now,” he says go ahead, for I must go back after a drink.”

I followed the road quite well, and when near the house my folks came out to meet me, their first inquiry being:

“Where is Melzer?”

I told them the circumstances of his turning back for a drink of water. Reaching the bank on which my house stood, some of my folks, looking back over the road I had come, discovered a dark object apparently floundering on the ice. Two or three of our men started for the spot and there found the dead body of poor Melzer. We immediately notified parties in Superior of the circumstances and ordered a post-mortem examination of the body. The doctors found that his stomach was entirely empty and mostly gone from the effects of whisky and was no thicker than tissue paper and that his heart had burst into three pieces. We gave him a decent burial at Superior and peace to his ashes, His last act of kindness was in my behalf.

To be continued in Chapter III

By Amorin Mello

 

This is one of many posts on Chequamegon History that feature the $90,000 of Indian trader debts that were debated during the 1854 Treaty and the 1855 Annuity Payments at La Pointe. 

In summary, the Chiefs of the Chippewas made it a condition of the treaty that they would be granted $90,000 to settle outstanding debts with Indian traders, under the condition that a Council of Chiefs would determine which debts claimed by the traders were fair and accurate.  The following quote is the fourth article of the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe, with the sentence about the $90,000 underlined for emphasis:

ARTICLE 4. In consideration of and payment for the country hereby ceded, the United States agree to pay to the Chippewas of Lake Superior, annually, for the term of twenty years, the following sums, to wit: five thousand dollars in coin; eight thousand dollars in goods, household furniture and cooking utensils; three thousand dollars in agricultural implements and cattle, carpenter’s and other tools and building materials, and three thousand dollars for moral and educational purposes, of which last sum, three hundred dollars per annum shall be paid to the Grand Portage band, to enable them to maintain a school at their village. The United States will also pay the further sum of ninety thousand dollars, as the chiefs in open council may direct, to enable them to meet their present just engagements. Also the further sum of six thousand dollars, in agricultural implements, household furniture, and cooking utensils, to be distributed at the next annuity payment, among the mixed bloods of said nation. The United States will also furnish two hundred guns, one hundred rifles, five hundred beaver traps, three hundred dollars’ worth of ammunition, and one thousand dollars’ worth of ready made clothing, to be distributed among the young men of the nation, at the next annuity payment.

~ 1854 Treaty with the Chippewa at La Pointe
Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties; Volume II by Charles Kappler, 1904

 

This $90,000 appear to have been an unexpected expense that the United States government incurred in order to successfully negotiate this Treaty.  Indian Agent Henry Clark Gilbert was a commissioner of the Treaty, and was obliged to explain this $90,000 to his superiors at the Office of Indian Affairs in Washington D.C.  The following is his explanation written a few weeks after the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe was concluded:

The Chiefs who were notified to attend brought with them in every instance their entire bands. We made a careful estimate of the number present and found there were about 4,000. They all had to be fed and taken care of, thus adding greatly to the expenses attending the negotiations.

A great number of traders and claim agents were also present as well as some of the persons from St. Paul’s who I had reason to believe attended for the purpose of preventing if possible the consummation of the treaty. The utmost precautions were taken by me to prevent a knowledge of the fact that negotiations were to take place from being public. The Messenger sent by me to Mr Herriman was not only trust worthy but was himself totally ignorant of the purport of the dispatches to Major Herriman. Information however of the fact was communicated from some source and the persons present in consequence greatly embarrassed our proceedings.

~ Treaty Commissioner Henry C. Gilbert’s explanation of the treaty concluded in 1854 with the assistance of David B. Herriman
Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters: Volume 79, No. 1, Appendix 5

 

Indian Agent Gilbert’s explanation suggests that there was some effort on his behalf to preemptively avoid the subject of outstanding debts from occuring during the Treaty negotiations.  In January of 1855, a few months after the Treaty was negotiated, President Franklin Pierce budgeted for this $90,000 in the fund appropriated for fulfilling the terms of the Treaty:

For the payment of such debts as may be directed by the chiefs in open council, and found to be just and correct by the Secretary of the Interior, per 4th article of the treaty of September 30, 1854…….. 90,000

~ United States House of Representatives Documents, Volume 11, 33d Congress, 2nd Session, Ex. Doc. No. 61.
1854 Treaty of La Pointe Appropriations

 

As quoted above, the $90,000 negotiated during the treaty were to be distributed by a Council of the Chiefs following the treaty.  How the $90,000 were actually distributed did not honor the intent or terms of the treaty.   The following is a public notice from Indian Agent Gilbert that invited Indian traders with claims against Tribe to come forth with their claims before or during the 1855 Annuity, and makes no mention of any distribution to be determined by a Council of Chiefs:

PUBLIC NOTICE.
OFFICE MICHIGAN INDIAN AGENT,
DETROIT, June 12, 1855.

ALL PERSONS having just and legal claims against the Chippewa Indians of Lake Superior are hereby notified that all such claims must be presented without delay to the undersigned, for investigation. Each claim must be accompanied by such evidence of its justice and legality as the claimant may be able to furnish; and in all cases where the idebtedness claimed is on book account, or is composed of aggregated items, transcripts of such accounts specifying the items in detail, with the charge for each item, and the name of the person to whom, and time when, the same was furnished, must accompany the claims submitted. The original books of entry must also in all cases be prepared for examination.

Claims may be presented at any time prior to the close of the next annuity payment at La Pointe, which will take place in the month of August next; but after that time they will not be received or acted upon.

This notice is given in accordance with instructions received from the United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

HENRY C. GILBERT.
Indian Agent.
jy 10 4t

~ Superior Chronicle newspaper, July 10th, 1855
Library of Congress

 

The distribution of this $90,000 was hotly debated by Blackbird and other members of the Council of Chiefs during the 1855 Annuity Payments.  It is clear from the speeches transcribed from this important event that the Council was not being allowed to determine the distribution of this $90,000.  The following is one of many speeches that touched upon this subject:

In what Blackbird said he expressed the mind of a majority of the chiefs now present.  We wish the stipulations of the treaty to be carried out to the very letter.

I wish to say our word about our reserves.  Will these reserves made for each of our bands, be our homes forever?

When we took credits of our trader last winter, and took no furs to pay him, and wish to get hold of this 90,000 dollars, that we may pay him off of that.  This is all we came here for.  We want the money in our own hands & we will pay our own traders.  We do not think it is right to pay what we do not owe.  I always know how I stand my acct. and we can pay our own debts.  From what I have now said I do not want you to think that we want the money to cheat our creditors, but to do justice to them I owe.  I have my trader & know how much I owe him, & if the money is paid into the hands of the Indians we can pay our own debts.

~ Adikoons, Chief of Grand Portage Band
(Wheeler to Smith, 18 Jan. 1856)
Blackbird’s Speech at the 1855 Payment

 

With the above quotes as an introduction to this subject, we will now investigate what exactly happened to the $90,000 to be disbursed as “directed by the chiefs in open council”.  What we have found so far appears to suggest that the federal government did not honor their Trust responsibility to the Tribe:

 


 

Senate Documents, Volume 112

U.S. Government Printing Office, 1858

 

 

[Page 295 of audit]

Indian Disbursements

Statement containing a list of the names of all persons to whom goods, money, or effects have been delivered, from July 1, 1856, to June 30, 1857, specifying the amounts and objects for which they were intended, the amount accounted for, and the balances under each specified head still remaining in their hands; prepared in obedience to an act of Congress of June 30, 1834, entitled “An act to provide for the organization of the department of Indian affairs.”

 

[Pages 303-305 of audit]

