By Amorin Mello

… continued from Among The Otchipwees: I

Magazine of Western History Illustrated No. 3 January 1885 as republished in Magazine of Western History: Volume I

Magazine of Western History Illustrated
No. 3 January 1885
as republished in
Magazine of Western History: Volume I, pages 177-192.

AMONG THE OTCHIPWEES.

II.

In the fall of 1849, the Bad Water band were in excellent condition, and therefore very happy.  Deer were then very abundant on the Menominee.  They are nimble animals, able to leap gracefully over obstructions as high as a man’s head standing.  But they do not like such efforts, unless there is a necessity for it.  The Indians discovered this long ago, and built long brush fences across their trails to the water.  When the unsuspecting animal has finished browsing, he goes for a drink with the regularity of an habitué of a saloon.  Seeing the obstruction, he walks leisurely along it, expecting to find a low place, or the end of it.  The dark eye of the Chippewa is fixed upon him from the top of a tree.  This is much the best position, because the deer is not likely to look up, and the wind is less likely to bear his odor to the delicate nostrils of the game.  At such close quarters every shot is fatal.  Its throat is cut, its legs tied together, and thrown over the head and shoulders of the hunter, its body resting on his back, and he starts for the village.  Here the squaws strip off the hide and prepare the carcass for the kettle.  With a tin cup full of flour or a pound of pork, we often purchased a saddle of venison, and both parties were satisfied with the trade.

Naagaanab<br/>~ Minnesota Historical Society

Naagaanab
~ Minnesota Historical Society

Ushkabwahka river is Ushkibwakani-zibi [Askibwaanikaa-ziibi]. The-river-of-the-place-of-the-wild-artichokes.”
Executive Documents of the State of Minnesota for the Year 1886, Volume V.: Minnesota Geographical Names Derived from the Chippewa Language, by Reverend Joseph Alexander Gilfillan, 1887, page 457.
Jerusalem Artichoke is translated as as As’kibwan’ 1928 book, Uses of Plants by the Chippewa Indians by Frances Densmore, 1928.
Ekwaakwaa refers to a place near the “edge of the woods.”
Akwaakwaa
refers to “go a certain distance in the woods.”
“The several rapids from Knife portage to Ashkewaka, I estimate at sixty (60) feet, and thence to the mouth of the East Savannah river twenty-five (25) feet, making five hundred and ninety-four (594) feet above Lake Superior and 1204 above the ocean.”
General Geology: Miscellaneous Papers, Volume 1A Report of Explorations in the Mineral Regions of Minnesota During the Years 1848, 1859 and 1864 by Colonel Charles Whittlesey, 1866, page 44.

Of course the man of the woods has a preference as to what he shall eat; but when he is suffering from hunger, as he is a large part of his days, he is not very particular.  Fresh venison, bear meat, buffalo, moose, caribou, porcupine, wild geese, ducks, rabbits, pigeons, or fish, relish better than gulls, foxes, or skunks.  The latter do very well while he is on the verge of starvation, and even owls, crows, dead horses and oxen.  The lakes of the interior of Minnesota and Wisconsin produce wild rice spontaneously.  When parched it is more palatable than southern rice, and more nutritious.  Potatoes grow well everywhere in the north country; varieties of corn ripen as far north as Red Lake.  Nothing but a disinclination to labor hinders the Chippewa from always having enough to eat.  With the wild rice, sugar, and the fat of animals, well mixed, they make excellent rations, which will sustain life longer than any preparation known to white men.  A packer will carry on his back enough to last him forty days.  He needs only a tin cup in which to warm water, with which it makes a rich soup.  Pemmican is less palatable, and sooner becomes rancid.  This is made of smoke or jerked meat pulverized, saturated with fat and pressed into cakes or blocks.  Sturgeon are numerous and large, and when well smoked and well pulverized they furnish palatable food even without salt, and keep indefinitely.  Voyagers mix it with sugar and water in their cups.  In the large lakes, white fish, siskowit, and lake trout are abundant.  In the smaller lakes and rivers there are many varieties of fish.  With so many resources supplied by nature, if the natives suffer  from hunger it is solely caused by indolence.  His implicit reliance upon the Great Spirit, which is his good Providence, no doubt encourages improvidence.  Nanganob was apparently very desirous to have a garden at Ashkebwaka, for which I sent him a barrel of seed potatoes, corn, pumpkins, and a general assortment of seeds.  Precisely what was done with the parcel I do not know, but none of it went into the ground.  In most cases everything eatable went into their stomachs as soon as they were hungry.  Even after potatoes had been planted, they have been dug out and eaten, and squashes when they were merely out of bloom.  If the master of a lodge should be inclined to preserve the seed and a hungry brother came that way, their hospitality required that the garden should be sacrificed.  Their motto is that the morrow will take care of itself.  After being well fed, they are especially worthless.  When corn has been issued to them to carry to their home, they have been known to throw it away and go off as happy as children.

Detail of the Saint Louis River with Knife Portage and East Savannah River from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843. ~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Detail of the Saint Louis River with the Artichoke River (unlabeled) between the Knife Portage and East Savannah River from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843.
~ David Rumsey Map Collection

No footgear is more comfortable, especially in winter, than the moccasin.  The Indian knows nothing of cold feet, though he has no shoes or even socks.  His light loose moccasin is large enough to allow a wrap of one or more thickness of pieces of blankets, called “nepes.”  In times of extreme cold, wisps of hay are put in around the “nepes.”  In winter the snow is dry, and the rivers and swamps everywhere covered with ice, which is a thorough protection against wet feet.  As they are never pinched by the devices of shoemakers, the blood circulates freely.  The well tanned deer skin is soft and a good nonconductor, which cannot be said of the footgear of civilization.  In summer the moccasin is light and easy to the foot, but is no protection against water.  At night it is not dried at the camp-fire only wrung out to be put on wet in the morning.  Like the bow and the arrow, these have nearly disappeared since Europeans have furnished bullets, powder and guns.  Before that time the war club was a very important weapon.  It was of wood, having a strong handle, with a ball or knot at the end. If the Chippewas used battleaxes of stone, they could not have been common.  I have rarely seen a light war club with an iron spike well fastened in the knot or ball at the end.  In ancient days, when their arrows and daggers were tipped with flint, their battles were like those of all rude people – personal encounters of the most desperate character.  The sick are possessed of evil spirits which are driven out by incantations loud and prolonged enough to kill a well person.  Their acquaintance with medical herbs is very complete.

Mr. B cannot be identified without more biographical information.  He could be either Harry S. Beesley or Daniel P. Bushnell (both men are mentioned later), or someone else.

One of the customs of the country is that of concubinage as well as polygamy, resembling in this respect the ancient Hebrews and other Eastern nations.  The parents of a girl – on proper application and the payment of a blanket, some tobacco and other et ceteras, amounting to “ten pieces” – bestowing their daughter for such a period as her new master may choose.  A further consideration is understood that she is to be clothed and fed, and when the parents visit the traders’ post they expect some pork and flour.  To a maiden – who, as an Indian wife or in her father’s house is not only a drudge but a slave, compelled to row the canoe, to cut and bring wood, put up the lodge and take it down, and always to carry some burden – this situation is a very agreeable one.  If she wishes to marry afterwards, her reputation does not suffer.  While Mr. B. was conversing with the Hudson’s Bay man on the bank, some of the girls came coquettishly down to them frisking about in their rabbit skin blankets well saturated with grease.  One of them managed to keep in view what she considered a special attraction – a fine pewter ring on her finger.  These Chippewas damsels had in some way acquired the art of insinuation belonging to the sex without the aid of a boarding school.

History and Tribes of the La Pointe Indian Agency

The Indian agent at La Pointe killed a deer of about medium size, which he left in the woods.  He engaged an Indian to bring it in.  Night came and the next day before the man returned without the deer.  “Where is my deer?”  “Eat him, don’t suppose me to eat nothing.”  Probably that meal lasted him a week.  There is among them no regular time for meals or other occupations.  If there are provisions in the lodge, each one helps himself; and if a visitor comes, he is offered what he can eat as long as it lasts.  This is their view of hospitality.  The lazy and worthless are never refused.  To do this to the meanest professional dead beat would be the ruin of the character of the host.

Detail of portage across Missabay Heights between Lake Vermillion and the Saint Louis River headwaters from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843. ~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Detail of portage between Lake Vermillion and the Saint Louis River headwaters from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843.
~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Daniel P. Bushnell was stationed at the La Pointe Indian sub-Agency.
Wiindigoo is a legendary being among the Ojibwe and other Algonquin tribes.
Vincent Roy, Jr. was a famous figure of La Pointe.  Mr. Roy in this narrative is most likely his father (Vincent Roy, Sr.), or perhaps his grandfather (Vincent Roy the Eldest).

“Vincent Roy Sr. was born at Leech Lake Minn. in the year 1779 1797, and died at Superior, Wis. Feb. 18th 1872. He was a son of a Canadian Frenchman by the same name as his son bears. When V. Roy, Sr was about 17 or 18 years old, they emigrated to Fort Frances, Dominion of Canada, where he was engaged by the North-West Fur Co. as a trader until the two Companies (the North-West and the Hudson Bay Co joined together) he still worked for the consolidated Company for 12 or 15 years. When the American Traders came out at the Vermillion Lake country in Minnesota Three or four years afterwards he joined the American Traders. For several years he went to Mackinaw, buying goods and supplies for the Bois Fortes bands of Chippeways on Rainy and Vermillion Lake Country. About the year 1839 he came out to the Lake Superior Country and located his family at La Pointe. In winters he went out to Leech Lake Minn., trading for the American Fur Co. For several years until in the year of 1847 when the Hon. H. M. Rice, now of St. Paul, came to this country representing the Pierre Choteau Co. as a fur trading company. V. Roy, Sr. engaged to Pierre Choteau & Co. to trade with his former Indians at Vermillion Lake Country for two years, and then went for the American Fur Company again for one year. After a few years he engaged as a trader again for Peter E. Bradshaw & Co. and went to Red Lake, Minn. for several years. In 1861 he went to Nipigon (on Canadian side) trading for the same company. In a few years, he again went back to his old post at Vermillion Lake, Minn., where he contracted a very severe sickness, in two years afterwards he died at Superior among his Children as stated before &c.”
~ Minnesota Historical Society: Henry M. Rice and Family Papers, 1824-1966; Box 4; Sketches folder; Item “Roy, Vincent, 1797-1872”

Among the Chippewas we hear of man eaters, from the earliest travelers down to this day.  Mr. Bushnell, formerly Indian agent at La Pointe, described one whom he saw who belonged on the St. Louis River and Vermillion Lake.  The Indians have a superstitious dread of them, and will flee when one enters the lodge.  They are hated, but it is supposed they cannot be killed, and no one ventures to make the experiment.  it is only by a bullet such as the man eater himself shall designate that his body can be pierced.  He is frequently a lunatic, spending days and nights alone in the woods in mid winter without food, traveling long spaces to present himself unexpectedly among distant bands.  Whatever he chooses to eat is left for him, and right glad are the inmates of a lodge to get rid of him on such easy terms.  The practice is not acquired from choice, but from the terrible necessities of hunger which happen every winter among the northern Indians.  Like shipwrecked parties at sea, the weaker first falls a prey to the stronger, and their flesh goes to sustain life a little longer among the remainder.  The Chippewas think that after one has tasted human food he has an uncontrollable longing for it, and that it is not safe to leave children alone with them.  They say a man eater has red eyes and he looks upon the fat papoose with a demonical glance, and says: “How tender he would be.”  One miserable object on the St. Louis River eat off his own lips, and finally became such a source of consternation that one Indian more courageous than the rest buried a tomahawk in his head.  Another one who had the reputation of having killed all of his own family, came to the winter fishing ground on Rainy Lake, where Mr. Roy was trading with the Indians.  He stayed on the ice trying to take some fish, but without success.  Not one of the band dared go out to fish, although they were suffering from hunger.  Mr. Roy and all the Indians requested him to go away, but he would not unless he had something to eat.  no one but the trader could give him anything, and he was not inclined to do so.  Things remained thus during three days, no squaw daring to go on the ice to fish for fear of the man eater.  Mr. Roy urged them to kill him, but they said it would be of no use to shoot at him.  The man eater dared them to fire.  The trader at length lost patience with the cannibal and the terrified Bois Forts.  He took his gun and warned the fellow that he would be shot if he remained on the ice.  The faith of the savage appears to have been strong in the charm that surrounded his person, for he only replied by a laugh of derision.  On the other side Mr. Roy had great faith in his rifle, and discharging it at the body of the man, he fell dead, as might have been expected.  The Indians were at once relieved of a dreadful load, and sallied out to fish.  No one, however, dared to touch the corpse.

