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

… continued from Among The Otchipwees: II

 


 

Magazine of Western History Illustrated No. 4 February 1885 as republished in Magazine of Western History: Volume I

Magazine of Western History Illustrated
No. 4 February 1885
as republished in
Magazine of Western History: Volume I, pages 335-342.

AMONG THE OTCHIPWEES.

III.

The Northern tribes have nothing deserving the name of historical records.  Their hieroglyphics or pictorial writings on trees, bark, rocks and sheltered banks of clay relate to personal or transient events.  Such representations by symbols are very numerous but do not attain to a system.

Their history prior to their contact with the white man has been transmitted verbally from generation to generation with more accuracy than a civilized people would do.  Story-telling constitutes their literature.  In their lodges they are anything but a silent people.  When their villages are approached unawares, the noise of voices is much the same as in the camps of parties on pic-nic excursions.  As a voyageur the pure blood is seldom a success, and one of the objections to him is a disposition to set around the camp-fire and relate his tales of war or of the hunt, late into the night.  This he does with great spirit, “suiting the action to the word” with a varied intonation and with excellent powers of description.  Such tales have come down orally from old to young many generations, but are more mystical than historical.  The faculty is cultivated in the wigwam during long winter nights, where the same story is repeated by the patriarchs to impress it on the memory of the coming generation.  With the wild man memory is sharp, and therefore tradition has in some cases a semblance to history.  In substance, however, their stories lack dates, the subjects are frivolous or merely romantic, and the narrator is generally given to embellishment.  He sees spirits everywhere, the reality of which is accepted by the child, who listens with wonder to a well-told tale, in which he not only believes, but is preparing to be a professional story-teller himself.

Charles Whittlesey reproduced some of these pictographs in Western Reserve Historical Society Tract 41.

Indian picture-writings and inscriptions, in their hieroglyphics, are seen everywhere on trees, rocks and pieces of bark, blankets and flat pieces of wood.  Above Odanah, on Bad River, is a vertical bank of clay, shielded from storms by a dense group of evergreens.  On this smooth surface are the records of many generations, over and across each other, regardless of the rights of previous parties.  Like most of their writings, they relate to trifling events of the present, such as the route which is being traveled; the game killed; or the results of a fight.  To each message the totem or dodem of the writer is attached, by which he is at once recognized.  But there are records of some consequence, though not strictly historical.

Charles Whittlesey also reproduced Okandikan's autobiography in Western Reserve Historical Society Tract 41.

Charles Whittlesey also reproduced Okandikan’s autobiography in Western Reserve Historical Society Tract 41.

Before a young man can be considered a warrior, he must undergo an ordeal of exposure and starvation.  He retires to a mountain, a swamp, or a rock, and there remains day and night without food, fire or blankets, as long as his constitution is able to endure the exposure.  Three or four days is not unusual, but a strong Indian, destined to be a great warrior, should fast at least a week.  One of the figures on this clay bank is a tree with nine branches and a hand pointing upward.  This represents the vision of an Indian known to one of my voyagers, which he saw during his seclusion.  He had fasted nine days, which naturally gave him an insight of the future, and constituted his motto, or chart of life.  In tract No. 41 (1877), of the Western Reserve Historical Society, I have represented some of the effigies in this group; and also the personal history of Kundickan, a Chippewa, whom I saw in 1845, at Ontonagon.  This record was made by himself with a knife, on a flat piece of wood, and is in the form of an autobiography.  In hundreds of places in the United States such inscriptions are seen, of the meaning of which very little is known.  Schoolcraft reproduced several of them from widely separated localities, such as the Dighton Boulder, Rhode Island; a rock on Kelley’s Island, Lake Erie, and from pieces of birch bark, conveying messages or memoranda to aid an orator in his speeches.