Fulfilling treaties with Chippewas of Lake Superior, September 30, 1854

When issued To whom issued. For what purpose. Amount of requisition. Am’t accounted for.
Amount unaccounted for.
1856
July 3 John B. Jacobs Fulfilling Treaties, (due) $1,718.73 $1,718.73
22 Henry C. Gilbert …do… $7,000.00 $7,000.00
Do …do… $5,000.00 $5,000.00
Aug. 14 Henry E. Leman …do…(due)… $1,412.50 $1,412.50
18 Ramsey Crooks …do…do… $6,617.64 $6,617.64
Adam Noongoo …do…do… $66.00 $66.00
Wm. Parsons …do…do… $28.50 $28.50
Erwin Leiky …do…do… $119.75 $119.75
Robert Morrin …do…do… $163.56 $163.56
Charles Bellisle …do…do… $191.00 $191.00
Posh-qway-gin …do…do… $47.88 $47.88
22 W. A. Pratt …do…do… $50.00 $50.00
John G. Kittson …do…do… $1,280.93 $1,280.93
Asaph Whittlesey …do…do… $25.00 $25.00
Louis Bosquet …do…do… $72.00 $72.00
David King …do…do… $100.00 $100.00
P. O. Johnson …do…do… $10.12 $10.12
Henry Elliott …do…do… $399.02 $399.02
McCullough & Elliott …do…do… $475.78 $475.78
Edward Assinsece …do…do… $50.00 $50.00
John Southwind …do…do… $21.00 $21.00
Kay-kake …do…do… $35.00 $35.00
Goff & Co. …do…do… $556.21 $556.21
Jame Halliday …do…do… $67.88 $67.88
Peter Crebassa …do…do… $1,013.99 $1,013.99
S. L. Vaugh …do…do… $57.08 $57.08
David King …do…do… $191.72 $191.72
Peter B. Barbean …do…do… $1,200.00 $1,200.00
23 Antoine Gaudine …do…do… $3,250.94 $3,250.94
Peter Markman …do…do… $300.00 $300.00
Pat L. Philan …do…do… $90.08 $90.08
Treasurer of township of Lapointe …do…do… $224.77 $224.77
Michael Bosquet …do…do… $219.63 $219.63
James Ermatinger …do…do… $2,000.00 $2,000.00
Louison Demaris …do…do… $2,000.00 $2,000.00
Joseph Morrison …do…do… $250.00 $250.00
John W. Bell …do…do… $253.11 $253.11
27 Paul H. Beaubien …do…do… $600.00 $600.00
R. Sheldon & Co. …do…do… $1,124.71 $1,124.71
Abraham Place …do…do… $450.00 $450.00
Michael James …do…do… $195.00 $195.00
R. J. Graveract …do…do… $269.19 $269.19
Reuben Chapman …do…do… $71.11 $71.11
Miller Wood …do…do… $38.50 $38.50
Robert Reed …do…do… $21.60 $21.60
Louis Gurno …do…do… $179.00 $179.00
Gregory S. Bedel …do…do… $142.63 $142.63
Geo. R. Stuntz …do…do… $537.41 $537.41
Usop & Hoops …do…do… $49.43 $49.43
May-yan-wash …do…do… $45.50 $45.50
John Hartley …do…do… $41.01 $41.01
B. F. Rathbun …do…do… $8.07 $8.07
W. W. Spaulding …do…do… $258.92 $258.92
Stephen Bonge …do…do… $40.00 $40.00
Abel Hall …do…do… $160.00 $160.00
Louis Cadotte …do…do… $200.00 $200.00
John Senter & Co. …do…do… $17.00 $17.00
John B. Roy …do…do… $150.00 $150.00
L. Y. B. Birchard …do…do… $26.00 $26.00
Peter Roy …do…do… $250.00 $250.00
Jacob F. Shaffer …do…do… $150.00 $150.00
Peter Vandeventer …do…do… $216.31 $216.31
Sept. 4 John Hotley, jr. …do…do… $538.48 $538.48
G. B. Armstrong …do…do… $950.00 $950.00
Lathrop Johnson …do…do… $376.00 $376.00
6 Wm. Mathews …do…do… $1,741.50 $1,741.50
Cronin, Hurxthal & Sears …do…do… $4,583.77 $4,583.77
13 Henry C. Gilbert …do… $12,500.00
24 B. W. Brisbois …do…(due)… $4,000.00 $4,000.00
27 John Brunet …do…do… $2,000.00 $2,000.00
John B. Roy …do…do… $80.00 $80.00
Edward Connor …do…do… $600.00 $600.00
Alexis Corbin …do…do… $1,000.00 $1,000.00
Louis Corbin …do…do… $1,108.47 $1,108.47
Vincent Roy …do…do… $645.36 $645.36
Abner Sherman …do…do… $568.00 $568.00
John B. Landry …do…do… $502.64 $502.64
Thomas Conner …do…do… $1,050.00 $1,050.00
Augustus Corbin …do…do… $238.50 $238.50
Julius Austrain …do…do… $6,000.00 $6,000.00
Do… …do…do… $1,876.86 $1,876.86
John B. Corbin …do…do… $750.00 $750.00
Cruttenden & Lynde …do…do… $1,300.00 $1,300.00
Orrin W. Rice …do…do… $358.09 $358.09
Francis Ronissaie …do…do… $817.74 $817.74
Dec. 6 W. G. and G. W. Ewing …do…do… $787.02 $787.02
1857
Jan. 2 Henry C. Gilbert …do… $674.73 $674.73
Feb 21 Do …do… $8,133.33 $8,133.33
24 John B. Cadotte …do…(due)… $1,265.00 $1,265.00
Cruttenden & Lynde …do…do… $1,615.00 $1,615.00
J. B. Landry …do…do… $560.00 $560.00
P. Chouteau, jr., & Co. …do…do… $935.00 $935.00
Vincent Roy …do…do… $5,000.00 $5,000.00
Northern Fur Company …do…do… $625.00 $625.00
J. B. Landry …do…do… $90.00 $90.00
$105,071.70 $84,363.64 $20,708.06

 


 

Many of the Indian traders listed above make regular appearances in other primary documents of Chequamegon History.  Some of the names are misspelled but still recognizable to regular readers.  In summary let’s take a closer look at the top ten Indian traders that received the most disbursements related to the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe:

 

9½.)  James Ermatinger

$2,000.00

James Ermatinger was involved with the American Fur Company in earlier years.  He seems to have become an independent Indian trader in later years leading up to the 1854 Treaty:

James founded Jim Falls, Wis., arriving by canoe from La Pointe, Wis. where he was involved in fur trading. He settled in Jim Falls, initially managing a trading post there for the American Fur Company. Others in the Ermatinger family were prominent fur traders in Canada, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Wisconsin.

~ Ermatinger family papers, 1833-1979

 

9½.)  Louison Demaris

$2,000.00

According to Theresa Schenck’s research in her book All Our Relations, Louison Demarais may have been a son of Jean Baptiste Demarais who was an interpreter for Alexander Henry the Younger’s North West Company on the Red River:

Louison Desmarais residing at Chippewa River a ½ breed Chippewa 50 yrs of age born at Pembina and remained in the North until 9 years back when he came to Chippewa river where he has resided since claims for himself and wfie Angelique a ½ breed, 35 yrs of age born at Fond du Lac where she remained until she was married 23 years since when she went to the North with her husband and has since lived with him.

~ 1839 Mixed Blood Census
All Our Relations by Theresa M. Schenck, 2010, page 60

 

8.)  Cruttenden & Lynde

$1,615.00 + $1,300.00 = $2,915.00

“Here lie the remains of Hon. J. W. Lynde Killed by Sioux Indians Aug. 18.1862″
~ Findagrave.com

James William Lynde was an Indian Agent, Senator, and first casualty of 1862 Sioux Uprising.  Mr. Lynde was also a signatory of the 1854 Treaty, which may be a conflict of interest:

Hon. James W. Lynd was a native of Baltimore, born in 1830, but was reared and educated at Cincinnati. He had received a college education at Woodward College, having attended from 1842 – 1844. He was a man of accomplishments and ability. He thoroughly mastered the Indian language, married successively two Indian wives, and spent years in the study of the history and general character of the Sioux or Dakota tribe. For some time prior to his death he had been engaged in revising for publication the manuscript of an elaborate work containing the results of his studies and researches. Under the circumstances the greater part of this manuscript was lost. He was a young man, of versatile talents had been an editor, lecturer, public speaker, and was a member of the Minnesota State Senate in 1861.

~ Sketches: Historical and Descriptive of the Monuments and Tablets Erected by the Minnesota Valley Historical Society in Renville and Redwood Counties, Minnesota by the Minnesota Valley Historical Society, 1902, page 6

 

Joel D. Cruttenden was Mr. Lynch’s business partner:

Col. Cruttenden, of whom I have spoken briefly in another place, left St. Louis in 1846 and removed to Prairie du Chien, where he was employed by Brisbois & Rice. In 1848 he came to ST. PAUL and remained up to 1850, when he took up his residence in St. Anthony and engaged in business with R. P. Russel. He then went to Crow Wing and was connected with Maj. J. W. Lynde. In 1857 he was elected to the House of Representatives, and on the breaking out of the war was commissioned Captain Assistant Quartermaster; was taken prisoner, and on being exchanged rose to the rank of Colonel. At the close of the war he was honorably discharged, and soon after removed to Bayfield, Wisconsin, where he has held many offices and is greatly esteemed. He is a pleasant, genial gentleman, well known and well liked.

~ Pen Pictures of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Biographical Sketches of Old Settlers: Volume 1, by Thomas McLean Newson, 1886, page 95

 

7.)  Antoine Gaudine

$3,250.94

~ Antoine Gordon
~ Noble Lives of a Noble Race by the St. Mary’s Industrial School (Odanah), page 207

Antoine Gaudine (a.k.a. Gordon) as one of those larger-than-life mixed-blood members of the La Pointe Band leading up to the 1854 Treaty and beyond:

Mr Gordon was the founder of the village of Gordon and for years had a trading post there which was the only store there. It is but a few years since he discontinued this store. He was a full-blooded Chippewa Indian, and came here from Madelaine Island, where he ran a post years ago. He was formerly the owner of the famous Algonquin, the first ship to come through the Soo locks, and used her in the lumber trade.

