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Title: A Narrative of the Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner (U.S. Interpreter at the Saut de Ste. Marie) - During Thirty Years Residence among the Indians in the Interior of North America
Author: Tanner, John
Language: English
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[Illustration: JOHN TANNER


New York, Published by G. & C. H. Carvill 1830]


This book is set in ten point Times Roman type, and printed in an edition
of two thousand copies. This is copy

Nº 1308


During Thirty Years Residence among
the Indians in the
Interior Of North America

Prepared for the Press
by Edwin James, M.D.
Editor of an Account of Major Long’s Expedition from
Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains

Ross & Haines, Inc.
Minneapolis, Minnesota


The story of John Tanner is the tragic and age-old story of a man who had
no country, no people, no one who understood him, no place to lay his

His _Narrative_, which is the story of his thirty years’ captivity
among the Ojibways, was written a few years after he settled once more
among the civilized whites. The material was written down and edited
by Doctor Edwin James, and James’s foreword gives a hint of the almost
insurmountable difficulties that surrounded Tanner’s attempt to establish
himself among the whites. However, the real story of John Tanner’s long
and tragic life unraveled after the book was printed in 1830, for Tanner
spent sixteen more years trying to find a place for himself in white

Here was a man who had lived as a white boy only nine years, had
then been captured and had spent thirty years among the Indians, had
married an Indian woman and produced half-breed children, had in every
way—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—lived as an Indian
for so long that he forgot his own name and could no longer speak the
English language, but still was impelled by some ancient hunger to try to
find his own people, to be a member of the society that had borne him.

He found it—as so many other Indian captives have found it—impossible.
Though he rejected his Indian foster people and settled among the
whites, educated his halfbreed children in white schools, still he was
too much Indian to change environment. His Indian characteristics made
him “different.” He was distrusted by the whites. He was not prepared
or equipped to make a living according to the white standard. Confused
and bewildered, his white heritage constantly fighting with his acquired
Indian environmental factors, in his later years he was lonely and
“bitter.” He is said to have threatened violence against those who
opposed him, but to his credit it must be said that no major act of
violence has ever been proved against him; the charges have been founded
entirely on supposition, and it is obvious that a factor in those charges
was his “difference.”

What follows here is largely the story of Tanner’s life after the
publication of the _Narrative_, during the years of struggle when, not
understanding and not understood, he tried desperately to be a “white”
once more.

Henry R. Schoolcraft, who firmly believed Tanner had killed his brother,
said: “ ... now a grey-headed, hard-featured old man, at war with
everyone. Suspicious, revengeful, bad-tempered.”

Elizabeth T. Baird said he was cruel and no religion could be discussed
before him.

Mrs. Angie Bingham Gilbert, who had known him as an old man when she was
a young child, said he had a strange and terrible personality, a violent
and uncontrolled temper, but was very religious and almost noble-looking.
It rather looks as if Mrs. Gilbert, having spoken her mind, wanted to
soften her remembrance of him.

On the opposite hand, William H. Keating, journalist for Major Long, said
he never drank or smoked, was honorable, was attached to his children,
and had great affection for his Indian foster mother and her family. The
latter two items are quite apparent even in his matter-of-fact telling of
the _Narrative_.

The truth probably lies in a combination of these points of view. Keating
knew Tanner in 1823, before Tanner had a chance to become disillusioned
as to his place in society. Even before Tanner left the Indians he
learned to drink, but rather conservatively, it would seem on the whole.
The other commentators knew him later, after he had fought his personal
battle with civilization and had lost; when he had found at last that he
could not live in an Indian hut, under Indian conditions of sanitation,
follow Indian customs in treatment of his family, and still be accepted
as a white. Here then, it might seem, was a man who, battling with his
own inner turmoil of ideas and evaluations, unaccountably found himself
in desperate conflict with the mores of his native race. He fought back,
it would seem, with considerable restraint, considering his background,
and in the end, lonely, friendless, his oldest daughter separated from
him by legislative edict, the people of his adopted town holding him in
alternate contempt and awe, even his friends beginning to fear violence
from him, he disappeared under a cloud.

That summer of 1846 in Sault Ste. Marie was known as the Tanner Summer;
everything bad that happened was accredited to John Tanner. He was hunted
by soldiers and bloodhounds, accused specifically of the murder of James
Schoolcraft, but he was never found. He disappeared completely, and the
time and manner of his death are yet a mystery; the last resting place of
his bones is yet unknown to man.

Years later a skeleton was found in a swamp near Sault Ste. Marie and
was thought to be his, but there were some doubters. Years after that an
ex-army officer confessed the killing of James Schoolcraft, but it was
too late to help John Tanner. To the people of Sault Ste. Marie he was
still known as Old Tanner, or the White Indian, or the Old Liar.

The book itself has been both praised and condemned. The charge is made
that he gives himself the benefit of all doubts, but this, remember,
means doubts from the “civilized” point of view. It rather seems that
from the Indian point of view he was quite honest. He did not equivocate
over the fact that he had been spending his nights in Mis-kwa-bun-o-kwa’s
teepee before he married her, nor is he in any manner boastful. He seems
honest enough about his drinking; for a long time he did not drink at
all, but later on he took it up to a certain extent. Likewise he tells in
Indian fashion—the usual word is “stoical”—about sending a little slave
girl into the cold without a blanket because she had allowed his tent
to burn down. Actually stoicism implies the control of feelings, but it
was not that with Tanner. He had no feeling about the matter; the girl
had caused them suffering; therefore she was sent away. The element of
punishment was not as large as the element of self-protection—which was
why Tanner took the girl’s blanket from her: he and the surviving boy
would need it to keep warm. In a country where all one’s resources are
called on to maintain existence, there is not, biologically speaking,
much encouragement to sentiment.

The _Narrative_ has the full ring of truth and sincerity if one remembers
that this was, to all effect, an Indian speaking. His viewpoint was
Indian, his philosophy was Indian, and the _Narrative_ is not to be
judged from “civilized” point of view, either as of 1830 or as of 1956.
And if anyone doubts Tanner’s innate decency, he has only to read
Tanner’s matter-of-fact relation of homosexuality among the Ojibways to
realize that here was a man truly sophisticated (in that he pointed no
finger of reprehension) but also truly conventional, for while he did not
cast aspersions on those who practiced it, neither did he want anything
to do with it himself.

From various accounts of his life it is possible to reconstruct a
tentative time-table of John Tanner’s career.

He was born about 1780, and captured by Shawnees in 1789. He was married
in 1800, and returned home to Kentucky about 1817. About 1818 he must
have gone back to his Indian family; in 1819 his brother found him in
Canada. In 1820 he left Selkirk Settlement, with his wife and three
children, for Kentucky again; another child was born enroute, and his
wife stayed at Mackinac, Michigan, while he went on to Kentucky, where
one daughter, Mary, died. In 1823 he returned to the Red River to get
his wife and two other daughters. On this occasion he apparently was not
successful, for his wife hired an Indian to shoot him, and she then ran
off with the Indian, while his daughters disappeared.

Sometime in the next few years, however, he must have effected a
reconciliation, for his wife lived with him several years and produced
two more children. In 1828 he moved from Mackinac to Sault Ste. Marie. In
1830 Martha, his daughter, was taken from him. In 1832 the mother left
Mackinac for good.

These are the facts as deduced from his various biographers. Perhaps,
however, they did not trouble to read the _Narrative_, for still other
facts appear:

He mentions a child who died of measles (this could have been Mary); he
confirms that one son was thoroughly Indian and chose to remain with
the Ojibways; he mentions a child who died in 1821, 80 miles from
Grand Prairie (this might have been Mary); he tells us that (probably
about 1810) he had left his first wife and had taken another, by whom
he had three children; this second wife was the one who would not go to
Mackinac, it would seem. He also reveals the great trouble caused by
his second mother-in-law, for she was often on the scene, and his wife
deserted him in company with his mother-in-law; his wife returned a year
later (sometime before 1814), and he says she “laughed” as she resumed
her place in his household.

It is worth noting that no bitterness or resentment appears in the
_Narrative_ against either his wife, his mother-in-law, or the medicine
man who seems to have had much undue influence in his domestic troubles.
It is significant too that during the winter when his wife was gone, he
took care of his children, hunting meat by day, repairing their clothing
by night, and he says casually that during that winter he slept very
short hours because of his many duties.

Probably in the early 1840’s, in a last desperate attempt to secure
acceptance as a white, he married a white woman of Detroit. She bore
him one child, but left him because of what to her were squalor and
brutality; eventually she was granted a divorce by the legislature. In
1846, perhaps not too long after his wife left him, he disappeared about
the time of James Schoolcraft’s murder. There never has been a word from
him since, and, as far as known, no human eye ever again saw him as a
living man.

He was dis-enamored of his first wife before he married her, and his life
after he returned to civilization with his second wife was most unhappy,
she wanting to return to her people, he determined to remain with his.
She wanted him to marry her in Mackinac according to white customs, she
being a Roman Catholic by that time, but his Indian upbringing asserted
itself and he refused. Presumably she went back to Red River and was
swallowed up in the anonymity of Indian records, which except for unusual
happenings were kept only as long as they could be heard from the mouth
of one living; three generations were the usual extent.

The third wife was variously described as a poor but respectable member
of the Baptist church, and by another writer as a chambermaid in Ben
Woodworth’s hotel (an obviously slurring reference; again the writers’
personal sympathies and antipathies color their writings). There seems
little doubt, however, that she could not endure conditions in the Tanner
menage, which must have been very Indian-like, and asked men in Sault
Ste. Marie to advise her. The advice was not given, but a purse was made
up to help her “escape.”

There is likewise some confusion as to his children. Quite likely Martha
was the oldest, having been born about 1808, and she lived a long and
useful life as a teacher. Mary may have been the second, born in 1809,
and it was she who died in 1820. Lucy, the baby born in 1820, was drowned
in a shipwreck on Lake Michigan. She had been given up for adoption by
Tanner before she was a year old, and, Indian-like, he never more had
anything to do with her.

Since there were two other children with him in 1820, James and John
must have been on the scene. One report mentions two Johns; another says
one brother was an Indian chief, and another says John was killed at the
Battle of Bull Run. James became a minister; he was not too well spoken
of, and died in a fall from a wagon about the time of the Riel Rebellion.
Of the two children born after 1820, nothing appears—nor of the one born
to his wife from Detroit.

The killing of James Schoolcraft requires some elaboration, for it is
that crime that put Tanner under a cloud. True, he was unsocial and
often violent and had been locked up in jail to recover from his fits
of temper, but he had not committed a felony. He had threatened Doctor
James for writing things that made people ridicule him, but no printed
record appears that he ever tried to implement the threat, though Thomas
W. Field flatly says Tanner tried to kill Doctor James (this seems to be
on the authority of Henry Schoolcraft, who does not say that; he says
Tanner “threatened” to kill the doctor). Field’s is a strong statement,
especially so since in the same sentence Field says Tanner “actually
murdered” James Schoolcraft. A murder, of course, is a legal conviction,
and it does not seem reasonable that Tanner was ever tried in court,
for he was never found. Further, the army officer, Lieutenant Tilden,
is said by two writers to have confessed years later to the killing of
Schoolcraft, and even the people of Sault Ste. Marie seem to have lost
their strong conviction of Tanner’s guilt in this matter after a few

James Schoolcraft was a “gay, handsome” man, and Tanner was supposed to
have killed him for having improper relations with Tanner’s daughter.
This would imply a young daughter, for among Indians the value of
chastity was realistically appraised; it was common practice among many
tribes to put a higher value on a girl, for purposes of marriage, if she
was a virgin. Bear in mind that a husband invariably paid the parents
for a girl he married, and her marriage value decreased as her sexual
experience increased. In this respect the Indians were quite civilized.

But none of Tanner’s children had lived with him for years; all accounts
agree on that. Therefore it appears that the last two children born to
his second wife must have returned with her to her people, and likely the
small child of his third wife must have been taken with her; this last
child, at any rate, would have been too young for any normal relationship
with James Schoolcraft—and nothing else is even implied. Therefore there
was only Martha who may have been in Sault Ste. Marie (Lucy and Mary both
having died), and Martha was probably 38 years old, and far beyond the
age where an Indian would feel impelled to kill to preserve her value,
or a white parent to protect her honor. In other words, she had reached
the age of discretion. For the record, however, no hint is ever given
that Martha was involved, and all accounts say that she lived a good and
useful life.

Who, then, did kill Schoolcraft? One account offers this answer:
Schoolcraft and Lieutenant Tilden were rivals for the attention of
a woman. Likewise, there were other bits of evidence that seemed to
indicate Tilden, while the main thing against Tanner was his unsocial
attitude. For those who consider character in the nature of evidence, it
is interesting to know that Lieutenant Tilden was later court-martialed
in Mexico. The two reports of Tilden’s confession must be considered,
and likewise the fact that the body found years later was presumed to be
Tanner’s. If it was, how did he die?

On the whole, John Tanner is representative of a class of persons not
uncommon on the old frontier: repatriated captives. A great many of them
had a hard life, and the reasons were several: they acquired Indian mores
during their captivity, and it was never easy for them to reconcile their
Indian ways with the new—to them—ways of the whites. Second, anything
connected with Indians was looked on with deep suspicion by whites on the
frontier; John Tanner was not only feared but also mistrusted. It would
seem the public attitude toward him softened a great deal in retrospect,
for in after years the citizens of Sault Ste. Marie refused to give
Tilden a clean bill of health over the Schoolcraft killing.

It is, however, inescapable that Tanner’s attempt to live among the
people of his blood was a tragic experience. He was not only a man
without a country but a man without a race.

Here, then, is John Tanner’s _Narrative_, as it was first printed a
hundred and twenty-six years ago. It is not a flowery and sensational
tale of adventure, as were most Indian captivity stories of that time; it
is rather a study of Indian life and customs, and would be much better
known if it had been more readily available. But the book never appeared
in more than the first edition, and is classed as quite rare. It was
printed in New York in 1830 by G. & C. & H. Carvill; in London also in
1830; in Paris (French translation) in 1835 without the vocabularies; in
Leipzig (German translation) in 1840 without the vocabularies. A partial
mimeographed edition was produced in this country in 1940, but otherwise
this work, which in all respects is deserving of the term “classic,” has
been almost inaccessible to most persons. It would seem, therefore, that
the present edition is a real service to students of the frontier.

                                                          Noel M. Loomis.

Minneapolis, Minn., Aug. 25, 1956.


John Tanner, whose life and adventures are detailed in the following
pages, is now about fifty years of age. His person is erect and rather
robust, indicating great hardiness, activity, and strength, which,
however, his numerous exposures and sufferings have deeply impaired. His
face, which was originally rather handsome, bears now numerous traces
of thought and passion, as well as of age; his quick and piercing blue
eyes, bespeak the stern, the violent, and unconquerable spirit, which
rendered him an object of fear to many of the Indians while he remained
among them, and which still, in some measure, disqualifies him for that
submissive and compliant manner which his dependent situation among
the whites renders necessary. Carefully instructed in early youth, in
all those principles and maxims which constitute the moral code of the
unsophisticated and uncorrupted Indians, his ideas of right and wrong,
of honourable and dishonourable, differ, of course, very essentially
from those of white men. His isolated and friendless situation, in the
midst of a community where the right of private warfare is recognized
as almost the only defence of individual possessions, the only barrier
between man and man, was certainly in the highest degree unfavourable
to the formation of that enduring and patient submissiveness, which, in
civilized societies, surrenders so great a share of individual rights
to the strong guardianship of the law. Accordingly, to a correct sense
of natural justice, he unites a full share of that indomitable and
untiring spirit of revenge, so prominent in the Indian character. The
circumstances into which he has been thrown, among a wild and lawless
race, have taught him to consider himself, in all situations, the avenger
of his own quarrel; and if, in the better regulated community into which
he has been recently drawn, he has, by the consciousness of aggravated
insult, or intolerable oppression, been driven to seek redress, or to
propose it to himself, we cannot be surprised that he should have
recurred to the method, which long habit, and the paramount influence
of established custom, have taught him to consider the only honourable
and proper one. He returns to the pale of civilization too late in life
to acquire the mental habits which befit his new situation. It is to
be regretted that he should ever meet among us with those so destitute
of generosity as to be willing to take advantage of his unavoidable
ignorance of the usages of civilized society. He has ever been found just
and generous, until injuries or insults have aroused the spirit of hatred
and revenge; his gratitude has always been as ardent and persevering as
his resentment. But it would be superfluous to dwell on the features
of his character, which are best displayed in his narrative of those
events and scenes, to which he might, with so much propriety, apply the
hackneyed motto,

            quae que ipse miserrima vidi,
    Et quorum pars magna fui.

The preceding remarks would not, perhaps, have been hazarded, had
not some harsh imputations been made to rest on the character of our
narrator, in the district where he has for some time past resided, in
consequence of differences growing, as appears to us, entirely out of
the circumstance of the Indian character, with many of its prominent
peculiarities being indelibly impressed upon him. However such a
character may, under any circumstances, excite our disapprobation or
dislike, some indulgence is due where, as in this case, the solitary
savage, with his own habits and opinions, is brought into contact with
the artificial manners and complicated institutions of civilized men.

In an attempt to aid this unfortunate individual in addressing his
countrymen, it seemed desirable to give his narrative, as nearly as
possible, in his own words, and with his own manner. The narrator himself
is not without a share of that kind of eloquence which we meet with
among the Indians; but as this consists more in action, emphasis, and
the expression of the countenance, than in words and sentences, he has
been followed in the style of the humblest narration. This plainness, it
is hoped, will render the history little less acceptable to the general
reader, while the philosophic inquirer will undoubtedly prefer to trace,
in the simplest possible guise, the operations of a mind subjected for
so long a time to the influence of all the circumstances peculiar to
savage life. It ought to be distinctly understood, that his whole story
was given as it stands, without hints, suggestions, leading questions,
or advice of any kind, other than “to conceal nothing.” The sentiments
expressed in relation to the character and conduct of individuals on the
frontiers, or in the Indian country, or on other subjects connected with
the condition of the Indians, are exclusively his own. One liberty it
has been found necessary to take, namely, to retrench or altogether to
omit many details of hunting adventures, of travelling, and other events,
which in the simple lives of the Indians have only a moderate share of
importance, but on which, in the lack of other matter, they learn to
dwell very much at length in those long narrative conversations with
which it is their habit to amuse each other. It is probable the narrator
might have proved more acceptable to many of his readers had this
retrenchment been carried to a greater extent; but it is to be remembered
that the life of the savage, like that of the civilized man, is made up
of a succession of little occurrences, each unimportant by itself, but
which require to be estimated in making up an opinion of the character of

Some particulars in Mr. Tanner’s narrative will doubtless excite a
degree of incredulity among such as have never attended particularly to
the history and condition of the Indian tribes. Many will find their
confidence in him much impaired, when he tells of prophetic dreams, and
of the fulfilment of indications, and promises, necessarily implying the
interference of invisible and spiritual beings. He will appear to some,
weakly credulous—to others, stupidly dishonest;—so would any one among
us, who should gravely relate tales, which the advance of education,
and the general intelligence have, within two centuries, converted from
established doctrines to “old wives fables.” To enforce this remark,
we need not refer to the examples of Cotton Mather, and others of his
times, not less renowned for human learning than for exemplary piety.
The history of the human mind in all ages, and among all nations,
affords abundant examples of credulity; closely resembling that which we
feel disposed to ridicule or to pity in the savage. It may be of some
importance toward a clear comprehension of the Indian character, to be
assured that the powerful mind of our narrator, was at all times strongly
influenced by a belief in the ubiquity, and frequent interpositions
in the affairs of men, of an overruling Providence. His may have been
a purer and more consistent Theism than that of many of his untaught
companions, but in many important particulars his belief was the same
as theirs. If he was less entirely than his Indian associates the dupe
of those crafty prophets, who are constantly springing up among them;
yet it will be found he had not, at all times, entire confidence in the
decisions of his own mind, which taught him to despise their knavery, and
to ridicule their pretensions. In all times of severe distress, or of
urgent danger, the Indians, like other men, are accustomed to supplicate
aid from superior beings, and they are often confident that a gracious
answer has been granted to their petitions. This belief need not shock
the pious; as it certainly will not appear in any respect remarkable to
those who have accustomed themselves to close observance of the workings
of the human mind, under all variations of circumstances. We believe
there is nothing inconsistent with true religion, or sound reason, in
supposing that the _same Lord over all, is gracious unto all_ who worship
him in sincerity. It will be manifest also that this inherent principle
of religious feeling is made the instrument by which superior minds
govern and influence the weaker. Among the Indians, as among all other
races, from the times of the philosophic leader of the Retreat of the Ten
Thousand, to the present day, religion has been an engine in the hands of
the few, who in virtue of intellectual or accidental superiority, assume
the right to govern the many.

Doubtless many of the representations in the following narrative are
somewhat influenced by peculiarities in the mental constitution, and
the accidental circumstances of the narrator; yet making all admissible
allowances, they present but a gloomy picture of the condition of
uncivilized men. Having acquired some idea of those things considered
most reprehensible among us, it would be surprising if he should not
have felt some reluctance to giving an explicit detail of all his
adventures, in a community whose modes of thinking are on many subjects
so different from ours. Traits, which must in our estimation constitute
great blemishes, he has freely confessed; whether other or greater faults
remain undivulged is unknown; but it should not be forgotten, that
actions considered among us not only reprehensible, but highly criminal,
are among them accounted shining virtues. In no part of his narrative
will he probably appear in a more unfavourable light than when he details
his severity to an unfortunate captive girl, through whose negligence his
lodge, and all his little property, was consumed by fire in the midst of
winter. This kind of cruelty, as well as the abandonment of the sick, the
aged, and the dying, practised so extensively by the Chippewyans, and
other northern Indians, and more or less by all the tribes, remind us how
much even in what seem spontaneous and natural courtesies, we owe to the
influence of civilization. The conduct of the Indians in all these cases,
however we may see fit to call it, is certainly not unnatural, being in
strict and implicit obedience to that impulse of nature which prompts
so irresistibly to self-preservation. How admirable is that complicated
machinery which in so many instances avails to overcome and control this
impulse—which postpones the interest, the happiness, or the life of the
individual to the good of the associated whole!

The sketch which the following narrative exhibits of the evils and
miseries of savage life, is probably free from exaggeration or
distortion. Few will read it without some sentiments of compassion for
a race so destitute, so debased, and hopeless; gladly would we believe
it may have a tendency to call the attention of an enlightened and
benevolent community to the wants of those who are _sitting in darkness_.
In vain do we attempt to deceive ourselves, or others, into the belief
that in whatever “relates to their moral condition and prospects, the
Indians have been gainers by their intercourse with Europeans.”[1] Who
can believe that the introduction of ardent spirits among them, “has
added no new item to the catalogue of their crimes, nor substracted one
from the list of their cardinal virtues?” Few, comparatively, have the
opportunity, fewer have the inclination, to visit and observe the Indians
in their remote haunts, or even on our immediate frontiers; all who have
done so must be convinced that wherever, and for whatever purpose, the
Indian and the white man come in contact, the former, in all that relates
to his moral condition, is sure to become severely and irretrievably a
sufferer. Every unbiased inquirer who will avail himself of the abundant
means of information before the public will be convinced that during
more than two hundred years, in despite of all the benevolent exertions
of individuals, of humane associations, and of governments, the direct
tendency of the intercourse between the two races has been the uniform
and rapid depression and deterioration of the Indians.

Among the most active of the extraneous causes which have produced this
conspicuous and deplorable change must be reckoned the trade for peltries
which has been pushed among them from the earliest occupation of the
country by the whites. The ensuing narrative will afford some views of
the fur trade, such as it formerly existed in the northwest, such as
it now exists throughout the territories claimed by the United States.
These views are certainly neither those of a statesman, or a political
economist, but they may be relied on as exhibiting a fair exposition of
the influence of the trade upon the aborigines. Recently, the Indians
in all that wide portion of North America occupied by the Hudson’s Bay
Fur Company, have been, by the consolidation of two rival associations,
relieved alike from the evils, and deprived of the advantages accruing
from an active competition in the trade. Among other advantageous results
supposed to be attained by this exclusion of competition one, and
probably the most important, is the effectual check it interposes to the
introduction of spirits into the Indian country. Even the clerks and
agents stationed at the remote interior posts are forbidden to introduce
the smallest quantity of spirit or wine among their private stores.
This one measure, incalculably of more value than all that has been
effected in times remote or recent, by the interference of governments
or the exertions of benevolent associations, has originated in the
prudent foresight, and well instructed love of gain of an association of
merchants; and while it makes us fully acquainted with the views of those
best informed in relation to the effect of the introduction of whiskey
among the Indians, it shows the possibility of remedying this great evil.

In former times, when the whole of the northwest of our continent was
open to the competition of rival traders, all the evils and all the
advantages of the system at present existing in the United States
territories were felt to the remotest and least accessible of those
dreary regions. The Indian could probably in all instances realize a
higher price for his peltries than he can hope to do at present. The
means of intoxicating himself and his family were always to be had at
some rate, and the produce of his hunt was artfully divided and disposed
of in the manner which seemed to promise him the greatest share of this
deadly indulgence. During the times of active competition, it was found
accordingly that the fur bearing animals, and the race of native hunters,
were hastening with equal and rapid strides towards utter extinction.
The effect of a competitionary trade, managed as it will always be,
in districts for the most part or wholly without the jurisdiction of
the governments of civilized countries, upon the animals whose skins
constitute the sole object of the visits of the traders, must be
obvious. The vagrant and migratory habits of the Indians would render it
impossible for any individual, or any association of men, to interrupt or
even to check the destruction of animals, wherever they could be found.
The rival trader was ever at hand to take advantage of any forbearance
a prudent foresight might dictate. Thus it will appear that districts
where game had existed in the greatest abundance, were in the course of
a few years so stripped that the inhabitants could avoid starvation only
by migrating to some less exhausted region. Wherever the Indians went,
the traders were sure to follow as the wolves and buzzards follow the
buffalo. But in the state of things at present existing in the north,
the traders are represented to have entire control of the motions of
the Indians. The most valuable part of the territories of the Hudson’s
Bay Company is the forest country. With the Indians of the plains, who
subsist almost entirely by hunting the buffalo, they concern themselves
no further than to purchase such robes or other peltries as they may,
on their visit to a post, offer for ready pay. The people of the plains
having few possessions beside their horses, their bows and arrows, and
their garments of skins, are so independent, and the animals they hunt
of so little value to the traders, that they are left to pursue whatever
course their own inclination may point out, and at present they never
receive _credits_. With the forest Indians the case is quite different.
Such is their urgent necessity for ammunition and guns, for traps, axes,
woollen blankets, and other articles of foreign manufacture, that at
the approach of winter, their situation is almost hopeless if they are
deprived of the supplies they have so long been accustomed to receive. A
consciousness of this dependance sufficed, even in times of competition,
to some extent, but far more at present, to render them honest, and
punctual in discharging the debts they had incurred. The practice of the
traders now is, whenever they find the animals in any district becoming
scarce, to withdraw their trading establishment, and by removing to some
other part, make it necessary for the Indians to follow. Regions thus
left at rest, are found to become, in a few years, in a great measure
replenished with the fur-bearing animals. The two regulations by which
the clerks and agents are forbid to purchase the skins of certain
animals if killed before they have attained their full growth, and by
which the use of traps, which destroy indiscriminately old and young, is
interdicted, doubtless contribute essentially to the attainment of this
important result. It cannot be otherwise, than that the moral condition
of the hunter population in the north must be somewhat improved by the
severe discipline which convenience and interest will equally prompt the
Company possessing the monopoly to introduce and maintain; but whether
this advantage will, in the event, counterbalance the effect of the rigid
exactions to which the Indians may be compelled to submit, must be for
time to determine.

It is manifest that plans of government adopted and enforced to subserve
the purposes of the fur traders, will be framed with the design of
keeping the Indians in a state of efficiency as hunters, and must thus
in the end be directly opposed to all efforts to give them those settled
habits that attachment to the soil, and that efficient industry, which
must constitute the first step in their advance towards civilization.
Such are the climate and soil of a great part of the country northward of
the great lakes, as to render it extremely improbable that any other than
a rude race of hunters will ever be found there; and for them, it would
probably be in vain to hope for a milder government than such a kind
of despotism as can be swayed by a company of traders. But within the
country belonging to the United States are many rude tribes distributed
at intervals through boundless forests, or along smiling and fertile
plains, where it would seem that industry and civilization might be
introduced. Here it is not probable that the fur trade can ever become a
protected and exclusive monopoly; and since, while conducted as it is,
and as it must continue to be, it is the most prolific sources of evil to
the Indians, it may be allowed us, to look forward to the time when many
among the remnants of the native tribes shall escape from its influence
by becoming independent of the means of subsistence it offers them.

Some change may reasonably be supposed to have taken place in the
course of two centuries in the sentiments of the European intruders
towards their barbarous neighbours. In relative situation they have
changed places. Those who are now powerful were then weak; those who
now profess to offer protection, then looked with anxiety and trembling
upon the superior strength of the race which has so soon perished from
before them. In the early periods of our colonial history, the zeal
of religious proselytism, and the less questionable spirit of true
philanthropy, seem not to have availed, generally, to overcome the strong
hatred of the savage race, produced by causes inseparable from the
feeble and dependant condition of the colonies, and from the necessity
which compelled our forefathers to become intruders upon the rightful
possessions of the Indians. In the writings of the early historians,
particularly of the Puritanical divines of New England, we find these
people commonly described as a _brutal_ and _devil-driven_ race, _wild
beasts_, _bloodhounds_, _heathen demons_; no epithet was considered too
opprobrious, no execration too dire, to be pronounced against them.[2]
It may be supposed, that in losing the power which made them formidable,
they became less obnoxious to the hatred of the whites. Accordingly, we
find that it was long since the fashion to profess much good will and
compassion towards this ill-starred race. Some efforts have been made,
and many more have been talked of for their civilization and for their
conversion to the true religion. Here and there, a Penn has appeared
among our statesmen; an Elliot or a Brainerd among our religionists—some
have been incited by motives of pure benevolence, or by a love of
natural justice, to labour perseveringly and faithfully in the work of
reclaiming and benefiting the Indians. Could we trust implicitly to
the statements of many who in our day write and speak on this subject,
we might infer that the only sentiment influencing us, as a people, in
our intercourse with our Indian neighbours, is an ardent desire for the
promotion of their best interests. But if we estimate public sentiment by
the surer criterion of public measures, we must admit that the present
generation are seeking, with no less zeal and earnestness than their
forefathers, the utter extermination of these _bloody and idolatrous
canaanites_. The truth is, it has been, and still is, convenient to
consider this a _devil driven_ race, doomed by _inscrutable destiny_
to sudden and entire destruction. This opinion accords well with the
convenient dogma of the moral philosopher, who teaches that such as will
make the best use of the soil, should drive out and dispossess those
who, from ignorance or indolence, suffer it to remain uncultivated. It
is of little importance to cavil at the injustice of such a course. The
rule of _vis major_ seems to be with almost equal force obligatory on
both parties, and it would perhaps be now as impossible for us to avoid
displacing the Indians, and occupying their country, as for them to
prevent us.

The long agitated subject, of the “melioration of the condition of
the Indians,” appears therefore to present two questions of primary
importance: 1st. Can any thing be effected by our interference? 2d. Have
we in our collective character, as a people, any disposition to interpose
the least check to the downward career of the Indians? The last inquiry
will be unhesitatingly answered in the negative by all who are acquainted
with the established policy of our government in our intercourse with
them. The determination evinced by a great part of the people, and their
representatives, to extinguish the Indian title to all lands on this
side the Mississippi—to push the remnants of these tribes into regions
already filled to the utmost extent their means of subsistence will
allow—manifests, more clearly than volumes of idle and empty professions,
our intentions toward them. The vain mockery of treaties, in which it
is understood, that the _negotiation_, and the _reciprocity_, and the
benefits, are all on one side; the feeble and misdirected efforts we make
for their civilization and instruction, should not, and do not, deceive
us into the belief that we have either a regard for their rights, where
they happen to come in competition with our interests, or a sincere
desire to promote the cause of moral instruction among them. The efforts
of charitable associations, originating as they do in motives of the
most unquestionable purity, may seem entitled to more respectful notice;
but we deem these efforts, as far as the Indians are concerned, equally
misapplied, whether they be directed, as in the south, to drawing out
from among them a few of their children, and giving them a smattering
of “astronomy, moral philosophy, surveying, geography, history, and
the use of globes,”[3] or as in the north, in educating the half breed
children of fur traders and vagabond Canadians, in erecting workshops
and employing mechanics in our frontier villages, or building vessels
for the transportation of freight on the upper lakes. These measures may
be well in themselves, and are doubtless useful; but let us not flatter
ourselves that in doing these things we confer any essential benefit on
the Indians. The Chocktaws and Chickasaws will not long retain such a
knowledge of _astronomy_ and _surveying_, as would be useful to guide
their wanderings, or mete out their possessions in those scorched and
sterile wastes to which it is our fixed intention to drive them. The
giving to a few individuals of a tribe an education which, as far as it
has any influence, tends directly to unfit them for the course of life
they are destined to lead, with whatever intention it may be undertaken,
is certainly far from being an act of kindness. If, while we give the
rudiments of an education to a portion of their children, our selfish
policy is thrusting back into a state of more complete barbarism the
whole mass of the people, among whom we pretend to qualify them for
usefulness, of what avail are our exertions, or our professions in their
favour? We cannot be ignorant that in depriving the Indians of the means
of comfortable subsistence, we take from them equally the power and
the inclination to cultivate any of the branches of learning commonly
taught them at our schools. Will the Indian youth who returns from the
Mission school, after ten or fifteen years of instruction, be likely to
become a better hunter, or a braver warrior, than those who have remained
at home and been educated in the discipline of his tribe? Will he not
rather find himself encumbered with a mass of learning necessarily as
uncurrent, and as little valued among his rude companions, as would be
a parcel of lottery tickets or bank notes? On this subject, as on many
others, the Indians are qualified to make, and often do make, extremely
just reflections. To say that they consider the learning of the whites of
no value, would be to misrepresent them. On the contrary, they speak in
terms of the highest admiration of some branches, particularly writing
and reading, which, they say, enables us to know what is done at a
distance, to recall with the greatest accuracy all that we or others have
said in past times. But of these things they say, as of the religion of
the whites, “they are not designed for us.” “The Great Spirit has given
to you, as well as to us, things suited to our several conditions; He may
have been more bountiful to you than to us; but we are not disposed to
complain of our allotment.”

In relation to the other branch of this part of our subject, namely, the
practicability of benefiting the Indians by our instructions, a few words
may suffice. More than two hundred years have passed, during all which
time it has been believed that systematic and thorough exertions were
making to promote the civilization and conversion of the Indians. The
entire failure of all these attempts ought to convince us, not that the
Indians are irreclaimable, but that we ourselves, while we have built up
with one hand, have pulled down with the other. Our professions have been
loud, our philanthropic exertions may have been great, but our selfish
regard to our own interest and convenience has been greater, and to this
we ought to attribute the steady decline, the rapid deterioration of the
Indians. We may be told of their constitutional indolence, their Asiatic
temperament, destining them to be forever stationary, or retrogradent;
but while remaining monuments and vestiges, as well as historical
records of unquestionable authority, assure us that a few centuries ago
they were, though rude, still a great, a prosperous, and a happy people;
we ought not to forget that injustice and oppression have been most
active among the causes which have brought them down to their present
deplorable state. Their reckless indolence, their shameless profligacy,
their total self-abandonment, have been the necessary consequences of the
degradation and hopelessness of their condition.[4]

That there exists, in the moral or physical constitution of the Indians
any insuperable obstacle to their civilization, no one will now seriously
assert. That they will ever be generally civilized, those who know them
intimately, and who have observed the prevailing tone of feeling of both
races towards each other, will consider so extremely improbable that
they will deem it scarce worth while to inquire what system of measures
would be best calculated to effect this desirable object. Of what
advantage could any degree of civilization have been to those unfortunate
Seminoles, who were a few years since removed from their beautiful and
fertile lands in Florida, to those deep and almost impassable swamps in
the rear of Tampa Bay, where it has been found not only necessary to
confine them by a military force, but to subsist them, from day to day,
and from year to year, by regular issues of provisions? Need we give them
education that they may be the better able to estimate our munificence
and generosity in suffering them to roam at large, in cypress swamps, in
sandy deserts, or wherever else we may think the soil of no value to us?

The project of congregating the Indians, from the extended portions of
the United States, in some place not only _west of the Mississippi_, but
westward of the arable lands of Missouri and Arkansaw, in those burning
deserts which skirt the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains, is, perhaps,
more pregnant with injustice and cruelty to these people than any other.
Such is the inveterate and interminable hostility existing, time out
of mind, between the people of different stocks, portions of which are
already in too near vicinity, such as the Dahcotah and the Ojibbeways,
the Osages and Cherokees, that nothing but mutual destruction could be
the consequence of crowding them together into a region already more
than filled with warlike and jealous hunters. The region to which Mr.
McKoy, in his pamphlet, proposes to remove the Indians, would, such
is its naked and inhospitable character, soon reduce civilized men
who should be confined to it, to be barbarism; nothing but inevitable
destruction could there await a congregation of fierce, subtle, and
mutually hostile savages.

Of all plans hitherto devised to benefit the Indians, by far the best,
though doubtless attended with great difficulty in the execution is, _to
let them alone_. Were it possible to leave to them the small remnant
they still hold of their former possessions, to remove from them all the
poisoning influences of the fur trade and the military posts, and the
agencies auxiliary to it, necessity might again make them industrious.
Industry thoroughly re-established would bring in its train prosperity,
virtue, and happiness. But since we cannot reasonably hope that this
plan will ever be adopted, the friends of humanity must continue to
wish that some middle course may be devised, which may, in a measure,
palliate the misery which cannot be removed, and retard the destruction
which cannot be prevented. The first labour of the philanthropist,
who would exert himself in this cause, should be to allay or suppress
that exterminating spirit so common among us which, kept alive by the
exertions of unprincipled _land jobbers_, and worthless squatters, is
now incessantly calling for the removal of the Indians _west of the
Mississippi_. Many, and doubtless some of those who legislate, may
consider the region west of the Mississippi as a kind of fairy land where
men can feed on moonbeams, or, at all events, that the Indians, when
thoroughly swept into that land of salt mountains and horned frogs, will
be too remote to give us any more trouble. But suppose those who now so
pertinaciously urge this measure completely successful, let every Indian
be removed beyond the Mississippi, how soon will the phrase be changed,
to _west of the Rocky Mountains_? We may send them into the sandy wastes,
but cannot persuade them to remain there; they will soon become not less
troublesome to the settlers in the countries of Red River, White River,
and the Lower Arkansaw, than they are now to the people of Georgia,
Alabama, Missouri, and Illinois. Is it absolutely necessary that while
we invite to our shores, and to a participation in all the advantages of
our boasted institutions, the dissatisfied and the needy of all foreign
countries, not stopping to inquire whether their own crimes, or the
influence of an oppressive government, may have made the change desirable
for them, we should, at the same time, persist in the determination to
root out the last remnants of a race who were the original proprietors
of the soil, many of whom are better qualified to become useful citizens
of our republic than those foreigners we are so eager to naturalize? It
is certainly by no means desirable that any of the aboriginal tribes who
have retained, or acquired, or who shall acquire so much of civilization
as to be able to increase in numbers, and to gain strength, surrounded
by the whites, should be suffered to establish independent governments,
which may, in time, acquire such strength as to be highly troublesome
to their neighbours. Could the project of colonization be carried into
complete effect, the measure, leaving out of consideration its daring and
flagrant injustice, would be of as questionable policy as our unavailing
attempt to restore to Africa the descendants of her enslaved children.
It is believed by many that national as well as individual crimes, are
sure to be visited, sooner or later, by just and merited punishments. Is
it not probable that despite the efforts of the Colonization Society,
the African race, now so deeply rooted and so widely spread among us,
must inevitably grow to such a magnitude as to requite, fourfold, to our
descendants, our own and our forefathers crimes against the aborigines?

The past history and the present condition of the Indians make it
abundantly manifest that, if anything is intended on the part of the
United States, except their speedy and utter extinction, an immediate
change of measures is loudly called for. The most important particulars
of the course to be pursued should be the prevention, as far as possible,
of the evils resulting from competition; the introduction of whiskey, and
other existing abuses in the fur trade; the encouragement of agriculture
and domestic industry which may at length render them independent of
that trade. Donations of horses, cattle, tools, and farming utensils,
handsome clothes, neat and tasteful ornaments, bestowed as marks of
honourable distinction, and rewards for successful and persevering
industry, may by degrees, overcome the habitual indolence and contempt of
labour, so generally met with among the Indians. With the efforts for the
promotion of industry, the cultivation of the mind, not in one out of ten
thousand, as at present, but in the whole mass of the children; and the
introduction of the English language should keep equal pace. No effort
should be spared to advance either. We deem it important that they should
not only learn the English language, but, at the same time, lay aside
and forget their own, and with it their entire system of traditional
feelings and opinions on all subjects. Could all this be effected; could,
furthermore, the rights and privileges of citizenship be held out as a
reward for a prescribed course of conduct, or attach as a right to the
possession of a certain amount of property, the effect would doubtless
be a great and rapid elevation of the Indian character. By a system of
measures of this kind, a portion of the remnants of these people might
probably be preserved by becoming embodied with the whites. As separate
and independent tribes, retaining their own languages, manners, and
opinions, it is probable they cannot long continue in existence.



    Recollections of early life—capture—journey from the mouth of
    the Miami to Sa-gui-na—ceremonies of adoption into the family
    of my foster parents—harsh treatment—transferred by purchase to
    the family of Net-no-kwa—removal to Lake Michigan.

The earliest event of my life, which I distinctly remember, is the death
of my mother. This happened when I was two years old, and many of the
attending circumstances made so deep an impression, that they are still
fresh in my memory. I cannot recollect the name of the settlement at
which we lived, but I have since learned it was on the Kentucky River, at
a considerable distance from the Ohio.

My father, whose name was John Tanner, was an emigrant from Virginia, and
had been a clergyman. He lived long after I was taken by the Indians,
having died only three months after the great earthquake, which destroyed
a part of New Madrid, and was felt throughout the country on the Ohio,

Soon after my mother’s death, my father removed to a place called Elk
Horn. At this place was a cavern—I used to visit it with my brother. We
took two candles; one we lighted on entering, and went on till it was
burned down; we then lighted the other, and began to return, and we would
reach the mouth of the cavern before it was quite burned out.

This settlement at Elk Horn was occasionally visited by hostile parties
of Shawneese Indians, who killed some white people, and sometimes killed
or drove away cattle and horses. In one instance, my uncle, my father’s
brother, went with a few men at night, and fired upon a camp of these
Indians; he killed one, whose scalp he brought home; all the rest jumped
into the river and escaped.

In the course of our residence at this place, an event occurred, to the
influence of which I attributed many of the disasters of my subsequent
life. My father, when about to start one morning to a village at some
distance, gave, as it appeared, a strict charge to my sisters, Agatha
and Lucy, to send me to school; but this they neglected to do until
afternoon, and then, as the weather was rainy and unpleasant, I insisted
on remaining at home. When my father returned at night, and found that
I had been at home all day, he sent me for a parcel of small canes, and
flogged me much more severely than I could suppose the offence merited.
I was displeased with my sisters for attributing all the blame to me,
when they had neglected even to tell me to go to school in the forenoon.
From that time, my father’s house was less like home to me, and I often
thought and said, “I wish I could go and live among the Indians.”

I cannot tell how long we remained at Elk Horn; when we moved, we
travelled two days with horses and wagons, and came to the Ohio, where my
father bought three flat boats; the sides of these boats had bullet holes
in them, and there was blood on them, which I understood was that of
people who had been killed by the Indians. In one of these boats we put
the horses and cattle—in another, beds, furniture, and other property,
and in the third were some negroes. The cattle boat and the family boat
were lashed together; the third, with the negroes, followed behind. We
descended the Ohio, and in two or three days came to Cincinnati; here
the cattle boat sunk in the middle of the river. When my father saw it
sinking, he jumped on board, and cut loose all the cattle, and they swam
ashore on the Kentucky side, and were saved. The people from Cincinnati
came out in boats to assist us, but father told them the cattle were all

In one day we went from Cincinnati to the mouth of the Big Miami,
opposite which we were to settle. Here was some cleared land, and one or
two log cabins, but they had been deserted on account of the Indians. My
father rebuilt the cabins, and enclosed them with a strong picket. It
was early in the spring when we arrived at the mouth of the Big Miami,
and we were soon engaged in preparing a field to plant corn. I think it
was not more than ten days after our arrival, when my father told us in
the morning, that from the actions of the horses, he perceived there were
Indians lurking about in the woods, and he said to me, “John, you must
not go out of the house to day.” After giving strict charge to my step
mother to let none of the little children go out, he went to the field,
with the negroes, and my elder brother, to drop corn.

Three little children, beside myself, were left in the house with my step
mother. To prevent me from going out, my step mother required me to take
care of the little child, then not more than a few months old; but as I
soon became impatient of confinement, I began to pinch my little brother,
to make him cry. My mother perceiving this uneasiness, told me to take
him in my arms and walk about the house; I did so, but continued to pinch
him. My mother at length took him from me to give him suck. I watched my
opportunity, and escaped into the yard; thence through a small door in
the large gate of the wall into the open field. There was a walnut tree
at some distance from the house, and near the side of the field, where I
had been in the habit of finding some of the last year’s nuts. To gain
this tree without being seen by my father, and those in the field, I had
to use some precaution. I remember perfectly well having seen my father,
as I skulked towards the tree; he stood in the middle of the field,
with his gun in his hand, to watch for Indians, while the others were
dropping corn. As I came near the tree, I thought to myself, “I wish I
could see these Indians.” I had partly filled with nuts a straw hat which
I wore, when I heard a crackling noise behind me; I looked round, and
saw the Indians; almost at the same instant, I was seized by both hands,
and dragged off betwixt two. One of them took my straw hat, emptied the
nuts on the ground, and put it on my head. The Indians who seized me
were an old man and a young one; these were, as I learned subsequently,
Manito-o-geezhik, and his son Kish-kau-ko[5]. Since I returned from Red
River, I have been at Detroit while Kish-kau-ko was in prison there; I
have also been in Kentucky, and have learned several particulars relative
to my capture, which were unknown to me at the time. It appears that
the wife of Manito-o-geezhik had recently lost by death her youngest
son—that she had complained to her husband, that unless he should bring
back her son, she could not live. This was an intimation to bring her
a captive whom she might adopt in the place of the son she had lost.
Manito-o-geezhik, associating with him his son, and two other men of his
band, living at Lake Huron, had proceeded eastward with this sole design.
On the upper part of Lake Erie, they had been joined by three other
young men, the relations of Manito-o-geezhik, and had proceeded on, now
several in number, to the settlements on the Ohio. They had arrived the
night previous to my capture at the mouth of the Big Miami, had crossed
the Ohio, and concealed themselves within sight of my father’s house.
Several times in the course of the morning, old Manito-o-geezhik had been
compelled to repress the ardour of his young men, who becoming impatient
at seeing no opportunity to steal a boy, were anxious to fire upon the
people dropping corn in the field. It must have been about noon when they
saw me coming from the house to the walnut tree, which was probably very
near the place where one or more of them were concealed.

It was but a few minutes after I left the house, when my father, coming
from the field, perceived my absence. My step mother had not yet noticed
that I had gone out. My elder brother ran immediately to the walnut tree,
which he knew I was fond of visiting, and seeing the nuts which the
Indian had emptied out of my hat, he immediately understood that I had
been made captive. Search was instantly made for me, but to no purpose.
My father’s distress, when he found I was indeed taken away by the
Indians, was, I am told, very great.

After I saw myself firmly seized by both wrists by the two Indians, I
was not conscious of any thing that passed for a considerable time. I
must have fainted, as I did not cry out, and I can remember nothing
that happened to me, until they threw me over a large log, which must
have been at a considerable distance from the house. The old man I did
not now see; I was dragged along between Kish-kau-ko and a very short
thick man. I had probably made some resistance, or done something to
irritate this last, for he took me a little to one side, and drawing his
tomahawk, motioned to me to look up. This I plainly understood, from the
expression of his face, and his manner, to be a direction for me to look
up for the last time, as he was about to kill me. I did as he directed,
but Kish-kau-ko caught his hand as the tomahawk was descending, and
prevented him from burying it in my brains. Loud talking ensued between
the two. Kish-kau-ko presently raised a yell; the old man and the four
others answered it by a similar yell, and came running up. I have since
understood that Kish-kau-ko complained to his father, that the short man
had made an attempt to kill his little brother, as he called me. The old
chief, after reproving him, took me by one hand, and Kish-kau-ko by the
other, and dragged me betwixt them; the man who had threatened to kill
me, and who was now an object of terror, being kept at some distance. I
could perceive, as I retarded them somewhat in their retreat, that they
were apprehensive of being overtaken; some of them were always at some
distance from us.

It was about one mile from my father’s house to the place where they
threw me into a hickory bark canoe, which was concealed under the
bushes, on the bank of the river. Into this they all seven jumped, and
immediately crossed the Ohio, landing at the mouth of the Big Miami,
and on the south side of that river. Here they abandoned their canoe,
and stuck their paddles in the ground, so that they could be seen from
the river. At a little distance in the woods they had some blankets and
provisions concealed; they offered me some dry venison and bear’s grease,
but I could not eat. My father’s house was plainly to be seen from the
place where we stood; they pointed at it, looked at me, and laughed, but
I have never known what they said.

After they had eaten a little, they began to ascend the Miami, dragging
me along as before. The shoes I had on when at home, they took off,
as they seemed to think I could run better without them. Although I
perceived I was closely watched, all hope of escape did not immediately
forsake me. As they hurried me along, I endeavored, without their
knowledge, to take notice of such objects as would serve as landmarks on
my way back. I tried also, where I passed long grass, or soft ground,
to leave my tracks. I hoped to be able to escape after they should
have fallen asleep at night. When night came, they lay down, placing
me between the old man and Kish-kau-ko, so close together, that the
same blanket covered all three. I was so fatigued that I fell asleep
immediately, and did not wake until sunrise next morning, when the
Indians were up and ready to proceed on their journey. Thus we journeyed
for about four days, the Indians hurrying me on, and I continuing to
hope that I might escape but still every night completely overpowered
by sleep. As my feet were bare, they were often wounded, and at length
much swollen. The old man perceiving my situation, examined my feet one
day, and after removing a great many thorns and splinters from them, gave
me a pair of moccasins, which afforded me some relief. Most commonly, I
travelled between the old man and Kish-kau-ko, and they often made me
run until my strength was quite exhausted. For several days I could eat
little or nothing. It was, I think, four days after we left the Ohio that
we came to a considerable river, running, as I suppose, into the Miami.
This river was wide, and so deep that I could not wade across it; the old
man took me on his shoulders and carried me over; the water was nearly
up to his arm pits. As he carried me across, I thought I should never
be able to pass this river alone, and gave over all hope of immediate
escape. When he put me down on the other side, I immediately ran up the
bank, and a short distance into the woods, when a turkey flew up a few
steps before me. The nest she had left contained a number of eggs; these
I put in the bosom of my shirt, and returned towards the river. When
the Indians saw me they laughed, and immediately took the eggs from me,
and kindling a fire, put them in a small kettle to boil. I was then very
hungry, and as I sat watching the kettle, I saw the old man come running
from the direction of the ford where we had crossed; he immediately
caught up the kettle, threw the eggs and the water on the fire, at the
same time saying something in a hurried and low tone to the young men.
I inferred we were pursued, and have since understood that such was the
case; it is probable some of my friends were at that time on the opposite
side of the river searching for me. The Indians hastily gathered up the
eggs and dispersed themselves in the woods, two of them still urging me
forward to the utmost of my strength.

It was a day or two after this that we met a party of twenty or thirty
Indians, on their way towards the settlements. Old Manito-o-geezhik had
much to say to them; subsequently I learned that they were a war party of
Shawneese; that they received information from our party of the whites
who were in pursuit of us about the forks of the Miami; that they went
in pursuit of them, and that a severe skirmish happened between them, in
which numbers were killed on both sides.

Our journey through the woods was tedious and painful: it might have
been ten days after we met the war party when we arrived at the Maumee
River. As soon as we came near the river, the Indians were suddenly
scattered about the woods examining the trees, yelling and answering
each other. They soon selected a hickory tree, which was cut down, and
the bark stripped off, to make a canoe. In this canoe we all embarked,
and descended till we came to a large Shawnee village, at the mouth of a
river which enters the Maumee. As we were landing in this village, great
numbers of the Indians came about us, and one young woman came crying
directly towards me, and struck me on the head. Some of her friends had
been killed by the whites. Many of these Shawneese showed a disposition
to kill me, but Kish-kau-ko and the old man interposed and prevented
them. I could perceive that I was often the subject of conversation,
but could not as yet understand what was said. Old Manito-o-geezhik
could speak a few words of English, which he used occasionally to direct
me to bring water, make a fire, or perform other tasks, which he now
began to require of me. We remained two days at the Shawnee village, and
then proceeded on our journey in the canoe. It was not very far from
the village that we came to a trading house, where were three or four
men who could speak English; they talked much with me, and said they
wished to have purchased me from the Indians, that I might return to
my friends; but as the old man would not consent to part with me, the
traders told me I must be content to go with the Indians, and to become
the old man’s son in place of one he had lost, promising at the same
time that after ten days they would come to the village and release me.
They treated me kindly while we stayed, and gave me plenty to eat, which
the Indians had neglected to do. When I found I was compelled to leave
this house with the Indians, I began to cry for the first time since I
had been taken. I consoled myself, however, with their promise that in
ten days they would come for me. Soon after leaving this trading house,
we came to the lake; we did not stop at night to encamp, but soon after
dark the Indians raised a yell, which was answered from some lights on
shore, and presently a canoe came off to us in which three of our party
left us. I have little recollection of any thing that passed from this
time until we arrived at Detroit. At first we paddled up in the middle
of the river until we came opposite the center of the town; then we ran
in near the shore where I saw a white woman with whom the Indians held a
little conversation, but I could not understand what was said. I also saw
several white men standing and walking on shore, and heard them talk, but
could not understand them; it is likely they spoke French. After talking
a few minutes with the woman, the Indians pushed off and ran up a good
distance above the town.

It was about the middle of the day when we landed in the woods and drew
up the canoe. They presently found a large hollow log, open at one end,
into which they put their blankets, their little kettle, and some other
articles; they then made me crawl into it, after which they closed up
the end at which I had entered. I heard them for a few minutes on the
outside, then all was still, and remained so for a long time. If I had
not long since relinquished all hope of making my escape, I soon found it
would be in vain for me to attempt to release myself from my confinement.
After remaining many hours in this situation, I heard them removing the
logs with which they had fastened me in, and on coming out, although it
was very late in the night, or probably near morning, I could perceive
that they had brought three horses. One of these was a large iron-gray
mare, the others were two small bay horses. On one of these they placed
me, on the others their baggage, and sometimes one, sometimes another of
the Indians riding, we travelled rapidly, and in about three days reached
Sau-ge-nong,[6] the village to which old Manito-o-geezhik belonged.
This village or settlement consisted of several scattered houses. Two
of the Indians left us soon after we entered it; Kish-kau-ko and his
father only remained, and instead of proceeding immediately home, they
left their horses and borrowed a canoe, in which we at last arrived at
the old man’s house. This was a hut or cabin built of logs like some of
those in Kentucky. As soon as we landed, the old woman came down to us
to the shore, and after Manito-o-geezhik had said a few words to her,
she commenced crying, at the same time hugging and kissing me, and thus
she led me to the house. Next day they took me to the place where the
old woman’s son had been buried. The grave was enclosed with pickets,
in the manner of the Indians, and on each side of it was a smooth
open place. Here they all took their seats; the family and friends of
Manito-o-geezhik on the one side, and strangers on the other. The friends
of the family had come provided with presents; mukkuks of sugar, sacks
of corn, beads, strouding, tobacco, and the like. They had not been long
assembled, when my party began to dance, dragging me with them about the
grave. Their dance was lively and cheerful, after the manner of the scalp
dance. From time to time as they danced, they presented me something of
the articles they had brought, but as I came round in the dancing to the
party on the opposite side of the grave, whatever they had given me was
snatched from me: thus they continued great part of the day, until the
presents were exhausted, when they returned home.

It must have been early in the spring when we arrived at Sau-ge-nong,
for I can remember that at this time the leaves were small, and the
Indians were about planting their corn. They managed to make me assist at
their labours, partly by signs, and partly by the few words of English
old Manito-o-geezhik could speak. After planting, they all left the
village, and went out to hunt and dry meat. When they came to their
hunting grounds, they chose a place where many deer resorted, and here
they began to build a long screen like a fence; this they made of green
boughs and small trees. When they had built a part of it, they showed me
how to remove the leaves and dry brush from that side of it to which the
Indians were to come to shoot the deer. In this labour I was sometimes
assisted by the squaws and children, but at other times I was left alone.
It now began to be warm weather, and it happened one day that having
been left alone, as I was tired and thirsty, I fell asleep. I cannot
tell how long I slept, but when I began to awake, I thought I heard some
one crying a great way off. Then I tried to raise up my head, but could
not. Being now more awake, I saw my Indian mother and sister standing by
me, and perceived that my face and head were wet. The old woman and her
daughter were crying bitterly, but it was some time before I perceived
that my head was badly cut and bruised. It appears that after I had
fallen asleep, Manito-o-geezhik, passing that way, had perceived me, had
tomahawked me, and thrown me in the bushes; and that when he came to his
camp he had said to his wife, “old woman, the boy I brought you is good
for nothing; I have killed him, and you will find him in such a place.”
The old woman and her daughter having found me, discovered still some
signs of life, and had stood over me a long time, crying, and pouring
cold water on my head, when I waked. In a few days I recovered in some
measure from this hurt, and was again set to work at the screen, but
I was more careful not to fall asleep; I endeavoured to assist them at
their labours, and to comply in all instances with their directions, but
I was notwithstanding treated with great harshness, particularly by the
old man, and his two sons She-mung and Kwo-tash-e. While we remained at
the hunting camp, one of them put a bridle in my hand, and pointing in a
certain direction, motioned me to go. I went accordingly, supposing he
wished me to bring a horse; I went and caught the first I could find, and
in this way I learned to discharge such services as they required of me.

When we returned from hunting, I carried on my back a large pack of
dried meat all the way to the village, but though I was almost starved,
I dared not touch a morsel of it. My Indian mother, who seemed to have
some compassion for me, would sometimes steal a little food, and hide it
for me until the old man was gone away, and then give it to me. After we
returned to the village the young men, whenever the weather was pleasant,
were engaged in spearing fish, and they used to take me to steer the
canoe. As I did not know how to do this very well, they commonly turned
upon me, beat me, and often knocked me down with the pole of the spear.
By one or the other of them I was beaten almost every day. Other Indians,
not of our family, would sometimes seem to pity me, and when they could
without being observed by the old man, they would sometimes give me food,
and take notice of me.

