By Amorin Mello

A curious series of correspondences from Morgan

… continued from The Copper Region.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
August 9, 1845.

La Pointe, Lake Superior

July 26, 1845

To the Editor of the Union:

1843 View of La Pointe ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

View of La Pointe, circa 1843.
“American Fur Company with both Mission churches. Sketch purportedly by a Native American youth. Probably an overpainted photographic copy enlargement. Paper on a canvas stretcher.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

I have just time to state that, having spent five days at Copper Harbor, examining the copper mine, &c. at that place, and having got everything in readiness, we set off for this place, along the coast, in an open Mackinac boat, travelling by day, and camping out at night.  We reached this post on yesterday, the 25th instant.  We have now been under tents 21 nights.  In coming up the shore of the lake, we on one occasion experienced a tremendous rain accompanied with thunder, which wetted our things to a considerable extent, and partly filled the boat with water.

On our way we spent a good part of a day at Eagle river, and examined the mine in the process of being worked at that place, but found it did not equal our expectations.

We also stopped at the Ontonagon, the mineral region bordering which, some fifteen miles from the lake, promises to be as good as any other portion of the mineral region, if not better.

I have not time at present to enter fully into the results of observations I have made, or to describe the incidents and adventures of the long journey I have performed along the lake shore for the distance of about 500 miles, from Sault Ste. Marie to La Pointe.  There are many things I wish to say, and to describe, &c.; but as the schooner “Uncle Tom,” by which I write, is just about leaving, I have not time at present.  I must reserve these things for a future opportunity.

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

MORGAN.

P.S. – I set off in a day or two for the Mississippi and Falls of St. Anthony, via the Brulé and St. Croix rivers.

Yours, &c., M.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
August 25, 1845

EDITOR’S CORRESPONDENCE

[From our regular Northern correspondant.]

La Pointe, Lake Superior,

July 28, 1845.

Morgan’s last letter of this date was published earlier on Chequamegon History as The Copper Region for continuity after Copper Harbor.

In what I said in my last letter of this date, in relation to the extent, value, and prospects of the copper-mines opened on Lake Superior, I had no wish to dampen the ardor, would the feelings or injure the interest of any one concerned.  My only wish is to state facts.  This, in all cases, I feel it my duty to do; although, in so doing, as in the present case, my individual interest suffers thereby.  Could I have yielded to the impulses and influences prevailing in the copper region, I might have been greatly benefited in a pecuniary point of view by pursuing a different course ; but, knowing those whom I represented, as well as the public and the press for which I write, wanted the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, I could do nothing less than make the statement I did.  Previous to visiting the country, I could, of course, know nothing of its real character.  I had to judge, like others, from published reports of its mineral wealth, accompanied with specimens, &c., which appeared very flattering; but which, I am now convinced, have been rather overdrawn, and the mineral region set out larger and richer than it really is.  The authors of the reports were, doubtlessly, actuated by pure motives.  They, no doubt, had a wish, in laying down the boundaries of the mineral region, so to extend it as to leave out no knoll or range of trap-rock, or other formation, if any indicative of mineral deposites, which usually appear in connexion with them, occurred.

I consider, in conclusion, that the result thus far is this: that the mines opened may possibly, in their prosecution, lead to rich and permanent veins; and probably pay or yield something, in some cases, while exploring them.  But, however rich the specimens of one raised, at present there is nothing in them, geologically speaking, that indicates, conclusively, that they have reached a vein, or that the mines will continue permanently as rich as they are at present.  This would be my testimony, according to the best of “my knowledge and belief,” on the witness’s stand, under oath.

"The remarkable copper-silver "halfbreed" specimen shown above comes from northern Michigan's Portage Lake Volcanic Series, an extremely thick, Precambrian-aged, flood-basalt deposit that fills up an ancient continental rift valley." ~ Shared from James St. John under the Creative Commons license

“The remarkable copper-silver ‘halfbreed’ specimen shown above comes from northern Michigan’s Portage Lake Volcanic Series, an extremely thick, Precambrian-aged, flood-basalt deposit that fills up an ancient continental rift valley.”
~ Creative Commons from James St. John

That the region, as before said, is rich in copper and silver ores, cannot be denied.  And I think the indications that veins may or do exist somewhere in great richness, are sufficiently evident to justify continued explorations in search of them, by those who have the means and leisure to follow them up  for several years.  To find the veins, and most permanent deposites, must be the work of time; and as the season is short, on Lake Superior, for such operations, several years may be necessary before a proper and practical examination can be made of the country.

The general features of Lake Superior are very striking, and differ very much in appearance from what I have ever met with in any other part of the continent.  The vastness and depth of such a body of pure fresh cold water so far within the continent, is an interesting characteristic.  When we consider it is over 900 feet deep, with an area of over 30,000 square miles, and yet that, throughout its whole extent, it presents as pure and as fresh-tasted water as though it were taken from a mountain brook, the question naturally arises, Where can such a vast supply of pure water come from?  It is true, it has great many streams flowing into it, but they are nearly all quite small, and would seem to be wholly inadequate to supply such a vast mass of water, and preserve it in such a state of purity.  The water supplied by most of the rivers is far less pure than that in the lake itself.  East of Keweena point, we found the water of the rivers discolored, being tinged by pine and other roots, clay, &c., often resembling the hue of New England rum.  Such rivers, or all combined, would seem to be inadequate to supply such a vast quantity of pure clear water as fills this inland ocean!

Uncertainty in the Great Lakes Water Balance (2005)
~ United States Geological Survey

It is possible that this great lake is freely supplied with water from subterranean springs opening into it from below.  The river St. Mary’s also seems inadequate, from its size, to discharge as much water as comes into the lake from the rivers which it receives.  In this case, evaporation may be so great as to diminish the water that would otherwise pass out at it.