“The drawings, done in color, were copies made by Four Horns from a set by Sitting Bull’s own hand, had been sold to James C. Kimball, Assistant Surgeon, U.S.A. in 1870 by a Yanktonais Sioux, who also supplied a key or index (highly inaccurate and incomplete) explaining the pictures.”
~ New Sources of Indian History, 1850-1891: The Ghost Dance and the Prairie Sioux, A Miscellany by Stanley Vestal, 2015, page 269.

The “Indian rock” in the Susquehanna River, near Columbia, Pennsylvania; the God Rock, on the Allegheny, near Brady’s Bend; inscriptions on the Ohio River Rocks, near Wellsville, Ohio, and near the mouth of the Guyandotte, have a common style, but the particular characters are not the same.  Three miles west of Barnsville, in Belmont County, Ohio, is a remarkable group of sculptured figures, principally of human feet of various dimensions and uncouth proportions.  Sitting Bull gave a history of his exploits on sheets of paper, which he explained to Dr. Kimball, a surgeon in the army, published in fascimile in Harper’s Weekly, July 1876.  Such hieroglyphics have been found on rocky faces in Arizona, and on boulders in Georgia.

Charles Whittlesey is referring to either the La Pointe Annuity Payments during 1849 or 1860.  For context about these events, read about the 1848 La Pointe Annuity Payments and the 1855 La Pointe Annuity Payments.
Detail of 1852 PLSS of La Pointe. http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/SurveyNotes/Search.html

Pointe De Froid is the northwestern extremity of La Pointe on Madeline Island. Map detail from 1852 PLSS survey.

“Geological Report on that Portion of Wisconsin Bordering on the South Shore of Lake Superior Surveyed in the Year 1849, Under the Direction of David Dale Owen, United States Geologist. By Charles Whittlesey, Head of Sub-Corps.”
~ Report of a geological survey of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota: and incidentally of a portion of Nebraska Territory, by David Dale Owen, 1852, page 420.
“In 1860 (August to October) Colonel Whittlesey engaged in another geological exploration in Ashland, Bayfield and Douglass counties, as part of the geological survey of Wisconsin, then organized under James Hall.  His report, presented to Professor Hall in the ensuing year, was never published, on account of the stoppage of the survey.”
~  Geology of Wisconsin: Paleontology by R. P. Whitfield, 1880, page 58.

While pandemonium was let loose at La Pointe towards the close of the payment we made a bivouac on the beach, between the dock and the mission house.  The voyageurs were all at the great finale which constitutes the paradise of a Chippewa.  One of my local assistants was playing the part of a detective on the watch for whisky dealers.  We had seen one of them on the head waters of Brunscilus River, who came through the woods up the Chippewa River.  Beyond the village of La Pointe, on a sandy promontory called Pointe au Froid, abbreviated to Pointe au Fret or Cold Point, were about twenty-five lodges, and probably one hundred and fifty Indians excited by liquor.  For this, diluted with more than half water, they paid a dollar for each pint, and the measure was none too large – neither pressed down nor running over.  Their savage yells rose on the quiet moon-lit atmosphere like a thousand demons.  A very little weak whisky is sufficient to work wonders in the stomach of a backwoods Indian, to whom it is a comparative stranger.  About midnight the detective perceived our traveler from the Chippewa River quietly approaching the dock, to which he tied his canoe and went among the lodges.  To the stern there were several kegs of fire-water attached, but weighted down below the surface of the water.  It required but a few minutes to haul them in and stave the heads of all of them.  Before morning there appeared to be more than a thousand savage throats giving full play to their powerful lungs.  Two of them were staggering along the beach toward where I lay, with one man by my side.  he said we had better be quiet, which, undoubtedly, was good advice.  They were nearly naked, locked arm in arm, their long hair spread out in every direction, and as they swayed to and fro between the water line and the bushes, no imagination could paint a more complete representation of the demon.  There was a yell to every step – apparently a bacchanalian song.  They were within two yards before they saw us, and by one leap cleared everything, as though they were as much surprised as we were.  The song, or howl, did not cease.  It was kept up until they turned away from the beach into the mission road, and went on howling over the hill toward the old fort.  It required three days for half-breed and full-blood alike to recover from the general debauch sufficiently to resume the oar and pack.  As we were about to return to the Penoka Mountains, a Chippewa buck, with a new calico shirt and a clean blanket, wished to know if the Chemokoman would take him to the south shore.  He would work a paddle or an oar.  Before reaching the head of the Chegoimegon Bay there was a storm of rain.  He pulled off his shirt, folded it and sat down upon it, to keep it dry.  The falling rain on his bare back he did not notice.