~ Eau Claire Leader newspaper, May 8, 1907

 

 

6.)  B. W. Brisbois

$4,000.00

Bernard Walter Brisbois was a son of Michael Brisbois, Sr.:

Bernard Brisbois was born in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, in 1808, to Michel Brisbois, a French-Canadian voyageur, and his second wife Domitelle (Madelaine) Gautier de Verville.

Like his father, Brisbois also began his career in the fur trade, working as agent for the American Fur Company. Bernard married Therese LaChappelle [daughter of metis Pélagie LaPointe (herself the daughter of Pierre LaPointe and Etoukasahwee) and Antoine LaChapelle]. Later he engaged in the mercantile business in Prairie du Chien until 1873 when he was appointed consul at Verviers, Belgium. He returned to Prairie du Chien in 1874 and lived there until his death in 1885.

~ Wikipedia.org

 

5.)  Cronin, Hurxthal & Sears

$4,583.77

Advertisement of Cronin, Hurxthal & Sears
~ The Prairie News (Okolona, Miss.), April 15, 1858, page 4

According to a receipt from this company, the partners behind this firm were John B. Cronin, Ben. Hurxthal and J. Newton Sears.  No further biographical information could be found about these individuals, who are presumed to have been New York City businessmen.  In general they appear to have been involved with trades associated with slavery and Indians.  Per their advertisement, they were the successors to the firm of Grant and Barton:

Grant and Barton nevertheless remained active in the [Texas] region, winning government contracts to supply the Bureau of Indian affairs with “blankets and dry goods” in the late 1840s and early 1850s…

The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815-1860, by Calvin Schermerhorn, 2015, page 225

 

4.) Vincent Roy

$5,000.00 + $645.36 = $5,645.36

Vincent Roy, Jr. (III)
~ Life and Labors of Rt. Rev. Frederic Baraga, by Chrysostom Verwyst, 1900, pages 472-476

Vincent Roy, Sr. (II) and his son Vincent Roy, Jr. (III) were prominent members of the La Pointe Band mixed-bloods.  Sr. was recognized by Gilbert as the Head of the Mixed Bloods of the La Pointe Band of Lake Superior Chippewas.  Jr. was allegedly an interpreter at the 1854 Treaty, but is not identified in the Treaty itself and cannot find primary source.  Jr. is described as a skilled trader in many sources, including this one:

“Leopold and Austrian (Jews) doing a general merchandize and fur-trading business at LaPointe were not slow in recognizing ‘their man.’  Having given employment to Peter Roy, who by this time quit going to school, they also, within the first year of his arrival at this place, employed Vincent to serve as handy-man for all kind of things, but especially, to be near when indians from the woods were coming to trade, which was no infrequent occurrence.  After serving in that capacity about two years, and having married, he managed (from 1848 to 1852) a trading post for the same Leopold and Austrian; at first a season at Fond du Lac, Minn., then at Vermillion Lake, and finally again at Fond du Lac.” 

Miscellaneous materials related to Vincent Roy, 1861-1862, 1892, 1921

 

3.)  R. Crooks

$6,617.64

Ramsay Crooks
~ Madeline Island Museum

Ramsey Crooks enjoyed a long history with the American Fur Company outfit at La Pointe in the decades leading up to the 1854 Treaty:

“Ramsey Crooks (also spelled Ramsay) was born in Scotland in 1787. He immigrated to Canada in 1803 where he worked as a fur trader and explorer around the Great Lakes. He began working for the American Fur Company, which was started by John Jacob Astor, America’s first multi-millionaire, and made an expedition to the Oregon coast from 1809-1813 for the company. By doing so he also became a partner in the Pacific Fur Company. In 1834 he became acting president of the American Fur Company following Astor’s retirement to New York. A great lakes sailing vessel the Ramsey Crooks was constructed in 1836 by the American Fur Co. A nearly identical sister ship was built in the same year and was called the Astor. Both ships were sold by the dissolving fur company in 1850. Ramsay Crooks passed away in 1859, but had made a name for himself in the fur trade not only in Milwaukee and the Great Lakes, but all the way to the Pacific Ocean.”  

~ Milwaukee County Historical Society

 

2.)  J. Austrian

$ 6,000.00 + $1,876.86 = $7,876.86

Julius Austrian
~ Madeline Island Museum

Julius Austrian was competitor and successor of the American Fur Company during the decade immediately leading up to the 1854 Treaty.  Chequamegon History’s research has explored the previously uncovered circumstances of Austrian’s purchase of the Village of La Pointe from American Fur Company in 1853, being the unnamed and de facto host of the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe, being the host of the 1855 Annuities at La Pointe, and the host of the 1855 High Holy Days at La Pointe:

In 1855 a number of Jewish Indian traders met on an island in Lake Superior in the frontier village of La Pointe, Wisconsin.  The Indians were assembled there to collect their annuities and the Jews were present to dun their debtors before they dispersed.  There were enough Jews for a minyan and a service was held.  That was the beginning and the end of La Pointe Jewry.

United States Jewry 1776-1985: Vol. 2; the Germanic Period, Part 1 by Jacob Rader Marcus Wayne State University Press , 1991, page 196

 

1.) Henry C. Gilbert

$0.00 ?

Henry Clark Gilbert
~ Branch County Photographs

Mackinac Indian Agent Henry Clark Gilbert was the Commissioner of the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe along with David B. Herriman. 

Gilbert submitted requisitions for $5,000.00, $7,000.00, $12,500.00, $674.73, and $8,133.33; which is a total amount of $33,308.06.  The amount accounted for in his name is $0.00, but his total amount unaccounted for is $20,808.06.  The difference between the total amount Gilbert requisitioned and his total amount unaccounted for is $12,500, which is the same amount that Gilbert requisitioned for on September 4th, 1856.

A closer look at all of the 1854 Treaty accounts as a whole suggests that Gilbert was paid his $12,500.00 despite what is shown on paper.  The total amount accounted for is actually $71,763.64; which is $12,600.00 less than the total amount on paper.  The total amount unaccounted for is $20,808.06; which is $100 greater than the total amount on paper (all of which was in Gilbert’s name).  We are left with a puzzle missing some pieces.  Did Gilbert obtain his $12,500.00 fraudulently?  Was the extra $100 accounted for taken from the unaccounted amounts by someone else as a bribe?

Did Gilbert abuse his Trust responsibility to the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe?  Or was this simply a case of sloppy reporting by a federal clerk?

By Amorin Mello

 


 

Treaty Commissioner Henry C. Gilbert’s
Explanation of the Treaty Concluded in 1854
with the Assistance of David B. Herriman

Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters:
Volume 79, No. 1, Appendix 5

 


 

Office Michigan Indian Agency
Detroit October 17th, 1854

Sir

Mackinac Indian Agent
Henry Clark Gilbert
~ Branch County Photographs

I transmit herewith a treaty concluded at LaPointe on the 30th Ultimo between Mr. Herriman and myself as Commissioners on the part of the United States and the Chippewas of Lake Superior and the Mississippi.

On receiving your letters of August 10th, 12th, and 14th, relative to this treaty, I immediately dispatched a special messenger from this place by way of Chicago, Galena and St. Paul to Mr. Herriman at the Crow wing Chippewa Agency transmitting to him your letter requesting him to meet me at LaPointe with the Chiefs and Headmen of his Agency at as early a day as possible. I adopted this course in preference to sending a messenger from La Pointe on my arrival there for the purpose of saving time and I was thus enabled to secure the attendance of Mr Herriman and the Mississippi Chiefs some 10 or 12 days earlier than I could otherwise have done.

I left for LaPointe on the 26th of August last and arrived there the 1st day of September – Mr Herriman meeting me there the 14th of the same Month.

By this time a large number of Indians had assembled – including not only those entitled to payment but all those from the Interior who live about Lakes de Flambeau and Lake Courteilles. The Chiefs who were notified to attend brought with them in every instance their entire bands. We made a careful estimate of the number present and found there were about 4,000. They all had to be fed and taken care of, thus adding greatly to the expenses attending the negotiations.

Charles William Wulff Borup and Charles Henry Oakes married into the La Pointe mixed blood Beaulieu family; built the American Fur Company’s new La Pointe outfit during the 1830’s; sold La Pointe to Julius Austrian during 1853; and started the first bank in Minnesota during 1854 at St. Paul.
~ 1854 banknote from HeritageAuctions.com

A great number of traders and claim agents were also present as well as some of the persons from St. Paul’s who I had reason to believe attended for the purpose of preventing if possible the consummation of the treaty. The utmost precautions were taken by me to prevent a knowledge of the fact that negotiations were to take place from being public. The Messenger sent by me to Mr Herriman was not only trust worthy but was himself totally ignorant of the purport of the dispatches to Major Herriman. Information however of the fact was communicated from some source and the persons present in consequence greatly embarrassed our proceedings.

After Major Herriman’s arrival we soon found that the Mississippi Indians could not be induced to sell their land on any terms. Much jealousy and ill feeling existed between them and the Lake Superior Indians and they could not even be prevailed upon to meet each other in council. They were all however anxious that a division should be made of the payments to become due under former existing treaties and a specific apportionment made between the Mississippi and the Lake Superior Indians and places of payment designated.