No one of either party can go into the country of the other, and not be discovered.  Their moccasins differ and their mode of walking.  Their canoes and paddles are not alike, and their camp-fires as well as their lodges differ.  The Chippewa lodge or wigwam is made by a  circular or oblong row of small poles set in the ground, bending the tops over and fastening them with bark.  They carry everywhere rolls of birch bark, which unroll like a carpet.  These are wound on the poles next the ground course, and overlapping this a second and third, so as to shed rain.  On one side is a low opening covered by a blanket, and at the top a circular place for the smoke to escape.  The fire is on the ground at the centre.  The work of putting up the lodge is done by the squaws, who gather wood for the fire, spread the mats, and proceed to cook their meals, provided there is anything to cook.

Stereograph of "Chippewa Indians and Wigwams" by Martin's Art Gallery, Yew York City, circa 1862-1875. ~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

Stereograph of “Chippewa Indians and Wigwams” by Martin’s Art Gallery, circa 1862-1875, shows that they used more than one type of wigwam.
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

A Sioux lodge is the model of the Sibley tent, with a pole at the centre and others set around in a circle, leaning against the central one at the top, forming a cone.  This they cover with skins of the buffalo, deer, elk or moose, wound around like the Chippewa rolls of bark, leaving a space at the top for the smoke to escape, and an entrance at the side.  This is stronger and more compact than the Chippewa wigwam, and withstands the fiercest storms of the prairies.  In winter, earth is occasionally piled around the base, which makes it firmer and warmer.

We were coming down the Rum River, late in the fall of 1848, when one of our voyageurs discovered the track of a Sioux in the sand.  It was at least three weeks old, but nothing could induce him to stay with us, not even an hour.  He was not sure but a mortal enemy was then tracking us for the purpose of killing him.

Detail of Red Lake from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843. ~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Detail of Red Lake from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843.
~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Earlier in the season we were at Red Lake.  A cloud of smoke came up from the west, which caused a commotion in the village and mission at the south end of the lake.  A war party was then out on a Sioux raid.  The chief had lost a son, killed by them.  He had managed to get the hand of a Sioux, which he had planted at the head of his son’s grave.  But this did not satisfy his revenge nor appease the spirit of his son.  He organized a war party to get more scalps, which was then out.  A warrior chief or medicine man gains his principal control of the warriors by means of a prophecy, which he must make in detail.  If the first of his predictions should fail, the party may desert him entirely.  In this case, on a certain day they would meet a bear.  When they met the enemy, if they were to be victorious, a cloud of smoke would obscure the sun.  It was this darkening of the sky that excited the hopes of the Red Lake band.  They were sure there had been a battle and that the Sioux were defeated.

Judge Samuel Ashmun ~ Chippewa County Historical Society

Judge Samuel Ashmun
~ Chippewa County Historical Society

Wa-ne-jo cannot be identified without more biological information.

The late Judge Ashmun, of Sault Ste. Marie, while he was a minor, wandered off from his nativity in Vermont to Lake Superior, through it to Fond du Lac, and thence by way of the St. Louis River to Sandy Lake on the Mississippi.  Somewhere in that region he was put in charge of one of Astor’s trading posts.  In the early winter of 1818 he went on a hunt with a party of seventeen indiscreet young braves, against the advice of the sachems, apparently in a southwesterly direction on the Sioux border, or neutral land.  Far from being neutral, it was very bloody ground.  At the end of the third day they were about fifty miles from the post.  On the morning of each day a rendezvous was fixed upon for the next camp.  Each one then commenced the hunt for the day, taking what route pleased himself.  The ice on the lakes and marshes was strong and the snow not uncomfortably deep.  The principal game was deer, with some pheasants, prairie hens, rabbits and porcupines.  What a hunter could not carry he hung upon trees to be carried home upon their return.  Their last camp was on the border of a lake in thick woods, with tall dry grass on the margin of the lake.  Having killed all the deer they could carry, it was determined to begin the return march the next day.  It was not a war party, but they were prepared for their Sioux enemies, of whom no signs had been discerned.  There was no whiskey in the camp, but when the stomach of an Indian is filled to its enormous capacity with fresh venison he is always jolly.  It was too numerous a party to shelter themselves by a roof of boughs over the fire, but they had made a screen against the wind of branches of pine, hemlock or balsam.  Around the fire was a circle of boughs on which they sat, ate and slept.  Some were mending their moccasins, other smoking tobacco and kinnikinic, playing practical jokes, telling stories, singing songs and gambling.  Mr. Ashmun could get so little sleep that he took Wa-ne-jo, who had a boy of thirteen years, and they made a separate camp.  This man going to the lake to drink, was certain that he heard the tramp and felt the vibrations of a party going over the ice, who could be no other than the Sioux.  He returned, and after some hesitation Mr. Ashmun reported the news to the main camp.  “Oh, Wa-ne-jo is a liar, nobody believes him,” was the universal response.  Mr. Ashmun, however, gave credit to the repot.  They immediately put out the fire at his bivouac.  Even war parties do not place sentinels, because attacks are never made until break of day.  In the isolated camp they waited impatiently for the first glimpse of morning.  Most of the other party fell asleep with a feeling of security, for which they took no steps to verify.  One of them lay down without his moccasins.  Mr. Ashmun and his man were just ready to jump for the tall grass when a volley was poured into the other camp, accompanied by the usual savage yell.  The darkness and stillness of a faint morning twilight made this burst of war still more terrific.  Taking the boy between them, they commenced the race for life under the guidance of Wa-ne-jo, in a direction directly opposite to their home.  He well knew the Sioux all night long had been creeping stealthily over the snow and through the thicket, and had formed a line behind the main camp.  The Chippewas made a brave defence, giving back their howls of defiance and fighting as they dispersed through the woods.  Eight were killed near the camp and a wounded one at some distance, where he had secreted himself.  Two fo the wounded were helped away according to custom, and also the barefooted man, whose feet were soon frozen.  All clung to their guns, and the frightened boy to his hatchet.  They estimated the Sioux party to have been one hundred and thirty, of whom they killed four and wounded seven, but brought in no scalps.

Indians Canoeing in the Rapids painting by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1856. ~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

Indians Canoeing in the Rapids painting by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1856.
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

In his way, the Chippewa is quite religious.  He believes in a future world where there is a happy place for good Indians.  If he is paddling his canoe against a head wind and can afford it, he throws overboard a piece of tobacco, the most precious thing he has.  With this offering there is a short invocation to the good manitou for a fair breeze, when he can raise a blanket for a sail, stop rowing and take a smoke.  At the head of many a rapid which it is dangerous to run, are seen pieces of tobacco on the rocks, which were laid there with a brief prayer that they may go safely through.  Some of them, which are frightful to white men, they pass habitually.  These offerings are never disturbed, for they are sacred.  He endeavors also to appease the evil spirit Nonibojan.  Fire, rocks, waterfalls, mountains and animals are alive with spirits good and bad.  The medicine man, who is prophet, physician, priest and warrior, is an object of reverence and admiration.  His prayers are for success in the hunt, accompanied by incantations.

In Part III, “Charlie” is identified as a brother of Stephen Bonga.  The only known brothers of Stephen were George Bonga and Jack Bonga.  “Charlie” may be an alias for either George or Jack.
For more information about the Bonga family, Chequamegon History recommends reading French Africans in Ojibwe Country: Negotiating Marriage, Identity and Race, 1780-1890 by Mattie Marie Harper, 2012.
George Bonga ~ Wikipedia.org

George Bonga
~ Wikipedia.org

Among the stories of a thousand camp-fires, was one by Charlie, a stalwart, half-breed Indian and negro, whose father was an escaped slave.  On the shores of Sandy Lake, a party of Chippewas had crossed on the ice in midwinter, and encamped in the woods not far from the north shore.  One of them went to the Lake with a kettle of water, and a hatchet to cut the ice.  After he filled his kettle, he lay down to drink.  The water was not entirely quiet, which attracted his attention at once.  His suspicions were aroused, and placing his ear to the ice, he discerned regular pulsations, which his wits, sharpened by close attention to every sight and every sound, interpreted to be the tramp of men.  They could be no other than Sioux, and there must be a party larger than their own.  Their fire was instantly put out, and they separated to meet at daylight at a place several miles distant.  All their conclusions were right.  One band of savages outwitted another, having instincts of danger that civilized men would have allowed to pass unnoticed.  The Sioux found only the embers of a deserted camp, and saw the tracks of their enemies diverge in so many directions that it was useless to pursue.

In 1839 the Chippewas on the upper Mississippi were required to come to Fort Snelling to receive their payments.  That post was in Sioux territory, and the order gave offense to both nations.  It required the presence of the United States troops to prevent murders even on the reservation.  On the way home at Sunrise River, the Chippewas were surprised by a large force of Sioux, and one hundred and thirty-six were killed.

At the mouth of Crow Wing River, on the east bank of the Mississippi, is a ridge of gravel, on which there were shallow pits.  The Indians said that, about fifteen years before, a war party of Sioux was above there on the river to attack the Sandy Lake band.  A party of Chippewas concealed themselves in these pits, awaiting the descent of their enemies.  The affair was so well managed that the surprise was complete.  When the uncautious Sioux floated along within close range of their guns, the Chippewa warriors rose and delivered their fire into the canoes.  Some got ashore and escaped through the woods to the westward, but a large portion were killed.

Detail of Crow Wing River from <a href="http://www.davidrumsey.com/maps1840.html" target="_blank"><em><strong>Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information</strong></em></a> by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843.<br /> ~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Detail of Crow Wing River from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843.
~ David Rumsey Map Collection

While crossing the Elk River, between the falls of St. Anthony and those of St. Cloud, a squaw ran into the water, screaming furiously, followed by a man with a club.  This was her lord and master, bent on giving her a taste of discipline very common in Indian life.  She succeeded in escaping this time by going into deep water.  Her nose had been disfigured by cutting away most of the fleshy portions, as a punishment for unfaithfulness to a husband, who was probably worse than herself.

At the mouth of Crow Wing River was an Indian skipping about with the skin of a skunk tied to one of his ankles.  There was also in a camp near the post another Chippewa, who had murdered a brother of the lively man.  There is no criminal law among them but that of retaliation.  Any member of the family may execute this law at such time and manner as he shall decide.  This badge of skunk’s skin was a notice to the murderer that the avenger was about, and that his mission was not fulfilled.  Once the guilty man had been shot through the thigh, as a foretaste of what was to follow.  The avenger seemed to enjoy badgering his enemy, whom he informed that although he might be occasionally wounded, it was not the intention at present to kill him outright.  If the victim should kill his persecutor, he well knew that some other relative would have executed full retaliation.