As relates to tides in the other lakes, we have nothing to say; but, as far as Lake Superior is concerned, we feel assured, from observation, as well as from the reports of others upon whom we can rely, that there are tides in it – variously estimated at from 8 to 12 inches; influenced, we imagine, by the point of observation, and the season of the year at which such tides are noticed.

The Voyageurs (1846) by Charles Deas. ~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

The Voyageurs (1846) by Charles Deas.
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

What strikes the voyageur with the most interest, in the way of scenery, is the wild, high, bold, and precipitous coast of the southern shore, for such much of the whole distance between Grand Sable and La Pointe, and, indeed, for some distance beyond La Pointe ; the picturesque appearance of which often seemed heightened to us, as on a clear morning, or late afternoon, or voyageurs would conduct our boat for miles near their bases.  Above us, the cliffs would rise in towering heights, while the bald eagle would be soaring in grand circular flights above their summits; our voyageurs, at the same time, chanting in chorus many of their wildest boat songs, as we glided along on the smooth and silent bosom of the lake.  I have heard songs among various nations, and in various parts of the world; but, whether it was the wild scenery resting in solemn grandeur before me, with the ocean-like waste of water around us, which lent wilderness to the song, I never listened to any which appeared to sing a verse in solo, and then repeat a chorus, in which the whole crew would join.  This would often be continued for several miles at a time, as the boat glided forward over smooth water, or danced along over the gentle swells of a moderate sea; the voyageurs, at the same moment, keeping time with their oars.

Jean Baptiste, our pilot, had an excellent voice, full, loud, and strong.  He generally led off, in singing; the others falling in at the choruses.  All their songs were in French, sometimes sentimental or pathetic, sometimes comic, and occasionally extempore, made, as sung, from the occurrences of the preceding day, or suggested by passing scenes.

The Chippewa Indians are poor singers; yet they have songs (such as they are) among them; one of which is a monotonous air repeated at their moccasin games.

Stereographic view of a moccasin game, by J. H. Hamilton, circa 1880. ~ University of Minnesota Duluth

Stereographic view of a moccasin game, by J. H. Hamilton, 1880. 
~ University of Minnesota Duluth

Next to the love of liquor, many of the Indians have a most unconquerable passion for gambling.  While at La Pointe, I had an opportunity of seeing them play their celebrated moccasin game.  They were to the number of two, or three aside, seated on the ground opposite to each other, which a blanket spread out between them, on which were placed four or five moccasins.  The had two lead bullets, one of which was made rough, while the other remained smooth.  Two f the gamesters were quite young men, with their faces painted with broad horizontal red and blue stripes, their eyelashes at the same time being dyed of a dark color.  They played the game, won and lost, with as much sang froid as old and experienced gamblers.  Those who sat opposite, especially one of them, was much older, but no means a match, at the time of my visit, for the young rascals, his antagonists.  One takes the balls in his hands, keeps his eye directly on the countenance of the opposite party, at the same time tossing the balls in his hands, and singing, in a changing voice, words which sound somewhat like “He-he-hy-er-he-he-hy-er-haw-haw-haw-yer.  He-he-hy-er,” &c.  During which he keeps raising, shifting, and putting down the moccasins, till, finally, he raises his hands, having succeeded in concealing the balls under two of the moccasins, for which the other proceeds to search; and if he succeeds, on the first trial, in finding the rough ball, he wins.  Then he takes the balls to hide, and commences singing himself.  If he fails, he loses; and the first party repeats the song and the secretion of the balls.  They hold in their hands small bundles of splinters of wood.  When one loses, he gives to the winner so many sticks of wood.  A certain number of them gained by any one of the party, wins the game.  When I saw them, they had staked up their beads, belts, garters, knife-cases, &c.  Their love of gaming is so strong, as to cause them to bet and lose everything they possess in the world – often stripping the last blanket from their naked backs, to stake on the game.  It is said that some Indians acquire so much dexterity at this game, that others addicted to it refuse to play with them.  In playing the game, they keep up a close watch on each other’s eyes, as being the best index to the movement of the hands.  The song is repeated, no doubt, to diver the attention of the antagonists.

Among other peculiarities of Lake Superior, and one of its greatest recommendations, is the abundance and superiority of its fish, consisting of trout of large size, white fish, siskomit, ( a species of salmon,) and bass.  The trout and siskomit are the finest and noblest fresh-water fish I ever saw.  Almost every day we could catch trout by trailing a hook and line in the water behind out boat.  In this way we caught one fine siskomit.  Its meat, when fresh-cooked, we found about the color of salmon.  The fish itself is about as heavy as a common-sized salmon, but less flat, being more round in form.

Detail of "The 12 Apostles" from Captain Jonathan Carver's journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766. ~ Boston Public Library

Detail of “The 12 Apostles” from Captain Jonathan Carver’s journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766.
~ Boston Public Library

If you will look at a map of Lake Superior, you will find, near its upper end, a labyrinth of islands, called by the early French voyageurs, of whom P. Charlevoix was one, (a Jesuit,) “the Madelaine islands.”  They are sometimes called “the Twelve Apostles.”  The largest island is now generally known as “the Madelaine island” – being the largest of the group.  Just inside, and near its southern extremity, at the head of a large, regular bay, with a sandy beach, with an open and gently-rising scattered pine and spruce land in the rear of the beach, stands La Pointe – one of the most pleasant, beautiful, and desirable places for a residence on Lake Superior, and the very place where Fort Wilkins should have been placed, instead of its present location, which must be conceded, by every impartial person, to be among the very worst that could have been selected on the whole lake.

The garrison at Copper harbor, located, as it is, upon the rocky surface of trap conglomerate, affording a surface so scantily supplied with soil amidst masses of pebbly rock and trap fragments as to be wholly unfit for any sort of cultivation whatever, is altogether out of place.  It is wholly inaccessible by land, and can only be reached by water in summer.  It is at a spot where Indians usually never passed within forty miles of it, till since its occupation.