Taking advantage of this feeling we proposed to them a division of the country between them and the establishment of a boundary line, on one side of which the country should belong exclusively to the Lake Superior and on the other side to the Mississippi Indians. We had but little difficulty in inducing them to agree to this proposition and after much negotiation the line designated in the treaty was agreed upon.

We then obtained from the Lake Indians a cession of their portion of the Country on the terms stated in the treaty. The district ceded embraces all the mineral region bordering on Lake Superior and Pigeon river & is supposed to be by far the most valuable portion of their country. But a small portion of the amount agreed to be paid in annuities is payable in coin. The manner of payment is such as in our judgement would most tend to promote the permanent welfare and hasten the civilization of the Indians.

We found the points most strenuously insisted upon by them were first the privilege of remaining in the country where they reside and next the appropriation of land for their future homes. Without yielding these points, it was idle for us to talk about a treaty. We therefore agreed to the selection of lands for them in territory heretofore ceded.

The tract for the Ance and Vieux Desert bands is a the head of Ke, wa, we naw Bay Michigan and is at present occupied by them. I estimate the quantity at about 60,000 acres.

Detail of La Pointe Indian Reservation survey boundaries including Gichi-ziibiiwishenhnyan from a letter dated March 30th, 1855, written by the Commissioner John Wilson of the General Land Office to General Surveyor Warner Lewis.
~ National Archives Microfilm Publications; Microcopy No. 27; Roll 16; Volume 16.

These reservations are located in Wisconsin, the principal of which is for the LaPointe Band on Bad river – A large number of Indians now reside there and I presume it will ultimately become the home of most of the Chippewas residing in that state. It is a tract of land well adapted for Agricultural purposes and includes the present Missionary Station under the care of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. About one third of the land however lying on the Lake Superior is swamp and valueless, except as it gives them access to the Lake for fishing purposes.

The other Wisconsin reservations lie on Lac de Flambeau and Lac Courteirelle in the Interior and the whole amount of land reserved in that state I estimate at about 200,000 acres exclusive of the Swamp land included in the LaPointe reservation. in the ceded Country there are two tracts set apart for the Indians – one on St Louis river of 100,000 acres for the Fond DuLac bands and one embracing the point bounded by the Lake and Pigeon river and containing about 120,000 acres.

There are two or three other small reservations to be hereafter selected under the direction of the President. The whole quantity of land embrace within all the tracts set apart we estimate at about 486,000 acres – No portion of the reserved lands are occupied by whites except the Missionary establishment on Bad river.

The provision going to each Half Breed family 80 acres of land was most strenuously insisted upon by the Indians. There are about 200 such families on my pay roll and allowing as many more to the Interior Indians which is a very liberal estimate, the amount of land required will be about 32,000 acres.

A principal source of embarrassment was the provision setting aside a portion of the consideration to be paid as the Chiefs might direct &c. In other words to pay their debts with. We had much difficulty in reducing the amount insisted upon to the sum stated in the treaty. I have no doubt that there are many just claims upon these Indians. The regular payment of their annuities was so long withheld that they were forced to depend to a great extent upon their traders. There claims that were all disposed to acknowledge and insisted upon providing for their payment and without the insertion of the provision referred to, we could not have concluded the treaty.

I regret very much that we could not have purchased the whole country and made the treaty in every particular within the limit of your instructions. But this was absolutely impossible and we were forced to the alternative of abandoning the attempt to treaty or of making the concessions detailed in the treaty.

Bureau of Indian Affairs Director
George W. Manypenny
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

There are many points respecting which I should like much to make explanations, and for that purpose and in order to make a satisfactory settlement of the accounts for treaty purposes and in order to make a satisfactory settlement of the accounts for treaty expenses I respectfully request the privilege of attending at Washington at such time after making my other annuity payments as you may think proper.

Very Respectfully
Your Obt. Servt.

Henry C. Gilbert

Commissioner

Hon. Geo. W. Manypenny

Com. Ind. Affs.
Washington D.C.

 

 By Amorin Mello

1855 President's Budget for 1854 Treaty at La Pointe

House Documents, Volume 112

By United States House of Representatives
33d Congress,
2nd Session.
Ex. Doc. No. 61.

 


 

TREATY WITH CHIPPEWA INDIANS.

————————

MESSAGE

FROM

THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,

United States President
Franklin Pierce
circa 1855
~ Commons.Wikimedia.com

TRANSMITTING

Estimates of appropriations for carrying into effect the treaty with the Chippewa Indians &c.

————————

February 8, 1855.—Laid upon the table and ordered to be printed.
————————

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:

I communicate to Congress the following letter from the Secretary of the Interior, with its enclosure, on the subject of a treaty between the United States and the Chippewa Indians of Lake Superior, and recommend that the appropriations therein asked for may be made.

FRANLIN PEIRCE.

Washington, February 7, 1855.

 


 

Department Of The Interior,

Washington, February 6,1855.

Secretary of the Interior
Robert McClelland
circa 1916
~ Commons.Wikipedia.com

SIR: I have the honor to transmit to you, herewith, a copy of a communication from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, dated the 5th instant, calling my attention to the subject of a treaty made at La Pointe, Wisconsin, by Henry C. Gilbert and Daniel B. Herriman, commissioners on the part of the United States, and the Chippewa Indians of Lake Superior; and, to enable this department to carry the treaty into effect, recommend that Congress be requested to make the appropriations specified in the letter of the Commissioner, and which will be immediately required for that purpose.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. McCLELLAND,

Secretary.

To the President.

 


 

Department Of The Interior,

Office Indian Affairs, February 5, 1855.

Mackinac Indian Agent
Henry Clark Gilbert
~ Branch County Photographs

Sir: Having received the official information on the 24th ultimo of the approval and ratification, by the President and Senate, of the articles of agreement and convention made and entered into at La Pointe, in the State of Wisconsin, by Henry C. Gilbert and Daniel B. Herriman, commissioners on the part of the United States, and the Chippewa Indians of Lake Superior and Mississippi, I have the honor now to call your attention to the appropriations that will be required immediately to enable the department to carry the treaty into effect, viz:

For fulfilling treaties with the Chippewas of Lake Superior.

  • For expenses (in part) of selecting reservations, and surveying and marking the boundaries thereof, per 2d, 3d, and 12th articles of the treaty of September 30, 1854 …….. $3,000
  • For the payment of the first of twenty instalments in coin, goods, &c, agricultural implements, &c, and education, &c, per 4th article of the treaty of September 30, 1854 …….. 19,000
  • For the purchase of clothing and other articles to be given to the young men at the next annuity payment, as per 4th article of the treaty of September 30, 1854 …….. 4,800
  • For the purchase of agricultural implements and other articles, as presents for the mixed bloods, per 4th article of the treaty of September 30, 1854 …….. 6,000
  • For the payment of such debts as may be directed by the chiefs in open council, and found to be just and correct by the Secretary of the Interior, per 4th article of the treaty of September 30, 1854 …….. 90,000
  • For the payment of such debts of the Bois Forte bands as may be directed by their chiefs, and found lo be just and correct by the Secretary of the Interior, per 12th article of the treaty of September 30, 1844 …….. 10,000
  • For the payment of the first of five instalments in blankets, cloth, &c, to the Bois Forte band, per 12th article of the treaty of September 30, 1854 …….. 2,000
  • For the first of twenty instalments for the pay of six smiths and assistants, per 5th and 2d articles of the treaty of September 30, 1854 …….. 5,040
  • For the first of twenty instalments for the support of six smith shops, per 5th and 2d articles of the treaty of September 30, 1854 …….. 1,320

It will be observed that the treaty of September 30, 1854, recognized the Chippewas of Lake Superior as a branch of the nation, and that the pecuniary and beneficiary stipulations therein are for their exclusive use.

By the fifth article of the treaty the Lake Superior Chippewas are to have six blacksmiths and assistants, and they relinquish, by the same article, all other employés to which they might otherwise have been entitled under former treaties.

The Chippewas of the Mississippi are, by the eighth article of the treaty, entitled to one-third of the benefits of treaties prior to 1847; and, by consequence, retain an interest of one-third in the stipulations for smith shops, &c., and farmers, &c, per second article of the treaty of July 29, 1837; and in the farmers, and carpenters, and smiths, &c., mentioned in the fourth article of the treaty of October 4, 1842.

On an examination of the condition of existing appropriations to fulfil the stipulations just mentioned, it is found that the balances in the treasury are sufficient to sustain these employés and otherwise meet the requirements of the stipulations referred to, so far as the Chippewas of the Mississippi are interested, during the next fiscal year.

In case appropriations are made by Congress, in pursuance of the foregoing estimates, it will be perceived that the following items of the Indian appropriation bill now before Congress might, with propriety, be stricken out, viz:

House bill 555, reported, with amendments, January 16, 1855:

  • Page 4, lines 68, 69, 70, and 71, “three thousand dollars,” ($3,000.)
  • Page 4, lines 72, 73, 74, 75, and 76, “one thousand dollars,” ($1,000.)
  • Page 5, lines 89, 90, 91, 92, and 93, “two thousand dollars,” ($2,000.)
  • Page 5, lines 94, 95, and 96, “one thousand dollars,” ($1,000.) Page 5, lines 97, 98, and 99, “one thousand two hundred dollars,” ($1,200.)