Bagon-giizhig the Elder died before the 1848 La Pointe Annuity Payments.
Bagone-giizhig (Bug-on-a-ke-it):
Hole In the Day the Elder
(1801-1847)
“Intelligent, brave, loquacious, and ambitious, Bagone-giizhig [the Elder] made a universally powerful impression on nearly everyone he met.  Although born without traditional claims to chieftainship, he attained more status and power than many traditional hereditary chiefs. The constant flux in Ojibwa-Dakota relations and the burgeoning military and economic power of the United States created rapid change in Ojibwa communities and he was able to use that climate and his undeniable charisma, oratorical power, and diplomacy savvy to build a powerful chieftainship for himself.”
The Assassination of Hole In The Day [the Younger] by Anton Treuer, 2010.
Bagon-giizhig (Po-go-noyke-schik):
Hole In The Day the Younger
aka Kue-wee-sas (Gwiiwizens [Boy or Lad])
(1825-1868)
Bagone-giizhig the Younger ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Bagone-giizhig the Younger
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

This Chippewa brave, Bug-on-a-ke-dit, lived on a knoll overlooking the Mississippi River, four miles above Little Rock, where he had a garden.  He appeared at the payment at La Pointe, in 1848, with a breech cloth and scanty leggings.  This was partially for showing off a very perfect figure, tall, round and lithe, the Apollo of the woods.  His scanty dress enabled him to exhibit his trophies in war.  The dried ears of his foes, a part of whom were women, were suspended at his neck.  Around his tawny arms were bright brass bands, but there was nothing of which he was more proud than a bullet hole just below the right breast.  The place of the wound was painted black, and around it circles of red, yellow and purple; other marks on the chest, arms and face told of the numbers he had slain and scalped, in characters well understood by all Chippewas.  The numbers of eagle feathers in his hair informed the savage crowd how many battles he had fought.  He was not, like Grizzly Bear, a great orator, but resembled him in getting drunk at every opportunity.  He managed to procure a barrel of whiskey, which he carried to his lodge.  While it was being unloaded it fell upon and crushed him to death.  Looking up a grass clad hill, a dingy flag was seen (1848) fluttering on a pole where he was buried.  He often repeated with great zest the mode by which the owners of two of the desecrated ears were killed.  His party of four braves discovered some Sioux lodges on the St. Peters, from which all the men were absent.  The squaws lodged their hereditary enemies over night with their accustomed hospitality.  Bug-on-a-ke-dit and his party concealed themselves during the day, and at dark each one attacked a lodge.  Seven women and children were slaughtered.  His son Kue-wee-sas, or Po-go-noy-ke-schik, was a much more respectable and influential chief.

An hundred years since, the Sioux had an extensive burial ground, on the outlet of Sandy Lake, a few miles east of the Mississippi River.  Their dead were encased in bark coffins and placed on scaffolds supported by four cedar posts, five or six feet high.  This was done to prevent wolves from destroying the bodies.  Thirty years since some of these coffins were standing in a perfect condition, but most of them were broken or wholly fallen, only the posts standing well whitened by age.  The Chippewas wrap the corpse in a blanket and a roll of birch bark, and dig a shallow grave in which the dead are laid.  A warrior is entitled to have his bow and arrow, sometimes a gun and and a kettle, laid beside him with his trinkets.  Over the mound a roof of cedar bark is firmly set up, and the whole fenced with logs or protected in some way against wolves and other wild animals.  There is a hole at one or both ends of the bark shelter, in which is friends place various kinds of food.  Their belief in a spirit world hereafter is universal.  If it is a hunter or warrior, he will need his arms to kill game or to slay his enemies.  Their theory is that the dog may go to the spiritual country, as a spirit, also his weapons, and the food which is provided for the journey.  To him every thing has its spiritual as well as its material existence.  Over all is the great spirit or kitchi-manitou, looking after the happiness of his children here and hereafter.

Portrait of Stephen Bonga ().

Stephen Bonga
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Winter travelling in those northern regions is by no means so uncomfortable as white men imagine.  By means of snow shoes the Indian can move in a straight course towards his village, without regard to the trail.  In the short days of winter he starts at day break and travels util dark.  Stephen said he made fifty miles a day in that way, which is more than he could have done in summer.

At night they endeavor to find a thicket where there is a screen against the wind and plenty of wood.  They scoop away the snow with their shoes and start a fire at the bottom of the pit.  Around this they spread branches of pine, balsam or cedar, and over head make a shelter of brush to keep off the falling snow.  Probably they have a team or more of dogs harnessed to sledges, who take their places around the fire.  Here they cook and eat an enormous meal, when they wrap themselves in blankets for a profound sleep.  Long before day another heavy meal is eaten.  Everything is put in its proper package ready to start as soon as there is light enough to keep their course.

A Dictionary of the Otchipwe Language, Explained in English was published by Bishop Frederic Baraga in 1853.
Chequamegon History recommends two Ojibwemowin dictionaries online:
Freelang Ojibwe-English by Weshki-ayaad, Charles Lippert and Guy T. Gambill
Ojibwe People’s Dictionary by the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota

Many Indian words have originated since the white people came among them.  A large proportion of their proper names are very apt expressions of something connected with the person, lake, river, or mountain to which they are applied.  This people, in their primitive state, knew nothing of alcohol, coffee, tea, fire-arms, money, iron, and hundreds of other things to which they gave names, generally very appropriate ones.  A negro is black meat; coffee is black medicine drink; tea, red medicine drink; iron, black metal; gold, yellow metal.  I was taking the altitude of the sun at noon near Red Lake Mission with a crowd of Chippewas standing around greatly interested.  They had not seen the liquid metal mercury, used for an artificial horizon in such observations, which excited their especial astonishment, and they had no name for it.  One of them said something which caused a general expression of delight, for which I enquired the reason.  He had coined a word for mercury on the spot, which means silver water.

Detail of Minnesota Point during Stuntz's survey contract during August-October of 1852.

Detail of Minnesota Point during George Stuntz’s survey contract during August-October of 1852.
~ Barber Papers (prologue): Stuntz Surveys Superior City 1852-1854

This family's sugar bush was located at or near Silver Creek (T53N-R10W). ~ General Land Office Records

This family’s sugar bush was located at or near Silver Creek (T53N-R10W).
~ General Land Office Records

Indian Trail to Rockland townsite overlooking English/Mineral Lake and asdf.

Indian trail to Rockland townsite overlooking English/Mineral Lake and Gogebic Iron Range.
~ Penokee Survey Incidents: Number V

“Buckoda” means Bakade (hungry).

Coasting along the beach northward from the mouth of the St. Louis River, on Minnesota Point, I saw a remarkable mark in the sand and went ashore to examine it.  The heel and after part was clearly human.  At the toes there was a cleft like the letter V and on each side some had one, others two human toes.  Not far distant were Indians picking berries under the pine trees, which then covered the point in its entire length.  We asked the berrypickers what made those tracks.  They smiled and offered to sell us berries, of which they had several bushels, some in mokoks of birch bark, others in their greasy blankets.  An old man had taken off his shirt, tied the neck and arms, and filled it half full of huckleberries.  By purchasing some, (not from the shirt or blanket) we obtained an explanation of the nondescript tracks.  There was a large family, all girls, whose feet were deformed in that manner.  It was as though their feet had been split open when young halfway to the instep, and some of the toes lost.  They had that spring met with a great loss by the remorseless bear.  On the north shore, thirty miles east of Duluth, they had a fine sugar orchard, and had made an unusual quantity of sugar.  A part was brought away, and a part was stored high up in trees in mokoks.  There is nothing more tempting than sugar and whiskey to a bear.  When this hard working family returned for their sugar and dried apples, moistened with whiskey, to lure bruin on to his ruin.  A trap fixed with a heavy log is set up across a pen of logs, in the back end of which this bait is left, very firmly tied between two pieces of wood.  This is fastened to a wooden deadfall, supporting one end of a long piece of round timber that has another piece under it.  The bear smells the bait from afar, goes recklessly into the pen, and commences to gnaw the pieces of wood; before he gets much of the bait the upper log falls across his back, crushing him upon the lower one, where, if he is not killed, his hind legs are paralyzed.  These deadly pens are found everywhere in the western forests.  Two bears ranging along the south shore of English Lake, in Ashland County, Wisconsin, discovered some kegs of whiskey which contraband dealers had concealed there.  With blows from their heavy paws they broke in the heads of the kegs and licked up the contents.  They were soon in a very maudlin state, rolling about on the ground, embracing each other in an affectionate manner and vainly trying to go up the trees.  Before the debauch was ended they were easily captured by a party of half-breeds.  There are Indians who acknowledge the bear to be a relation, and profess a dislike to kill them.  When they do they apologize, and say they do it because they are “buckoda,” or because it is necessary.

Detail of the Porcupine Mountains between the Montreal River and Ontonagon River from Map of the Mineral Lands Upon Lake Superior Ceded to the United States by the Treaty of 1842 With the Chippeway Indians. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Detail of the Porcupine Mountains between the Montreal River and Ontonagon River from Map of the Mineral Lands Upon Lake Superior Ceded to the United States by the Treaty of 1842 With the Chippeway Indians.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

At Ontonagon, a very sorry looking young Indian came out of a lodge on the west side of the river and expressed a desire to take passage in our boat.  There had been a great drunk in that lodge the day before.  The squaws were making soup of the heads of white fish thrown away by the white fishermen.  Some of the men were up, others oblivious to everything.  Our passenger did not become thoroughly sober until towards evening.  We passed the Lone Rock and encamped abreast of the Porcupine Mountains.  Here he recovered his appetite.  The next day, near the Montreal River, a squaw was seen launching her canoe and steering for us.  She accosted the young fellow, demanding a keg of whiskey.  He said nothing.  She had given him furs enough to purchase a couple of gallons and he had made the purchase, but between himself and his friends it had completely disappeared.  The old hag was also fond of whiskey.  The fraud and disappointment put her into a rage that was absolutely fiendish.  Her haggard face, long, coarse, greasy, black hair, voluble tongue and shrill voice perfected that character.

Turning into the mouth of the river we found a party from Lake Flambeau fishing in the pool at the foot of the Great Fall.  Their success had not been good, and of course they were hungry.  One of our men spilled some flour on the sand, of which he could save but little.  The Flambeaus were delighted, and, gathering up sand and flour together, put the mixture in their kettle.  The sand settled at the bottom, and the flour formed an excellent porridge for hungry aboriginees.

Mushinnewa and Waubannika cannot be identified without additional biographical information.
Mushinnewa” is “Maazhiniwe” which means “Bad to Other Peoples”, implying that he treated himself well while treating other life-forms (such as animals) poorly.
Mizhinawe means “messenger” and is pronounced Me-zhin-ah-way. Mizhinawe’s descendants became the Messenger family in Odanah and they are a highly respected family. Mizhinawe is listed as a signatory on the 1854 Treaty with the Chippewa at La Pointe as a second chief of the La Pointe Band, and his son George Messenger traveled several times to Washington DC to negotiate for the Bad River Band.  The actions of the character “Mushinnewa” described here do not fit with being a highly respected leader.
Transcribed note, dated La Pointe Indian Agency, certifying the good character and disposition of Min-zhe-nah-way, 2nd chief of the Bad River Band of Chippewas, signed by John S. Livermore, Indian Sub-Agent; and a photograph of the original document.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Mushinnewa and Waubannika, Chippewas, lived at Bad River, near Odana.  Mushinnewa had a very bad reputation among his tribe.  He was not only quarrelsome when drunk, but was not peaceable when sober.  He broke Waubannika’s canoe into fragments, which was resented by the wife of the latter on the spot.  She made use of the awl with which she was sewing the bark on another canoe, as a weapon, and stabbed old Mushinnewa in several places so severely that it was thought he would die.  He threatened to kill her, and she fled with her husband to Lake Flambeau.  But Mushinnewa did not die.  He had a son as little liked by the Odana band as himself.  In a drunken affray at Ontonagon another Indian killed him.  The murderer then took the body in his canoe, brought it to Bad River and delivered it to old Mushinnewa.  According to custom the Indian handed the enraged father the knife with which his son was killed, and baring his breast told him to strike.  The villagers were happy to be rid of the young villain, and took the knife from the hand of his legal avenger.  A barrel of flour covered the body, and before night Mushinnewa adopted the Indian as his son.