Stephen Bonga was famous for his deeds as a mixed-blood member of the Lake Superior Chippewa, his family were the first African-Americans living in what is now Minnesota.  Stephen’s brother Charles Bonga was introduced in Part II, but there is no other record of him.  Charles appears to be an alias for either George Bonga or Jack Bonga, Stephen’s other brothers.
Portrait of Stephen Bonga ().

Portrait of Stephen Bonga
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

We had made the grand portage of nine miles from the foot of the cataract of the St. Louis, above Fond du Lac, and encamped on the river where the trail came to it below the knife portage.  In the evening Stephen Bungo, a brother of Charles Bungo, the half-breed negro and Chippewa, came into our tent.  He said he had a message from Naugaunup, second chief of the Fond du Lac band, whose home as at Ash-ke-bwau-ka, on the river above.  His chief wished to know by what authority we came through the country without consulting him.  After much diplomatic parley Stephen was given some pequashigon and went to his bivouac.

Naagaanab (Minnesota Historical Society)

Portrait of Naagaanab
~ Minnesota Historical Society

The next morning he intimated that we must call at Naugaunup’s lodge on the way up, where probably permission might be had, by paying a reasonable sum, to proceed.  We found him in a neat wigwam with two wives, on a pleasant rise of the river bluff, clear of timber, where there had been a village of the same name.  His countenance was a pleasant one, very closely resembling that of Governor Corwin, of Ohio, but his features were smaller and also his stature.  Dr. Norwood informed him that we had orders from the Great Father to go up the St. Louis to its source, thence to the waters running the other way to the Canada line.  Nothing but force would prevent us from doing this, and if he was displeased he should make a complaint to the Indian agent at La Pointe, and he would forward it to Washington.  We heard no more of the invasion of his territory, and he proceeded to do what very few Chippewas will do, offered to show us valuable minerals.  In the stream was a pinnacle of black sale, about sixty feet high.  Naugaunup soon appeared from behind it, near the top, in a position that appeared to be inaccessible, a very picturesque object pointing triumphantly to some veins of white quartz, which are very common in metamorphic slate.

Those who have heard him, say that he was a fine orator, having influence over his band, a respectable Indian, and a good negotiator. If he imagined there was value in those seams of quartz it is quite remarkable and contrary to universal practice among Chippewas that he should show them to white men.  They claim that all minerals belong to the tribe.  An Indian who received a price for showing them, and did not give every one his share, would be in danger of his life.  They had also a superstitious dread of some great evil if they disclosed anything of the kind.  Some times they promise to do so, but when they arrive at the spot, with some verdant white man, expecting to become suddenly rich, the Great Spirit or the Bad Manitou has carried it away.  I have known more than one such instance, where persons have been sustained by hopeful expectation after many days of weary travel into the depths of the forest.  The editor of the Ontonagon Miner gives one of the instances in his experience:

The Ontonagon Trading Post of the American Fur Company was located at the mouth of Big Iron River.  For more information, read A History of Silver City, Ontonagon County, Michigan by Knox Jamison, 1963, page 1.

“Many years ago when Iron River was one of the fur stations, of John Jacob Astor and the American Fur Company, the Indians were known to have silver in its native state in considerable quantities.”

Men are now living who have seen them with chunks of the size of a man’s fist, but no one ever succeeded in inducing them to tell or show where the hidden treasure lay.  A mortal dread clung to them, that if they showed white men a deposit of mineral the Great Manitou would punish them with death.