Director of of the Bureau of Indian Affairs
George Washington Manypenny
circa 1886
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

As it is not deemed necessary, I do not therefore submit, at present an estimate for appropriations to pay employés for the Bois Forte band, as per twelfth article of the treaty of September 30, 1854, or to liquidate a balance, should any be found due to these Indians by the investigation, which it is provided by the ninth article of the same treaty shall be made.

Should the foregoing estimates and suggestions be approved by you, I respectfully recommend that they be laid before Congress as early as practicable.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GEO. W. MANYPENNY,

Commissioner.

Hon. R. McCLELLAND,
Secretary of the Interior.

By Amorin Mello

 


 

Selected letters from the

Wheeler Family Papers,

Box 3, Folders 11-12; La Pointe County.

 


 

This unsigned letter appears to be from Reverend Sherman Hall, who formerly lived at La Pointe with his family from 1831 until 1853.

Crow-wing, Min. Ter.

Jan. 9th 1854

Brother Wheeler,

Reverend Leonard Hemenway Wheeler ~ In Unnamed Wisconsin by Silas Chapman, 1895, cover image.

Presbyterian Minister Leonard Wheeler and his wife Harriet Wood Wheeler moved to La Pointe in 1841, where they likely witnessed the 1st Treaty at La Pointe in 1842.
The Wheelers relocated to Odanah on Bad River in 1845, where they erected a Protestant mission and invented the iconic Eclipse windmill for pumping water. 
Rev. Wheeler became a signatory of the 2nd Treaty at La Pointe on September 30th, 1854.

Though not indebted to you just now on the score of correspondence, I will venture to intrude upon you a few lines more.  I will begin by saying we are all tolerably well.  But we are somewhat uncomfortable in some respects.  Our families are more subject to colds this winter than usual.  This probably may be attributed in part at least to our cold and open houses.  We were unable last fall to do any thing more than fix ourselves temporarily, and the frosts of winter find a great many large holes to creep in at.  Some days it is almost impossible for us to keep warm enough to be comfortable.

Our prospects for accomplishing much for the Indians here I do not think look more promising than they did last fall.  There are but few Indians here.  These get drunk every time they can get whiskey, of which there is an abundance nearby.  Among the white people here, none are disposed to attend meetings much except Mr. [Welton?].  He and his wife are discontented and unhappy here, and will probably get away as soon as they can.  We hear not a word from the Indian Department.  Why they are minding us in this manner I cannot tell.  But I should like it much better, if they would tell us at once to be gone.  I have got enough of trying to do anything for Indians in connection with the Government.  We can put no dependence upon any thing they will do.  I have tried the experiment till I am satisfied.  I think much more could be done with a boarding school in the neighborhood of Lapointe than here And my opinion is, that since things have turned out as they have here, we had better get out of it as soon as we can.  With such an agent as we now have, nothing will prosper here.  He is enough to poison everything, and will do more moral evil in such a community, as this, than a half a dozen missionaries can do good.  My opinion is, that if they knew at Washington how things are and have been managed here, there would be a change.  But I do not feel certain of this.  For I sometimes am tempted to adopt the opinion that they do not care much there how things go here.  But should there be a change, I have little hope that is would would make things materially better.  The moral and social improvement of the Indians, I fear, has little to do with the appointment of agents and superintendents.  I do not think I ought to remain here very long and keep my family here, as things are now going.  If we were not involved with the Government with regard to the school matter, I would advise the Committee to quit here as soon as we can find a place to go to.  My health is not very good.  The scenes, and labors and attacks of sickness which I have passed through during the past two years have made almost a wreck of my constitution.  It might rally under some circumstances.  But I do not think it will while I stay here, so excluded from society, and so harassed with cares and perplexities as I have been and as I am likely to be in future, should we go on and try to get up a school.  My wife is in no better spirits than I am.  She has had several quite ill turns this winter.  the children all wish to get away from here, and I do not know that I shall have power to keep them here, even if I am to stay.

For more information about Rev. Hall’s role during the 1851 Sandy Lake Tragedy and Ojibwe Removal attempt, read Sandy Lake Letters: Sherman Hall to the Wheelers.

But what to do I do not know.  The Committee say they do not wish to abandon the Ojibwas.  I cannot in future favor the removal of the lake Indians.  I believe that all the aid they will receive from the Government will never civilize or materially benifit them.  I judge from the manner in which things have been managed here.  Our best hope is to do what we can to aid them where they are to live peaceably with the whites, and to improve and become citizens.  The idea of the Government sending infidels and heathens here to civilize and Christianize the Indians is rediculous.

Reverend Hall relocated from La Pointe to Crow Wing during 1853 when he thought Chippewa removal was imminent.

I always thought it doubtful whether the experiment we are trying would succeed.  In that case it was my intention to remove somewhere below here, and try to get a living, either by raising my potatoes or by trying to preach to white people, or by uniting both.  but I do not hardly feel strong enough to begin entirely anew in the wilderness to make me a home.  I suppose my family would be as happy at Lapointe, as they would any where in the new and scattered settlements for fifty or a hundred miles below here.  And if thought I could support myself then, I might think of going back there.  There are our old friends for whose improvement we have laborred so many years.  I feel almost as much attachment for them as for my won children.  And I do not think they ought to be left like sheep upon the mountains without a shepherd.  And if the Board think it best to expend money and labor for the Ojibwas, they had better expend it there than here, as things now are at least.  I think we were exerting much much more influence there before we left, then we have here or are likely to exert.  I have no idea that the lake Indians will ever remove to this place, or to this region.

Reverend Sherman Hall
~ Madeline Island Museum

What do you think of recommending to the Board to day to exert a greater influence on the people in the neighborhood of Lapointe[?/!]  I feel reluctant to give up the Indians.  And if I could get a living at Lapointe, and could get there, I should be almost disposed to go back and live among those few for whom I have labored so long, if things turn out here as I expect they will.  I have not much funds to being life with now, nor much strength to dig with.  But still I shall have to dig somewhere.  The land is easier tilled in this region than that about the lake.  But wood is more scarce.  My family do not like Minesota.  Perhaps they would, if they should get out of the Indian country.  Edwin says he will get out of it in the spring, and Miles says he will not stay in such a lonesome place.  I shall soon be alone as to help from my children.  My boys must take care of themselves as soon as they arrive at a suitable age, and will leave me to take care of myself.  We feel very unsettled.  Our affairs here must assume a different aspect, or we cannot remain here many months longer.  Is there enough to do at Lapointe; or is there a prospect that there will soon be business to draw people enough then, to make it an object to try to establish the institution of the gospel there?  Write me and let me know your views on such subjects as these.

[Unsigned, but appears to be from Sherman Hall]

 


 

Crow-wing Feb. 10th 1854

Brother Wheeler:

I received your letter of jan. 16th yesterday, and consequently did not sleep as much as usual last night. We were glad to hear that you are all well and prosperous. We too are well which we consider a great blessing, as sickness in present situation would be attended with great inconvenience. Our house is exceedingly cold and has been uncomfortable during some of the severe cold weather have had during the last months. Yet we hope to get through the winter without suffering severely. In many respects our missionary spirit has been put to a severer test than at any previous time since we have been in the Indian country, during the past year. We feel very unsettled, and of course somewhat uneasy. The future does not look very bright. We cannot get a word from the Indian Department whether we may go on or not. If we cannot get some answer from them before long I shall be taking measures to retire. We have very little to hope, I apprehend, from all the aid the Government will render to words the civilization and moral and intellectual improvement of the Indians. For missionaries or Indians to depend on them, is to depend on a broken staff.

“In 1831 the family of Sherman Hall, residents of Weathersfield, a secluded Vermont hamlet, bade him farewell as he set out with the purpose of converting the Chippewa Indians about Lake Superior. No doubt they felt that he had gone almost to the ends of the earth and that correspondence from that mysterious region was unique, for they cherished and carefully preserved his letters as they came back slowly from Mackinac, Sault Ste. Marie, and, finally La Pointe, the terminus of his journey.”
~ Minnesota Historical Society
“We have seen that the first La Pointe village was at the southwestern extremity of the island. This was known as the ‘Old Fort’ site, for here had been the original Chippewa village, and later the fur-trading posts of the French and English. Gradually, the old harbor became shallow, because of the shifting sand, and unfit for the new and larger vessels which came to be used in the fur trade.
“The American Fur Company therefore built a ‘New Fort’ a few miles farther north, still upon the west shore of the island, and to this place, the present village, the name La Pointe came to be transferred. Half-way between the ‘Old fort’ and the ‘New fort,’ Mr. Hall erected (probably in 1832) ‘a place for worship and teaching,’ which came to be the centre of Protestant missionary work in Chequamegon Bay.”
~ The Story of Chequamegon Bay
Reverend Sherman Hall’s Protestant mission was located at was is now Middleport; an unincorporated community in the town of La Pointe.