Two varieties of willow, the red and the yellow, grow on the low land, at the margin of swamps and streams, which have the name of kinnekinic.  During the day’s journey, a few sticks are cut and carried to the camp.  The outer bark is scraped away from the inner bark, which curls in a fringe around the stick, which is forced in the ground before a hot fire, and occasionally turned.  In the morning it is easily crumpled in the hands, and put into the tobacco pouch.  If they are rich enough to mix a little tobacco with the kinnekinic, it is a much greater luxury.  As they spend a large part of their leisure time in smoking, they are compelled to be content with common willow bark, which is a very weak narcotic.  Tobacco is not grown as far north as the country of the Chippewas, but it is probable they had it through traffic with the tribes of Virginia, North Carolina and the Gulf States, in times very remote.  Pipes are found in the works of the mounds builders that are very ancient, showing that they had something to smoke, which must have been a vegetable.

Detail of Fish Creek Slough (T47N R5W).

Detail of where the “Lake Long” [Lake Owen] and St. Croix foot paths start along Fish Creek.
~ Barber Papers: “Barbers Camp” Fall of 1855

HARRY S. BEESLEY, surveyor, civil engineer and explorer, a pioneer of Lake Superior of 1846. was born in Oxford, England, May 2, 1823. He was educated in England, and went to sea when about the age of sixteen years, at first in the coasting trade, then in the packets from Liverpool to New York. After leaving the sea, he located in Ohio, and remained there until the fall of 1845, and passed the following winter in Chicago. In May of 1846, he came to Lake Superior as a mineral explorer; in July of that year, he located a nine mile permit on the Ontonagon River joining the Norwich. In 1849, he assisted Col. C. C. Whittlesey, in his geological surveys on the south shore of Lake Superior. He has held the office of County Surveyor a number of years, and laid out the principal roads and several of the villages in this section of the country.”
History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, by Western Historical Co., 1883, page 276
Whittlesey and Beesley had two voyaguer guides from La Pointe named Antoine Connoyer and Paul Soulies.

Staggering around in a drunken crowd at La Pointe was a handsome Chippewa buck, as happy as whiskey can make any one.  The tomahawk pipe is not an instrument of war, though it has that form.  Its external aspect is that of a real tomahawk, intended to let out the brains of the foe.  It is made of cast iron, with a round hollow poll, about the size of a pipe.  The helm or handle is the stem, frequently decorated in the height of savage art, with ribbons, porcupine quills, paint and feathers.  One thoroughly adorned in this manner has aperatures through the handle cross wise, so large and numerous that it is a mechanical wonder how the smoke can be drawn through it to the mouthpiece.  No Indian is without a pipe of some kind, very likely one that is an heirloom from his ancestors.  It is only in a passion that his knife or tomahawk pipe becomes dangerous.  This genial buck had been struck with the poll of such a pipe when all hands were fighting drunk.  It had cut a clear round hole in his head, hear the top, sinking a piece of skull with the skin and hair well into his brains.  A surgeon with his instrument could not have made a more perfect incision.  Inflammation had not set in and he was too busy with his boon companions to think of the wound.  It was about twenty-four hours after it occurred when he stepped into his canoe and departed.  When Mr. Beasley went up the Fish River, a few days afterwards a funeral was going on at the intersection of the Lake Long and the St. Croix trails, and the corpse had a cut in the head made by the pole of a tomahawk.  From this event, no doubt, a family quarrel commenced that may continue till the race is extinct.  The injured spirit of the fallen Indian demands revenge.  In the exercise of retaliation it may be carried by his relations a little beyond retaliating justice, which will call on the other side for a victim, and so on to other generations.

Chequamegon History recommends the book The Shaman: Patterns of Religious Healing Among the Ojibway Indians by John A. Grim, 1987.

In a lodge between the agency and the mission there was a young girl very sick.  Probably it is my duty to say that she was not only young but beautiful, but at this time she was only wretched.  Whether in her best health and estate the term beauty could be applied I very much doubt, as such cases are extremely rare among Indians, compared by our standard.  A “grand medicine” had been got up expressly for the purpose of curing her.  The medicine lodge was about thirty feet in length, made of green boughs.  The feast, without which no evil spirit would budge one inch, had been swallowed, and the dance was at its height, in which some women were mingled with the men.  Their shrieks, yelling and gesticulations should have frightened away all the matchi-manitous at La Pointe.  The mother of the girl seemed to be full of joy, the bad spirit which afflicted her child was so near being expelled.  As they made the circuit of the dance they thrust a large knife into the air towards the northwest, by which they gave the departing demon a stab as he made his escape from the lodge.  This powow raged around the poor girl all the afternoon and till midnight, when the medicine man pronounced her safe.  Before sundown the next day we saw them law her in a shallow grave, covered with cedar bark.

Father Nicolas Perrot ~ Wikipedia.org

Father Nicolas Perrot
~ Wikipedia.org

Father Perret, who was among the Natches as far back as 1730, gives a portrait of a medicine man of that tribe at that time.  It answers so well for those I have seen among the Chippewas that I give his description at length.  For the Chippewa juggler I must except, however, the practice of abstinence and also the danger of losing his head.  A feast is the first thing and the most essential.

“This nation, like all others, has its medicine man.  They are generally old men, who, without study or science, undertake to cure all complaints.  All their art consists in different jugglings, that is to say, they sing and dance night and day about the sick man, and smoke without ceasing, swallowing the smoke of the tobacco.  These jugglers eat scarcely anything while engaged with the sick, but their chants and dances are accompanied by contortions so violent that, although they are entirely naked and should suffer from cold, they are always foaming at the mouth.  They have a little basket in which they keep what they call their spirits, that is to say, roots of different kinds, heads of owls, parcels of the hair of deer, teeth of animals, pebbles and other trifles.  To restore health to the sick they invoke without ceasing something they have in their basket.  Sometimes they cut with a flint the part afflicted, suck out the blood, and in returning it immediately to the disk they spit out a piece of wood, straw or leather, which they have concealed under their tongue.  Drawing the attention of the sick man, ‘there,’ they say, ‘is the cause of his sickness.’  These medicine men are always paid in advance.  If the sick man recovers their gain is considerable, but if he dies they are sure to have their heads cut off by his relations.”

"Osawgee Beach" postcard, circa 1920. ~ Zenith City Online

Osawgee Beach.  Superior, Wis.” postcard, circa 1920:
“Ojibwe chief Joseph Osawgee was born in Michigan in 1802 and came to Wisconsin Point as a young boy. There he established Superior’s first shipyard—a canoe-making outfit along the Nemadji River near Wisconsin Point. His birch bark canoes supplied transportation for both Ojibwe trappers and French Voyageurs. Chief Osawgee signed the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe on behalf of the Fond du Lac Ojibwe—and subsequently lost his land. He died in Solon Springs, Wisconsin, in 1876.”
~ Zenith City Online

Ozaagii ~ Geni.com

Joseph Ozaagii
~ Geni.com

“Chief Joseph Osaugie was born in April of 1802 at Lac Vieux Desert, Michigan. He moved to Wisconsin Point as a young man and was made a Chief by President Franklin Pierce.”
~ Indian Country Today Media Network
There is a native oral history about Ozaagii available in the WPA Project in Reel 1; Envelope 3: Item 10:
“Chief O-sau-gie Built First ‘Ships’ in City of Superior (He Was Head of Small Chippewa Band when Superior was Tiny Spot)”
John S. Livermore was stationed at the La Pointe Indian sub-Agency, and wrote a letter defending Mizhinawe’s honor.

As a rare example of the industry and probity among northern Indians, I take pleasure in recording the name of Osagi.  His hunting ground and sugar camp lay to the west of La Pointe, on Cranberry River, where he had a cabin.  In traversing that region I had as a guide a rude map and sketch of the streams made by him on a sheet of post office paper with a red pencil.  Osagi was never idle and never drunk.  Dr. Livermore was at this time the agent for the tribes at the west end of Lake Superior, and related the following instance of attention and generosity which is worthy of being reported.  Osagi frequently made the agency presents, and Dr. Livermore, of course, did the same to his Otchipwee friends.  Late in the fall, as the fishing season was about to close, he sent a barrel of delicious trout and white fish to the agency, which, by being hung up separately, would in this cool climate remain good all winter.  The interpreter left a message from the donor with the fish, that he did not want any present in return, because in such a case there would be on his part no gifts, and he wished to make a gift.  Dr. Livermore assented, but replied that if Osagi should ever be in need the agent expected to be informed of it.  During the next winter a message came to Dr. Livermore stating that his friend wanted nothing, but that a young man, his cousin, was just in from Vermillion Lake, where he lived.  The young man’s father and family could no longer take fish at Vermillion, and had started for Fonddulac.  The old man was soon attacked by rheumatism, and for many days the whole party had been without provisions.  Would the agent make his uncle a present of some flour?  Of course this was done, and the young messenger started with a horse load of eatables for the solitary lodge of his father, on the St. Louis River, two hundred miles distant.  This exemplary Indian, by saving his annuities, and by his economy, had accumulated money enough to buy a piece of land, and placed it in the hands of the agent.  when the surveyors had subdivided the township opposite La Pointe, on the mainland, he bought a fraction and removed his family to it as a permanent home.  In a few months the small pox swept off every member of that family but the mother.

[CHARLES WHITTLESEY.]

 


 

To be continued in Among The Otchipwees: III

By Amorin Mello

Vincent Roy Jr

Portrait of Vincent Roy, Jr., from “Short biographical sketch of Vincent Roy,” in Life and Labors of Rt. Rev. Frederic Baraga, by Chrysostom Verwyst, 1900, pages 472-476.

Miscellaneous materials related to Vincent Roy,

1861-1862, 1892, 1921

Wisconsin Historical Society

“Miscellaneous items related to Roy, a fur trader in Wisconsin of French and Chippewa Indian descent including a sketch of his early years by Reverend T. Valentine, 1896; a letter to Roy concerning the first boats to go over the Sault Ste. Marie, 1892; a letter to Valentine regarding an article on Roy; an abstract and sketch on Roy’s life; a typewritten copy of a biographical sketch from the Franciscan Herald, March 1921; and a diary by Roy describing a fur trading journey, 1860-1861, with an untitled document in the Ojibwe language (p. 19 of diary).”


 

St. Agnes’ Church

205 E. Front St.
Ashland, Wis., June 27 1903

Reuben G. Thwaites

Sec. Wisc. Hist Soc. Madison Wis.

Dear Sir,

I herewith send you personal memories of Hon. Vincent Roy, lately deceased, as put together by Rev. Father Valentine O.F.M.  Should your society find them of sufficient historical interest to warrant their publication, you will please correct them properly before getting them printed.

Yours very respectfully,

Fr. Chrysostom Verwyst O.F.M. 

 


 

~ Biographical Sketch – Vincent Roy. ~

~ J. Apr. 2. 1896 – Superior, Wis. ~

 

I.

Vincent Roy was born August 29, 1825, the third child of a family of eleven children.  His father Vincent Roy Sen. was a halfblood Chippewa, so or nearly so was his mother, Elisabeth Pacombe.1

Three Generations:
I. Vincent Roy
(1764-1845)
II. Vincent Roy, Sr.
(1795-1872)
III. Vincent Roy, Jr.
(1825-1896)

His grandfather was a french-canadian who located as a trader for the American Fur Company first at Cass Lake Minn, and removed in 1810 to the bank of Rainy River at its junction with Little Fork, which is now in Itasca Co. Minn.2  At this place Vincent saw at first the light of the world and there his youth passed by.  He had reached his twentieth year, when his grandfather died, who had been to him and all the children an unmistakable good fortune.

‘I remember him well,’ such are Vincent’s own words when himself in his last sickness.3  ‘I remember him well, my grandfather, he was a well-meaning, God-fearing frenchman.  He taught me and all of us to say our prayers and to do right.  He prayed a great deal.  Who knows what might have become of us, had he not been.’