After the corn was gathered in the fall, and disposed of in the
Sun-je-gwun-nun, or Ca-ches, where they hide it for the winter, they went
to hunt on the Sau-ge-nong River. I was here, as I had always been when
among them, much distressed with hunger. As I was often with them in the
woods, I saw them eating something, and I endeavoured to discover what it
was, but they carefully concealed it from me. It was some time before I
accidentally found some beach-nuts, and though I knew not what they were,
I was tempted to taste them, and finding them very good, I showed them
to the Indians, when they laughed, and let me know these were what they
had all along been eating. After the snow had fallen, I was compelled
to follow the hunters, and oftentimes to drag home to the lodge a whole
deer, though it was with the greatest difficulty I could do so.

At night I had always to lie between the fire and the door of the lodge,
and when any one passed out or came in, they commonly gave me a kick; and
whenever they went to drink, they made a practice to throw some water
on me. The old man constantly treated me with much cruelty, but his ill
humor showed itself more on some occasions than others. One morning, he
got up, put on his moccasins, and went out; but presently returning, he
caught me by the hair of my head, dragged me out, rubbed my face for a
long time in a mass of recent excrement, as one would do the nose of
a cat, then tossed me by the hair into a snow bank. After this I was
afraid to go into the lodge; but at length my mother came out and gave
me some water to wash. We were now about to move our camp, and I was as
usual made to carry a large pack; but as I had not been able to wash my
face clean, when I came among other Indians they perceived the smell,
and asked me the cause. By the aid of signs, and some few words I could
now speak, I made them comprehend how I had been treated. Some of them
appeared to pity me, assisted me to wash myself, and gave me something to

Often when the old man would begin to beat me, my mother, who generally
treated me with kindness, would throw her arms about me, and he would
beat us both together. Towards the end of winter, we moved again to the
sugar grounds. At this time, Kish-kau-ko, who was a young man of about
twenty years of age, joined with him four other young men and went
on a war-party. The old man also, as soon as the sugar was finished,
returned to the village, collected a few men, and made his preparations
to start. I had now been a year among them, and could understand a little
of their language. The old man, when about to start, said to me, “now I
am going to kill your father and your brother, and all your relations.”
Kish-kau-ko returned first, but was badly wounded. He said he had been
with his party to the Ohio River; that they had, after watching for some
time, fired upon a small boat that was going down, and killed one man,
the rest jumping into the water. He (Kish-kau-ko) had wounded himself in
his thigh with his own spear, as he was pursuing them. They brought home
the scalp of the man they had killed.

Old Manito-o-geezhik returned a few days afterwards, bringing an old
white hat, which I knew, from a mark in the crown, to be that of my
brother. He said he had killed all my father’s family, the negroes, and
the horses, and had brought me my brother’s hat, that I might see he
spoke the truth. I now believed that my friends had all been cut off, and
was, on that account, the less anxious to return. This, it appears, had
been precisely the object the old man wished to accomplish, by telling
me the story of which but a small part was true. When I came to see
Kish-kau-ko, after I returned from Red River, I asked him immediately,
“Is it true, that your father has killed all my relations?” He told me it
was not; that Manito-o-geezhik, the year after I was taken, at the same
season of the year, returned to the same field where he had found me;
that, as on the preceding year, he had watched my father and his people
planting corn, from morning till noon; that then they all went into the
house, except my brother, who was then nineteen years of age: he remained
ploughing with a span of horses, having the lines about his neck, when
the Indians rushed upon him; the horses started to run; my brother was
entangled in the lines, and thrown down, when the Indians caught him. The
horses they killed with their bows and arrows, and took my brother away
into the woods. They crossed the Ohio before night, and had proceeded a
good distance in their way up the Miami. At night they left my brother
securely bound, as they thought, to a tree. His hands and arms were tied
behind him, and there were cords around his breast and neck; but having
bitten off some of the cords, he was able to get a pen-knife that was in
his pocket, with which he cut himself loose, and immediately ran towards
the Ohio, at which he arrived, and which he crossed by swimming, and
reached his father’s house about sunrise in the morning. The Indians
were roused by the noise he made, and pursued him into the woods; but as
the night was very dark, they were not able to overtake him. His hat had
been left at the camp, and this they brought to make me believe they had
killed him. Thus I remained for two years in this family, and gradually
came to have less and less hope of escape, though I did not forget what
the English traders on the Maumee had said, and I wished they might
remember and come for me. The men were often drunk, and whenever they
were so, they sought to kill me. In these cases, I learned to run and
hide myself in the woods, and I dared not return before their drunken
frolic was over. During the two years that I remained at Sau-ge-nong,
I was constantly suffering from hunger; and though strangers, or those
not belonging to the family, sometimes fed me, I had never enough to
eat. The old woman they called Ne-keek-wos-ke-cheeme-kwa—“the Otter
woman,” the otter being her _totem_—treated me with kindness, as did
her daughters, as well as Kish-kau-ko and Be-nais-sa, the bird, the
youngest son, of about my own age. Kish-kau-ko and his father, and the
two brothers, Kwo-ta-she and She-mung, were blood-thirsty and cruel, and
those who remain of this family, continue, to this time, troublesome to
the whites. Be-nais-sa, who came to see me when I was at Detroit, and who
always treated me kindly, was a better man, but he is since dead. While
I remained with them at Sau-ge-nong, I saw white men but once. Then a
small boat passed, and the Indians took me out to it in a canoe, rightly
supposing that my wretched appearance would excite the compassion of the
traders, or whatever white men they were. These gave me bread, apples,
and other presents, all which, except one apple, the Indians took from
me. By this family I was named Shaw-shaw-wa ne-ba-se, (the Falcon,)
which name I retained while I remained among the Indians.

I had been about two years at Sau-ge-nong, when a great council was
called by the British agents at Mackinac. This council was attended by
the Sioux, the Winnebagoes, the Menomonees, and many remote tribes, as
well as by the Ojibbeways, Ottawwaws, etc. When old Manito-o-geezhik
returned from this council, I soon learned that he had met there his
kinswoman, Net-no-kwa, who, notwithstanding her sex, was then regarded as
principal chief of the Ottawwaws. This woman had lost her son, of about
my age, by death; and having heard of me, she wished to purchase me to
supply his place. My old Indian mother, the Otter woman, when she heard
of this, protested vehemently against it. I heard her say, “My son has
been dead once, and has been restored to me; I cannot lose him again.”
But these remonstrances had little influence, when Net-no-kwa arrived
with considerable whiskey, and other presents. She brought to the lodge
first a ten gallon keg of whiskey, blankets, tobacco, and other articles
of great value. She was perfectly acquainted with the dispositions
of those with whom she had to negotiate. Objections were made to the
exchange until the contents of the keg had circulated for some time;
then an additional keg, and a few more presents completed the bargain,
and I was transferred to Net-no-kwa. This woman, who was then advanced
in years, was of a more pleasing aspect than my former mother. She took
me by the hand after she had completed the negotiation with my former
possessors, and led me to her own lodge which stood near. Here I soon
found I was to be treated more indulgently than I had been. She gave me
plenty of food, put good clothes upon me, and told me to go and play with
her own sons. We remained but a short time at Sau-ge-nong. She would not
stop with me at Mackinac, which we passed in the night, but ran along to
Point St. Ignace, where she hired some Indians to take care of me while
she returned to Mackinac by herself, or with one or two of her young men.
After finishing her business at Mackinac, she returned, and continuing on
our journey, we arrived in a few days at Shab-a-wy-wy-a-gun. The corn
was ripe when we reached that place, and after stopping a little while,
we went three days up the river to the place where they intended to pass
the winter. We then left our canoes and travelling over land, camped
three times before we came to the place where we set up our lodges for
the winter. The husband of Net-no-kwa was an Ojibbeway, of Red River,
called Taw-ga-we-ninne, the hunter. He was seventeen years younger than
Net-no-kwa, and had turned off a former wife on being married to her.
Taw-ga-we-ninne was always indulgent and kind to me, treating me like an
equal, rather than as a dependant. When speaking to me, he always called
me his son. Indeed, he himself was but of secondary importance in the
family, as every thing belonged to Net-no-kwa, and she had the direction
in all affairs of any moment. She imposed on me, for the first year, some
tasks. She made me cut wood, bring home game, bring water, and perform
other services not commonly required of the boys of my age; but she
treated me invariably with so much kindness that I was far more happy and
content than I had been in the family of Manito-o-geezhik. She sometimes
whipped me, as she did her own children; but I was not so severely and
frequently beaten as I had been before.


    First attempt to hunt—measles—trapping martins—emigration to
    Red River—death of my foster father and brother—arrival at Lake

Early in the spring, Net-no-kwa and her husband, with their family,
started to go to Mackinac. They left me, as they had done before,
at Point St. Ignace, as they would not run the risk of losing me by
suffering me to be seen at Mackinac. On our return, after we had gone
twenty-five or thirty miles from Point St. Ignace, we were detained by
contrary winds at a place called Me-nau-ko-king, a point running out
into the lake. Here we encamped with some other Indians and a party of
traders. Pigeons were very numerous in the woods and the boys of my
age, and the traders, were busy shooting them. I had never killed any
game and, indeed, had never in my life discharged a gun. My mother had
purchased at Mackinac a keg of powder, which, as they thought it a little
damp, was here spread out to dry. Taw-ga-we-ninne had a large horse-man’s
pistol; and finding myself somewhat emboldened by his indulgent manner
toward me, I requested permission to go and try to kill some pigeons
with the pistol. My request was seconded by _Net-no-kwa_, who said, “It
is time for our son to begin to learn to be a hunter.” Accordingly, my
father, as I called Taw-ga-we-ninne, loaded the pistol and gave it to
me, saying, “Go, my son, and if you kill any thing with this, you shall
immediately have a gun, and learn to hunt.” Since I have been a man, I
have been placed in difficult situations; but my anxiety for success was
never greater than in this, my first essay as a hunter. I had not gone
far from the camp, before I met with pigeons, and some of them alighted
in the bushes very near me. I cocked my pistol, and raised it to my face,
bringing the breech almost in contact with my nose. Having brought the
sight to bear upon the pigeons, I pulled trigger, and was in the next
instant sensible of a humming noise, like that of a stone sent swiftly
through the air. I found the pistol at the distance of some paces behind
me, and the pigeon under the tree on which he had been sitting. My face
was much bruised, and covered with blood. I ran home, carrying my pigeon
in triumph. My face was speedily bound up; my pistol exchanged for a
fowling-piece; I was accoutred with a powder horn, and furnished with
shot, and allowed to go out after birds. One of the young Indians went
with me, to observe my manner of shooting. I killed three more pigeons in
the course of the afternoon, and did not discharge my gun once without
killing. Henceforth I began to be treated with more consideration, and
was allowed to hunt often that I might become expert.

Great part of the summer and autumn passed before we returned to
Shab-a-wy-wy-a-gun. When we arrived we found the Indians suffering
very severely from the measles; and as Net-no-kwa was acquainted with
the contagious nature of this disease, she was unwilling to expose her
family, but passed immediately through the village and encamped on the
river above. But, notwithstanding her precaution, we soon began to fall
sick. Of ten persons belonging to our family, including two young wives
of Taw-ga-we-ninne, only Net-no-kwa and myself escaped an attack of this
complaint. Several of them were very sick, and the old woman and myself
found it as much as we could do to take care of them. In the village,
numbers died, but all of our family escaped. As the winter approached,
they began to get better and went, at length, to our wintering ground,
at the same place where we had spent the former winter. Here I was set
to make martin traps as the other hunters did. The first day I went out
early, and spent the whole day, returning late at night, having made only
three traps; whereas, in the same time, a good hunter would have made
twenty-five or thirty. On the morning following, I visited my traps, and
found but one martin. Thus I continued to do for some days, but my want
of success, and my awkwardness, exposed me to the ridicule of the young
men. At length, my father began to pity me, and he said, “My son, I must
go and help you to make traps.” So he went out and spent a day in making
a large number of traps, which he gave me, and then I was able to take
as many martins as the others. The young men, however, did not forget
to tell me, on all occasions, of the assistance I had received from my
father. This winter was passed like the preceding; but as I became more
and more expert and successful in hunting and trapping, I was no longer
required to do the work of the women about the lodge.

In the following spring, Net-no-kwa, as usual, went to Mackinac. She
always carried a flag in her canoe, and I was told, that whenever she
came to Mackinac she was saluted by a gun from the fort. I was now
thirteen years old, or in my thirteenth year. Before we left the village,
I heard Net-no-kwa talk of going to Red River, to the relations of her
husband. Many of the Ottawwaws, when they heard this, determined to
go with her. Among others, was Wah-ka-zee, a chief of the village at
War-gun-uk-ke-zee,[8] or L’Arbre Croche, and others; in all, six canoes.
Instead of leaving me, in this instance, at Point St. Ignace, they landed
with me in the night among the cedars, not far from the village of
Mackinac; and the old woman then took me into the town, to the house of
a French trader, (Shabboyer,) with whom she had sufficient influence to
secure my confinement for several days in the cellar. Here I remained,
not being allowed to go out at all, but was otherwise well treated. This
confinement seemed to be unnecessary, as subsequently, when we were
ready to go on our journey, we were detained by head winds, at the point
now occupied by the missionaries, when I was suffered to run at large.
While we remained here, the Indians began to be drunk. My father, who
was drunk, but still able to walk about, spoke to two young men who were
walking together, and taking hold of the shirt sleeve of one of them,
he, without intending to do so, tore it. This young man, whose name was
Sug-gut-taw-gun, (Spunkwood,) was irritated, and giving my father a
rough push, he fell on his back. Sug-gut-taw-gun then took up a large
stone, and threw it at him, hitting him in the forehead. When I saw this,
I became alarmed for my own safety; and, as I knew that Me-to-saw-gea,
an Ojibbeway chief, was then on the island, with a party going against
the whites; and, as I had understood they had sought opportunities to
kill me, I thought my situation unsafe. I accordingly made my escape
to the woods, where I hid myself for the remainder of the day and the
night. On the following day, being pressed by hunger, I returned and
secreted myself for some time in the low cedars near our lodge in order
to observe what was passing, and to ascertain if I might return. At
length, I discovered my mother calling me, and looking for me through
the bushes. I went up to her, and she told me to go in and see my father
who was killed. When I went in, my father said to me, “I am killed.” He
made me sit down with the other children, and talked much to us. He said,
“Now, my children, I have to leave you. I am sorry that I must leave you
so poor.” He said nothing to us about killing the Indian who had struck
him with the stone, as some would have done. He was too good a man to
wish to involve his family in the troubles which such a course would
have brought upon them. The young man who had wounded him, remained with
us, notwithstanding that Net-no-kwa told him it would not be safe for
him to go to Red River where her husband’s relatives were numberous and
powerful, and disposed to take revenge.

When we came to the Saut of St. Marie, we put all our baggage on board
the trader’s vessel, which was about to sail to the upper end of Lake
Superior, and went on ourselves in our canoes. The winds were light,
which enabled us to run faster than the vessel, and we arrived ten
days before it at the Portage. When she at last came and anchored
out at a little distance from the shore, my father and his two sons
Wa-me-gon-a-biew, (he who puts on feathers,) the eldest, and Ke-wa-tin,
(the north wind,) went out in a canoe to get the baggage. In jumping
down into the hold of the vessel, the younger of these young men fell
with his knee upon a knot of the rope tied around a bundle of goods,
and received an injury from which he never recovered. The same night his
knee was badly swollen, and on the next day he was not able to go out of
the lodge. After about eight or ten days, we commenced crossing the Grand
Portage: we carried him on our shoulders by fastening a blanket to two
poles; but he was so sick that we had to stop often, which made us long
in passing. We left our canoes at the trading-house, and when we came
to the other side of the Portage, were detained some days to make small
canoes. When these were nearly finished, my father sent me, with one of
his wives, back to the trading-house to bring something which had been
forgotten. On our return, we met the two boys at some distance, coming to
tell me to hasten home, for my father was dying, and he wished to see me
before he died. When I came into the lodge, I found that he was indeed
dying, and though he could see, he was not able to speak to me. In a few
minutes he ceased to breathe. Beside him lay the gun which he had taken
in his hand a few minutes before to shoot the young man who had wounded
him at Mackinac. In the morning, when I left him to go to the Portage,
he was apparently well; my mother told me it was not until afternoon
he began to complain; he then came into the lodge, saying, “I am now
dying; but since I have to go, this young man, who has killed me, must
go with me. I hoped to have lived till I had raised you all to be men;
but now I must die, and leave you poor, and without any one to provide
for you.” So saying, he stepped out, with the gun in his hand, to shoot
the young man, who was at that time sitting by the door of his own lodge.
Ke-wa-tin, hearing this, began to cry, and, addressing his father, said,
“My father, if I was well I could help you to kill this man, and could
protect my young brothers from the vengeance of his friends after he is
dead; but you see my situation, and that I am about to die. My brothers
are young and weak, and we shall all be murdered if you kill this man.”
My father replied, “My son, I love you too well to refuse you any thing
you request.” So saying, he returned, laid down his gun, and, after
having said a very few words, inquired for me, and directed them to send
for me, he expired. The old woman procured a coffin from the traders,
and they brought my father’s body in a wagon to the trading-house on
this side the Grand Portage, where they buried him in the burying ground
of the whites. His two sons, as well as the young man who killed him,
accompanied his body to the Portage. This last was near being killed
by one of my brothers; but the other prevented him, as he was about to

It was but a very short time after my father died that we started on
our journey to Red River. My brother Ke-wa-tin we carried on a litter,
as we had done before, whenever it was necessary to take him out of the
canoe. We had passed two carrying places, when he said to us, “I must
die here; I cannot go farther.” So Net-no-kwa determined to stop here,
and the remainder of the party went on. A part of our own family chose
to continue on with those going to Red River. So that, after they had
started, there remained only the old woman and one of the younger wives
of Taw-ga-we-ninne, Wa-me-gon-a-biew, the elder brother, Ke-wa-tin, the
second, and myself; the youngest. It was about the middle of summer, for
the small berries were ripe, when we stopped here on the borders of Moose
Lake, which is of cool and clear water, like Lake Superior. It is small
and round, and a canoe can be very plainly seen across the widest part of
it. We were only two of us able to do any thing; and being myself very
young, and without any experience as a hunter, we had apprehension that,
being left thus alone, we might soon be in want. We had brought with us
one of the nets used about Mackinac, and setting this, the first night,
caught about eighty trout and white fish. After remaining here sometime,
we found beavers, of which we killed six; also some otters and muskrats.
We had brought with us some corn and grease so that, with the fish we
caught, and the game we killed, we lived comfortably. But at the approach
of winter, the old woman told us she could not venture to remain there
by herself as the winter would be long and cold, and no people, either
whites or Indians near us. Ke-wa-tin was now so sick and weak, that in
going back to the Portage, we were compelled to move slowly; and when
we arrived, the waters were beginning to freeze. He lived but a month or
two after we arrived. It must have been in the early part, or before the
middle of winter, that he died. The old woman buried him by the side of
her husband, and hung up one of her flags at his grave.

We now, as the weather became severe, began to grow poor,
Wa-me-gon-a-biew and myself being unable to kill as much game as we
wanted. He was seventeen years of age, and I thirteen, and game was not
plentiful. As the weather became more and more cold, we removed from
the trading house and set up our lodge in the woods that we might get
wood easier. Here my brother and myself had to exert ourselves to the
utmost to avoid starving. We used to hunt two or three days’ distance
from home, and often returned with but little meat. We had, on one of
our hunting paths, a camp built of cedar boughs in which we had kindled
fire so often, that at length it became very dry and at last caught fire
as we were lying in it. The cedar had become so dry that it flashed
up like powder but fortunately we escaped with little injury. As we
were returning, and still a great distance from home, we attempted to
cross a river which was so rapid as never to freeze very sound. Though
the weather was so cold that the trees were constantly cracking with
the frost, we broke in, I first, and afterwards my brother; and he, in
attempting to throw himself down upon the ice, wet himself nearly all
over, while I had at first only feet and legs wet. Owing to our hands
being benumbed with the cold, it was long before we could extricate
ourselves from our snow shoes, and we were no sooner out of the water
than our moccasins and clothes were frozen so stiff that we could not
travel. I began also to think that we must die. But I was not like my
Indian brother, willing to sit down and wait patiently for death to come.
I kept moving about to the best of my power, while he lay in a dry place
by the side of the bank where the wind had blown away the snow. I at
length found some very dry rotten wood which I used as a substitute for
spunk, and was so happy as to raise a fire. We then applied ourselves to
thaw and dry our moccasins, and when partly dry we put them on, and went
to collect fuel for a larger fire than we had before been able to make.
At length, when night came on, we had a comfortable fire and dry clothes,
and though we had nothing to eat, we did not regard this, after the more
severe suffering from cold. At the earliest dawn we left our camp, and
proceeded towards home; but at no great distance met our mother, bringing
dry clothes and a little food. She knew that we ought to have been home
on the preceding day by sunset, and was also aware of the difficult river
we had to cross. Soon after dark, being convinced that we must have
fallen through the ice, she started, and walking all night, met us not
far from the place where the accident happened.

Thus we lived for some time in a suffering and almost starving condition,
when a Muskegoe, or Swamp Indian, called the Smoker,[9] came to the
trading house, and learning that we were very poor, invited us home
with him to his own country, saying he could hunt for us, and would
bring us back in the spring. We went two long days journey towards the
west, and came to a place called We-sau-ko-ta See-bee, Burnt Wood River,
where we found his lodge. He took us into his own lodge, and while we
remained with him, we wanted for nothing. Such is still the custom of
the Indians, remote from the whites; but the Ottawwaws, and those near
the settlements, have learned to be like the whites, and to give only to
those who can pay. If any one, who had at that time been of the family of
Net-no-kwa, were now, after so many years, to meet one of the family of
Pe-twaw-we-ninne, he would call him “brother,” and treat him as such.

We had been but a few days at the Portage when another man of the same
band of Muskegoes, invited us to go with him to a large island in Lake
Superior, where, he said, were plenty of Caribou and Sturgeon, and where,
he had no doubt, he could provide all that would be necessary for our
support. We went with him accordingly; and starting at the earliest
appearance of dawn, we reached the island somewhat before night, though
there was a light wind ahead. In the low rocky points about this island,
we found more gull’s eggs than we were able to take away. We also took,
with spears, two or three sturgeons immediately on our arrival; so that
our want of food was supplied. On the next day, Wa-ge-mah-wub, whom we
called our brother-in-law, and who was, in some remote degree, related
to Net-no-gua, went to hunt, and returned at evening, having killed two
caribou. On this island is a large lake, which it took us about a day
to reach from the shore; and into this lake runs a small river. Here
we found beaver, otter, and other game; and as long as we remained in
the island, we had an abundant supply of provisions. We met here the
relations of Wa-ge-mah-wub in eight canoes; with whom we at length
started to return to the Portage. We were ten canoes in all, and we
started, as we had done in coming, at the earliest dawn of the morning.
The night had been calm, and the water, when we left the island, was
perfectly smooth. We had proceeded about two hundred yards into the lake,
when the canoes all stopped together, and the chief, in a very loud
voice, addressed a prayer to the Great Spirit, entreating him to give
us a good look to cross the lake. “You,” said he, “have made this lake,
and you have made us, your children; you can now cause that the water
shall remain smooth, while we pass over in safety.” In this manner, he
continued praying for five or ten minutes; he then threw into the lake
a small quantity of tobacco, in which each of the canoes followed his
example. They then all started together, and the old chief commenced
his song, which was a religious one; but I cannot remember exactly
the meaning of what he sang. I had now forgotten my mother tongue,
and retained few, if any, ideas of the religion of the whites. I can
remember that this address of the chief to the Great Spirit appeared to
me impressive and solemn, and the Indians seemed all somewhat impressed
by it, or perhaps by their situation, being exposed on the broad lake
in their frail bark canoes they could not but feel their dependance
upon that Power which controls the winds and the waves. They rowed and
paddled, silently and diligently, and long before night arrived in
safety at the Grand Portage; the lake having remained perfectly calm. At
this time I was suffered to go entirely at large, being subjected to no
manner of restraint, and might, at almost any time, have made my escape
from the Indians; but I believed my father and all my friends had been
murdered, and I remembered the laborious and confined manner in which I
must live if I returned among the whites; where, having no friends, and
being destitute of money or property, I must, of necessity, be exposed
to all the ills of extreme poverty. Among the Indians, I saw that those
who were too young, or too weak to hunt for themselves, were sure to find
some one to provide for them. I was also rising in the estimation of the
Indians, and becoming as one of them. I therefore chose, for the present,
to remain with them, but always intended, at some future time, to return
and live among the whites.

We were now again at the Portage, whence we had been twice removed by the
friendly hospitality of the Muskegoes; and were left to consult about
the course we would pursue. When our mother had at length made up her
mind to continue on to Red River, according to her original plan, she
heard, by one of the traders, that her son-in-law, the husband of one of
her daughters, who had continued on from Moose Lake, at the time we had
been compelled to stop with Ke-wa-tin, had been killed by an old man in
a drunken frolic. The traders had brought the widow as far as Rainy Lake
whence she had sent word to her mother that she wished her to come and
join her. This was an additional inducement to us to go to Red River, and
we determined to proceed without delay.

Our canoe had been lent to the traders, and was sent on the route towards
Red River to bring packs. As they were about to despatch more canoes,
Net-no-kwa requested they would distribute us about, one or two to each
canoe, so that we might go on until we should meet our own canoe. After a
day or two, we met the Frenchmen with our canoe; but as they refused to
give it up, the old woman took it from them without their consent, put it
in the water, and put our baggage on board. The Frenchmen dared not make
any resistance. I have never met with an Indian, either man or woman,
who had so much authority as Net-no-kwa. She could accomplish whatever
she pleased, either with the traders or the Indians; probably, in some
measure, because she never attempted to do any thing which was not right
and just.

At Rainy Lake, we found the old woman’s daughter in the care of some
Indians, but very poor. Net-no-kwa conferred long with her on our
situation; she talked of all our misfortunes and losses, and the death
of her husband and son. She knew, she said, that her two little sons who
remained, were young, but were they not becoming able to do something;
and that, since she had come so far, for the purpose of going to Red
River to hunt beaver, she was not willing to turn back. My brother and
myself, although deeply interested in these consultations, were not
allowed to have any voice.

It being determined that we should go to Red River, we continued
on to the Lake of the Woods. This lake is called by the Indians
Pub-be-kwaw-waung-gaw Sau-gi-e-gun, “the Lake of the Sand Hills.” Why it
is called “Lake of the Woods” by the whites, I cannot tell, as there is
not much wood about it. Here we were much endangered by high winds, the
waves dashing into our canoe so fast that I was scarcely able, with a
large kettle, to throw out the water as fast as it came in.

In the fall of the year, we arrived at the Lake of Dirty Water, called
by the whites Lake Winnepeg.[10] Here old Net-no-kwa, being much cast
down with grief, in consequence of all the misfortunes and losses she
had encountered since she left her own country, began to drink, which
was unusual with her, and soon became drunk. We, being foolish, and
unaccustomed to direct our own motions, seeing that the wind rose fair,
determined to place the old woman in the canoe, and cross to the other
side of the lake. The traders advised us not to attempt it in the present
state of the wind, but we would not listen to them, and accordingly
pushed off and raised our sail. As the wind blew directly off the shore,
the waves did not there run high; but we had only been out a short time,
when they began to dash with great violence into the canoe. We now found
it would be more dangerous to attempt to turn about, and regain the shore
we had left, than to continue on directly before the wind. At this time
the sun went down, and the wind began to blow more violently. We looked
upon ourselves as lost, and began to cry. At this time, the old woman
began to wake from her drunken fit, and presently becoming conscious of
our situation, she sprang up, and first addressing a loud and earnest
prayer to the Great Spirit, she applied herself, with surprising
activity, to the use of her paddle, at the same time encouraging us,
and directing Wa-me-gon-a-biew how to steer the canoe. But at length,
as we came near the shore, and she began to recognize the spot we were
approaching, she also began to manifest much alarm; and said to us, “my
children, it appears to me we must all perish, for this shore before us
is full of large rocks lying in the water, and our canoe must be dashed
in pieces: nevertheless, we can do nothing but to run directly on, and
though we cannot see where the rocks are, we may possibly pass between
them.” And it so happened, our canoe being thrown high upon a spot of
smooth sand beach, where it first struck. We immediately sprang out, and
soon dragged it up beyond the reach of the waves. We encamped, and had no
sooner kindled a fire, than we began to laugh at the old woman for being
drunk, and for the apprehension she had manifested after she waked. In
the morning, we perceived that the shore was such as she had described,
and that in utter darkness, we had landed, where, with such a wind, the
boldest Indian would not venture by day light. We remained at this camp
a great part of the next day, which happened to be calm and fair, to dry
our baggage, and towards evening, embarked, and ran for the mouth of Red
River. We did not enter the mouth of the river until late at night, and
perceiving a lodge, we landed, and laid down without kindling a fire, or
making any noise to disturb the people, as we did not know who they were.
In the morning they came and waked us, and we found them to be the family
of one of the brothers of Taw-ga-we-ninne, and the very people we had
come to seek.


    Friendly reception among the Indians on the Assinneboin—Prairie
    Portage—Net-no-kwa’s dream, and its fulfillment—meet with
    Pe-shau-ba, a distinguished warrior of the Ottawwaws—journey
    to Kau-wau-koning, and residence there—return towards Lake
    Superior—war-party against the Minnetauks—mouth of Assinneboin

After a few days, we started to go up the Red River, and in two days
came to the mouth of the Assinneboin where we found great numbers of
Ojibbeways and Ottawwaws encamped. As soon as we arrived the chiefs
met to take our case into consideration, and to agree on some method
of providing for us. “These, our relations,” said one of the chiefs,
“have come to us from a distant country. These two little boys are not
able to provide for them, and we must not suffer them to be in want
among us.” Then one man after another offered to hunt for us; and they
agreed, also, since we had started to come for the purpose of hunting
beaver, and as our hunters had died on the way, that each should give
us some part of what they should kill. We then all started together to
go up the Assinneboin river, and the first night we camped among the
buffalo. In the morning, I was allowed to go out with some Indians who
went to hunt buffaloes. We killed one of four bulls which we found. We
continued to ascend the Assinneboin about ten days, killing many bears
as we travelled along. The Assinneboin is broad, shallow, and crooked,
and the water, like that of the Red River, is turbid; but the bottom is
sandy, while that of Red River is commonly muddy. The place to which we
went on the Assinneboin is seventy miles distant by land from the mouth;
but the distance by water is greater. The banks of the river on both
sides, are covered with poplar and white oak, and some other trees which
grow to considerable size. The prairies, however, are not far distant,
and sometimes come into the immediate bank of the river. We stopped at
a place called Prairie Portage where the Indians directed the trader
who was with them to build his house and remain during the winter. We
left all our canoes and went up into the country to hunt for beaver
among the small streams. The Indians gave Wa-me-gon-a-biew and myself a
little creek where were plenty of beaver and on which they said none but
ourselves should hunt. My mother gave me three traps, and instructed me
how to set them by the aid of a string tied around the spring, as I was
not yet able to set them with my hands as the Indians did. I set my three
traps, and on the following morning found beavers in two of them. Being
unable to take them out myself, I carried home the beavers and traps,
one at a time, on my back, and had the old woman to assist me. She was,
as usual, highly gratified and delighted at my success. She had always
been kind to me, often taking my side when the Indians would attempt to
ridicule or annoy me. We remained in this place about three months, in
which time we were as well provided for as any of the band; for if our
own game was not sufficient, we were sure to be supplied by some of our
friends as long as any thing could be killed. The people that remained
to spend the winter with us were two lodges, our own making three; but
we were at length joined by four lodges of Crees. These people are the
relations of the Ojibbeways and Ottawwaws, but their language is somewhat
different, so as not to be readily understood. Their country borders upon
that of the Assinneboins, or Stone Roasters; and though they are not
relations, nor natural allies, they are sometimes at peace, and are more
or less intermixed with each other.

After we had remained about three months in this place, game began to
be scarce and we all suffered from hunger. The chief man of our band
was called As-sin-ne-boi-nainse, (the Little Assinneboin,) and he now
proposed to us all to move as the country where we were was exhausted.
The day on which we were to commence our removal was fixed upon, but
before it arrived our necessities became extreme. The evening before
the day on which we intended to move, my mother talked much of all our
misfortunes and losses, as well as of the urgent distress under which we
were then labouring. At the usual hour I went to sleep, as did all the
younger part of the family; but I was wakened again by the loud praying
and singing of the old woman, who continued her devotions through great
part of the night. Very early on the following morning she called us all
to get up, and put on our moccasins and be ready to move. She then called
Wa-me-gon-a-biew to her, and said to him, in rather a low voice, “My
son, last night I sung and prayed to the Great Spirit, and when I slept,
there came to me one like a man, and said to me, ‘Net-no-kwa, to-morrow
you shall eat a bear. There is, at a distance from the path you are to
travel to-morrow, and in such a direction, (which she described to him,)
a small round meadow, with something like a path leading from it; in
that path there is a bear.’ Now, my son, I wish you to go to that place,
without mentioning to any one what I have said, and you will certainly
find the bear, as I have described to you.” But the young man, who was
not particularly dutiful, or apt to regard what his mother said, going
out of the lodge, spoke sneeringly to the other Indians of the dream.
“The old woman,” said he, “tells me we are to eat a bear to-day; but
I do not know who is to kill it.” The old woman, hearing him, called
him in, and reproved him; but she could not prevail upon him to go to
hunt. The Indians, accordingly, all moved off towards the place where
they were to encamp that night. The men went first by themselves, each
carrying some article of baggage; and when they arrived where the camp
was to be placed, they threw down their loads and went to hunt. Some
of the boys, and I among them, who accompanied the men, remained with
this baggage until the women should come up. I had my gun with me, and I
continued to think of the conversation I had heard between my mother and
Wa-me-gon-a-biew, respecting her dream. At length, I resolved to go in
search of the place she had spoken of, and without mentioning to any one
my design, I loaded my gun as for a bear and set off on our back track.
I soon met a woman belonging to one of the brothers of Taw-ga-we-ninne,
and of course my aunt. This woman had shown little friendship for us,
considering us as a burthen upon her husband, who sometimes gave
something for our support; she had also often ridiculed me. She asked
me immediately what I was doing on the path, and whether I expected
to kill Indians, that I came there with my gun. I made her no answer;
and thinking I must be not far from the place where my mother had told
Wa-me-gon-a-biew to leave the path, I turned off, continuing carefully
to regard all the directions she had given. At length, I found what
appeared at some former time to have been a pond. It was a small, round,
open place in the woods, now grown up with grass and some small bushes.
This I thought must be the meadow my mother had spoken of; and examining
it around, I came to an open place in the bushes, where, it is probable,
a small brook ran from the meadow; but the snow was now so deep that I
could see nothing of it. My mother had mentioned that when she saw the
bear in her dream she had, at the same time, seen a smoke rising from
the ground. I was confident this was the place she had indicated, and
I watched long, expecting to see the smoke; but wearied at length with
waiting, I walked a few paces into the open place, resembling a path,
when I unexpectedly fell up to my middle into the snow. I extricated
myself without difficulty, and walked on; but remembering that I had
heard the Indians speak of killing bears in their holes, it occurred to
me that it might be a bear’s hole into which I had fallen, and looking
down into it, I saw the head of a bear lying close to the bottom of
the hole. I placed the muzzle of my gun nearly between his eyes, and
discharged it. As soon as the smoke cleared away, I took a piece of a
stick and thrust it into the eyes and into the wound in the head of the
bear, and being satisfied that he was dead, I endeavoured to lift him out
of the hole; but being unable to do this, I returned home, following the
track I had made in coming out. As I came near the camp, where the squaws
had, by this time, set up the lodges, I met the same woman I had seen
in going out, and she immediately began again to ridicule me. “Have you
killed a bear, that you come back so soon, and walk so fast?” I thought
to myself, “how does she know that I have killed a bear?” But I passed
by her without saying anything, and went into my mother’s lodge. After
a few minutes, the old woman said, “My son, look in that kettle, and
you will find a mouthful of beaver meat, which a man gave me since you
left us in the morning. You must leave half of it for Wa-me-gon-a-biew,
who has not yet returned from hunting, and has eaten nothing to-day.” I
accordingly ate the beaver meat, and when I had finished it, observing
an opportunity when she stood by herself, I stepped up to her and
whispered in her ear, “My mother, I have killed a bear.” “What do you
say, my son?” said she. “I have killed a bear.” “Are you sure you have
killed him?” “Yes.” “Is he quite dead?” “Yes.” She watched my face for
a moment, and then caught me in her arms, hugging and kissing me with
great earnestness, and for a long time. I then told her what my aunt had
said to me, both going and returning, and this being told to her husband
when he returned, he not only reproved her for it, but gave her a severe
flogging. The bear was sent for, and, as being the first I had killed,
was cooked all together, and the hunters of the whole band invited to
feast with us, according to the custom of the Indians. The same day,
one of the Crees killed a bear and a moose, and gave a large share of
the meat to my mother. For some time we had plenty of game in our new
residence. Here Wa-me-gon-a-biew killed his first buffalo, on which
occasion my mother gave another feast to all the band. Soon afterwards
the Crees left us to go to their own country. They were friendly and
hospitable people, and we were sorry to part with them; but we soon
afterwards went down to the place where we had left the trader, and
arrived there on the last day of December, as I remember the following
was new year’s day.

Near this trading-house we remained for sometime by ourselves; at
length, we received a message from the trader, and on going up found
there Pe-shau-ba, a celebrated war-chief of the Ottawwaws, who had come
from Lake Huron several years before. He, it appeared, heard in his own
country of an old Ottawwaw woman, who, with a family of two women, two
boys, and three little children, having lost their men by death, were
on the Assinneboin, and suffering from poverty. He had come, with his
three companions, (which were what the Indians commonly call his young
men, though one of them was, perhaps, older than himself.) These were,
Waus-so, (the lightning,) Sag-git-to, (he that scares all men,) and
Sa-ning-wub, (he that stretches his wings.) The old man, Waus-so, who was
himself distinguished as a warrior, had fallen sick, and had been left
at some distance behind. Pe-shau-ba had traced us from place to place,
by the reports of the Indians, and at last found us at Prairie Portage.
He was a large and very handsome old man, and when we were called in,
he immediately recognized Net-no-kwa as a relative. But looking round
upon us, he said, “Who are these?” She answered, “They are my sons.”
He looked at me very closely, and said, “Come here, my brother.” Then
raising his blanket, he showed me the mark of a deep and dangerous wound
on the chest. “Do you remember, my young brother, when we were playing
together, with guns and spears, and you gave me this wound?” Seeing my
embarrassment, he continued to amuse himself for some time, by describing
the circumstances attending the wound, at the time he received it. He at
last relieved me from some suspense and anxiety, by saying, it was not
myself who had wounded him, but one of my brothers, at a place which he
mentioned. He spoke of Ke-wa-tin, who would have been of about my age, if
he had lived, and inquired particularly to the time and the circumstances
of my capture, which had happened after he left Lake Huron.

This was about new year’s day, and soon after we started together for
the country of Pe-shau-ba, which was at a great distance. The snow was
deep, and our route lying, for the most part, through open prairies,
we were not able to travel when the wind was high. When we commenced
our journey, we were hungry and in want of provisions; but soon found
plenty of buffalo, which were very fat and good. Notwithstanding the
snow was deep, and the weather severe, the buffalo could still feed by
pushing aside the snow with their heads, and thus coming at the grass
below. We had thrown away our mats of Puk-kwi,[11] the journey being
too long to admit of carrying them. In bad weather we used to make a
little lodge, and cover it with three or four fresh buffalo hides, and
these being soon frozen, made a strong shelter from wind and snow. In
calm weather, we commonly encamped with no other covering than our
blankets. In all this journey, Pe-shau-ba and Sa-nin-kwuh carried each
one of our sister’s little children on their backs. Thus we travelled
on as diligently as the weather would permit for about two months and
a half. In the middle of our journey, we passed the trading-house and
fort at Mouse River. The general direction of our route was a little
north of west till we arrived, at last, at a place called Kau-wau-ko-mig
Sah-kie-gun, Clear Water Lake, from which runs a small stream, called
Sas-kaw-ja-wun, (Swift Water;) but this is not the source or a part of
the great river Saskawjawun, (Saskutchawin,) which is farther towards
the north. Clear Water Lake is not, however, the principal source of
the Little Saskawjawun, the head of that river lying far to the north.
On the bank of this lake was the small log hut of Pe-shau-ba, where he
had lived, with the three men I have mentioned, for some years. He had
left his wife at Lake Huron; and the other men, if they had ever been
married, had no women with them. Immediately on his arrival, he opened
his sun-je-gwun, and took out large quantities of beaver skins, dried
meat, dressed skins, etc. etc. all of which he delivered to the women,
saying, “We have long been our own squaws, but we must be so no longer.
It must now be your business to dress our skins, dry our meat, make our
moccasins, etc.” The old woman herself took charge particularly of the
property of Pe-shau-ba, whom she called her son, and treated as such. The
daughter, and the daughter-in-law, made it their business to look after
the other three men. Wa-me-gon-a-biew and myself were, as heretofore,
under the particular care of our mother. In hunting, I was the companion
of Pe-shau-ba, who was always kind to me, and seemed to take pleasure
in teaching me how to become a great hunter. It must have been late in
winter when we arrived at Clear Water Lake; but the weather was still so
cold that water, when carried out of our lodge, would freeze immediately.
When going to hunt, we started long before the sun rose, and returned
long after it set. At noon, the sun would scarce rise to the tops of the
trees, though they are very low there.

The country where we were was mostly prairie, with some low cedar and
pine trees; but there are plenty of beavers and other game. It is not
very far distant from the country of the Mandans, on the Missouri. From
Mouse River a man may walk to the Mandan villages in four days. Just
before the leaves began to appear in the spring, we started with all our
peltries, and large quantities of dried meat, and dried beaver tails, to
come down to the trading-house, on Mouse River. In that country there
is no birch or cedar fit for making canoes, so that we were compelled
to make one for our journey of green moose skins, which, being sewed
together with great care, and stretched over a proper frame, then
suffered to dry, make a very strong and good canoe; but in warm weather
it will not last long. In a canoe of this kind, which would carry nearly
half as much as a common Mackinac boat, (perhaps five tons,) we all
embarked with whatever belonged to us, the intention of Net-no-kwa and
Pe-shau-ba being to return to Lake Huron.

We descended the Little Saskawjawun for several days. On this river we
found a village of Assinneboins, with whom we stopped a short time. None
of us could understand them except Waus-so, who had somewhere learned
to speak their language. When we came from the Little Saskawjawun into
the Assinneboin river, we came to the rapids, where was a village of one
hundred and fifty lodges of Assinneboins, and some Crees. We now began
to feel the want of fresh provisions, and determined to stop a day or
two to kill sturgeons at this place, where we found a plenty of them. We
went and stood near the Assinneboins, and saw an old man, when a sturgeon
had just been drawn out of the water, cut off the pendant part of his
mouth, and eat it without cooking, or any kind of condiment. These people
generally appeared to us filthy and brutal. Something of our dislike may
perhaps be attributed to the habitually unfriendly feeling which exists
among the Ojibbeways for the Abbwoi-nug.[12] In two days from these
rapids we came to Monk River, where both the Northwest and the Hudson’s
Bay Company have trading-houses. Here Pe-shau-ba and his friends began
to drink, and in a short time expended all the peltries they had made
in their long and successful hunt. We sold one hundred beaver skins in
one day for liquor. The price was then six beaver skins for a quarter of
rum, but they put a great deal of water with it. After drinking here for
some time, we began to make birch canoes, still intending to continue on
our journey. But at this time the Assinneboins,[13] and Crees, and all
the Indians of this part of the country, with whom the Mandans had made
peace, were invited by the Mandans to come to their country, and join in
a war against the people called by the Ojibbeways A-gutch-a-ninne,[14]
who live two days distant from the Mandans. Waus-so, hearing of this,
determined to join the war-party, then assembling at Mouse River. “I
will not,” said he, “return to my country before I get scarred once
more. I will see the people who have killed my brothers.” Pe-shau-ba and
Net-no-kwa endeavoured to dissuade him, but he would not listen, and
Pe-shau-ba himself presently began to show evidence of excitement at
witnessing the enthusiasm of his companion. After deliberating a day or
two, he said to the old woman, “I cannot consent to return to the country
of the Ottawwaws without Waus-so. Sa-ning-wub and Sag-git-to also wish
to go with him to visit the neighbors of the Mandans. I will go also,
and I wish you to wait for me at Lake Winnipeg, where I shall be in the
fall, and you will not fail to have a keg of rum in readiness, as I shall
be very thirsty when I return.” They left the canoes unfinished, and all
went off together with the war-party. Wa-me-gon-a-biew also accompanied
them, leaving me only with the three women and three children. But
this expedition, for which the Mandans had called assistance from such
remote regions, failed for the want of concert and agreement between the
different bands. Some of these being the hereditary enemies of the rest,
quarrels were sure to arise, and the project was thus disconcerted, the
A-gutch-a-ninne being left at peace in their own village.

After they had gone, I started with Net-no-kwa and the remainder of
the family for Lake Winnipeg. We were compelled still to use the old
moose-skin canoe, as none of the birch ones were finished, and we did not
wish to remain any longer at Mouse River. We had left the trading-house
but a short time, when we discovered a sturgeon, which, by some accident,
had got into such shoal water, on a sand-bar, that considerable part of
his back was to be seen above the surface. I jumped out of the canoe, and
killed him with little difficulty; and as this was the first sturgeon I
had ever taken, the old woman thought it necessary to celebrate the feat
of Oskenetahgawin, or first fruits, though, as we were quite alone, we
had no guests to assist us.

The mouth of the Assinneboin is a place much frequented by the Sioux
war-parties, where they lie concealed and fire upon such as are passing.
We did not approach this place until dark, intending to pass through late
at night; it was, accordingly, after midnight, when carefully avoiding
either shore, we floated silently out into Red River. The night was dark,
and we could not discern distinctly any object on shore; but we had
scarce entered Red River when the silence was broken by the hooting of
an owl on the left bank of the Assinneboin. This was quickly answered by
another on the right bank, and presently by a third on the side of Red
River, opposite the mouth. Net-no-kwa said, in a whisper scarce audible,
“We are discovered,” and directed to put the canoe about, with the utmost
silence. In obedience to her direction, we ascended with the utmost
caution, endeavouring to keep near the middle of Red River. I was in the
bow of the canoe, and keeping my head as low as I could I was carefully
watching the surface of the water before us, hoping to be able to see
and avoid any canoe, or other object, which might approach, when I saw a
little ripple on the surface of the river, following a low, black object,
which I took to be the head of a man, swimming cautiously across before
us. I pointed this out to the women, and it was immediately agreed that
we should pursue, and, if possible, kill the man in the water. For this
purpose, a strong sturgeon-spear was put into my hand, and we commenced
the pursuit; but the goose, (for it was one, with a brood of young ones,)
soon became alarmed, and flew. When we perceived our mistake, we retraced
our way up the river, with somewhat less of fear; but could by no means
venture to turn about, and go on our way. I was, I remember, vexed at
what I thought the groundless fears of the women; but I do not know, to
this day, whether a war-party of Sioux, or three owls, frightened us
back. We returned several miles, and expecting, in about ten days, that
the traders would be on their way down, we determined to wait for them.
Here we caught great numbers of young geese, swans, and ducks; and I
killed an elk, which, as it was my first, must be celebrated by a feast,
though there were none but our own family to partake of it.

With the traders who came, according to our expectation, we went down
to the house at Lake Winnipeg, where we remained two months. When they
were about to return to the Assinneboin, we purchased a bark canoe, and
accompanied them. We had a good many beaver skins, and Net-no-kwa bought
a keg of rum with some of them for Pe-shau-ba. The keg held about five
or six gallons, and we gave six beaver skins for a quart. Many of these
beavers I had taken myself. I have killed as many as one hundred in a
course of a month, but then I did not know the value of them.


    Elk hunting—beaver and buffalo hunting—endangered in killing
    a buffalo cow—Fall Indians—return to Rainy Lake—Swamp River
    and Portage—the Begwionusko River and Lake—honesty and good
    faith in the intercourse of the Indians—hospitality—sufferings
    from hunger—Red River—loss of packs—supposed dishonesty of
    traders—rapacity of the traders of the N. W. company—disasters
    following the loss of our peltries.

In the Assinneboin river, at one or two days above the Prairie Portage,
is a place called Ke-new-kau-neshe way-boant, (where they throw down the
gray eagle,) at which the Indians frequently stop. Here we saw, as we
were passing, some little stakes in the ground, with pieces of birch bark
attached to them, and on two of these the figure of a bear, and on the
others, those of other animals. Net-no-kwa immediately recognized the
totems of Pe-shau-ba, Waus-so, and their companions. These had been left
to inform us that Pe-shau-ba had been at this place, and as directions
to enable us to find them. We therefore left the traders, and taking the
course indicated by the marks which Pe-shau-ba had caused to be made,
we found him and his party at the distance of two days from the river.
They had returned from the abortive war expedition, to the trading house
on Mouse River, finished the canoes which they had left incomplete, and
descended along to Ke-new-kau-neshe way-boant, where, knowing there were
good hunting grounds, they had determined on remaining. We found at their
camp plenty of game; they had killed, also, a great number of beavers.
About this place elks were numberous, and it was now the rutting season.
I remember one day, Pe-shau-ba sent me with the two young women, to bring
some meat from an elk he had killed at some distance. The women, finding
that the elk was large and fat, determined on remaining to dry the meat
before they carried it home. I took a load of meat, and started for
home by myself. I had my gun with me, and perceiving there were plenty
of elk, I loaded it, and concealing myself in a small thicket of bushes,
began to imitate the call of the female elk; presently a large buck
came bounding so directly towards the spot where I was, and with such
violence, that becoming alarmed for my own safety, I dropped my load and
fled; he seeing me, turned and ran in an opposite direction. Remembering
that the Indians would ridicule me for such conduct, I determined to make
another attempt, and not suffer any apprehension for my own safety to be
the cause of another failure. So hiding myself again, in a somewhat more
carefully chosen place, I repeated my call from time to time, till at
length another buck came up, and him I killed. In this manner, great part
of the day had been consumed, and I now perceived it was time to hasten
home with my load.

The old woman becoming uneasy at my long absence, sent Wa-me-gon-a-biew
to look for me. He discovered me as I was coming out of a piece of woods
into a large prairie. He had on a black capot, which, when he saw me, he
turned over his head in such a manner as to make himself resemble a bear.
At first I took it to be a common black bear, and sought a chance to
shoot him; but it so happened that he was in such a situation as enabled
him to see me, and I knew he would certainly have turned and fled from me
had it been a black bear. As he continued to advance directly towards me,
I concluded it must be a grizly bear, so I turned and began to run from
him; the more swiftly I ran, the more closely he seemed to follow. Though
much frightened, I remembered Pe-shau-ba’s advice, never to fire upon one
of these animals unless trees were near into which I could escape; also,
in case of being pursued by one, never to fire until he came very close
to me. Three times I turned, and raised my piece to fire, but thinking
him still too far off, turned and ran again. Fear must have blinded my
eyes, or I should have seen that it was not a bear. At length, getting
between him and the lodge, I ran with such speed as to outstrip him, when
I heard a voice behind me, which I knew to be that of Wa-me-gon-a-biew.
I looked in vain for the bear, and he soon convinced me that I owed
all my terror to the disguise which he had effected, with the aid only
of an old black coat. This affair being related to the old people when
we came home, they reproved Wa-me-gon-a-biew; his mother telling him,
that if I had shot him in that disguise, I should have done right, and
according to the custom of the Indians she could have found no fault with
me for so doing. We continued here hunting beaver, and killing great
numbers until the ice became too thick; we then went to the prairies in
pursuit of buffaloes. When the snow began to have a crust upon it, the
men said they must leave me with the women, as they were about to go to
Clear Water Lake to make canoes, and to hunt beaver on their way down.
But previous to their going, they said they would kill something for us
to live on while they were gone. Waus-so, who was a great hunter, went
out by himself, and killed one buffalo; but in the night the weather
became very cold and stormy, and the buffalo came in to take shelter in
the woods where we had our camp. Early in the morning, Net-no-kwa called
us up, saying, there was a large herd close by the lodge. Pe-shau-ba
and Waus-so, with Wa-me-gon-a-biew, Sa-ning-wub, and Sag-git-to crept
out, and took stations so as nearly to surround the herd. Me they would
not suffer to go out, and they laughed at me when they saw me putting
my gun in readiness; but old Net-no-kwa, who was ever ready to befriend
me, after they were gone, led me to a stand not far from the lodge,
near which, her sagacity taught her, the herd would probably run. The
Indians fired, but all failed to kill; the herd came past my stand, and
I had the good fortune to kill a large cow, which was my first, much
to the satisfaction of my mother. Shortly afterwards, having killed a
considerable number of buffaloes, the Indians left us; myself, the old
woman, one of the young women, and three children, six in all, with no
one to provide for them but myself, and I was then very young. We dried
considerable of the meat the Indians had killed, and this lasted us for
some time; but I soon found that I was able to kill buffaloes, and for
a long time we had no want of food. In one instance, an old cow which I
had wounded, though she had no calf, ran at me, and I was barely able
to escape from her by climbing into a tree. She was enraged, not so much
by the wound I had given her, as by the dogs; and it is, I believe, very
rare that a cow runs at a man, unless she has been worried by dogs. We
made sugar this spring, ten miles above Mouse River Fort. About this time
I was much endangered by the breaking of the ice. The weather had become
mild, and the beavers began to come up through the holes on to the ice,
and sometimes to go on shore. It was my practice to watch these holes,
and shoot them as soon as they came up: once, having killed one, I ran
hastily up on the ice to get him, and broke in; my snow shoes became
entangled with some brush on the bottom, and had nearly dragged me under,
but by great exertion I at length escaped. Buffaloes were so numerous
about this place, that I often killed them with a bow and arrow, though I
hunted them on foot, and with no other aid than that of dogs well trained
and accustomed to hunt.

When the leaves began to appear upon the trees, Pe-shau-ba and the men
returned in birch canoes, bringing many beaver skins and other valuable
peltries. Old Net-no-kwa was now anxious to return to Lake Huron, as
was Pe-shau-ba; but Waus-so and Sa-ning-wub would not return, and
Pe-shau-ba was unwilling to part with them. Sag-git-to had for some
time been very sick, having a large ulcer or abscess near his navel.
After having drank for some days, he had a violent pain in his belly,
which at length swelled and broke. Pe-shau-ba said to the old woman,
“it is not good that Sag-git-to should die here, at a distance from all
his friends; and since we see he cannot live much longer, I think it
best for you to take him and the little children, and return to Lake
Huron. You may be able to reach the rapids, (Saut de St. Marie,) before
Sag-git-to dies.” Conformably to this advice, our family was divided.
Pe-shau-ba, Waus-so, and Sa-ning-wub remained; Net-no-kwa, and the two
other women, with Sag-git-to, Wa-me-gon-a-biew, and myself, with a little
girl the old woman had bought, and three little children, started to
return to Lake Huron. The little girl was brought from the country of
the Bahwetego-weninnewug, the Fall Indians, by a war party of Ojibbeways
from whom Net-no-kwa had bought her. The Fall Indians live near the
Rocky Mountains, and wander much with the Black Feet; their language
being unlike that of both the Sioux and the Ojibbeways. These last, and
the Crees, are more friendly with the Black Feet than they are with the
Fall Indians. The little Bahwetig girl that Net-no-kwa had bought, was
now ten years of age, but having been some time among the Ojibbeways, had
learned their language.

When we came to Rainy Lake, we had ten packs of beaver of forty skins
each. Net-no-kwa sold some other peltries for rum, and was drunk for
a day or two. We here met some of the trader’s canoes on their way to
Red River; and Wa-me-gon-a-biew, who was now eighteen years old, being
unwilling to return to Lake Huron, determined to go back to the north
with the trader’s people. The old woman said much to dissuade him, but
he jumped into one of the canoes as they were about to start off, and
although, at the request of the old woman, they endeavoured to drive
him out, he would not leave the canoe. Net-no-kwa was much distressed,
but could not make up her mind to lose her only son; she determined on
returning with him.

The packs of beaver she would not leave with the traders, not having
sufficient confidence in their honesty. We therefore took them to a
remote place in the woods, where we made a sunjegwun, or deposite, in
the usual manner. We then returned to the Lake of the Woods. From this
lake the Indians have a road to go to Red River which the white men never
follow; this is by the way of the Muskeek, or swamp carrying place. We
went up a river which the Indians call Muskeego-ne-gum-me-we-see-bee, or
Swamp River, for several days; we then dragged our canoes across a swamp
for one day. This swamp is only of moss and some small bushes on the
top of the water, so that it quakes to a great distance as people walk
over it. Then we put our canoes into a small stream, which they called
Begwionusk, from the begwionusk, or cow parsley, which grows upon it:
this we descended into a small Sahgiegun,[15] called by the same name.
This pond has no more than two or three feet of water, and great part
of it is not one foot deep; but at this time its surface was covered
with ducks, geese, swans, and other birds. Here we remained a long time,
and made four packs of beaver skins. When the leaves began to fall,
Sag-git-to died. We were now quite alone, no Indians or white men being
within four or five days’ journey from us. Here we had packs to deposit,
as we were about to leave the country; and the ground being too swampy
to admit of burying them in the usual manner, we made a sunjegwun of
logs, so tight that a mouse could not enter it, in which we left all our
packs and other property which we could not carry. If any of the Indians
of this distant region had found it in our absence, they would not have
broken it up; and we did not fear that the traders would penetrate to so
poor and solitary a place. Indians who live remote from the whites have
not learned to value their peltries so highly that they will be guilty
of stealing them from each other, and at the time of which I speak, and
in the country were I was, I have often known a hunter leave his traps
for many days in the woods without visiting them or feeling any anxiety
about their safety. It would often happen, that one man having finished
his hunt, and left his traps behind him, another would say to him, “I am
going to hunt in such a direction, where are your traps?” When he has
used them, another, and sometimes four or five, take them in succession;
but in the end, they are sure to return to the right owner.

When the snow had fallen, and the weather began to be cold, so that
we could no longer kill beaver, we began to suffer from hunger.
Wa-me-gon-a-biew was now our principal dependance, and he exerted himself
greatly to supply our wants. In one of his remote excursions in pursuit
of game, he met with a lodge of Ojibbeways, who, though they had plenty
of meat, and knew that he and his friends were in distress, gave him
nothing except what he wanted to eat at night. He remained with them all
night, and in the morning started for home. On his way he killed a young
Moose, which was extremely poor. When this small supply was exhausted,
we were compelled to go and encamp with the inhospitable people whom
Wa-me-gon-a-biew had seen. We found them well supplied with meat, but
whatever we procured from them was in exchange for our ornaments of
silver or other articles of value. I mentioned the niggardliness and
inhospitality of these people because I had not before met with such
an instance among the Indians. They are commonly ready to divide what
provisions they have with any who come to them in need. We had been about
three days with these Indians when they killed two Moose. They called
Wa-me-gon-a-biew and me to go after meat, but only gave us the poorest
part of one leg. We bought some fat meat from them, giving them our
silver ornaments. The patience of old Net-no-kwa was at length exhausted,
and she forbade us all to purchase any thing more from them. During
all the time we remained with these people, we were suffering almost
the extremity of hunger. One morning Net-no-kwa rose very early, and
tying on her blanket, took her hatchet and went out. She did not return
that night; but the next day, towards evening, as we were all lying
down inside the lodge, she came in, and shaking Wa-me-gon-a-biew by the
shoulder, said to him, “get up, my son, you are a great runner, and now
let us see with what speed you will go and bring the meat which the Great
Spirit gave me last night. Nearly all night I prayed and sung, and when
I fell asleep near morning, the Spirit came to me, and gave me a bear to
feed my hungry children. You will find him in that little copse of bushes
in the prairie. Go immediately, the bear will not run from you, even
should he see you coming up.”