Detail of the mail route between La Pointe and St. Croix falls. ~ A new map of the State of Wisconsin, by Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co., 1850

Detail of the Indian trail or “mail route” between La Pointe and St. Anthony Falls.
~ A new map of the State of Wisconsin, by Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co., 1850

The very next Congress should direct its prompt removal to La Pointe.  Here, from the foot of the bay in front of the Madelaine island, there is an Indian trail, connecting La Pointe with St. Anthony’s Falls, and over which the mail is carried in winter by voyageurs on foot.  La Pointe is the favorite resort of the Indians.  Their lodges, in villages, bark canoes, &c. are found here the year round.

They delight to paddle and sail their canoes about the beautiful bays, harbors, &c. of these islands, employing their time in canoe building, hunting, fishing, &c.  At every annual payment of their annuities, they flock to La Pointe in great numbers.  Not only is that section of the great Chippewa nation sharing in the annuities brought together, but large parties of the same tribe, who receive no annuity, come at the same time from the British possessions to the north of Pigeon river.  The Chippewas, called the “Pillageurs,” (so called from their thievish propensities,) inhabiting the country about Mille and Leech lakes, also attend – to meet relations, to traffic , and, perhaps, to steal a little.  The great advantage of a government outpost is felt in the moral effect it exercises over the Indians.  I know of no place where this influence would be more decidedly and beneficially exerted than at La Pointe.  here should be daily unfurled the “stars and stripes,” and the sound of the evening gun be heard over the beautiful bays, and along the shores of the Twelve Apostles, which the Indians would learn to reverence with little less respect than they do the voice of the Manitou – the guardian spirit of the mines, embowelled in the dark trap hills of the lake.

Here, too, is an exceedingly healthy place, a good soil, and every convenience for raising the finest potatoes, turnips, and every kind of garden stuff.

borup

1856 oil painting of Doctor Charles William Wulff Borup, a native of Copenhagen, Denmark.  Borup married Elizabeth Beaulieu, a Lake Superior Chippewa daughter of Bazil Hudon Beaulieu and Ogimaagizzhigokwe.  Borup and his brothers-in-law Charles Henry Oakes and Clement Hudon Beaulieu were co-signers of the 1842 Treaty with the Chippewa at La Pointe.  Borup and Oakes became the first bankers of Minnesota.

Dr. Borup, the agent for the American Fur Company, (who have an extensive trading-post at this place,) has a superb garden.  In walking through it with him, I saw very fine crops of the usual garden vegetables growing in it.  His red currant bushes were literally bent down beneath their weight of ripe fruit.  His cherry-trees had also borne well.  Gooseberries also succeed well.  The doctor also had some young apple-trees, that were in a thriving condition.  Poultry, likewise, does well.  Mrs. B. had her yard well stocked with turkeys, geese, ducks, and chickens.  There was also a good garden at the mission-house of the American board.

However infinitely better is such a place for a United States garrison than Copper harbor, located, as it were, on a barren rock, where no Indians are seen, unless induced to go there by the whites – where there is nothing to protect – where intercourse is cut off in winter, and food can only reach it in summer – where there is no soil on which to raise a potato or a cabbage.  I can only say that a greater blunder, in the location of a military post, was probably never committed.  And if made (of which I am assured it was not) by a military man, he ought to be court-martialed and cashiered.

The mouth of the Ontonagon river is a far better spot for the fort than Copper harbor.  It has a good soil, and a beautiful site for a fort.  Furthermore, the country between it and Fort Winnebago, on the Wisconsin river, is favorable to the construction of a military road, which ought, at no distant day, to be opened.  Another road should be cut from Fort Snelling, near the falls of St. Anthony, to La Pointe.  In cutting these roads, it would seem to me as if the United States soldiers themselves might be usefully employed.

Fort Wilkins (1844-1870) – First established in 1844 at Copper Harbor in Keweenaw County, Michigan. Constructed by two companies of the 5th U.S. Infantry under General Hugh Brady and Captain R.E. Cleary. Named after Secretary of War William Wilkins. Abandoned in 1870.”
~ FortWiki.com

While at Copper harbor, I frequently visited Fort Wilkins, in command of Captain Cleary, whom I consider in every way an ornament and an honor to the service.  In the brief space of time he has been at this post, and with the slender materials at command afforded by the country, he has nevertheless succeeded in making an “oasis” in a wilderness.  He has erected one of the neatest, most comfortable, and best-planned garrisons it has been my lot to enter on the western frontier.  He keeps all in excellent condition.  His men look clean, healthy, and active.  He drills them daily, and keeps them under most excellent discipline.  He seems to take both pleasure and ride in the service.  He says he never has any difficulty with is soldiers while he can exclude ardent spirits from them, as he succeeds in doing here, notwithstanding the great number of visitors to Copper harbor this summer.

To all travellers who are interested in objects of leading curiosity, the character of the Indians they fall in with cannot fail to arrest a share of attention.

The Chippewas are the only Indians now met with from the Sault Ste. Marie and Mackinac, extending from thence west along the southern shore of Lake Superior, to Fond du Lac, and from thence, in the same direction, to the Mississippi river.  Within the United States they extend over the country south from the British boundary, to the country low down on the St. Croix and Chippewa rivers.  The same tribe extends from our boundary northwest of the lake, entirely around its northern shore on British territory, till they reach the Sault Ste. Marie, opposite the American shore.  It is said this tribe, spread over such a vast tract of country, is a branch of the powerful race of the Algonquins.  They are sometimes called O-jib-was.  They do not exist as a consolidated nation, or strictly as a confederation of bands.  The entire nation on both sides of the line is divided into a great number of bands, with a chief at the head of each, which not uncommonly go by his name, such as “Old Martin’s band,” “Hole in the Day’s band,” &c.

Big Marten (Gichi-waabizheshi ), his son(?) Little Marten (Waabizheshiins), and their band(s) were featured in The Copper Region.
Hole-In-The-Day the Elder (Bagone-giizhig) (1801-1847) was the father of Hole-In-The-Day the Younger (1825-1868).  They and their band(s) were among the Pillageurs.