Several years since a half-breed brought in very fine specimens of vein rock, carrying considerable quantities of native silver.  His report was that his wife had found it on the South Range, where they were trapping.  To test his story he was sent back for more.  In a few days he returned bringing with him quite a chunk from which was obtained eleven and one-half ounces of native silver.  He returned home, went among the Flambeaux Indians and was killed.  His wife refused to listen to any proposals or temptation from friend or foe to show the location of this vein, clinging with religious tenacity to the superstitious fears of her tribe.

The “Bruce or Wellington mining property” could not be identified before publication of this post.

When the British had a fort on St. Joseph’s Island in the St. Mary’s River, in the War of 1812, an Indian brought in a rich piece of copper pyrites.  The usual mode of getting on good terms with him, by means of whisky, failed to get from him the location of the mineral.  Goods were offered him; first a bundle, then a pile, afterwards a canoe-load, and finally enough to load a Mackinaw boat.  No promise to disclose the place, no description or hint could be extorted.  It was probably a specimen from the veins on the Bruce or Wellington mining property, only about twenty miles distant on the Canadian shore.

Mako-bimide (also known as Moquabimetem, Makwabimetem, or John Beargrease the Elder) and his family lived in isolation near Prairie Lake.  They later moved to Beaver Bay on the North Shore of Lake Superior.
John Beargrease the Younger (aka Eshquabi) was the first mail carrier on the North Shore.  John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is named in his honor.
Chequamegon History recommends the book John Beargrease [the Younger]: Legend of Minnesota’s North Shore by Daniel Lancaster, 2008.
John Beargrease the Younger was the first mail carrier on the North Shore of Lake Superior. ~ Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

Detail of John Beargrease the Younger from stereograph “Lake Superior winter mail line” by B. F. Childs, circa 1870s-1880s.
Commons.Wikimedia.org

Crossing over the portage from the St. Louis River to Vermillion River, one of the voyageurs heard the report of a distant shot.  They had expected to meet Bear’s Grease, with his large family, and fired a gun as a signal to them.  The ashes of their fire were still warm.  After much shouting and firing, it was evident that we should have no Indian society at that time.  That evening, around an ample camp fire, we heard the history of the old patriarch.  His former wives had borne him twenty-four children; more boys than girls.  Our half-breed guide had often been importuned to take one of the girls.  The old father recommended her as a good worker, and if she did not work he must whip her.  Even a moderate beating always brought her to a sense of her duties.  All he expected was a blanket and a gun as an offset.  He would give a great feast on the occasion of the nuptials.  Over the summit to Vermillion, through Vermillion Lake, passing down the outlet among many cataracts to the Crane Lake portage, there were encamped a few families, most of them too drunk to stand alone.  There were two traders, from the Canada side, with plenty of rum.  We wanted a guide through the intricacies of Rainy Lake.  A very good-looking savage presented himself with a very unsteady gait, his countenance expressing the maudlin good nature of Tam O’Shanter as he mounted Meg.  Withal, he appeared to be honest.  “Yes, I know that way, but, you see, I’m drunk; can’t you wait till to-morrow.”  A young squaw who apparently had not imbibed fire-water, had succeeded in acquiring a pewter ring.  Her dress was a blanket of rabbit skins, made of strips woven like a rag carpet.  It was bound around her waist with a girdle of deer’s hide, answering the purpose of stroud and blanket.  No city belle could exhibit a ring of diamonds more conspicuously and with more self-satisfaction than this young squaw did her ring of pewter.

Old Wau-nun-nee could not be identified before publication of this post.  Please let us know if you can identify this individual and the fate of his Band.
The Grand Fourche Bands may have been located along the Red River of the North.  This may be at Grand Forks on the Red River of the North bordering between Minnesota and North Dakota.
Ash-ab-ash-kaw Lake could not be identified before publication of this post.  Please let us know if you can identify this village.
The Red River of the North was known as part of Rupert’s Land, and was used as a major trade route by the Hudson’s Bay Company.