“No, my mother,” said Wa-me-gon-a-biew, “it is now near evening: the sun
will soon set, and it will not be easy to find the track in the snow.
In the morning Shaw-shaw-wa-ne-ba-se shall take a blanket, and a small
kettle, and in the course of the day I may overtake the bear and kill
him, and my little brother will come up with my blanket, and we can
spend the night where I shall kill him.”

The old woman did not yield to the opinion of the hunter. Altercation and
loud words followed; for Wa-me-gon-a-biew had little reverence for his
mother, and as scarce any other Indian would have done, he ridiculed her
pretensions to an intercourse with the Great Spirit, and particularly,
for having said that the bear would not run if he saw hunters coming.
The old woman was offended; and after reproaching her son, she went out
of the lodge, and told the other Indians her dream, and directed them to
the place where she said the bear would certainly be found. They agreed
with Wa-me-gon-a-biew, that it was too late to go that night; but as
they had confidence in the prayers of the old woman, they lost no time
in following her direction at the earliest appearance of light in the
morning. They found the bear at the place she had indicated, and killed
it without difficulty. He was large and fat, but Wa-me-gon-a-biew, who
accompanied them, received only a small piece for the portion of our
family. The old woman was angry, and not without just cause; for although
she pretended that the bear had been given her by the Great Spirit, and
the place where he lay pointed out to her in a dream, the truth was, she
had tracked him into the little thicket, and then circled it, to see that
he had not gone out. Artifices of this kind, to make her people believe
she had intercourse with the Great Spirit, were, I think, repeatedly
assayed by her.

Our suffering from hunger now compelled us to move; and after we had
eaten our small portion of the bear, we started on snow shoes to go to
Red River, hoping either to meet some Indians or to find some game on the
way. I had now become acquainted with the method of taking rabbits in
snares, and when we arrived at our first camp, I ran forward on the route
I knew we should take on the following day, and placed several snares,
intending to look at them, and take them up as we went on our journey.
After we had supped, for when we were in want of provisions we commonly
ate only at evening, all the food we had remaining was a quart or more of
bear’s grease in a kettle. It was now frozen hard, and the kettle had a
piece of skin tied over it as a cover. In the morning, this, among other
articles, was put on my sled, and I went forward to look at my snares.
Finding one rabbit, I thought I would surprise my mother to make a laugh;
so I took the rabbit, and put him alive under the cover of the kettle of
bear’s grease. At night, after we had encamped, I watched her when she
went to open the kettle to get us something to eat, expecting the rabbit
would jump out; but was much disappointed to find, that notwithstanding
the extreme cold weather, the grease was dissolved, and the little animal
nearly drowned. The old woman scolded me very severely at the time; but
for many years afterwards, she used to talk and laugh of this rabbit, and
his appearance when she opened the kettle. She continued also to talk, as
long as she lived, of the niggardly conduct of the Indians we had then
seen. After travelling some days, we discovered traces of hunters, and
were at length so fortunate as to find the head of a buffalo which they
had left. This relieved us from the distress of hunger, and we followed
on in their trail, until we came to the encampment of some of our friends
on Red River.

This was a considerable band of Crees, under a chief called
Assin-ne-boi-nainse, (the Little Assinneboin,) and his son-in-law,
Sin-a-peg-a-gun. They received us in a very cordial and friendly
manner, gave us plenty to eat, and supplied all our urgent wants. After
we had remained with them about two months, buffalo and other game
became scarce, and the whole encampment was suffering from hunger.
Wa-me-gon-a-biew and myself started to cross the prairie, one day’s
journey, to a stream called Pond River. We found an old bull, so poor and
old that hair would not grow upon him; we could eat only the tongue. We
had travelled very far, in the course of the day, and were much overcome
with fatigue. The wind was high, and the snow driving violently. In a
vast extent of the plain, which we overlooked, we could see no wood, but
some small oak bushes, scarce as high as a man’s shoulders; but in this
poor cover we were compelled to encamp. The small and green stalks of
the oaks were, with the utmost difficulty, kindled, and made but a poor
fire. When the fire had remained some time in one place, and the ground
under it become dry, we removed the brands and coals, and lay down upon
the warm ashes. We spent the night without sleep, and the next morning,
though the weather had become more severe, the wind having risen, we
started to return home. It was a hard day’s walk, and as we were weak
through hunger and cold, it was late when we reached the lodge. As we
approached home, Wa-me-gon-a-biew was more able to walk fast than I was,
and as he turned back to look at me, we perceived, at the same time, that
each of our faces were frozen. When we came nearly in sight of home, as
I was not able to walk much farther, he left me, and went to the lodge,
and sent some of the women to help me to get home. Our hands and faces
were much frozen; but as we had good moccasins, our feet were not at
all injured. As hunger continued in the camp, we found it necessary to
separate, and go in different directions. Net-no-kwa determined to go
with her family to the trading-house of Mr. Henry, who was since drowned
in the Columbia River by the upsetting of a boat. This place is near
that where a settlement has since been made, called Pembina. With the
people of the fur-traders, we hunted all the remainder of the winter. In
the spring we returned, in company with these lodges of Indians, to the
lake where we had left our canoes. We found all our property safe, and
having got all together from our sunjegwuns, and all that we had brought
from Red River, we had now eleven packs of beaver, of forty skins each,
and ten packs of other skins. It was now our intention to return to Lake
Huron, and to dispose of our peltries at Mackinac. We had still the large
sunjegwun at Rainy Lake, the contents of which, added to all we now had,
would have been sufficient to make us wealthy. It will be recollected,
that in a former season, Net-no-kwa had made a deposit of valuable furs
near the trader’s house on Rainy Lake, not having confidence enough in
the honesty of the trader to leave them in his care. When we returned to
this spot, we found the sunjegwun had been broken up and not a pack or a
skin left in it. We saw a pack in the trader’s house, which we believed
to be one of our own; but we could never ascertain whether they or some
Indians had taken them. The old woman was much irritated, and did not
hesitate to ascribe the theft to the trader.

When we reached the small house at the other side of the Grand Portage
to Lake Superior, the people belonging to the traders urged us to put
our packs in the wagons and have them carried across. But the old
woman knowing if they were once in the hands of the traders it would
be difficult, if not impossible, for her to get them again, refused
to comply with this request. It took us several days to carry all our
packs across, as the old woman would not suffer them to be carried in
the trader’s road. Notwithstanding all this caution, when we came to
this side the portage, Mr. McGilveray and Mr. Shabboyea, by treating
her with much attention, and giving her some wine, induced her to place
all her packs in a room, which they gave her to occupy. At first, they
endeavoured, by friendly solicitation, to induce her to sell her furs;
but finding she was determined not to part with them, they threatened
her; and at length, a young man, the son of Mr. Shabboyea, attempted to
take them by force; but the old man interfered, and ordering his son to
desist, reproved him for his violence. Thus Net-no-kwa was enabled, for
the present, to keep possession of her property, and might have done
so, perhaps, until we should have reached Mackinac had it not been for
the obstinacy of one of her own family. We had not been many days at
the Portage, before there arrived a man called Bit-te-gish-sho, (the
crooked lightning,) who lived at Middle Lake,[16] accompanied by his
small band. With these people Wa-me-gon-a-biew became intimate, and
though none of us, at that time, knew it, he formed an attachment for
one of the daughters of the Crooked Lightning. When we had made all our
preparations to start for the Saut of St. Marie, and the baggage was
in the canoe, Wa-me-gon-a-biew was not to be found. We sought in every
direction for him and it was not until after some days that we heard by
a Frenchman that he was on the other side of the Portage with the family
of Bit-te-gish-sho. I was sent for him but could by no means induce
him to return with me. Knowing his obstinacy, the old woman began to
cry. “If I had but two children,” said she, “I could be willing to lose
this one; but as I have no other, I must go with him.” She gave to the
widow, her sister’s daughter, but who had lived with her from a child,
five packs of beaver, one of which was for her own use; the remaining
four packs, together with sixty otter skins, she told her to take to
Mackinac, and deliver them according to her direction. She came down in
the trader’s canoe, and delivered them to Mr. Lapomboise, of the North
West Company, and took his due bill, as she was told it was, for the
amount. But this paper was subsequently lost by the burning of our lodge,
and from that day to this, Net-no-kwa, or any of her family, have not
received the value of a cent for those skins. The old woman, being much
dissatisfied at the misconduct of her son, the disappointment of her
hopes of returning to Lake Huron, and other misfortunes, began to drink.
_In the course of a single day, she sold one hundred and twenty beaver
skins, with a large quantity of buffalo robes, dressed and smoked skins,
and other articles, for rum._ It was her habit, whenever she drank, to
make drunk all the Indians about her, at least as far as her means would
extend. Of all our large load of peltries, the produce of so many days
of toil, of so many long and difficult journeys, one blanket, and three
kegs of rum only remained, beside the poor and almost worn-out clothing
on our bodies. I did not, on this or any other occasion, witness the
needless and wanton waste of our peltries and other property with that
indifference which the Indians seemed always to feel.

Our return being determined on, we started with Bit-te-gish-sho and some
other Indians for the Lake of the Woods. They assisted us in making a
canoe, crossing portages, etc. At the Lake of the Woods we were overtaken
by cold weather, and Net-no-kwa determined to remain, though most of the
others went on. Here it was found that the attachment of Wa-me-gon-a-biew
to the daughter of Bit-te-gish-sho, was not too strong to be broken; and,
indeed, it is somewhat doubtful whether the anxiety of the traders at the
Grand Portage, to possess themselves of our packs, had not as much to do
in occasioning our return, as any thing on the part of this young man.

After these people had left us, we found our condition too desolate and
hopeless to remain by ourselves, illy provided as we were for the coming
winter. So we repaired to Rainy Lake trading-house, where we obtained a
credit to the amount of one hundred and twenty beaver skins, and thus
furnished ourselves with some blankets, clothing, and other things
necessary for the winter. Here a man joined us, called Waw-be-be-nais-sa,
who proposed to hunt for us, and assist us through the winter. We acceded
cheerfully to his proposal; but soon found he was but a poor hunter, as I
was always able to kill more than he did.


    Medicine hunting—indolence of an Indian hunter, and consequent
    suffering of his family—relief from humane traders—a hunter
    amputates his own arm—moose chase—hospitality of Sah-muk, and
    residence at Rainy Lake—carcase of a buffalo cow watched by
    a bull—severe suffering from cold—my lodge, and most of my
    property, destroyed by fire.

With the deep snow and thick ice, came poverty and hunger. We were no
longer able to take beaver in traps, or by the ordinary methods, or
kill moose, though there were some in the country. It was not until
our sufferings from hunger began to be extreme, that the old woman had
recourse to the expedient of spending a night in prayer and singing. In
the morning she said to her son and Waw-be-be-nais-sa, “Go and hunt, for
the Great Spirit has given me some meat.” But Wa-me-gon-a-biew objected,
as he said the weather was too cold and calm, and no moose could be
approached so near as to shoot him. “I can make a wind,” answered
Net-no-kwa, “and though it is now still and cold, the warm wind shall
come before night. Go, my sons, you cannot fail to kill something, for
in my dream I saw Wa-me-gon-a-biew coming into the lodge with a beaver
and a large load of meat on his back.” At length they started, having
suspended at their heads and on their shot pouches the little sacks of
medicine which the old woman had provided for them with the assurance
that, having them, they could not possibly fail of success. They had not
been a long time absent, when the wind rose from the south, and soon blew
high, the weather, at the same time, becoming warmer. At night, they
returned, loaded with the flesh of a fat moose, and Wa-me-gon-a-biew
with a beaver on his back, as the old woman had seen him in her dream.
As the moose was very large and fat, we moved our lodge to it, and made
preparations for drying the meat. This supply of our wants was, however,
only temporary, though we found a few beaver, and succeeded in killing
some. After about ten days we were again in want of food. As I was one
day hunting for beavers at some distance from our lodge, I found the
tracks of four moose. I broke off the top of a bush, on which they had
been browsing, and carried it home. On entering the lodge, I threw it
down before Waw-be-be-nais-sa, who was lying by the fire, in his usual
indolent manner, saying, “Look at this, good hunter, and go and kill
us some moose.” He took up the branch, and looking at it a moment, he
said, “How many are there?” I answered, “four.” He replied, “I must kill
them.” Early in the morning he started on my road, and killed three of
the moose. He was a good hunter when he could rouse himself to exertion;
but most of the time he was so lazy that he chose to starve rather than
go far to find game, or to run after it when it was found. We had now a
short season of plenty, but soon became hungry again. It often happened,
that for two or three days we had nothing to eat; then a rabbit or two,
or a bird, would afford us a prospect of protracting the suffering of
hunger for a few days longer. We said much to Waw-be-be-nais-sa to try
to rouse him to greater exertion, as we knew he could kill game where
any thing was to be found; but he commonly replied that he was too poor
and sick. Wa-me-gon-a-biew and myself, thinking that something might be
found in more distant excursions than we had been used to make, started
very early one morning, and travelled hard all day; and when it was near
night we killed a young beaver, and Wa-me-gon-a-biew said to me, “My
brother, you must now make a camp, and cook a little of the beaver, while
I go farther on and try to kill something.” I did so, and about sunset
he returned, bringing plenty of meat, having killed two caribou. Next
day we started very early to drag the two caribous through all the long
distance between us and our camp. I could not reach home with my load,
but Wa-me-gon-a-biew having arrived, sent out the young woman to help me,
so that I arrived before midnight. We now saw it would not be safe for us
to remain longer by ourselves, and this small supply enabling us to move,
we determined to go in quest of some people. The nearest trading-house
was that at Clear Water Lake, distant about four or five days’ journey.
We left our lodge, and taking only our blankets, a kettle or two,
and such articles as were necessary for our journey, started for the
trading-house. The country we had to pass was full of lakes and islands,
swamps and marshes; but they were all frozen, so that we endeavoured to
take a direct route.

Early one morning on this journey, Waw-be-be-nais-sa, roused perhaps by
excessive hunger, or by the exercise he was compelled to take to keep
along with us, began to sing and pray for something to eat. At length he
said, “to-day we shall see some caribou.” The old woman, whose temper
was somewhat sharpened by our long continued privations, and who did
not consider Waw-be-be-nais-sa a very enterprising hunter, said, “And
if you should see caribou you will not be able to kill them. Some men
would not have said, ‘we shall see game to-day,’ but ‘we shall eat it.’”
After this conversation, we had gone but a little distance when we saw
six caribous, coming directly towards us. We concealed ourselves in the
bushes, on the point of a little island, and they came within shot.
Wa-me-gon-a-biew flashed his piece, when he intended to fire, and the
herd turned at the sound of the lock, to run off. Waw-be-be-nais-sa fired
as they ran, and broke the shoulder of one of them; but though they
pursued all day, they returned to camp at night without any meat. Our
prospect was now so discouraging that we concluded to lighten ourselves
by leaving some baggage, in order to make the greater expedition. We also
killed our last dog, who was getting too weak to keep up with us; but
the flesh of this animal, for some reason, the old woman would not eat.
After several days we were bewildered, not knowing what route to pursue
and too weak to travel. In this emergency, the old woman, who, in the
last extremity, seemed always more capable of making great exertions than
any of us, fixed our camp as usual, brought us a large pile of wood to
keep a fire in her absence, then tying her blanket about her, took her
tomahawk, and went off, as we very well knew, to seek for some method by
which to relieve us from our present distress. She came to us again on
the following day, and resorting to her often-tried expedient to rouse
us to great exertion, she said, “My children, I slept last night in a
distant and solitary place, after having continued long in prayer. Then I
dreamed, and I saw the road in which I had come, and the end of it where
I had stopped at night, and at no great distance from this I saw the
beginning of another road, that led directly to the trader’s house. In
my dream I saw white men; let us, therefore, lose no time, for the Great
Spirit is now willing to lead us to a good fire.” Being somewhat animated
by the confidence and hope the old woman was in this way able to inspire,
we departed immediately; but having at length come to the end of her
path, and passed a considerable distance beyond it without discovering
any traces of other human beings, we began to be incredulous, some
reproaching and some ridiculing the old woman; but afterwards, to our
great joy, we found a recent hunting path, which we knew must lead to the
trader’s house; then redoubling our efforts, we arrived on the next night
but one, after that in which the old woman had slept by herself. Here we
found the same trader from whom we had a credit of one hundred and twenty
beaver skins at Rainy Lake, and as he was willing to send out and bring
the packs, we paid him his credit and had twenty beaver skins left. With
these I bought four traps, for which I paid five skins each. They also
gave the old woman three small kegs of rum. After remaining a few days,
we started to return in the direction we came from. For some distance
we followed the large hunting path of the people belonging to the
trading-house. When we reached the point where we must leave this road,
the old woman gave the three little kegs of rum to Waw-be-be-nais-sa,
and told him to follow on the hunter’s path until he should find them;
then sell the rum for meat, and come back to us. One of the little kegs
he immediately opened, and drank about half of it before he went to
sleep. Next morning, however, he was sober, and started to go as the old
woman had directed, being in the first place informed where to find us
again. Wa-me-gon-a-biew accompanied him. After they had started, I went
on with the women to Skut-tah-waw-wo-ne-gun, (the dry carrying place,)
where we had appointed to wait for him. We had been here one day when
Wa-me-gon-a-biew arrived with a load of meat; but Waw-be-be-nais-sa did
not come, though his little children had that day been compelled to eat
their moccasins. We fed the woman and her children, and then sent her to
join her husband. The hunters with whom Waw-be-be-nais-sa had remained,
sent us an invitation by Wa-me-gon-a-biew to come and live with them,
but it was necessary, in the first place, to go and get our lodge, and
the property we had left there. As we were on our return we were stopped
at the dry carrying place with extreme hunger. Having subsisted for
some time almost entirely on the inner bark of trees, and particularly
of a climbing vine found there, our strength was much reduced.
Wa-me-gon-a-biew could not walk at all, and every one of the family had
failed more than the old woman. She would fast five or six days, and seem
to be little affected by it. It was only because she feared the other
members of the family would perish in her absence that she now consented
to let me go and try to get some assistance from the trading-house, which
we believed to be nearer than the camp of the hunters. The former we
knew was about two ordinary days’ journey; but, in my weak condition it
was doubtful when I could reach it. I started very early in the morning.
The weather was cold, and the wind high. I had a large lake to cross,
and here, as the wind blew more violently, I suffered most. I gained
the other side of it a little before sunset, and sat down to rest. As
soon as I began to feel a little cold, I tried to get up, but found it
so difficult that I judged it would not be prudent for me to rest again
before I should reach the trading-house. The night was not dark, and as
there was less wind than in the day time, I found the travelling more
pleasant. I continued on all night, and arrived early next morning at the
trader’s house. As soon as I opened the door they knew by my face that I
was starving, and immediately inquired after my people. As soon as I had
given the necessary information, they despatched a swift Frenchman with
a load of provisions to the family. I had been in the trader’s house
but a few hours, when I heard the voice of Net-no-kwa outside, asking,
“is my son here?” And when I opened the door she expressed the utmost
satisfaction at sight of me. She had not met the Frenchman, who had gone
by a different route. The wind had become violent soon after I left our
camp, and the old woman, thinking I could not cross the lake, started
after me, and the drifting snow having obscured my track, she could not
follow it, and came quite to the trading-house with the apprehension that
I had perished by the way. After a day or two, Wa-me-gon-a-biew and the
remainder of the family came in, having been relieved by the Frenchman.
It appeared, also, that the Indians had sent Waw-be-be-nais-sa with a
load of meat to look for us at the dry carrying place, as they knew we
could not reach their encampment without a supply, which it was not
probable we could procure. He had been very near the camp of our family
after I left, but either through wilfulness, or from stupidity, failed to
find them. He had camped almost within call of them, and eaten a hearty
meal as they discovered by the traces he left. After remaining a few days
at the trading house, we all went together to join the Indians. This
party consisted of three lodges, the principal man being Wah-ge-kaut,
(crooked legs.) Three of the best hunters were Ka-kaik, (the small hawk,)
Meh-ke-nauk, (the turtle,) and Pa-ke-kun-ne-gah-bo, (he that stands in
the smoke.) This last was, at the time I speak of, a very distinguished
hunter. Some time afterwards he was accidentally wounded, receiving a
whole charge of shot in his elbow, by which the joint and the bones of
his arm were much shattered. As the wound did not show any tendency to
heal, but, on the contrary, became worse and worse, he applied to many
Indians, and to all white men he saw, to cut it off for him. As all
refused to do so, or to assist him in amputating it himself, he chose
a time when he happened to be left alone in his lodge, and taking two
knives, the edge of one of which he had hacked into a sort of saw, he
with his right hand and arm cut off his left, and threw it from him as
far as he could. Soon after, as he related the story himself, he fell
sleep, in which situation he was found by his friends, having lost a
very great quantity of blood; but he soon afterwards recovered, and
notwithstanding the loss of one arm, he became again a great hunter.
After this accident, he was commonly called Kosh-kin-ne-kait, (the cut
off arm.) With this band we lived some time, having always plenty to eat,
though Waw-be-be-nais-sa killed nothing.

When the weather began to be a little warm, we left the Indians and
went to hunt beaver near the trading house. Having lately suffered
so much from hunger, we were afraid to go any distant place, relying
on large game for support. Here we found early one morning, a moose
track, not far from the trading house. There was now living with us, a
man called Pa-bah-mew-in, (he that carries about,) who, together with
Wa-me-gon-a-biew, started in pursuit. The dogs followed for an hour
or two, and then returned; at this Pa-bah-mew-in was discouraged, and
turned back; but Wa-me-gon-a-biew still kept on. This young man could
run very swift, and for a long time he passed all the dogs, one or two
of which continued on the track. It was after noon when he arrived at a
lake which the moose had attempted to cross; but as in some parts the ice
was quite smooth, which prevented him from running so fast as on land,
Wa-me-gon-a-biew overtook him. When he came very near, the foremost dog,
who had kept at no great distance from Wa-me-gon-a-biew, passed him,
and got before the moose, which was now easily killed. We remained all
this spring about one day from the trading house, taking considerable
game. I killed by myself twenty otters, besides a good many beavers and
other animals. As I was one day going to look at my traps, I found some
ducks in a pond, and taking the ball out of my gun, I put in some shot,
and began to creep up to them. As I was crawling cautiously through the
bushes, a bear started up near me, and ran into a white pine tree almost
over my head. I hastily threw a ball into my gun and fired; but the
gun burst about midway of the barrel, and all the upper half of it was
carried away. The bear was apparently untouched, but he ran up higher
into the tree. I loaded what was left of my gun, and taking aim the
second time, brought him to the ground.

While we lived here we made a number of packs and as it was inconvenient
to keep these in our small lodge, we left them, from time to time, with
the traders, for safe keeping. When the time came for them to come down
to the Grand Portage, they took our packs without our consent, but the
old woman followed after them to Rainy Lake, and retook every thing that
belonged to us. But she was prevailed to sell them. From Rainy Lake we
went to the Lake of the Woods, where Pa-bah-mew-in left us. Here, also,
Waw-be-be-nais-sa rejoined us, wishing to return with us to Rainy Lake;
but Net-no-kwa had heard of a murder committed there by some of his
relations that would have been revenged on him, for which reason she
would not suffer him to return there. At the invitation of a man called
Sah-muk, an Ottawwaw chief, and a relative of Net-no-kwa, we returned
to Rainy Lake to live with him. Wa-me-gon-a-biew, with the two women,
and the children, went on to Red River. Sah-muk treated us with much
kindness. He built and gave us a large bark canoe, intended for the
use of the fur traders, and which we sold to them for the value of one
hundred dollars, which was at that time the common price of such canoes
in that part of the country. He also built us a small canoe for our own

The river which falls into Rainy Lake, is called Kocheche-se-bee, (Source
River,) and in it is a considerable fall, not far distant from the lake.
Here I used to take, with a hook and line, great numbers of the fish
called by the French, dory. One day, as I was fishing here, a very large
sturgeon come down the fall, and happening to get into shallow water, was
unable to make his escape. I killed him with a stone, and as it was the
first that had been killed here, Sah-muk made a feast on the occasion.

After some time we started from this place with a considerable band of
Ojibbeways, to cross Rainy Lake. At the point where we were to separate
from them, and they were to disperse in various directions, all stopped
to drink. In the course of this drunken frolic, they stole from us all
our corn and grease, leaving us quite destitute of provisions. This was
the first instance in which I had ever joined the Indians in drinking,
and when I recovered from it, the old woman reproved me very sharply and
sensibly, though she herself had drank much more than I had.

As soon as I recovered my wits, and perceived into what a condition
we had brought ourselves, I put the old woman in the canoe and went
immediately to a place where I knew there was good fishing. The
Ojibbeways had not left us a mouthful of food, but I soon caught three
dories so that we did not suffer from hunger. Next morning I stopped
for breakfast at a carrying place where these fish were very abundant,
and while the old woman was making a fire and cooking one that I had
just caught, I took nearly a hundred. Before we were ready to re-embark,
some trader’s canoes came along, and the old woman, not having entirely
recovered from her drunken frolic, sold my fish for rum. The traders
continued to pass during the day, but I hid away from the old woman so
many fish as enabled me to purchase a large sack of corn and grease.
When Net-no-kwa became sober, she was much pleased that I had taken this
course with her.

In the middle of the Lake of the Woods is a small, but high rocky island,
almost without any trees or bushes. This was now covered with young gulls
and cormorants, of which I killed great numbers, knocking them down with
a stick. We selected one hundred and twenty of the fattest, and dried
them in the smoke, packed them in sacks, and carried them along with us.
Thence we went by way of the Muskeeg carrying place to Red River. As we
were passing down this river, I shot a large bear on shore, near the
brink of the river. He screamed out in a very unusual manner, then ran
down into the water, and sank.

At this place, (since called Pembinah,) where the Nebininnah-ne-sebee
enters Red River, had formerly been a trading house. We found no people,
whites or Indians; and as we had not plenty of provisions, we went on all
night, hoping soon to meet with some people. After sunrise next morning,
we landed, and the old woman, while collecting wood to make a fire,
discovered some buffaloes in the woods. Giving me notice of this, I ran
up and killed a bull, but perceiving that he was very poor, I crept a
little farther and shot a large fat cow. She ran some distance, and fell
in an open prairie. A bull that followed her, no sooner saw me enter the
open prairie, at the distance of three or four hundred yards from her,
than he ran at me with so much fury that I thought it prudent to retire
into the woods. We remained all day at this place, and I made several
attempts to get at the cow, but she was so vigilantly watched by the same
bull that I was at last compelled to leave her. In the rutting season, it
is not unusual to see the bulls behave in this way.

Next day we met the traders coming up to Nebeninnah-ne-sebee,[17] and
gave them a part of the meat we had taken from the bull. Without any
other delay, we went on to the Prairie Portage of the Assinneboin River,
where we found Wa-me-gon-a-biew and Waw-be-be-nais-sa, with the other
members of our family from whom we had so long separated.

Waw-be-be-nais-sa, since they left us, had turned away his former wife,
and married the daughter of Net-no-kwa’s sister, who had been brought
up in our family, and whom the old woman had always treated as her own
child. Net-no-kwa no sooner understood what had taken place, than she
took up what few articles she could see in the lodge, belonging to
Waw-be-be-nais-sa, and throwing them out, said to him, “I have been
starved by you already, and I wish to have nothing more to do with you.
Go, and provide for your own wants; it is more than so miserable a hunter
as you are, is able to do, you shall not have my daughter.” So being
turned out, he went off by himself for a few days, but as Net-no-kwa soon
learned that his former wife was married to another man, and that he was
destitute, she admitted him again into the lodge. It was probably from
fear of the old woman that he now became a better hunter than he had been

That winter I hunted for a trader, called by the Indians Aneeb, which
means an elm tree. As the winter advanced, and the weather became more
and more cold, I found it difficult to procure as much game as I had been
in the habit of supplying, and as was wanted by the trader. Early one
morning, about midwinter, I started an elk. I pursued until night, and
had almost overtaken him, but hope and strength failed me at the same
time. What clothing I had on me, notwithstanding the extreme coldness
of the weather, was drenched with sweat. It was not long after I turned
towards home that I felt it stiffening about me. My leggins were of
cloth, and were torn in pieces in running through the brush. I was
conscious I was somewhat frozen, before I arrived at the place where I
had left our lodge standing in the morning, and it was now midnight. I
knew it had been the old woman’s intention to move, and I knew where she
would go, but I had not been informed she would go on that day. As I
followed on their path, I soon ceased to suffer from cold, and felt that
sleepy sensation which I knew preceded the last stage of weakness in such
as die of cold. I redoubled my efforts, but with an entire consciousness
of the danger of my situation, it was with no small difficulty that I
could prevent myself from lying down. At length I lost all consciousness
for some time, how long I cannot tell, and awaking as from a dream, I
found I had been walking round and round in a small circle, not more
than twenty or twenty-five yards over. After the return of my senses, I
looked about to try to discover my path, as I had missed it, but while
I was looking, I discovered a light at a distance by which I directed
my course. Once more, before I reached the lodge, I lost my senses, but
I did not fall down. If I had, I should never have got up again, but I
ran around and round in a circle as before. When I at last came into the
lodge, I immediately fell down, but I did not lose myself as before. I
can remember seeing the thick and sparkling coat of frost on the inside
of the pukkwi lodge, and hearing my mother say that she had kept a large
fire in expectation of my arrival, and that she had not thought I should
have been so long gone in the morning, but that I should have known long
before night of her having moved. It was a month before I was able to go
out again, my face, hands, and legs, having been much frozen.

The weather was beginning to be a little warm, so that the snow sometimes
melted, when I began to hunt again. Going one day with Waw-be-be-nais-sa
a good distance up the Assinneboin, we found a large herd of probably 200
elk, in a little prairie which was almost surrounded by the river. In the
gorge, which was no more than two hundred yards across, Waw-be-be-nais-sa
and I stationed ourselves, and the frightened herd being unwilling to
venture on the smooth ice in the river, began to run round and round the
little prairie. It sometimes happened that one was pushed within the
reach of our shot and in this way we killed two. In our eagerness to get
nearer, we advanced so far towards the center of the prairie that the
herd was divided, a part being driven on the ice, and a part escaping to
the high grounds. Waw-be-be-nais-sa followed the latter, and I ran on to
the ice. The elks on the river, slipping on the smooth ice, and being
much frightened, crowded so close together that their great weight broke
the ice, and as they waded towards the opposite shore, and endeavoured
in a body to rise upon the ice, it continued to break before them. I ran
hastily and thoughtlessly along the brink of the open place, and as the
water was not so deep as to swim the elks, I thought I might get those I
killed, and therefore continued shooting them as fast as I could. When
my balls were all expended, I drew my knife and killed one or two with
it, but all I killed in the water were in a few minutes swept under the
ice, and I got not one of them. One only, which I struck after he rose
upon the ice on the shore, I saved. This, in addition to the others we
had killed on the shore made four, being all we were able to take out of
a gang of not less than two hundred. Waw-be-be-nais-sa went immediately,
under the pretence of notifying the traders, and sold the four elks as
his own, though he killed but two of them.

At this time, Wa-me-gon-a-biew was unable to hunt, having, in a drunken
frolic been so severely burned, that he was not able to stand. In a few
days, I went again with Waw-be-be-nais-sa to hunt elks. We discovered
some in the prairie, but crawling up behind a little inequality of
surface which enabled us to conceal ourselves, we came within a short
distance. There was a very large and fat buck which I wished to shoot,
but Waw-be-be-nais-sa said, “not so, my brother, lest you should fail to
kill him. As he is the best in the herd I will shoot him, and you may
try to kill one of the smaller ones.” So I told him that I would shoot
at one that was lying down. We fired both together, but he missed and I
killed. The herd then ran off, and I pursued without waiting to butcher,
or even to examine the one I had killed. I continued the chase all day,
and before night had killed two more, as the elks were so much fatigued
that I came up to them pretty easily. As it was now night, I made the
best of my way home, and when I arrived, found that Waw-be-be-nais-sa
had brought home meat, and had been amusing the family by describing the
manner in which he said he had killed the elk. I said to them, “I am
very glad he has killed an elk, for I have killed three, and to-morrow
we shall have plenty of meat.” But as I had some suspicion of him, I
took him outside, and asked him about the one he had killed, and easily
made him acknowledge, that it was no other than the one I had shot,
from which he brought in some of the meat. He was sent to the traders
to call men to bring in the meat, and again sold all three as his own,
when he had not helped to kill even one of them. The old woman, when
she became acquainted with this conduct, persecuted him so much that
he was induced to leave us. Wa-me-gon-a-biew, also, who had married an
Ojibbeway woman in the fall, now went to live with his father-in-law, and
there remained in our family only the old woman and myself, the Bowwetig
girl, Ke-zhik-o-weninne, the son of Taw-ga-we-ninne, now something of a
boy, and the two small children. I was now, for the first time, left to
pass the winter by myself, with a family to provide for, and no one to
assist me. Waw-be-be-nais-sa encamped about one day from us. I had, in
the course of the fall, killed a good many beavers and other animals, and
we had for some time enough to supply all our wants. We had also plenty
of blankets and clothing. One very cold morning in the winter, as I
was going out to hunt, I stripped off all my silver ornaments and hung
them up in the lodge. The old woman asked me why I did so. I told her
that they were not comfortable in such extreme cold weather, moreover,
that in pursuing game I was liable to lose them. She remonstrated for
some time, but I persisted, and went to hunt without them. At the same
time I started to hunt, the old woman started for Waw-be-be-nais-sa’s
lodge, intending to be absent two days. The lodge was left in the care
of Skawah-shish, as the Bowwetig girl was called, and Ke-zhik-o-weninne.
When I returned late at night, after a long and unsuccessful hunt, I
found these two children standing, shivering and crying by the side of
the ashes of our lodge, which, owing to their carelessness, had been
burned down, and every thing we had consumed in it. My silver ornaments,
one of my guns, several blankets, and much clothing, were lost. We
had been rather wealthy among the Indians of that country; now we had
nothing left but a medicine bag and a keg of rum. When I saw the keg
of rum, I felt angry that only what was useless and hurtful to us was
left, while every thing valuable had been destroyed, and taking it up,
threw it to a distance. I then stripped the blanket from the Bowwetig
girl, and sent her away to stay by herself in the snow, telling her that
as her carelessness had stripped us of every thing, it was but right
she should feel the cold more than I did. I then took the little boy,
Ke-zhik-o-weninne, and we lay down together upon the warm ashes.

Very early the next morning I started out to hunt, and as I knew very
well how the old woman would behave when she came to a knowledge of
her misfortune. I did not wish to reach home until late at night. When
approaching the place where our lodge had been, I heard the old woman
scolding and beating the little girl. At length, when I went to the
fire, she asked me why I had not killed her when I first came home and
found the lodge burned down. “Since you did not,” said she, “I must now
kill her.” “Oh my mother do not kill me, and I will pay you for all you
have lost.” “What have you to give? how can you pay me?” said the old
woman. “I will give you the Manito,” said the little girl, “the great
Manito shall come down to reward you, if you do not kill me.” We were
now destitute of provisions, and almost naked, but we determined to
go to Aneeb’s trading-house, at Ke-new-kau-neshe way-boant, where we
obtained credit for the amount of one pack of beaver skins, and with
the blankets and cloth which we purchased in this way, we returned to
We-ma-gon-a-biew’s lodge, whence he and his wife accompanied us to our
own place.

We commenced to repair our loss by building a small grass lodge in
which to shelter ourselves while we should prepare the pukkwi for a new
wigwam.[18] The women were very industrious in making these, and none
more active than Skwah-shish, the Bowwetig girl. At night, also, when
it was too dark to hunt, Wa-me-gon-a-biew and myself assisted at this
labour. In a few days our lodge was completed, and Wa-me-gon-a-biew,
having killed three elks, left us for his own home.

After a little time, plenty and good humour were restored. One evening
the old woman called to her the little Bowwetig girl, and asked her if
she remembered what promise she had made to her when she was whipped for
burning the lodge. Skwah-shish could make no answer, but the old woman
took the opportunity to admonish her of the impropriety of using the name
of the Deity in a light and irreverent manner.


    Failure of an attempt to accompany a war-party to the
    Missouri—removal to Elk River—joined in my hunting grounds
    by some Naudoways, from Lower Canada—hospitality of the
    Crees—practice of medicine—dispute with a Naudoway—band of
    Tus-kwaw-go-nees—Brine Spring, on Elk River—I receive a severe
    injury by falling from my horse—involved in difficulty by my
    foster brother—habits of the moose-deer—range of the moose, the
    elk, and the reindeer.

At this place we remained until spring, when, at the commencement of
the sugar season, we went to Ke-nu-kau-ne-she-way-boant. We applied to
the Indians there to give us some trees to make sugar. They gave us a
place where were a few small trees, but the old woman was dissatisfied,
and refused to remain. We therefore travelled two days by ourselves,
until we found a good place to make sugar, and in the same district were
plenty of beavers, as well as birch for troughs. When we had been here
long enough to have finished making sugar, Wa-me-gon-a-biew came to us
in distress, with his father-in-law, and all his large family. We were
able to give them something, but old Net-no-kwa did not present him ten
of my largest and best beaver skins without remarking, “these, and many
more, have all been killed by my little son, who is much weaker and less
experienced than either yourself or Wa-me-gon-a-biew.” She was not very
well pleased in giving, and the old man was a little ashamed to receive
her present. After a few days they left us for the trading-house, and
Waw-be-be-nais-sa joined us when we started in company to go to the Mouse
River trading-house. Leaves were out on the trees, the bark peeled, and
we were killing sturgeons in the rivers, when there came a snow more than
knee deep, and the frost was so severe that the trees cracked as in the
middle of winter. The river was frozen over, and many trees were killed.

At the Mouse River trading-house, the Assinneboins, Crees, and
Ojibbeways, were again assembling to go to join the Mandans in making
war upon the A-gutch-o-ninne-wug, the people I before mentioned. This
time I wished to have accompanied them, and I said to the old woman,
“I will go with my uncles, who are going to the Mandans.” She tried to
dissuade me, but finding me obstinate, took away my gun and moccasins.
This opposition rather increased my ardour, and I followed the Indians,
barefoot and unarmed, trusting that some among them would supply me, but
in this I was mistaken for they drove me back, and would by no means
allow me to accompany them. I was irritated and dissatisfied, but I had
no alternative but to return, and remain with the women and children.
I did not ask the old woman for my gun again, but taking my traps, I
went from home and did not return until I had caught beavers enough to
purchase one. When I had done so, my anxiety to overtake the war-party
had subsided. Many of the women they had left behind now began to be
hungry, and it was not without great exertion on my part, and that of the
very few young boys and old men who were left, that their wants could be

The war-party at length returned, having accomplished little or nothing.
We then left them, and in company with one man, a relative of Net-no-kwa,
called Wau-zhe-gaw-maish-kum, (he that walks along the shore), we
started to go to Elk River. This man had two wives. The name of one
was Me-sau-bis, (goslin’s down.) He was also accompanied by another
distinguished hunter, called Kau-wa-be-nit-to, (he that starts them all.)
Our course from Mouse River was very near due north, and as we had six
horses, we travelled with considerable rapidity, but it was many days
before we reached the head of Elk River. Here Wau-zhe-gaw-maish-kum left
us to go to the Missouri on a war-party, but Kau-wa-be-nit-to remained,
and gave us always the finest and best of the game he killed. He directed
me also to a beaver dam and pond, at some distance, to which I went one
day at evening, and having sat down I found a road which the beavers were
then using to bring timber into the pond. By this road I sat down to
watch, supposing I should soon see them pass one way or the other. I had
scarce sat down when I heard, at no great distance, a sound which I knew
was that made by a woman in dressing skins. I was a little alarmed, as I
knew of no Indians in that quarter, and was apprehensive that some of an
unfriendly tribe might have come to encamp there. But being determined
not to return home ignorant who and what they were, I took my gun in my
hands, in the position which would enable me to fire immediately, and
proceeded cautiously along the path to examine. My eyes were commonly
directed considerably ahead, but I had not walked far, when looking
to one side, I saw in the bushes, close to my side, and not one step
from the path, a naked and painted Indian, lying flat upon his belly,
but, like myself, holding his gun in the attitude of firing. My eyes no
sooner fell upon him, than simultaneously, and almost without knowing
what I did, I sprang to the other side of the path, and pointed my gun
directly at him. This movement he answered by a hearty laugh, which
immediately removed my apprehensions, and he soon arose and addressed me
in the Ojibbeway language. Like myself, he had supposed no other Indians
than his own family were, at that time, in the country, and he had been
walking from his own lodge, which stood very near to the beaver pond,
when he was surprised to perceive a man approaching him through the
bushes. He had first perceived me, and concealed himself, not knowing
whether I was a friend or an enemy. After some conversation he returned
home with me, and Net-no-kwa discovered that he was a relative of hers.
The family of this man remained with us about ten days, and afterwards
went to encamp by themselves, at a distance.

I was now left, for the second time, with the prospect of spending the
winter alone, with the exception of those of our own family. But before
the commencement of cold weather there came from Mo-ne-ong, (Montreal)
seven Naudoway hunters, one of them a nephew of Net-no-kwa. They remained
with us, and in the fall and early part of winter, we killed great
numbers of beaver. Five of the Naudoways I surpassed in hunting, and
though they had ten traps each, and I only six, I caught more beavers
than they did. Two of the seven men could beat me at almost any thing.
In the course of the winter, two more Naudoways came to our camp, who
were in the interest and employ of the company called by the Indians
Ojibbeway Way-met-e-goosh-she-wug, (The Chippeway Frenchmen.) After these
had been some time with us, the game was exhausted, and we began to be
hungry. We agreed all to go one day in search of buffaloes. At night, all
had returned except a tall young man, and a very small old man, of the
Naudoways. Next day the tall man came home, bringing a new buffalo robe,
and having on a handsome pair of new moccasins. He said he had fallen in
with seven lodges of Crees, that at first they had not known him, and
it was with great difficulty he had made them understand him, but being
received into one of the lodges, and fed, and treated with kindness, he
had remained all night. In the morning, he folded up the buffalo robe
they had given him to sleep on, and would have left it, but they told
him they had given it to him, and observing, at the same time, that his
moccasins were not very good, one of the women had given him a pair of
new ones. This kind of hospitality is much practised among Indians who
have had but little intercourse with the whites, and it is among the
foremost of the virtues which the old men inculcate upon the minds of
children in their evening conversations. The Naudoway had been little
accustomed to such treatment in the country from which he came.

He had not been long at home before the old man arrived, who pretended
that he had seen fifty lodges of Assinneboins, and had been kindly
received by them, and although he had nothing to show in proof of his
assertions, that they had plenty of meat, and were disposed to be very
hospitable. He persuaded us that he had better go to join them. In the
morning we were all ready to accompany him, but he said, “I cannot go
yet, I have first to mend my moccasins.” One of the young men, that
there might be no unnecessary delay, gave him a pair of new moccasins,
but in the next place, he said he must cut off a piece of his blanket,
and make himself some mittens. One of them, who had some pieces of
blanket, assisted him to make some mittens, but he still invented excuses
for delaying his departure, most of which resulted in the supplying, by
some one of the party, some of his little wants. At length we began to
suspect him of lying, and having sent some one to follow his trail, we
ascertained that he had neither travelled far, seen Indians, nor eaten a
mouthful since he left home.

Knowing it would be in vain to search for the fifty lodges of
Assinneboins, we went in pursuit of the Crees, whom our Naudoway had
seen, but we unexpectedly met with another band of the same tribe. These
were strangers to us, but inquiring for their chief, we went into his
lodge and sat down. The women immediately hung the kettle over the fire,
and then took out of a sack a substance which was then new and unknown to
all of us, and which excited in our party considerable curiosity. When
the food was placed before us, we found it consisted of little fishes,
scarce an inch long, and all of the same size. When put into the kettle,
they were in large masses, frozen together. These little fishes, with
the taking and eating of which we afterwards became familiar, are found
in small holes which remain open in the shallow ponds, crowded together
in such numbers that one may scoop up hundreds of them at once with the
hands. After we had finished our meal, the woman who appeared to be the
principal wife of the chief, examined our moccasins, and gave us each
a new pair. These people were on a journey and soon left us. We now
determined to make a sunjegwun, and deposit such of our property as would
impede us in a long journey, and go to the plains in pursuit of buffalo.
We accordingly followed the path of the Crees, and overtook them in the

It was about the middle of winter when we arrived among them, and soon
afterwards our tall Naudoway fell sick. His friends applied to an old
medicine man of the Crees, called Muk-kwah, (the bear,) requesting him
to do something for his relief. “Give me,” said the old man, “ten beaver
skins, and I will use my art to relieve him.” As we had left our peltries
behind, and killed but few beaver since we started, we could raise only
nine, but we gave him a piece of cloth which was more than equal in
value to one beaver, and he consented to begin. He prepared his lodge for
the first days’ practice before the patient was admitted. He then being
brought in, was seated on a mat near the fire. Old Muk-kwah, who was a
ventriloquist of but indifferent powers, and a medicine man of no great
fame, imitated, as well as he could, various sounds, and endeavoured to
make those standing by believe they proceeded from the breast of the
sick man. At length he said he heard the sound of bad fire in the breast
of the Naudoway, and putting one hand to his breast, the other and his
mouth to the back, he continued for some time blowing and rubbing, when
he, as if by accident, dropped a little ball upon the ground. After again
blowing and rubbing, alternately dropping the little ball, and rubbing it
between his hands, he at length threw it into the fire, where it burned,
with a little whizzing noise, like damp powder. This did not surprise me
at all, as I saw he had taken the precaution to sprinkle a little powder
on that part of the floor of the lodge where the ball fell. Perceiving,
probably, that what he had now done was not likely to prove satisfactory
to his employers, he pretended that there was a snake in the breast of
the sick man which he could not remove till the following day, when with
similar preparations, and similar mummeries, he seemed to draw out of
the body of the sick man, a small snake. One of his hands he kept for
some time on the place from which he pretended to have drawn the snake,
as he said the hole could not close immediately. The snake he refused to
destroy, but laid it carefully aside for preservation lest, as he said,
it should get into somebody else. This ill-conducted imposition did not
fail to excite the ridicule of the Naudoways, and had no perceptible
effect upon the sick man. They soon learned to imitate his several
noises, and made him a subject for sarcasm and ridicule. Some of the more
sensible and respectable men among the Crees advised us to have nothing
more to say to Muk-kwah, as he was esteemed but a fool among them.

It was about this time that I had some difficulty with a Naudoway Indian
who was hunting for the Ojibbeway Way-me-ta-goo-she-wug. He had arrived
since I had in the country, and his right to hunt in any part of it
was certainly no better than mine. He had, in one or two instances,
complained of me for hunting where he said I had no right to hunt. Having
now found a gang of beavers, I set my traps for them, and, as usual, left
them till the next day. On going next morning I found he had followed my
trail, taken up all my traps, thrown them into snow, and set his own in
place of them. He had caught but one beaver, which I did not hesitate
to carry home as my own, and throwing all his traps in the snow, I set
mine again as before. The affair soon became public, but all the band,
even his own friends, the Naudoways, sided against him, and assured me
they would support me in the course I had taken. In affairs of this kind,
the customs of the tribe are as a law to the Indians, and any one who
ventures to depart from them, can expect neither support nor countenance.
It is rare that oppression or injustice in affairs of private right
between man and man, take place among the Indians.

We stayed about one month in the prairie, then returned to the lodge
where we had left the old woman, thence to our trading-house on Elk
River. Here a lodge of Tus-kwaw-go-mees from Canada came into our
neighbourhood. I had now separated from the Naudoways and was living by
myself. When I first visited the Tus-kwaw-go-mees, and went into their
lodge, I did not know who they were. The man presently went out, brought
in my snow-shoes, and placed them by the fire to dry and finding they
were a little out of repair, he directed an old man to mend them. He
then proposed to go and hunt with me until they should be repaired. He
killed, in the course of the day, several beavers, all of which he gave
me. The kindness of this family of Tus-kwaw-go-mees continued as long as
we remained near them. Their language is like that of the Ojibbeways,
differing from it only as the Cree differs from that of the Mus-ke-goes.

When the sugar season arrived, I went to Elk River and made my camp
about two miles below the fort. The sugar trees, called by the Indians
she-she-ge-ma-winzh, are of the same kind as are commonly found in the
bottom lands on the Upper Mississippi, and are called by the whites
“river maple.” They are large, but scattered and for this reason we made
two camps, one on each side of the river. I remained by myself in one,
and in the other were the old woman and the little children. While I
was making sugar, I killed plenty of birds, ducks, geese, and beaver.
There was near my camp a large brine spring, at which the traders used
to make salt. The spring is about thirty feet in diameter, the water is
blue, and, with the longest poles, no bottom can be found. It is near the
bank of the Elk River, between the Assinneboin and Sas-kow-ja-wun, about
twenty days’ journey from the trading-house at Lake Winnipeg. There are,
in that part of the country, many brine springs and salt lakes, but I
have seen no other as large as this.

At this trading post I met a gentleman who took much notice of me, and
tried to persuade me to accompany him to England. I was apprehensive he
might leave me there, and that I should not be able to reach my friends
in the United States, even if any of them were living. I also felt
attached to hunting as a business and an amusement; therefore I declined
his invitation. Among other Indians who assembled at this trading-house
in the spring, came our old companion and friend, Pe-shau-ba, and, as
usual, they expended the products of their winter and spring hunts, their
sugar, etc. for whiskey. After they had drank all they could purchase,
old Net-no-kwa gave them an additional ten gallon keg, which she had hid
the year before under the ashes back of the trader’s house. Their long
debauch was attended by mischievous quarrels, and followed by hunger
and poverty. Some one proposed, as a method of relieving the pressure
of hunger, now becoming severe, that a hunting match should be made, to
see who, of all those that were assembled, could take, in one day, the
greatest number of rabbits. In this strife I surpassed Pe-shau-ba, who
had been one of my first instructors in hunting, but he was yet far my
superior in taking large animals.

From this trading-house we returned by the way of Swan River, and the
Me-nau-ko-nos-keeg, towards Red River. About the Me-nau-ko-nos-keeg and
Ais-sug-se-bee, or Clam River, whose head waters interlock, we stopped
for some time to trap beaver, being assisted by a young man called
Nau-ba-shish, who had joined us some time before, but at length falling
in with a trace on which Indians had passed only two days before, I
determined to try to see them. Leaving the old woman and the family with
Nau-ba-shish, I mounted my best horse, and followed the path through the
prairie. After a few hours I passed a place where had been a lodge the
day before, and my horse was stepping over a log which lay across the
path, when a prairie hen flew from under it. The horse being frightened,
threw me, and I fell upon the log, afterwards upon the ground, but as I
still held the bridle rein, the horse stepped with his fore foot upon
my breast. For some hours I was not able to get on my horse. When I at
last succeeded, I determined still to follow on after the Indians, as I
believed myself nearer to them than to my own lodge. When I arrived among
them I could not speak, but they perceived that I had been hurt, and
treated me with kindness. From this hurt, which was very severe, I have
never since recovered entirely.

A part of my object in visiting this band had been to try to hear
something from Wa-me-gon-a-biew, but they had not met with him. I now
determined to leave the old woman at Menaukonoskeeg and go to Red River
by myself. I had four horses, one of which was a very fleet and beautiful
one, being considered the best out of one hundred and eighty which a
war-party of Crees, Assinneboins, and Ojibbeways, had recently brought
from the Fall Indians. In this excursion they had been absent seven
months. They had fallen upon and destroyed one village, and taken one
hundred and fifty scalps, besides prisoners.

Ten days after I left Menaukonoskeeg on this horse, I arrived at the
Mouse River trading-house. Here I learned that Wa-me-gon-a-biew was at
Pembinah, on Red River. Mr. M’Kee sent a man to show me the road to the
head of the Pembinah River, where I found Aneeb, a trader with whom I was
well acquainted. One day’s journey from this house, I found the lodge of
the father-in-law of Wa-me-gon-a-biew, but I saw nothing of my brother,
and the old man did not receive me kindly. He was living with a party of
about one hundred lodges of Crees. Perceiving that something was not as I
could have wished, I went to spend the night with an old Cree whom I had
seen before. In the morning, the old man said to me, “I am afraid they
will kill your horse, go and see how they are abusing him.” I went as he
directed, and found that a parcel of young men and boys had thrown my
horse down upon the ground, and were beating him. When I came up, I found
some were holding him by the head, while one man was standing on his body
and beating him. To this man I said, “my friend,[19] you must come down;”
he answered, “I won’t.” “I shall help you down,” said I, and pushing him
down, I took the bridle from those who held him, and led him home, but he
had received an injury from which he could never recover.

I now enquired the cause of this unexpected and very unfriendly
treatment, and learned that it was on account of Wa-me-gon-a-biew, who
had turned away his former wife, and quarrelled with his father-in-law.
In this quarrel, the old man’s horse and dog had been killed, which
injury his young friends were visiting upon my horse. The origin of this
quarrel seemed to me to be such as to leave some appearance of right on
the part of Wa-me-gon-a-biew. He had treated his wife as well as is usual
among them, and only parted with her because her father refused to part
with her, insisting that Wa-me-gon-a-biew should accompany him in all his
movements. Rather than do this, he chose to leave his wife altogether,
and had done so in a peaceable manner, when her relatives showed a
disposition to offer him some molestation. As I was alone, I feared they
might follow me, and try to do me some injury at my next encampment.
But they did not, and on the following day I arrived at the place where
Wa-me-gon-a-biew was now living with his new wife. The old man, his
father-in-law, whom I had seen before, met me outside of the lodge, and
was surprised to hear that I had come from Menaukonoskego, the distance
being greater than they usually go by themselves in that country.

Here I remained four days, hunting with my friends. Then I started,
accompanied by Wa-me-gon-a-biew and his wife, to return. We went to the
village where they had tried to kill my horse, and though the old man
had moved to some distance, he soon heard of us, and came in accompanied
by his brothers. We slept at a lodge near the trader’s tent. I intended
to have watched, as I was apprehensive that they would attempt either to
rob or otherwise injure us, but through fatigue, I fell asleep. Late at
night I was waked by Wa-me-gon-a-biew, who said the old man had been in,
and taken his gun from over his head. He admitted that he was awake when
the old man entered, and had watched him from under his blanket until
he went out with the gun. I reproached him for pusillanimity, telling
him he deserved to lose his gun if he would suffer an old man to take it
away while his eyes were open. Nevertheless, I made an attempt, though an
unsuccessful one, to recover the gun.

Before we reached Mouse River, my horse had become so poor and feeble
that even the woman could not ride him. We rested two days, and then went
on. We had suffered much from hunger, having for many days killed only
one poor buffalo, when we met with a small band of Crees, under a chief
called O-ge-mah-wah-shish, a Cree word, meaning chief’s son. Instead
of relieving our wants, they treated us in an unfriendly manner, and I
overheard them talking of killing us, on account of some old quarrel with
a band of Ojibbeways. They would sell us nothing but a small badger, and
we lost no time in escaping as far as we could from them. We were starved
for two days more when we met an Ojibbeway, called Wawb-uche-chawk, (the
white crane,) who had very lately killed a fat moose.

With this man we lived about a month, during all which time we had plenty
of food, and slept in his lodge. He was moving in the same direction that
we were. He did not leave us until we arrived at Rush Lake River. The
old woman had gone from the trading house where I left her, to live with
Indians, at the distance of four days. My three horses which, before
starting, I had fettered and turned out that they might become accustomed
to the place, had been neglected, and were now dead; notwithstanding I
had given very particular charge to Net-no-kwa to take off the fetters
at the commencement of winter. She had neglected it. My horse which I
rode to Red River was also dead, and I had none left. Net-no-kwa having
apparently relinquished her claim to me, and Wa-me-gon-a-biew now leaving
me, I remained for some time entirely alone about the trading house. The
trader, whose name was M’Glees, at length took notice of me, and invited
me to live with him. He said so much to induce me to leave the Indians,
that I felt sometimes inclined to follow his advice, but whenever I
thought of remaining long at the trading house, I found an intolerable
irksomeness attending it. I felt an inclination to spend all my time in
hunting, and a strong dislike to the less exciting employments of the men
about a trading house.

At the head of the Menaukonoskego river was a trading house which I
started to visit, in company with five Frenchmen and one Ojibbeway woman
sent by Mr. M’Glees. We were furnished only with enough meat for one
meal, all of which we ate on the first night after we started. About the
middle of the third day, we came to a small creek of salt water, and on
the summit of a little hill by the side of it, we saw a man sitting. We
went up to him, but he gave no answer to our questions. We then took
hold and tried to rouse him by shaking, but we found him stiffened by
the cold, and when we took our hands off him, he tumbled to the ground
as if he had been frozen entirely stiff. His breath still came and went,
but his limbs were no longer flexible, and he appeared in most respects
like one dead. Beside him lay his small kettle, his bag, containing steel
and flint, his moccasin awl, and one pair of moccasins. We tried all the
means in our power to resuscitate him, but all in vain. Regarding him as
one dead, I advised the Frenchmen to return with him to the trading house
from which we came, that he might be properly buried. They did so, and
I learned afterwards that he ceased breathing an hour or two after they
started. It appeared that he had been sent away from the trading house
at the head of the river, as too indolent to be suffered to remain. He
had started almost destitute of provisions, and come some distance to
Wa-me-gon-a-biew’s lodge. Wa-me-gon-a-biew had fed him, and offered him
plenty of provisions to take with him, but he declined, saying he should
not have occasion for it. He was then very much enfeebled, and had been
about two days in coming the short distance to the place where we had
found him. After they started with him, I went on with the Ojibbeway
woman and soon arrived at Wa-me-gon-a-biew’s.

I had remained here about a month, hunting with my brother, when
Net-no-kwa arrived, having come in search of me. Wa-me-gon-a-biew went
by my direction, to a place on Clam River to hunt beaver, and I returned
with Net-no-kwa to Menaukonoskeeg, where we made sugar. There were ten
fires of us together and after the sugar making was over, we all went
to hunt beavers in concert. In hunts of this kind, the proceeds are
sometimes equally divided, but in this instance every man retained what
he had killed. In three days I collected as many skins as I could carry.
But in these distant and hasty hunts, little meat could be brought in,
and the whole band was soon suffering of hunger. Many of the hunters,
and I among others, for want of food, became extremely weak, and unable
to hunt far from home. One day, when the ice in the ponds was covered
midling deep with water, I reached a place about a mile distant from
camp, and in a low swamp I discovered fresh moose signs. I followed up
the animal, and killed it, and as it was the first, it was made a feast
for the whole band, and all devoured in a single day.