The chief’s son, especially if he exhibits the right qualities, is expected to succeed his father at the head of the band; but very frequently the honor is reached by usurpation.  The whole nation, which widely differ in circumstances, according to the part of the country they inhabit, nevertheless all speak the Chippewa language, and have extensive connexion by marriage, &c.  The bands inhabiting the southern shore of Lake Superior are by far the best of any others.  Though polygamy still prevails among them, and especially among their chiefs, it is nevertheless said to be becoming less common, especially where they are much influenced by Catholic and other missions.  While at La Pointe, an Indian wedding was consummated, being conducted according to the ceremonies of the Catholic church, and performed by the missionary priest of that persuasion stationed at the Pointe.

There is one trait of character possessed by the Chippewas, (if we except, perhaps, the band of “pillageurs,” who have a kind of “Bedouin Arab” reputation among their countrymen,) which, I am sorry to say, the whites do not possess in an equal degree – that is, “very great honesty.”

White men can travel among them with the most perfect safety as to life and property.  I will venture to say, that a man may carry baskets filled with gold and silver, and set them down in Indian villages, or leave them lying where he likes, or go to sleep by them, with Indians encamped all around him, and not one cent will be touched.  Such a thing as a house being broken open and robbed at a Chippewa Indian trading-post was never heard of – within between two and three years’ intercourse with them – in time of peace.  Dr. Borup said he would not be afraid, if concealed to look on, to leave his store door open all night; and the fact alone of its being left open, might be made known to the Indians at the Pointe.  He would expect to see no Indian enter the store, nor would he expect to lose anything; such was his confidence in their honesty!!

Prices of goods at La Pointe were artificially inflated by Indian traders because they lacked competition in this remote region and could be reimbursed with treaty annuities.  Read the 1848 La Pointe Annuity Payments to learn more about Borup’s role in these corrupt affairs.

Last winter, flour at the Pointe rose to $40 per barrel.  The poor Indians were nearly famished for bread, but were unable to purchase it at such a price.  They knew the American Fur Company had a considerable lot in store, guarded by nothing stronger than a padlock, yet they never offered the least violence towards the company’s agents or store!  Would white people have acted as honestly?  The poor Indians, by nature honest, have too often known the whites by the wrongs inflicted upon them, which God can forgive, but time can never blot out!  They are very superstitious, but not as basely and insanely so, but a great deal, as the Mormons, Millerites, and other moon-stricken sects among the whites.  They believe in one Great and Good Spirit, or a Being who can at will inflict good or evil on mankind; and there’s an end of it.  They often denominate the mysterious spirit of evil import the Manitou, making him to dwell in the wild hills, islands, grottoes, and caves of Lake Superior.

“In the rugged mountains of the Penokee Iron Range near Hurley in Iron County, in the former domain of the Chippewa Indians, were the reputed nesting places of the Thunderers (wassamowin lightning makers).
From these huge birds the Indians obtained their first knowledge of fire, which they kindled with fire-sticks. These mythical birds were the most powerful of the animal deities of the Indians of the woodlands and of the plains. When the weather was stormy they flew about high in the heavens. When they flapped their great wings, one heard the crashes of thunder, when they opened and closed their eyes flashes of lightning were seen. Some carried lakes of water on their backs, these slopped over and caused downpours of rain.  Their arrows, or thunderbolts, were the eggs which they dropped in their flight. These shattered the rocks and set fire to the forests and prairies.
A Chippewa Indian hunter, who was carried away to his nest by a Thunderer, saved his life by killing one of the young birds and flying back to earth in its feathered hide.
In the Smoky Mountains, a wild and rugged region in the southwestern part of Bayfield County, was the home of Winneboujou (Nenebozho), the fabled hero of the Ojibwa Indians. This all-powerful manitou was a blacksmith, and had his forge on the flat top of the highest mountain. Here he shaped the native copper of the Lake Superior region into useful implements for his Indian children. Much of his work at his forge was done at night, and the ringing blows of his great hammer could be heard throughout the Brule Valley and Lake Superior region. The fire of his forge reddened the sky. When he was not busy at his forge he was away hunting or seeking other adventures. Many stories of the exploits of this giant manitou have been told by the Chippewa and other Wisconsin Algonquian tribes.”
~ Legends of the Hills of Wisconsin by Dorothy Moulding Brown; The Wisconsin Archaeologist, Volume 18, Number 1, 1937, pages 20-21.

At times, it is said, a peculiar noise issues from the Porcupine mountains, and from the high hills on the main land, both east and west of La Pointe, some distance off.  It is said to resemble the distant discharge of ordnance, or thunder.  At one time, they said it was so loud and frequent, that they mistook it for signal guns fired from the brig Astor, which they thought might be in distress, and actually sent out a boat in search of her.

"Ojibwe shoulder pouch depicting two thunderbirds in quillwork, Peabody Museum Harvard." ~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

“Ojibwe shoulder pouch depicting two thunderbirds in quillwork, Peabody Museum, Harvard University.”
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

These sounds the Indians believe to be the voice of the spirit “Manitou,” who guards the deposites of mineral wealth embowelled beneath the hills, and to whom any attempt made to dig them up, and carry them off, would be highly offensive, and followed by some kind of punishment.  I have never yet heard of an Indian’s leading a white man to a locality of copper, or telling where he has found a piece when picked up!

Some have supposed that the noise in question arises from volcanic action; but, as no vibration is felt in the earth, and no other proof exists of such being the case, we are led to believe that the noise is produced by the lashing of the waves of the lake after a storm, as they are driven forward into the grottoes, caves, &c. of the tall sandstone cliffs, formed at their bases by the disintegrating effects of water and ice.  Some distance east of La Pointe, about the Little Girl’s Point and Montreal river, as well as west of the same place, some fifteen or twenty miles, high red sandstone cliffs occur.  At their bases, near the water’s edge, a great many curiously-shaped caves and grottoes appeared.  In places, the sandstone had been so cut away, that only pillars remained standing at some ten or fifteen feet in the lake, from the top of which a high rude arch would extend to the main shore, and beneath which boats could  easily pass.  This was particularly the case near where the islands are parted with going west up the southern shore of the lake.  Some caves, with small openings for mouths, run for a long distance back beneath the hills, expanding, likely, into large halls with high vaulted roofs, &c.  After a storm, a heavy sea continues to roll into these grottoes and caverns, the waves lashing themselves against their sides and roofs – thus producing sounds resembling those heard at La Pointe, &c.