As we were all silently sitting in the canoes, dripping with rain, a sudden halloo announced the approach of living men.  It was no other than Wau-nun-nee, the chief of the Grand Fourche bands, who was hunting for ducks among the rice.  More delicious morsels never gladdened the palate than these plump, fat, rice-fed ducks.  Old Wau-nun-nee is a gentleman among Indian chiefs.  His band had never consented to sell their land, and consequently had no annuities.  He even refused to receive a present from the Government as one of the head men of the tribe, preferring to remain wholly independent.  We soon came to his village on Ash-ab-ash-kaw Lake.  No band of Indians in our travels appeared as comfortable or behaved as well as this.  Their country is well supplied with rice and tolerably good hunting ground.  The American fur dealers (I mean the licensed ones) do not sell liquor to the Indians, and use their influence to aid Government in keeping it from them.  Wau-nun-nee’s baliwick was seldom disturbed by drunken brawls.  His Indians had more pleasant countenances than any we had seen, with less of the wild and haggard look than the annuity Indians.  It was seldom they left their grounds, for they seldom suffered from hunger.  They were comfortably clothed, made no importunities for kokoosh or pequashigon, and in gratifying their savage curiosity about our equipments they were respectful and pleasant.  In his lodge the chief had teacups and saucers, with tea and sugar for his white guests, which he pressed us to enjoy.  But we had no time for ceremonials, and had tea and sugar of our own.  Our men recognized numerous acquaintances among the women, and as we encamped near a second village at Round Lake they came to make a draft on our provision chest.  We here laid in a supply of wild rice in exchange for flour.  Among this band we saw bows and arrows used to kill game.  They have so little trade with the whites, and are so remote from the depots of Indian goods, that powder and lead are scarce, and guns also.  For ducks and geese the bow and arrow is about as effectual as powder and shot.  In truth, the community of which Wau-nun-nee was the patriarch came nearer to the pictures of Indians which poets are fond of drawing than any we saw.  The squaws were more neatly clad, and their hair more often combed and braided and tied with a piece of ribbon or red flannel, with which their pappooses delighted to sport.  There were among them fewer of those distinguished smoke-dried, sore-eyed creatures who present themselves at other villages.

The “head of the Round Lake branch” could not be identified before publication of this post.  Please let us know if you can identify this historic route and portage.

By my estimate the channel, as we followed it to the head of the Round Lake branch, is two hundred and two mile in length, and the rise of the stream one hundred and eight feet.  The portage to a stream leading into the Mississippi is one mile.

At Round Lake we engaged two young Indians to help over the portage in Jack’s place.  Both of them were decided dandies, and one, who did not overtake us till late the next morning, gave an excuse that he had spent the night in courting an Indian damsel.  This business is managed with them a little differently than with us.  They deal largely in charms, which the medicine men furnish.  This fellow had some pieces of mica, which he pulverized, and was managing to cause his inamorata to swallow.  If this was effected his cause was sure to succeed.  He had also some ochery, iron ore and an herb to mix with the mica.  Another charm, and one very effectual, is composed of a hair from the damsel’s head placed between two wooden images.  Our Lothario had prepared himself externally so as to produce a most killing effect.  His hair was adorned with broad yellow ribbons, and also soaked in grease.  On his cheeks were some broad jet black stripes that pointed, on both sides, toward his mouth; in his ears and nose, some beads four inches long.  For a pouch and medicine bag he had the skin of a swan suspended from his girdle by the neck.  His blanket was clean, and his leggings wrought with great care, so that he exhibited a most striking collection of colors.

Cass Lake is the largest community of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.

At Round Lake we overtook the Cass Lake band on their return from the rice lakes.  This meeting produced a great clatter of tongues between our men and the squaws, who came waddling down a slippery bank where they were encamped.  There was a marked difference between these people and those at Ash-ab-ash-kaw.  They were more ragged, more greasy, and more intrusive.