Soon afterwards, all the Indians came down in two days’ journey to
the mouth of the river, where we were joined by Wa-me-gon-a-biew,
who had made a very successful hunt on Clam River. We stopped at the
trading house one mile from the lake, and remained here drinking until
our peltries were all sold. Then we started, accompanied only by
Wa-me-gon-a-biew, to come down to the mouth of the river. The distance
was so short that we did not take the dogs on board the canoes. As they
ran along the shore, they started an elk, and drove him into the water
in the lake, whence we chased him on shore with the canoe, and killed him
on the beach.

About this time, we met with an old Ottawwaw chief, called
Wa-ge-to-tah-gun, (he that has a bell,) more commonly called Wa-ge-toat.
He was a relative of Net-no-kwa, and had with him at that time, three
lodges and two wives. One of his sons had also two wives. With him we
remained two months and almost every morning, as he was going out, he
called me to accompany him to his hunt. Whenever he hunted with me, he
gave me all, or the greater part of what he killed. He took much pains to
teach me how to take moose and other animals which are difficult to kill.
Wa-me-gon-a-biew, with his wife, left us here, and went to Red River.

There is an opinion prevalent among the Indians, that the moose, among
the methods of self-preservation with which he seems better acquainted
than almost any other animal, has the power of remaining for a long
time under water. Two men of the band of Wa-ge-to-tah-gun, whom I knew
perfectly well, and considered very good and credible Indians, after a
long day’s absence on a hunt, came in, and stated that they had chased a
moose into a small pond, that they had seen him go to the middle of it,
and disappear, and then choosing positions, from which they could see
every part of the circumference of the pond, smoked, and waited until
near evening; during all which time, they could see no motion of the
water, or other indication of the position of the moose. At length, being
discouraged, they had abandoned all hope of taking him, and returned
home. Not long afterwards came a solitary hunter loaded with meat. He
related that having followed the track of a moose for some distance, he
had traced it to the pond before mentioned, but having also discovered
the tracks of two men, made at the same time as those of the moose, he
concluded they must have killed it. Nevertheless, approaching cautiously
to the margin of the pond, he sat down to rest. Presently he saw the
moose rise slowly in the center of the pond, which was not very deep, and
wade towards the shore where he was sitting. When he came sufficiently
near, he shot him in the water. The Indians consider the moose shyer and
more difficult to take than any other animal. He is more vigilant, and
his senses more acute than those of the buffalo or caribou. He is fleeter
than the elk, and more prudent and crafty than the antelope. In the most
violent storm when the wind, and the thunder, and the falling timber
are making the loudest and most incessant roar, if a man, either with
his foot or his hand, breaks the smallest dry limb in the forest, the
moose will hear it, and though he does not always run, he ceases eating,
and rouses his attention to all sounds. If in the course of an hour, or
thereabout, the man neither moves, nor makes the least noise, the animal
may begin to feed again, but does not forget what he has heard, and is
for many hours more vigilant than before.

Wa-ge-to-tah-gun, the chief with whom we were living, took every
opportunity to instruct me as to the habits of the moose and other
animals, and showed great pleasure when my exertions in the chase were
crowned with success. As we were now about to part from him, he called
out all the young hunters to accompany him for one day. Several young
women went also. He killed a fat buck moose, which he gave to me.

The country between Lake Winnepeg and Hudson’s Bay is low and swampy, and
is the region of the caribou. More to the west, towards the Assinneboin
and Saskawjawun, is the prairie country, are found elks and buffalo. The
caribou is not found among the elk, nor the latter among the former.


    I receive a proposal from a chief to marry his daughter—theft
    and drunkenness—manner of pursuing the elk on foot—disease and
    great mortality among the beaver—second offer of marriage from
    an A-go-kwa—haunted encampment, called the “place of the two
    dead men”—Indian courtship—distressing sickness—insanity and
    attempt at suicide—gambling—several offers of young women in
    marriage—my courtship and marriage with Mis-kwa-bun-o-kwa, (the
    red sky of the morning.)

The spring having now come, we returned by the way of our old sugar camp
towards Menaukonoskego, but as I disliked to be with the Indians in their
seasons of drunkenness, I dissuaded the old woman from accompanying them
to the trading-house. I talked to her of the foolishness of wasting all
our peltries in purchasing what was not only useless, but hurtful and
poisonous to us, and was happy to find that I had influence enough with
her to take her immediately to the place I had selected for my hunting
camp. She went to see Wa-ge-tote, to take leave of him, but when she
returned, I readily perceived by her manner that something unusual had
passed. Presently she took me to one side, and began to say to me,
“My son, you see that I am now become old; am scarce able to make you
moccasins, to dress and preserve all your skins, and do all that is
needful about your lodge. You are now about taking your place as a man
and a hunter, and it is right you should have some one who is young
and strong to look after your property and take care of your lodge.
Wa-ge-tote, who is a good man, and one respected by all the Indians,
will give you his daughter. You will thus gain a powerful friend and
protector, who will be able to assist us in times of difficulty, and
I shall be relieved from much anxiety and care for our family.” Much
more she said, in the same strain, but I told her without hesitation
that I would not comply with her request. I had as yet thought little
of marriage among the Indians, still thinking I should return before I
became old, to marry to the whites. At all events, I assured her I could
not now marry the woman she proposed to me. She still insisted that I
must take her, stating that the whole affair had been settled between
Wa-ge-tote and herself, and that the young woman had said she was not
disinclined to the match, and she pretended she could do no otherwise
than bring her to the lodge. I told her if she did so I should not treat
or consider her as my wife. The affair was in this situation the morning
but one before we were to separate from Wa-ge-tote and all his band, and,
without coming to any better understanding with the old woman, I took
my gun early in the morning, and went to hunt elk. In the course of the
day I killed a fat buck, and returning late in the evening, I hung up
the meat I had brought before the lodge, and carefully reconnoitered the
inside before I entered, intending, if the young woman was there, to go
to some other lodge and sleep, but I could see nothing of her.

Next morning Wa-ge-tote came to my lodge to see me. He expressed all the
interest in me which he had been in the habit of doing, and gave me much
friendly advice, and many good wishes. After this Net-no-kwa returned
again, urging me to marry the daughter, but I did not consent. These
attempts were afterwards, from time to time, renewed, until the young
woman found a husband in some other man.

After Wa-ge-tote and his band had left us, we went to the hunting ground
I had chosen, where we spent a great part of the summer by ourselves,
having always plenty to eat, as I killed great numbers of elks, beavers,
and other animals. Late in the fall we went to the trading-house at
Me-nau-ko-nos-keeg, where we met with Waw-zhe-kwaw-maish-koon, who had
left us the year before, and with him we remained.

As the trader was coming to his wintering ground, the Indians, having
assembled in considerable numbers, met him at the lake, at the distance
of a few miles from his house. He had brought a large quantity of rum,
and, as was usual, he encamped for several days that the Indians might
buy and drink what they could before he went to his house, as they would
give him less trouble at his camp. I had the presence of mind to purchase
some of the most needful articles for the winter, such as blankets and
ammunition, as soon as we met him. After we had completed our trade,
the old woman took ten fine beaver skins, and presented them to the
trader. In return for this accustomed present, she was in the habit of
receiving every year a chief’s dress and ornaments, and a ten gallon keg
of spirits, but when the trader sent for her to deliver his present, she
was too drunk to stand. In this emergency, it was necessary for me to
go and receive the articles. I had been drinking something, and was not
entirely sober. I put on the chief’s coat and ornaments, and taking the
keg on my shoulder, carried it home to our lodge, placed it on one end,
and knocked out the head with an axe. “I am not,” said I, “one of those
chiefs who draw liquor out of a small hole in a cask, let all those who
are thirsty come and drink;” but I took the precaution to hide away a
small keg full, and some in a kettle, probably in all three gallons. The
old woman then came in with three kettles, and in about five minutes the
keg was emptied. This was the second time that I had joined the Indians
in drinking, and now I was guilty of much greater excess than before.
I visited my hidden keg frequently, and remained intoxicated two days.
I took what I had in the kettle, and went into the lodge to drink with
Waw-zhe-kwaw-maish-koon, whom I called my brother, he being the son of
Net-no-kwa’s sister. He was not yet drunk, but his wife, whose dress
was profusely ornamented with silver, had been for some time drinking,
and was now lying by the fire in a state of absolute insensibility.
Waw-zhe-kwaw-maish-koon and myself took our little kettle and sat down
to drink, and presently an Ojibbeway of our acquaintance, staggered in
and fell down by the fire near the woman. It was late at night, but the
noise of drunkenness was heard in every part of the camp, and I and my
companion started out to go and drink wherever we could find any to give
us liquor. As, however, we were not excessively drunk, we were careful to
hide away the kettle which contained our whiskey in the back part of the
lodge, covering it, as we thought, effectually from the view of any that
might come in. After an excursion of some hours, we returned. The woman
was still lying by the fire, insensible as before, but with her dress
stripped of its profusion of silver ornaments, and when we went for our
kettle of rum, it was not to be found. The Ojibbeway, who had been lying
by the fire, had gone out, and some circumstances induced us to suspect
him of the theft, and I soon understood that he had said I had given him
something to drink. I went next morning to his lodge, and asked him for
my little kettle, which he directed his squaw to bring to me. Having this
fixed the theft upon him. Waw-zhe-kwaw-maish-koon went and recovered the
ornaments of his wife’s dress. This Ojibbeway was a man of considerable
pretensions, wishing to be reckoned a chief, but this unfortunate attempt
at theft injured his standing in the estimation of the people. The affair
was long remembered, and he was ever after mentioned with contempt.

About this time, old Net-no-kwa began to wake from her long continued
drunkenness. She called me to her, and asked me whether I had received
the chief’s dress, and the keg of rum. She was unwilling to believe
that I had suffered all the contents of the keg to be expended without
reserving some for her. When she came to be assured not only that this
was the case, but that I had been drunk for two days, she reproached me
severely, censuring me not only for ingratitude to her, but for being
such a beast as to be drunk. The Indians hearing her, told her she had no
right to complain of me for doing as she herself had taught me, and by
way of pacifying her, they soon contributed rum enough to make her once
more completely drunk.

As soon as their peltries were all disposed of, so that they were
compelled to discontinue drinking, the Indians began to disperse to their
hunting grounds. We went with the trader to his house, where we left
our canoes, and thence to the woods with Waw-zhe-kawaw-maish-koon to
hunt. We now constituted but one family, but his part of it was large,
he having many young children. Cold weather had scarce commenced, and
the snow was no more than a foot deep, when we began to be pinched with
hunger. We found a herd of elks, and chasing them one day, overtook and
killed four of them. When the Indians hunt elk in this manner, after
starting the herd they follow them at such a gait as they think they can
keep for many hours. The elks being frightened outstrip them at first by
many miles, but the Indians, following at a steady pace along the path,
at length come in sight of them. They then make another effort, and are
no more seen for an hour or two, but the intervals at which the Indians
have them in sight, grow more and more frequent, and longer and longer,
until they cease to lose sight of them at all. The elks are now so much
fatigued that they can only move in a slow trot, at last they can but
walk, by which time the strength of the Indians is nearly exhausted. They
are commonly able to come up and fire into the rear of the herd, but the
discharge of a gun quickens the motions of the elks, and it is a very
active and determined man that can in this way come near enough to do
execution more than once or twice, unless when the snow is pretty deep.
The elk, in running, does not lift his feet well from the ground, so
that, in deep snow, he is easily taken. There are among the Indians some,
but not many, men who can run down an elk on the smooth prairie, when
there is neither snow nor ice. The moose and the buffalo surpass the elk
in fleetness, and can rarely be taken by fair running by a man on foot.

The flesh of the four elks was dried, but by no means equally divided
between us in proportion to the size and wants of our respective
families. I made no complaint as I knew I was a poor hunter, and had
aided but little in taking them. Afterwards, I directed my attention more
to the hunting of beaver. I knew of more than twenty gangs of beaver
in the country about my camp, and I now went and began to break up the
lodges, but I was much surprised to find nearly all of them empty. At
last I found that some kind of distemper was prevailing among these
animals which destroyed them in vast numbers. I found them dead and dying
in the water, on the ice, and on the land. Sometimes I found one that,
having cut a tree half down, had died at its roots; sometimes one who
had drawn a stick of timber half way to his lodge was lying dead by
his burthen. Many of them which I opened, were red and bloody about the
heart. Those in large rivers and running water suffered less. Almost all
of those that lived in ponds and stagnant water, died. Since that year
the beaver have never been so plentiful in the country of Red River and
Hudson’s Bay, as they used formerly to be. Those animals which died of
this sickness we were afraid to eat, but their skins were good.

It often happened while we lived with Waw-zhe-kwaw-maish-koon, that we
were suffering from hunger. Once, after a day and night in which we had
not tasted a mouthful, I went with him to hunt, and we found a herd of
elks. We killed two and wounded a third, which we pursued until night,
when we overtook it. We cut up the meat and covered it in the snow, but
he took not a mouthful for our immediate use, though we were so far from
home, and it was now so late that we did not think of moving towards home
until the following day. I knew that he had fasted as long as I had, and
though my suffering from hunger was extreme, I was ashamed to ask him for
anything to eat, thinking I could endure it as long as he could. In the
morning he gave me a little meat, but without stopping to cook any thing,
we started for home. It was afternoon when we arrived, and Net-no-kwa
seeing we had brought meat, said, “well, my son, I suppose you have eaten
very heartily last night, after your long fast.” I told her I had as yet
eaten nothing. She immediately cooked part of what he had given me, all
of which lasted us no more than two days. I still knew of two gangs of
beaver that had escaped the prevailing sickness, and I took my traps and
went in pursuit of them. In a day or two I had taken eight, two of which
I gave to Waw-zhe-kwaw-maish-koon.

Some time in the course of this winter, there came to our lodge one of
the sons of the celebrated Ojibbeway chief, called Wesh-ko-bug, (the
sweet,) who lived at Leech Lake. This man was one of those who make
themselves women, and are called women by the Indians. There are several
of this sort among most, if not all the Indian tribes. They are commonly
called A-go-kwa, a word which is expressive of their condition. This
creature, called Ozaw-wen-dib, (the yellow head,) was now near fifty
years old, and had lived with many husbands. I do not know whether she
had seen me, or only heard of me, but she soon let me know she had come
a long distance to see me, and with the hope of living with me. She
often offered herself to me, but not being discouraged with one refusal,
she repeated her disgusting advances until I was almost driven from the
lodge. Old Net-no-kwa was perfectly well acquainted with her character,
and only laughed at the embarrassment and shame which I evinced whenever
she addressed me. She seemed rather to countenance and encourage the
Yellow Head in remaining at our lodge. The latter was very expert in the
various employments of the women, to which all her time was given. At
length, despairing of success in her addresses to me, or being too much
pinched by hunger, which was commonly felt in our lodge, she disappeared,
and was absent three or four days. I began to hope I should be no more
troubled with her, when she came back loaded with dry meat. She stated
that she had found the band of Wa-ge-to-tah-gun, and that that chief
had sent by her an invitation for us to join him. He had heard of the
niggardly conduct of Waw-zhe-kwaw-maish-koon towards us, and had sent
the A-go-kwa to say to me, “my nephew, I do not wish you to stay there
to look at the meat that another kills, but is too mean to give you.
Come to me, and neither you nor my sister shall want any thing it is
in my power to give you.” I was glad enough of this invitation, and
started immediately. At the first encampment, as I was doing something
by the fire, I heard the A-go-kwa at no great distance in the woods,
whistling to call me. Approaching the place, I found she had her eyes on
game of some kind, and presently I discovered a moose. I shot him twice
in succession, and twice he fell at the report of the gun, but it is
probable I shot too high, for at last he escaped. The old woman reproved
me severely for this, telling me she feared I should never be a good
hunter. But before night the next day, we arrived at Wa-ge-tote’s lodge,
where we ate as much as we wished. Here, also, I found myself relieved
from the persecutions of the A-go-kwa, which had become intolerable.
Wa-go-tote, who had two wives, married her. This introduction of a new
inmate into the family of Wa-ge-tote, occasioned some laughter, and
produced some ludicrous incidents, but was attended with less uneasiness
and quarreling than would have been the bringing in of a new wife of the
female sex.

This band consisted of a large number of Indians, and the country about
them was hunted poor, so that few even of the best hunters were able to
kill game often. It so happened that myself and another man, who, like
me, was reputed a poor hunter, killed more frequently than others. The
Indians now collected for the solemn ceremony of the meta or mediance
dance, in which Net-no-kwa always bore a very conspicuous part. I began
to be dissatisfied at remaining with large bands of Indians, as it was
usual for them, after having remained a short time in a place, to suffer
from hunger. I therefore made a road for myself, and set my traps in a
gang of beavers. When I signified to Wa-ge-tote my intention of leaving
him, he said he was much afraid I should perish of hunger if I went far
away by myself. I refused, however, to listen to his advice or persuasion
to remain with him, and he then determined to accompany me to my traps,
to see what place I had selected and judge whether I should be able to
support my family. When we arrived, he found I had caught one large
beaver. He advised and encouraged me, and after telling me where I should
find his camp in case of being pressed by poverty, he returned.

My family had now been increased by the addition of a poor old Ojibbeway
woman and two children, who being destitute of any men, had been taken up
by Net-no-kwa. Notwithstanding this, I thought it was still best for us
to live by ourselves. I hunted with considerable success, and remained
by myself until the end of the season for making sugar, when Net-no-kwa
determined to return to Menaukonoskeeg, while I should go to the trading
house at Red River to purchase some necessary articles. I made a pack of
beaver and started by myself in a small buffalo skin canoe, only large
enough to carry me and my pack, and descended the Little Saskawjewun.

There is, on the bank of that river, a place which looks like one the
Indians would always choose to encamp at. In a bend of the river is a
beautiful landing place, behind it a little plain, a thick wood, and a
small hill rising abruptly in the rear. But with that spot is connected a
story of fratricide, a crime so uncommon that the spot where it happened
is held in detestation, and regarded with terror. No Indian will land his
canoe, much less encamp, at “_The Place Of The Two Dead Men_.”[20] They
relate that many years ago the Indians were encamped here, when a quarrel
arose between two brothers having she-she-gwi for totems. One drew his
knife and slew the other, but those of the band who were present looked
upon the crime as so horrid that without hesitation or delay, they killed
the murderer and buried them together.

As I approached this spot, I thought much of the story of the two
brothers who bore the same totem with myself, and were, as I supposed,
related to my Indian mother. I had heard it said that if any man encamped
near their graves, as some had done soon after they were buried, they
would be seen to come out of the ground, and either react the quarrel and
the murder, or in some other manner so annoy and disturb their visitors
that they could not sleep. Curiosity was in part my motive, and I wished
to be able to tell the Indians that I had not only stopped, but slept
quietly at a place which they shunned with so much fear and caution.
The sun was going down as I arrived. I pushed my little canoe in to the
shore, kindled a fire, and after eating my supper, lay down and slept.
Very soon, I saw the two dead men come and sit down by my fire, opposite
me. Their eyes were intently fixed upon me, but they neither smiled, nor
say any thing. I got up and sat opposite them by the fire, and in this
situation I awoke. The night was dark and gusty, but I saw no men, or
heard any other sounds than that of the wind in the trees. It is likely
I fell asleep again, for I soon saw the same two men standing below the
bank of the river, their heads just rising to the level of the ground
I had made my fire on, and looking at me as before. After a few minutes
they rose one after the other, and sat down opposite me; but now they
were laughing, and pushing at me with sticks, and using various methods
of annoyance. I endeavoured to speak to them, but my voice failed me.
I tried to fly, but my feet refused to do their office. Throughout the
whole night I was in a state of agitation and alarm. Among other things
which they said to me, one of them told me to look at the top of the
little hill which stood near. I did so, and saw a horse fettered, and
standing looking at me. “There, my brother,” said the jebi, “is a horse
which I give you to ride on your journey to-morrow, and as you pass here
on your way home, you can call and leave the horse, and spend another
night with us.”

At last came the morning, and I was in no small degree pleased to find
that with the darkness of the night these terrifying visions vanished.
But my long residence among the Indians, and the frequent instances in
which I had known the intimations of dreams verified, occasioned me to
think seriously of the horse the jebi had given me. Accordingly I went
to the top of the hill, where I discovered tracks and other signs, and
following a little distance, found a horse which I knew belonged to the
trader I was going to see. As several miles travel might be saved by
crossing from this point on the Little Saskawjewun to the Assinneboin,
I left the canoe, and having caught the horse, and put my load upon
him, led him towards the trading house where I arrived next day. In all
subsequent journeys through this country, I carefully shunned “the place
of the two dead,” and the account I gave of what I had seen and suffered
there, confirmed the superstitious terrors of the Indians.

After I returned from trading at the Red River, I went to live at
Naowawgunwudju, the hill of the buffalo chase, near the Saskawjewun. This
is a high rocky hill, where mines may probably be found, as there are
in the rocks many singular looking masses. Here we found sugar trees in
plenty, and a good place for passing the spring. Game was so abundant,
and the situation so desirable, that I concluded to remain instead of
going with all the Indians to Clear Water Lake, where they assembled to
have their usual drunken frolic. I had sent for Wa-me-gon-a-biew, and he
now joined us here with one horse, making our whole number three. All
these, all our dogs, and ourselves, were loaded with the meat of one
moose, which I killed at this time, the largest and the fattest one I had
ever seen.

Wa-me-gon-a-biew, after remaining with me four days, went to look for
Wa-ge-tote, but without telling me any thing of his business. In a
few days he returned, and told me that he had been to see Wa-ge-tote
on account of his daughter that had been so often offered to me, and
wished to know if I had any intention to marry her. I told him I had
not, and that I was very willing to afford him any aid in my power in
furtherance of his design. He wished me to return with him, probably
that I might remove any impression the old people might have, that I
would marry the girl, and accompany him in bringing her home. I assented
without reflection, to this proposal and as we were about making our
preparations to start, I perceived from Net-no-kwa’s countenance, though
she said nothing, that the course we were taking displeased her. I then
recollected that it was not the business of young men to bring home
their wives, and I told Wa-me-gon-a-biew that we should be ridiculed by
all the people if we persisted in our design. “Here,” said I, “is our
mother, whose business it is to find wives for us when we want them, and
she will bring them, and show them our places in the lodge whenever it
is right she should do so.” The old woman was manifestly pleased with
what I said, and expressed her willingness to go immediately and bring
home the daughter of Wa-ge-tote. She went accordingly, and it so happened
that when she returned bringing the girl, Wa-me-gon-a-biew and myself
were sitting inside the lodge. It appeared that neither Wa-me-gon-a-biew,
nor the old woman, had been at the pains to give her any very particular
information, for when she came in, she was evidently at a loss to know
which of the young men before her had chosen her for a wife. Net-no-kwa
perceiving her embarrassment, told her to sit down near Wa-me-gon-a-biew,
for him it was whom she was to consider her husband. After a few days,
he took her home to his other wife, with whom she lived in harmony.

In the ensuing fall, when I was something more than twenty-one years of
age, I moved, with Wa-me-gon-a-biew, and many other families of Indians,
to the Wild Rice. While we were engaged in collecting and preparing the
grain, many among us were seized with a violent sickness. It commenced
with cough and hoarseness, and sometimes bleeding from the mouth or nose.
In a short time many died, and none were able to hunt. Although I did not
escape entirely, my attack appeared at first less violent than that of
most others. There had been for several days no meat in the encampment.
Some of the children had not been sick, and some of those who had been
sick, now began to recover, and needed some food. There was but one man
beside myself as capable of exertion as I was, and he, like myself, was
recovering. We were wholly unable to walk, and could scarce mount our
horses when they were brought to us by the children. Had we been able
to walk, we coughed so loudly and so incessantly that we could never
have approached near enough to any game to kill it by still hunting. In
this emergency we rode into the plains, and were fortunate enough to
overtake and kill a bear. Of the flesh of this animal we could not eat
a mouthful, but we took it home and distributed to every lodge an equal
portion. Still I continued to get better, and was among the first to
regain my health, as I supposed. In a few days I went out to hunt elk,
and in killing two of them in the space of two or three hours, I became
somewhat excited and fatigued. I cut up the meat, and as is usual, took
home a load on my back when I returned. I ate heartily of some which
they cooked for me, then lay down and slept, but before the middle of
the night, I was waked by a dreadful pain in my ears. It appeared to me
that something was eating into my ears, and I called Wa-me-gon-a-biew
to look, but he could see nothing. The pain became more and more
excruciating for two days, at the end of which time I became insensible.
When my consciousness returned, which was, as I learned afterwards,
at the end of two days, I found myself sitting outside the lodge. I
saw the Indians on all sides of me drinking, some trader having come
among them. Some were quarrelling, particularly a group amongst which I
distinguished Wa-me-gon-a-biew, and saw him stab a horse with his knife.
Then I immediately became insensible and remained so probably for some
days, as I was unconscious of every thing that passed until the band were
nearly ready to move from the place where we had been living. My strength
was not entirely gone, and when I came to my right mind, I could walk
about. I reflected much on all that had passed since I had been among the
Indians. I had in the main been contented since residing in the family
of Net-no-kwa, but this sickness I looked upon as the commencement of
misfortune which was to follow me through life. My hearing was gone for
abscesses had formed and discharged in each ear, and I could now hear
but very imperfectly. I sat down in the lodge, and could see the faces
of men, and their lips moving, but knew not what they said. I took my
gun and went to hunt, but the animals discovered me before I could see
them, and if by accident I saw a moose or an elk, and endeavoured to get
near him, I found that my cunning and my success had deserted me. I soon
imagined that the very animals knew that I had become like an old and
useless man.

Under the influence of these painful feelings, I resolved to destroy
myself, as the only means of escaping the certain misery which I saw
before me. When they were ready to move, Net-no-kwa had my horse brought
to the door of the lodge, and asked me if I was able to get on and
ride to the place where they intended to encamp. I told her I was, and
requesting that my gun might be left with me, said I would follow the
party at a little distance. I took the rein of my horse’s bridle in my
hand, and sitting down, watched the people as group after group passed
me and disappeared. When the last old woman, and her heavy load of
pukkwi mats, sunk behind the little swell of the prairie that bounded my
prospect, I felt much relieved. I cast loose the reins of the bridle, and
suffered my horse to feed at large. I then cocked my gun, and resting the
butt of it on the ground, I put the muzzle to my throat, and proceeded
with the ramrod, which I had drawn for the purpose, to discharge it.
I knew that the lock was in good order; also, that the piece had been
well loaded but a day or two before; but I now found that the charge
had been drawn. My powder horn and ball pouch always contained more
or less ammunition, but on examination, I found them empty. My knife
also, which I commonly carried appended to the strap of my shot pouch,
was gone. Finding myself baffled in the attempt to take my own life, I
seized my gun with both hands by the muzzle, and threw it from me with
my utmost strength, then mounted my horse, who, contrary to his usual
custom, and to what I had expected from him, had remained near me after
being released. I soon overtook the party, for being probably aware of
my intentions, Wa-me-gon-a-biew and Net-no-kwa had gone but far enough
to conceal themselves from my view, and had then sat down to wait. It
is probable that in my insane ravings, I had talked of my intention to
destroy myself, and on this account they had been careful to deprive me
of the most ordinary and direct means of effecting my purpose.

Suicide is not very unfrequent among the Indians, and is effected in
various ways; shooting, hanging, drowning, poisoning, etc. The causes,
also, which urge to desperate act, are various. Some years previous to
the time I now speak of, I was with Net-no-kwa, at Mackinac, when I knew
a very promising and highly respected young man of the Ottawwaws who shot
himself in the Indian burying grounds. He had, for the first time, drank
to intoxication, and in the alienation of mind produced by the liquor had
torn off his own clothes, and behaved with so much violence that his two
sisters, to prevent him from injuring himself or others, tied his hands
and feet, and laid him down in the lodge. Next morning, he awoke sober,
and being untied, went to his sister’s lodge, which was near the burying
ground, borrowed a gun, under pretense of going to shoot pigeons, and
went into the burying ground and shot himself. It is probable that when
he awoke and found himself tied, he thought he had done something very
improper in his drunkenness, and to relieve himself from the pressure of
shame and mortification, had ended his days by violence. Misfortunes and
losses of various kinds, sometimes the death of friends, and possibly, in
some instances, disappointment in affairs of love, may be considered the
causes which produce suicide among the Indians.

I reproached Wa-me-gon-a-biew for his conduct towards me in unloading my
gun, and taking away my ammunition, though it was probably done by the
old woman. After I recovered my health more perfectly, I began to feel
ashamed of this attempt, but my friends were so considerate as never to
mention it to me. Though my health soon became good, I did not recover
my hearing, and it was several months before I could hunt as well as I
had been able to do previous to my sickness, but I was not among those
who suffered most severely by this terrible complaint. Of the Indians who
survived, some were permanently deaf, others injured in their intellects,
and some, in the fury occasioned by the disease, dashed themselves
against trees and rocks, breaking their arms or otherwise maiming
themselves. Most of those who survived had copious discharges from the
ears, or in the earlier stages had bled profusely from the nose. This
disease was entirely new to the Indians, and they attempted to use few or
no remedies for it.

On going to Mouse River trading-house, I heard that some white people
from the United States had been there to purchase some articles for the
use of their party, then living at the Mandan village. I regretted that
I had missed the opportunity of seeing them but as I had received the
impression that they were to remain permanently there, I thought I would
take some opportunity to visit them. I have since been informed that
these white men were some of the party of Governor Clark and Captain
Lewis, then on their way to the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

Late in the fall, we went to Ke-nu-kau-ne-she-way-bo-ant, where game was
then plenty, and where we determined to spend the winter. Here, for the
first time, I joined deeply with Wa-me-gon-a-biew and other Indians, in
gambling, a vice scarce less hurtful to them than drunkenness. One of
the games we used was that of the moccasin, which is played by any number
of persons, but usually in small parties. Four moccasins are used, and in
one of them some small object, such as a little stick, or a small piece
of cloth, is hid by one of the betting parties. The moccasins are laid
down beside each other, and one of the adverse party is then to touch two
of the moccasins with his finger, or a stick. If the one he first touches
has the hidden thing in it, the player loses eight to the opposite party;
if it is not in the second he touches, but in one of the two passed over,
he loses two. If it is not in the one he touches first, and is in the
last, he wins eight. The Crees play this game differently, putting the
hand successively into all the moccasins, endeavouring to come last to
that which contains the article; but if the hand is thrust first into the
one containing it, he loses eight. They fix the value of articles staked
by agreement. For instance, they sometimes call a beaver skin, or a
blanket, ten; sometimes a horse is one hundred. With strangers, they are
apt to play high. In such cases a horse is sometimes valued at ten.

But it is the game called Bug-ga-sauk, or Beg-ga-sah, that they play
with the most intense interest, and the most hurtful consequences. The
beg-ga-sah-nuk are small pieces of wood, bone, or sometimes of brass made
by cutting up an old kettle. One side they stain or colour black, the
other they aim to have bright. These may vary in number, but can never be
fewer than nine. They are put together into a large wooden bowl, or tray,
kept for the purpose. The two parties, sometimes twenty or thirty, sit
down opposite each other, or in a circle. The play consists in striking
the edge of the bowl in such a manner as to throw all the beg-ga-sah-nuk
into the air, and on the manner in which they fall into the tray depends
his gain or loss. If his stroke has been to a certain extent fortunate,
the player strikes again, and again, as in the game of billiards, until
he misses, when it passes to the next. The parties soon become much
excited, and a frequent cause of quarrelling is that one often snatches
the tray from his neighbour before the latter is satisfied that the throw
has been against him.

Old and sensible people among them are much opposed to this game, and it
was never until this winter that Net-no-kwa suffered me to join in it. In
the beginning, our party had some success, but we returned to it again
and again, until we were stripped of every thing. When we had nothing
more to lose, the band which had played against us removed and camped
at a distance, and, as is usual, boasted much of their success. When I
heard of this, I called together the men of our party, and proposed to
them that by way of making an effort to regain our lost property, and
put an end to their insolent boasting, we would go and shoot at a mark
with them. We accordingly raised some property among our friends, and
went in a body to visit them. Seeing that we had brought something, they
consented to play with us. So we set down to Beg-ga-sah, and in the
course of the evening re-took as much of our lost property as enabled
us to offer, next morning, a very handsome bet on the result of a trial
of shooting the mark. We staked every thing we could command. They were
loath to engage us, but could not decently decline. We fixed a mark at
the distance of one hundred yards, and I shot first, placing my ball
nearly in the center. Not one of either party came near me; of course I
won, and we thus regained the greater part of what we had lost during the

Late in the spring, when we were nearly ready to leave
Ke-nu-kau-ne-she-way-bo-ant, an old man, called O-zhusk-koo-koon, (the
muskrat’s liver,) a chief of the Me-tai, came to my lodge, bringing
a young woman, his grand-daughter, together with the girl’s parents.
This was a handsome young girl, not more than fifteen years old, but
Net-no-kwa did not think favourably of her. She said to me, “My son,
these people will not cease to trouble you if you remain here, and as the
girl is by no means fit to become your wife, I advise you to take your
gun and go away. Make a hunting camp at some distance, and do not return
till they have time to see that you are decidedly disinclined to the
match.” I did so, and O-zhusk-koo-koon apparently relinquished the hope
of marrying me to his grand-daughter.

Soon after I returned, I was standing by our lodge one evening, when I
saw a good looking young woman walking about and smoking. She noticed me
from time to time, and at last came up and asked me to smoke with her. I
answered that I never smoked. “You do not wish to touch my pipe, for that
reason you will not smoke with me.” I took her pipe and smoked a little,
though I had not been in the habit of smoking before. She remained some
time, and talked with me, and I began to be pleased with her. After this
we saw each other often, and I became gradually attached to her.

I mention this because it was to this woman that I was afterwards
married, and because the commencement of our acquaintance was not after
the usual manner of the Indians. Among them it most commonly happens,
even when a young man marries a woman of his own band, he has previously
had no personal acquaintance with her. They have seen each other in the
village. He has perhaps looked at her in passing, but it is probable they
have never spoken together. The match is agreed on by the old people, and
when their intention is made known to the young couple, they commonly
find, in themselves, no objection to the arrangement, as they know,
should it prove disagreeable mutually, or to either party, it can at any
time be broken off.

My conversations with Mis-kwa-bun-o-kwa, (the red sky of the morning,)
for such was the name of the woman who offered me her pipe, was soon
noised about the village. Hearing it, and inferring, probably, that
like other young men of my age I was thinking of taking a wife, old
O-zhusk-koo-koon came one day to our lodge, leading by the hand another
of his numerous grand-daughters. “This,” said he, to Net-no-kwa, “is the
handsomest and the best of all my descendants. I come to offer her to
your son.” So saying, he left her in the lodge and went away. This young
woman was one Net-no-kwa had always treated with unusual kindness, and
she was considered one of the most desirable in the band. The old woman
was now somewhat embarrassed, but at length she found an opportunity
to say to me, “My son, this girl which O-zhusk-koo-koon offers you is
handsome, and she is good, but you must not marry her for she has that
about her which will, in less than a year, bring her to her grave. It
is necessary that you should have a woman who is strong and free of any
disease. Let us, therefore, make this young woman a handsome present, for
she deserves well at our hands, and send her back to her father.” She
accordingly gave her goods to considerable amount, and she went home.
Less than a year afterwards, according to the old woman’s prediction, she

In the mean time, Mis-kwa-bun-o-kwa and myself were becoming more and
more intimate. It is probable Net-no-kwa did not disapprove of the course
I was now about to take, as, though I said nothing to her on the subject,
she could not have been ignorant of what I was doing. That she was not I
found, when after spending, for the first time, a considerable part of
the night with my mistress, I crept into the lodge at a late hour and
went to sleep. A smart rapping on my naked feet waked me at the first
appearance of dawn on the following morning. “Up,” said the old woman,
who stood by me with a stick in her hand, “up, young man, you who are
about to take yourself a wife, up, and start after game. It will raise
you more in the estimation of the woman you would marry to see you bring
home a load of meat early in the morning than to see you dressed ever so
gaily, standing about the village after the hunters are all gone out.” I
could make her no answer, but putting on my moccasins, took my gun and
went out. Returning before noon, with as heavy a load of fat moose meat
as I could carry, I threw it down before Net-no-kwa, and with a harsh
tone of voice said to her, “Here, old woman, is what you called for in
the morning.” She was much pleased, and commended me for my exertion. I
now became satisfied that she was not displeased on account of my affair
with Mis-kwa-bun-o-kwa, and it gave me no small pleasure to think that my
conduct met her approbation. There are many of the Indians who throw away
and neglect their old people, but though Net-no-kwa was now decrepit and
infirm, I felt the strongest regard for her, and continued to do so while
she lived.

I now redoubled my diligence in hunting, and commonly came home with
meat in the early part of the day, at least before night. I then dressed
myself as handsomely as I could, and walked about the village, sometimes
blowing the Pe-be-gwun, or flute. For some time Mis-kwa-bun-o-kwa
pretended she was not willing to marry me, and it was not, perhaps, until
she perceived some abatement of ardour on my part, that she laid this
affected coyness entirely aside. For my own part, I found that my anxiety
to take a wife home to my lodge was rapidly becoming less and less. I
made several efforts to break off the intercourse, and visit her no more,
but a lingering inclination was too strong for me. When she perceived my
growing indifference, she sometimes reproached me, and sometimes sought
to move me by tears and entreaties, but I said nothing to the old woman
about bringing her home, and became daily more and more unwilling to
acknowledge her publicly as my wife.

About this time I had occasion to go to the trading-house on Red
River, and I started in company with a half breed belonging to that
establishment, who was mounted on a fleet horse. The distance we had to
travel has since been called, by the English settlers, seventy miles. We
rode and went on foot by turns, and the one who was on foot kept hold of
the horse’s tail and ran. We passed over the whole distance in one day.
In returning, I was by myself and without a horse, and I made an effort,
intending, if possible, to accomplish the same journey in one day; but
darkness, and excessive fatigue, compelled me to stop when I was within
about ten miles of home.

When I arrived at our lodge, on the following day, I saw
Mis-kwa-bun-o-kwa sitting in my place. As I stopped at the door of the
lodge, and hesitated to enter, she hung down her head, but Net-no-kwa
greeted me in a tone somewhat harsher than was common for her to use to
me. “Will you turn back from the door of the lodge, and put this young
woman to shame, who is in all respects better than you are. This affair
has been of your seeking, and not of mine or hers. You have followed
her about the village heretofore; now you would turn from her, and make
her appear like one who has attempted to thrust herself in your way.” I
was, in part, conscious of the justness of Net-no-kwa’s reproaches, and
in part prompted by inclination. I went in and sat down by the side of
Mis-kwa-bun-o-kwa, and thus we became man and wife. Old Net-no-kwa had,
while I was absent at Red River, without my knowledge or consent, made
her bargain with the parents of the young woman and brought her home,
rightly supposing that it would be no difficult matter to reconcile me to
the measure. In most of the marriages which happen between young persons,
the parties most interested have less to do than in this case. The amount
of presents which the parents of a woman expect to receive in exchange
for her, diminishes in proportion to the number of husbands she may have


    Preparation for a war excursion—herds of buffalo heard at a
    great distance—terrible conflicts among the bulls—observances
    of the young warriors—Ko-zau-bun-ziche-e-gun, or divination
    to discover the situation of an enemy—Jeebi-ug, or memorials
    of deceased friends to be thrown away on the field of battle;
    and the design of the custom—war-party broken up by the
    interference of a rival chief—stupidity of the porcupine—I save
    the life of my foster brother—Albino bears—Waw-be-no—marriage
    of Pi-che-to and Skwa-shish—attack of a Sioux war-party, and
    pursuit to the village at Chief Mountain, and the head of the
    St. Peters, etc.

Four days after I returned from Red River, we moved to the woods,
Wa-me-gon-a-biew with his two wives and his family; Waw-be-be-nais-sa,
with one wife and several children; myself and wife, and the family
of Net-no-kwa. We directed our course towards the Craneberry River,
(Pembinah,) as we wished to select near that place a favourable spot
where our women and children might remain encamped, it being our
intention to join a war-party then preparing to go against the Sioux.
When we had chosen a suitable place, we applied ourselves diligently to
hunting, that we might leave dry meat enough to supply the wants of our
families in our absence. It happened one morning that I went to hunt with
only three balls in my pouch, and finding a large buck moose, I fired at
him rather hastily, and missed him twice in succession. The third time I
hit but did not kill him, only wounding him in the shoulder. I pursued,
and at length overtook him, but having no balls, I took the screws out of
my gun, tying the lock on with a string, and it was not till after I had
shot three of them into him that he fell.

We had killed a considerable quantity of meat, and the women were engaged
in drying it when, feeling curious to know the state of forwardness of
the war-party at Pembinah, and how soon they would start, we took our
horses and rode down, leaving Waw-be-be-nais-sa with the women. When
we arrived we found forty men of the Muskegoes ready to depart on the
following morning, and though we had come without our moccasins, or any
of the usual preparations, we determined to accompany them. Great numbers
of Ojibbeways and Crees had assembled, but they seemed, in general,
unwilling to accompany the Muskegoes, as this band is not in very high
repute among them. Wa-me-gon-a-biew was willing to dissuade me from
going, urging that we had better put it off and go with the Ojibbeways
in the fall. But I assured him I would by no means lose the present
opportunity inasmuch as we could both go now and in the fall also.

By the end of the second day after we left Pembinah, we had not a
mouthful to eat, and were beginning to be hungry. When we laid down in
our camp at night, and put our ears close to the ground, we could hear
the tramp of buffaloes, but when we sat up we could hear nothing, and
on the following morning nothing could be seen of them, though we could
command a very extensive view of the prairie. As we knew they must not be
far off in the direction of the sounds we had heard, eight men of whom I
was one, were selected and despatched to kill some, and bring the meat to
a point where it was agreed the party should stop next night. The noise
we could still hear in the morning by applying our ears to the ground,
and it seemed about as far distant, and in the same direction as before.
We started early and rode some hours before we could begin to see them,
and when we first discovered the margin of the herd, it must have been
at least ten miles distant. It was like a black line drawn along the
edge of the sky, or a low shore seen across a lake. The distance of the
herd from the place where we first heard them, could not have been less
than twenty miles. But it was now the rutting season, and various parts
of the herd were all the time kept in rapid motion by the severe fights
of the bulls. To the noise produced by the knocking together of the two
divisions of the hoof, when they raised their feet from the ground, and
of their incessant tramping, was added the loud and furious roar of
the bulls, engaged as they all were in their terrific and appalling
conflicts. We were conscious that our approach to the herd would not
occasion the alarm now that it would have done at any other time, and
we rode directly towards them. As we came near we killed a wounded bull
which scarce made an effort to escape from us. He had wounds in his
flanks into which I could put my whole hand. As we knew that the flesh of
the bulls was not now good to eat, we did not wish to kill them, though
we might easily have shot any number. Dismounting, we put our horses in
the care of some of our number, who were willing to stay back for that
purpose, and then crept into the herd to try to kill some cows. I had
separated from the others, and advancing, got entangled among the bulls.
Before I found an opportunity to shoot a cow, the bulls began to fight
very near me. In their fury they were totally unconscious of my presence,
and came rushing towards me with such violence, that in some alarm for my
safety, I took refuge in one of those holes which are so frequent where
these animals abound, and which they themselves dig to wallow in. Here I
found that they were pressing directly upon me, and I was compelled to
fire to disperse them, in which I did not succeed until I had killed four
of them. By this firing the cows were so frightened that I perceived I
should not be able to kill any in this quarter, so regaining my horse, I
rode to a distant part of the herd, where the Indians had succeeded in
killing a fat cow. But from this cow, as is usual in similar cases, the
herd had all moved off, except one bull, who, when I came up, still kept
the Indians at bay. “You are warriors,” said I, as I rode up, “going far
from your own country, to seek an enemy, but you cannot take his wife
from that old bull who has nothing in his hands.” So saying I passed
them directly towards the bull, then standing something more than two
hundred yards distant. He no sooner saw me approach than he came plunging
towards me with such impetuosity, that knowing the danger to my horse and
myself, I turned and fled. The Indians laughed heartily at my repulse,
but they did not give over their attempts to get at the cow. By dividing
the attention of the bull, and creeping up to him on different sides,
they at length shot him down. While we were cutting up the cow, the herd
were at no great distance, and an old cow, which the Indians supposed to
be the mother of the one we had killed, taking the scent of the blood,
came running with great violence directly towards us. The Indians were
alarmed and fled, many of them not having their guns in their hands, but
I had carefully re-loaded mine, and had it ready for use. Throwing myself
down close to the body of the cow, and behind it, I waited till the other
came up within a few yards of the carcass, when I fired upon her. She
turned, gave one or two jumps, and fell dead. We had now the meat of two
fat cows which was as much as we wanted. We repaired without delay to
the appointed place where we found our party, whose hunger was already
somewhat allayed by a deer one of them had killed.

I now began to attend to some of the ceremonies of what may be called
the initiation of warriors, this being the first time I had been on a
war-party. For the three first times that a man accompanies a war-party,
the customs of the Indians require some peculiar and painful observances
from which old warriors may, if they choose, be exempted. The young
warrior must constantly paint his face black; must wear a cap, or head
dress of some kind; must never precede the older warriors, but follow
them, stepping in their tracks. He must never scratch his head, or any
other part of his body, with his fingers, but if he is compelled to
scratch, he must use a small stick; the vessel he eats or drinks out of,
or the knife he uses, must be touched by no other person. In the two last
mentioned particulars, the observances of the young warriors are like
those the females in some bands use during their earliest periods of
menstruation. The young warrior, however long and fatiguing the march,
must neither eat, nor drink, nor sit down by day. If he halts for a
moment, he must turn his face towards his own country, that the Great
Spirit may see that it is his wish to return home again.

At night they observe a certain order in their encampments. If there
are bushes where they halt, the camp is enclosed by these stuck into
the ground, so as to include a square, or oblong space, with a passage,
or door, in one end, which is always that towards the enemy’s country.
If there are not bushes, they mark the ground in the same manner, with
small sticks, or the stalks of the weeds which grow in the prairie. Near
the gate, or entrance to this camp, is the principal chief and the old
warriors; next follow in order, according to age and reputation, the
younger men. And last of all, in the extreme end of the camp, those with
blacked faces, who are making their first excursion. All the warriors,
both old and young, sleep with their faces towards their own country,
and, on no consideration, however uneasy their position, or however great
their fatigue, must make any change of attitude, nor must any two lie
upon, or be covered by the same blanket. In their marches, the warriors,
if they ever sit down, must not sit upon the naked ground, but must at
least have some grass or bushes under them. They must, if possible, avoid
wetting their feet, but if they are ever compelled to wade through a
swamp, or to cross a stream, they must keep their clothes dry, and whip
their legs with bushes or grass when they come out of the water. They
must never walk in a beaten path if they can avoid it, but if they cannot
at all times, then they must put medicine on their legs, which they carry
for that purpose. Any article belonging to any of the party, such as his
gun, his blanket, tomahawk, knife, or war club, must not be stepped over
by any other person, neither must the legs, hands, or body of any one
who is sitting or lying on the ground. Should this rule be inadvertently
violated, it is the duty of the one to whom the article stepped over may
belong, to seize the other and throw him on the ground, and the latter
must suffer himself to be thrown down, even should he be much stronger
than the other. The vessels which they carry to eat out of, are commonly
small bowls of wood, or of birch bark. They are marked across the middle
and the Indians have some mark by which they distinguish the two sides.
In going out from home they drink invariably out of one side, and in
returning, from the other. When on their way home, and within one day of
the village, they suspend all these bowls on trees, or throw them away in
the prairie.

I should have mentioned that in their encampments at night, the chief
who conducts the party sends some of his young men a little distance in
advance to prepare what is called Pushkwaw-gumme-genahgun, the piece of
cleared ground where the kozau-bun-zichegun, or divination by which the
position of the enemy is to be discovered, is to be performed. This spot
of cleared ground is prepared by removing the turf from a considerable
surface, in form of a parallelogram, and with the hands breaking up the
soil, to make it fine and soft, and which is so inclosed with poles
that none can step on it. The chief, when he is informed that the place
is ready, goes and sits down at the end opposite that of the enemy’s
country. Then, after singing and praying, he places before him on the
margin of the piece of ground, which may be compared to a bed in a
garden, two small roundish stones. After the chief has remained here by
himself for some time, entreating the Great Spirit to show him the path
in which he ought to lead his young men, a crier goes to him from the
camp, and then returning part way, he calls by name some of the principal
men, saying, “come smoke.” Others also, if they wish it, who are not
called, repair to the chief, and they then examine, by striking a light,
the result of the kozau-bun-zichegun. The two stones which the chief
placed on the margin of the bed have moved across to the opposite end,
and it is from the appearance of the path they have left in passing over
the soft ground, that they infer the course they are to pursue.

At this place of divination, the offerings of cloth, beads, and whatever
other articles the chief and each man may carry for sacrifice, are
exposed during the night on a pole; also, their je-bi-ug, or memorials of
their dead friends, which are to be thrown away on the field of battle,
or if, possible, thrust into the ripped up bowels of their enemies who
may fall in the fight. If a warrior has lost, by death, a favourite
child, he carries, if possible, some article of dress, or perhaps some
toy, which belonged to the child, or more commonly a lock of his hair
which they seek to throw away on the field of battle. The scouts who
precede a war party into an enemy’s country, if they happen, in lurking
about their lodges, or in their old encampments, to discover any of the
toys that have been dropped by the children, such as little bows, or even
a piece of a broken arrow, pick it up, and carefully preserve it until
they return to the party. Then, if they know of a man who has lost his
child, they throw it to him, saying, “your little son is in that place,
we saw him playing with the children of our enemies. Will you go and see
him?” The bereaved father commonly takes it up, and having looked upon it
awhile, falls to crying, and is then ready and eager to go against the
enemy. An Indian chief, when he leads out his war party, has no other
means of control over the individuals composing it than his personal
influence gives him. It is therefore necessary they should have some
method of rousing and stimulating themselves to exertion.

A-gus-ko-gaut, the Muskego chief whom we accompanied on this occasion,
called himself a prophet of the Great Spirit, like the one who appeared
some years since among the Shawanees. He had, some time before, lost
his son, and on this party he carried the jebi, with the determination
of leaving it in a bloody field; but this design was frustrated by
the interference of Ta-bush-shah,[21] (he that dodges down,) who now
overtook us with twenty men. This restless and ambitious Ojibbeway
was unwilling that any but himself should lead a party against the
Sioux; more particularly, that any of his own daring actions should be
eclipsed by the prowess of so despised a people as the Muskegoes. But
on first joining us, his professions manifested nothing unfriendly to
our undertaking; on the contrary, he pretended he had come to aid his
brethren, the Muskegoes. A-gus-ko-gaut could scarce have been ignorant of
the feelings and intentions of Ta-bush-shah, but nevertheless he received
him with the utmost apparent cordiality and pleasure.

We journeyed on in company for some days, when in crossing some of the
wide prairies, our thirst became so excessive that we were compelled
to violate some of the rules of the war party. The principal men were
acquainted with the general features of the country we had to pass, and
knew that water could be found within a few miles of us, but most of the
older warriors being on foot, were exhausted with fatigue and thirst. In
this emergency, it became necessary that such of the party as had horses,
among whom were Wa-me-gon-a-biew and myself, should go forward and search
for water, and when it was found, make such a signal as would inform
the main body what course to pursue. I was among the first to discover
a place where water could be had, but before all the men could come up
to it, the suffering of some of them had become excessive. Those who had
arrived at the spring continued to discharge their guns during the night,
and the stragglers dropped in from different directions, some vomiting
blood, and some in a state of madness.

As we rested at this spring, an old man called Ah-tek-oons (the Little
Caribou,) made a Kozau-bun-zichegun, or divination, and announced
afterwards that in a particular direction which he pointed out, was a
large band of Sioux warriors coming directly towards us; that if we
could turn to the right or to the left, and avoid meeting them, we might
proceed unmolested to their country, and be able to do some mischief to
the women in their villages; but that if we suffered them to come upon
us, and attack us, we should be cut off, to a man. Ta-bush-shah affected
to place the most implicit reliance on this prediction, but the Muskegoe
chief, and the Muskegoes generally, would not listen to it.

There was now an incipient murmur of discontent, and some few openly
talked of abandoning A-gus-ko-gaut, and returning to their own country.
For some days nothing occurred except the discovery by some of our spies,
of a single Indian at a distance who fled immediately on being seen,
and was from that circumstance supposed to be one of a Sioux war party.
One morning we came to a herd of buffalo, and being without any food,
several of the young men were dispersed about to kill some. We had now,
since the discovery of the Sioux, been travelling only by night, keeping
ourselves concealed in the day time. But the unguarded manner in which
the Muskegoes suffered their young men to pursue the buffalo, riding
about in open day, and discharging their guns, afforded Ta-bush-shah an
opportunity to effect what was probably the sole design of his journey, a
disunion of the party, and eventually the frustration of all the designs
of A-gus-ko-gaut.

Our camp being profusely supplied with meat, we had something like a
general feast. The party was regularly and compactly arranged, and after
they had eaten, Ta-bush-shah arose and harangued them in a loud voice.
“You, Muskegoes,” said he, “are not warriors, though you have come very
far from your own country, as you say, to find the Sioux. But though
hundreds of your enemies may be, and probably are, immediately about us,
you can never find one of them unless they fall upon you to kill you.” In
the close of his address, he expressed his determination to abandon the
cause of a party so badly conducted, and return to his own country with
his twenty men.

When he had spoken, Pe-zhew-o-ste-gwon, (the wild cat’s head,) the orator
of A-gus-ko-gaut, replied to him. “Now,” said he, “we see plainly why
our brothers, the Ojibbeways and Crees were not willing to come with
us from Red River. You are near your own country, and it is of little
importance to you whether you see the Sioux now, or in the fall. But we
have come a very great distance. We bear with us, as we have long borne,
those that were our friends and children, but we cannot lay them down,
except we come into the camp of our enemies. You know well that in a
party like this, large as it even now is, if only one turns back, another
and another will follow, until none are left. And it is for this reason
that you have joined us; that you may draw off our young men, and thus
compel us to return without having done any thing.” After he had spoken,
Ta-bush-shah, without making any answer, rose, and turning his face
towards his own country, departed with his twenty men. A-gus-ko-gaut, and
the principal men of the Muskegoes sat silently together, and saw one
after another of their own young men get up and follow the Ojibbeways.
In the first moments, this defection of Ta-bush-shah seemed to arouse
some indignation in the breasts of some of the young Muskegoes, for
they imprudently fired upon the rear of the retiring Ojibbeways; but
though some of the latter turned to resent this treatment, their prudent
leader repressed their ardour, and by so doing, gained the good will of
those who might so readily have been rendered dangerous enemies. For the
greater part of the day did A-gus-ko-gaut, and the few that remained firm
to him, continue sitting upon the ground, in the same spot where he had
listened to the speech of Ta-bush-shah; and when at last he saw his band
diminished from sixty to five, the old man could not refrain from tears.

Wa-me-gon-a-biew had joined the deserting party, and at that time I had
removed to a place a few rods distant from the chief, where I remained
during the whole time. I now rejoined the chief and told him if he was
willing to go on himself, I would accompany him, if no other would. The
other three men who remained, being his personal friends, were willing
to have gone on if he had wished it, but he said he feared we could do
very little, being so few in number, and if the Sioux should discover
us, we could not fail to be cut off. So the excursion was abandoned, and
every man sought to return home by the most convenient and expeditious
way, no longer paying the least regard to any thing except his own safety
and comfort. I soon overtook Wa-me-gon-a-biew, and with three other men,
we formed a party to return together. We chose, in our return, a route
different from that taken by most of the party. Game was plenty, and we
did not suffer from hunger. Early one morning, I was lying wrapped in my
blanket by a deep buffalo path, which came down through a prairie to the
little creek where we were encamped. It was now late in the fall, and
the thick and heavy grasses of these prairies, having long before been
killed by the frosts, had become perfectly dry. To avoid burning the
grass, we had kindled our little fire in the bottom of the deep path,
where it passed through the corner of the bank. Some of the Indians had
got up, and were sitting part on one and part on the other side of the
path, preparing something for breakfast, when our attention was called
to some unusual sound, and we saw a porcupine come walking slowly and
slouchingly down the path. I had heard much of the stupidity of this
animal, but never had an opportunity to witness it till now. On he came,
without giving any attention to surrounding objects, until his nose was
actually in the fire. Then bracing stiffly back with his fore feet, he
stood so near that the flame, when driven towards him by the wind, still
singed the hairs on his face, for some minutes, stupidly opening and
shutting his eyes. At length one of the Indians, tired of looking at him,
hit him a blow in the face with a piece of moose meat he had on a little
stick to roast. One of them then killed him with a tomahawk, and we ate
some of the meat, which was very good. The Indians then, in conversation
respecting the habits of this animal, related to me what I have since
seen, namely: that as a porcupine is feeding in the night, along the
bank of a river, a man may sometimes take up some of his food on the
blade of a paddle and holding it to his nose, he will eat it without ever
perceiving the presence of the man. When taken, they can neither bite nor
scratch, having no protection or defence except what is yielded them by
their barbed and dangerous spines. Dogs can rarely, if ever, be urged to
attack them. When they do, severe injury and suffering, if not death, is
the certain consequence.

In four days after we started to return, we reached Large Wood River,
which heads in a mountain, and running a long distance through the
prairie, and ten miles under ground, empties into Red River. Below the
place where it disappears under the prairie, it is called by another
name, but it is no doubt the same river. Here we killed one of the common
red deer, like those of Kentucky, though this kind is not often seen in
the north.

When I returned to my family I had but seven balls left, but as there was
no trader near, I could not at present get any more. With those seven I
killed twenty moose and elk. Often times, in shooting an elk or a moose,
the ball does not pass quite through, and may be used again.

Late in the fall I went to the Mouse River trading house to get some
goods, and there Wa-me-gon-a-biew determined to go and live by himself,
but Net-no-kwa preferred to live with me. Before Wa-me-gon-a-biew left
me, we met at the Mouse River trading house some of the members of a
family that in times long past had quarrelled with the predecessors of
Wa-me-gon-a-biew. They were part of a considerable band, strangers to
us, and in themselves were far too powerful for us. We heard of their
intention to kill Wa-me-gon-a-biew, and as we could not avoid being
thrown more or less into their power, we thought best to conciliate
their good will, or at least purchase their forbearance by a present.
We had two kegs of whiskey, which we gave to the band, presenting one
particularly to the head of the family who had threatened us. When they
began to drink, I noticed one man, who, with great show of cordiality
invited Wa-me-gon-a-biew to drink, and pretended to drink with him.
The more effectually to throw my brother off his guard, this man, in
due time, began to act like a drunken man, though I could perceive he
was perfectly sober, and knew that he had drank very little, if any
thing, since we had been together. I had no difficulty to comprehend his
intentions, and determined, if possible, to protect Wa-me-gon-a-biew
from the mischief intended him. We had, with the hope of securing the
friendship of the family of Crees, made our fire very near theirs, and
as I found Wa-me-gon-a-biew becoming too drunk to have much discretion,
I withdrew him to our camp. Here I had scarce laid him down and thrown
his blanket over him, when I found myself surrounded by the hostile
family, with their guns and knives in their hands, and I heard them speak
openly of killing my brother. Fortunately our present of spirits had
nearly overcome the senses of all except the man I have before mentioned,
and I regarded him as the most formidable among them. As two of them
approached, apparently intending to stab Wa-me-gon-a-biew, I stepped
between and prevented them. They then seized me by the arms, which I
allowed them to hold without any resistance on my part, knowing that
when about to stab me, they must let go at least with one hand each,
and intending then to make an effort to escape from them. I grasped
firmly in my right hand, and at the same time kept hid in the corner of
my blanket, a large and strong knife on which I placed great reliance.
Very soon after they had seized me, the Indian on my left, still holding
my left hand by his, raised his knife in his right to strike me in the
ribs. His companion, who was somewhat drunk, having felt his belt for
his own knife, found he had dropped it, and calling out to his companion
to wait until he could find his knife that he might help to kill me,
quitted my right hand and went towards the fire searching for it. This
was my opportunity, and with a sudden spring I disengaged myself from
the one who still held my left hand, and at the same time showing him
a glimpse of my knife. I was now free and might have secured my own
safety by flight but was determined not to abandon Wa-me-gon-a-biew in
a situation where I knew for me to leave him, would be certain death.
The Indians seemed for a moment astonished at my sudden resistance and
escape, and not less so, when they saw me catch up the body of my drunken
companion, and at two or three leaps, place him in a canoe on the beach.
I lost no time in passing over the small distance between their camp and
the trading house. Why they did not fire upon me before I was out of
the light of their camp fire, I cannot tell. Perhaps they were somewhat
intimidated at seeing me so well armed, so active, and so entirely sober,
which last circumstance gave me an evident advantage over most of them.