As the weather is generally calm after a storm, before the sea goes down, it is likely at such times these sounds are heard.

We had occasion to pass these places when a considerable sea would be on, close to the cliffs, and could hear the hollow heavy sounds of the waves as they broke into the caverns within the cliffs and hills.  Every day, while we remained, parties of Indians continued to arrive, to be present at the payment.

James P. Hays was in charge of the La Point Indian Subagency (1844-1848).

We finally became prepared to leave for the Mississippi, having bought two bark canoes, and hired four new voyageurs – two for each canoe – one Indian, one half-breed, and two descendants of Canadian French; and, with a stock of provisions, we were ready to be off.  From this place, I sent back three voyageurs to the Sault Ste. Marie, all that I hired to come as far as La Pointe.  So, after paying our respects to Mr. Hays, our worthy Indian agent, and to Dr. Borup, (to both of whom I had borne letters of introduction,) and having many “bon voyages” heaped upon us by our friends and the friends of the voyageurs, we bade adieu to La Pointe.

You will not hear from me again till I reach the Falls of St. Croix.

I am yours, very truly, &c.

MORGAN.

 


 

To be continued in Saint Croix Falls

By Amorin Mello

A curious series of correspondences from Morgan

… continued from Copper Harbor.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
August 21, 1845.

 EDITOR’S CORRESPONDENCE.

[From our Regular Correspondent.]

THE COPPER REGION.

La Pointe, Lake Superior

July 28, 1845.

In my last brief letter from this place, I had not time to notice many things which I desired to describe. I have now examined the whole coast of the southern shore of Lake Superior, extending from the Sault Ste. Marie to La Pointe, including a visit to the Anse, and the doubling of Keweena point. During the trip, as stated previously, we had camped out twenty-one nights. I examined the mines worked by the Pittsburg company at Copper harbor, and those worked by the Boston company at Eagle river, as well as picked up all the information I could about other portions of the mineral district, both off and on shore. The object I had in view when visiting it, was to find out, as near as I could, the naked facts in relation to it. The distance of the lake-shore traversed by my part to La Pointe was about five hundred miles – consuming near four weeks’ time to traverse it. I have still before me a journey of three or four hundred miles before I reach the Mississippi river, by the way of the Brulé and St. Croix rivers. I know the public mind has been recently much excited in relation to the mineral region of country of Lake Superior, and that a great many stories are in circulation about it. I know, also, that what is said and published about it, will be read with more or less interest, especially by parties who have embarked in any of the speculations which have been got up about it. It is due to truth and candor, however, for me to declare it as my opinion, that the whole country has been overrated. That copper is found scattered over the country equal in extent to the trap-rock hills and conglomerate ledges, either in its native state, or in the form of a black oxide, as a green silicate, and, perhaps, in some other forms, cannot be denied;- but the difficulty, so far, seems to be that the copper ores are too much diffused, and that no veins such as geologist would term permanent have yet positively been discovered.

Detail of a Survey of Location No. 4 for the Pittsburgh & Boston Copper Harbor Mining Co. (Image digitized by the Detroit Public Library Burton Historical Collection for The Cliff Mine Archeology Project Blog).

Detail of a Survey of Location No. 4 for the Pittsburgh & Boston Copper Harbor Mining Co. Image digitized by the Detroit Public Library Burton Historical Collection for The Cliff Mine Archeology Project Blog.

The richest copper ore yet found is that raised from a vein of black oxide, at Copper harbor, worked by the Pittsburg company, which yields about seventy per cent. of pure copper. But this conglomerate cementation of trap-rock, flint, pebbles, &c., and sand, brought together in a fused black mass, (as is supposed, by the overflowings of the trap, of which the hills are composed near this place,) is exceedingly hard and difficult to blast. An opinion seems to prevail among many respectable geologist, that metallic veins found in conglomerate are never thought to be very permanent. Doctor Pettit, however, informed me that he had traced the vein for near a mile through the conglomerate, and into the hill of trap, across a small lake in the rear of Fort Wilkins. The direction of the vein is from northwest to southeast through the conglomerate, while the course of the lake-shore and hills at this place varies little from north and south. Should the doctor succeed in opening a permanent vein in the hill of trap opposite, of which he is sanguine, it is probable this mine will turn out to be exceedingly valuable. As to these matters, however, time alone, with further explorations, must determine. The doctor assured me that he was at present paying his way, in merely sinking shafts over the vein preparatory to mining operations; which he considered a circumstance favorable to the mine, as this is not of common occurrence.

The mines at Copper harbor and Eagle river are the only two as yet sufficiently broached to enable one to form any tolerably accurate opinion as to their value or prospects.

Edward Larned was the General Agent, and Charles Larned was the sub-Agent, of the New York and Lake Superior Mining Company.
Geologist James Eights “examined several claims of the New York and Lake Superior Mining Company, a group headquartered in Albany, and reported to the company’s trustee, General Gerrit V. Denniston, encouraging estimates that were included in the company’s first annual report.”
~ Encyclopedia of the Earth

Other companies are about commencing operations, or talk of doing so – such as a New York, or rather Albany company, calling themselves “The New York and Lake Superior Mining Company,” under the direction of Mr. Larned, of Albany, in whose service Dr. Euhts has been employed as geologist. They have made locations at various points – at Dead river, Agate harbor, and at Montreal river. I believe they have commenced mining to some extent at Agate harbor.