The general situation of the family at the time is given by Peter Roy thus:4

“My grandfather must have had about fifty acres of land under cultivation.  About the time I left the place (1839) he used to raise quite a lot of wheat, barley, potatoes and tobacco – and had quite a lot of stock, such as horses, cattle, hogs and chickens.  One winter about twenty horses were lost; they strayed away and started to go back to Cass Lake, where my grandfather first commenced a farm.  The horses came across a band of Indians and were all killed for food. – When I got to be old enough to see what was going on my father was trading with the Bois Forte bands of Chippewa Indians.  he used to go to Mackinaw annually to make his returns and buy goods for a year’s supply.”

This trading of the Roys with the Indians was done in commission from the American Fur Company; that is they were conducting one of the many trading posts of this Company.  What is peculiar is that they were evidently set up to defeat the hostile Hudson Bay Company, which had a post at Fort St. Francis, which was across the river, otherwise within sight.  Yet, the Roys appear to have managed things peaceably, going at pleasure to the Fort at which they sold the farm-products that were of no use to themselves.

 

II.  

LaPointe – School – Marriage

Grandfather Roy died and was buried on the farm in 1845.  Soon after, the family broke away from the old homestead and removed to LaPointe, where a boy had been placed at school already 6 or 7 years before.5

“About the year 1838 or 1839,” says Peter Roy,6 “my father took me down to LaPointe, it then being the headquarters of the American Fur Company.  He left me with my uncle Charles LaRose. (Mr. LaRose was married to his mother’s sister.)  At that time my uncle was United States interpreter for Daniel P. Bushnell, U.S. Indian Agent.  I went to the missionary school (presbyterian), which was under the charge of Rev. Sherman Hall.  Grenville T. Sprout was the teacher.”

1839 official register la pointe agency

Officers | Where employed | Where born | Compensation
~ “War Department – Indian Agencies,” Official Register of the United States, 1839

The family was acting on wise principles.  Where they lived church and school were things unknown and would remain such for yet an indefinite future.  The children were fast growing from under the care of their parents; yet, they were to be preserved to the faith and to civilization.  It was intended to come more in touch with either.  LaPointe was then a frontier-town situated on Madaline Island; opposite to what is now Bayfield Wis.  Here Father Baraga had from upwards ten years attended the spiritual wants of the place.

1843 view of La Pointe

“View of La Pointe,” circa 1842.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Our Vincent came, of course, along etc. etc. with the rest.  Here for the first time in his life, he came within reach of a school which he might have attended.  He was however pretty well past school age.  The fact is he did not get to see the inside of a school a ten months and may be, much less, as there is an opinion he became an employ for salary in 1845, which was the year of his arrival.7  But with his energy of will made up for lack of opportunity.  More than likely his grandfather taught him the first rudiments, upon which he kept on building up his store of knowledge by self-instruction.

‘At any spare moment,’ it is said,8 ‘he was sure to be at some place where he was least disturbed working at some problem or master some language lesson.  He acquired a good control of the English language; his native languages – French and Ojibway – were not neglected, & he nibbled even a little at Latin, applying the knowledge he acquired of that language in translating a few church hymns into his native Ojibway.  Studying turned into a habit of life with him.  When later on he had a store of his own, he drew the trade of the Scandinavians of that locality just because he had picked up quite a few words of their language.  Having heard a word he kept repeating it half loud to himself until he had it well fixed on his memory and the stock laid up in this manner he made use of in a jovial spirit as soon as often as an opportunity was open for it.’

"Boardwalk leading to St. Joseph's Catholic Church in La Pointe." Photograph by Whitney and Zimmerman, circa 1870. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

“Boardwalk leading to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in La Pointe.” Photograph by Whitney and Zimmerman, circa 1870.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

About three years after his coming to LaPointe, Vincent chose for his life’s companion Elisabeth Cournoyer.  The holy bond of matrimony between them was blessed by Reverend Otto Skolla in the LaPoint catholic church, August 13th, 1848.  They did not obtain the happiness to see children born to them.  Yet, they lived with each other nearly 48 years and looking back over those years there appears nothing which could not permit their marriage to be called a happy one.  Their home had a good ordinary measure of home sunshine in which, in a way, children came yet to do their share and have their part.

 

III.  

His occupation.

Vincent was employed in the interest of the fur trade with little intermission up to the forty third year of his life and thereafter until he retired from business he was engaged in keeping a general store.

“Lapointe was a quiet town in the early days and many Indians lived there. The government pay station was there and the Indians received certain monies from the government.”
The Austrians, a fine Jewish family, established a store and maintained a good Indian trade.”
“Knowing the Indians lack of providing for the future, the Austrians always laid in extra supplies for the winter and these were doled out when necessary.”
~ Tales of Bayfield Pioneers by Eleanor Knight, 2008.

Mr. and Mrs. Julius Austrian were among the first settlers. Splendid people they were and especially kind to the Indians. It was their custom to lay in extra supplies of flour and corn meal for they knew the Indians would be begging for them before the winter was over. On this particular occassion the winter had been extra cold and long. Food supplies were running low. The Indians were begging for food every day and it was hard to refuse them. The flour was used up and the corn meal nearly so. Still Mrs. Austrian would deal it out in small quantities. Finally they were down to the last sack, and then to the last panful. She gave the children half of this for their supper, but went to bed without tasting any herself. About midnight she was awakened by the cry of ‘Steamboat! Steamboat!’ And looking out the window she saw the lights of the North Star approaching the dock. She said that now she felt justified in going downstairs and eating the other half of the corn bread that was left.”
~ The Lake Superior Country in History and in Story by Guy M. Burnham, 1930, pg. 288.

It was but natural that Vincent turned to the occupation of his father and grandfather.  There was no other it may have appeared to him to choose.  He picked up what was lying in his way and did well with it.  From an early age he was his father’s right hand and business manager.9  No doubt, intelligent and clever, as he was, his father could find no more efficient help, who, at the same time, was always willing and ready to do his part.  Thus he grew up.  By the time the family migrated south, he was conversant with the drift of the indian trade knowing all its hooks and crooks; he spoke the language of the indians and had their confidence; he was swift a foot and enduring against the tear and wear in frontier life; and there was no question but that he would continue to be useful in frontier business.

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;10 at first a season at Fond du Lac, Minn., then at Vermillion Lake, and finally again at Fond du Lac.11  Set up for the sole purpose to facilitate the exchange trade carried on with the indians, those trading-posts, nothing but log houses of rather limited pretensions, were nailed up for the spring and summer to be reopened in the fall.  Vincent regularly returned with his wife to LaPointe.  A part of the meantime was then devoted to fishing.12

A Dictionary of the Otchipwe Language, Explained in English was published by Bishop Frederic Baraga in 1853.

It was also in these years that Vincent spent a great deal of the time, which was at his disposal, with Father Frederic Baraga assisting him in getting up the books of the Ojibway language, which that zealous man has left.13

In the years which then followed Vincent passed through a variety of experience.

 

IV.  

His first Visit to Washington, D.C. – The Treaty of LaPointe.

Read Chief Buffalo Really Did Meet The President on Chequamegon History for more context about this trip.

At the insistence of Chief Buffalo and in his company Vincent made his first trip to Washington D.C.  It was in the spring of the year 1852. – Buffalo (Kechewaishke), head chief of the Lake Superior Ojibways had seen the day, when his people, according to indian estimation, was wealthy and powerful, but now he was old and his people sickly and starving poor.  Vincent referring once to the incidents of that time spoke about in this way:14

“He (Buffalo) and the other old men of the tribe, his advisors, saw quite well that things could not go on much longer in the way they had done.  The whites were crowding in upon them from all sides and the U.S. government said and did nothing.  It appeared to these indians their land might be taken from them without they ever getting anything for it.  They were scant of food and clothing and the annuities resulting from a sale of their land might keep them alive yet for a while.  The sire became loud that it might be tried to push the matter at Washington admitting that they had to give up the land but insisting they be paid for it.  Buffalo was willing to go but there was no one to go with him.  He asked me to go with him.  As I had no other business just then on hand I went along.”

Ashland, Wisconsin, is named in honor of Henry Clay’s Estate.

They went by way of the lakes.  Arriving at Washington, they found the City and the capitol in a barb of morning and business suspended.15  Henry Clay, the great statesman and orator, had died (June 29) and his body was lying in state.  Vincent said:

“we shook hands and spoke with the President (Fillmore) and with some of the headmen of the government.  They told us that they could not do anything at the moment, but that our petition should be attended to as soon as possible.  Unable to obtain any more, we looked around a few days and returned home”.

The trip had entailed a considerable drain on their private purses and the result towards the point at issue for them, the selling of the land of the indians, was not very apparent.

Henry C. Gilbert ~ Branch County Photographs

Henry C. Gilbert
~ Branch County Photographs

After repeated urging and an interval of over two years, during which Franklin Pierce had become President of the United States, the affairs of these Indians were at last taken up and dealt with at LaPointe by Henry C. Gilbert and David B. Herriman, commissioners on the part of the United States.  A treaty was concluded, September 30th, 1854.  The Lake Superior Ojibways thereby relinquished their last claims to the soil of northwest Michigan, north east Wisconsin and an adjoining part of Minnesota, and, whilst it was understood that the reserves, at L’Anse Michigan, Odanah, and Courte Oreille Wisconsin and Fond du Lac Minnesota, were set apart for them, they received in consideration of the rest the aggregate sum of about four hundred and seventy five thousand dollars, which, specified as to money and material, ran into twenty years rations.

Chief Buffalo, in consideration of services rendered, was allowed his choice of a section of land anywhere in the ceded terrain.

‘The choice he made,’ it is said,16 ‘were the heights of the city of Duluth; but never complying with the incident law formalities, it matters little that the land became the site of a city, his heirs never got the benefit of it.  Of Vincent who had been also of service to the indians from the first to the last of the deal, it can only be said that he remained not just without all benefit from it.’  

Julius Austrian‘s capitalization of the Mixed Blood clause from the 1854 Chippewa Treaty will be published on Chequamegon History.

A clause was inserted in the treaty (art. 2. n. 7.) 17 by which heads of families and single persons over twenty one years of age of mixed blood were each entitled to take and hold free of further charge eighty acres of the ceded lands.; – this overruled in a simple and direct way the difficulties Vincent had met with of late in trying to make good his claim to such a property.  The advantage here gained was however common to others with him.  For the sacrifices he made of time and money in going with Chief Buffalo to Washington he was not reimbursed, so it is believed, and it is very likely time, judging from what was the case when later on he made the same trip a second time.

 

V.  

The small-pox.

During the two years the Lake Superior indians waited for the United States to settle their claims, important events transpired in which Vincent took part.  In the fall of 1853 those indians were visited by the smallpox which took an epidemic run among them during the following winter.  The first case of that disease appeared in the Roy family and it is made a circumstance somewhat interesting in the way it is given.18  Vincent and his oldest brother John B. were on some business to Madison, Wisconsin.  Returning they went around by way of St. Paul Minnesota to see their brother Peter Roy who was at the time acting representative of a northern district, at the Minnesota territorial legislation which had then, as it seems, convened in extra session.  On the evening previous to their departure from St. Paul, John B. paid a short visit to a family he knew from Madaline Island.  In the house in which that family lived a girl had died about a year before of small-pox, but no one was sick there now at the time of the visit.  If John B.’s subsequent sickness should have to be attributed to infection, it was certainly a peculiar case.  The two brothers started home going by way of Taylor’s Falls, up the St. Croix river on the Wisconsin side, till Yellow Lake river, then through the woods to what is now Bayfield where they crossed over to Madaline Island.  John B. began feeling sick the second day of the journey.  Vincent remembered ever after the anxiety which he experienced on that homeward journey.19  It costed him every effort to keep the energies of his brother aroused.  Had the same been allowed to rest as he desired he had inevitably perished in the woods.  All strengths was however spent and the sick man lay helpless when the boat which carried them from the mainland touched Madaline Island.  Willing hands lifted him from the boat and carried him to his house.  His sickness developed into a severe case of small-pox of which he finally recovered.  The indians of whom the settlement was chiefly made up did not as yet understand the character of that disease which was all the more dangerous with them for their exposed way of living.  Before they were aware of it they were infected.  General sickness soon prevailed.  Deaths followed.  Some fled in dismay from the settlement, but it may be said only to carry the angel of death to other habitations and to die after all.