Shortly after this Wa-me-gon-a-biew left me according to his previous
determination, and I went to live by myself at a place on the Assinneboin
River. I had been here but a few days when A-ke-wah-zains, a brother of
Net-no-kwa, came to stay at our lodge. He had not been long with us when
we one day discovered a very old man, in a small wooden canoe, coming
up the river. A-ke-wah-zains immediately knew him to be the father of
the men from whom I had so lately rescued Wa-me-gon-a-biew. The old man
came promptly to the shore when called, but it soon appeared that he was
ignorant of what had passed between his children and us. A-ke-wah-zains,
as he related these affairs to him, became excessively enraged, and it
was not without difficulty I prevented him from murdering the helpless
old man on the spot. I was content to suffer him to take part of the rum
the old man had brought, and I assisted the latter to escape immediately,
as I knew it would be unsafe for him to remain among us after his liquor
had begun to have its effect.

The same evening A-ke-wah-zains asked me for my gun, which was a long,
heavy, and very excellent one, in exchange for his, which was short and
light. I was unwilling to exchange, though I did not as yet know how
great was the disparity between the two pieces, and though Net-no-kwa
was unwilling I should exchange, I did not know how to refuse the man’s
request, such a thing being almost unknown among the Indians of this

Shortly after this, I killed an old she bear which was perfectly white.
She had four cubs, one white, with red eyes, and red nails, like herself;
one red, (brown?) and two black. In size, and other respect, she was the
same as the common black bear, but she had nothing black about her except
the skin of the lips. The fur of this kind is very fine, but not so
highly valued by the traders as the red. The old one was very tame, and I
killed her without difficulty. Two of the young I shot in the hole, and
two escaped into a tree. I had but just shot them when there came along
three men, attracted, probably, by the sound of my gun. As these men
were very hungry, I took them home with me, fed them, and gave each of
them a piece of meat to carry home. Next day I chased another bear into
a low poplar tree, when I became convinced of the worthlessness of the
gun I had from A-ke-wah-zains, for I shot fifteen times without killing
the bear, and was compelled, at last, to climb into the tree and put the
muzzle of my gun close to his head, before I could kill him. A few days
afterwards, as I was hunting, I started at the same moment an elk and
three young bears, and two of them fell. As I thought one or both of them
must be only wounded, I sprang immediately towards the root of the tree,
but had scarce reached it, when I saw the old she bear come jumping in an
opposite direction. She caught up the cub which had fallen nearest her,
and raising it with her paws, while she stood on her hind feet, holding
it as a woman holds her child. She looked at it for a moment, smelled the
ball hole which was in its belly, and perceiving it was dead, dashed it
down, and came directly towards me, gnashing her teeth and walking so
erect that her head stood as high as mine. All this was so sudden that
I had scarce re-loaded my gun, having only time to raise it when she
came within reach of the muzzle. I was now made to feel the necessity of
a lesson the Indians had taught me, and which I very rarely neglected,
namely, after discharging my gun, to think of nothing else before loading
it again.

In about a month that I remained here, I killed, notwithstanding the
poorness of my gun, twenty-four bears and about ten moose. Having now a
great deal of bear’s fat which we could not eat, I visited the sunjegwun
I had made, where I killed the twenty moose with seven balls, and put the
fat into it. At length, when provisions became very scarce, I returned
with my family to this place, expecting to live until spring on the meat
I had saved, but I found that Wa-me-gon-a-biew, with his own family and
several others, had been there, broken it open, and taken away every
pound of meat. Being thus reduced to the apprehension of immediate
starvation, I was compelled to go in pursuit of buffalo. Fortunately the
severity of the winter now drove these animals in towards the woods,
and in a very few days I killed plenty of them. I was now joined by
Wa-me-gon-a-biew and other Indians. We were encamped at a little grove of
trees in the prairie. It happened one night that the old woman, as well
as several others of our family, dreamed of a bear close to our lodge.
Next morning I searched for him, and found him in his hole. I shot him,
and waiting a moment for the smoke to clear away, as I saw him lying at
the bottom, I went down head foremost to draw him out. As my body partly
filled the hole, and excluded the light, I did not perceive that he was
alive until I laid my hand on him. He then turned and sprang upon me. I
retreated as fast as I could, but all the way he was snapping his teeth
so near me that I felt his breath warm on my face. He might have seized
me at any moment, but did not. I caught my gun as I leaped from the mouth
of the den, the bear pursuing me very closely. As soon as I thought I
had gained a little distance, I fired behind me, and broke his jaw, and
soon killed him. Afterwards I became more cautious about going down into
bear’s holes before I had ascertained that the animals were dead. Late
in winter the buffalo were so plenty about us that we killed them with
bows, and caught some of the younger ones with nooses of leather.

As the sugar season came on we went to Pe-kau-kau-ne Sah-ki-e-gun,
(Buffalo Hump Lake,) two days’ journey from the head of Pembinah River,
to hunt beavers. We took our wives to the hunting grounds, but left old
Net-no-kwa with the children to make sugar. It was now our object to kill
beaver enough to enable us to purchase each a good horse, intending to
accompany the war-party against the Sioux the ensuing summer. In ten days
I killed forty-two large and fine beavers, and Wa-me-gon-a-biew about
as many. With these we repaired to the Mouse River trading-house to buy
horses. Mr. M’Kie had promised to sell me a very large and beautiful
horse of his, which I had before seen, and I was much dissatisfied when
I found the horse had been sold to the North West Company. I told him,
since the horse had gone to the north west, the beavers might go there
also. So crossing to the other side, I bought a large gray mare for
thirty beaver skins. This was, in some respects, as good a horse as the
other, but it did not please me as well. Wa-me-gon-a-biew also bought a
horse from the Indians, and then we returned to Great Wood River to look
for old Net-no-kwa, but she had gone to Red River, whither we followed

As we remained for some time at the mouth of the Assinneboin, many
Indians gathered around us, and among others, several of my wife’s
relatives, whom I had not before seen. Among these was an uncle who was
a cripple, and had not for years been able to walk. As he had only heard
that I was a white man, he supposed that I could not hunt. When he saw my
wife, he said to her, “Well, my daughter, I hear you are married. Does
your husband ever kill any game?” “Yes,” said she, “if a moose or an elk
has lost his road, or wants to die, and comes and stands in his path, he
will some times kill him.” “He has gone to hunt to-day, has he not? If he
kills any thing I shall go and bring it in, and you will give me the skin
to make some moccasins.” This he said in derision, but I gave him the
skin of the elk I killed that day to make his moccasins, and continuing
to be successful, I gave game to all my wife’s relatives, and soon heard
no more of their ridicule. After some time, the game was exhausted, and
we found it necessary to disperse in various directions. I went about ten
miles up the Assinneboin, where we found two lodges under a man called
Po-ko-taw-ga-maw, (the little pond.) These people were relatives of my
wife. When we first arrived, the wife of Po-ko-taw-ga-maw happened to
be cooking a moose’s tongue for her husband, who had not yet returned
from hunting. This she gave us immediately, and would, perhaps, have
farther relieved our distress had not the man then arrived. After this,
they gave us nothing, though our little children were crying for hunger,
and they had plenty of meat about their lodge. It was now too late, and
I too much fatigued to go a hunting that evening, nevertheless I would
not suffer the women to buy meat from them, as they wished to do. At the
earliest appearance at dawn on the ensuing morning, I took my gun, and
standing at the door of my lodge, I said purposely in a loud voice, “Can
none but Po-ko-taw-ga-maw kill elks?” My wife came out of my lodge, and
handed me a piece of dried meat, about as large as my hand, which she
said her sister had stolen to give to her. By this time, many of the
people had come out of the lodges, and I threw the piece of meat from
me, among the dogs, saying, “Shall such food as this be offered to my
children, when there are plenty of elks in the woods?” Before noon I had
killed two fat elks, and returned to my lodge with a heavy load of meat.
I soon killed great numbers of buffaloes, and we dispersed ourselves
about to make dry meat, preparatory to leaving our families to go on the
proposed war-party. We then returned to the woods to select some good elk
and moose skins for moccasins. The skins of animals living in the open
prairies are tender, and do not make good leather.

As we were one day travelling through the prairie, we looked back and
saw at a distance a man loaded with baggage, and having two of the large
Ta-wa-e-gun-num, or drums used in the ceremonies of the Waw-be-no. We
looked to our young women for an explanation, as we soon recognized the
approaching traveller to be no other than Pich-e-to, one of the band of
inhospitable relatives we had lately left. The face of Skwaw-shish, the
Bow-we-tig girl, betrayed the consciousness of some knowledge respecting
the motives of Pich-e-to.

At this time, the Waw-be-no was fashionable among the Ojibbeways, but
it has ever been considered by the older and more respectable men as a
false and dangerous religion. The ceremonies of the Waw-be-no differ
very essentially from those of the Metai, and are usually accompanied by
much licentiousness and irregularity. The Ta-wa-e-gun used for a drum in
this dance, differs from the Woin Ah-keek, or Me-ti-kwaw-keek, used in
the Me-tai, it being made of a hoop of bent wood like a soldier’s drum,
while the latter is a portion of the trunk of a tree, hollowed by fire,
and having the skin tied over it. The She-zhe-gwun, or rattle, differs
also in its construction from that used in the Metai. In the Waw-be-no,
men and women dance and sing together, and there is much juggling and
playing with fire. The initiated take coals of fire, and red hot stones
in their hands, and sometimes in their mouths. Sometimes they put powder
on the insides of their hands, first moistening them, to make it stick;
then by rubbing them on coals, or a red hot stone, they make the powder
burn. Sometimes one of the principal performers at a Waw-be-no, has a
kettle brought and set down before him, which is taken boiling from
the fire, and before it has time to cool, he plunges his hands to the
bottom, and brings up the head of the dog, or whatever other animal it
may be which had been purposely put there. He then, while it remains
hot, tears off the flesh with his teeth, at the same singing and dancing
madly about. After devouring the meat, he dashes down the bone, still
dancing and capering as before. They are able to withstand the effects of
fire and of heated substances by what they would persuade the ignorant
to be a supernatural power, but this is nothing else than a certain
preparation, effected by the application of herbs, which make the parts
to which they are applied insensible to fire. The plants they use are
the Wa-be-no-wusk, and Pe-zhe-ke-wusk. The former grows in abundance on
the island of Mackinac, and is called yarrow by the people of the United
States. The other grows only in the prairies. These they mix and bruise,
or chew together, and rub over their hands and arms. The Waw-be-no-wusk,
or yarrow, in the form of a poultice, is an excellent remedy for burns,
and is much used by the Indians, but the two when mixed together seem to
give to the skin, even of the lips and tongue, an astonishing power of
resisting the effects of fire.

Pich-e-to, with his two Ta-wa-e-guns, at length came up and stopped
with us. Old Net-no-kwa was not backward about inquiring his business,
and when she found that his designs extended no farther than to the
Bow-we-tig girl, she gave her consent to the match, and married
them immediately. Next morning, Waw-be-be-nais-sa, who, as well as
Wa-me-gon-a-biew had come with me from the mouth of the Assinneboin,
killed a buck elk, and I a moose. I now made a change in my manner of
hunting which contributed much towards the skill I finally acquired. I
resolved that I would, whenever it was possible, even at the expense of
the greatest exertions, get every animal I should kill at. When I came
to look upon it as necessary that I should kill every animal I shot at,
I became more cautious in my approaches, and more careful never to fire
until my prospect of being able to kill was good. I made this resolution
in the spring, and hunted much, and killed many animals during the
summer. I missed only two that I fired at. It requires much skill, and
great caution, to be able to kill moose at all, particularly in summer.
As I began to be considered a good hunter, Waw-be-be-nais-sa became
envious of my success, and often when I was absent, he went slily into my
lodge, and bent my gun, or borrowed it under pretence of his own being
out of repair, and returned it to me bent, or otherwise injured.

Very early in the spring, we had much severe thunder and lightning. One
night, Pich-e-to becoming much alarmed at the violence of the storm, got
up and offered some tobacco to the thunder, intreating it to stop. The
Ojibbeways and Ottawwaws believe that thunder is the voice of living
beings, which they call An-nim-me-keeg.[22] Some considering them to be
like men, while others say they have more resemblance to birds. It is
doubtful whether they are aware of any necessary connection between the
thunder and the lightning which precedes it. They think the lightning is
fire, and many of them will assert, that by searching in the ground at
the root of the tree that has been struck, immediately after the flash a
ball of fire may be found. I have myself many times sought for this ball,
but could never find it. I have traced the path of the lightning along
the wood, almost to the end of some large root, but where it disappeared
I was never able to find any thing more in the soil than what belonged
there. After the storm which I first mentioned, we found in the morning
an elm tree still burning, which had been set on fire by the lightning.
The Indians have a superstitious dread of this fire, and none of them
would go to bring some of it, to replace ours which had been extinguished
by the rain. I at last went and brought some of it, though not without
apprehension. I had fewer fears than the Indians, but I was not entirely
free from the same unfounded apprehensions which so constantly pursue

After we had killed and dried large quantities of meat, we erected a
sunjegwun, or a scaffold, where we deposited as much as we thought would
supply the wants of our women in our absence. Before we had entirely
finished the preparations for our journey, we were fallen upon by a
war-party of about two hundred Sioux, and some of our people killed. A
small party of Assinneboins and Crees had already gone out towards the
Sioux country, and falling by accident on the trace of this war-party of
two hundred, had dogged them for some time, coming repeatedly near enough
to see the crane’s head, used by their chief instead of stones, in the
Ko-sau-bun-zitch-e-gun, or nightly divination, to discover the position
of the enemy. This little band of Crees and Assinneboins had not courage
enough to fall upon the Sioux, but they sent messengers to the Ojibbeways
by a circuitous route. These came to the lodge of the principal chief of
the Ojibbeways, who was hunting in advance of his people, but this man
scorned to betray fear. By retreating immediately to the trader’s fort,
he might have escaped the threatening danger. He made his preparations
to move, but his old wife, being jealous of the younger one, which was
now in higher favour than herself, reproached him, and complained that
he had given more to the young woman than to her. He said to her, “You
have for a long time annoyed me with your jealousy, and your complaints,
but I shall hear no more of it. The Sioux are near, and I shall wait for
them.” He accordingly remained, and continued hunting. Early one morning,
he went up into an oak tree that stood near his lodge, to look out over
the prairie for buffalo, and in descending he was shot from below by two
young men of the Sioux that had been concealed there great part of the
night. It is probable they would have fallen upon him sooner but for
fear. Now the trampling of horses was heard, and the men who were with
the chief had scarce time to run out of the lodge when the two hundred
Sioux, on their horses, were at the door. One of the two runners who had
come forward, and had been concealed in the hazel bushes, was an uncle
of Wah-ne-taw,[23] at present a well known chief of the Yanktongs, and
the party was led by his father. Wah-ne-taw himself was of the party, but
was then less distinguished than he has since become. The fight continued
during the day. All the Ojibbeways, about twenty in number, being killed,
except Ais-ainse, (the little clam,) a brother of the chief, two women,
and one child.

Mr. H., the trader at Pembinah gave the Ojibbeways a ten gallon keg of
powder, and one hundred pounds of balls, to pursue after the party that
had killed the chief, his father-in-law. Of the four hundred men that
started, one hundred were Assinneboins, the remaining three hundred
Crees and Ojibbeways, with some Muskegoes. In the course of the first
day after we left Pembinah, about one hundred Ojibbeways deserted and
went back. In the following night, the Assinneboins left in considerable
numbers, having stolen many horses, and, among others, four belonging
to me and Wa-me-gon-a-biew. I had taken but seven pairs of moccasins,
having intended to make the whole journey on horse back, and it was now a
great misfortune for me to lose my horses. I went to Pe-shau-ba, who was
chief of the band of Ottawwaws, to which I belonged, and told him that I
wished to make reprisals from the few Assinneboins still belonging to our
party, but he would not consent, saying very justly, that the dissension
growing out of such a measure, on my part, might lead to quarrels, which
would entirely interrupt and frustrate the designs of the whole party.
His advice, though I knew it to be good as far as the interest of the
whole was concerned, did nothing to remove my private grievances, and I
went from one to another of the Ottawwaws, and those whom I considered my
friends among the Ojibbeways, and endeavoured to persuade them to join me
in taking horses from the Assinneboins. None would consent, but a young
man called Gish-kau-ko, a relative of him by whom I was taken prisoner.
He agreed to watch with me the thirteen Assinneboins remaining with our
party, and, if an opportunity offered, to assist in taking horses from
them. Soon after, I saw eight of these men lingering in the encampment
one morning, and I believed it was their intention to turn back. I called
Gish-kau-ko to watch them with me, and when most of the Ojibbeways had
left camp, we saw them get on their horses, and turn their faces towards
home. We followed after them, though they were well armed. As we knew we
could not take their horses by violence, we threw down our arms in our
camp and followed them with nothing in our hands. One of them stopped
some distance in the rear of the retiring party, and dismounted to hold
a parley with us, but they were too wary and cautious to give us any
opportunity of taking their horses. We tried entreaties, and at last, as
I saw there was no hope, I told them their five companions that were left
in our camp would not be safe among us, but this, instead of having any
good effect, only induced them to send a messenger on their swiftest
horse to warn those men to beware of me.

We returned to the main party on foot, and took the first opportunity to
visit the camp of the five remaining Assinneboins, but they were notified
of our approach, and fled with their horses. At a lake near Red River, we
found hanging on a tree in the woods, the body of a young Sioux, called
the Red Thunder. We were now on the path of the retiring war-party which
had killed our chief, and to which this young man had belonged. The
Ojibbeways threw down the body, beat, kicked, and scalped it. Pe-shau-ba
forbade me and the other young men of his party to join the Ojibbeways
in these unmanly outrages. Not far from this place we found a prisoner’s
pole, where they had danced some prisoners, which first convinced us that
some of our friends had been taken alive. The trail of the party was
still recent, and we thought ourselves but two or three days behind them.

At Lake Traverse, our number had diminished to one hundred and twenty.
Of these, three men were half breed Assinneboins, about twenty Crees
and as many Ottawwaws, the rest Ojibbeways. Many of the party had been
discouraged by unfavourable divinations, among others one by Pe-shau-ba,
the Ottawwaw chief, made on the first night after we left Pembinah. He
told us that in his dream he saw the eyes of the Sioux, like the sun.
They saw every where, and always discovered the Ojibbeways before the
latter came near enough to strike them. Also that he had seen all our
party returning, unharmed, and without scalps. But he said that on the
left hand side of Lake Traverse, opposite our road, he saw two lodges of
Sioux by themselves, which he intended to visit on his return.

Due west from Lake Traverse, and at the distance of two days’ travel,
is a mountain called O-ge-mah-wud-ju, (chief mountain,) and near this
is the village to which the party we were pursuing belonged. As we
approached this mountain, we moved in a more cautious and guarded manner,
most commonly lying hid in the woods during the day, and travelling at
night. When at last we were within a few miles, we halted in the middle
of the night, and waited for the approach of the earliest dawn, the
time the Indians commonly choose for an attack. Late in the night, a
warrior of high reputation called the Black Duck, took the reins of his
horse’s bridle in his hand, and walked on towards the village, allowing
me to accompany him. We arrived at early dawn at the little hill which
sheltered our approach from the village. Raising his head cautiously,
the Black Duck saw two men walking at some distance before him. He then
descended the hill a little, and tossing his blanket in a peculiar
manner, made a signal to the Ojibbeways to rush on. Then followed tearing
off of leggins, stripping off of blankets, and in an instant the whole
band leaped naked to the feet of the Black Duck. And now they moved
silently, but swiftly, over the crest of the hill, and stood upon the
site of the village. The two men when they discovered the war-party,
instead of flying, came deliberately towards them, and presently stood
before the leaders—two of the young men of their own band. They had
left the party when they halted, and, without giving notice of their
intention, gone forward to reconnoitre what they supposed to be the
position of the enemy. They found the camp had been deserted many hours
before, and when the party came up they were walking about, and scaring
away the wolves from among the rubbish. The Sas-sah-kwi, or war whoop,
was raised by the whole band as they rushed up. This loud and piercing
shout intimidates and overcomes the weak, or those who are surprised
without arms in their hands, while it rouses the spirit of such as are
prepared for battle. It has also, as I have seen in many instances, a
surprising effect upon animals. I have seen a buffalo so frightened by
it as to fall down in his steps, being able neither to run, nor to make
resistance. And a bear at hearing it, is sometimes so terror-stricken
as to quit his hold, and fall from the tree in utter helplessness. The
chiefs whom we followed were not willing to relinquish the objects of the
journey, and we still followed, from day to day, along the recent trail
of the Sioux. We found, at each of their encampments, the place of their
ko-sau-bun-zitch-e-gun, from the appearance of which we were able to
infer that they knew accurately our position from day to day. There was
now manifest among the young men of our party a prevailing disposition to
desert. This the chiefs laboured to prevent by appointing certain persons
whom they could trust to act as sentinels, both in the encampments and
during the marches. But this measure, though often tried, is always so
far from being effectual, that it seems greatly to increase the number of
desertions, perhaps because the young men despise the idea of restraint
of any kind. They, on this occasion became more and more restless and
troublesome after we had crossed over to the head of the river St. Peters
in pursuit of the Sioux. The traders have a fort somewhere on the upper
part of this river, to which the Sioux had fled. When we arrived within
a day’s march of this place, fear and hesitancy became manifest nearly
throughout the band. The chiefs talked of sending young men forward to
examine the position of the enemy, but no young men offered themselves
for the undertaking.

We remained some time stationary, and the opportunity was taken to supply
the wants of some who were deficient in moccasins or other important
articles. Any man who is on a war party, and whose supply of moccasins,
or of powder and ball, or any other common and necessary article, has
failed, takes a little of what he stands in need, and if it be moccasins,
he takes a single moccasin in his hand, and walks about the encampment,
pausing a moment before such of his companions as he hopes will supply
his demand. He has no occasion to say any thing, as those who happen to
have plenty of the article he wants, are commonly ready to furnish him.
Should this method fail, the chief of the party goes from one man to
another, and from those who have the greatest quantity, he takes as much
as may be necessary of the article required. He is, on these occasions,
dressed as for battle, and accompanied by two or three young warriors.

After a delay of two days on that part of our path nearest the Sioux
trader’s fort, we all turned back, but not entirely relinquishing the
object of our journey, we returned to the vicinity of the village at the
Chief Mountain, hoping we might find some of our enemies there. We had
many horses, and the young men rode so recklessly and noisily about,
that there was no chance of coming near them. After leaving Chief
Mountain, and proceeding some distance into the plain in our way towards
home, we found we were followed by a party of about one hundred Sioux.

At the Gaunenoway, a considerable river which heads in the Chief Mountain
and runs into Red River several days’ journey from Lake Traverse,
Pe-shau-ba quarrelled with an Ojibbeway called Ma-me-no-guaw-sink, on
account of a horse I had taken from some Crees who were the friends of
the Assinneboins, by whom I had long before been robbed of mine. This man
having killed a Cree, was now anxious to do something to gain friends
among that people. It happened that Pe-shau-ba and myself were travelling
together at a little distance from the main body, and I was leading the
horse I had taken when Ma-me-no-guaw-sink came up to us, accompanied by a
few friends, and demanded the horse. Pe-shau-ba, cocking his gun, placed
the muzzle of it to his heart, and so intimidated him by threats and
reproaches, that he desisted. The Ottawwaws, to the number of ten, now
stopped, Pe-shau-ba remaining at their head, and fell in the rear of the
main body in order to avoid farther trouble on account of this horse, all
of them being apparently unwilling that I should relinquish it.

There were four men of this war party who walked, in six days, from
the Chief Mountain to Pembinah, but our band, though many of us had
horses, took ten days to travel the same distance. One of the four was
an old man, an Ottawwaw, of Wau-gun-uk-kezze, or L’Arbre Croche. When I
arrived at Pembinah, I found my family had gone down to the mouth of the
Assinneboin. After the separation of our party, most of my particular
friends having left my route at Pembinah, my horse was stolen from me
at night. I knew who had taken him, and as the man was encamped at no
great distance, I took my arms in my hands, and went in the morning to
retake him. On my way I met Pe-shau-ba, who, without a word of enquiry,
comprehended my purpose, and peremptorily forbade me to proceed.
Pe-shau-ba was a good man, and had great influence with the people of his
band. I might have gone on to take my horse, contrary to his positive
injunction, but I did not choose to do so, and therefore returned with
him on my way. I had now no moccasins, and felt so much irritated on
account of the loss of my horse, that I could not eat. When I arrived
at home, in two day’s walk from Pembinah, I found I was worn out with
fatigue, my feet swollen and raw, and I found my family starving. Three
months I had been absent, my time having been occupied in long and
toilsome marches, all resulting in nothing.

It was necessary for me to go to hunt immediately, although the condition
of my feet was such that I could not stand without great pain. I had the
good fortune to kill a moose the first time I went out, on the morning
after my return. The same day snow fell about two feet deep, which
enabled me to kill game in great plenty.


    Visit to several Assinneboin villages, in pursuit of
    stolen horses—peculiar customs—I seize a horse belonging
    to an Assinneboin—war excursion to Turtle Mountain—battle
    at a village of the Mandans—doctrines of the Shawnese
    prophet—drunkenness, and its effects.

I had been at home but a short time when I heard that the Assinneboins
had boasted of taking my horse. As I was preparing to go in pursuit of
them, an Ojibbeway who had often tried to dissuade me from my attempt to
recover him, gave me a horse on condition that I would not attempt to
retake my own, accordingly, for some time, I said no more about it.

Having spent the winter at the mouth of the Assinneboin, I went to make
sugar at Great Wood River, but here it was told me that the Assinneboins
were still boasting of having taken my horse from me, and I, with some
persuasion, prevailed upon Wa-me-gon-a-biew to accompany me in an attempt
to recover him. At the end of four days’ journey, we came to the first
Assinneboin village, ten miles from the Mouse River trading house. This
village consisted of about thirty leather lodges. We were discovered
before we came to the village, as the Assinneboins, being a revolted
band of the Sioux, and in alliance with the Ojibbeways, are in constant
apprehension of attacks from the former, and therefore always station
some persons to watch for the approach of strangers. The quarrel which
resulted in the separation of this band of the Bwoir-nug, or “roasters,”
as the Ojibbeways call the Sioux, originated in a dispute concerning a
woman, and happened, as we are informed, not many years ago. So many
Ojibbeways and Crees now live among them that they are most commonly
able to understand something of the Ojibbeway language, though their own
dialect is very unlike it, resembling closely that of the Sioux.

One of the men who came out to meet us was Ma-me-no-kwaw-sink, with whom
Pe-shau-ba had quarrelled some time before on my account. When he came
up to us, he asked whither we were going. I told him, “I am come for our
horses which the Assinneboins stole.” “You had better,” said he, “return
as you came, for if you go to the village they will take your life.” To
these threats I paid no attention, but enquired for Ba-gis-kun-nung, the
men of whose family had taken our horses. They replied they could not
tell; that Ba-gis-kun-nung and his sons had, soon after the return of
the war party, gone to the Mandans, and had not yet come back; that when
they came among the Mandans, the former owner of my mare, recognizing
the animal, had taken her from the son of Ba-gis-kun-nung; but that the
latter contrived to remunerate himself by stealing a fine black horse,
with which he escaped, and had not been heard of since. Wa-me-gon-a-biew
being discouraged, and perhaps intimidated by the reception we met in
this village, endeavoured to dissuade me from going farther, and when
he found he could not prevail, he left me to pursue my horse by myself,
and returned home. I would not be discouraged, but determined to visit
every village and camp of the Assinneboins rather than return without
my horse. I went to the Mouse River trading house, and having explained
the object of my journey, they gave me two pounds of powder and thirty
balls, with some knives and small articles, and directions to enable
me to find the next village. As I was pursuing my journey by myself, I
had occasion to cross a very wide prairie, in which I discovered at a
distance, something lying on the ground, resembling a log of wood. As I
knew there could be no wood in such a place unless it were dropped by
some person, I thought it was most probably some article of dress, or
perhaps the body of a man, who might have perished on a journey, or when
out hunting. I made my approach cautiously, and at length discovered it
was a man, lying on his belly with his gun in his hands, and waiting for
wild geese to fly over. His attention was fixed in the direction opposite
that on which I approached, and I came very near him without being
discovered, when he rose and discharged his gun at a flock of geese. I
now sprang upon him. The noise of hawk bells and the silver ornaments
of my dress, notified him of my approach, but I caught him in my arms
before he had time to make any resistance, his gun being unloaded. When
he saw himself captured, he cried out “Assinneboin,” and I answered,
“Ojibbeway.” We were both glad to find that we could treat each other as
friends, and though we could not converse on account of the dissimilarity
of our dialects, I motioned to him to sit down upon the ground beside
me, with which request he immediately complied. I gave him a goose I had
killed not long before, and after resting for a few moments, signified to
him that I would accompany him to his lodge. A walk of about two hours,
brought us in sight of his village, and when we entered it, I followed
him immediately to his lodge. As I entered after him, I saw the old
man and woman cover their heads with their blankets, and my companion
immediately entered a small lodge, merely large enough to admit one, and
to conceal him from the remainder of the family. Here he remained, his
food being handed to him by his wife, but though secluded from sight, he
maintained, by conversation, some intercourse with those without. When he
wished to pass out of the lodge, his wife gave notice to her parents, and
they concealed their heads, and again, in the same manner, when he came

This formality is strictly observed by the married men among the
Assinneboins, and I believe among all the Bwoi-nug, or Dah-ko-tah,
as they call themselves. It is known to exist among the Omowhows of
the Missouri. It affects not only the intercourse between men and the
parents of their wives, but that with their aunt and uncles, and it is
the business of all parties alike to avoid seeing each other. If a man
enters a dwelling in which his son-in-law is seated, the latter conceals
his face until he departs. While the young men remain with the parents of
their wives, they have a little separate lodge within, or a part divided
off by suspending mats or skins, and into this little apartment the wife
retires at night. By day she is the organ of communication with those
without. A man rarely, if ever, mentions the name of his father-in-law,
and it is considered highly indecorous and disrespectful for him to do
so. This custom does not exist in any shape among the Ojibbeways, and
they look upon it as a very foolish and troublesome one.

The people of this lodge treated me with much kindness. Notwithstanding
the great scarcity of corn in the country, they had a little reserved,
which they cooked and gave me. The young man told them how much he had
been frightened by me in the prairie, at which they all laughed heartily.
This village consisted of twenty-five lodges, but although I inquired
of many of them, none knew where Ba-gis-kun-nung was to be found. There
was another village at the distance of about one day’s journey: he
might be there. I remained a little while at the lodge of the young man
I had found in the prairie, and then went out to start for the next
village. Geese were flying over, and I raised my gun and shot one. It
fell in the midst of a number of Assinneboins. Seeing there a very old
and miserable looking man, I motioned to him to go and get it. But he
must first come up to me to express his gratitude, by a method I had
not before seen used. He came up, and placing both hands on the top of
my head, passed them several times down the long hair that hung over my
shoulders, at the same time saying something in his own language which I
could not understand. He then went and took up the goose, and returning,
communicated to me by signs which I had no difficulty to understand, that
I must go to his lodge and eat with him before I could leave the village.
While he was cooking the goose, I went about from lodge to lodge, to look
at their horses, thinking I might see mine among them, but I did not.
Some of the young men of the village accompanied me, but without any
arms, and all seemed friendly, but when I was ready to start for the next
village, I noticed that one of them, mounted on a fleet horse, started to
precede me.

When I arrived at this village, no one took the slightest notice of me,
or even seemed to see me. They were a band with which I had previously
had no acquaintance, and I could perceive that they had been prejudiced
against me. Their chief, whom we used to call Kah-oge-maw-weet
Assinneboin, (the chief Assinneboin,) was a distinguished hunter, but he
was soon afterwards killed. He had been unusually long absent from home,
and by following his track, they found he had been attacked by a grizzly
bear in the prairie, and killed.

Finding the people of this band decidedly unfriendly, I went into none
of their lodges, but stood about, watching their horses, to see if I
could discover mine among them. I had heard much of the fleetness and
beauty of a young horse belonging to the chief, and I soon recognized
this animal, known to me only by description. I had a halter under my
blanket, and watching a favourable opportunity, I slipped it on the head
of this horse, mounted him, and flew rather than fled. I was excited to
this action, principally by a feeling of irritation at the unfriendly
conduct of the people of the village, as it had not been my intention
to take any horse but the one which belonged to me. When the horse and
myself were out of breath, I stopped to look back, and the Assinneboin
lodges were scarce visible, like little specks on the distant prairie. I
now reflected that I was doing wrong, to steal away the favourite horse
of a man who had never absolutely injured me, though he had refused the
customary dues of hospitality towards a stranger. I got down and left
the horse, but had scarce done so, when I saw thirty or forty men on
horseback, who had before been concealed in a depression in the prairie.
They were in pursuit, and very near me. I had scarce time to fly to a
thicket of low hazel bushes, when they were upon me. They rode about for
some time on horseback searching, and this delay gave me some little
time to choose a place of concealment. At length they dismounted, and
dispersed themselves in various directions, seeking for me. Some came
near me, and then turned off to search in other directions. My position
was such that I could watch their motions without the risk of exposing
myself. One young man stripped himself as for battle, sung his war song,
laid aside his gun, and came with only his war club directly towards the
spot where I lay. He was within about twenty steps of me, my gun was
cocked and aimed at his heart, when he turned and went back. It is not
probable he saw me, but the idea of being watched by an unseen enemy
armed with a gun, and whose position he could not hope to ascertain until
he was almost over him, probably overcame his resolution. They continued
their unavailing search until near night, and then returned, taking the
chief’s horse to their village.

I travelled towards home, rejoicing in my escape and without stopping
for the night, either on that or the succeeding one, and the third night
arrived at the Mouse River trading house. The traders told me I was a
fool that I had not brought the chief’s horse. They had heard much of his
qualities, and would, as they said, have paid me a high price for him.

In the Assinneboin village, ten miles from this trading house, I had
a friend called Be-na, (pheasant,) and when I had passed through I
requested him, while I should be absent, to endeavour to discover my
horse, or at least to ascertain, and be able to tell me, where I could
find Ba-gis-kun-nung. When I returned thither, after visiting Mouse River
trading house, Be-na took me immediately into a lodge where a couple of
old women lived, and looking through the crevices, he pointed out to me
the lodge of Ba-gis-kun-nung, and those of his four sons. Their horses
were feeding about, and among them we distinguished the fine black one
they had brought from the Mandans in place of mine.

Wa-me-gon-a-biew had been to the trading house, but returned thence to
the village before I arrived, and was now waiting for me at the lodge
of some of the sons of a brother of Taw-ga-we-ninne, who were of course
his cousins, and were very friendly to him. He had sent messengers to
Ba-gis-kun-nung, offering him a good gun, a chief’s coat, and all the
property he had about him, for a horse to ride home on. But when I heard
this, I reproved him severely, and told him that if Ba-gis-kun-nung had
accepted his presents, it would only have occasioned additional trouble
to me, as I should have been compelled to take not only a horse, but
those presents also.

Soon after my arrival in the village, I went to Ba-gis-kun-nung, and
said to him, “I want a horse.” “I shall not give you one,” he answered.
“I will take one from you.” “If you do I will shoot you.” With this I
returned to the lodge of Be-na, and made my preparations for starting at
an early hour in the morning. Be-na gave me a new buffalo robe to ride
home on, and I got from an old woman, a piece of leather thong for a
halter, having left mine on the chief’s horse. I did not sleep in Be-na’s
lodge, but with our cousins, and very early in the morning, as I was
ready to start I went to Be-na’s lodge, but he was not awake. I had a
very good new blanket which I spread over him without making any noise;
then, together with Wa-me-gon-a-biew, I started. When we came in sight
of the lodge of Ba-gis-kun-nung, we saw the eldest of his sons sitting
on the outside, and watching the horses. Wa-me-gon-a-biew endeavoured to
dissuade me from the design of attempting to take one, since we could
not do it without being seen, and had every reason to believe they were
prepared to use violent measures to prevent us from succeeding in the
attempt. I told him I would not listen to his advice, but consented to go
with him two hundred yards on our road, and lay down our baggage. Then
we were to return together, and take the horse. When we had proceeded as
far as I thought necessary, I laid down my load, but Wa-me-gon-a-biew,
seeing me resolute in my determination, began to run. At the same time
that he started to run from the village, I ran towards it, and the son
of Ba-gis-kun-nung, when he saw me coming, began to call out as loud
as he could in his own language. I could only distinguish the words
“Wah-kah-towah,” and “Shoonk-ton-gah,” (Ojibbeway—horse.) I supposed he
said, “an Ojibbeway is taking a horse.” I answered, “Kah-ween-gwautch
Ojibbeway,” (not altogether an Ojibbeway.) The village was instantly in
motion. In the faces of most of those who gathered round, I could see
no settled determination to act in any way, but there was encouragement
in the countenances of my friend Be-na and a number of Crees who were
about him. There was manifest hostility only in the Ba-gis-kun-nungs.
I was so agitated that I could not feel my feet touch the ground, but
I think I was not afraid. When I had got my halter on the head of the
black horse, I stood for a moment hesitating to get on him, as in the
act of doing so, I must for the moment deprive myself of the power of
using my arms, and could not avoid exposing myself to an attack behind.
But recollecting that any thing like indecision would at this time have
a most unfavourable effect, I gave a jump to mount the horse, but jumped
so much higher and farther than was necessary, that I fell sprawling on
the ground on the other side of the horse, my gun in one hand, my bow and
arrows in the other. I regained my feet as soon as I could, and looked
round to watch the motions of my enemies; but presently an universal
shout of laughter, in which all joined but the Ba-gis-kun-nungs, gave
me some confidence, and I proceeded more deliberately to mount. I knew
if they could have ventured to make any open attack on me, it would
have been at the time I was lying on the ground, and not in a situation
to make any dangerous resistance. The loud and hearty laughter of the
Indians, convinced me also, that what I was doing was not generally
offensive to them.

When I turned to ride off, I saw Wa-me-gon-a-biew still running like a
frightened turkey. He was almost out of sight. When I overtook him, I
said, “My brother, you must be tired, I will lend you my horse,” and we
went on together. At length, we saw two men coming on horse back from
the village, to pursue us. Wa-me-gon-a-biew was alarmed, and would have
rode off leaving me to settle the difficulty with them as I could, but
perceiving his intention, I called to him to leave the horse, which
he did, and resumed his race on foot. When the two men had approached
within about half a mile of me, I got down from the horse, and taking
the halter in my hand, stood with my face towards them. They stopped
in the path, at a distance from me, and looking around in the other
direction, I perceived that Wa-me-gon-a-biew had concealed himself in
the bushes. The two men stood in the road, and I remained holding my
horse nearly in the same place until near noon. The people of the village
stood, in great numbers, on a little elevation close by the lodges, and
watched to see what would be done. The two Ba-gis-kun-nungs, after they
were tired of standing, separated, and one came round on one side, the
other on the other, and came up opposite to me. It was then I thought
they would approach me, one on one side, the other on the other, and
thus get an opportunity to shoot me down, but after coming near me
once or twice, they went on, and got together in the road, between
me and Wa-me-gon-a-biew. I now began to tire of their pusillanimous
behaviour, and getting on my horse, I rode toward them, but they turned
out of my way, and went around to the village. In this affair, I found
Wa-me-gon-a-biew more cowardly than it was usual even for him to be,
but it happened that the chiefs, and the considerate men of the band to
whom Ba-gis-kun-nung belonged, were glad I had come to take a horse.
Ba-gis-kun-nung and his sons were considered troublesome and bad men,
hence it was that I was able to carry through this enterprise without any
assistance from Wa-me-gon-a-biew.

After the two men turned back, I rode along and Wa-me-gon-a-biew joined
me from the bushes where he had been concealed. We found that night
the lodge of our old friend, Waw-so, who used formerly to live with
Pe-shau-ba. The horse I had taken I concealed in the woods, and did not
wish to tell Waw-so of what I had done. But in the middle of the night,
after I fell asleep, Wa-me-gon-a-biew began to relate to him all that had
happened the preceding day, and when he came to hear of my jumping over
the horse, of which I had told Wa-me-gon-a-biew, the old man waked me
with his loud and hearty laughter.

We spent the night with Waw-so, and next morning continued on our journey
towards Ko-te-kwaw-wi-ah-we-se-be, where I lived. I had now two horses,
and a friend of mine coming along who had none. I promised to give him
one, but as he was not then going home, he deferred taking it until he
should pass again. In the mean time, the horse I had intended for him,
died of a broken blood vessel, so that I had none remaining but the black
horse, which I called Mandan, and to which I had become much attached.
When the man returned, I could do no otherwise than give him this one.
My wife cried, and I felt much regret at parting with this valuable horse.

Three months after this, the Crees sent tobacco to the Ojibbeways, to
accompany them to the Mandans, and join in an attack on some of the
Bwoi-nug in the country of the Missouri. As these messages were going
about, I received word from Ba-gis-kun-nung that he did not wish to have
me join in the war-party. This amounted to a threat to take my life if I
went, but I paid no attention to it.

In six days I could go from my place to Turtle Mountain, where the
Crees were assembling in considerable numbers. I had been waiting about
one month when Wa-ge-tote arrived with sixty men on his way to the
rendezvous. Here eight of us joined him, and gave what assistance we
could in provisions to his party, who had been starving for some time.
Soon we were all suffering alike. We had travelled on two or three days,
when twenty young men were selected to go and hunt buffalo. Wa-ge-tote
insisted that I must go with them, but I declined. He urged it upon me
repeatedly, and, at last, taking my load on his own shoulders, he said,
“Now, my nephew, you must go, and I will carry your load for you, till
you join us again.” I went forward a short distance, had the good fortune
to kill an elk. The Indians fell on it like hungry dogs, and soon not a
particle of it was left, though I believe not more than half of those
that were in starving condition tasted of it. The twenty men that had
been sent out, returned without having killed any thing. They now became
so weak from hunger that numbers were left being unable to walk. For many
days we had no other food than the roots of the Me-tush-koo-she min,[24]
(grass berry,) an excellent root, called Pommeblanch by the Frenchmen.
I was myself about to fail when late one night, as all were asleep, an
old man, a relative of my wife, waked me, and put carefully into my hand
a small quantity of pemmican, which he had carried concealed about him.
This enabled me to reach the Turtle Mountain, to which place, probably,
about half of Wa-ge-tote’s band arrived at the same time. Of those that
had parted from us, some afterwards joined, some returned to their own
country, and others were no more heard of.

The Assinneboins and Crees whom we had expected to meet at Turtle
Mountain, had left it some time before, and we had followed on their
trail but a few days, when we met them returning. They related to us
that they had arrived at the Mandan village just as a war-party of the
Sioux had reached the same place with a design to attack the town. The
Mandan chief said to them as soon as they came, “My friends, these Sioux
have come hither to put out my fire. They know not that you are here.
As they have not come against you, why should your blood flow in our
quarrel? Remain, therefore, in my village, and you shall see that we
are men, and need no help when they come to fight us at our own doors.”
The Mandan village was surrounded by a wall of pickets, and close to
these the Sioux fought all day. At length, an intermission took place,
and the Mandan chief, calling to the Sioux from the inside, said to
them, “Depart from about our village, or we will let out upon you our
friends, the Ojibbeways, who have been sitting here all day, and are now
fresh and unwearied.” The Sioux answered, “This is a vain boast, made
with a design to conceal your weakness. You have no Ojibbeways in your
house, and if you had hundreds, we neither fear nor regard them. The
Ojibbeways are women, and if your village were full of them, we would,
for that reason, the sooner come among you.” The Crees and Assinneboins,
hearing these taunts, became irritated and ran out to attack the Sioux,
which the latter perceiving, fled in all directions. The Ojibbeways,
though they had little share in the fight, were allowed to have some
of the scalps taken during the day, and one of these fell into the
hands of our chief, Wa-ge-tote, though he had not been within several
days’ march of the scene of action, and with this trophy he returned
towards his own country. When we reached Turtle Mountain on our return,
we were all suffering the extremity of hunger, and many were quite
unable to travel farther. We were, therefore, compelled to stop, and
of the whole party, there were found only four who had strength and
resolution enough remaining to undertake to hunt. These were an old man,
called Gitch-e-weesh, (big beaver lodge,) two young men, and myself.
Gitch-e-weesh, the old man, was in high spirits, and expressed the utmost
confidence that he should kill something. “When I was yet a little boy,”
said he, “the Great Spirit came to me after I had been fasting for three
days, and told me he had heard my crying, and had come to tell me that he
did not wish to hear me cry and complain so often, but that if ever I was
reduced to the danger of immediately perishing of hunger, then I should
call upon him, and he would hear and give me something. I have never
called before, but last night I spent in prayer and singing, and I have
assurance that I shall this day be fed by the bounty of the Great God. I
have never asked before, and I know that he will not forget his promise.”
We all started at the same time in the morning, but went to hunt in
different directions. I hunted all day without finding any thing, and so
weak was I, that I could traverse but a very small extent of ground. It
was late when I came in. The two young men were in before me. All began
to despair, but old Gitch-e-weesh was still absent. At a very late hour
he arrived, bending under a heavy load of meat. I was selected to cook
and make an equal division of what he had brought. Next day we went to
the place where the moose had been killed, all the remainder of which we
soon devoured.

Near this place, Wa-me-gon-a-biew discovered a large quantity of property
which had been left by a band of Assinneboins as a medicine sacrifice.
Property left in this way is called me-tai sas-sah-ge-witch-e-gun,
or puk-ketch-e-gun-nun, and may be taken by any friendly party.
But the offerings made to ensure success in war, commonly called
sah-sah-ge-witch-e-gun, may not be taken from the place where they are
left. Wa-me-gon-a-biew having been in the top of a tree at the time he
made this discovery, and having pointed out the place to the Indians
immediately, was so late in coming down that every blanket, every piece
of cloth, and, indeed, every thing of value, was seized and appropriated
before he came up. He said little of his dissatisfaction at this, though
it was evident enough. He went aside and sat down by himself on a log.
Disturbing with his foot a pile of dry leaves, he found buried under it
a brass kettle, inverted, and covering a quantity of valuable offerings
to the earth. These he of course seized upon for himself, and his portion
was more valuable than that of any other. The blankets, robes, strouding,
etc. etc. were suspended in trees, but the quantity was larger than
is usually seen in places where such sacrifices have been made. The
Assinneboins had worshipped here when on their way to the country of
the Sioux. In travelling from this place to my home, I killed no more
game, and was of course nearly famished. When I arrived, my family were
in the same situation, but next day I had good luck, and killed an elk.
Afterwards I was able, by my own exertions, to procure a plentiful supply.

It was while I was living here at Great Wood River that news came of a
great man among the Shawneese, who had been favoured by a revelation of
the mind and will of the Great Spirit. I was hunting in the prairie, at
a great distance from my lodge, when I saw a stranger approaching. At
first I was apprehensive of an enemy, but, as he drew nearer, his dress
showed him to be an Ojibbeway, but when he came up there was something
very strange and peculiar in his manner. He signified to me that I must
go home, but gave no explanation of the cause. He refused to look at
me, or enter into any kind of conversation. I thought he must be crazy,
but nevertheless accompanied him to my lodge. When we had smoked, he
remained a long time silent, but at last began to tell me he had come
with a message from the prophet of the Shawneese. “Henceforth,” said
he, “the fire must never be suffered to go out in your lodge. Summer
and winter, day and night, in the storm, or when it is calm, you must
remember that the life in your body, and the fire in your lodge, are the
same, and of the same date. If you suffer your fire to be extinguished,
at that moment your life will be at its end. You must not suffer a dog
to live. You must never strike either a man, a woman, a child, or a
dog. The prophet himself is coming to shake hands with you, but I have
come before, that you may know what is the will of the Great Spirit,
communicated to us by him, and to inform you that the preservation of
your life, for a single moment, depends on your entire obedience. From
this time forward, we are neither to be drunk, to steal, to lie, or to go
against our enemies. While we yield an entire obedience to these commands
of the Great Spirit, the Sioux, even if they come to our country, will
not be able to see us: we shall be protected and made happy.” I listened
to all he had to say, but told him, in answer, that I could not believe
we should all die in case our fire went out. In many instances, also, it
would be difficult to avoid punishing our children; our dogs were useful
in aiding us to hunt and take animals, so that I could not believe the
Great Spirit had any wish to take them from us. He continued talking to
us until late at night, then he lay down to sleep in my lodge. I happened
to wake first in the morning, and perceiving the fire had gone out, I
called him to get up, and see how many of us were living, and how many
dead. He was prepared for the ridicule I attempted to throw upon his
doctrine, and told me that I had not yet shaken hands with the prophet.
His visit had been to prepare me for this important event, and to make
me aware of the obligations and risks I should incur by entering into
the engagement implied in taking in my hand the message of the prophet.
I did not rest entirely easy in my unbelief. The Indians generally
received the doctrine of this man with great humility and fear. Distress
and anxiety was visible in every countenance. Many killed their dogs,
and endeavored to practice obedience to all the commands of this new
preacher, who still remained among us. But, as was usual with me in any
emergency of this kind, I went to the traders, firmly believing, that if
the Deity had any communications to make to men, they would be given,
in the first instance, to white men. The traders ridiculed and despised
the idea of a new revelation of the Divine will, and the thought that it
should be given to a poor Shawnee. Thus was I confirmed in my infidelity.
Nevertheless, I did not openly avow my unbelief to the Indians, only I
refused to kill my dogs, and showed no great degree of anxiety to comply
with his other requirements. As long as I remained among the Indians, I
made it my business to conform, as far as appeared consistent with my
immediate convenience and comfort, with all their customs. Many of their
ideas I have adopted, but I always found among them opinions which I
could not hold. The Ojibbeway whom I have mentioned, remained some time
among the Indians in my neighbourhood, and gained the attention of the
principal men so effectually, that a time was appointed, and a lodge
prepared for the solemn and public espousing of the doctrines of the
prophet. When the people, and I among them, were brought into the long
lodge prepared for this solemnity, we saw something carefully concealed
under a blanket, in figure and dimensions bearing some resemblance to
the form of a man. This was accompanied by two young men, who, it was
understood, attended constantly upon it, made its bed at night, as for
a man, and slept near it. But while we remained, no one went near it,
or raised the blanket which was spread over its unknown contents. Four
strings of mouldy and discoloured beans were all the remaining visible
insignia of this important mission. After a long harangue, in which the
prominent features of the new revelation were stated and urged upon the
attention of all, the four strings of beans, which we were told were made
of the flesh itself of the prophet, were carried with much solemnity to
each man in the lodge, and he was expected to take hold of each string at
the top, and draw them gently through his hand. This was called shaking
hands with the prophet, and was considered as solemnly engaging to obey
his injunctions, and accept his mission as from the Supreme. All the
Indians who touched the beans had previously killed their dogs. They gave
up their medicine bags, and showed a disposition to comply with all that
should be required of them.

We had now been for some time assembled in considerable numbers. Much
agitation and terror had prevailed among us, and now famine began to be
felt. The faces of men wore an aspect of unusual gloominess, the active
became indolent, and the spirits of the bravest seemed to be subdued. I
started to hunt with my dogs, which I had constantly refused to kill, or
suffer to be killed. By their assistance, I found and killed a bear. On
returning home, I said to some of the Indians, “Has not the Great Spirit
given us our dogs to aid us in procuring what is needful for the support
of our life, and can you believe he wishes now to deprive us of their
services? The prophet, we are told, has forbid us to suffer our fire to
be extinguished in our lodges, and when we travel or hunt, he will not
allow us to use a flint and steel, and we are told he requires that no
man should give fire to another. Can it please the Great Spirit that we
should lie in our hunting camps without fire, or is it more agreeable to
him that we should make fire by rubbing together two sticks than with a
flint and a piece of steel?” But they would not listen to me, and the
serious enthusiasm which prevailed among them so far affected me that I
threw away my flint and steel, laid aside my medicine bag, and, in many
particulars, complied with the new doctrines. But I would not kill my
dogs. I soon learned to kindle a fire by rubbing some dry cedar, which I
was careful to carry always about me, but the discontinuance of the use
of flint and steel subjected many of the Indians to much inconvenience
and suffering. The influence of the Shawnee prophet was very sensibly and
painfully felt by the remotest Ojibbeways of whom I had any knowledge,
but it was not the common impression among them that his doctrines had
any tendency to unite them in the accomplishment of any human purpose.
For two or three years drunkenness was much less frequent than formerly,
war was less thought of, and the entire aspect of affairs among them
was somewhat changed by the influence of one man. But gradually the
impression was obliterated, medicine bags, flints, and steels, were
resumed, dogs were raised, women and children were beaten as before, and
the Shawnee prophet was despised. At this day he is looked upon by the
Indians as an imposter and a bad man.

After the excitement of this affair had somewhat subsided, and the
messengers had left us to visit remoter bands, I went with a large party
of Indians to some of the upper branches of Red River to hunt beaver. I
know not whether it was that we were emboldened by the promise of the
prophet, that we should be invisible to the Sioux, but we went much
nearer than we had formerly ventured to their country. It was here, in
a border region, where both they and ourselves had been afraid to hunt,
that we now found beaver in the greatest abundance. Here, without the
aid of my gun, I took one hundred large beavers in a single month, by
trapping merely. My family was now ten in number, six of whom were orphan
children, and although there was no one but myself to hunt or trap, I was
able for some time to supply all their wants. At length, beaver began
to grow scarce, and I was compelled to shoot an elk. My family had been
so long unaccustomed to hear guns, that at the sound of mine they left
the lodge and fled to the woods, believing the Sioux had fired upon me.
I was compelled to carry my traps to a greater distance, and to visit
them only in the middle of the day. My gun was constantly in my mind. If
I had occasion to do any thing, I held my gun in one hand and labored
with the other. I slept a little by day, but during the night, and every
night, I watched around my lodge. Being again out of meat, I went to the
woods to hunt moose, and in one day killed four. I butchered and cut them
open without laying down my gun. As I was cleaning the last, I heard a
gun not more than two hundred yards from me. I knew that I had advanced
nearer to the frontier of the Sioux than any Ojibbeway, and I did not
believe there were any of the latter tribe living near me. I therefore
believed this must be the gun of a Sioux, and immediately called out
to him, as I supposed he must have heard my firing, but no answer was
returned. I watched about me more anxiously than before, and at the
approach of night stole toward home as silently and as cautiously as I
could. On the following day, I ventured to examine in the direction of
the place where I had heard the gun, and found the tracks which proved
to be those of an Ojibbeway, who had fired upon a bear which he was
pursuing, probably with too much eagerness to hear me call. Soon after
this, I found many tracks, and ascertained that I was not far distant
from a place where the Ojibbeways had built and fortified a camp. Three
times I received messages from the chiefs of the band living in this
camp, stating that my situation was too exposed and dangerous, and urging
me to come in. I disliked to live in a crowded place, and it was not
until I discovered the tracks of some Sioux that had been reconnoitering
my camp, that I determined to fly into this work. The night before my
departure was one, at my lodge, of terror and alarm, greater even than
is commonly felt among the Indians. I had mentioned the tracks that
I had seen, and I did not doubt that a party of the Sioux were in my
immediate neighbourhood, and would fall upon me before morning. More than
half the night had passed, and not one of us had slept, when we heard a
sudden rushing without, and our dogs came running in in evident alarm.
I told my children that the time was come for us all to die together.
I placed myself in the front part of my lodge, and raising the door a
little, put out the muzzle of my gun, and sat in momentary expectation
of the approach of the enemy. Footsteps were distinctly audible, but
the night being dark, I could as yet see nothing. At length a little
black object, not larger in appearance than a man’s head, came slowly
and directly towards my lodge. Here again I experienced how much fear
influences the power of sight, for this little object, as it came near,
seemed at one instant to shoot up to the height of a man, and at the
next, to be no larger than it really was. When I was entirely convinced
that it was nothing but a small animal, I stepped out, and finding it to
be a porcupine, killed it with a tomahawk. The remainder of the night was
spent in the same manner as the beginning. Early next morning, I fled to
the fortified camp. On my arrival, the chiefs councilled, and sent two
young men to look after the property left in my lodge, but as I knew the
Sioux were lurking in that direction, and that should the young men be
killed, or injured, their friends would consider me the cause of their
misfortune, I went before them, but by a circuitous route, determining
that if any thing happened, I would be present and have a part in it. I
found my lodge safe, and we experienced no molestation in removing my
baggage to the fort.

The Sioux, from time to time, came near and looked at our work, but
never ventured to attack it. When the spring arrived, all the Ojibbeways
left it in one day, but I was compelled to remain, having taken care
of some packs for a trader who was then absent, and which I could not
remove. The chiefs remonstrated, telling me it was little better than
throwing myself away, to remain, as the Sioux would immediately know
when the main body left, and would not lose the opportunity of falling
on me when I should be left alone. The saddening and alarming effect
of these admonitions was somewhat increased by the many instances they
related of men, women, and children, that had been killed on this very
spot by the Sioux, but I was compelled to remain. At night I closed the
entrances to the camp as effectually as I could, and cautioning my family
to remain entirely silent, I stationed myself by the wall to watch. The
night was but little advanced, when by the light of the moon, which then
shone brightly, I discovered two men, who came directly towards the
usual entrance, and finding it closed, began to walk around and look at
the wall. Fear strongly prompted me to shoot them without hailing but
recollecting that they might not be Sioux, I took an opportunity when I
could aim my gun directly at them with out being much exposed, and called
out. They proved to be the trader on whose account I had stayed back,
and a Frenchman. I gladly opened my fort to let them in, and with this
addition of strength, spent a pretty quiet night. Next morning we moved,
taking the trader’s packs, and following the path of the Ojibbeways.