I do not see that our house is so divided against itself, that it is in any great danger of falling at present. My wife never did wish to leave Lapointe and we have ever, both of us, thought that the station ought not to be abandoned, unless the Indians were removed. But this seemed not to be the opinion of the committee or of our associates, if I rightly understood them. I had a hard struggle in my mind whether to retire wholly from the service of the Board among the Indians, or to come here and make a further experiment. I felt reluctant to leave them, till we had tried every experiment which held out any promise of success.  When I remove my family here our way ahead looked much more clear than it does now. I had completed an arrangement for the school which had the approval of Gov. Ramsey, and which fell through only in consequence of a little informality on his part, and because a new set of officers just then coming into power must show themselves a little wiser than their predecessors. Had not any associates come through last summer, so as to relieve me of some of my burdens and afford some society and counsel in my perplexities I could not have sustained the burden upon me in the state of my health at that time. A change of officers here too made quite an unfavorable change in our prospects. I have nothing to reproach myself with in deciding to come here, nor in coming when we did, though the result of our coming may not be what we hoped it would be. I never anticipated any great pleasure in being connected with a school connected in any way with the Government, nor did I suppose I should be long connected with it, even if it prospered. I have made the effort and now if it all falls, I shall feel that Providence has not a work for us to do here. The prospects of the Indians look dark, what is before me in the future I do not know. My health is not good, though relief from some of the pressure I had to sustain for a time last fall and the cold season has somewhat [?????] me for the time being. But I cannot endure much excitement, and of course our present unsettled affairs operate unfavorably upon it. I need for a time to be where I can enjoy rest from everything exciting, and when I can have more society that I have here, and to be employed moderately in some regular business.

Antoine Gordon [Gaudin]
~ Noble Lives of a Noble Race by the St. Mary’s Industrial School (Bad River Indian Reservation), 1909, page 207.

How to decide for the future I do not know. There is home missionary work which might and ought to be done at the Mississippi below here, but it would require more physical labor and hardship that I at present hardly dare to undertake, and the privations for the present at least would be scarcely less that in the Indian country. I have thought some of going back to Lapointe, as it seems to me that if anything can be done for the Indians, there is more hope there than anywhere else, I mean in that neighborhood.  But if I understand you you do not think it best to support a foreign missionary there. I do not see what I could do there to earn my bread by labor, if I were there. I should be glad to complete some of my Indian manuscripts and put them in a shape that they might be useful to future missionaries, if Providence seems so to direct. But if I leave the service of the Board now, I cannot do it. I have spent a vast amount of labor on them, and it must be all lost to everybody, if I must break up now and leave the mission. This was one of the reasons that weighed much with me in deciding to come here. Besides superintending the school we anticipated, I hoped to find considerable time to study. But enough on this subject for the present.

Charles Henry Oakes
~ Findagrave.com

As to your account I have not had time to examine it, but will write you something about it by & by. As to any account which Antoine Gaudin has against me, I wish you would have him send it to me in detail before you pay it. I agreed with Mr. Nettleton to settle with him, and paid him the balance due to Antoine as I had the account. I suppose he made the settlement, when he was last at Lapointe. As to the property at Lapointe, I shall immediately write to Mr. Oakes about it. But I suppose in the present state of affairs, it will be perhaps, a long time before it will be settled so as to know who does own it. It is impossible for me to control it, but you had better keep posession of it at present. I cannot send Edwin [??] through to cultivate the land & take care of it. He will be of age in the spring, and if he were to go there I must hire him. He will probably leave us in the spring. Please give my best regards to all. Write me often.

Yours truly

S. Hall

 


 

Crow-wing, Min. Ter.
Feb. 21st 1854

Brother Wheeler,

Paul Hudon Beaulieu
~ FamilySearch.org

Brothers Paul and Clement Beaulieu were sons of French furtrader Bazil Hudon Beaulieu and grandsons of Ojibwe leader Waubishguauguage (White Raven).  Sisters Elizabeth and Julie Beaulieu were married to Charles Borup and Charles Oakes respectively.
Brothers-in-law Borup and Oakes were the American Fur Company agents at La Pointe when it was relocated from ‘Old Fort’ to ‘New Fort’ during the 1830’s.
Borup and Oakes relocated from La Pointe to St. Paul in 1848, where they established the first bank in Minnesota Territory during 1854.

I wrote you a few days ago, and at the same time I wrote to Mr. Oakes inquiring whether he had got possession of the Lapointe property. I have not yet got a reply from him, but Mr. Beaulieu tells me that he heard the same report which you mentioned in your letter, and that he inquired of Mr. Oakes about it when he saw him on a recent visit to St. Paul, and finds that it is all a humbug. Oakes has nothing to do with it. Mr. Beaulieu said that the sale of last spring has been confirmed, and that Austrian will hold Lapointe. So farewell to all the inhabitants’ claims then, and to anything being done for the prosperity of the peace for the present, unless it gets out of his hands.

I have written to Austrian to try to get something for our property if we can. But I fear there is not much hope. If he goes back to Lapointe in the spring, do the best you can to make him give us something. I feel sorry for the inhabitants there that they are left at his mercy. He may treat them fairly, but it is hardly to be expected.

Clement Hudon Beaulieu
~ TreatiesMatter.org

As to our affairs here, there has been no particular change in their aspects since I wrote a few days ago. There must be a crisis, I think, in a few weeks. We must either go on or break up, I think, in the spring. We are trying to get a decision. I understand our agent has been threatened with removal if he carries on as he has done. I believe there is no hope of reformation in his case, and we may get rid of him. Perhaps God sent us here to have some influence in some such matters, so intimately connected with the welfare of the Indians. I have never thought I [????] can before I was sent in deciding to come here. Some trials and disappointments have grown out of my coming, but I feel conscious of having acted in accordance with my convictions of duty at this time.

If all falls through, I know not what to do in the future. The Home Missionary Society have got more on their hands now than they have funds to pay, if I were disposed to offer myself to labor under them. I may be obliged to build me a shanty somewhere on some little unoccupied piece of land and try to dig out a living. In these matters the Lord will direct by his providence.

Augustus Barber was ‘sent into the Lake’ during 1856, and Albert McEwen was ‘tripped up’ during 1857 by ‘unprincipled fellows’.
The 1868 assassination of Bagone-giizhig (Hole-In-The-Day) the Younger was later revealed to have been led by Clement Beaulieu.

You must be on your guard or some body will trip you up and get away your place. There are enough unprincipled fellows who would take all your improvements and send you and all the Indians into the Lake if they could make a dollar by it. I should not enlarge much, without getting a legal claim to the land. Neither would I advise you to carry on more family than is necessary to keep what team you must have, and to supply your family with milk and vegetables. It will be advantage/disadvantage to you in a pecuniary point of view, it will load you with and tend to make you worldly minded, and give your establishment the air of secularity in the eyes of the world. If I were to go back again to my old field, I would make my establishment as small as I could & have enough to live comfortable. I with others have thought that your tendency was rather towards going to largely into farming. I do not say these things because I wish to dictate or meddle with your affairs. Comparing views sometimes leads to new investigations in regard to duty.

May the Lord bless you and yours, and give you success and abundant prosperity in your labours of love and efforts to Save the Souls around you.

Give my best regards to Mrs. W., the children, Miss S and all.

Yours truly,

S. Hall

Henry Blatchford (aka Francois Decharrault) was a La Pointe Band mixed-blood, a Reverend, and an interpreter at treaties.

I forgot to say that we are all well.  Henry and his family have enjoyed better health here, then they used to enjoy at Lapointe.

 


 

Feb 27

Brother Wheeler.

My delay to answer your note may require an explanation.  I have not had time at command to attend to it conveniently at an earlier period.  As to your first questions.  I suppose there will be no difference of opinion between us as to the correctness of the following remarks.

  1. The Gospel requires the members of a church to exercise a spirit of love, meekness and forbearance towards an offending brother.  They are not to use unnecessary severity in calling him to account for his errors.  Ga. 6:1.
  2. The Object of Church discipline is, not only to [pursue/preserve?] the Church pure in doctrine & morals, that the contrary part may have no evil thing to say of them; but also to bring the offender to a right State of mind, with regard this offense, and gain him back to duty and fidelity.
  3. If prejudice exist in the mind of the offender towards his brethren for any reason, the spirit of the gospel requires that he be so approached if possible as to allay that prejudice, otherwise we can hardly expect to gain a candid hearing with him.

Charles William Wulff Borup, M.D. ~ Minnesota Historical Society

Born in Denmark, Doctor Charles William Wulff Borup married into the powerful Beaulieu Family along with Charles Oakes.
The Borup/Beaulieu/Oakes family participated in and signed multiple American treaties with the Chippewas.  They were the last owners of the American Fur Company outfit at La Pointe when Julius Austrian acquired it in 1853.