Joab Bernard was a Trustee of the Boston Mining Company.

One or two other Boston companies, besides that operating at Eagle river, have been formed with the design of operating at other points. Mr. Bernard, formerly of St. Louis, is at the head of one of them. Besides these, there is a kind of Detroit company, organized, it is said, for operating on the Ontonagon river. It has its head, I believe, in Detroit, and its tail almost everywhere. I have not heard of their success in digging, thus far; though they say they have found some valuable mines. Time must determine that. I wish it may be so.

Boston Mining Company stock issued by Joab Bernard. ~ Copper Country Reflections

Boston Mining Company stock issued by Joab Bernard in 1846.
~ Copper Country Reflections

From Copper harbor, I paid a visit to Eagle river – a small stream inaccessible to any craft larger than a moderate-sized Mackinac boat. There is only the open lake for a roadstead off its mouth, and no harbor nearer than Eagle harbor, some few miles to the east of it. In passing west from Copper harbor along the northern shore of Keweena point, the coast, almost from the extremity of Keweena point, to near Eagle river, is an iron-bound coast, presenting huge, longitudinal, black, irregular-shaped masses of trap-conglomerate, often rising up ten or fifteen feet high above water, at some distance from the main shore, leaving small sounds behind them, with bays, to which there are entrances through broken continuities of the advanced breakwater-like ledges. Copper harbor is thus formed by Porter’s island, on which the agency has been so injudiciously placed, and which is nothing but a conglomerate island of this character; with its sides next the lake raised by Nature, so as to afford a barrier against the waves that beat against it from without. The surface of the island over the conglomerate is made up of a mass of pebbles and fragmentary rock, mixed with a small portion of earth, wholly or quite incapable of cultivation. Fort Wilkins is located about two miles from the agency, on the main land, between which and the fort communication in winter is difficult, if not impossible. Of the inexcusable blunder made in putting this garrison on its present badly-selected site, I shall have occasion to speak hereafter.

"Grand Sable Dunes" ~ National Park Service

“Grand Sable Dunes”
~ National Park Service

In travelling up the coast from Sault Ste. Marie, the first 50 or 100 miles, the shore of Lake Superior exhibits, for much of the distance, a white sandy beach, with a growth of pines, silver fir, birch, &c., in the rear. This beach is strewed in places with much whitened and abraded drift-wood, thrown high on the banks by heavy waves in storms, and the action of ice in winter. This drift-wood is met with, at places, from one end of the lake to the other, which we found very convenient for firewood at our encampments. The sand on the southern shore terminates, in a measure, at Grand Sables, which are immense naked pure sand-hills, rising in an almost perpendicular form next to the lake, of from 200 to 300 feet high. Passing this section, we come to white sand-stone in the Pictured Rocks. Leaving these, we make the red sand-stone promontories and shore, at various points from this section, to the extreme end of the lake. It never afterwards wholly disappears. Between promontories of red stone are headlands, &c., standing out often in long, high irregular cliffs, with traverses of from 6, 7, to 8 miles from one to the other, while a kind of rounded bay stretches away inland, having often a sandy beach at its base, with pines growing in the forest in the rear. Into these bays, small rivers, nearly or quite shut in summer with sand, enter the lake.

The first trap-rock we met with, was near Dead river, and at some few points west of it. We then saw no more of it immediately on the coast, till we made the southern shore of Keweena point. All around the coast by the Anse, around Keweena bay, we found nothing but alternations of sand beaches and sand-stone cliffs and points. The inland, distant, and high hills about Huron river, no doubt, are mainly composed of trap-rock.

Going west from Eagle river, we soon after lost both conglomerate and trap-rock, and found, in their stead, our old companions – red sand-stone shores, cliffs, and promontories, alternating with sandy or gravelly beaches.

Detail of Ontonagon River, “Paul's Cabin,” the Ontonagon Boulder, and the Porcupine Mountains 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 Ontonagon River, “Paul’s Cabin,” the Ontonagon Boulder, and the Porcupine Mountains 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

Major Campbell and the U.S. Mineral Agency appear to have been located at the mouth of the Ontonagon River, but were primarily based at Copper Harbor.

The trap-rock east and west of the Portage river rises with, and follows, the range of high hills running, at most points irregularly, from northeast to southwest, parallel with the lake shore. It is said to appear in the Porcupine mountain, which runs parallel with Iron river, and at right angles to the lake shore. This mountain is so named by the Indians, who conceived its principal ridge bore a likeness to a porcupine; but, to my fancy, it bears a better resemblance to a huge hog, with its snout stuck down at the lake-shore, and its back and tail running into the interior. This river and mountain are found about twenty miles west of the Ontonagon river, which is said to be the largest stream that empties into the lake. The site for a farm, or the location of an agency, at its mouth, is very beautiful, and admirably suited for either purpose. The soil is good; the river safe for the entrance and secure anchorage of schooners, and navigable to large barges and keel-boats for twelve miles above its mouth. The trap range, believed to be as rich in copper ores as any part of Lake Superior, crosses this river near its forks, about fifteen miles above its mouth. The government have organized a mineral agency at its mouth, and appointed Major Campbell as agent to reside at it; than whom, a better selection could not have been made.

Engraving depicting the Schoolcraft expedition crossing the Ontonagon River to investigate a copper boulder. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

“Engraving depicting the Schoolcraft expedition crossing the Ontonagon River to investigate a copper boulder.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Detail of the Montreal River and Chequamegon bay from 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 Montreal River, La Pointe, and Chequamegon bay from 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

The nearest approach the trap-rock hills make to the lake-shore, beyond the Porcupine mountain, is on the Montreal river, a short distance above the falls. Beyond Montreal river, to La Pointe, we found red-clay cliffs, based on red sand-stone, to occur. Indeed, this combination frequently occurred at various sections of the coast – beginning, first, some miles west of the Portage.