I did not wish to rejoin this band, but went to live for some time by
myself in the woods. Afterwards I joined some Red River Ojibbeways, under
a chief called Be-gwa-is, (he that cuts up the beaver lodge.) All the
hunters of this band had been for some days trying to kill an old buck
moose, who had become notorious among them for his shyness and cunning.
The first day that I went to hunt, I saw this moose, but could not kill
him. I however killed another, and next day returned to the pursuit, with
the full determination to kill him if possible. It so happened, that the
weather and wind were favourable, and I killed the buck moose. My success
was attributable in a great measure to accident, or to circumstances
beyond my control, but the Indians gave me credit for superior skill, and
I was thenceforth reckoned the best hunter in that band.

We now started, twelve men in number under Be-gwa-is, to go to the Sioux
country to hunt beaver, leaving our women behind. On this hunt all the
Indians became snow-blind, and I being the only one able to hunt, fed and
took care of them for several days. As soon as the snow went off in the
spring, they began to get better. We then separated into three parties,
one of which being four in number went to Buffalo River, where they were
attacked by the Sioux, had one man killed, and another wounded and made

I had wounded myself by accident in my ankle bone with a tomahawk,
and became in consequence unable to travel fast. About this time my
companions became panic struck, supposing the Sioux to be near us and
on our trail. They paid not the least regard to my situation, but fled
with all the speed they could make. It was now early in the spring. Rain
and snow had been falling throughout the day, and at night the wind
began to blow from the north-west, and the water to freeze. I followed
my companions, though at a distance, and came up with them late at night
when I found them perishing in their comfortless camp, they being the
disciples of the prophet, and not having ventured to strike a fire.
Wa-me-gon-a-biew was one of these men, and he, as well as the rest of
them, was willing to desert me whenever there was any apprehension of
danger. Next morning ice was strong enough in the river to walk upon, and
as this cold had been preceded by warm weather, we suffered severely.
We spent four days at the sugar camp of our women, and then started to
return to the Sioux country. On our way we met the two who had escaped,
of the party on which the Sioux had fallen. Their appearance was that of
extreme misery and starvation.

We met also, in this journey, an American trader, whose name I do not now
recollect, but who treated me with much attention, and urged me to leave
the Indians and return with him to the States. But I was poor, having few
peltries of any value. I had also a wife and one child. He told me the
government, and the people of the United States, would be generous to
me, and he himself promised to render me all the aid in his power, but I
declined accepting his offer, preferring for the present to remain among
the Indians, though it was still my wish and intention ultimately to
leave them. I heard from this man that some of my relations had been as
far as Mackinac in search of me, and I dictated a letter to them which
this gentleman undertook to have conveyed to its destination. When about
to part from us, he gave to Wa-me-gon-a-biew and myself, each a bark
canoe, and some other valuable presents.

As we were travelling towards Red River, our principal man,
Wy-ong-je-cheween, to whom we had committed the direction of our party,
became alarmed. We were following a long river which discharges into Red
River. I saw him anxiously looking about, on one side and the other, and
attentively watching for all those indications of the proximity of men,
which could be afforded by the tracks of animals, the flight of birds,
and other marks, which they so well know how to understand. He said
nothing of fear. An Indian in such circumstances rarely, if ever, does.
But when he saw me at night, trying to kindle a fire for our encampment,
he rose up, wrapped his blanket about him, and without saying a word,
walked away. I watched him until I saw him select a place, combining the
requisite for the entire concealment of his person, and affording him the
power of overlooking a considerable extent of country. Knowing the motive
which had occasioned this, I followed his example, as did the remaining
men of our party. Next morning we met, and ventured to kindle a fire to
prepare a little breakfast. Our kettle was but just hung over the fire
and filled, when we discovered the Sioux, on a point not half a mile
behind us. We dashed the contents of the kettle on the fire and fled. At
some distance below, we built a strong camp, and I set my traps.

Among the presents I had received from the American trader, was a small
keg containing sixteen quarts of strong rum which I had brought thus far
on my back. Wa-me-gon-a-biew and the other Indians had often begged me
for a taste of it, which I had constantly refused, telling them the old
man, and the chiefs, and all, should taste it together when we reached
home. But now they took an opportunity when I was absent to look at
my traps, to open it, and when I returned I found them all drunk and
quarrelling with each other. I was aware of our dangerous and exposed
situation, and felt somewhat alarmed when I found so many of us totally
disabled by intoxication. I tried, however, to quiet their noise, but in
so doing I endangered my own safety. As I held two of them apart, one in
one hand, the other in the other, the third, an old man, came behind and
made a thrust at my back with a knife, which I very narrowly avoided.
They were all affronted, as I had reproached them with cowardice, telling
them they preferred remaining like rabbits in their hole, and dared
neither venture out to go against their enemies, or even to hunt for
something to eat. In fact, I had for some time fed and supported them,
and I was not a little vexed at their foolishness. We had, however, no
more alarms immediately, and the Indians at length venturing to hunt,
we met with so much success as nearly to load one canoe with skins. The
remainder of my little cask of rum, which I had used great care to keep
out of their way, caused them one more drunken frolic, they having stolen
it in my absence.

After we had completed our hunt, we started down together. Approaching
Red River, we heard great numbers of guns before us, and my companions,
supposing them to be those of the Sioux, left me and fled across land, in
which way they could reach home in less than a day. As I was determined
not to abandon our property in the canoe, I continued on by myself, and
in about four days arrived safely at home.

The Indians were now about assembling at Pembinah to dispose of their
peltries, and have their usual drunken frolic. I had but just arrived at
the encampment of our band when they began to start, some going forward
by land, and leaving the women to bring on their loads in the canoes. I
tried to persuade Wa-me-gon-a-biew and others, which were particularly
my friends, not to join in this foolish and destructive indulgence,
but I could not prevail upon them. They all went on in advance of me.
I moved slowly along, hunting and making dry meat, and did not reach
Pembinah until most of the men of the band had passed several days there
in drinking. As soon as I arrived, some Indians came to tell me that
Wa-me-gon-a-biew had lost his nose. Another had a large piece bitten out
of his cheek; one was injured in one way, another in another.

I learned that my brother, as I always called Wa-me-gon-a-biew, had but
just arrived, when he happened to go into a lodge where a young man, a
son of Ta-bush-shish, was beating an old woman. Wa-me-gon-a-biew held his
arms, but presently old Ta-bush-shish coming in, and in his drunkenness
probably misapprehending the nature of my brother’s interference, seized
him by the hair and bit his nose off. At this stage of the affair,
Be-gwa-is, an old chief who had always been very friendly to us, came in,
and seeing that a scuffle was going on, thought it necessary to join in
it. Wa-me-gon-a-biew perceiving the loss of his nose, suddenly raised his
hands, though still stooping his head, and seizing by the hair the head
that was nearest him, bit the nose off. It happened to be that of our
friend Be-gwa-is. After his rage had a little abated, he recognized his
friend, and exclaimed, “wah! my cousin!” Be-gwa-is was a kind and good
man, and being perfectly aware of the erroneous impression under which
Wa-me-gon-a-biew had acted, never for one moment betrayed any thing like
anger or resentment towards the man who had thus been the unwilling cause
of his mutilation. “I am an old man,” said he, “and it is but a short
time that they will laugh at me for the loss of my nose.”

For my own part, I felt much irritated against Ta-bush-shish, inasmuch as
I doubted whether he had not taken the present opportunity to wreak an
old grudge upon Wa-me-gon-a-biew. I went into my brother’s lodge, and sat
by him. His face and all his clothes were covered with blood. For some
time he said nothing, and when he spoke, I found that he was perfectly
sober. “To-morrow,” said he, “I will cry with my children, and the next
day I will go and see Ta-bush-shish. We must die together, as I am not
willing to live when I must always expect to be ridiculed.” I told him I
would join him in any attempt to kill Ta-bush-shish, and held myself in
readiness accordingly. But a little sober reflection, and the day’s time
he had given himself to cry with his children, diverted Wa-me-gon-a-biew
from his bloody intention, and like Be-gwa-is, he resolved to bear his
loss as well as he could.


    Presence of mind and self-devotedness in an Indian
    mother—Indian warfare—conversation of a chief—winter hunt
    on the Begwionusko River—medicine hunting—customs, in cases
    of manslaughter—symbolic, or picture writing—death of
    Pe-shau-ba—disaster at Spirit Lake, and death of the Little

Within a few days after this drunken quarrel, Ta-bush-shish was seized
with a violent sickness. He had for many days a burning fever, his flesh
wasted, and he was apparently near dying when he sent to Wa-me-gon-a-biew
two kettles, and other presents, of considerable value, with a message,
“My friend, I have made you look ugly, and you have made me sick. I have
suffered much, and if I die now my children must suffer much more. I
have sent you this present, that you may let me live.” Wa-me-gon-a-biew
instructed his messenger to say to Ta-bush-shish, “I have not made you
sick. I cannot restore you to health, and will not accept your presents.”
He lingered for a month or more in a state of such severe illness that
his hair all fell from his head. After this he began to amend, and when
he was nearly well, we all removed to the prairie, but were scattered
about in different directions, and at considerable distances from each

After our spring hunting we began to think of going against the Sioux,
and an inconsiderable party assembled among those who lived immediately
about me. Wa-me-gon-a-biew and I accompanied them, and in four days we
arrived at the little village where Ta-bush-shish then lived. Before
our arrival here we had been joined by Wa-ge-tote with sixty men.
After we had rested and eaten at our encampment near Ta-bush-shish’s
lodge, and were about to start, we saw him come out naked, but painted
and ornamented as for a war, and having his arms in his hands. He
came stalking up to us with a very angry face, but none of us fully
comprehended his design, until we saw him go up and present the muzzle
of his gun to Wa-me-gon-a-biew’s back. “My friend,” said he, “we have
lived long enough, and have given trouble and distress enough to each
other. I sent to you my request that you would be satisfied with the
sickness and pain you had made me suffer, but you refused to listen
to me, and the evils you continue to inflict on me, render my life
wearisome. Let us therefore die together.” A son of Wa-ge-tote, and
another young man, seeing the intention of Ta-bush-shish, presented
the point of their spears, one to one of his sides, the other to the
other, but he took no notice of them. Wa-me-gon-a-biew was intimidated,
and dared not raise his head. Ta-bush-shish wished to have fought,
and to have given Wa-me-gon-a-biew an equal chance for his life, but
the latter had not courage enough to accept his offer. Henceforth, I
esteemed Wa-me-gon-a-biew less even than I had formerly done. He had
less of bravery and generosity in his disposition than is common among
the Indians. Neither Ta-bush-shish nor any of his band joined in our

We went on, wandering about from place to place, and instead of going
against our enemies, spent the greater part of the summer among the
buffalo. In the fall I returned to Pembinah, my intention being to go
thence to the wintering ground of the trader above mentioned, who had
proposed to assist me in getting to the states. I now heard of the war
between the United States and Great Britain, and of the capture of
Mackinac, and this intelligence deterred me from any attempt to pass
through the frontier of the United States territory which were then the
scenes of warlike operations.

In the ensuing spring, there was a very general movement among the
Ojibbeways of the Red River toward the Sioux country, but the design
was not, at least avowedly, to fall upon or molest the Sioux, but to
hunt. I travelled in company with a large band under the direction of
Ais-ainse, (the little clam.) His brother, called Wa-ge-tone, was a man
of considerable consequence. We had ascended Red River about one hundred
miles when we met Mr. Hanie, a trader, who gave us a little rum. I lived
at this time in a long lodge having two or three fires, and I occupied
it in common with several other men with their families, mostly the
relatives of my wife. It was midnight or after, and I was sleeping in my
lodge when I was waked by some man seizing me roughly by the hand and
raising me up. There was still a little fire burning in the lodge, and by
the light it gave I recognized, in the angry and threatening countenance
which hung over me, the face of Wa-ge-tone, the brother of the Little
Clam, our principal chief. “I have solemnly promised,” said he, “that
if you should come with us to this country, you should not live. Up,
therefore, and be ready to answer me.” He then went on to Wah-zhe-gwun,
the man who slept next me, and used to him similar insolent and
threatening language, but, by this time, an old man, a relative of mine,
called Mah-nuge, who slept beyond, had comprehended the purport of his
visit, and raised himself up with his knife in his hand. When Wa-ge-tone
came to him, he received a sharp answer. He then returned to me, drew
his knife, and threatened me with instant death. “You are a stranger,”
said he, “and one of many who have come from a distant country to feed
yourself and your children with that which does not belong to you. You
are driven out from your own country, and you come among us because you
are too feeble and worthless to have a home or a country of your own.
You have visited our best hunting grounds, and wherever you have been
you have destroyed all the animals which the Great Spirit gave us for
our sustenance. Go back, therefore, from this place, and be no longer a
burthen to us, or I will certainly take your life.” I answered him, that
I was not going to the country we were now about to visit, particularly
to hunt beaver, but that even if I were to do so, I had an equal right
with him, and was as strong to maintain that right. This dispute was
becoming somewhat noisy, when old Mah-nuge came up, with his knife in his
hand, and drove the noisy and half drunken Wa-ge-tone out of the lodge.
We saw this man no more for a long time, but his brother, the Little
Clam, told us to think nothing of what he said.

Here a messenger overtook us to bring to the Ottawwaws the information
that Muk-kud-da-be-na-sa, (the black bird,) an Ottawwaw of
Waw-gun-uk-ke-zie, or L’Arbre Croche, had arrived from Lake Huron,
to call us all home to that country. So we turned back, and one after
another fell back, till Wa-ge-tone only was left, and he went on and
joined a war-party of Ojibbeways then starting from Leech Lake. A part of
this band stopped at the Wild Rice River,[25] and went into the fort, or
fortified camp before mentioned. Here they began to hunt and trap, and
were heedlessly dispersed about when a large party of Sioux came into
their neighbourhood.

Ais-ainse, the Ojibbeway chief, returned one evening from a successful
hunt, having killed two elks, and on the following morning, his wife with
her young son, started out to dry the meat. They had proceeded a great
distance from the lodge when the lad first discovered the Sioux party, at
no great distance, and called out to his mother, “the Sioux are coming.”
The old woman drew her knife, and cutting the belt which bound the boy’s
blanket to his body, told him to run for home with all his strength. She
then, with her knife in her hand, ran to meet the approaching war-party.
The boy heard many guns, and the old woman was no more heard of. The
boy ran long, when, perceiving that his pursuers were near, he lost
consciousness; and when he arrived at the fortified camp, still in a
state of mental alienation, the Sioux were about one hundred and fifty
yards behind him. He vomited blood for some days, and never recovered his
health and strength, though he lived about one year afterwards.

Several of the Ojibbeways were hunting in a different direction from that
in which the wife of the Little Clam had met the war-party. As soon as
the Sioux disappeared from about the fort, young men were sent out, who
discovered that they had taken the path of the hunters, and one or two,
taking a circuitous direction, reached the Little Clam just as the Sioux
were creeping up to fire upon him. A fight ensued, which lasted a long
time without loss on either side. At length, one of the Ojibbeways being
wounded in the leg, his companions retired a little in order to give him
an opportunity of escaping under cover of some bushes, but this movement
did not escape the notice of the Sioux. One of their number followed the
young man, continuing to elude the notice of the Ojibbeways while he did
so, killed him, and took his scalp and medal, he being a favourite son of
Ais-ainse, the Ojibbeway chief. Then returning, he shook these trophies
at the Ojibbeways, with some exulting and vaunting words. The enraged
father, at sight of the scalp and medal, rushed from his cover, shot
down one of the Sioux, cut off his head, and shook it exultingly at the
survivors. The other Ojibbeways, being emboldened at this conduct of the
Little Clam, rushed forward together, and the Sioux fled.

Another considerable man of the Ojibbeways, who was also named
Ta-bush-shish, had been hunting in a different direction, accompanied
by one man, and had heard the firing, either where the old woman had
been killed, or where Ais-ainse was fighting, and had returned home.
The Indians said of him, as, indeed, they often say of a man after
his death, that he had some presentiments or forewarnings of what was
about to happen. On the preceding evening he had come home, as the
Indian hunter often comes, to be annoyed by the tongue of an old wife,
jealous of the attentions bestowed on a younger and more attractive
one. On this occasion he said to her, “Scold away, old woman, for now
I heard you the last time.” He was in the fort when some one arrived
who had skulked and fled with the news of the fight the Little Clam
was engaged in. Ta-bush-shish had two fine horses, and he said to one
of his friends, “Be-na, I believe you are a man. Will you take one of
my horses and go with me to see what Ais-ainse has been doing all day?
Shall we not be ashamed to let him fight so long, within hearing, and
never attempt to give him assistance? Here are more than one hundred
of us, who have stood trembling within this camp while our brother has
been fighting like a man with only four or five young men to assist
him.” They started, and following a trail of the Sioux, it brought them
to a place where a party had kindled a fire, and were, for a moment,
resting themselves around it. They crept up near, but not thinking this a
favourable opportunity to fire, Ta-bush-shish and Be-na went forward on
the route they knew the party would pursue, and laid themselves down in
the snow. It was now night, but not very dark. When the Sioux began to
move, and a number of them came near the place where they had concealed
themselves, Ta-bush-shish and Be-na rose up together, and fired upon
them, and the latter, as he had been instructed to, instantly fled. When
at a considerable distance, and finding he was not pursued, he stopped
to listen, and for great part of the night heard now and then a gun, and
sometimes the shrill and solitary sah-sah-kwi of Ta-bush-shish, shifting
from place to place. At last many guns discharged at the same moment;
then the shouts and whoops of the Sioux at the fall of their enemy; then
all was silent, and he returned home. These were all that were killed at
that time, the old woman, Ta-bush-shish, and the son of Ais-ainse.

It was on the same day, as we afterwards heard, that the war-party from
Leech Lake, which Wa-ge-tone had joined, fell upon forty Sioux lodges
at the long prairie. They had fought for two days, and many were killed
on each side. Wa-ge-tone was the first man to strike a Sioux lodge.
Wah-ka-zhe, the brother of Muk-kud-da-be-na-sa, met those Ottawwaws who
returned from the Wild Rice River at Lake Winnipeg. He had been ten years
in the Rocky Mountains and the country near them, but now wished to
return to his own people. He had, in the course of his long life, been
much among the whites, and was well acquainted with the different methods
of gaining a subsistence among them. He told me that I would be much
better situated among the whites, but that I could not become a trader,
as I was unable to write. I should not like to submit to constant labour,
therefore I could not be a farmer. There was but one situation exactly
adapted to my habits and qualifications, that of an interpreter.

He gave us, among other information, some account of a missionary who
had come among the Ottawwaws of Waw-gun-uk-kezie, or some of the Indian
settlements about the lakes, and urged them to renounce their own
religion, and adopt that of the whites. In connection with this subject,
he told us the anecdote of the baptized Indian, who, after death, went
to the gate of the white man’s heaven, and demanded admittance; but the
man who kept watch at the gate told him no redskins could be allowed
to enter there. “Go,” said he, “for to the west there are the villages
and the hunting grounds of those of your own people who have been on
the earth before you.” So he departed thence, but when he came to the
villages where the dead of his own people resided, the chief refused
him admittance. “You have been ashamed of us while you lived. You have
chosen to worship the white man’s God. Go now to his village, and let him
provide for you.” Thus he was rejected by both parties.

Wah-ka-zhe being the most considerable man among us, it devolved on him
to direct our movements, but through indolence, or perhaps out of regard
to me, he determined that not only himself, but his band, should, for
the winter, be guided by me. As we had in view no object beyond bare
subsistence, and as I was reckoned a very good hunter, and knew this part
of the country better than any other man of the band, his course was not
an impolitic one.

It was in conformity to my advice that we went to spend the winter at
the Be-gwi-o-nush-ko River. The Be-gwi-o-nush-ko enters Red River about
ten miles below Pembinah, and at the time I speak of, the country on it
was well stocked with game. We lived here in great plenty and comfort,
and Wah-ka-zhe often boasted of his sagacity in choosing me to direct
the motions of his party. But a part of the winter had passed when
Wa-me-gon-a-biew began to talk of sacrificing Wah-ka-zhe, the latter
being in some manner connected with the man who, many years before, had
killed Taw-ga-we-ninne, Wa-me-gon-a-biew’s father. I refused to join, or
in any manner countenance him in this undertaking, but notwithstanding
my remonstrances, he went one day to the lodge of Wah-ka-zhe with his
knife in his hand, intending to kill him, but as he was entering,
Muk-kud-da-be-na-sa, a son of Wah-ka-zhe, perceived his intention and
prevented him. He immediately tried to provoke Wa-me-gon-a-biew to
engage him in single combat, but he retreated in his accustomed manner. I
not only reproved Wa-me-gon-a-biew for this unmanly conduct, but proposed
to Wah-ka-zhe to have him driven from the band, and no longer considered
him my brother, but Wah-ka-zhe was a considerate and friendly man, and
unwilling that trouble or disturbance should be made, and therefore
forgave his offence.

One of the young men, the son of Wah-ka-zhe, was accounted the best
hunter among the Indians of this band, and there was, between us,
while we resided at Be-gwi-o-nush-ko, a friendly rivalry in hunting.
O-ke-mah-we-nin-ne, as he was called, killed nineteen moose, one beaver,
and one bear. I killed seventeen moose, one hundred beavers, and seven
bears, but he was considered the better hunter, moose being the most
difficult of all animals to kill. There are many Indians who hunt through
the winter in that country, and kill no more than two or three moose, and
some never are able to kill one.

We had plenty of game at the Be-gwi-o-nush-ko, until another band
of Ojibbeways came upon us in great numbers, and in a starving
condition. While we were in this situation, and many of those who had
recently joined us on the point of perishing with hunger, a man called
Gish-kaw-ko, the nephew of him by whom I was taken prisoner, went a
hunting, and in one day killed two moose. He called me to go with him
and get some meat, at the same time signifying his intention to keep his
success concealed from the remainder of the band, but I refused to have
any part with him in such a transaction. I immediately started on a hunt
with Muk-kud-da-be-na-sa, and one or two others, and we having good luck,
killed four bears, which we distributed among the hungry.

We now found it necessary for our large party to disperse in various
directions. With Muk-kud-da-be-na-sa, Black Bird, and Wah-ka-zhe, and
one other man, I went and encamped at the distance of two days’ journey
from the place where we had been living. While here, we all started
together one morning to hunt, but in the course of the day scattered
from each other. Late at night I returned, and was surprised to find,
in place of our lodge, nothing remaining but a little pile of the dried
grass we had used for a bed. Under this I found Black Bird, who, having
come in but a little before me, and after the removal of the lodge,
had laid down to sleep, supposing himself the only one left behind.
As we followed the trail of our companions on the succeeding day, we
met messengers coming to inform us that the son of Nah-gitch-e-gum-me,
the man, who with Wah-ka-zhe, had left us so unexpectedly, had killed
himself by an accidental discharge of his gun. The young man had been
resting carelessly on the muzzle of his gun, when the butt slipping
from the snow-shoe on which he had placed it. It had fired, and the
contents passing through the arm-pit, had entered his head, but though
so shockingly wounded, the young man lived twenty days in a state of
stupor and insensibility, and then died. The Indians attributed to a
presentiment of evil on the part of Nah-gitch-e-gum-me and Wah-ka-zhe,
their abrupt abandonment of Black Bird and myself.

Shortly after this we were so reduced by hunger that it was thought
necessary to have recourse to a medicine hunt. Nah-gitch-e-gum-me sent
to me and O-ge-mah-we-ninne, the two best hunters of the band, each a
little leather sack of medicine, consisting of certain roots, pounded
fine and mixed with red paint, to be applied to the little images or
figures of the animals we wished to kill. Precisely the same method is
practised in this kind of hunting, at least as far as the use of medicine
is concerned, as in those instances where one Indian attempts to inflict
disease or suffering on another. A drawing, or a little image, is made
to represent the man, the woman, or the animal, on which the power of
the medicine is to be tried; then the part representing the heart is
punctured with a sharp instrument, if the design be to cause death, and
a little of the medicine is applied. The drawing or image of an animal
used in this case is called muzzi-ne-neen, muzzi-ne-neen-ug, (pl.) and
the same name is applicable to the little figures of a man or woman,
and is sometimes rudely traced on birch bark, in other instances more
carefully carved of wood. We started with much confidence of success,
but Wah-ka-zhe followed, and overtaking us at some distance, cautioned us
against using the medicine Nah-gitch-e-gum-me had given us, as he said it
would be the means of mischief and misery to us, not at present, but when
we came to die. We therefore did not make use of it, but nevertheless,
happening to kill some game, Nah-gitch-e-gum-me thought himself, on
account of the supposed efficacy of his medicine, entitled to a handsome
share of it. Finding that hunger was like to press severely upon us,
I separated from the band and went to live by myself, feeling always
confident that by so doing I could ensure a plentiful supply for the
wants of my family. Wah-ka-zhe and Black Bird came to Lake Winnipeg, from
whence they did not return, as I had expected they would.

After I had finished my hunt, and at about the usual time for assembling
in the spring, I began to descend the Bi-gwi-o-nush-ko to go to the
traders on Red River. Most of the Indians had left their camps and gone
on before me. As I was one morning passing one of our usual encamping
places, I saw on shore a little stick standing in the bank, and attached
to the top of it a piece of birch bark. On examination, I found the
mark of a rattle snake with a knife, the handle touching the snake, and
the point sticking into a bear, the head of the latter being down. Near
the rattlesnake was the mark of a beaver, one of its dugs, it being a
female, touching the snake. This was left for my information, and I
learned from it that Wa-me-gon-a-biew, whose totem was She-she-gwah, the
rattlesnake, had killed a man whose totem was Muk-kwah, the bear. The
murderer could be no other than Wa-me-gon-a-biew, as it was specified
that he was the son of a woman whose totem was the beaver, and this I
knew could be no other than Net-no-kwa. As there were but few of the bear
totem in our band, I was confident the man killed was a young man called
Ke-zha-zhoons. That he was dead, and not wounded merely, was indicated
by the drooping down of the head of the bear. I was not deterred by this
information from continuing my journey. On the contrary, I hastened
on, and arrived in time to witness the interment of the young man my
brother had killed. Wa-me-gon-a-biew went by himself, and dug a grave
wide enough for two men; then the friends of Ke-zha-zhoons brought his
body, and when it was let down into the grave, Wa-me-gon-a-biew took off
all his clothes, except his breech cloth, and sitting down naked at the
head of the grave, drew his knife, and offered the handle to the nearest
male relative of the deceased. “My friend,” said he, “I have killed your
brother. You see I have made a grave wide enough for both of us, and
I am now ready and willing to sleep with him.” The first and second,
and eventually all the friends of the murdered young man, refused the
knife which Wa-me-gon-a-biew offered them in succession. The relations
of Wa-me-gon-a-biew were powerful, and it was fear of them which now
saved his life. The offence of the young man whom he killed, had been
the calling him “cut nose.” Finding that none of the male relations of
the deceased were willing to undertake publicly the punishment of his
murderer, Wa-me-gon-a-biew said to them, “trouble me no more, now or
hereafter, about this business. I shall do again as I have now done, if
any of you venture to give me similar provocation.”

The method by which information of this affair was communicated to me at
a distance, is one in common use among the Indians, and, in most cases,
it is perfectly explicit and satisfactory. The men of the same tribe
are extensively acquainted with the totems which belong to each, and
if on any record of this kind, the figure of a man appears without any
designatory mark, it is immediately understood that he is a Sioux, or at
least a stranger. Indeed, in most instances, as in that above mentioned,
the figures of men are not used at all, merely the totem, or sirname,
being given. In cases where the information to be communicated is that
the party mentioned is starving, the figure of a man is sometimes drawn,
and his mouth is painted white, or white paint may be smeared about the
mouth of the animal, if it happens to be one, which is his totem.

After visiting the trader on Red River, I started with the intention
of coming to the States, but at Lake Winnipeg I heard that the war
between Great Britain and the United States still continued, with such
disturbances on the frontier as would render it difficult for me to pass
with safety. I was therefore compelled to stop by myself at that place,
where I was after some time joined by Pe-shau-ba, Waw-zhe-kah-maish-koon,
and others, to the number of three lodges. The old companion and
associate of Pe-shau-ba, Waw-so, had been accidentally killed by an
Assinneboin in hunting. Here we lived in plenty and contentment, but
Pe-shau-ba, upon whom the death of his friend Waw-so had made some
impression, was soon taken violently ill. He was conscious that his end
was approaching, and very frequently told us he should not live long.
One day he said to me, “I remember before I came to live in this world,
I was with the Great Spirit above. And I often looked down, and saw men
upon the earth. I saw many good and desirable things, and among others, a
beautiful woman, and as I looked day after day at the woman, he said to
me, ‘Pe-shau-ba, do you love the woman you are so often looking at?’ I
told him I did. Then he said to me, ‘Go down and spend a few winters on
the earth. You cannot stay long, and you must remember to be always kind
and good to my children whom you see below.’ So I came down, but I have
never forgotten what was said to me. I have always stood in the smoke
between the two bands when my people have fought with their enemies.
I have not struck my friends in their lodges. I have disregarded the
foolishness of young men who would have offended me, but have always
been ready and willing to lead our brave men against the Sioux. I have
always gone into battle painted black, as I now am, and I now hear the
same voice that talked to me before I came to this world: it tells me I
can remain here no longer. To you, my brother, I have been a protector,
and you will be sorry when I leave you; but be not like a woman, you will
soon follow in my path.” He then put on the new clothes I had given him
to wear below, walked out of the lodge, looked at the sun, the sky, the
lake, and the distant hills; then come in, and lay down composedly in his
place in the lodge, and in a few minutes ceased to breathe.

After the death of Pe-shau-ba, I wished to have made another attempt to
come to the States, but Waw-zhe-kah-maish-koon prevented me. I lived with
him the remainder of the winter, and in the spring went to Ne-bo-wese-be,
(Dead River,) where we planted corn, and spent the summer. In the fall,
after the corn was gathered, we went to our hunting grounds.

An old Ojibbeway, called Crooked Finger, had been living in my lodge
about a year; in all that time, having never killed any thing. When I
started to hunt buffalo, he followed me, and we came at the same time in
view of a large herd, when the old man endeavoured to raise a quarrel
about my right to use those hunting grounds. “You Ottawwaws,” said he,
“have no right in this part of the country, and though I cannot control
all of you, I have you, at last, now in my power, and I am determined
that if you do not go back to your own country from this very spot, I
will kill you.” I had no apprehension on account of his threat, and I
defied him to injure or molest me. After an hour or more of altercation,
he crept up, and at length began to shoot at the herd of buffalo. Soon
after he had left me, two Ottawwaws who had overheard the quarrel as they
were coming up, and had concealed themselves in the bushes near, joined
me. The old man, after three or four unsuccessful shots at the buffalo,
turned and went home, ashamed alike of his insolence to me, and of his
want of success. Then I went forward with the two young Ottawwaws who had
joined me, and we killed a considerable number of fat cows.

Shortly after this, when I had been hunting all day, on returning home
late at night, I found a very unusual gloominess in the countenances of
all the inmates of my lodge. I saw there a man named Chik-ah-to, who was
almost a stranger to me. He, and all the rest of them, seemed as if cast
down by some sudden and unexpected bad news, and when I asked my wife the
cause of this apparent distress, she returned me no answer. At length,
Waw-zhe-kah-maish-koon, in reply to my earnest inquiries, told me, with
the utmost seriousness, and a voice of solemn concern, that the Great
Spirit had come down again. “What, has he come again so soon?” said I;
“He comes often of late, but I suppose we must hear what he has to say.”
The light and irreverent manner in which I treated the subject, was very
offensive to many of the Indians, and they apparently all determined
to withhold from me all communications respecting it. This was to me a
matter of little consequence, and I went, as usual, to my hunting on the
following morning. My own indifference and contempt for these pretended
revelations of the Divine will kept me in ignorance for some time of the
purport of the present one. But at a subsequent period of my life, I
found that though my skepticism might not be offensive to the Great God,
in whose name these revelations were made to us, still it was highly so
to those who were pleased to style themselves his messengers, and that
by incurring their ill will I exposed myself to much inconvenience and

In the spring of the year, after we had assembled at the trading house at
Pembinah, the chiefs built a great lodge and called all the men together
to receive some information concerning the newly revealed will of the
Great Spirit. The messenger of this revelation was Manito-o-geezhik, a
man of no great fame but well known to most of the Ojibbeways of that
country. He had disappeared for about one year, and in that time he
pretended to have visited the abode of the Great Spirit, and to have
listened to his instructions, but some of the traders informed me he had
only been to St. Louis, on the Mississippi.

The Little Clam took it upon him to explain the object of the meeting.
He then sang and prayed, and proceeded to detail the principal features
of the revelation to Manito-o-geezhik. The Indians were no more to go
against their enemies. They must no longer steal, defraud, or lie; they
must neither be drunk, nor eat their food, nor drink their broth when it
was hot. Few of the injunctions of Manito-o-geezhik were troublesome or
difficult of observance, like those of the Shawnee prophet. Many of the
maxims and instructions communicated to the Indians at this time were of
a kind to be permanently and valuably useful to them, and the effect of
their influence was manifest for two or three years in the more orderly
conduct, and somewhat amended condition of the Indians.

When we were ready to separate from the trading-house, Ais-ainse, (the
little clam,) invited several of us, myself in particular, to accompany
him to his residence at Man-e-to Sah-gi-e-gun, or Spirit Lake,[26]
but I would not join him, as I wished to remain in a woody country
for the purpose of hunting the fur-bearing animals. Ten men, among
whom were Wa-ge-tote and Gi-ah-ge-git, together with great numbers of
women, accepted his invitation and went with him. A young man, a friend
of the Little Clam, named Se-gwun-oons, (spring deer,) before they
separated from us at Pembinah, predicted that he would be killed at
Spirit Lake. Many other predictions he made, which were verified from
day to day, until the Indians came to have such confidence in him that
his admonitions of impending danger to those who should go to Spirit
Lake began to be so much regarded, that Wa-me-gon-a-biew and many
others became alarmed and returned. Last of all came Match-e-toons, a
foolish and lying young man, who reported that the indications of danger
thickening around the Little Clam and his band, he had stolen away in the
night, and the next morning, though he had fled a considerable distance,
he heard the guns of the Sioux at the camp he had left. We did not
immediately credit the account of this man, but waited anxiously from
day to day, till at last the chiefs determined to send twenty men to
ascertain whether there was any foundation for his statement. This party,
when they arrived at the place where the Little Clam had been encamped,
found that the whole band had been cut off. First, and in advance of all
the camp, lay the body of Se-gwun-oons, the young man who had predicted
the attack before he left Pembinah. Near him lay some young men of his
own age, and farther back the stout body of the Little Clam, stuck full
of arrows. In the camp the ground was strewed with the bodies of the
women and children. At a distance was the body of one of the Sioux, in
a sitting posture, and covered with the puk-kwi, or mats, which had
belonged to the Ojibbeway lodges. Not one escaped except Match-e-toons,
but some afterwards doubted whether he had not fled in the time of the
fight, instead of the evening before, as he had stated. Thus died the
Little Clam, the last of the considerable men of his age belonging to the
Ojibbeways of Red River. Our village seemed desolate after the recent
loss of so many men.

We then went down to Dead River, planted corn, and spent the summer
there. Sha-gwaw-koo-sink, an Ottawwaw, a friend of mine and an old man,
first introduced the cultivation of corn among the Ojibbeways of the Red
River country.

In the ensuing fall when we went to our hunting grounds, the wolves were
unusually numerous and troublesome. They attacked and killed my horse,
and several of my dogs. One day, when I had killed a moose, and gone with
all my family to bring in the meat, I found on my return, the wolves had
pulled down my lodge, carried off many skins, carrying-straps, and, in
fine, whatever articles of skin, or leather they could come at. I killed
great numbers, but they still continued to trouble me, particularly
an old dog wolf, who had been so often at my door that I knew his
appearance, and was perfectly acquainted with his habits. He used,
whenever he came, to advance boldly upon my dogs and drive them in. He
would then prowl about to seize whatever he could find of food. At last,
I loaded my gun and went out, when he sprang directly at me, but I shot
him before he had time to fasten upon me. Half his hair had fallen off.


    Rapacity of the traders—revelation of
    Manito-o-geezhik—pretensions of As-kaw-ba-wis—credulity of
    the Indians—colony at Red River, planted by the Hudson’s Bay
    traders—large war-party assembled at Turtle Mountain—want of

Mr. Henry had traded ten years at Pembinah. He was succeeded by a Mr.
M’Kenzie, who remained but a short time, and after him came Mr. Wells,
called by the Indians Gah-se-moan, (a sail,) from the roundness and
fulness of his person. He built a strong fort on Red River, near the
mouth of the Assinneboin. The Hudson’s Bay Company had now no post in
that part of the country, and the Indians were soon made conscious of
the advantage which had formerly resulted to them from the competition
between rival trading companies. Mr. Wells, at the commencement of
winter, called us all together, gave the Indians a ten gallon keg of rum
and some tobacco, telling them, at the same time, he would not credit
one of them the value of a single needle. When they brought skins, he
would buy them, and give in exchange such articles as were necessary
for their comfort and subsistence during the winter. I was not with the
Indians when this talk was held. When it was reported to me, and a share
of the presents offered me, I not only refused to accept any thing, but
reproached the Indians for their pusillanimity in submitting to such
terms. They had been accustomed for many years to receive credits in the
fall. They were now entirely destitute not of clothing merely, but of
ammunition, and many of them of guns and traps. How were they, without
the accustomed aid from the traders, to subsist themselves and their
families during the ensuing winter? A few days afterwards, I went to Mr.
Wells, and told him that I was poor, with a large family to support by my
own exertions, and that I must unavoidably suffer, and perhaps perish,
unless he would give me such a credit as I had always, in the fall, been
accustomed to receive. He would not listen to my representation and told
me, roughly, to be gone from his house. I then took eight silver beavers,
such as are worn by the women, as ornaments on their dress, and which I
had purchased the year before at just twice the price that was commonly
given for a capote. I laid them before him on the table, and asked him
to give me a capote for them, or retain them as a pledge for the payment
of the price of the garment, as soon as I could procure the peltries. He
took up the ornaments, threw them in my face, and told me never to come
inside of his house again. The cold weather of the winter had not yet
set in, and I went immediately to my hunting ground, killed a number of
moose, and set my wife to make the skins into such garments as were best
adapted to the winter season, and which I now saw we should be compelled
to substitute for the blankets and woollen clothes we had been accustomed
to receive from the traders.

I continued my hunting with good success, but the winter had not half
passed when I heard that Mr. Hanie, a trader for the Hudson’s Bay people,
had arrived at Pembinah. I went immediately to him, and he gave me all
the credit I asked, which was to the amount of seventy skins. Then I went
to Muskrat River, where I hunted the remainder of the winter, killing
great numbers of martens, beavers, otters, etc.

Early in the spring, I sent word by some Indians to Mr. Hanie, that I
would go down to the mouth of the Assinneboin, and meet him there to pay
my credit, as I had skins more than enough for this purpose.

When I arrived at the Assinneboin, Mr. Hanie had not yet passed, and
I stopped to wait for him opposite Mr. Well’s trading house. An old
Frenchman offered me a lodging in his house, and I went in and deposited
my peltries under the place he gave me to sleep in. Mr. Wells, having
heard of my arrival, sent three times, urging me to come and see him. At
last, I yielded to the solicitations of my brother-in-law and crossed
over with him. Mr. Wells was glad to see me, and treated me with much
politeness. He offered me wine and provisions, and whatever his house
afforded. I had taken nothing except a little tobacco, when I saw
his Frenchman come in with my packs. They carried them past me into
Mr. Well’s bed room. He then locked the door, and took out the key.
Immediately his kindness and attentions to me relaxed. I said nothing,
but felt not the less anxious and uneasy, as I was very unwilling to
be deprived of the means of paying Mr. Hanie his credit, still more so
to have my property taken from me by violence, or without my consent.
I watched about the house, and at length found an opportunity to slip
into the bed room, while Mr. Wells was then taking something from a
trunk. He tried to drive me, and afterwards to push me out, but I was
too strong for him. After he had proceeded to this violence, I did not
hesitate to take up my packs, but he snatched them from me. Again I
seized them, and in the struggle that ensued, the thongs that bound them
were broken, and the skins strewed about the floor. As I went to gather
them up, he drew a pistol, cocked it, and presented it to my breast. For
a moment I stood motionless, thinking he would certainly kill me, as I
saw he was much enraged. Then I seized his hand, and turned it aside,
at the same moment drawing from my belt a large knife, which I grasped
firmly in my right hand, still holding him by my left. Seeing himself
thus suddenly and entirely in my power, he called first for his wife,
then for his interpreter, and told them to put me out of the house.
To this, the interpreter answered, “You are as able to put him out as
I am.” Some of the Frenchmen were also in the house, but they refused
to give him any assistance. Finding he was not likely to intimidate or
overcome me by violence, he had recourse once more to milder measures.
He offered to divide with me, and to allow me to retain half my peltries
for the Hudson’s Bay people. “You have always,” said he, “belonged to
the North West; why should you now desert us for the Hudson’s Bay?” He
then proceeded to count the skins, dividing them into two parcels, but
I told him it was unnecessary, as I was determined he should not have
one of them. “I went to you,” said I, “last fall, when I was hungry and
destitute, and you drove me, like a dog, from your door. The ammunition
with which I killed these animals, was credited to me by Mr. Hanie, and
the skins belong to him but if this was not the case, you should not have
one of them. You are a coward. You have not so much courage as a child.
If you had the heart of a squaw, you would not have pointed your pistol
at my breast, and have failed to shoot me. My life was in your power,
and there was nothing to prevent your taking it, not even the fear of my
friends, for you know that I am a stranger here, and not one among the
Indians would raise his hand to avenge my death. You might have thrown
my body into the river, as you would a dog, and no one would have asked
you what you had done, but you wanted the spirit to do even this.” He
asked me if I had not a knife in my hand. I then showed him two, a large
and a small one, and told him to beware how he provoked me to use them.
At last, wearied with this altercation, he went and sat down opposite me
in the large room. Though he was at considerable distance, so great was
his agitation that I could distinctly hear his heart beat. He sat awhile,
then went and began to walk back and forth in the yard. I collected my
skins together, and the interpreter helped me to tie them up; then taking
them on my back, I walked out, passed close by him, put them in my canoe,
and returned to the old Frenchman’s house on the other side.

Next morning, it appeared that Mr. Wells had thought better of the
subject than to wish to take my property from me by violence, for he sent
his interpreter to offer me his horse, which was a very valuable one, if
I would think no more of what he had done. “Tell him,” said I, to the
interpreter, “he is a child, and wishes to quarrel and forget his quarrel
in one day, but he shall not find I am like him. I have a horse of my
own, I will keep my packs, nor will I forget that he pointed his pistol
at my breast when he had not the courage to shoot me.”

On the following morning, one of the clerks of the North West Company
arrived from the trading-house at Mouse River, and he, it appeared, told
Mr. Wells when he heard what had passed that he would take my packs
from me, and though Mr. Wells cautioned him against it, he determined
on making the attempt. It was near noon when the old Frenchman, after
looking out of his house, said to me, “My friend, I believe you will
lose your packs now. Four men are coming this way, all well armed; their
visit, I am sure, is for no good or friendly purpose.” Hearing this, I
placed my packs in the middle of the floor, and taking a beaver trap in
my hand, sat down on them. When the clerk came in, accompanied by three
young men, he asked me for my packs. “What right have you,” said I, “to
demand them?” “You are indebted to me,” said he. “When did I owe the
North West any thing, that was not paid at the time agreed on?” “Ten
years ago,” said he, “your brother, Wa-me-gon-a-biew, had a credit from
me, which he paid all but ten skins. Those are still due, and I wish you
to pay them.” “Very well,” said I, “I will pay your demand, but you must,
at the same time, pay me for those four packs of beaver we sent to you
from the Grand Portage. Your due bill was, as you know, burned with my
lodge at Ke-mu-kaw-ne-she-wa-bo-ant, and you have never paid me, or any
member of our family, the value of a single needle for those one hundred
and sixty beaver skins.” Finding this method would not succeed, and
knowing, though he disregarded it, the justice of my reply, he tried the
effect of violent measures, like those used on the preceding day by Mr.
Wells; but when he perceived these were and would be equally unavailing,
he returned to the fort without having taken a single marten skin from me.

When I ascertained that it would be some time before Mr. Hanie would
arrive, I went down to Dead River, and while I was waiting there, killed
four hundred muskrats. At last, Mr. Hanie arrived at the place where
I, with another man, had been waiting for him. He told me that he had
passed Mr. Wells’ trading-house at the mouth of the Assinneboin, in the
middle of the day, with his crew singing. Mr. Wells, on seeing him, had
immediately started after him, with a canoe strongly manned and armed.
On perceiving this pursuit, Mr. Hanie went on shore, and leaving his men
in his canoe, went up about twenty yards into a smooth prairie. Hither
Mr. Wells followed him, attended by several armed men, but Mr. Hanie
made him stop at the distance of ten yards, and a long dispute followed,
which ended in his permitting Mr. Hanie to pass down. I related to him my
story of the treatment I had received, and paid him his credit. I traded
with him for the remainder of my peltries, and after we had finished, he
gave me some handsome presents, among which was a valuable gun, and then
went on his way. As I was re-ascending Red River, I met Mr. Wells. He
was destitute of fresh game, and asked me for some, which I should have
given, had it been in my power, but he attributed my refusal to ill will.
Afterwards, though I was living at a distance from him, he sent his horse
to me, and again subsequently to Pembinah, but I constantly refused to
accept it. Notwithstanding my steady and repeated refusal, I was informed
he always said the horse belonged to me, and after his death, which
happened three years later, the other traders told me I ought to take the
horse, but I would not, and it fell into the hands of an old Frenchman.
After the death of Mr. Wells, I returned to the North West Company, and
traded with them, as before, but never while he lived. If he had shot me,
and wounded me ever so severely, I should have been less offended with
him, than to have him present his pistol, as he did, to my breast, and
take it away without firing.

Esh-ke-buk-ke-koo-sa, a chief of Leech Lake, came after this to
Pembinah with about forty young men, and I went, by invitation, from
the Be-gwi-o-nus-ko, with others, to hear him give some account of the
recent revelation from the Great Spirit to Manito-o-geezhik. We were all
assembled one night in a long lodge, erected for the purpose, to dance
and feast, and listen to the discourse of the chief, when suddenly we
heard two guns, in quick succession, in the direction of the North West
Company’s trading-house, now unoccupied, except by two Frenchmen who had
that day arrived. The old men looked at each other in doubt and dismay.
Some said the Frenchmen are killing wolves, but Esh-ke-buk-ke-koo-sa
said, “I know the sound of the guns of the Sioux.” The night was very
dark, but all the young men took their arms and started immediately, and
I among the foremost. Many getting entangled among logs and stumps,
made but little progress. I kept the path, and was still foremost, when
a dark figure shot past me, and at the same moment I heard the voice of
the Black Duck, saying, neen-dow-in-nin-ne, (I am a man.) I had often
heard of the prowess of this man, and in one instance had seen him at
the Sioux village at Chief Mountain, lead in what we all supposed would
be an attack. Now I determined to keep near him. We had advanced within
about gun shot of the fort when he began to leap, first to one side, and
then to the other, thus moving in a zigzag line, though rapidly, towards
the gate of the fort. I followed his example, and when he leapt into
the open gate of the fort, it was with a surprising effort of activity,
which carried his feet near two yards from the ground. We saw within
the fort a house, at the window and door of which we perceived a bright
light. The Black Duck had a buffalo robe over his shoulders, the dark
colour of which enabled him to pass the window undiscovered by the man
who was watching within, but my white blanket betraying me, the muzzle
of a gun was instantly presented to my head, but not discharged, for the
Black Duck at that instant caught in his arms the affrighted Frenchman,
who had mistaken me for one of the Sioux, and was in the act of firing
upon me. The second Frenchman was with the women and children, who were
all lying in a heap in the corner of the room, crying through fear. It
appeared that the one who was watching by the window, who was the most
manly of the two, had, a few minutes before, been driving his horse out
of the fort, to give him water, when the animal had been shot dead in the
gate by some men concealed near at hand. He at first thought we were the
people who had shot his horse, but he was soon convinced of his error, as
we did not even know that the body of the horse was lying at the gate,
having jumped entirely over it when we entered. This Frenchman would not
leave the fort, but the Black Duck, who was a relative of one of the
women, insisted that they should be taken to the Indian camp. Others of
our young men had by this time come up, and we determined to watch in
the fort all night. Next morning we found the trail of the two men who
had crossed the Pembinah river, a considerable war party having been
concealed on the other side. The two men were the celebrated Yanktong
chief, Wah-ne-tow, and his uncle. They had concealed themselves near the
gate of the fort, with the determination to shoot down whatever came out
or went in. The first that passed, happening to be the Frenchman’s horse,
he was shot down; and the two men, probably without knowing whether they
had killed man or beast, fled across the river.

When it was ascertained that the Sioux war party was not a very large
one, many were disposed to pursue after it, but Esh-ke-buk-ke-koo-sha
said, “not so, my brethren. Manito-o-geezhik, whose messenger I am to
you, tells us we must no more go against our enemies. And is it not
manifest that in this instance the Great Spirit has protected us. Had the
Sioux come about our lodge when we were feasting in security, without our
arms in our hands, how easily might they have killed all of us, but they
were misled, and made to mistake a Frenchman’s horse for an Ojibbeway.
So will it continue to be if we are obedient to the injunctions we have
received.” I began to be apprehensive for my family, having left them at
home, and fearing that the Sioux might visit them on their way to their
own country. “Go,” said Esh-ke-buk-ke-koo-sha, when I told him of my
anxiety, “but do not fear that the Sioux can do any injury to your wife
or children, but I wish you to go that on your return you may bring me
your medicine bag, and I shall show you what to do with the contents.” I
did accordingly, and he ordered the contents of my medicine bag, except
the medicines for war and hunting, to be thrown into the fire. “This,”
said he, “is what we must henceforth do. If any one is sick, let them
take a bowl of birch bark, and a little tobacco; the sick person himself,
if he is able to walk, otherwise his nearest relative, and let them go to
the nearest running water. Let the tobacco be offered to the stream, then
dipping the bowl in the same direction in which the water runs, let them
take a little, and carry it home, for the sick person to drink. But if
the sickness be very severe, then let the person that dips up the water,
plunge the bowl so deep that the edge of it shall touch the mud in the
bottom of the stream.” He then gave me a small hoop of wood to wear on
my head like a cap. On one half of this hoop was marked the figure of a
snake, whose office, as the chief told me, was to take care of the water;
on the other half, the figure of a man, to represent the Great Spirit.
This band, or fillet, was not to be worn on ordinary occasions—only when
I should go to bring water for some of my family or friends who should be
sick. I was much dissatisfied at the destruction of the contents of my
medicine bag, many of them being such roots and other substances as I had
found useful in the disorders incident to my situation, and I was still
more displeased that we were not, henceforth, to be allowed to use these
remedies, some of which I knew to be of great value. But all the Indians
of the band were in the same situation with myself, and I was compelled
to submit.

When the spring came on, I went to fulfil an appointment I had made the
preceding fall with Sha-gwaw-ko-sink, to meet him at a certain place. I
arrived on the spot at the time appointed, and shortly afterwards, the
old man came, on foot and alone, to search for me. He had encamped about
two miles distant, where he had been for two days, and they had plenty of
fresh meat, which was particularly grateful to me as for some time past I
had killed but little.

I lived with him during the summer. Sha-gwaw-ko-sink was now too old and
feeble to hunt, but he had some young men with him, who kept him supplied
while game was to be had, but late in the fall the hunting grounds
about us became poor. The weather was very cold, and the ground hard
frozen, but no snow fell so that it was difficult to follow the tracks
of the moose and the noise of our walking on hard ground and dry leaves,
gave the animals timely warning of our approach. This state of things
continuing for some time, we were all reduced nearly to starvation, and
had recourse, as a last resort, to medicine hunting. Half the night
I sung and prayed, and then lay down to sleep. I saw in my dream a
beautiful young man come down through the hole in the top of my lodge,
and he stood directly before me. “What,” said he, “is this noise and
crying that I hear? Do I not know when you are hungry and in distress?
I look down upon you at all times, and it is not necessary you should
call me with such loud cries.” Then pointing directly towards the sun’s
setting, he said, “do you see those tracks?” “Yes,” I answered, “they
are the tracks of two moose.” “I give you those two moose to eat.” Then
pointing in an opposite direction, towards the place of the sun’s rising,
he showed me a bear’s track, and said, “that also I give you.” He then
went out at the door of my lodge, and as he raised the blanket, I saw
that snow was falling rapidly.


I very soon awoke, and feeling too much excited to sleep, I called
old Sha-gwaw-ko-sink to smoke with me, and then prepared my
Muz-zin-ne-neen-suk,[27] as in the subjoined sketch, to represent the
animals whose tracks had been shown me in my dream. At the earliest dawn,
I started from the lodge in a heavy fall of snow, and taking the course
pointed out to me, long before noon I fell on the track of two moose,
and killed them both, a male and a female, and extremely fat.

The songs used on occasion of these medicine hunts have relation to
the religious opinions of the Indians. They are often addressed to
Na-na-boo-shoo, or Na-Na-bush, whom they intreat to be their interpreter,
and communicate their requests to the Supreme. Oftentimes, also, to
Me-suk-kum-mik O-kwi, or the earth, the great-grandmother of all. In
these songs, they relate how Na-na-bush created the ground in obedience
to the commands of the Great Spirit, and how all things for the use, and
to supply the wants of the uncles and aunts of Na-na-bush, (by which
are meant men and women,) were committed to the care and keeping of the
great mother. Na-na-bush, ever the benevolent intercessor between the
Supreme Being and mankind, procured to be created for their benefit the
animals whose flesh should be for their food, and whose skins were for
their clothing. He sent down roots and medicines of sovereign power to
heal their sicknesses, and in times of hunger, to enable them to kill
the animals of the chase. All these things were committed to the care
of Me-suk-kum-mik O-kwi, and that his uncles and aunts might never call
on her in vain, the old woman was directed to remain constantly at home
in her lodge. Hence it is that good Indians never dig up the roots of
which their medicines are made, without at the same time depositing in
the earth something as an offering to Me-suk-kum-mik O-kwi. They sing
also, how, in former times, the Great Spirit having killed the brother
of Na-na-bush, the latter was angry, and strengthened himself against
the Supreme. Na-na-bush waxed stronger and stronger, and was likely to
prevail against Gitch-e-manito, when the latter, to appease him, gave him
the Me-tai. With this, Na-na-bush was so pleased, that he brought it down
to his uncles and aunts on the earth.

Many of these songs are noted down by a method probably peculiar to the
Indians, on birch bark, or small flat pieces of wood, the ideas being
conveyed by emblematic figures somewhat like those before mentioned, as
used in communicating ordinary information.

Two years previous to this time, a man of our band called Ais-kaw-ba-wis,
a quiet and rather insignificant person, and a poor hunter, lost his wife
by death, and his children began, even more than formerly, to suffer of
hunger. The death of his wife was attended with peculiar circumstances,
and Ais-kaw-ba-wis became melancholy and despondent, which we attributed
to the sluggishness of his disposition, but he at length called the
chiefs together, and with much solemnity announced to them that he had
been favoured by a new revelation from the Great Spirit. He showed them
a round ball of earth, about four or five inches in diameter, or more
than half as large as a man’s head, rolled round and smooth, and smeared
with red paint. “The Great Spirit,” said he, “as I sat, from day to day,
crying, and praying, and singing in my lodge, at last called to me, and
said, ‘Ais-kaw-ba-wis, I have heard your prayers, I have seen the mats
in your lodge wet with your tears, and have listened to your request. I
give you this ball, and as you see it is clean and new, I give it to
you for your business to make the whole earth like it, even as it was
when Na-na-bush first made it. All old things must be destroyed and done
away; every thing must be made anew, and to your hands, Ais-kaw-ba-wis, I
commit this great work.’”

I was among those whom he called in to listen to this first annunciation
of his mission. It was not until after he dismissed us that I said any
thing, but then, in conversation with my companions, I soon betrayed my
want of credulity. “It is well,” said I, “that we may be made acquainted
with the whole mind and will of the Great Spirit at so cheap a rate. We
have now these divinely taught instructors springing up among ourselves,
and fortunately, such men as are worth nothing for any other purpose. The
Shawnee prophet was far off. Ke-zhi-ko-we-ninne and Manito-o-geezhik,
though of our own tribe, were not with us. They were also men. But here
we have one too poor, and indolent, and spiritless, to feed his own
family, yet he is made the instrument, in the hand of the Great Spirit,
as he would have us believe, to renovate the whole earth.” I had always
entertained an unfavourable opinion of this man, as I knew him to be one
of the most worthless among the Indians, and I now felt indignant at his
attempt to pass himself upon us as a chosen and favoured messenger of
the Supreme Spirit. I hesitated not to ridicule his pretensions wherever
I went, but notwithstanding that bad luck constantly attended him, he
gained a powerful ascendancy over the minds of the Indians. His incessant
beating of his drum at night scared away the game from our neighbourhood,
and his insolent hypocrisy made him offensive to me at all times, but he
had found the way to control the minds of many of the people, and all my
efforts in opposition to him were in vain.

On one occasion, while we remained at this place, and had been suffering
some days from hunger, I went out to hunt and wounded a moose. On my
return, I related this, and said I believe the moose was so badly wounded
that he must die. Early next morning, Ais-kaw-ba-wis came to my lodge,
and with the utmost seriousness in his manner, said to me that the Great
Spirit had been down, and told him of the moose I had wounded. “He is
now dead,” said he, “and you will find him in such a place. It is the
will of the Great Spirit that he should be brought here and cooked for
a sacrifice.” I thought it not improbable that the moose was killed,
and went in search of him accordingly, but I found he was not dead.
This afforded me another opportunity to ridicule the pretensions of
Ais-kaw-ba-wis, but all seemed in no degree to impair the confidence of
the Indians. Very shortly afterwards, it happened that I again wounded
a moose, and went home without getting it. “This,” said Ais-kaw-ba-wis,
“is the moose which the Great Spirit showed me.” So I went out and
brought him in, and as I knew many of the Indians were hungry, I was
willing to make a feast, though not out of deference to Ais-kaw-ba-wis.
As we were too few in number to consume all the meat, we cut it off the
bones, and these were heaped up before Ais-kaw-ba-wis, care being taken
that not one of them should be broken. They were afterwards carried to
a safe place, and hung up out of the reach of the dogs or wolves, as no
bone of an animal offered in this way must, by any means, be broken.
On the following day, I killed another fat moose, on which occasion
Ais-kaw-ba-wis made a long address to the Great Spirit, and afterwards
said to me, “You see, my son, how your goodness is rewarded. You gave the
first you killed to the Spirit. He will take care you shall not want.”
Next day I went with my brother-in-law, and we killed each one, and now
Ais-kaw-ba-wis exulted much in the efficacy of the sacrifice he had
caused me to make, and his ascendancy over the superstitious minds of the
Indians was confirmed. Notwithstanding this high degree of favour he had
obtained by his cunning, he was a man who, once in his life, had eaten
his own wife for hunger, and whom the Indians would then have killed as
one unworthy to live.