I consider that these remarks have some bearing on the case before us.  If it was our object to gain over Dr. B. to our views of the Sabbath, and bring him to a right State of mind with regard this Sabbath breaking, the manner of approaching him would have, in my view, much to do with the offence.  He may be approached in a Kind and [forbearing?] manner, when one of sternness and dictation will only repel him from you.  I think we ought, if possible, and do our duty, avoid a personal quarrel with him.  To have brought the subject before the Church & made a public affair of it, before [this/then?] and more private means have been tried to get satisfaction, would, I am sure, have resulted in this.  I found from my own interviews with him, that there was hope, if the rest of the brethren would pursue a similar course.  I felt pretty sure they would obtain satisfaction.  IF they had [commenced?] by a public prosecution before the church, it would only have made trouble without doing any good.  The peace of our whole community would have been disturbed.  I thought one step was gained when I conversed with him, and another when you met him on the subject.  I knew also that prejudices existed both in his mind towards us, & in our minds towards him which were likely to affect the settlement of this affair, and which as I thought, would be much allayed by individuals going to him and speaking face to face on this subject in private.  He evidently expected they would do so.  Mutual conversations and explanations allay these feelings very much.  At least it has been so in my experience.

Reverend Edmund Franklin Ely.
~ Duluth Public Library

Presbyterian Minister Edmund Ely lived at La Pointe and around Lake Superior from 1833 to 1862.  
Rev. Ely met Dr. Borup in 1833 when Ely required his medical care during a trip to La Pointe.

As to your second question.  I do not say that it was Mr. Ely’s duty to open the subject to Doc. Borup at the preparatory lecture.  If he had done so, it would have been only a private interview; for there [was?] not enough present to transact business.  All I meant to affirm respecting that occasion is, that it afforded a good opportunity to do so, if he wishes, and that Dr. B. expected he would have done so, as I afterwards learnt, if he has any objection to make against his coming to the communion.

As to your third question.  I have no complaint to make of the church, that I have urged them to the performance of any duties in this case they have refused to perform.

And now permit me to ask in my turn.

What “duties” have they urged me to perform in this case, which I “have been unwilling, or manifested a reluctance to perform?”

Did you intend by anything which wrote to me or said verbally, to request me to commence a public prosecution of Doc. Borup before the Church?

Will you have the goodness to state in writing, the substance of what you said to me in your study as to your opinion and that of others suspecting my delinquency in maintaining church discipline.

A reply to these questions would be gratefully received.

Your brother in Christ

S. Hall

 


 

Crow Wing. March 12th 1854

Brother Wheeler:

Read the La Pointe Lands and the James Hughes Affair for primary sources from the Julius Austrian Papers about the fraudulent transfer of La Pointe during 1853 between Julius Austrian and Charles Oakes, et al.
This curious situation of Ministers negotiating with a Jewish merchant to buy back their Churches reveals a radical contrast from the stereotypical power dynamics between Indians, Mixed Bloods, Fur Traders, and Missionaries portrayed in most secondary sources about La Pointe during 1854.  
This curious situation may have been a primary cause of anti-semitic language directed towards Julius Austrian in later primary sources, such as Objections to Mail Route 13780 in 1855. 

Your letter of Feb 17th came to hand by our last mail; and though I wrote you but a short time ago, I will say a few words in relation to one or two topics to which you allude. Shortly after I received your former letter I wrote to Mr. Oakes enquiring about the property at Lapointe. In reply, says that himself and some others purchased Mr. Austrian’s rights at Lapointe of Old Hughes on the strength of a power of attorney which he held. Austrian asserts the power of attorney to be fraudulent, and that they cannot hold the property. Oakes writes as if he did not expect to hold it. Some time ago I wrote to Mr. Austrian on the same subject, and said to him that if I could get our old place back, I might go back to Lapointe. He says in reply —

Julius Austrian
~ Madeline Island Museum

I should feel much gratified to see you back at Lapointe again, and can hold out to you the same inducements and assurances as I have done to all other inhabitants, that is, I shall be at Lapointe early in the spring and will have my land surveyed and laid out into lots, and then I shall be ready to give to every one a deed for the lot he inhabits, at a reasonable price, not paying me a great deal more than cost trouble, and time. But with you, my dear Sir, will be no trouble, as I have always known you a just and upright man, and have provided ways to be kind towards us, therefore take my assurance that I will congratulate myself to see you back again; and it shall not be my fault if you do not come. If you come to Lapointe, at our personal interview, we will arrange the matter no doubt satisfactory.

The property” from the James Hughes Affair is outlined in red.  This encompassed the Church at La Pointe (New Fort) and the Mission (Middleport) of Madeline Island.  1852 PLSS survey map by General Land Office.

I suppose Austrian will hold the property and probably we shall never realize anything for our improvements. You must do the best you can. Make your appeal to his honor, if he has any. It will avail nothing to reproach him with his dishonesty.  I do not know what more I can do to save anything, or for any others whose property is in like circumstances with ours.

Selah B. Treat was Secretary of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions back in Boston.

You speak discouragingly of my going back to Lapointe. I do not think the Home Miss. Soc. would send a missionary there only for the few he could reach in the English language. If the people want a Methodist, encourage them to get one. It is painful to me to see the place abandoned to irreligion and vices of every Kind, and the labours I have expended there thrown away. I can hardly feel that it was right to give up the station when we did. If I thought I could support myself there by working one half the time and devoting the rest to ministerial labors for the good of those I still love there, I should still be willing to go back, if could get there & had a shelter for my head, unless there is a prospect of being more useful here. But the land at Lapointe is so hard to subdue that I am discouraged about making an attempt to get a living there by farming. I am not much of a fisherman. There is some prospect that we may be allowed to go on here. Mr. Treat has been to Washington, and says he expects soon to get a decision from the Department. We have got our school farm plowed, and the materials are drawn out of the woods for fencing it. If I have no orders to the contrary, I intend to go on & plant a part of it, enough to raise some potatoes. We may yet get our school established. If we can go ahead, I shall remain here, but if not, I think it is not my duty to remain here another year, as I have the past. In other circumstances, I could do more towards supporting myself and do more good probably.

Old Chief Kibishkinzhugon could not be immediately identified.

I have felt much concerned for the people of Lapointe and Bad River on account of the small pox. May the Lord stay this calamity from spreading among you. Write us every mail and tell us all. It is now posted here today that the Old Chief [Kibishkinzhugon?] is dead. I hardly credit the report, though I should suppose he might be one of the first victims of the disease.

I can write no more now. We are all very well now. Give my love to all your family and all others.

This appears to be Robert Stuart from the 1842 Treaty at La Pointe.

Tell Robert how the matters stands about the land. It stands him in how to be on good terms with the Jew just now.

Yours truly,

S. Hall

The snow is nearly all off the ground and the weather for two or three weeks has been as mild as April.

 


 

Crow Wing M.H. Apr. 1 1854

Dear Br. & Sr. Wheeler.

Reverend Welton and his family could not be immediately identified.
Mrs. P was the wife of Reverend Charles Pulsifer.  They were formerly stationed at Rev. Hall’s mission in La Pointe.

I have received a letter from you since I wrote to you & am therfore in your debt in that matter.  I have also read your letters to Br. & Sr. Welton  I suppose you have received my letter of the 13th of Feb. if so, you have some idea of our situation & I need say no more of that now; & will only say that we are all well as usual & have been during the winter.  Mrs. P_ is considerably troubled with her old spinal difficulty.  She has got over her labors here last summer * fall.  Harriet is not well  I fear never will be, because the necessary means are not likely to be used, she has more or less pain in her back & side all the time, but she works on as usual & appears just as she did at LaPointe, if she could be freed from work so as to do no more than she could without injury & pursue uninterruptedly & proper medical course I think she might regain pretty good health.  (Do not, any of you, send back these remarks it would not be pleasing to her or the family.)  We have said what we think it best to say) –

Br. Hall is pretty well but by no means the vigorous man he once was.  He has a slight – hacking cough which I suppose neither he nor his family have hardly noticed, but Mrs. P_ says she does not like the sound of it.  His side troubles him some especially when he is a good deal confined at writing.  Mr. & Mrs. W_ are in usual health.  Henry’s family have gone to the bush.  They are all quite well.  He stays here to assist br. H_ in the revision & keeps one or two of his children with him.  They are now in Hebrews, with the Revision.  Henry I suppose still intends to return to Lapointe in the spring. –

Now, you ask, in br. Welton’s letter, “are you all going to break up there in the spring.”  Not that I know of.  It would seem to me like running away rather prematurely.  When the question is settled, that we can do nothing here, then I am willing to leave, & it may be so decided, but it is not yet.  We have not had a whisper from Govt. yet.  Wherefore I cannot say.

It looks now as if we must stay this season if no longer.  Dr. Borup writes to br. Hall to keep up good courage, that all will come out right by & by, that he is getting into favor with Gov. Gorman & will do all he can to help us. (Br. Hall’s custom is worth something you know).