Several members of the Roy family were laid up with the sickness, none of them died though.20  Vincent had been in close contact with his brother while yet on the road and had been more than any attending his brother and other members of the family in their sickness, yet he passed through the ordeal unscathed.  The visitation cased with the return of spring.

 

VI.  

Superior.

Vincent had barely emerged from the trouble just described when it was necessary for him to exert himself in another direction.  A year or so previously he had taken up a claim of land at the headwaters of Lake Superior and there was improvement now on foot for that part of the country, and danger for his interests.21

Vincent Roy Jr. storage building, circa 1933. The following is a statement by John A. Bardon of Superior accompanying the photography, "Small storehouse building erected by the late Vincent Roy at Old Superior. The timbers are 4' x 8'. After the one mile dike across Superior Bay had served its purpose, it was allowed to gradually go to pieces. The timbers floating in the Bay for a while were a menace to navigation. You would find them drifting when least expected. The U.S. War Department caused the building of this dike from the end of Rice's Point, straight across to Minnesota Point to prevent the waters of the St. Louis River being diverted from the natural entry at Superior, to the newly dug canal, across Minnesota Point in Duluth. The contention was that, if the waters of the St. Louis were diverted, the natural entrance at Superior would become shoaled from lack of the rivers scouring current. However, when the piers were extended into 18 feet of water at both the old entrance and the Duluth Canal, it was found that the currents of the river had no serious effect. The dike was never popular and was always in the way of the traffic between Superior and Duluth. Several openings were made in it to allow the passage of smaller boats. It was finally condemned by the Government Engineers as a menace to navigation. This all happened in the early 70's. This building is now the only authentic evidence of the dike. It is owned by the Superior and Douglas County Historical Society. The writer is the man in the picture." ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Vincent Roy Jr. storage building, circa 1933.
The following is a statement by John A. Bardon of Superior accompanying the photography, “Small storehouse building erected by the late Vincent Roy [Jr] at Old Superior. The timbers are 4′ x 8′. After the one mile dike across Superior Bay had served its purpose, it was allowed to gradually go to pieces. The timbers floating in the Bay for a while were a menace to navigation. You would find them drifting when least expected. The U.S. War Department caused the building of this dike from the end of Rice’s Point, straight across to Minnesota Point to prevent the waters of the St. Louis River being diverted from the natural entry at Superior, to the newly dug canal, across Minnesota Point in Duluth. The contention was that, if the waters of the St. Louis were diverted, the natural entrance at Superior would become shoaled from lack of the rivers scouring current. However, when the piers were extended into 18 feet of water at both the old entrance and the Duluth Canal, it was found that the currents of the river had no serious effect. The dike was never popular and was always in the way of the traffic between Superior and Duluth. Several openings were made in it to allow the passage of smaller boats. It was finally condemned by the Government Engineers as a menace to navigation. This all happened in the early 70’s. This building is now the only authentic evidence of the dike. It is owned by the Superior and Douglas County Historical Society. The writer is the man in the picture.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Detail of Superior City townsite at the head of Lake Superior from 1854 Plat Map of Township 49 North Range 14 West.

Read more about Vincent Roy, Jr.’s town-site at Superior City here on Chequamegon History.

The ship canal at Sault St Marie was in course of construction and it was evidently but a question of days that boats afloat on Lakes Huron and Michigan would be able to run up and unload their cargo for regions further inland somewhere on the shore at the further end of Lake Superior, at which a place, no doubt, a city would be built.  The place now occupied by the city of Superior was suitable for the purposes in view but to set it in order and to own the greatest possible part of it, had become all at the same time the cherished idea of too many different elements as that developments could go on smoothly.  Three independent crews were struggling to establish themselves at the lower or east end of the bay when a fourth crew approached at the upper or west end, with which Vincent, his brother Frank, and others of LaPointe had joined in.22  As this crew went directly to and began operations at the place where Vincent had his property it seems to have been guided by him, though it was in reality under the leadership of Wm. Nettleton who was backed by Hon. Henry M. Rice of St. Paul.23  Without delay the party set to work surveying the land and “improving” each claim, as soon as it was marked off, by building some kind of a log-house upon it.  The hewing of timber may have attracted the attention of the other crews at the lower end about two or three miles off, as they came up about noon to see what was going on. The parties met about halfway down the bay at a place where a small creek winds its way through a rugged ravine and falls into the bay.  Prospects were anything but pleasant at first at the meeting; for a time it seemed that a battle was to be fought, which however did not take place but the parceling out of ‘claims’ was for the time being suspended.  This was in March or April 1854.  Hereafter some transacting went on back the curtain, and before long it came out that the interests of the town-site of Superior, as far as necessary for efficient action, were united into a land company of which public and prominent view of New York, Washington, D.C. and other places east of the Mississippi river were the stockholders.  Such interests as were not represented in the company were satisfied which meant for some of them that they were set aside for deficiency of right or title to a consideration.  The townsite of the Superior of those days was laid out on both sides of the Nemadji river about two or three miles into the country with a base along the water edge about half way up Superior bay, so that Vincent with his property at the upper end of the bay, was pretty well out of the way of the land company, but there were an way such as thought his land a desirable thing and they contested his title in spite of his holding it already for a considerable time.  An argument on hand in those days was, that persons of mixed blood were incapable of making a legal claim of land.  The assertion looks more like a bugaboo invented for the purpose to get rid of persons in the way than something founded upon law and reason, yet at that time some effect was obtained with it.  Vincent managed, however, to ward off all intrusion upon his property, holding it under every possible title, ‘preemption’ etc., until the treaty of LaPointe in the following September, when it was settled upon his name by title of United States scrip so called, that is by reason of the clause,as said above, entered into the second article of that treaty.

The subsequent fate of the piece of land here in question was that Vincent held it through the varying fortune of the ‘head of the lake’ for a period of about thirty six years until it had greatly risen in value, and when the west end was getting pretty much the more important complex of Superior, an English syndicate paid the sum of twenty five thousand dollars, of which was then embodied in a tract afterwards known as “Roy’s Addition”.

 

VII.

– On his farm – in a bivonac – on the ice.

Superior was now the place of Vincent’s home and continued to be it for the remaining time of his life.  The original ‘claim’ shanty made room for a better kind of cover to which of course the circumstances of time, place, and means had still prescribed the outlines.24  Yet Vincent is credited with the talent of making a snug home with little.  His own and his wife’s parents came to live with him.  One day the three families being all seated around a well filled holy-day table, the sense of comfort called forth a remark of Vincent’s mother to her husband:25

“Do you remember, man,” she said, “how you made our Vincent frequently eat his meals on the ground apart from the family-table; now see the way he repays you; there is none of the rest of the children that could offer us as much and would do it in the way he does.”

It was during this time of his farming that Vincent spent his first outdoor night all alone and he never forgot it.26  It was about June.  Spring had just clothed the trees with their full new foliage.  Vincent was taking a run down to Hudson, Wisconsin, walking along the military wagon road which lead from Superior to St. Paul.  Night was lowering when he came to Kettle river.  Just above the slope he perceived a big bushy cedar tree with its dense branches like an inscrutable pyramid set off before the evening light and he was quickly resolved to have his night’s quarters underneath it.  Branches and dry leaves being gathered for a bed, his frugal meal taken he rolled up in the blanket carried along for such purposes, and invited sleep to come and refresh his fatigued mortality.  Little birds in the underbrush along the bank had twittered lower and lower until they slept, the frogs were bringing their concert to a close, the pines and cedars and sparse hardwood of the forest around were quiet, the night air was barely moving a twig; Vincent was just beginning to forget the world about him, when his awakening was brought on upon a sudden.  An unearthly din was filling the air about him.  As quick as he could extricate himself from his blanket, he jumped to his feet.  If ever his hair stood up on end, it did it now; he trembled from head to foot.  His first thoughts as he afterwards said, were, that a band of blood-thirsty savages had discovered his whereabouts and were on the point to dispatch him.  In a few moments, everything around was again dead silence.  He waited, but he heard nothing save the beating of his own heart.  He had no other weapon than a muzzle-loaded pistol which he held ready for his defense.  Nothing coming in upon him, he walked cautiously from under his shelter, watching everything which might reveal a danger.  He observed nothing extraordinary.  Facing about he viewed the tree under which he had tried to sleep.  There! – from near the top of that same tree now, as if it had waited to take in the effect of its freak and to ridicule all his excitement, a screeching owl lazily took wing and disappeared in the night.  The screeching of this bird with its echo in the dead of night multiplied a hundred times by an imagination yet confused from sleep had been the sole cause of disturbance.  Vincent used to say that never in his life he had been so upset as on this night and though all had cleared up as a false alarm, he had had but little sleep when at daybreak he resumed his journey.

Another adventure Vincent had in one of these years on the ice of Lake Superior.27  All the family young and old had been on Bass Island near Bayfield for the purpose of making maple-sugar.  That meant, they had been some three weeks in March-April at work gathering day and night the sap tapped from maple-trees and boiling down to a mass which they stored in birch bark boxed of fifty to hundred and fifty pounds each.  At the end of the season Vincent got his horse and sleigh and put aboard the product of his work, himself, his wife and two young persons, relatives of his wife, followed; they were going home to Superior on the ice of the lake along the shore.  When they came however towards Siskowit bay, instead of following the circuit of the shore, they made directly for Bark Point, which they saw standing out before them.  This brought them out on a pretty big field of ice and the ice was not to be trusted so late in spring as it was now.  Being almost coming in upon the point they all at once noticed the ice to be moving from shore – a split was just crossing through ahead of them.  No time was to be lost.  With a providential presence of mind, Vincent whipped his horse, which seemed to understand the peril of the situation; with all the speed it could gather up in a few paces it jumped across the gap.  The sleigh shooting over the open water struck the further ice edge with a thump yet without harm  – they were safe.

By pressure of other ice wedging in at a distance or from the hold which wind and wave get upon it, a considerable area of ice may, sometimes in spring, break loose with a report as that of a cannon and glide apart some ten feet right out upon the start.  That it happened different this time and that our travelers did not drift out into the lake with a cake of ice however large yet, any thawing away or breaking up under them, was their very good fortune.

 

 VIII.

– Superior’s short-lived prosperity – V. at his old profession – a memorable tour.

Built circa 1857, photographed circa 1930. "The trading post was owned by Vincent Roy. The Roy family was prominent in the early history of the Superior area. The father, Frank Roy, and the sons, Vincent and Peter, signed the 1854 treaty." ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Built circa 1857, photographed circa 1930.
“The trading post was owned by Vincent Roy [Jr]. The Roy family was prominent in the early history of the Superior area.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Vincent was too near Superior as not to feel the pulsation of her life and to enter into the joys and sorrows of already her infant days.28  The place had fast donned the appearance of a city; streets were graded, lines of buildings were standing, trades were at work.  Indeed, a printing office was putting out at convenient intervals printed matter for the benefit of the commonwealth at home and abroad; then was a transfer of real-estate going on averaging some thousand dollars a week, town lots selling at two to three hundred dollars each; and several stores of general merchandise were doing business.

The scarcity of provision the first winter was but an incident, the last boat which was to complete the supply being lost in a gale.  It did not come to severe suffering and great was the joy, when a boat turned up in spring especially early.