When the snow began to harden on the top at the approach of the spring,
the men of our band, Sha-gwaw-koo-sink, Wau-zhe-gaw-maish-koon,
Ba-po-wash, Gish-kau-ko, myself and some others, went to make a hunting
camp at some distance for the purpose of making dry meat, and left
only Ais-kaw-ba-wis at home with the women. We killed much game, as
it is very easy to take moose and elk at that season. The crust on the
snow, while it will bear a man, almost deprives them of the power of
motion. At length, Gish-kau-ko went home to see his family, and on his
return he brought me a little tobacco from Ais-kaw-ba-wis, with this
message. “Your life is in danger.” “My life,” said I, “belongs neither to
Ais-kaw-ba-wis nor myself. It is in the hands of the Great Spirit, and
when he sees fit to place it in danger, or bring it to an end, I shall
have no cause to complain, but I cannot believe that he has revealed any
part of his intentions to so worthless a man as Ais-kaw-ba-wis.” But
this intimation alarmed all the Indians who were with me, and they made
the best of their way to the place where Ais-kaw-ba-wis was encamped
with the women. I took a circuitous route by myself to visit some of my
traps, and having caught an otter, I took him on my back, and arrived
at home some time after them. Here I found all our lodges converted
into one large one. The women and children together with the men who
had arrived long before me, were shivering with cold by a fire in the
open air. When I inquired the meaning of all this, they told me that
Ais-kaw-ba-wis was preparing for some important communication to be given
through him from the Great Spirit. He had been a long time in preparing
the lodge, during which every one was excluded, and he had arranged
that at a certain signal Ba-po-wash, who was to lead the dance, should
enter, and the others were to follow him, and after having danced four
times around the lodge, to sit down, each in his place. Hearing this, I
immediately entered the long lodge, and throwing down my otter, seated
myself by the fire. Ais-kaw-ba-wis gave me one angry and malicious look,
then closed his eyes, and affected to go on with a prayer that I had
interrupted. After some time, he began to drum and sing aloud, and at
the third interval of silence, which was the signal agreed upon with
Ba-po-wash, the latter came dancing in, followed by men, women, and
children, and after circling the lodge four times, they all sat down in
their places. For a few moments all was silence, while Ais-kaw-ba-wis
continued sitting with his eyes closed, in the middle of the lodge, by
a spot of smooth and soft ground which he had prepared, like that used
by the war chiefs in their Ko-zau-bun-zitch-e-kun. Then he began to call
the men, one by one, to come and sit down by him. Last of all, he called
me, and I went and sat down as he directed. Then addressing himself to
me, he said, “Shaw-shaw-wa ne-ba-se, my son, it is probable you will now
be frightened, as I have very unpleasant information to give you. The
Great Spirit has, as you, my friends, all know, in former times favoured
me with the free communication of his mind and will. Lately he has been
pleased to show me what is to happen to each of us in future. For you,
my friends, (to Sha-gwaw-go-nuck and the other Indians,) who have been
careful to regard and obey the injunctions of the Great Spirit, as
communicated by me, to each of you he has given to live to the full age
of man; this long and straight line is the image of your several lives.
For you, Shaw-shaw-wa ne-ba-se, who have turned aside from the right
path, and despised the admonitions you have received, this short and
crooked line represents your life. You are to attain only to half of the
full age of man. This line, turning off on the other side, is that which
shows what is determined in relation to the young wife of Ba-po-wash.”
As he said this, he showed us the marks he had made on the ground, as
below. The long, straight line, A, representing, as he said, the life of
the Indians, Sha-gwaw-koo-sink, Wau-zhe-gaw-maish-koon, etc. The short
crooked one, B, showing the irregular course and short continuance of
mine, and the abruptly terminating one on the other side, showing the
life of the favourite wife of Ba-po-wash. It happened that Ba-po-wash had
dried the choice parts of a fat bear, intending in the spring to make
a feast to his medicine, and a few days previous to this time, while
we were absent at our hunting camp, Ais-kaw-ba-wis had said to the old
woman, the mother of Ba-po-wash’s wife, “The Great Spirit has signified
to me that all things are not as they should be. Send out and see,
therefore, if the fat bear which your son has hung up for a feast to his
medicine is all where it was left.” She went out accordingly, and found
that the feet of the bear were gone, Ais-kaw-ba-wis himself, who was a
great glutton, having stolen them. This was now made known to Ba-po-wash,
who was much alarmed at the threatened evil, and to avert it he not only
gave Ais-kaw-ba-wis the remainder of the bear, but a large quantity of
marrow he had saved for his feast, and other valuable presents.


After this, we started to come to an island called Me-nau-zhe-taw-naun,
in the Lake of the Woods, where we had concluded to plant corn, instead
of our old fields at Dead River. On our way we stopped at a place to make
sugar, then we went to visit the traders, leaving Ais-kaw-ba-wis with our
women. It happened that the wife of Gish-kau-ko had left her kettle at
the sugar camp, some distance from the place where they were to wait for
our return. Some time after the men had gone, Ais-kaw-ba-wis, who lived
by himself in a little lodge, pretending to be too holy to go into a
common house, or to mingle with men in their ordinary pursuits, sent for
the wife of Gish-kau-ko, and when she came to him, he said, “The Great
Spirit is not pleased that you should abandon and lose your property. Go,
therefore, and get the kettle that you have left at the sugar camp.” The
woman obeyed, and he, soon after she had left the camp, took his gun, and
under the pretence of going to hunt, went out in a different direction.
But he had no sooner got out of sight of the lodges than he turned, and
by circuitous route came upon the track of the wife of Gish-kau-ko. She,
who had been before annoyed by his particular attentions, and surmised
the real object he had in view in sending her for the kettle, kept a look
out behind her, and when she saw him come running after her, she began
to run also. Just at this time I was returning from the trading-house
with the other Indians, when we descried this chase at a distance. It
occasioned us much alarm when we saw first a woman, then a man, running
with so much apparent earnestness. We thought nothing less than that the
Sioux had come to the country, and were murdering our women and children.
But when we came a little nearer, the pretended prophet gave over his
pursuit of the woman, and came and sat down with us, to drink of the rum
which the Indians had brought from the trading-house, and which they
gave him very liberally. The woman was, however, after her arrival at
home, compelled to give some account of the race, and she acknowledged
that Ais-kaw-ba-wis had often sought similar opportunities to be alone
with her, though such was her fear of him that she never dared make any
disclosure, or offer any other resistance than an attempt to escape
by flight. This discovery occasioned no disturbance, and seemed in no
degree to diminish the influence of Ais-kaw-ba-wis. A large proportion
of the rum we had brought from the trading-house was set apart for him,
but when the principal man among us sent for him to come and receive it,
he returned for answer, that he could not come. “Tell the chief,” said
he, “that if he has any business with me, he can come to my lodge.” The
liquor was accordingly carried to him, but its effect seemed to render
his disposition somewhat more social and condescending, for about the
middle of the night he came staggering into the lodge where I was without
the least covering on any part of his body. To me his appearance was
ludicrous in the extreme, and I did not refrain from a good deal of
irreverent merriment on the occasion.

After this we came to the Lake of the Woods, where I hunted for about
a month, then went back into the country I had left, all the Indians
remaining behind to clear the ground where they intended planting corn
at Me-nau-zhe-tau-naung. I now began to experience the inconveniences
resulting from having incurred the ill will of Ais-kaw-ba-wis. He it
was who prejudiced the Indians so much against me, and particularly the
relatives of my wife, that my situation at Me-nau-zhe-tau-naung was
uncomfortable, and I was compelled to return to Red River.

It was about this time that the Scots people, to the number of one
hundred or more, arrived to settle at Red River, under the protection
of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and among these I saw, for the first time
in many years, since I had become a man, a white woman. Soon after my
arrival, I was taken into the employment of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and
Mr. Hanie, the agent, sent me, accompanied by Mr. Hess, an interpreter,
and some men, to kill buffalo. The buffalo were at that time, at a great
distance, and the Scots people in great distress for want of provisions.
I happened to find and kill two bulls near home, and after sending back
the meat, I went on to the herds.

I had hunted here a few days, when our number was increased to four
clerks and about twenty men, the latter employed in bringing in the meat
I killed to my lodge, whence it was carried in carts to the settlement.
All of these lived in my lodge, but one of the clerks named M’Donald was
very abusive to my wife and children. Mr. Hess repeatedly checked him
for this conduct, but as he continued it, he complained to Mr. Hanie,
who sent M’Donald to a place several miles distant where the Indians had
killed about twenty buffaloes, which it was not convenient, at present,
to bring out, and there he remained by himself for two months, having
no other occupation or amusement than to scare the wolves away from
the meat. Mr. M’Kenzie was one of the three remaining clerks who lived
in my lodge, and he was so different from M’Donald, that at the end of
four months, when the greater part of the people were called in to the
settlement, he solicited and obtained from Mr. Hanie permission to remain
longer with me, to improve himself in the Ojibbeway language, and he did
not leave me until after the sugar season.

I killed, in the four months that I hunted for the Hudson’s Bay Company,
about one hundred buffaloes, but as part, or all of many of these
were eaten in my own lodge, I delivered only forty entire and fat ones
to the company’s people, for which Mr. Hanie paid me, in the spring,
three hundred and ten dollars. Those Scots labourers who were with me,
were much more rough and brutal in their manners than any people I had
before seen. Even when they had plenty, they ate like starved dogs, and
never failed to quarrel over their meat. The clerks frequently beat and
punished them, but they would still quarrel.

Mr. Hanie, and the governor for the Hudson’s Bay Company, proposed to
me to build me a house, and engage me permanently in their employment,
but I delayed accepting their offer, as I thought it doubtful whether
their attempt at settling the country would finally succeed. Some of the
Indians whom I had left at the Lake of the Woods had followed me out,
spent the winter with me, and returned long ago. I was still by myself
at Red River, when Wa-ge-tote came from Me-nau-zhe-tau-naung with a
message from my father and mother-in-law. They had lost several of their
children by death, and feeling lonely, they sent for me to come to them.
This message Wa-ge-tote delivered to me in the presence of the traders,
and some other persons, but afterwards he called me out by myself,
and said to me, “Do not believe that your father-in-law calls you to
Me-nau-zhe-tau-naung, to be at peace, or with any kind intention. When
the children were sick, they called Ais-kaw-ba-wis to do something for
them, and he having made a chees-suk-kon, said he had called you into
his enclosure, and made you confess that you had shot bad medicine at
the children, though you were at that time at Red River. He made your
father-in-law believe that you had the power of life and death over
his children, and he continues to believe, as do most of the Indians
of the band, that it was your medicine which killed them. Be assured,
therefore, that they call you thither with the design of killing you.”
Notwithstanding this admonition, I started immediately, as I knew if I
did not they would be but the more confirmed in their unfounded opinion
of my culpability.

I had bought a shirt from some of the Scots people at Red River, which
I put on as I was about to start on this journey. Probably it was from
this I contracted a disease of the skin, which became so troublesome and
violent that I was compelled to stop at the Be-gwi-o-nus-ko River. Here I
remained for a month, being for a long time unable to move. When I first
stopped I set up my lodge on the brink of the river, and after I was
unable to walk, I subsisted myself and family by lying in my canoe and
fishing. After being placed in my canoe, sometimes I lay there for three
or four days without being moved, covering myself with a mat at night. My
wife was not so severely affected, being, though very sick, still able to
walk. When I began to get a little better, I tried all sorts of medicines
I could procure, but none seemed to do me so much good as gun powder,
moistened a little, and rubbed upon the sores, which were very large.
This disorder, caught originally from the Scotch people, spread among the
Indians and killed numbers of them.

After I had recovered, I went up the Be-wi-o-nus-ko, to the small lake of
the same name, where I stopped to hunt, and killed plenty of meat. While
I remained here, there came one day to my lodge, four young men from our
village at Me-nau-zhe-tau-naung. In one of them, who was painted black, I
recognized my brother-in-law. The three other children being dead, grief,
and a feeling of loneliness, influenced him to leave his father, and
start in search of some war party, that he might accompany them against
their enemies, and thus have an opportunity of sacrificing, honourably, a
life that had become irksome to him. The three young men his companions,
being unwilling to see him depart alone, had voluntarily accompanied him.
I gave him my horse, and then went up to the Lake of the Woods to my
father-in-law, where I remained a few days. As it was then the time when
the wild geese, having cast their quills, are unable to fly, we caught
great numbers of them.

After four days, I said to the old people, “I cannot remain here, while
my little brother has gone crying about, with none to protect him. I
know there is danger in the path he will walk, and I ought to follow
to show him where it lies. He wishes to join a war party, that he may
walk in a dangerous road, but there is often danger where we least
expect it.” I knew that Wa-me-gon-a-biew would fall upon this boy, and
insult or perhaps kill him on account of his remote relationship to the
man who wounded Taw-ga-we-ninne, at Mackinac, or at least with this
pretence. Sha-gwaw-koo-sink, hearing my determination, and the reasons
I gave for it, said he would accompany me. We started together, and on
our arrival at Red River, we heard that Wa-me-gon-a-biew had taken from
the boy the horse I gave him, and had already threatened to kill him. I
went immediately to Wa-me-gon-a-biew, and a quarrel would probably have
taken place at once on account of the young man, had not old Net-no-kwa
come between and separated us, as we were about to come to blows. We
were all now about to join the Crees and Assinneboins to go against the
Sioux, and I cautioned my young brother-in-law to be, on this journey,
always watchful of the movements of Wa-me-gon-a-biew. We were about
forty men in number when we started from Red River. As we passed along
through the Cree and Assinneboin encampments and villages on our route,
our party was augmented to the number of two hundred men long before we
arrived at Turtle Mountain. While we were encamped near one of the Cree
villages, Wa-ge-tote and the principal chiefs being called away to a
feast, Wa-me-gon-a-biew began to talk of my brother-in-law, and as I did
not like to hear him, I went out and walked about at a distance from the
camp. When I thought the chiefs had returned from the feast, I re-entered
the camp, but from the expression of concern and interest visible in
the faces of those about me, I immediately comprehended that something
had happened. I went to search for the young man on whose account
particularly I felt anxious, and finding him safe, was returning to my
own place, when I discovered in the hands of an old man, who was trying
to replace them in their original shape, the splinters and fragments of
my new gun. I was at no loss to comprehend the nature of the accident
which had deprived me of the use of my gun at a time when it was likely
to prove so important to me, and in the first moment of irritation, I
seized the barrel, and was walking towards Wa-me-gon-a-biew to beat
him with it, when I met Wa-ge-tote, who interfered to prevent me from
striking him, though Wa-ge-tote himself, as well as the other chiefs,
expressed the greatest dissatisfaction at what he had done.

But notwithstanding the loss of my gun, I did not turn back. Arming
myself with my gun barrel in place of war club and spear, I went on.
In two days from this camp, we arrived at the head of Turtle Mountain,
being now about four hundred men. This was the place agreed upon for
the assembling of all who should join in the party, and we had supposed
that those we should meet here would be few in number in comparison with
ourselves. We were therefore somewhat surprised when we found already on
the ground, one thousand Assinneboins, Crees, and Ojibbeways.

We stopped at a little distance, and some communication took place
between the chiefs, respecting the ceremony of salutation to be used.
It is customary for war parties engaged in the same cause, or friendly
to each other, when they meet, to exchange a few shots by way of a sham
battle, in which they use all the jumping, the whooping, and yelling of
a real fight. But on this occasion both bands were so large, and one
so much larger than the other, that the chiefs thought it more prudent
to use a different method of exchanging compliments in meeting. It was
agreed, on the part of Match-a-to-ge-wub,[28] the principal chief,
that his young men should all remain in their lodges, and that twenty
warriors of our band should salute their encampment by practising the
manoeuvres of attacking a village. A large lodge was set up for them to
cut in pieces by their firing. I was one of the twenty selected for this
performance, having supplied myself with a gun which I procured from a
man who turned back. It was not without the utmost exertion of all my
strength that I kept even pace with my companions, in running, leaping,
loading, and yelling, and though we rested four times, when we arrived
at the chief’s lodge, and had blown it to fragments, I was entirely
exhausted with fatigue. A man of our own party, imprudently, and without
any authority, exposed himself in the village while this salute was in
progress, but his clothes were blown and scorched off his back, his lodge
shot down, and himself much hurt. But as the exposure had been altogether
voluntary on his part, and the notice taken of him rather honourable than
otherwise, he had no cause of complaint.

On the first night after we came together, three men of the Ojibbeways
were killed. On the next, two horses belonging to the Assinneboins,
and on the third, three more. When such numbers of men assemble from
different and remote parts of the country, some must be brought into
contact between whom old grudges and enmities exist, and it is not
surprising that the unstable power and influence of the chiefs should be
insufficient to prevent disturbances and bloodshed. On this occasion,
men were assembled from a vast extent of country, of dissimilar feelings
and dialects, and of the whole fourteen hundred, not one who would
acknowledge any authority superior to his own will. It is true that
ordinarily they yield a certain deference, and a degree of obedience to
the chief each may have undertaken to follow, but this obedience, in most
instances, continues no longer than the will of the chief corresponds
entirely with the inclination of those he leads. In this party were some
who had been a year on their journey to reach this place. Two hundred
lodges had their women with them.

Soon after we joined the main body at Turtle Mountain, a Cree of Prairie
Fort, adopted me into his family, taking my baggage, and inviting me into
his lodge. He called me constantly Ne-je,[29] (my friend,) and treated me
with great kindness. Many other men who were without lodges, were in like
manner taken into the families of those that had.

But a few days had passed, when the little boys commenced, in the first
instance a very small number, by kicking at each other in playfulness
merely, but it happened that on one side were Assinneboin children
only, and on the other Crees and Ojibbeways. By degrees larger and
larger boys, and at last men joined in on either side, and what had
commenced in play, was like to terminate in a serious and bloody brawl.
Match-a-to-ge-wub ran between the combatants, exerted his voice and his
hands; afterwards Wa-ge-tote and all the other principal chiefs, but the
young men paid little or no regard to them. The excitement which had
kindled among them was maddening to rage, and the chiefs were running
about in the utmost distress and fear, when an old man, whose head was
white as snow, and who was so bent down with age that he walked on two
sticks, and looking more like a dog than a man, came out, and though his
voice was too feeble to be heard at any distance, he no sooner appeared,
than all the Assinneboins desisted entirely from their violence, and the
quarrel ended. Of those that were wounded and injured in this affair,
only two died immediately, but many were so much injured that they were
sent back to their own country. Had not the greater number entered
into the affray without their arms, more extensive mischief would have
resulted. Though I inquired much, I could neither learn the name, or
hear any thing satisfactory of the history of the old man, by whose
interference this affair was brought so timely to an end. Vague, and
probably very extravagant reports, circulated among us respecting him.


    Superstitions of the Indians—violent and unjust
    prejudice—family misfortunes—remarkable tenacity of life in the
    otter, and some other small animals—disturbances between the
    Hudson’s Bay and North West Fur Companies.

In the evening after this affair, the chiefs walked through the village
and addressed all the people. The amount of what they said was to direct,
that instead of remaining longer to quarrel with and destroy each other,
we should all move on the following morning towards the Sioux country.
Accordingly, the camp was broken up, about half the number returning
towards home, the remainder continuing on. It was now late in the fall,
and we had travelled only two days from Turtle Mountain, when there
came on a cold and violent storm of rain and snow. Two horses perished,
and many men were near sharing the same fate, but most or all of the
Ojibbeways, carrying each man on his back a puk-kwi of birch bark, large
enough to afford a partial covering for three men, and all being disposed
to extend to the destitute all possible assistance and relief, many of
them were sheltered.

It was immediately after this storm that some one told me Ba-gis-kun-nung
was coming to see me about the horse I had taken away from him. “Very
well,” said I, “I believe Ba-gis-kun-nung has one or two more horses,
and if he gives me any trouble about the one I have taken, I will take
another.” At noon he came, but Wa-ge-tote, Ke-me-wun-nis-kung, and other
men of my friends, had prepared themselves to resist any violence he
might attempt to practise on me. He walked up to me as I was roasting
some meat, and stood a very long time, I should say two hours, regarding
me sternly, without saying a single word, and then walked off.

Two days afterwards, two hundred of the Assinneboins turned back. They
were reviled and insulted at parting by those who still continued on, but
this seemed not in the least to shake their determination. Desertions
in small bodies were now very numerous, and the remaining chiefs, with
the hope of checking it, appointed fifty of the best of the young men
to act as sentinels over the others, but this measure was productive
of no benefit. When at last we arrived within two days’ march of the
village it was our intention to attack, four hundred men were all that
remained, and the next day very few of these were found willing to
follow Match-a-go-ge-wub. He started at the usual time, and walked on
by himself, but when at the distance of about a mile he saw that none
followed him, he sat down in the prairie. From time to time, one or two
men would start forward to join him, but for one who went forward, twenty
or more would commonly start to go back. With my young brother-in-law I
stood at the camp to see what would be the result, and when, at last, I
saw that of the four hundred, only about twenty were willing to follow
the chief farther, we determined to join them. We had proceeded but
a little distance, when one of the Assinneboins who had turned back,
purposely set fire to the prairie, and we now all turned back except
the chief and one or two men. He went on to the Sioux village, and was
lurking about it for one or two days, when, finding himself discovered,
he fled without attempting any thing. The Sioux pursued on our trail, and
came in sight of us, but offered no molestation, and, in due time, we all
arrived at home in safety. Thus ended this war excursion for which such
extensive preparations had been made, and from which so much had been
expected. On the way home, Ke-me-wun-nis-kung took away the horse of the
Assinneboin who had set the prairie on fire, and beat him, he daring to
make no resistance.

When we returned to Pembinah, there was, as is usual on a return from a
war-party, a drunken frolic in which I joined, though not to very great
excess. After I had drank a little, I heard some one speak sneeringly
about my gun which Wa-me-gon-a-biew had broken. I had lent my knife to
some one to cut tobacco, but there was lying by the fire a pointed stick,
on which meat had been roasted. This I seized, ran out, and finding his
horse standing by the door of his own lodge, I stabbed him with it,
using, at the same time, in a loud voice, the same words I had been told
he had spoken when he broke my gun. The horse fell immediately, but did
not die until next morning.

There were six of us to return together to the Lake of the Woods, and
our principal man, She-gwaw-koo-sink, being alarmed, took a little
canoe and set off in the night. I would not start then, nor even early
in the morning, lest Wa-me-gon-a-biew should think I was afraid of
him. I remained near his lodge until I had seen him and Net-no-kwa,
and shaken hands with all my friends, and at about noon I was ready to
follow She-gwaw-koo-sink, whom I found waiting for me in the woods.
Wa-me-gon-a-biew made no complaints of my having killed his horse.
Probably he was perfectly satisfied that I had done so, as an Indian
always expects any outrage he commits shall be retaliated, according to
their customs, and a man who omits to take proper revenge is but lightly
esteemed among them.

Heavy snow and severe cold came upon us at the Mus-keeg carrying place;
the trees cracked with the cold, but the water in the swamp was not yet
frozen hard enough to bear. Our canoes, however, could not be pushed
through. The utmost exertion of our strength would no longer avail to
move them. We were hungry and much fatigued, and sat deliberating what
was best to be done when we discovered our women coming from the Lake of
the Woods, and dragging their light canoes through water, ice, and snow
above their knees. When they came up, we found they were my wife, the
wives of She-gwaw-koo-sink and Ba-po-wash, and my mother-in-law. Three of
our party, whose women had not come, had to continue on to Lake of the
Woods. Our wives laughed at us, telling us it was more like old women
than like warriors returning to their village, to sit shivering in a
canoe which could move neither way, through fear of a little water and
ice. They had brought us a supply of corn, sturgeon, and other food, and
with them we returned to our last encampment where we rested a few days,
then went down to Red River with the intention of spending the winter

There was now no snow on the ground at Red River, though the weather was
very cold, and the ground so hard frozen that it was nearly impossible to
kill any game. I hunted day after day without the least success, and we
were reduced to extreme hunger, when one day I found a moose, and after I
had, with the greatest difficulty, crept near, I was about to shoot him,
when my best dog, which I had confined at home, came running past me, and
scared the moose away. I returned home, and calling my dog to me outside
the lodge, I told him that it was his fault that there was now no food
for my children. I then killed and gave him to my family to eat.

Other families beside my own being in distress for the want of food,
the Indians called on me to make a medicine hunt. I accordingly
told Me-zhick-ko-naum to go for my drum, and as preparatory to the
commencement of my prayers and songs, I directed all my family to take
such positions as they could keep for at least half the night, as, after
I began, no one must move until I had finished. I have always been
conscious of my entire dependence on a superior and invisible Power,
but I have felt this conviction most powerfully in times of distress
and danger. I now prayed earnestly, and with the consciousness that I
addressed myself to a Being willing to hear and able to assist, and I
called upon him to see and to pity the sufferings of my family. The next
day I killed a moose, and soon after, a heavy snow having fallen, we were
relieved from the apprehension of immediate starvation.

But though we were temporarily relieved, plenty did not return to us. I
was about this time hunting one day, and fell on the track of a bear. My
dogs followed for three days, and most of the time I kept nearly even
pace with them, but at the end of that time they had not overtaken him.
My moccasins and leggings were worn out, and I was almost in a state of
starvation. I was compelled to return home, having killed nothing but
eight pheasants. Me-zhick-ko-naum, Ba-po-wash, and the other Indians,
now left me by myself, and I was soon able to kill enough to supply the
wants of my family. I spent the winter here, and in the spring my friends
rejoined me, and we returned together to our village at the Lake of the

At Me-nau-zhe-tau-naung great misfortunes awaited me. I omitted to
mention an event of some importance, which happened long before the time
I have now arrived at, being a very short time after the death of my
friend Pe-shau-ba. I was then at Dead River, at our corn fields, where
an Ojibbeway of Red Lake, called Gi-ah-ge-wa-go-mo, came to my lodge in
my absence, and took away one of my sons, a boy six years old. On my
return, my wife told me what had happened, and I immediately pursued,
and overtaking Gi-ah-ge-wa-go-mo at the distance of one day’s journey,
without his consent took one of his horses to bring my son back. I
threatened him that if he should make any similar attempt in future, he
should not escape unpunished. But about four months after, when the snow
was on the ground, I returned home from my days’ hunt to hear the same
account of my son being taken away by Gi-ah-ge-wa-go-mo. I now felt much
irritated, and having inquired from the men in my lodge what horse he
rode, I mounted my best, and pursued after him. They had lately moved
from the place where I found them before, but following on, I overtook
them on their journey. As I was coming near their party, I discovered
Gi-ah-ge-wa-go-mo and another man, called Na-na-bush, watching for me in
the bushes, a little behind their party. Before I came within gunshot,
I called out to let them know I had discovered them, and holding my gun
in my hand, cocked, and in a position for immediate use, I passed them,
overtook the party, and discovering my little boy, without dismounting
I stooped down and lifted him into my lap; then turning back, went to
meet Gi-ah-ge-wa-go-mo and Na-na-bush. They had now left the thicket,
and were standing in the path, the former holding his favourite horse by
the halter. When I rode up to them, I left my son on the horse with the
reins in his hand, got down, and stabbed Gi-ah-ge-wa-go-mo’s horse twice
with a large knife I had carried for the purpose. He clubbed his gun, and
was about to strike me, but I caught it in descending, and wrested it out
of his hands. He threatened he would shoot my horse whenever he could
get a gun. I handed his own to him, and told him to shoot the horse now,
but he dared not. “It seems,” said I, “you have forgotten what I told
you four months since, when you took away my son before; but I have not
forgotten it, as you see. I am disposed to kill you now, but as you are
so much frightened, I will let you live, to see if you will steal away
any of my children hereafter.” With this I left him. My friends could
scarce believe I had killed his horse, but they did not blame me, neither
did Gi-ah-ge-wa-go-mo. At least I never heard that he complained of it,
and at the time he molested me no more.

It was on my return to Me-nau-zhe-tau-naung, and when I was about
clearing for myself a field there, that I found the ill will of the
Indians, influenced, as I thought, principally by the unfriendly offices
of Ais-kaw-ba-wis, becoming so strong against me that I determined to
leave them. But at this time an accident happened to me, which disabled
me for many months. I had ascended a large tree to cut off the limbs,
and having trimmed off the greatest part, I went up to cut the top off.
Some of the upper branches struck the top of another tree, and threw the
trunk, which I had cut off, against my breast, by which blow I was thrown
off, and fell from a great height to the ground, where I lay for some
time insensible. When consciousness returned I could not use my voice,
so that it was some time before I could make the Indians understand that
I wished them to bring me water. I fainted three times in attempting to
reach the lodge where I then lived.

Several of my ribs being broken, it was long before I recovered so as to
walk about without assistance. Dr. M’Laughlin, a trader at Rainy Lake,
hearing of my situation, sent Mr. Tace with instructions to take me to
his house at White Fish Lake. For a long time I vomited blood, and felt,
if moved, the sensation of a hot liquid in the cavity of my body. At
Rainy Lake I experienced much attention and kindness from Mr. Tace and
other gentlemen belonging to the North West Company. In the latter part
of the ensuing winter, I was better, but when the warm weather of the
spring came on, I again relapsed, and became unable to hunt.

In ascending the long rapids of Rainy Lake River in the spring, our
canoes sunk, and I carried my children ashore on my back. Mr. Tace’s
canoe sunk also, but all the men were saved. A few days after this, we
reached the trading-house of Dr. M’Laughlin at Rainy Lake. This gentleman
gave me a room in his house, where my children took care of me for some
time. Every thing necessary was furnished me, and the Doctor would have
had me remain with him a year, but I felt lonely and dissatisfied, and
determined on going back to the Lake of the Woods where my wife was,
hoping that the trouble Ais-kaw-ba-wis had caused me might now be at an

My reception was not such as I could have wished, but nevertheless, I
remained in the village until the corn was planted; then we went to
collect and dry the blue berries which grow in great quantities in that
country. Afterwards to the rice swamps; then we returned to gather our
corn. Thus we were busy during all the summer.

Late in the fall I became sick again, not having yet recovered from the
hurt I had received in falling from the tree, and at about the same time
some kind of sickness became frequent among the Indians. I was one day
lying in my lodge, unable to sit up or walk about, and the women were
at work in the field, when my mother-in-law unexpectedly came in with a
hoe in her hands, and began to beat me on the head with it. I was unable
to make much resistance, and as I did not attempt it, I endeavoured to
reconcile myself to die, as I believed she would certainly kill me. While
at work in the field, she had begun to cry for her children, and probably
thinking that the man who had caused their death was now in her power,
she ran in with the determination of killing me, but for some reason
unknown to me, she desisted after she had beaten me for some time, and
as I covered my head with my blanket, and with my hands and arms warded
off the blows after the first, I was less severely injured than I had
cause to apprehend. So entire was the confidence my mother-in-law reposed
upon the representations of Ais-kaw-ba-wis that she did not doubt but I
was in reality guilty of the death of her children, and as I well knew
that this was the case, I blamed her less for her conduct than I should
otherwise have done. But notwithstanding she forbore to take my life, the
unfriendly feeling on her part, and that of my wife, was becoming every
day more and more manifest. This might have been in some measure owing to
those misfortunes which had now impaired my health, and disqualified me
for making so comfortable provision for my family as I formerly had done.
But notwithstanding all the discouraging and distressing circumstances
attendant on my present situation, I gradually recovered health and
strength, and late in the fall, when the Indians were about to move to
visit a trader, I was able to accompany them.

I had a small canoe of my own in which I embarked myself and my children,
but my wife and my mother-in-law were in the large canoe with the
provisions and the baggage. During the first day of our journey, I went
forward with others of the Indians, leaving the women to come up to the
encamping place after we had stopped. I cut and put up the poles for my
lodge, but no pukkwi, no provisions, and no women came. Next day I was
ashamed to tell the Indians I had nothing to eat, though my children
began to cry of hunger, and for the same reason, I would not encamp with
them. I knew that my wife had deserted, and I had no reason to suppose
she would immediately rejoin me. I therefore kept ahead of the Indians,
and went, before I stopped, beyond the place where I knew they would
encamp. Here I killed a fat swan, and was able to give my children some
food. The weather was now becoming very cold, and I had about this time
a wide traverse to cross. The weather was somewhat rough, but as I did
not wish to remain to be overtaken by the Indians, I made my children
lie down in the canoe, and covered the whole as well as I could with a
buffalo skin. The wind blew more and more violently, and the waves broke
over my little canoe. The water froze upon the sides, and the children
getting wet, suffered severely. I, also, was so much overpowered by the
cold, that I could not manage the canoe properly, and it struck and was
dashed in pieces on a rocky shoal, not far from the shore where I wished
to land. Fortunately the water was not deep about the rock, nor between
it and the land, and though a thin ice had formed, I was able to break
it, and carry my children on shore. But here we had nearly perished from
cold, as my spunk wood was wet, and I had no means of kindling a fire,
until I thought to split open my powder horn, when I found in the middle
of the mass of powder, a little which the water had not reached. This
enabled me to kindle a fire, and was the means of saving all our lives.
Next day Mr. Sayre, at the trading house near by, heard of my situation
or at least the Indians having come up, and reported that I was lost, he
sent out some men who found me, and assisted me to reach the house. Here
I took a credit for my whole family, not knowing but my wife would join
me at some future time.

The chief of that country, from whom I had previously obtained permission
to hunt in a little piece of ground which I had selected, and a promise
that none of his people should interfere with me there, now endeavoured
to dissuade me from going to spend the winter by myself. I ought, he
said, either to remain near the Indians, or to take some other woman for
a wife. As my children were young and unable to assist me, and my own
health somewhat uncertain, he thought it would be very imprudent for me
to attempt wintering alone. But I would not listen to his advice. At
present, I had no inclination either to remain with the Indians, or to
take another wife. I therefore began to make a road immediately to my
wintering ground. First I took the goods I had purchased and carried them
forward, then returned and brought up my children. My daughter Martha was
then three years old, and the other children were yet small. In two or
three days I reached my hunting ground, but was soon after reduced to
great distress, from which I was relieved by a medicine hunt.

I had no pukkwi, or mats, for a lodge, and therefore had to build one of
poles and long grass. I dressed moose skins, made my own moccasins and
leggins, and those for my children; cut wood and cooked for myself and
my family, made my snow shoes, etc. etc. All the attention and labour
I had to bestow about home, sometimes kept me from hunting, and I was
occasionally distressed for want of provisions. I busied myself about my
lodge in the night time. When it was sufficiently light, I would bring
wood, and attend to other things without; at other times I was repairing
my snow shoes, or my own or my children’s clothes. For nearly all the
winter, I slept but a very small part of each night.

I was still living in this way in the spring, when a young man called
Se-bis-kuk-gu-un-na, (tough legs,) a son of Wau-zhe-gaw-maish-koon, who
was now dead, came to me. He was in a starving condition, as were his
friends, who were encamped at no great distance from me. My dogs were
now so well trained, that they could draw half a moose. I put on a full
load of meat, and told him to go with the team, meet his people, and
bring them to live with me. In three days they arrived, but though their
hunger had been relieved by the supply I sent them, their appearance was
extremely miserable, and it is probable they must have perished if they
had not found me.

As the spring was approaching, we returned to the Lake of the Woods. Ice
was still in the lake when we arrived on the shore of it, and as I, with
my companions, was standing on the shore, I saw an otter coming on the
ice at a distance. I had often heard the Indians say that the strongest
man, without arms of some kind, cannot kill an otter. Pe-shau-ba, and
other strong men and good hunters, had told me this, but I still doubted
it. I now, therefore, proposed to test the truth of this common opinion.
I caught the otter, and for the space of an hour or more, exerted myself,
to the extent of my power, to kill him. I beat him, and kicked him, and
jumped upon him, but all to no purpose. I tried to strangle him with my
hands, but after lying still for a time, he would shorten his neck,
and draw his head down between my hands, so that the breath would pass
through, and I was at last compelled to acknowledge that I was not able
to kill him without arms. There are other small, and apparently not very
strong animals which an unarmed man cannot kill. Once while on a war
party, in a sort of bravado, I had tried to kill a pole cat with my naked
hands, but I had nearly lost my eyes by the means. The liquid which he
threw upon my face caused a painful inflammation, and the skin came off.
The white crane, also, is dangerous if approached too near; they can, and
sometimes do, inflict mortal wounds with their sharp beaks.

After I had killed this otter, I went in pursuit of a bear. I had now
three dogs, one of which was not yet fully grown. This dog, which was of
a valuable breed, and had been given me by Mr. Tace, escaped from his
halter at home, and came after me. When he came up, he passed me and the
other dogs, and immediately assailed the bear’s head, but the enraged
animal almost instantly killed him, caught him up in his mouth, and
carried him more than a mile, until he himself was overcome and killed.

It is usually very late in the spring before the ice is gone from
the Lake of the Woods. When I arrived at our village with the son of
Wau-zhe-gaw-maish-koon, the Indians who were there had been for a long
time suffering from hunger, but I had my canoe loaded with provisions,
which I immediately distributed for their relief. On the day after my
arrival, came my wife and her mother. She laughed when she saw me, and
came to live with me as heretofore. She-gwaw-koo-sink and Ais-kaw-ba-wis
were both there, and both unfriendly to me, but I made it my business to
seem wholly ignorant of the many attempts they made to injure me. About
planting time, the traders of the North West Company sent messengers and
presents to all the Indians, to call them to join in an attack on the
Hudson’s Bay establishment at Red River. For my own part, I thought these
quarrels between relatives unnatural, and I wished to take no share in
them, though I had long traded with the people of the North West Company,
and considered myself as in some measure belonging to them. Many of the
Indians obeyed the call, and many cruelties and murders were committed.
On the part of the North West were many half-breeds, among whom, one
called Grant, distinguished himself as a leader. Some of the Hudson’s Bay
people were killed in open fight, others were murdered after being taken

A Mr. M’Donald, or M’Dolland,[30] who was called a governor for the
Hudson’s Bay, was waylaid and fell into the hands of a Mr. Herschel, or
Harshield, a clerk of the North West. This man sent him in a canoe with
some Frenchmen and a half-breed with directions to kill him and throw
him into the water. When they had gone some distance, the half-breed,
whose name was Maveen, wished to have killed him, but the Frenchmen would
not consent. They left him on a small rocky island, from which he had
no means of escape, and where they thought he must perish, but he was
discovered and taken up by some Muskegoe Indians, who set him at liberty.
Mr. Harshield beat and abused the Frenchmen for having neglected to
kill the governor when he was in their power, and despatched other men
in pursuit of him. When again taken, he entrusted him to the half-breed
Maveen, and one white man who had been a soldier, but whose well known
cruelty of disposition made him fit to be chosen for such business. These
two murdered him, in a manner too cruel and shameful to be particularly
narrated, and then returned with the account of what they had done to Mr.

After the settlement at Red River was reduced to ashes, and the Hudson’s
Bay people driven out of the country, the Indians and half-breeds in
the employ of the North West, stationed themselves at a place called
Sah-gi-uk, at the outlet of Lake Winnipeg, to watch for, and destroy,
any of the Hudson’s Bay people who should attempt to enter the country
in that direction. Ba-po-wash, my brother-in-law, was at length tired
of starving there, and started by himself to come to our village, where
I remained, refusing to take part with either side. On his way up, he
met a Mr. M’Dolland of the Hudson’s Bay Company, who, with Mr. Bruce for
his interpreter, was going into the country. This gentleman was slow
to listen to the advice of Mr. Bruce, who being better acquainted with
the state of affairs in the country, had many fears on his account.
On meeting Ba-po-wash, whom he well knew, Mr. Bruce, by pretending
to be still in the interest of the North West, was able to gain full
intelligence of all that had passed. Being convinced of the truth of this
information, Mr. M’Dolland was persuaded to turn back, and probably saved
his life by so doing.

He came to me at Me-nau-zhe-tau-naung, and I confirming the statement of
Ba-po-wash, he hastened back to the Saut De St. Marie, where he met Lord
Selkirk, then coming into the country to settle the affairs of the two
rival companies.

For my own part, I spent the summer in the usual quiet manner, being
occupied with hunting, and the employments about our cornfields, in
gathering wild rice and fishing. When we were returning from the rice
swamps, I stopped on one of the small islands in the route towards Rainy
Lake, to hunt a bear with whose haunt I had long been acquainted. Late
at night, after I had killed my bear, and as I was lying quietly in
my lodge, I was surprised to hear at the door, a voice, which I knew
immediately to be that of the Mr. Harshield I have already mentioned. I
soon learned that he was on the look out for some one he had not found.
Having discovered my light at a distance, he had supposed it to be that
in the camp of Lord Selkirk, and had crept up with the stealth of an
Indian warrior, or he could not have approached my lodge without my being
aware of it. He did not immediately mention his intention of killing
Selkirk, but I knew him and his companions, and was not at a loss to
comprehend his purpose. Nor was I ignorant of the design with which he,
with much art, endeavoured to get me to accompany him to Rainy Lake.
But when he found that insinuations and dubious hints would not effect
what he had in view, he openly avowed that it was his intention to kill
Lord Selkirk whenever he should meet him, and he then called up his two
canoes, and showed them to me, each with ten strong and resolute men,
well armed. He tried many methods to induce me to join him, but I would

After leaving me, he went on to Rainy Lake to the trading house of Mr.
Tace, but that gentleman being less inclined to violent measures, advised
him to return immediately to his own country. What arguments Mr. Tace
made use of I know not, but after two days Mr. Harshield returned towards
Red River, leaving concealed in the woods near the trading house, the
soldier who had taken part with Maveen in the murder of the governor
the year before. It was not certainly known among us what this man’s
instructions were, but it appeared he did not like his solitary residence
in the woods, for after four days he returned to the fort.

In the mean time, Lord Selkirk had taken Fort William, which was then
held by Mr. M’Gillivray, for the North West. From Fort William, he
sent on an officer, with some troops, to take possession of Mr. Tace’s
trading house, in which the soldier who had killed governor M’Dolland was
found. He was sent, with others who had attempted to rise after they had
surrendered at Fort William, to Montreal, and I have heard that he was

About this time, I made up my mind to leave the Indian country, and
return to the States. I had many difficulties to encounter, originating
in the ill will which had been raised against me among the Indians,
particularly in the family of my father-in-law, by Ais-kaw-ba-wis. Mr.
Bruce, with whom I now met, gave me much information and advice. He had
travelled more, and seen more of white men than I had, and his statements
encouraged me. The war of 1812 was now over, and there was, I thought, no
insurmountable obstacle in the way of my return to my own country.

I had a fine crop of corn, and plenty of wild rice, and as I wished to
move to Rainy Lake where I could spend the winter, Mr. Bruce, who was
going the same way, agreed to take twenty sacks of my corn, and at length
I followed with my family. When I arrived near the trading-house at Rainy
Lake, and where I expected to have found Mr. Tace, being as yet ignorant
of the changes that had taken place, I found the captain I have before
mentioned. He treated me with much attention, and would have given me
some goods, but all those left in the house by the North West had already
been disposed of to the Indians. After several days’ conversation with
me, he succeeded in convincing me that the Hudson’s Bay Company was that
which, in the present quarrel, had the right on its side, or rather, was
that which was acting with the sanction of the British government, and
by promising to aid me in my return to the states, by liberal presents,
good treatment, and fair promises, he induced me to consent to guide him
and his party to the North West Company’s house, at the mouth of the
Assinneboin. The winter was now coming on, and had already commenced, but
Capt. Tussenon, for that was his name, as nearly as I can recollect, said
his party could not live at Rainy Lake, and it was necessary for him to
go immediately on to Red River.

I started with twenty men in advance, and went to Be-gwi-o-nus-ko
Sah-gie-gun, or Rush Lake, whence the horses were sent back, and the
captain, with the remaining fifty men, came up. At Rush Lake we had snow
shoes made, and engaged She-gwaw-koo-sink, Me-zhuk-ko-nong, and other
Indians, to accompany us as hunters, and as we had great quantities of
wild rice, we were pretty well supplied with food. We had, however, a
long distance to travel over the prairie, and the snow was deep. When
we were out of meat, there was occasionally something of a mutinous
disposition manifest among the soldiers, but little serious difficulty
occurred. In forty days after we left Rainy Lake, we arrived at Red
River, and took the fort at the mouth of the Pembinah, without any
difficulty, there being few or no persons there except squaws and
children, and a few old Frenchmen.

From Pembinah, where I left my children, we went in four days, to the
Assinneboin, ten miles above the mouth, having crossed Red River a short
time before. Here Be-gwais, a principal man of the Ojibbeways, met us,
with twelve young men. Our captain and governor, who was with us, though
they understood there was no more than twelve men in the North West
Company’s fort at the mouth of the Assinnboin, seemed at a loss to know
in what manner to attempt its reduction.

They counselled with Be-gwais, and he advised them to march immediately
up to the fort, and show their force before it, which he thought would
be sufficient to insure immediate surrender. When Capt. Tussenon had
engaged me at Rainy Lake, I had told him I could make a road from that
place to the door of Mr. Harshield’s bed room, and considering myself
able to do so, I was dissatisfied that they took no notice of me in these
consultations. At night, we at that time having approached very near,
I communicated my dissatisfaction to Loueson Nowlan, an interpreter,
who was well acquainted with the country, and who had a half brother in
the fort, a clerk for Mr. Harshield. We talked together as we left the
place where they had been counselling, and after we had lain down by our
own fire, and Nowlan agreed with me that it would be in the power of us
two to go forward, and surprise, and take the fort, and we determined
to attempt it, but we communicated our intention to some soldiers, who
followed us. There were no hills, bushes, or other objects to cover our
approach, but the night was dark and so extremely cold that we did not
suppose the people within could be very vigilant. We made a ladder in the
way the Indians make them, by cutting the trunk of a tree, with the limbs
trimmed long enough to serve to step on, and placing it against the wall,
we went over and got down on the inside, on the top of the blacksmith’s
shop, whence we descended silently, one after another, to the ground.
When a sufficient number of the men had got in, we went to find the
people, first cautiously placing two or three armed men at the doors of
the occupied rooms to prevent them from getting together, or concerting
any means of resistance.

We did not discover the bed room of Harshield until day light. When he
found we were in the fort, he came out, strongly armed, and attempted to
make resistance, but we easily overpowered him. He was at first bound,
and as he was loud and abusive, the governor, who, with the captain, had
now arrived, directed us to throw him out into the snow, but the weather
being too cold for him to remain there without much danger of being
frozen, they allowed him to come in, and he was placed by the fire. When
he recognised me among his captors, he knew at once that I must have
guided the party, and he reproached me loudly with my ingratitude, as he
pretended formerly to have done me many favours. I told him, in reply, of
the murders he had committed on his own friends, and the people of his
own colour, and that it was on account of them, and his numerous crimes,
that I had joined against him. “When you came to my lodge last fall, and
I treated you with kindness, it was because I did not then see that your
hands were red with the blood of your own relatives. I did not see the
ashes of the houses of your brothers, which you had caused to be burned
down at Red River.” But he continued to curse and abuse not only me, but
the soldiers, and every one that came near him.

Only three persons were kept in confinement of those that had been
captured in this trading-house. These were Mr. Harshield, the half breed
boy, Maveen, who had been concerned in the murder of the Hudson’s Bay
governor above mentioned, and one clerk. The rest were suffered to go at
large. Joseph Cadotte, the half brother of Nowlan, made a very humble and
submissive apology for his conduct, and promised, if they would release
him, he would go to his hunting, and be henceforth no more concerned with
traders. He was accordingly liberated, but instead of doing as he had
promised, he went immediately to Mouse River trading-house, and having
collected forty or fifty half breeds, he returned to retake the place,
but they approached no nearer than about a mile distant, where they
remained for some time in camp.

After twenty days, I returned to Pembinah to my family, and then went,
with Wa-ge-tote, to hunt buffalo in the prairie. I now heard that many
of the half breed people in the country were enraged against me for the
part I had taken against the North West Company, and from some of the
principal men I heard that they intended to take my life. I sent them
back for answer that they must fall on me as I had done on the people of
the North West, when I was sleeping, or they would not be able to injure
me. They came near, and were several times lurking about with intention
to kill me, but they were never able to effect their object. I spent what
remained of the winter among the Indians, and in the spring returned to
the Assinneboin. Lord Selkirk arrived from Fort William in the spring,
and a few days afterwards Mr. Cumberland and another clerk belonging to
the North West, came up in a canoe. As they did not stop at the fort,
Lord Selkirk sent a canoe after them, and they were brought back and
placed in confinement.

The people of the Mouse River trading-house, belonging to the North West
Company, came down about this time, but being afraid to pass by the fort,
they stopped and encamped at no great distance above. The Indians from
distant parts of the country, not having heard of the disturbances and
changes that had taken place, now began to assemble, but they manifested
great astonishment when they found that their old traders were no longer
in possession of the fort.

A letter was this spring, or in the early part of summer, received from
Judge Codman, offering two hundred dollars reward for the apprehension
and delivery of three half breeds who had been very active in the
preceding disturbances, namely, Grant, the principal leader of the half
breeds for the North West, Joseph Cadotte, and one called Assinneboin.
These were all taken by a party from our fort, aided by the interpreter,
Nowlan, but they were released upon their promise to appear again when
Judge Codman should arrive. This party had scarce returned home, when
Assinneboin came and surrendered himself, at the same time giving
information that Grant and Cadotte had fled the moment Nowlan and his
party turned their backs. They went to the country of the Assinneboins,
from whence they did not return until they were sent for, and brought to
attend the court, but the man who had given himself up was pardoned.

Lord Selkirk had for a long time expected the arrival of the judge
appointed to try those accused of capital crimes, and to adjust the
dispute between the two rival companies. Becoming very impatient, he
despatched a messenger to Sah-gi-uk, with provisions and other presents,
who was instructed to proceed on until he should meet the judge. At one
of the North West Company’s houses, beyond Sah-gi-uk, this man was taken
prisoner, and severely beaten by the company’s agent, Mr. Black, but
about this time the judge arrived, and Mr. Black, with a Mr. M’Cloud,
fled, and secreted themselves among the Indians, so that when Judge
Codman sent for them from Red River, they were not to be found.

The trial continued a long time, and many prisoners were, from day to
day, released, but Mr. Harshield, and the half breed Maveen, were loaded
with irons and put in more rigorous confinement. The judge had his camp
in the middle, between our fort and the camp of the North West Company’s
people, probably that he might not seem partial to either.

One morning, as I was standing in the gate of the fort, I saw the judge,
who was a large, fat man, come towards me, attended by Mr. M’Kenzie,
and a half breed called Cambell, and an old Naudoway Indian. They came
into the house, looked from room to room, and at last entered the one
in which Selkirk then was. Cambell followed the judge in, and having a
paper in one hand, he laid the other on Selkirk’s shoulder, and said
something I did not understand. Much discussion followed, all of which
was incomprehensible to me, but I observed that Mr. M’Kenzie and Cambell
were standing near the whole day. It was nearly night when Nowlan told
me that the judge had fined the North West a considerable sum, I think
either three hundred or three thousand dollars, and that Lord Selkirk was
released from arrest. After this, Mr. M’Kenzie and Cambell went out, and
were much insulted on the way to their camp by the people belonging to
the Hudson’s Bay, but the judge remained to dine with Lord Selkirk.

Col. Dickson, who was now at Red River, sent a man for the Sioux, as it
was thought desirable that they should be called in and made acquainted
with the state of affairs. In the preceding winter, after I had returned
to Pembinah, two Ojibbeway women had arrived there, with pipes from the
Sioux country, to invite the Ojibbeways to make peace. These women had
been prisoners among the Sioux, and their release, as well as the message
they bore, was considered as indicative of a disposition on the part of
the Sioux to bring about a peace with the Ojibbeways.

One of these women had been married to a Sioux, and her husband had
become attached to her. When the common voice of his people made it
necessary she should be sent back to her own country, he sent a message
to her husband among the Ojibbeways, offering to give him, in exchange
for her, whichever of his own wives the Ojibbeway might choose to take.
But this man was not disposed to accept the offer of the Sioux, and
there was no one to return to answer the messages the women had brought
until Mr. Bruce, the interpreter before mentioned, offered his services.
These negotiations, though they had produced little apparent effect,
had prepared the minds of the Sioux, in some measure, for the message
from Mr. Dickson, and they sent, according to his request, twenty-two
men, and two Ojibbeway prisoners, that were to be given up. One of
these prisoners was a young woman, the daughter of Gitche-ope-zhe-ke,
(the big buffalo,) and she also had been married among the Sioux. Her
husband, who was one of the twenty-two who now arrived, was a young man,
and was extremely fond of his Ojibbeway wife. The chiefs of the party,
when they were about to return, tried to persuade him to leave her, but
this he obstinately refused to do, and they were at last compelled to
abandon him, though it was evidently at the imminent peril of his life
that he ventured to remain by himself among the Ojibbeways. After his
companions had left him, he went out, and wandered about, crying like
a child. Seeing his distress, I called him into my lodge, and though,
on account of difference of language, I could not say much to him, I
endeavoured to console him, and make him believe that he would find some
friends even among the Ojibbeways. On the following day, he determined
to follow his companions, and to return to his own country. He started
out, and followed along their path two or three hundred yards, then he
threw himself down upon the ground, cried and rolled about like a mad
man, but his affection for his wife getting the better of his wish to
return, and his fears for his own life, he came back and would have
remained among us. But about this time we heard of other Ojibbeways who
had threatened to come and kill him, and we well knew that it would be
scarce possible for him to remain long among us without attempts being
made against his life. Wa-ge-tote and Be-gwais, our chiefs, interfered
to send him away, and having selected eight trusty men, of whom I was
one, directed that he should be taken one day’s journey towards the Sioux
country. We were compelled to drag him away by violence, nor could we
urge him forward in any other manner, until we arrived at the crossing
place of the Assinneboin River, where we met a party of two hundred
Assinneboins. The young Sioux had taken the precaution to dress himself
like an Ojibbeway, and when the chief of the Assinneboins asked us where
we were going, we told him our chiefs had sent us to hunt buffalo. This
man, Ne-zho-ta-we-nau-ba, was a good and discreet chief, and although
the terror of the young Sioux immediately made him acquainted with the
deception we tried to practice upon him, he appeared to take no notice of
it. He even placed himself in such a situation as to divert the attention
of his own people from the young man until the band had passed. He then
addressed the Sioux in his own language: “Fly, young man,” said he, “and
remember if you are overtaken before you reach your own country, there
are few among the Assinneboins, or Ojibbeways, who would not gladly take
your life.” The young man started to run accordingly. At the distance
of one hundred yards we heard him burst out crying, but afterwards we
understood that he overtook his party at Pembinah, and returned in safety
to his own country.

Much was said of this peace between the Sioux and Ojibbeways, and Col.
Dickson often boasted that the Sioux would not be the first to violate
the treaty, as he said they would venture to do nothing without his
consent. He was even boasting in this way when a chief of the Ojibbeways
with forty men arrived, having in their hands the still bloody arrows
they had taken from the bodies of those the Sioux had recently killed at
a trading-house belonging to Mr. Dickson himself. This, for some time,
checked his boasting. Lord Selkirk, also, about the same time, called
all the Indians together, and presenting them a quantity of tobacco,
spirits, etc. etc. made one of those long and fatherly speeches so common
in Indian councils. “My children,” said he, “the sky which has long been
dark and cloudy over your heads, is now once more clear and bright. Your
great father beyond the waters, who has ever, as you know, nearest his
heart the interests of his red children, has sent me to remove the briars
out of your path that your feet may no more bleed. We have taken care to
remove from you those evil minded white men who sought, for the sake of
their own profit, to make you forget your duty to your great father; they
will no more return to trouble you. We have also called to us the Sioux,
who, though their skins are red, like your own, have long been your
enemies. They are henceforth to remain in their own country. This peace
now places you in safety. Long before your fathers were born, this war
began, and instead of quietly pursuing the game for the support of your
women and children, you have been murdering one another. That time has
passed away, and you can now hunt where you please. Your young men must
observe this peace, and your great father will consider as his enemy any
one who takes up the tomahawk.”

The Indians answered with the usual promises and professions, and being
about to leave the fort that evening, they stole every horse belonging
to Lord Selkirk and his party. In the morning, not a single horse was
left, and the Indians who had most of them disappeared also.

It was now so late that I could not come that fall to the states. Lord
Selkirk having, perhaps, heard something of my history, began to be
attentive to me. He inquired about the events of my past life, and
I related many things to him, particularly the part I had borne in
capturing the fort. Judge Codman,[31] also, who remained there, often
spoke to Lord Selkirk respecting me. “This man,” said he, “conducted
your party from the Lake of the Woods hither in the winter season, and
performed a very important part in the taking of this fort, at the
expense of great labour, and at the hazard of his life, and all for the
sum of forty dollars. The least you ought to do is to make his forty
dollars eighty, and give him an annuity of twenty dollars per year for
life.” Lord Selkirk did accordingly. The annuity for the five first years
has been paid me. The second five have not yet expired.

Lord Selkirk was not able to leave the mouth of the Assinneboin so
early as he had intended for fear of the North West. They had sent men,
disguised as Indians, among whom was one they called Sacksayre. They had
also sent Indians, with instructions to waylay and murder him. Hearing of
this, he thought it best to despatch Col. Dickson to the Sioux country
for a guard of one hundred Sioux, and it was not until these arrived
that he dared venture out. Then he escaped from the fort at night, and
joined Dickson at Pembinah.

He took with him a letter which he had himself written for me, and in
my name, to my friends in the states, giving some of the most prominent
of the particulars of my early history. He had used much persuasion to
induce me to accompany him, and I had inclination enough to do so, but
I then believed that most of my near relatives had been murdered by
the Indians, and if any remained I knew that so great a lapse of time
must have made us, in all respects, like strangers to each other. He
also proposed to take me to England with him, but my attachments were
among the Indians, and my home was in the Indian country. I had spent
great part of my life there, and I knew it was too late for me to form
new associations. He however sent six men to take me to the Lake of the
Woods, where I arrived late in the fall after the corn was gathered. In
the beginning of winter, I went to the Be-gwi-o-nus-ko Lake, thence, when
the snow had fallen, to the prairie to hunt buffalo.

The Indians gathered around, one after another, until we became a
considerable band, and then we began to suffer of hunger. The weather was
very severe, and our suffering increased. A young woman was the first to
die of hunger. Soon after this, a young man, her brother, was taken with
that kind of delirium, or madness, which precedes death in such as die of
starvation. In this condition, he had left the lodge of his debilitated
and desponding parents, and when, at a late hour in the evening I
returned from my hunt, they could not tell what had become of him. I left
the camp about the middle of the night and following his track, I found
him at some distance lying dead in the snow.


    Suffering of the Ojibbeways from hunger—persecutions of
    Waw-be-be-nai-sa, and unkindness of my Indian relatives—journey
    to Detroit—Governor Cass—Council at St. Mary, on the Miami.

All the men who were still able to walk now determined to start after
buffalo, which we knew could not then be very near us. For my own part,
I chose to remain, as did one good hunter besides, who knew that the
prospect of getting buffaloes was not good. We remained behind, and in a
short time killed five moose, all the flesh of which being immediately
distributed among the suffering women and children, afforded some relief,
and checked the progress of death which was making extensive havoc among
us. The men returned one after another, more worn out and reduced than
when they had left us. Only a single buffalo had been killed. As the
most incessant, and the most laborious exertions alone could save us
from perishing, I went immediately out to hunt again, and having started
a bear, I pursued him for three days without being able to come up with
him. At the end of this time I found myself so exhausted, that I knew
I could never overtake the bear, and I should not have reached home,
had not some Indians, little less miserable and hungry than myself,
happened to meet with me. I had stopped at night, and being unable to
make a camp, or kindle a fire, I was endeavouring to reconcile myself
to the immediate approach of death which I thought inevitable, when
these people unexpectedly found me, and helped me to return to camp.
This is but a fair specimen of the life which many of the Ojibbeways of
the north lead during the winter. Their barren and inhospitable country
affords them so scantily the means of subsistence, that it is only with
the utmost exertion and activity that life can be sustained, and it not
unfrequently happens that the strongest men, and the best hunters,
perish of absolute hunger.