CHARLES WHITTLSEY.

La Pointe Bands Part 1

April 19, 2015

By Leo Filipczak

lapointeband

(Click to Enlarge)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fitch-Wheeler Letter

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

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

Office Michn Indn Agency

Detroit July 8th 1857

Sir,

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

____________________________

 

La Pointe Bands.

__________

 

Maw kaw-day pe nay se [Blackbird]

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

Maw kaw-day waw quot [Black Cloud]

Waw be ne me ke [White Thunder]

Me she naw way [Disciple]

Aw, naw, quot [Cloud]

Naw waw ge won. [Little Current]

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

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

Vincent Roy Sen.  {head ½ Breeds.}

 

Lakes De Flambeau & Court Oreille Bands.

__________

 

Keynishteno [Cree]

Awmose [Little Bee]

Oskawbaywis [Messenger]

Keynozhance [Little Pike]

Iyawbanse [Little Buck]

Oshawwawskogezhick [Blue Sky]

Keychepenayse [Big Bird]

Naynayonggaybe [Dressing Bird]

Awkeywainze [Old Man]

Keychewawbeshayshe [Big Marten]

Aishquaygonaybe–[End Wing Feather]

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

__________

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

 

Very respectfully

Your Obedt Servt,

A W Fitch

Indn. Agent

 

Rev. L H Wheeler

Bad River msn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AN ABRAHAM LINCOLN INDIAN MEDAL
Theodore T. Brown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 TO BE CONTINUED

KAIZHEOSH, and his band from Lake Vieu Desert.  Michigan and Wisconsin: Copied from the original birch bark by Seth Eastman and published in Schoolcraft, Henry R. Information Respecting the History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States, Volume 1. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, and Company, 1853. (Digitized by the University of Nebraska Libraries)

In the fall of 1848, a group of Ojibwe Indians led by a charismatic mix-blooded interpreter, arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio.  They were bound for Washington D.C., but didn’t have the money to get there because they didn’t have “permission” from the Indian Agent for the trip. They had to raise funds along the way by putting on dances for the curious public.  Those who read Chequamegon History might remember this post and recognize them as John Baptiste Martell, Oshkaabewis, Gezhiiyaash, and the other chiefs from the Lac du Flambeau/Ontonagon region who carried the famous pictographic birch bark petitions to Washington.  The pictographs showing the united Ojibwe clans, and the written petition that accompanied them, asked the government to create reservations in Michigan and Wisconsin, and not remove the Oijbwe.

When Gezhiiyaash got sick in Cincinnati, the doctor he was seeing noticed that the petitions were not the only birch bark documents carried by the party.  The ill Lac Vieux Desert chief was a leader in the Midewiwin Society, and he had brought a Mide scroll.  His doctor, like many prominent American men in the middle of the 19th century, was a Freemason, and this is where things got interesting.  And, I’ll leave it at that because I don’t want to spoil any more of this story.  It’s a good one.

Masonic Voice Review, Volume 4.  J. Ernst., 1849.  Digitized by Google Books

There isn’t a whole lot to add to this other than to say the 1848-49 “Martell Expedition” gets weirder and more interesting with each new source that surfaces. Please read …a donation of twenty-four sections of land covering the graves of our fathers, our sugar orchards, and our rice lakes and rivers… and Reconstructing the “Martell” Delegation through Newspapers, for an explanation of the goals and accomplishments of these chiefs and the obstacles they faced along the way.

Sources:
Satz, Ronald N. Chippewa Treaty Rights: The Reserved Rights of Wisconsin’s Chippewa Indians in Historical Perspective. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, 1991. Print.
Schenck, Theresa M. William W. Warren: The Life, Letters, and times of an Ojibwe Leader. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2007. Print.
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe, and Seth Eastman. Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Collected and Prepared under the Direction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs per Act of Congress of March 3rd, 1847. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, 1851. Print.