Henry C. Gilbert
~ Branch County Photographs

By advise of the Agent, we got out (last month) tamarack rails enough to fence the school farm (which was broke last summer) of some 80 acres & it will be put up immediately.  Our great father turned out the money to pay for the job.  These things look some like our staying awhile  I tell br H_ I think we had better go as far as we can, without incurring expense to the Board (except for our support) & thus show our readiness to do what we can.  if we should quit here I do not know what will be done with us.  Br Hall would expect to have the service of the Board I suppose.  Should they wish us to return to Bad River we should not say nay.  We were much pleased with what we have heard of your last fall’s payment & I am as much gratified with the report of Mr. H. C. Gilbert which I have read in the Annual Report of the Com. of Indian Affairs.  He recommends that the Lake Superior Indians be included in his Agency, that they be allowed to remain where they are & their farmers, blacksmith & carpenter be restored to them.  If they come under his influence you may expect to be aided in your efforts, not thwarted , by his influence.  I rejoice with you in your brightening prospects, in your increased school (day & Sabbath) & the increased inclination to industry in those around you.  May the lord add his blessing, not only upon the Indians but upon your own souls & your children, then will your prosperity be permanent & real. Do not despise the day of small things, nor overlook especially neglect your own children in any respect.  Suffer them not to form idle habits, teach them to be self reliant, to help themselves & especially you, they can as well do it as not & better too, according to their ability & strength, not beyond it, to fear God & keep his commandments & to be kind to one another (Pardon me these words, I every day see the necessity of what I have said.)  We sympathize with you in your situation being alone as you are, but remember you have one friend always near who waits to [commence?] with you, tell Him & all with you from Abby clear down to Freddy.

Affectionately yours

C. Pulsifer

Write when you can.

 


 

Crow wing Min. Ter.

April 3d 1854

Brother Wheeler

George E. Nettleton and his brother William Nettleton were pioneers, merchants, and land speculators at what is now Duluth and Superior.
~ Image from The Eye of the North-west: First Annual Report of the Statition of Superior, Wisconsin by Frank Abial Flower, 1890, page 75.

Since I wrote you a few days ago, I have received a letter from Mr. G. E. Nettleton, in which he says, that when he was at Lapointe in December last, he was very much hurried and did not make a full settlement with Antoine. He says further, that he showed him my account, and told him I had settled with him, and that he would see the matter right with Antoine. A. replied that all was right. I presume therefore all will be made satisfactory when Mr. N. comes up in the Spring, and that you will have need to make yourself no further trouble about this matter.

I have also received a short note from Mr. Treat in which he says,

“I have not replied to your letters, because I have been daily expecting something decisive from Washington. When I was there, I had the promise of immediate action; but I have not heard a word from them”.

“I go to Washington this Feb, once more. I shall endeavor to close up the whole business before I return. I intend to wait till I get a decision. I shall propose to the Department to give up the school, if they will indemnify us. If I can get only a part of what we lose, I shall probably quit the concern”.

Thus our business with the Government stood on March the 9th, I have lost all confidence in the Indian Department of our Government under this administration, to say nothing of the rest of it. If the way they have treated us is an index to their general management, I do not think they stand very high for moral honesty. The prospects for the Indians throughout all our territories look dark in the extreme. The measures of the Government in relation to them are not such as will benefit and save many of them. They are opening the floodgates of vice and destruction upon them in every quarter. The most solemn guarantees that they shall be let alone in the possession of domains expressly granted them mean nothing.

Our prospects here look dark. For some time past I have been rather anticipating that we should soon get loose and be able to go on. But all is thrown into the dark again. What I am to do in future to support my family, I do not know. If we are ordered to quit here and turn over the property, it would turn [illegible] out of doors.

Mr. Austrian expects us back to Lapointe in the Spring & Mr. Nettleton proposes to us to go to Fond du Lac, (at the Entry). He says there will be a large settlement then next season. A company is chartered to build a railroad through from the Southern boundary of this territory to that place. It is probable that Company [illegible] will make a grant of land for that purpose. If so, it will probably be done in a few years. That will open the lake region effectually. I feel the need of relaxation and rest before I do anything to get established anywhere.

We are still working away at the Testament, it is hard work, and we make lately but slow progress. There is a prospect that the Bible Society will publish it but it is not fully decided. I wish I could be so situated that I could finish the grammar.

But I suppose I am repeating what I have said more than once before. We are generally in good health and spirits. We hope to hear from by next mail.

Yours truly

S. Hall

What do you think about the settlements above Lapointe and above the head of the Lake?

 


 

Detroit July 10th 1854

Rev. Dr. Bro.

At your request and in fulfilment of my promise made at LaPointe last fall so after so long a time I write: And besides “to do good & to communicate” as saith the Apostle “forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

We did not close up our Indian payments of last year until the middle of the following January, the labors, exposures and excitements of which proved too much for me and I went home to New York sick & nearly used up about the last of February & continued so for two months.  I returned here about a week ago & am now preparing for the fall pay’ts.

The Com’sr. has sent in the usual amounts of Goods for the LaPointe Indians to Mr. Gilbert & I presume means to require him to make the payment at La P. that he did last fall, although we have received nothing from the Dep’t. on the subject.

George Washington Manypenny (1808-1892) was the Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs of the United States from 1853 to 1857.”
~ Wikipedia.org

In regard to the Treaty with the Chipp’s of La Sup’r & the Miss’i, the subject is still before Congress and if one is made this fall it has been more than intimated that Com’r Manypenny will make it himself, either at LaP’ or at F. Dodge or perhaps at some place farther west.  Of course I do not speak from authority or any of the points mentioned above, for all is rumour & inference beyond the mere arrival here of the Goods to Mr G’s care.

From various sources I learn that you have passed a severe winter and that much sickness has been among the Indians and that many of them have been taken away by the Small Pox.

This is sad and painful intelligence enough and I can but pray God to bless & overrule all to the goods of his creasures and especially to the Missionaries & their families.

Notwithstanding I have not written before be assured that I have often [???] of and prayed for you and yours and while in [Penn.?] you made your case my own so far as to represent it to several of our Christian brethren and the friends of missions there and who being actuated by the benevolent principles of the Gospel, have sent you some substanted relief and they promise to do more.

The Elements of the political world both here and over the waters seem to be in fearful & [?????] commotion and what will come of it all none but the high & holy one can know.  The anti Slavery Excitement with us at the North and the Slavery excitement at the South is augmenting fact and we I doubt not will soon be called upon to choose between Slavery & freedom.

If I do not greatly misjudge the blessed cause of our holy religion is or seems to be on the wane.  I trust I am mistaken, but the Spirit of averice, pride, sensuality & which every where prevails makes me think otherwise.  The blessed Christ will reign [recenth-den?] and his kingdom will yet over all prevail; and so may it be.

Let us present to him daily the homage of a devout & grateful heart for his tender mercies [tousward?] and see to it that by his grace we endure unto the end that we may be saved.

My best regards to Mrs. W. to Miss Spooner to each of the dear children and to all the friends & natives to each of whom I desire to be remembered as opportunity occurs.

The good Lord willing I may see you again this fall.  If I do not, nor never see you again in this world, I trust I shall see and meet you in that world of pure delight where saints immortal reign.

May God bless you & yours always & ever

Richard M. Smith wrote the 1854 Treaty at La Pointe as the Secretary for Indian Agent Gilbert.

I am your brother

In faith Hope & Charity

Rich. M. Smith

 

Rev Leonard H. Wheeler

LaPointe

Lake Superior

 


 

Miss. House Boston

Augt’ 31, 1854

Rev. L. H. Wheeler,

Lake Superior

Dear Brother

Yours of July 31 I laid before the Com’sr at our last meeting.  They have formally authorized the transfer of Mr & Mrs Pulsifer to the Lake, & also that of Henry Blatchford.

Robert Stuart was formerly an American Fur Company agent and Acting Superintendent on Mackinac Island during the first Treaty at La Pointe in 1842.
~ Wikipedia.org

In regard to the “claims” their feeling is that if the Govt’ will give land to your station, they have nothing to say as to the quantity.  But if they are to pay the usual govt’ price, the question requires a little caution.  We are clear that we may authorize you to enter & [???] take up so much land as shall be necessary for the convenience of the [mission?] families; but we do not see how we can buy land for the Indians.  Will you have the [fondness?] to [????] [????] on these points.  How much land do you propose to take up in all?  How much is necessary for the convenience of the mission families?

Perhaps you & others propose to take up the lands with private funds.  With that we have nothing to do, so long as you, Mr P. & H. do not become land speculators; of which, I presume, there is no danger.

As to the La Pointe property, Mr Stuart wrote you some since, as you know already I doubt not, and replied adversely to making any bargain with Austrian.  I took up the opinion of the Com’sr after receiving your letter of July 31, & they think it the wise course.  I hope Mr Stewart will get this matter in some shape in due time.

I will write to him in reference to the Bad River land, asking him to see it once if the gov’ will do any thing.

Affectionate regards to Mrs W. & Miss Spooner & all.

Fraternally Yours

S. B. Treat

P.S. Your report of July 31 came safely to hand, as you will & have seen from the Herald.