From Copper harbor to Agate harbor is called 7 miles; to Eagle river, 20 miles; to the Portage, 40 miles; to the Ontonagon, 80 miles; to La Pointe, from Copper harbor, 170 miles. From the latter place to the river Brulé is about 70 miles; up which we expect to ascend for 75 miles, make a portage of three miles to the St. Croix river, and descend that for 300 miles to the Mississippi river.

Painting of Douglass Houghton by Robert Thom. Houghton first explored the south shore of Lake Superior in 1840. Houghton died on Lake Superior during a storm on October 13, 1845. The city of Houghton on Chequamegon Bay was named in his honor.

Painting of Professor Douglass Houghton by Robert Thom. Houghton first explored the south shore of Lake Superior in 1840, and died on Lake Superior during a storm on October 13, 1845. Chequamegon Bay’s City of Houghton was named in his honor, and is now known as Houghton Falls State Natural Area.

Going back to Eagle river, at the time of our visit, we found at the mine Mr. Henshaw, Mr. Williams, and Dr. Jackson of Boston, and Dr. Houghton of Michigan, who was passing from Copper harbor to meet his men at his principal camp on Portage river, which he expected to reach that night. The doctor is making a rapid and thorough survey of the country. This work he is conducting in a duplicate manner, under the authority of the United States government. It is both a topographical and geological survey. All his surveyors carry sacks, into which they put pieces of rock broken from every prominent mass they see, and carry into camp at night, for the doctor’s examination, from which he selects specimens for future use. The doctor, from possessing extraordinary strength of constitution, can undergo exposure and fatigue sufficient to break down some of the hardiest men that can be found in the West. He wears his beard as long as a Dunkard’s; has a coat and patched pants made of bed ticking; wears a flat-browned ash-colored, wool hat, and a piece of small hemp cord off a guard chain; and, with two half-breed Indians and a small dog as companions, embarks in a small bark, moving and travelling along the lake shore with great celerity.

THE PHŒNIX MINE.
Probably no company on Lake Superior has had a longer and harder struggle against adversity than the Phœnix. The original concern, the Lake Superior Copper Company, was among the first which operated at Lake Superior after the relinquishment of the Indian rights to this country in 1843. The trustees of this early organization were David Henshaw and Samuel Williams of Boston, and D. G. Jones and Col. Chas. H. Gratiot, of Detroit; Dr. Charles T. Jackson examined the veins on the property, and work was begun in the latter part of the year 1844. The company met with bad luck from the start, and, the capital stock having become exhausted, it has been reorganized several times in the course of its history.”
~ The Lake Superior Copper Properties: A Guide to Investors and Speculators in in Lake Superior Copper Shares Giving History, Products, Dividend Record and Future Outlook for Each Property, by Henry M. Pinkham, 1888, page 9.

We all sat down to dinner together, by invitation of Mr. Williams, and ate heartily of good, wholesome fare.

After dinner we paid a visit to the shafts at the mine, sunk to a considerable depth in two or three places. Only a few men were at work on one of the shafts; the others seemed to be employed on the saw-mill erecting near the mouth of the river. Others were at work in cutting timbers, &c.

They had also a crushing-mill in a state of forwardness, near the mine.

It is what has been said, and put forth about the value of this mineral deposite, which has done more to incite and feed the copper fever than all other things put together.

Portrait of Doctor Charles Thomas Jackson; Plate 11 of Contributions to the History of American Geology, opposite page 290.

Professor Charles Thomas Jackson
~ Contributions to the History of American Geology, plate 11, opposite page 290.

Dr. Jackson was up here last year, and has this year come up again in the service of the company. Without going very far to explore the country elsewhere, he has certainly been heard to make some very extravagant declarations about this mine,- such as that he “considered it worth a million of dollars;” that some of the ore raised was “worth $2,000 or $3,000 per ton!” So extravagant have been the talk and calculations about this mine, that shares (in its brief lease) have been sold, it is said, for $500 per share! – or more, perhaps!! No doubt, many members of the company are sincere, and actually believe the mine to be immensely valuable. Mr. Williams and General Wilson, both stockholders, strike a trade between themselves. One agrees or offers to give the other $36,000 for his interest, which the other consents to take. This transaction, under some mysterious arrangement, appears in the newspapers, and is widely copied.

Without wishing to give an opinion as to the value and permanency of this mine, (in which many persons have become, probably, seriously involved,) even were I as well qualified to do so as some others, I can only state what are the views of some scientific and practical gentlemen with whom I fell in while in the country, who were from the eastern cities, and carefully examined the famous Eagle river silver and copper mine. I do not allude to Dr. Houghton; for he declines to give an opinion to any one about any part of the country.

"The remarkable copper-silver "halfbreed" specimen shown above comes from northern Michigan's Portage Lake Volcanic Series, an extremely thick, Precambrian-aged, flood-basalt deposit that fills up an ancient continental rift valley." ~ Shared from James St. John under the Creative Commons license

“The remarkable copper-silver ‘halfbreed’ specimen shown above comes from northern Michigan’s Portage Lake Volcanic Series, an extremely thick, Precambrian-aged, flood-basalt deposit that fills up an ancient continental rift valley.”
~ Shared with a Creative Commons license from James St. John

They say this mine is a deposite mine of native silver and copper in pure trap-rock, and no vein at all; that it presents the appearance of these metals being mingled broadcast in the mass of trap-rock; that, in sinking a shaft, the constant danger is, that while a few successive blasts may bring up very rich specimens of the metals, the succeeding blast or stroke of the pick-axe may bring up nothing but plain rock. In other words, that, in all such deposite mines, including deposition of diffused particles of native meteals, there is no certainly their PERMANENT character. How far this mine will extend through the trap, or how long it will hold out, is a matter of uncertainty. Indeed, time alone will show.

It is said metallic veins are most apt to be found in a permanent form where the mountain limestone and trap come in contact.

I have no prejudice against the country, or any parties whatever. I sincerely wish the whole mineral district, and the Eagle mine in particular, were as rich as it has been represented to be. I should like to see such vast mineral wealth as it has been held forth to be, added to the resources of the country.