In short, the general outlook had great hopes on the wing for the place, but its misgivings came.  Its life blood ceased to flow in the financial crisis of September 1857, as the capital which had pushed it was no more forthcoming.  It was a regular nor’easter that blew down the young plant, not killing it outright but stunting its growth for many, many years to come.  The place settled down to a mere village of some hundred inhabitants, doing duty of course as county seat but that was not saying much as the whites stood in that part of the country all the way to pretty well up in the eighties.

~ Superior Chronicle, July 7th, 1860.

~ The Superior Chronicle, July 7th, 1860.

About 1856 Vincent embarked again in the profession of his youth, the fur trade.  Alexander Paul who did business in “The Superior Outfit” on Second Street, engaged his services.  After a few years the business passed into the hands of Peter E. Bradshaw; which however did not interfere with Vincent.  He was required to give all his attention to fur and peltry; first to getting them in, then to sorting them and tending to them until they were set off in the east.  His employers had trading posts along the north shore at Grand Marais and Grant Portage, about the border line at the Lakes Basswood, Vermillion and Rainy, then at Lower Red Lake, at Mud Lake east of Leech Lake and at Cross Lake about thirty miles north of Crow Wing Minnesota.  A tour of inspection of these posts was necessary on the average in the fall to see what was needed to be sent out, and in the spring to get home the peltries which had been obtained.29  One tour in which Vincent, Mr. P Bradshaw, Francis Blair, and one or two others, made up the party, was regarded especially memorable.  It was undertaken early in spring, perhaps in February since the calculation was to find brook and lake yet passable on the ice.  The party set out with the usual train of three dogs harnessed to a toboggan which carried as long as the dogs did not give out, the most necessary luggage; to wit, a blanket for each the men to roll up in at night and the supply of food consisting in a packet of cornmeal with a proportionate amount of tallow for the dogs and bacon for the men to add, the Canadian snowshoes being carried in hand any way as long and wherever they would be but an incumbrance to the feet.  Their way led them along the wagon road to Kettle river, then across the country passing Mille lac Lake to Crow Wing, then northward to touch their posts of Cross and Mud Lake, moving nearly always on the ice in that region of lakes in which the Mississippi has its beginning.  After leaving the Mud Lake post a swamp of more than a day in crossing was to be traversed to reach the Red Lake post.  They were taking the usual trail but this time they were meeting more than usual inconvenience.  They had been having a few days soft weather and here where the water would not run off they found themselves walking knee-deep in the slush, to increase their annoyance it set in drizzling.  Still they trudged along till about mid-afternoon when they halted.  The heavens scowling down in a gray threatening way, all around snow, from which looked forth, an occasional tuft of swamp grass, otherwise shrubby browse with only at places dwarfed pine and tamarack, were sticks of an arm’s thickness and but thinly scattered, they were in dread of the night and what it might bring them in such dismal surrounding.  They were to have a fire and to make sure of it, they now began to gather sticks at a place when they were to be had, until they had a heap which they thought would enable them to keep up a fire till morning.  The next thing and not an easy one was to build a fire.  They could not proceed on their usual plan of scraping away the snow and set it up around as a fortification against the cold air, it would have been opening here a pit of clear water.  So they began throwing down layers of sticks across each other until the pile stood in pierform above water and snow and furnished a fire-place.  Around the fire they built a platform of browse-wood and grass for themselves to lie upon.  But the fire would not burn well and the men lay too much exposed.  Luckily the heavens remained clouded, which kept up the temperature.  A severe cold night easily have had serious results in those circumstances.  The party passed a very miserable night, but it took an end, and no one carried any immediate harm from it.

Next morning, the party pushed forward on its way and without further adventure reached the Red Lake post.  Thence they worked their way upwards to the Lake of the Woods, then down the Rainy Lake River and along Rainy Lake, up Crane Lake, to Pelican Lake, and finally across Vermillion Lake to the Vermillion post, about the spot where Tower, Minn. now stands.  Thence back to Superior, following the water courses, chiefly the St. Louis river.  The distance traveled, if it is taken in a somewhat straight line, is from five to six hundred miles, but for the party it must have been more judging from the meandering way it went from lake to lake and along the course of streams.  That tour Messrs. Bradshaw required for their business, twice a year; once in the winter, to gather in the crops of furs of the year and again in the fall to furnish the posts with provision and stock in trade and the managing there lay chiefly upon Mr. Roy.  As to the hardships on these tours, dint of habit went far to help them endure them.  Thus Mr. Bradshaw remarked yet in 1897 – he did not remember that he or any of his employees out on a trip, in the winter, in the open air, day and night, ever they had to be careful or they get a cold then.

“As any who have tried snowshoes will know, there is a trick to using them. The novice will spread his legs to keep the snowshoes from scraping each other, but this awkward position, like attempting too great a distance before conditioning oneself to the strain, will cause lameness. Such invalids, the old voyageur type would say, suffer fromMal de raquette.’
~ Forest & Outdoors, Volume 42, by the Canadian Forestry Assocation, 1946, page 380.

Not infrequently a man’s ingenuity came into action and helped to overcome a difficulty.  An instance in case happened on the above or a similar tour.  Somewhere back of Fond du Lac, Minn, notwithstanding the fact that they were approaching home, one of the men declared himself incapable of traveling any longer, being afflicted most severely with what the “courreurs du bois” called “mal de la raquette.”  This was a trouble consequent to long walks on snow shoes.  The weight and continual friction of the snow-shoe on the forefoot would wear this so much that blood oozed from it and cramps in foot and leg set in.  In this unpleasant predicament, the man was undismayed, he advised his companions to proceed and leave him to his fate, as he would still find means to take care of himself.  So he was left.  After about a week some anxiety was felt about the man and a search-party set out to hunt him up.  Arriving at his whereabouts, they found their man in somewhat comfortable circumstances, he had built for himself a hut of the boughs of trees and dry grass and have lived on rabbits which he managed to get without a gun.  So far from being in need of assistance, he was now in a condition to bestow such for it being about noon and a rabbit on the fire being about ready to be served he invited his would-be-rescuers to dinner and after he had regaled them in the best manner circumstances permitted, he returned home with them all in good spirits.

The following incidents shows how Mr. Roy met an exigency.  Once at night-fall he and the men had pitched for a night’s stay and made preparations for supper.  No game or fish was at hand.  A brook flowed near by but there was nothing in the possession of the crew to catch a fish with.  But Roy was bent upon making the anyway scant fare more savory with a supply of fish, if it could be.  Whilst the rest made a fire, he absented himself and in a very short time he returned with a couple of fish fresh from the water and sufficiently large to furnish a dish for all.  He had managed to get them out from the brook with no other contrivance than the forked twig of a tree.

The following trip of Mr. Roy is remembered for the humorous incidents to which it gave occasion.  One summer day probably in August and in the sixties, a tourist party turned up at Superior.  It consisted of two gentlemen with wives and daughters, some six or seven persons.  They were from the east, probably New York and it was fairly understood that it was the ambition of the ladies to pose as heroines, that had made a tour through the wild west and had seen the wild indian in his own country.  The Bradshaws being under some obligation to these strangers detailed Roy and a few oarsmen to take them by boat along the north shore to Fort William, where they could take passage on a steamer for the continuation of their journey.

Now the story goes that Roy sent word ahead to some family at Grand Marais, Minn. or thereabouts that his crew would make a stop at their house.  The unusual news, however, spread and long before Roy’s boat came in sight, not only the family, which was to furnish hospitality, was getting ready, but also their friends; men, women and children, in quite a number, had come gathering in from the woods, each ready for something, if no more, at least to show their wild indian faces.

Maple sugar in a birch bark container. ~ Minnesota Historical Society

Maple sugar in a birch bark container.
~ Minnesota Historical Society

When Roy and the gentlemen and ladies in his custody had arrived and were seated at table, the women and girls busied themselves in some way or another in order to make sure not to miss seeing, what was going on, above all how the strange ladies would behave at table.  The Indian woman, who had set the table, had put salt on it – simply enough it is said for the boiled eggs served; – but what was peculiar, was that the salt was not put in salt-dishes, but in a coffee cup or bowl.  If sugar was on the table, it was maple-sugar, which any Indian of the country could distinguish from salt, but the ladies at the table were not so versed in the customs of the country through which they were travelling, they mistaking the salt for sugar, reached for it and put a tea-spoonful of it into their tea or coffee.  A ripple of surprise ran over the numerous spectators, the features of the older ones relaxing somewhat from their habitual rigor and a half-suppressed titter of the younger being heard – possibly in their judgement, the strange ladies of the city in the east were the less civilized there.  In fact, the occurrence was never forgotten by those who witnessed it.

Proceeding on their journey, one night Roy and those in his custody had not been able to take their night’s rest at a human habitation and had chanced to pitch their tents on a high embankment of the lake.  During the night the wind arose and blew a gale from the lake, so strong that the pegs of the tents, in which the ladies were lodged, pulled up and the canvass blew away.  When the ladies were thus on a sudden aroused from sleep and without a tent out in the storm they screamed for their life for Roy to come to their aid.  The men helped along with Roy to set up the tent again.  Roy often afterwards amusingly referred to this that the ladies had not screamed for their husbands or fathers, but for Roy.  The ladies gave later on their reasons for acting thus.  Not knowing the real cause of what was transpiring, they in their freight thought the wild Indians were now indeed upon them that they were on the point of being carried off into the woods.  In such a peril they of course thought of Roy as the only one who could rescue them.  After the excitement things were soon explained and set aright and the ladies with their husbands and fathers arrived safely at Fort William and took passage in due season on an east-bound steamer.

A Friend of Roy.

 


 

Sources of Inform:tion

boyz

“Top: Frank Roy, Vincent Roy, E. Roussin, Old Frank D.o., Bottom: Peter Roy, Jos. Gourneau (Gurnoe), D. Geo. Morrison.” The photo is labelled Chippewa Treaty in Washington 1845 by the St. Louis Hist. Lib and Douglas County Museum, but if it is in fact in Washington, it was probably the Bois Forte Treaty of 1866, where these men acted as conductors and interpreters (Digitized by Mary E. Carlson for The Sawmill Community at Roy’s Point).

1 His journal and folks.

2 Pet. Roy’s sketch.

3 Mr. Roy to V.

4 P. R.’s sketch

5 Mr. Geo. Morrison says, the place was in those days always called Madelaine Island.

~ The Superior Chronicle, July 7, 1860.

~ The Superior Chronicle, July 7, 1860.

6 P. Roy’s sketch.

7 His wife.

8 His folks.

9 Cournoyer.

10 Mrs. Roy.

11 See foot-note.

12 Mrs. Roy.

13 Fr. Eustachius said smthng to this effect.

14 Mr. Roy to V.

15 Cournoyer or Mr. Roy to V.

16 Cournoyer.

17 The Treaty doc.t

18 by Geo. Morrison & others.

19 Mr. Roy to V.

20 The family.

21 Mr. Roy to V.

22 Mr. Roy to V.

23 History of Superior as to the substce.

Vincent Cournoyer was Vincent Roy Jr’s brother-in-law.  The Roy brothers, Cournoyer, Morrison, and La Fave were all Mixed-Blood members of the Lake Superior Chippewa, and elected officials in Douglas County, Wisconsin.

24 The family.

25 Cournoyer.

26 Mr Roy to V. – His family also.

27 Mr. Roy to V. – His family also.

28 History aS subst.e

29 Mr. J. Bradshaw and J. La Fave.

 


 

Father Valentine wishes his name to be suppressed in this communication and hence signs himself as above: “A Friend of Roy.”

Fr. Chrysostom Verwyst O.F.M.

 

Reverend Chrysostome Verwyst

Reverend Chrysostome Verwyst, circa 1918. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

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

PerraultCurotMalhoitNelson

Click to enlarge (it can only be read when the image is full size).

UPDATE MAY 16, 2014: This map is updated with additional names from John Sayer’s journal in this post.