Doctor William Pettit was a Trustee of the Pittsburg and Boston Copper Harbor Mining Company.

Unless Dr. Pettit has succeeded in fixing the vein of black oxide in the side of the mountain or hill, it is believed by good judges that no permanent vein has yet been discovered, as far as has come to their knowledge, in the country!! That much of the conglomerate and trap-rock sections of the country, however, presents strong indications and widely diffused appearances of silver and copper ores, cannot be denied; and from the great number of active persons engaged in making explorations, it is possible, if not probable, that valuable veins may be discovered in some portions of the country.

To find such out, however, if they exist, unless by accident, must be the work of time and labor – perhaps of years – as the interior is exceedingly difficult, or rather almost impossible, to examine, on account of the impenetrable nature of the woods.

During our long and tedious journey, we were favored with a good deal of fine weather. We however experienced, first and last, five or six thunderstorms, and some tolerably severe gales.

Coasting for such a great length, and camping out at night, was not without some trials and odd incidents – mixed with some considerable hardships.

This beach is by Little Girls’ Point.

On the night before we reached La Pointe, we camped on a rough pebbly beach, some six or eight miles east of Montreal river, under the lea of some high clay cliffs. We kindled our fire on what appeared to be a clear bed of rather large and rounded stones, at the mouth of a gorge in the cliffs.

Topographic map of the gorge at Little Girls Point County Park. ~ United States Geological Society

Topographic map of the gorge in the cliffs at Little Girl’s Point County Park.
~ United States Geological Survey

Next morning early, the fire was rekindled at the same spot, although some rain had falled in the night it being still cloudy, and heavy thunder rolling, indicating an approaching storm. I had placed some potatoes in the fire to roast, while some of the voyageurs were getting other things ready for breakfast; but before we could get anything done, the rain down upon us in torrents. We soon discovered that we had kindled our fire in the bed of a wet weather creek. The water rapidly rose, put out the fire, and washed away my potatoes.

“Indian pone or cake” is frybread, adapted from bannock, which was introduced by fur traders, possibly with Scottish or British origins.

We had then to kindle a new fire at a higher place, which was commenced at the end of a small crooked log. One of the voyageurs had set the frying-pan on the fire with an Indian pone or cake an inch thick, and large enough to cover the bottom it. The under side had begun to bake; another hand had mixed the coffee, and set the coffee-pot on to boil; while a third had been nursing a pot boiling with pork and potatoes, which, as we were detained by rain, the voyageurs thought best to prepare for two meals. One of the part, unfortunately, not observing the connexion between the crooked pole, and the fire at the end of it, jumped with his whole weight on it, which caused it suddenly to turn. In its movement, it turned the frying-pan completely over on the sand, with its contents, which became plastered to the dirt. The coffee-pot was also trounced bottom upwards, and emptied its contents on the sand. The pot of potatoes and pork, not to be outdone, turned over directly into the fire, and very nearly extinguished it. We had, in a measure, to commence operations anew, it being nearly 10 o’clock before we could get breakfast. When near the Madelaine islands, (on the largest of which La Pointe is situated,) the following night, our pilot, amidst the darkness of the evening, got bewildered for a time, when we thought best to land and camp; which, luckily for us, was at a spot within sight of La Pointe. Many trifling incidents of this character befell us in our long journey.

Legend of the Montreal River is a story about an Indian settlement at the mouth of the Montreal River.
Gichi-waabizheshi (Big Marten) is an example of how Chippewa bands and their leaders were not fixed to one position – geographically or politically – and changed fluidly over time.
 1842 Treaty with the Chippewas at La Pointe;
Lake Bands:
“Ki ji ua be she shi, 1st [Chief].
Ke kon o tum, 2nd
[Chief].”
Pelican Lake:
“Ke-che-waub-e-sash-e, his x mark.
Nig-gig, his x mark.”
1847 Treaty with the Chippewas at Fond du Lac;
Pelican Lakes
:
Kee-che-waub-ish-ash, 1st chief, his x mark.
Nig-gig, 2d chief, his x mark.
“Ke-che-waw-be-shay-she, or the Big Martin, 2d chief, his x mark. [L. S.].
Waw-be-shay-sheence, headman, his x mark. [L. S.].”

At the mouth of the Montreal river, we fell in with a party of seventeen Indians, composed of old Martin and his band, on their way to La Pointe, to be present at the payment expected to take place about the 15th of August.

They had their faces gaudily painted with red and blue stripes, with the exception of one or two, who had theirs painted quite black, and were said to be in mourning on account of deceased friends. They had come from Pelican lake (or, as the French named it, Lac du Flambeau,) being near the headwaters of the Wisconsin river, and one hundred and fifty miles distant. They had with them their wives; children, dogs, and all, walked the whole way. They told our pilot, Jean Baptiste, himself three parts Indian, that they were hungry, and had no canoe with which to get on to La Pointe. We gave them some corn meal, and received some fish from them for a second supply. For the Indians, if they have anything they think you want, never offer generally to sell it to you, till they have first begged all they can; then they will produce their fish, &c., offering to trade; for which they expect an additional supply of the article you have been giving them. Baptiste distributed among them a few twists of tobacco, which seemed very acceptable. Old Martin presented Baptiste with a fine specimen of native copper which he had picked up somewhere on his way – probably on the headwaters of the Montreal river. He desired us to take one of his men with us to La Pointe, in order that he might carry a canoe back to the party, to enable them to reach La Pointe the next day, which we accordingly complied with. We dropped him, however, at his own request, on the point of land some miles south of La Pointe, where he said he had an Indian acquaintance, who hailed him from shore.

Having reached La Pointe, we were prepared to rest a few days, before commencing our voyage to the Mississippi river.

Of things hereabouts, and in general, I will discourse in my next.

In great haste I am,

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

MORGAN.

 


 

To be continued in La Pointe

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