I’ve been getting lazy, lately, writing all my posts about the 1850s and later.  It’s easy to find sources about that because they are everywhere, and many are being digitized in an archival format.  It takes more work to write a relevant post about the earlier eras of Chequamegon History.  The sources are sparse, scattered, and the ones that are digitized or published have largely been picked over and examined by other researchers.  However, that’s no excuse.  Those earlier periods are certainly as interesting as the mid-19th Century. I needed to just jump in and do a project of some sort.

I’m someone who needs to know the names and personalities involved to truly wrap my head around a history.  I’ve never been comfortable making inferences and generalizations unless I have a good grasp of the specific.  This doesn’t become easy in the Lake Superior country until after the Cass Expedition in 1820.

But what about a generation earlier?

The dawn of the 19th-century was a dynamic time for our region.  The fur trade was booming under the British North West Company.  The Ojibwe were expanding in all directions, especially to west, and many of familiar French surnames that are so common in the area arrived with Canadian and Ojibwe mix-blooded voyageurs.  Admittedly, the pages of the written record around 1800 are filled with violence and alcohol, but that shouldn’t make one lose track of the big picture.  Right or wrong, sustainable or not, this was a time of prosperity for many.  I say this from having read numerous later nostalgic accounts from old chiefs and voyageurs about this golden age.

We can meet some of the bigger characters of this era in the pages of William W. Warren and Henry Schoolcraft.  In them, men like Mamaangazide (Mamongazida “Big Feet”) and Michel Cadotte of La Pointe, Beyazhig (Pay-a-jick “Lone Man) of St. Croix, and Giishkiman (Keeshkemun “Sharpened Stone”) of Lac du Flambeau become titans, covered with glory in trade, war, and influence.  However, there are issues with these accounts.  These two authors, and their informants, are prone toward glorifying their own family members. Considering that Schoolcraft’s (his mother-in law, Ozhaawashkodewike) and Warren’s (Flat Mouth, Buffalo, Madeline and Michel Cadotte Jr., Jean Baptiste Corbin, etc.) informants were alive and well into adulthood by 1800, we need to keep things in perspective.

The nature of Ojibwe leadership wasn’t different enough in that earlier era to allow for a leader with any more coercive power than that of the chiefs in 1850s.  Mamaangazide and his son Waabojiig may have racked up great stories and prestige in hunting and war, but their stature didn’t get them rich, didn’t get them out of performing the same seasonal labors as the other men in the band, and didn’t guarantee any sort of power for their descendants.  In the pages of contemporary sources, the titans of Warren and Schoolcraft are men.

Finally, it should be stated that 1800 is comparatively recent.  Reading the journals and narratives of the Old North West Company can make one feel completely separate from the American colonization of the Chequamegon Region in the 1840s and ’50s.  However, they were written at a time when the Americans had already claimed this area for over a decade.  In fact, the long knife Zebulon Pike reached Leech Lake only a year after Francois Malhoit traded at Lac du Flambeau.

The Project

I decided that if I wanted to get serious about learning about this era, I had to know who the individuals were. The most accessible place to start would be four published fur-trade journals and narratives:  those of Jean Baptiste Perrault (1790s), George Nelson (1802-1804), Michel Curot (1803-1804), and Francois Malhoit (1804-1805).

The reason these journals overlap in time is that these years were the fiercest for competition between the North West Company and the upstart XY Company of Sir Alexander MacKenzie.  Both the NWC traders (such as Perrault and Malhoit) and the XY traders (Nelson and Curot) were expected to keep meticulous records during these years.

I’d looked at some of these journals before and found them to be fairly dry and lacking in big-picture narrative history.  They mostly just chronicle the daily transactions of the fur posts.  However, they do frequently mention individual Ojibwe people by name, something that can be lacking in other primary records.  My hope was that these names could be connected to bands and villages and then be cross-referenced with Warren and Schoolcraft to fill in some of the bigger story. As the project took shape, it took the form of a map with lots of names on it.  I recorded every Ojibwe person by name and located them in the locations where they met the traders, unless they are mentioned specifically as being from a particular village other than where they were trading.

I started with Perrault’s Narrative and tried to record all the names the traders and voyageurs mentioned as well.  As they were mobile and much less identified with particular villages, I decided this wasn’t worth it.  However, because this is Chequamegon History, I thought I should at least record those “Frenchmen” (in quotes because they were British subjects, some were English speakers, and some were mix-bloods who spoke Ojibwe as a first language) who left their names in our part of the world.  So, you’ll see Cadotte, Charette, Corbin, Roy, Dufault (DeFoe), Gauthier (Gokee), Belanger, Godin (Gordon), Connor, Bazinet (Basina), Soulierre, and other familiar names where they were encountered in the journals.  I haven’t tried to establish a complete genealogy for either, but I believe Perrault (Pero) and Malhoit (Mayotte) also have names that are still with us.

For each of the names on the map, I recorded the narrative or journal they appeared in:

JBP=  Jean Baptiste Perrault

GN=  George Nelson

MC=  Michel Curot

FM=  Francois Malhoit

pcnm1

Red Lake-Pembina area:  By this time, the Ojibwe had started to spread far beyond the Lake Superior forests and into the western prairies.  Perrault speaks of the Pillagers (Leech Lake Band) being absent from their villages because they had gone to hunt buffalo in the west.  Vincent Roy Sr. and his sons later settled at La Pointe, but their family maintained connections in the Canadian borderlands.  Jean Baptiste Cadotte Jr. was the brother of Michel Cadotte (Gichi-Mishen), the famous La Pointe trader.

pcnm2

Leech Lake and Sandy Lake area:  The names that jump out at me here are La Brechet or Gaa-dawaabide (Broken Tooth), the great Loon-clan chief from Sandy Lake (son of Bayaaswaa mentioned in this post) and Loon’s Foot (Maangozid).  The Maangozid we know as the old speaker and medicine man from Fond du Lac (read this post) was the son of Gaa-dawaabide.  He would have been a teenager or young man at the time Perrault passed through Sandy Lake.

pcnm3

Fond du Lac and St. Croix: Augustin Belanger and Francois Godin had descendants that settled at La Pointe and Red Cliff.  Jean Baptiste Roy was the father of Vincent Roy Sr.  I don’t know anything about Big Marten and Little Marten of Fond du Lac or Little Wolf of the St. Croix portage, but William Warren writes extensively about the importance of the Marten Clan and Wolf Clan in those respective bands.  Bayezhig (Pay-a-jick) is a celebrated warrior in Warren and Giishkiman (Kishkemun) is credited by Warren with founding the Lac du Flambeau village.  Buffalo of the St. Croix lived into the 1840s. I wrote about his trip to Washington in this post.

pcnm4

Lac Courte Oreilles and Chippewa River:  Many of the men mentioned at LCO by Perrault are found in Warren.  Little (Petit) Michel Cadotte was a cousin of the La Pointe trader, Big (Gichi/La Grande) Michel Cadotte.  The “Red Devil” appears in Schoolcraft’s account of 1831.  The old, respected Lac du Flambeau chief Giishkiman appears in several villages in these journals.  As the father of Keenestinoquay and father-in-law of Simon Charette, a fur-trade power couple, he traded with Curot and Nelson who worked with Charette in the XY Company.

pcnm5

La Pointe:  Unfortunately, none of the traders spent much time at La Pointe, but they all mention Michel Cadotte as being there.  The family of Gros Pied (Mamaangizide, “Big Feet”) the father of Waabojiig, opened up his lodge to Perrault when the trader was waylaid by weather.  According to Schoolcraft and Warren, the old war chief had fought for the French on the Plains of Abraham in 1759. 

pcnm6

Lac du Flambeau:  Malhoit records many of the same names in Lac du Flambeau that Nelson met on the Chippewa River.  Simon Charette claimed much of the trade in this area.  Mozobodo and “Magpie” (White Crow), were his brothers-in-law.  Since I’ve written so much about chiefs named Buffalo, I should point out that there’s an outside chance Le Taureau (presumably another Bizhiki) could be the famous Chief Buffalo of La Pointe.

pcnm7

L’Anse, Ontonagon, and Lac Vieux Desert:  More Cadottes and Roys, but otherwise I don’t know much about these men.

pcnm8

At Mackinac and the Soo, Perrault encountered a number of names that either came from “The West,” or would find their way there in later years.  “Cadotte” is probably Jean Baptiste Sr., the father of “Great” Michel Cadotte of La Pointe.

pcnm9

Malhoit meets Jean Baptiste Corbin at Kaministiquia.  Corbin worked for Michel Cadotte and traded at Lac Courte Oreilles for decades.  He was likely picking up supplies for a return to Wisconsin.  Kaministiquia was the new headquarters of the North West Company which could no longer base itself south of the American line at Grand Portage.

Initial Conclusions 

There are many stories that can be told from the people listed in these maps.  They will have to wait for future posts, because this one only has space to introduce the project.  However, there are two important concepts that need to be mentioned.  Neither are new, but both are critical to understanding these maps:

1)  There is a great potential for misidentifying people.

Any reading of the fur-trade accounts and attempts to connect names across sources needs to consider the following:

  • English names are coming to us from Ojibwe through French.  Names are mistranslated or shortened.
  • Ojibwe names are rendered in French orthography, and are not always transliterated correctly.
  • Many Ojibwe people had more than one name, had nicknames, or were referenced by their father’s names or clan names rather than their individual names.
  • Traders often nicknamed Ojibwe people with French phrases that did not relate to their Ojibwe names.
  • Both Ojibwe and French names were repeated through the generations.  One should not assume a name is always unique to a particular individual.

So, if you see a name you recognize, be careful to verify it’s reall  the person you’re thinking of.  Likewise, if you don’t see a name you’d expect to, don’t assume it isn’t there.

2)  When talking about Ojibwe bands, kinship is more important than physical location.

In the later 1800s, we are used to talking about distinct entities called the “St. Croix Band” or “Lac du Flambeau Band.”  This is a function of the treaties and reservations.  In 1800, those categories are largely meaningless.  A band is group made up of a few interconnected families identified in the sources by the names of their chiefs:  La Grand Razeur’s village, Kishkimun’s Band, etc.  People and bands move across large areas and have kinship ties that may bind them more closely to a band hundreds of miles away than to the one in the next lake over.

I mapped here by physical geography related to trading posts, so the names tend to group up.  However, don’t assume two people are necessarily connected because they’re in the same spot on the map.

On a related note, proximity between villages should always be measured in river miles rather than actual miles.

Going Forward

I have some projects that could spin out of these maps, but for now, I’m going to set them aside.  Please let me know if you see anything here that you think is worth further investigation.

 

Sources:
Curot, Michel. A Wisconsin Fur Trader’s Journal, 1803-1804. Edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites. Wisconsin Historical Collections, vol. XX: 396-472, 1911.
Malhoit, Francois V. “A Wisconsin Fur Trader’s Journal, 1804-05.” Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Ed. Reuben Gold Thwaites. Vol. 19. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1910. 163-225. Print.
Nelson, George, Laura L. Peers, and Theresa M. Schenck. My First Years in the Fur Trade: The Journals of 1802-1804. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society, 2002. Print.
Perrault, Jean Baptiste. Narrative of The Travels And Adventures Of A Merchant Voyager In The Savage Territories Of Northern America Leaving Montreal The 28th of May 1783 (to 1820) ed. and Introduction by, John Sharpless Fox. Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections. vol. 37. Lansing: Wynkoop, Hallenbeck, Crawford Co., 1900.
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe. Information Respecting The History,Condition And Prospects OF The Indian Tribes Of The United States. Illustrated by Capt. S. Eastman. Published by the Authority of Congress. Part III. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Company, 1953.
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe, and Philip P. Mason. Expedition to Lake Itasca; the Discovery of the Source of the Mississippi. East Lansing: Michigan State UP, 1958. Print.
Warren, William W., and Theresa M. Schenck. History of the Ojibway People. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 2009. Print.