Now the Indians again determined to move all together, towards the
buffaloes, and endeavour to reach them with their families. Only
Oon-di-no, the man who had remained with me before, wished to stay, that
his women might dry the skin of the last moose he had killed, so that
they might carry it with them to be eaten in case of the failure of all
other supplies. I concluded to remain with him, but in the middle of the
first night after the Indians left, the distress of my children became so
great that I could no longer remain in my lodge. I got up and started,
and told him that if I could kill or procure any game, I would return to
his relief. I pursued, rapidly as my strength would permit, the path of
the Indians, and about morning came up with their camp. I had no sooner
arrived then I heard the sounds of a feast and going up to the lodge, I
heard the voice of an old man, thanking the Great Spirit for the supply
that had been bestowed in the time of their necessity. He did not mention
the animal by name that had been killed, only calling it Manito-wais-se,
which means nearly “Spirit beast.” From this I could not ascertain what
had been killed, but from another source, I learned it was an old and
poor buffalo. From this I inferred that herds must be near, and two young
men being willing to join me, we went immediately in the direction in
which we believed the herd would be found, and after having walked about
three hours, ascended a little hill, and saw before us the ground black
with buffaloes. We crawled up, and I killed immediately two fat cows. As
I was cutting these up, I began to hear the guns of the men of our party,
they having followed me on, and being now arrived among the buffaloes.
It was somewhat late when I was ready to go to our camp, most of the men
were in before me. I had expected to have heard the sounds of feasting
and rejoicing, but when I entered the camp, not a voice was to be heard.
No women and children were running about, all was silent and sad. Can it
be, thought I, that this relief has come too late, and that our women
and children are all dead. I looked into one lodge after another. In
all, the people were alive, but none had any thing to eat. The men having
most of them come from a forest country, and having never hunted buffalo
before, all failed to kill except myself. The supply I had brought, I
having loaded the two young men that were with me, somewhat allayed the
hunger that was prevailing.

There was at this time with us a man called Waw-bebe-nai-sa, (White
Bird,) with whom I had formerly been somewhat acquainted, and whose
jealousy and ill will against me, seemed to be excited and irritated
by my success in hunting. It was on account of this man, and because
I wished to avoid all ostentation, that I now forbore to make a feast
in my own lodge, as would have been proper for me to have done on this
occasion. Nevertheless, one of the young men who had been with me made
a feast, and I, after reserving sufficient food to allay the pressing
hunger of my own children, sent the remainder to the families about me.
The young man who made the feast, called, among others, Waw-bebe-nais-sa,
the man I have mentioned. In the course of the evening, he said, as I
understood, much to prejudice me in the opinion of the Indians, accusing
me of pride, insolence, and of having in various ways done mischief among
them. But I remained in my own lodge, and at present took no notice of
this, farther than to contradict his unfair statements.

Next morning, long before the dawn, the women started for the remains of
the two buffalo I had killed, and several of the men, most of them having
obtained from me some instruction about the part to be aimed at, again
went in pursuit of the herds, and this day several of them killed. We
soon had plenty of meat, and all that were sick and near death recovered,
except one woman, who having gone mad with hunger, remained in a state of
derangement for more than a month.

The principal man of this band was called O-poih-gun,[32] (the pipe.) He,
with three lodges, remained with me, the others scattered here and there
in pursuit of the buffalo. One of the men who remained back with me, was
Waw-bebe-nais-sa, and another his son-in-law. I killed great numbers of
fat buffalo, and the choice parts of forty of them I had dried. We had
suffered so much from hunger that I wished to secure my family against
a return of it. I also still had it in contemplation to make my way to
the States when I knew it would be necessary for me to leave them for
some time without any one to hunt for them. I made twenty large sacks
of pemmican. Ten kegs of ten gallons each, which I procured from the
Indians, I filled with tallow, and preserved, besides, a considerable
number of tongues, etc.

It was not immediately that I discovered Waw-bebe-nais-sa’s design in
remaining near my camp, which was solely to annoy and molest me. I had
such large quantities of meat to carry when we came finally to move, that
I was compelled to return with my dogs four times, to carry forward to
my camping place, one load after another. One day he contrived to meet
me alone at the place where I deposited my loads, and I had no sooner
stopped, than he thrust both his hands into my long hair, which then hung
down on both sides of my head. “This,” said he, “is the head of your
road, look down and see the place where the wolves and the carrion birds
shall pick your bones.” I asked him why he offered me this violence.
“You are a stranger,” said he, “and have no right among us, but you set
yourself up for the best hunter, and would make us treat you as a great
man. For my own part, I have long been weary of your insolence, and I am
determined you shall not live another day.” Finding that remonstrance was
likely to have no effect upon him, but that he was proceeding to beat
my head against a poplar tree that stood there, by a sudden exertion of
strength, I threw him upon the ground, and disengaged my head at the
expense of part of my hair. But in the struggle, he caught three of the
fingers of my right hand between his teeth. Having sunk his strong teeth
quite to the bones of my fingers, I could not draw them out of his mouth,
but with my left hand aimed a blow at one of his eyes. His jaws flew
open, and he leapt instantly to his feet. My tomahawk was lying near
me, and his eye happening to fall upon it, he caught it in his hand, and
aimed so hearty a blow at my head, that as I eluded it, his own violence
brought him to the ground. I jumped upon him, wrenched the tomahawk from
his hand, and threw it as far as I could, while I continued to hold him
fast to the ground. I was much enraged at his unprovoked and violent
attack upon me; nevertheless I would not kill him, but seeing there a
piece of a stout lodge pole, I caught it in my hands, and told him to get
up. When he did so, I commenced beating him, and as he fled immediately,
I followed, and continued to beat him while he ran two or three hundred

When I returned to my load, his son-in-law and two other young men
belonging to him, having heard his cries, had come up. One of them
said angrily to me, “What is this you have done?” and immediately the
three rushed upon me, and I being already overcome with fatigue, they
threw me upon the ground. At this time Waw-bebe-nais-sa had returned,
and he caught me by a black silk handkerchief that I wore about my
neck, strangled, kicked, and beat me, and thrust me down in the snow. I
remember hearing one of them say, “he is dead,” and as I knew I could not
hope while I was down, to make resistance against four, I endeavoured to
encourage this opinion. When they took their hands off me, and stood at a
little distance, I sprang upon my feet, and seized a lodge pole, probably
very contrary to their expectations. Whether through surprise or fear I
know not, they all fled, and seeing this, I pursued Waw-bebe-nais-sa,
and gave him another severe beating with my pole. For this time they
left me, and I returned once more to hang up the meat I had brought. But
Waw-bebe-nais-sa and his people returned to the lodges, where my dogs,
which my wife had taken back, were lying, much fatigued, before the door.
He drew his knife, and stabbed one of them. My wife hearing the noise,
ran out, but he threatened to kill her also.

Next day, as Waw-bebe-nais-sa was much bruised and sore, and his face in
particular very badly swollen, I thought probable he would remain in his
lodge, and apprehending danger to my wife if she should be left alone
in the lodge, I sent her to carry forward meat, and remained myself at
home. But I was much fatigued, and being alone in my lodge, about the
middle of the day I fell asleep. Suspecting, or perhaps knowing this,
Waw-bebe-nais-sa crept slyly in with his knife in his hand, and was
almost near enough to strike me, when I awoke and sprang up. As I was not
unarmed, he started back and fled, but I did not pursue him. He still
continued to threaten and molest me. Whenever he met me in the path, he
would not turn aside, though he was unloaded, and I might have a heavy
burthen on my back. His eye was for many days so swollen that he could
not see out of it, and his whole appearance very ludicrous, he being at
best but an awkward and homely man. Once, after an unsuccessful attempt
to stab me, he went home, and in the impatience of his baffled rage, made
the squaw’s gesture of contempt towards my lodge,[33] which exposed him
to the ridicule even of his own friends among the Indians.

His persecutions were, however, troublesome to me, and I endeavoured to
avoid him. One day I had preceded the party, and as we were travelling
in a beaten path which I knew they would follow, I turned a little out
of it to place my camp where I should not necessarily be in the way of
seeing him. But when he came to the fork of my road, with his little son
twelve years old, I heard him say to the lad, “stop here while I go and
kill this white man.” He then threw down his load, and though his son
entreated him not to do any thing, he came up within about fifty yards of
me, drew his gun from its case, cocked it, and pointed it at me. Having
held it in this position some time, and seeing he did not excite my
fears, he began to approach me, jumping from side to side, and yelling
in the manner of warriors when they approach each other in battle. He
continued pointing his gun at me, and threatening me so loudly that I was
at last irritated, and caught up my own gun. The little boy ran up, and
throwing his arms about me, entreated me to spare his father, though he
was a fool. I then threw down my gun, seized the old man, and took his
from him. I reproached him for his obstinate perseverance in such foolish
practices. “I have,” said I, “put myself so often in your power, that you
ought by this time to know you have not courage to kill me. You are not
a man. You have not the heart even of a squaw, nor the courage of a dog.
Now for the first time I speak to you. I wish you to know that I am tired
of your foolishness, and that if you trouble me any more hereafter, it
will be at the hazard of your own life.”

He then left me, and with all the others, except my own family, went
on in advance. Next day I followed, drawing a loaded sled myself, and
driving my dogs with their loads before me. As we approached a thicket
of bushes, I cautioned my daughter Martha, that Waw-bebe-nais-sa might
probably be lying in ambush somewhere among them. Presently I saw her
leap several feet from the ground, then she came running towards me,
with her hands raised, and crying, “_My father! My father!_” I seized my
gun and sprang forward, examined every place for concealment, passed the
lodge poles, and the almost extinguished fires of their last encampement,
and returned without having discovered any thing. When I inquired of my
daughter what had occasioned her alarm, she said she had “smelt fire.” So
great was the terror and apprehension with which her mind was agitated on
account of the annoyances Waw-bebe-nais-sa had given us.

I was so glad to be released from the persecutions of this troublesome
man that I now resolved to stop at Rush Lake and remain there by myself,
as I thought it was the intention of Waw-bebe-nais-sa and the other
Indians to proceed immediately to the Lake of the Woods. So I selected
a place where I intended to establish my camp for the remainder of the
winter. Here I left my children to take care of the lodge, and my wife
and myself returned to bring up loads of meat. On coming home at night,
the children told us their grandmother had in our absence been to see
them, and had left word that her daughter must come on the following day
to see her, and that there were, in that place, three or four lodges
of our friends encamped together. I readily gave my consent to this
arrangement, and as my mother-in-law had left a message particularly
for me, I consented to accompany her, saying that we could bring up the
remainder of the meat after we should return. But that night I dreamed,
and the same young man whom I had repeatedly seen in the preparations
for my medicine hunts came down as usual through the hole in the top of
my lodge, and stood directly before me. “You must not go,” said he, “to
the place you propose to visit to-morrow. But if you persist, and will
disregard my admonition, you shall see what will happen to you there.
Look there,” said he, pointing in the opposite direction, and I saw
She-gwaw-koo-sink, Me-zhuk-ko-naun, and others of my friends coming.
Then pointing upwards, he told me to look, and I saw a small hawk with a
banded tail, flying about over my head. He said no more, but turned and
went out at the door of my lodge. I awoke much troubled in my mind, and
could sleep no more. In the morning, I told my wife I could not go with
her. “What is the reason,” said she, “you cannot accompany me as you
promised yesterday?” I told her my dream, but she accused me of fear, and
as she continued her solicitations, I finally consented to go.

In the morning, I told my children that their uncle and other Indians
would come to the lodge that day. That they must tell them, if I returned
at all, it would be by noon. If I did not come then, they might conclude
I was dead. I then started with my wife, but I had not gone two hundred
yards when I looked up and saw the same small hawk that had appeared
to me in my dream. I knew that this was sent to forewarn me of evil,
and again I told my wife I could not go. But though I turned back to go
towards my own lodge, she again reproached me with fear, and pretended
to ridicule my apprehensions. I knew, also, the strong prejudice that
existed against me in the family of my mother-in-law, and the tendency
of my refusing, in this case, to visit her, would be to confirm and
make them stronger. I therefore, though contrary to my better judgment,
consented to go on.

When I arrived at the lodge of my mother-in-law, I left my gun at the
door, went in, and took a seat between two of the sisters of my wife who
were the wives of one man. They had young children, and I was playing
with two of these, with my head down, when I heard a loud and sudden
noise, and immediately lost my senses. I saw no one, and I remembered
nothing till I began to revive. Then I found several women holding my
hands and arms, and I saw the expression of terror and alarm in the faces
of all about me. I could not comprehend my situation, and knew nothing
of what had happened, until I heard on the outside of the lodge, a loud
and insulting voice, which I knew to be that of Waw-bebe-nais-sa. I
now began to feel something like warm water on my face, and putting my
hand to my head, I laid my fingers on my naked skull. I at length broke
away from the women who held me, and pursued after Waw-bebe-nais-sa,
but I could not overtake him as the Indians assisted him in keeping out
of my way. Towards night I returned to my lodge, though very severely
wounded, and, as I believed, with the bones of my skull broken. A very
little blood had run down upon my face when I was first wounded, but for
a considerable time afterwards none flowed, and though I heard strange
noises in my head, I did not faint or fall down until I reached my own
lodge. My gun Waw-bebe-nais-sa had taken from the door of the lodge of my
mother-in-law, and I had to return without it.

At my lodge, I found She-gwaw-koo-sink, Me-zhuk-ko-naun, and
Nah-gaun-esh-kaw-waw, a son-in-law of Wa-ge-tote, more commonly called
Oto-pun-ne-be. The moment I took She-gwaw-koo-sink by the hand, the
blood spouted in a stream from my head. “What is the matter, my son?”
said he. “I have been at play with another man, and the water of the
Be-gwi-o-mus-ko having made us drunk, we have played rather roughly.” I
wished to treat the matter lightly, but as I immediately fainted away,
they saw the extent of the wound I had received. Oto-pun-ne-be had
formerly been an acquaintance of mine, and had always shown a friendly
disposition towards me. He now seemed much affected at my misfortune,
and of his own accord undertook to punish Waw-bebe-nais-sa for his
unjust violence. This man, to whom I was often under obligation for the
kindnesses he bestowed upon me, has since experienced the fate which
overtakes so many of all characters and descriptions of people among the
Ojibbeways of that country: he has perished of hunger.

When I had entered the lodge of my mother-in-law, I had omitted to
pull off the hood of my thick moose-skin capote, and it was this which
prevented me from noticing the entrance of Waw-bebe-nais-sa into the
lodge, or seeing, or hearing his approach towards me. It is probable
also, that had not my head been thus covered, the blow, had it been
made, would have proved instantly fatal to me, as the force of it must
have been somewhat broken by this thick covering of leather. But as it
was, the skull was fractured, and there is still a large ridge upon that
part of it where the edge of the tomahawk fell. It was very long before
I recovered from this wound, though the immediate confinement which
followed it did not last so long as I had feared it must.

Waw-bebe-nais-sa fled immediately to our village at Me-naw-zhe-tau-naung,
and the remainder of the people, having never hunted in the prairie
before now became panic struck at the idea that the Sioux would fall
upon their trail and pursue them. I was too weak to travel, and moreover
I knew well we were in no danger from the Sioux, but my mother-in-law
found much fault because I was not willing to start with the Indians. I
knew that my mother-in-law, and I had reason to suppose that my wife,
had been willing to aid Waw-bebe-nais-sa in his attempt on my life,
and I therefore told them both to leave me if they wished. They went
accordingly, and took all my children with them. The only person who
did not desert me at this time was Oto-pun-ne-be, as he was called from
his bear totem, with his cousin, a lad of fourteen years old. These two
remained and performed for me those offices of attention and kindness
which my situation required, while those who should have been my friends
abandoned me to my fate. After the fourth day, I became much worse, and
was unable to sit up, and almost to move, until the tenth day, when I
began to recover.

After I had gained a little strength, we left the lodges as they had
been abandoned by the Indians in their fright, all standing, some of
them filled with meat, and other valuable property, and started together
for the village. Our trader lived at some distance from the village,
and when we arrived at the place where the roads forked, I agreed with
Oto-pun-ne-be that I would meet him at an appointed place, on the day
which he named, as that on which he would return from the village. I went
accordingly to the trader’s, and he to the Indian’s camp. We met again at
the time and place agreed on, when he related to me, that he went to the
village, entered the lodge of one of the principal chiefs, and sat down.
He had not been long there, when Waw-bebe-nais-sa came in and sat down
opposite him. After regarding each other for some time, Waw-bebe-nais-sa
said to him, “You, Oto-pun-ne-be, have never been in our village before,
and I am not ignorant of the occasion which has brought you so far to see
us. You have no brothers of your own, the Long Knives having killed all
of them, and you are now so foolish as to call the man whom I beat the
other day your brother.” “It is not true,” said Oto-pun-ne-be, “that the
Long Knives have killed any brother of mine. But if they had, I would not
suffer you to fall upon my friend, who is as one of us, and abuse and
injure him, as you have done, without cause or provocation. It is true, I
call him my brother, and I will avenge his cause as if he were such, but
I will not spill blood in the lodge of this chief, who has received me as
a friend.” So saying, he took Waw-bebe-nais-sa by the hand, dragged him
out of the lodge, and was about to plunge the knife to his heart, when
the chief, who was a strong man, caught his hand, took away the knife,
and broke it. In the scuffle which ensued, three or four men were at
once upon Oto-pun-ne-be, but he being a powerful man, and not forgetting
the object of his journey, kept fast his grip upon Waw-bebe-nais-sa, and
did not quit him until two of his ribs were broken, and he was otherwise
severely injured. Oto-pun-ne-be was a quiet man, even when drunk, and if
he ever entered into a quarrel, it was more commonly, as in this case, in
the cause of his friend, rather than his own.

I was content with the punishment that had been thus bestowed upon
Waw-bebe-nais-sa, as I thought two broken ribs about equal to the broken
head he had given me. We feasted together on game I had killed, so rapid
had been my recovery, and then returned to the deserted camp where we
found the lodges all standing as we had left them. After about ten
days more, the people began to come back to look after their property.
Oto-pun-ne-be took my canoe and returned to Red River, where he lived.

All our people returned, and removed their lodges and their property to
Me-naw-zhe-tau-naung. I had now a great store of meat, sufficient as I
knew, to supply the wants of my family for a year or more. After making
the best disposition I could of all my affairs, I took a small canoe, and
started by myself with the intention of coming to Mackinac, intending to
go thence to the states, and endeavour to find some of my relatives, if
any remained.

At Rainy Lake, I fell in with Mr. Giasson and others in the employ of
the Hudson’s Bay Company, who told me it would not be safe for me to
suffer myself to be seen by any of the North West Company’s people,
as they were all much enraged against me on account of the course I
had taken. Nevertheless, I knew well that the Hudson’s Bay people,
having no occasion to go to the lower end of Lake Superior, could not
conveniently aid me themselves, and that if I attempted to go alone, I
must unavoidably fall in with some of the North West. I went, therefore,
directly to the trading-house at Rainy Lake, where I found my old
trader, Mr. Tace. He was standing on the bank when I came up with my
little canoe. He told me to come into the house, and I followed him in
accordingly. He then asked me, rather sternly, what I had come to him
for. “Why do you not go,” said he, “to your own people of the Hudson’s
Bay Company?” I told him I was now wishing to go to the states. “It
would have been well,” he replied, “had you gone long ago.” I waited
there twenty days, receiving all the time the kindest treatment from Mr.
Tace. He then brought me in his own canoe to Fort William, whence Dr.
M’Laughlin sent me in one of his boats to the Saut De St. Marie, and
thence Mr. Ermatinger brought me to Mackinac. All the people of the
North West Company, whom I saw on this journey, treated me kindly, and no
one mentioned a word of my connection with the Hudson’s Bay.

Major Puthuff, the United States Indian Agent at Mackinac gave me a birch
bark canoe, some provisions, and a letter to Gov. Cass at Detroit. My
canoe was lashed to the side of the schooner, on board which I sailed for
Detroit under the care of a gentleman whose name I do not recollect, but
who, as I thought, was sent by Major Puthuff expressly to take care of me
on the way. In five days we arrived, and the gentleman telling me to wait
until he could go on shore and return, he left me, and I heard no more of
him. Next day I went on shore by myself, and walking up into the street
I stood for some time gazing around me. At length, I saw an Indian, and
going up to him, asked who he was, and where he belonged. He answered me,
“An Ottawwaw, of Saw-ge-nong.” “Do you know Gish-kaw-ko?” said I. “He is
my father.” “And where,” said I, “is Manito-o-geezhik, his father, and
your grand-father?” “He died last fall.” I told him to go and call his
father to come and see me. He called him, but the old man would not come.

Next day, as I was again standing in the street, and looking one way
and the other, I saw an old Indian, and ran after him. When he heard me
coming, he turned about, and after looking anxiously at me for a few
moments, caught me in his arms. It was Gish-kaw-ko, but he looked very
unlike the young man who had taken me prisoner so many years before. He
asked me, in a hurried manner, many questions, inquired what had happened
to me, and where I had been since I left him, and many such questions.
I tried to induce him to take me to the house of Gov. Cass, but he
appeared afraid to go. Finding I could not prevail upon him, I took Major
Puthuff’s letter in my hand, and having learned from the Indians in
which house the governor lived, I went toward the gate, till a soldier,
who was walking up and down before it, stopped me. I could not speak
English so as to be at all understood, but seeing the governor sitting
in his porch, I held up the letter towards him. He then told the soldier
to let me pass in. As soon as he had opened the letter, he gave me his
hand, and having sent for an interpreter, he talked a long time with
me. Gish-kaw-ko having been sent for, confirmed my statement respecting
the circumstances of my capture, and my two years residence with the
Ottawwaws of Saw-ge-nong.

The governor gave me clothing to the amount of sixty or seventy dollars
value, and sent me to remain, for the present, at the house of his
interpreter more than a mile distant, where he told me I must wait till
he should assemble many Indians and white men, to hold a council at St.
Mary’s on the Miami, whence he would send me to my relatives on the Ohio.

I waited two months or more, and becoming extremely impatient to go on
my way, I started with Be-nais-sa, the brother of Gish-kaw-ko, and eight
other men who were going to the council. I went without the knowledge
of Gov. Cass, and was therefore destitute of any supply of provisions.
We suffered much from fatigue, and still more from hunger, particularly
after we passed the rapids of the Miami where we left our canoe. The
Indians among whom we passed oftentimes refused to give us any thing,
though they had plenty. Sometimes we stopped to sleep near a white man’s
corn field, and though the corn was now fit to roast, and we almost
perishing with hunger, we dared not take any thing. One night, we stopped
near a good looking house, where was a large and fine corn field. The
Indians, being very hungry, said to me, “Shaw-shaw-was ne-ba-se, you have
come very far to see your relations, now go in and see whether they will
give you any thing to eat.” I went and stood in the door, but the people
within, who were then eating, drove me away, and on my return the Indians
laughed at me.

Some time after this, as we were sleeping one night in the road, some
one came up on horseback, and asked us, in the Ottawwaw dialect, who we
were. One of the Indians answered, “We are Ottawwaws and Ojibbeways, and
have with us one Long Knife from Red River, who was taken prisoner many
years ago by Gish-kaw-ko.” He told us, after he understood who we were,
and where we were going, that his name was Ah-koo-nah-goo-zik. “If you
are brisk travellers,” said he, “you may reach my house next day after
to-morrow at noon, and then you will find plenty to eat. It is necessary
that I should travel on all night, that I may reach home to-morrow.” And
thus he left us. Next day, my strength failed so much that I was only
able to keep up by being released from my load. One took my gun, another
my blanket, and we reached that night the forks of the Miami, where was a
settlement of Indians and a trading-house, as well as several families of
whites. I applied to the trader, and stated my situation, and that of the
Indians with me, but we could obtain no relief, and on the next day I was
totally unable to travel. We were indebted to the Indians for what relief
we obtained, which was sufficient to enable us the day after to reach the
hospitable dwelling of Ah-ko-nah-goo-zik.

This man had two large kettles of corn and venison ready cooked, and
awaiting our arrival. One he placed before me, with some wooden dishes,
and spoons; the other before Be-nais-sa. After we had eaten, he told us
we had better remain with him ten or fifteen days, and refresh ourselves
from our long journey, as he had plenty of corn, and fat venison was
abundant about him. I told him that for my own part I had for many years
been wishing to make the journey I had now so nearly accomplished, and
that I was extremely impatient to see whether or not any of my own
relatives were still alive, but that I should be glad to rest with him
two or three days, and afterwards to borrow one of his horses to ride as
far as Kau-wis-se-no-ki-ug, or St. Mary’s. “I will tell you,” said he.
After two or three days, as we were early one morning making up our loads
to start, he came to me, leading a fine horse and putting the halter in
my hand, he said, “I give you this for your journey.” I did not again
tell him I would leave it at Kau-wis-se-no-ki-ug, as I had already told
him this, and I knew that in such cases the Indians do not wish to hear
much said. In two days I arrived at the place appointed for the council.
As yet no Indians had assembled, but a man was stationed there to issue
provisions to such as should come. I had been but a short time at this
place when I was seized with fever and ague, which, though it did not
confine me all the time, was yet extremely painful and distressing.

After about ten days, a young man of the Ottawwaws, whom Be-nais-sa had
given me to cook for me and assist about me in my sickness, went across
the creek to a camp of the Po-ta-wa-to-mies who had recently arrived and
were drinking. At midnight he was brought into the lodge drunk, and one
of the men who came with him, said to me, as he pushed him in, “Take care
of your young man. He has been doing mischief.” I immediately called
Be-nais-sa to kindle a fire, when we saw, by the light of it, the young
man standing with his knife in his hand, and that, together with his arm
and great part of his body covered with blood. The Indians could not make
him lie down, but when I told him to, he obeyed immediately and I forbade
them to make any inquiries about what he had done, or take any notice of
his bloody knife. In the morning, having slept soundly, he was perfectly
unconscious of all that had passed. He said he believed that he had
been very drunk, and as he was now hungry, he must hurry and get ready
something to eat. He was astonished and confounded when I told him he had
killed a man. He remembered only that in his drunkenness he had began
to cry for his father, who had been killed on that spot several years
before by white men. He expressed much concern, and went immediately to
see the man he had stabbed, who was not yet dead. We learned from the
Po-ta-wa-to-mies that he had found the young man sleeping, or lying in a
state of insensibility from intoxication, and had stabbed him without any
words having been exchanged, and apparently without knowing who he was.
The relations of the wounded man said nothing to him, but the interpreter
of Gov. Cass reproved him very sharply.

It was evident to all that the young man he had wounded could not
recover; indeed, he was now manifestly near his end. When our companion
returned, we had made up a considerable present, one giving a blanket,
one a piece of strouding, some one thing, and some another. With these he
immediately returned, and placing them on the ground beside the wounded
man, he said to the relatives who were standing about, “My friends, I
have, as you see, killed this, your brother; but I knew not what I did. I
had no ill will against him, and when, a few days since, he came to our
camp, I was glad to see him. But drunkenness made me a fool, and my life
is justly forfeited to you. I am poor, and among strangers, but some of
those who came from my own country with me, would gladly bring me back
to my parents. They have, therefore, sent me with this small present.
My life is in your hands, and my present is before you, take which ever
you choose. My friends will have no cause to complain.” He then sat down
beside the wounded man, and stooping his head, hid his eyes with his
hands, and waited for them to strike. But the mother of the man he had
wounded, an old woman, came a little forward and said, “For myself and my
children, I can answer, that we wish not to take your life; but I cannot
promise to protect you from the resentment of my husband, who is now
absent; nevertheless, I will accept your present, and whatever influence
I may have with him, I shall not fail to use it in your behalf. I know
that it was not from design, or on account of any previous hatred that
you have done this, and why should your mother be made to cry as well as
myself?” She took the presents, and the whole affair being reported to
Gov. Cass, he was satisfied with the course that had been taken.

On the following day the wounded man died, and some of our party assisted
the young man who had killed him in making his grave. When this was
completed, the governor gave the dead man a valuable present of blankets,
cloth, etc. to be buried with him, according to the Indian custom, and
these were brought and heaped up on the brink of the grave. But the
old woman, instead of having them buried, proposed to the young men to
play for them. As the articles were somewhat numerous, various games
were used, as shooting at the mark, leaping, wrestling, etc. but the
handsomest piece of cloth was reserved as the prize for the swiftest in
the foot race, and was won by the young man himself who had killed the
other. The old woman immediately afterwards called him to her, and said,
“Young man, he who was my son, was very dear to me, and I fear I shall
cry much and often for him. I would be glad if you would consent to be my
son in his stead, to love me and take care of me as he did, only I fear
my husband.” The young man, who was grateful to her for the anxiety she
showed to save his life, immediately consented to this arrangement, and
entered heartily upon it. But the governor had heard that some of the
friends of the deceased were still determined to avenge his death, and
he sent his interpreter to the young man, to direct him, without loss of
time, to make his escape, and fly to his own country. He was unwilling
to go, but as Be-nais-sa and myself concurred with the governor in his
advice, and assisted him in his preparations, he went off in the night;
but instead of going immediately home, as he had been directed to do, he
lay concealed in the woods only a few hundred yards from our lodge.

Very early next morning, I saw two of the friends of the young man that
was killed coming towards our lodge. At first I was somewhat alarmed, as
I supposed they came with the intention of doing violence; but I soon
perceived they were without arms. They came in, and sat a long time
silent. At last one of them said, “Where is our brother? We are sometimes
lonely at home, and we wish to talk with him.” I told them he had but
lately gone out, and would soon return. As they remained a long time, and
insisted on seeing him, I went out, with the pretence of seeking for him,
but without the remotest expectation that he would be found. He, however,
had observed from his hiding place the visit of the two young men to our
lodge, and not believing it to have been made with any unfriendly design,
discovered himself to me and we returned together. They shook hands
with him, and treated him with great kindness, and we soon afterwards
ascertained that all the reports of their wishing to kill him were false.


    Journey to Kentucky—hospitalities of the whites—return to
    Detroit—Jackson—St. Louis—General Clark—return to the Lake of
    the Woods—Col. Dickson—second journey to St. Louis, by Chikago
    and Fort Clark—kindness of the Potawattomies.

About the time of the conclusion of the council, Gov. Cass called me to
dine with him; and as many gentlemen asked me to drink wine with them, I
was, after dinner, scarce able to walk home. A few days afterwards the
interpreter told me the governor had a curiosity to know whether I had
acquired the same fondness the Indians usually have for intoxicating
liquors, and whether, when drunk, I would behave as they did. But I had
not felt the influence of the wine so much as to forget myself, or become
unconscious of my situation, and I went immediately to my lodge and lay
there until I was entirely sober.

Some of the Potawattomies had stolen the horse that was lent me on
the road by the friendly old man, called Ah-koo-nah-goo-zik; but he
was recovered by the young men who followed my friend Be-nais-sa, and
I restored him to the owner who was at the council. Governor Cass,
understanding how kind this man had been to me directed that a very
handsome and valuable saddle should be given him. The old man for some
time persisted in declining this present, but at last, when prevailed
upon to receive it, he expressed much gratitude. “This,” said he, “is
that which was told me by the old men who gave me instruction many years
ago when I was a child. They told me to be kind, and to do good to all
men, particularly to the stranger who should come from a distant country,
and to all who were destitute and afflicted; saying, if I did so, the
Great Spirit would also remember me, to do good to me, and reward me
for what I had done. Now, though I have done so little for this man,
how amply and honourably am I rewarded!” He would have persuaded me to
take his horse, as he said he had more, and the saddle was more valuable
than the horse he had lent me; and though I declined his offer, still
he insisted upon it, until I consented that he should consider it as
belonging to me, and should take care of it until I returned and called
for it. Here the governor gave me goods to the amount of one hundred and
twenty dollars value, and as I had still a considerable journey to make,
I purchased a horse for eighty dollars, for which I gave a part of the
goods I had received. There were at the council, among others, two men
from Kentucky who knew something of my relations, one of them having
lived from a child in the family of one of my sisters.

With these two men I started, though my health was still very poor. In a
few days I had become so much worse that I could not sit on my horse, and
they concluded to purchase a skiff, and one of them to take me down by
water, while the other went with the horses by the usual route. In that
part of the Big Miami are many mill-dams and other obstructions which
rendered even this method, not only slow and laborious, but extremely
distressing to me on account of my ill health. At last I was reduced to
such a state of weakness as to be quite unable to move, and I stopped
at the house of a poor man who lived on the bank of the river, and as
he seemed greatly to pity me, and was disposed to do all in his power
for my relief, I determined to remain with him, the man with whom I had
travelled thus far making me understand that he would go to the Ohio, and
either come back himself, or send some one after me.

This man with whom I stopped could speak a few words of Ottawwaw, and he
did every thing in his power to render my situation comfortable, until
my nephew, who was the person sent by my friends in Kentucky, came for
me. By him I heard of the death of my father, and also some particulars
of my surviving relatives. Before Gish-kau-ko, at Detroit, I had always
supposed that the greater part, if not all of my father’s family, had
been murdered by Manito-o-geezhik and his party the year subsequent to my

Our journey was very tedious and difficult to Cincinnati, where we rested
a little. Thence we descended the Ohio in a skiff. My fever continued to
return daily, and when the chill commenced, we were compelled to stop for
some time so that our progress was not rapid. We were accompanied by one
man who assisted my nephew to put me in and take me out of the skiff, for
I was now reduced to a mere skeleton, and had not strength enough to walk
or stand by myself.

As the night was coming on, after a very dark and cloudy day, we arrived
at a handsome farm where was a large and rather good looking house. It
was quite dark when we were ready to leave the skiff. They then raised
me by the arms, and led, or rather carried me to the house. My nephew
told the man our situation, and stated that I was so unwell it would be
extremely difficult, and must even endanger my life, if we attempted to
go farther; but he told us we could not stay at his house all night;
and when my nephew persisted in his request, he drove us roughly and
violently out of the house. The night had now considerably advanced, and
the distance to the next house was a mile and a half; but as it stood
back from the river, we could not go to it in our skiff. They accordingly
supported me between them, and we went on. It was probably after midnight
when we arrived at a large brick house. The people within were all in
bed, and all the windows were dark, but my nephew knocked at the door,
and after a little time a man came out. When he saw me he took hold of
me, and assisted me to go in; then he called up his wife and daughters,
and gave some supper to my companions. For me he prepared some medicine,
and then made me go to bed, where I slept very quietly until late in
the morning. At this house, I remained nearly all the next day, and was
treated with the utmost kindness. From this time I began to get a little
better, and without much more difficulty, I reached the place where my
sister’s children were living. I stayed one night at the house of one
of my nephews, whose name was John; then I went to the house of another
brother, where I lay sick about a month.

A letter was now received which they made me understand was for me, but
though they read it to me repeatedly, I could not comprehend a single
word of the contents. All the time since my arrival here, I had lain
sick, and no one being for any considerable part of the time with me, I
had not learned either to understand, or make myself understood; but as I
was now some better, and able often to walk about, when a second letter
came, I could understand from it that my brother Edward, whose name I had
never forgotten, had gone to Red River to search for me. Also, that one
of my uncles, who lived one hundred miles distant, had sent for me to
come to him.

My greatest anxiety was now on account of my brother Edward, and I
immediately called for my horse, intending to return towards Red River
and search for him. Twenty or thirty of the neighbours assembled around
me when they heard that I wished to go back, and I could comprehend
that they wished to dissuade me from going. But when they found I was
obstinate, they gave me each a little money: some one shilling, some two
shillings, and others larger sums, and I got upon my horse and started.
I had rode about ten miles when fatigue and sickness overcame me, and I
was compelled to stop at the house of a man, whose name, as I afterwards
learned, was Morgan. Here I stayed four days, and when I again called for
my horse, the neighbours, as before, began to gather round me, and each
to give me something. One gave me some bread in a bag, another tied a
young pig behind my saddle, and among them all they furnished me with a
good outfit of provisions, and some money. I wished to return to Detroit,
but as I was still very weak, Mr. Morgan accompanied me to Cincinnati. I
had found that it made me sick to sleep in a house, and on this journey I
constantly refused to do so. Mr. Morgan would sleep in the houses where
we stopped at night, but I chose a good place outside, where I lay down
and slept, and I found the advantage of doing so, by the partial recovery
of my health. After Mr. Morgan returned from Cincinnati, I travelled on
alone, and was before long destitute of provisions. About this time, an
old man who was standing by the door of his house when he saw me, called
out stop! come! I could understand no more than these two words, but I
knew from the expression of his countenance, and his manner, that his
design was friendly, and accordingly went into his yard. He took my horse
and gave him plenty of corn, and I accompanied him into the house, where,
though they placed food before me, I could not eat. Seeing this, he gave
me some nuts, a few of which I ate. When he saw that my horse had eaten,
and I was impatient to start, he put on the saddle, and brought the
horse. I offered him money, but he would not take it.

A day or two afterwards I stopped at a house where I saw a great quantity
of corn lying in the yard. My horse was very hungry, therefore I got
down, and taking a dollar out of my pocket, I handed it to the man who
stood there, and then I counted ten ears of corn, and took them and laid
them before my horse. I could not make the people comprehend that I was
hungry; at least they seemed determined not to understand me. I went into
the house, and the woman looked displeased; but seeing there part of a
loaf of corn bread, I pointed first to it, next to my mouth; but as she
appeared not to understand my meaning, I took it in my hand and raised
it to my mouth, as if I would eat it. Seeing this, she called to the man
outside, and he coming in, took the bread from me, pushed me violently
out of the house, then went and took the corn from my horse, and motioned
to me to be gone. I came next to a large brick house, and hoping I might
meet gentler treatment, I determined to try here. But as I was riding
up, a very fat man came out and spoke to me in a loud and harsh tone
of voice. Though I could not understand his words, his meaning, which
I thought was very evident, was, as I supposed, to forbid my entering
the yard. I was willing to pass on, and was about to do so, when he ran
out and caught my horse by the bridle. He said much to me, of which I
understood little or nothing. I thought I could comprehend that he was
cursing me for an Indian. He took hold of my gun, and tried to wrench it
out of my hand. I have since understood that he kept a tavern, and was a
magistrate; but at that time I was sick, and hungry, and irritable, and
when I found that he wanted to take my gun from me, I became angry; and
having in my hand a hickory stick about as large as my thumb and three or
four feet long, I struck him over the head with it, so hearty a blow that
he immediately quitted his hold on my gun, and I rode off. Two young men,
whose horses were standing by this house, and who appeared to me to be
travellers, soon overtook me, and we rode on together.

This journey was a painful and unpleasant one to me. I travelled on, from
day to day, weak, dispirited, and alone, meeting with little sympathy
or attention from the people among whom I passed, often suffering from
hunger and from sickness. I was willing to sleep in the woods, as I
constantly did; but it was not easy to kill any game, nor did the state
of my health allow me to go far from the road to hunt. I had ascended
nearly to the head of the Big Miami, when one night, after having offered
a dollar to a farmer, and been driven away without refreshment for myself
or my horse, I lay down in the woods near by, and after I supposed them
to be asleep, I took as much corn as was sufficient to feed my horse.
I had, some time in the course of the preceding day, bought a chicken
for twenty-five cents, a part of which I now ate, and the next day I
began to feel a little stronger. I had now arrived where the intervals
between the settlements were very wide, and seeing a gang of hogs in the
woods, I shot one, skinned him, and hung the meat on my saddle, so that
I was, for some time, well supplied with provisions. At the forks of the
Miami of Lake Erie was a trader with whom I was well acquainted, and who
spoke Ottawwaw as well as I did; but when I asked him for something for
my horse, he told me to begone, as he would give me nothing, though he
offered to sell me some corn for my bear meat, as he called the pork I
had hanging at my saddle; but I disliked him, and therefore went across
the river to sleep in the woods.

This night I was again taken very sick, and when in the morning I found
that my horse had escaped and gone back, I was scarce able to follow him.
When I arrived at the river opposite the trader’s house, I saw the horse
standing on the other side, and calling to the trader, I asked him to
send or bring the horse over to me, as I was sick. When he replied that
he would not, I asked him to bring me a canoe, as being sick myself, I
did not wish to go into the water; but this he refused to do, and I was
compelled to swim across. I took my horse and returned to my camp, but
was too sick to travel farther that day.

On the day after I resumed my journey, and had the good fortune to come
to a house where the woman treated me kindly. She fed my horse, and then
offered me some salt pork; but as I could not eat this, I returned it to
her. Then she brought me some fresh venison, and I took a shoulder of it.
She made signs to me to sit down in the house; but as I preferred the
woods, I declined her offer, and selected near by a pleasant place to
encamp, and there cooked the meat she had given me. Before my supper was
cooked, she sent a little boy to bring me some bread, and some fresh and
sweet butter.

Next day my route was principally out of settlements. At the village of
Ah-koo-nah-goo-zik, I would not stop, as I was already under sufficient
obligation to him, and I thought he would again urge me to take his
horse. I had arrived within about one hundred miles of Detroit when I
was again taken very sick. Feeling wholly unable to travel, I determined
to take some emetic tartar, which I had carried for a long time about
me, having received it from Dr. M’Laughlin at Rainy Lake. Soon after I
had taken it, rain began to fall, and as the weather was now somewhat
cold, and I was unable to avoid getting wet, the cramp affected me very
violently. After the rain had ceased, the creek near which I was encamped
froze over, but as I was suffering under a most violent fever, I broke
the ice, and plunged myself all over into the water. In this situation
I remained for some time, totally unable to travel and almost without a
hope of recovering. Two men passed me with the mail, one of whom could
speak a little Indian; but they said they could do nothing for me, as
they were compelled to proceed on their journey without loss of time.

But at length, I was again able to travel, and resumed my journey. I was
two days’ journey from Detroit, when I met a man in the road with a Sioux
pipe in his hand, whose strong resemblance to my father immediately
arrested my attention. I endeavoured to make him stop and take notice
of me, but he gave me a hasty look, and passed on. When I arrived, two
days afterwards, at Detroit, I learned that this man was, as I supposed,
my brother; but the governor would not allow me to return after him,
as he knew that my having passed towards Detroit would be known at the
Indian traders’ houses on the way, and that my brother, who would inquire
at all of them, would very soon hear of me, and return. His opinion
appeared to have been well founded, for about three days afterwards my
brother arrived. He held me a long time in his arms; but on account of
my ignorance of the English language, we were unable to speak to each
other except through an interpreter. He next cut off my long hair, on
which, till this time, I had worn strings of broaches, in the manner
of the Indians. We visited Gov. Cass together, and he expressed much
satisfaction at my having laid aside the Indian costume. But the dress of
a white man was extremely uncomfortable to me, so that I was, from time
to time, compelled to resume my old dress for the sake of convenience.

I endeavoured to persuade my brother, with whom I still conversed through
an interpreter, to accompany me to my residence at the Lake of the
Woods; but to this he would by no means consent, insisting that I must
go with him to his house beyond the Mississippi, and we set off together
accordingly. From the military commandant at Fort Wayne we received much
friendly attention, and our journey was, in the main, a pleasant one.
Forty days brought us to the Mississippi fifteen miles above New Madrid,
where my brother resided. Another of my brothers lived near by, and
they both accompanied me to Jackson, fifteen miles from Cape Girardeau,
where two of my sisters were living. From this place we started, six
or seven in number, to go to Kentucky; and crossing the Mississippi, a
little above Cape Girardeau, we went by the way of Golconda, on the Ohio,
to Kentucky where many of my relatives lived, not far from the small
villages called Salem and Princeton.

My sister Lucy had, the night before my arrival, dreamed that she saw
me coming through the corn field that surrounded her house. She had ten
children. Relatives, friends, and neighbours, crowded around to witness
my meeting with my sisters, and though we could converse together but
little, they, and most of those who assembled about us, shed many
tears. On the Sabbath day after my arrival, greater numbers than usual
came to my sister’s house, and divine worship was performed there. My
brother-in-law, Jeremiah Rukker, endeavoured to find in my father’s
will some provision for me. He took me to the court at Princeton, and
showed me to the people there; but nothing could be accomplished. My
step-mother, who lived near by, gave me one hundred and thirty-seven

I went, accompanied by seven of my relatives, some men, some women, to
Scottsville, where I had an uncle who had sent for me. Here the people
collected and gave me one hundred dollars, and on my return, Col. Ewing,
of Hopkinsville, raised, in about one hour that I remained with him, one
hundred dollars more, which he gave me. This gentleman showed me very
distinguished attention and kindness, and remains to this day a cordial
and active friend to me.

From Hopkinsville I returned to the house of my stepmother, where I made
my preparations to go to the Lake of the Woods. Part of my relatives, who
had accompanied me from beyond the Mississippi, had returned to their
own homes; but my brother and his wife stayed to travel with me. From my
brother Edward’s house near New Madrid, I went again to Jackson where I
was again taken sick. My stock of money had now increased through the
voluntary donations of those friendly and charitable people among whom
I had passed, to five hundred dollars, and, this being all in silver,
would, my brother thought, be the means of exposing me to danger, and
bringing me into difficulty, should I travel by myself. He, therefore,
refused to leave me.

From Jackson we went together to St. Louis, where we saw Gov. Clark,
who had already given much assistance to my brother in his journeys in
search of me. He received us with great kindness, and offered us whatever
assistance we might think necessary in accomplishing the object I now
had in view, which was to bring my family from the Indian country. My
brother wished to accompany me, and to take a considerable number of
men, to aid, if it should be necessary, in taking my children from the
Indians; but I went one day to Gov. Clark, by myself, and told him he
must not listen to my brother, who knew little of the country I was
going to visit, or of what was needful to my success in the attempt to
bring out my family. In truth, I did not wish my brother, or any other
white man, to accompany me, as I knew he could not submit to all the
hardships of the journey, and live as I should be compelled to live, in
an Indian lodge all winter. Furthermore, I was aware that he would be
rather an incumbrance than any help to me. Gov. Clark wished to send me
to the Lake of the Woods by way of the Upper Mississippi, but I was not
willing to go that way, on account of the Sioux, through whose country I
must pass. He gave me a Mackinac boat, large enough to carry sixty men,
with a sufficient crew, three barrels of flour, two of hard bread, guns,
tents, axes, etc. etc. Having prevailed on my brother to return, I set
off. The current of the Mississippi below the Missouri, soon convinced
me that my large and heavy boat was not well adapted to the nature of
my undertaking, and at Portage De Sioux I left it. From this place I
proceeded in a small canoe, with two men, to the head of the Illinois
River, thence to Chikago.

I had a letter from Gov. Clark to Mr. M’Kenzie, the Indian agent at
that place, and as there was no vessel about to sail for Mackinac, he
fitted out a bark canoe with a crew of Indians to take me on my journey;
but the Indians stopped to drink several days, and, in the mean time a
vessel arrived in which I sailed on her return. I had waited ten days
at Mackinac when Capt. Knapp of the revenue cutter offered me a passage
to Drummond’s Island. Here Dr. Mitchell, and the Indian agent, Col.
Anderson, treated me in a very friendly manner, until the latter had an
opportunity to send me to the Saut De St. Marie.

At the Saut I remained two or three months, as Col. Dickson, who was
there, would not allow me to go up Lake Superior in the North West
Company’s vessel, which went and returned three times while I was
detained waiting for him. At last he was ready to start, and I went on
board his boat. We were no sooner out from shore, than he handed me
an oar, and though my health was very poor, he compelled me to row as
long as I was able to sit up. Being at last quite disabled, he left me
on shore at a spot twenty miles above Fort William, where we found Mr.
Giarson, who was there to take care of some property for the Hudson’s Bay
people. I was much dissatisfied with the treatment I received from Col.
Dickson, and at parting I told him that notwithstanding he left me so
far from the end of my journey, I would still reach Me-naw-zhe-tau-naung
before him. All my baggage I left in the care of Mr. Giarson, and went
on in a small canoe with one old Frenchman whom I hired, and having good
luck to cross the lake, I arrived before him.

My family were all well. Next day some one told me that the red headed
Englishman, as they called Col. Dickson, was coming up to my lodge. I
told him, without going out, that he need not come in. “You find me here
in my lodge,” said I, “though you abandoned me on the lake shore, when
very far from my home, or from any place where I could have expected to
find help; but my lodge is not fit for such as you, therefore I hope
you will not come in.” I knew he wished to ask me for something to eat,
but I was determined not to see him, or give him any thing. He left our
village, and went by the Indians’ road to Red River, though, as the water
was unusually low, we heard he had a journey of extreme difficulty, and
had nearly perished of hunger. There was, on the way, an enclosed burying
ground where one of my brother’s-in-law, a daughter of Oto-pun-ne-be, and
others of my friends and acquaintances, had been buried. Many of these
graves were well covered, but Col. Dickson broke down the pailings, and
destroyed the little houses that had been raised over the graves, at
which conduct the Indians were much offended. They threatened to take
his life, and might have done so had an opportunity offered. He went to
Pembinah, thence to Lake Traverse, and returned no more into the country
of the Ojibbeways.

A few days after my arrival at Me-naw-zhe-tau-naung, one of my children
sickened and died of the measles, a complaint at that time very fatal
among the Indians. The others were subsequently attacked, but I now
knew better how to take care of them, and no more died. Soon after
this provisions became scarce, and I was, with Me-zhuk-ko-naun, making
preparations for a medicine hunt. In my dream I saw the same young man
I had before seen on similar occasions, come down in the usual manner
and stand before me. He reproved me with more than usual harshness for
my complaints, and because I cried for the child I had recently lost.
“Henceforth,” said he, “you shall see me no more, and that which remains
before you, of your path, shall be full of briers and thorns. It is on
account of the many crimes, and the bad conduct of your wife, that all
your coming days are to be filled with trouble. Nevertheless, as you have
called me this time, I give you something to eat.” When he said this, I
looked and saw before me many ducks covering the surface of the water,
and in another place a sturgeon, in a third a reindeer. This dream was
fulfilled, as usual, at least as much of it as related to my hunting and

As the winter came on, I went to Red River to hunt buffalo, and make dry
meat, and early in the spring I started to come to the States. From my
first wife I had parted ten years before the time I now speak of; but the
urgency of the Indians, and, in part, the necessity of my situation, had
compelled me to take another.[34] By this woman I had three children;
those by my former wife were not at present in the village. My wife
refusing to accompany me, I took the three children and started without
her. At Rainy Lake she overtook me, and agreed to accompany me to

On my way down, I was assisted by the North West Company. At Drummond’s
Island I was disappointed of large presents given me when on my way to
the Lake of the Woods, but which, as I did not then wish to take, were
promised me on my return. The commanding officer who had shown me so much
kindness, had been relieved by another of a very different character,
one who seemed to find no satisfaction in doing any thing for any person
connected with the Indians. This man refused to see me, or afford me any
assistance. By the kindness, however, of Mr. Ermatinger of the Saut De
St. Marie, I was enabled to reach Mackinac.

Col. Boyd, the Indian agent at that time at Mackinac, called me to him,
and wished to hire me as a striker in his smith’s shop; but not liking
the employment, I did not wish to remain. He gave me one hundred pounds
of flour, the same quantity of pork, some whiskey, tobacco, etc. There
were two vessels about to sail for Chikago, but neither of them would
take me as a passenger, though I had money enough, and was willing to pay
them. As I had no other alternative, I was compelled to purchase from the
Indians a poor and old bark canoe, for which I gave sixty dollars, and I
engaged three Frenchmen to accompany me, but Col. Boyd would not permit
them to go. He gave me, however, a letter to Dr. Wolcott, who was now
Indian agent at Chikago, and I started with only one man to assist me.

At the Ottawwaw settlement of Waw-gun-nuk-kiz-ze I stopped for a short
time, and finding that my canoe was too frail and leaky to perform the
voyage, I purchased another, a new one, for which I gave eighty dollars.
Several of my acquaintances among the Ottawwaws determined to accompany
me, and started accordingly, eight men in one canoe, and six in another,
with some women. They went on with me until we arrived within one or two
days’ journey of Chikago, when meeting other Indians with discouraging
accounts of the state of the water in the Illinois, they left me and went
back. My wife returned with them.

When I arrived at Chikago, I was sick of a fever, and my provisions being
exhausted, I was in great distress. I went to Dr. Wolcott to present him
the letter from Col. Boyd, the Indian agent at Mackinac, but he would
not receive it, nor take any notice of me. He knew well who I was, as
he had seen me when I passed Chikago before, and I could not tell why
he refused me assistance. I had my tent set up at a little distance
from his house, near a wild rice swamp, and for several days, though I
was so much more unwell that I was scarce able to sit up five minutes
at a time, I subsisted my children by shooting the black birds as they
came and settled on the rice. When I was again able with the aid of two
sticks to crawl to the house of Dr. Wolcott, I went to represent to him
that my children were in danger of perishing of hunger, but he drove me
harshly away. When I left his door, I shed some tears which it was not
common for me to do, but I was rendered womanish by my sickness. Three
or four times I fainted, and lay long by the road side on the way from
his house to my tent. But my sufferings, and those of my children, were
shortly afterwards relieved by a Frenchman, who had been to carry some
boats across the Portage. His wife was an Ojibbeway woman, and commonly
accompanied him when he went to take any boats across. Though his horses
were now much worn out with the long journey from which he had returned,
he agreed to take me and my canoe sixty miles, and if his horses could
hold out, the whole one hundred and twenty, which was, at the present
stage of water, the length of the Portage, for which I agreed to pay
him agreeable to his demand, which I thought very moderate. He lent me,
also, a young horse to ride as I was far too weak to think of walking,
and he thought I could ride on horseback much more comfortably than in
the cart with the canoe. Before we arrived at the end of the sixty miles,
he was taken sick, and as there was now a little water in the river, I
concluded to put my canoe in, and try to descend in it. His young horse,
the night after I gave it up to him, was stolen by the Po-ta-wato-mies.
He was seized with the bloody flux, but as he had a young man with him,
I rendered him what assistance I could in starting, and let him go back.
My Frenchman had deserted from me soon after I left Chikago, and I had
now no person to assist me except an old Indian, called Gos-so-kwaw-waw,
(the smoker.)[35] We put the canoe in the water, but we could not get
into it ourselves, only sometimes the children were put in, and we took
them down, one walking at the bow, the other at the stern of the canoe.
We had proceeded no more than three miles when I found that this method
was likely to prove so laborious and slow that I thought best to engage a
Po-ta-wato-mie, whom I met there, and who agreed for a blanket and a pair
of leggins, to take my baggage and my children on his horses to the mouth
of the An-num-mun-ne Se-be, or Yellow Ochre River, a distance of sixty
miles. The An-num-mun-ne comes from towards the Mississippi, and below
it there is always, in the Illinois, water enough for canoes. I felt
somewhat afraid to trust the Po-ta-wato-mie with my children, and the
baggage, which contained some valuable property, but old Gos-so-kwaw-waw
was of the opinion that he would prove honest. When he put the children
on the horses, he said, “In three days I shall be at the mouth of the
An-num-mun-ne River, and shall wait for you there.”

Without any further words, we parted, and the old Smoker and myself
continued our laborious and difficult route along the bed of the
Illinois. Most of the country on both sides the route from Chikago to the
Yellow Ochre River, are prairie in which horses and carts can be driven
without any difficulty. On our arrival at the place appointed, we found
the Po-ta-wato-mie there, and all safe.

We now embarked every thing together in the canoe, and went down to
Fort Clark which is on a narrow neck of land between two lakes, and is
thence called by the Indians Ka-gah-gum-ming,[36] (the isthmus.) Here
I found some acquaintances, or rather those who claimed relationship
in consequence of their having been in some measure connected with the
family that I belonged to among the Indians. Here was a Taw-ga-we-nin-ne,
a son of him that had been the husband of Net-no-kwa, and some of the
relatives of one of my wives. One of these, an old woman, gave me a
sack of Wiskobimmenuk, or that sort of corn which is plucked green,
boiled, and then dried. Two or three miles beyond this, as I went on my
way, I saw a man standing on the bank, who, as I came opposite to him,
called out, “My friend, do you love venison?” When I told him I did,
and had put my canoe in shore, he lifted a large and fat deer into it,
saying, “Perhaps you will like to eat some of this, which I have just now
killed.” He was going to turn away when I called him back, and though he
refused any compensation for the deer, I gave him a little powder and
shot, and some flints, for which he appeared very thankful.

About this time, when I was one day warm at work, I shot a crane and got
into the water to take it up. Shortly after I felt somewhat unwell, but
not reflecting on the cause of my illness, I went again into the water to
get something I had shot, when immediately I fell down, and was unable
to get up. My fever returned upon me with such violence that being in
immediate expectation of death, I gave the Old Smoker directions to take
my children to Governor Clark, who, I was confident, would assist them in
reaching my relatives. But contrary to my expectation, I became gradually
better, and after some days was able to go on my journey. We passed
great numbers of Potawattomies, their lodges standing many together in
almost every bend of the river. Some of them started out in their canoes
occasionally, and accompanied me some distance on my way. One day a man
came running from his lodge to the bank of the river, and asked me who I
was. When I had told him, he inquired if my children could eat honey; and
when I told him I believed they could, he sent two young men, each with
a large wooden bowl full, which they brought wading into the water, and
handed to me.

In this manner I descended the Illinois River, killing plenty of game,
and having at all times enough to eat; my health, also, gradually
improving, until I came to St. Louis. Here Governor Clark showed his
wonted kindness, not only to me and my children, but to the Old Smoker
who had been so serviceable to me in my journey. After giving the old
man a handsome present, he provided for his return to his own country,
and dismissed him. I was detained longer at St. Louis than I had wished,
as new clothes were to be made for my children. Some of these not having
been completed in time for me to take with me, the Governor sent them
afterwards to Kentucky. From St. Louis, I went to Cape Guirardeau in my
birch bark canoe, having a letter from Governor Clark to the Indian agent
at that place.

At Cape Guirardeau, where I left my canoe, and where I remained but a
very short time, I saw some of the gentlemen of Major Long’s party, then
on their return from the Rocky Mountains. This was in the fall of the
year 1820, and was about one year after my first arrival on the Ohio in
1819. From the time of my capture by Manito-o-geezhik and Gish-kaw-ko,
just thirty years had elapsed before I started in the spring of 1819 from
the Lake of the Woods. So that it must have been in the spring of the
year 1789 that I was taken prisoner. I am now forty-seven years old.

Four months I remained with my sisters at Jackson, fifteen miles from
Cape Guirardeau; then I went to Kentucky, and the next fall I returned
to St. Louis, to see Governor Clark; but he was not at home, and as many
people were then dying in St. Louis of fevers, I made but a short stay.
On my way home, I fell sick of a violent fever at the Grand Prairie,
which is eighty miles from the place where I had left my children.
Fortunately I fell into the hands of a woman who treated me with much
humanity and kindness, and I soon began to recover. I now heard that
my children were dying with the fever which prevailed so generally
throughout the country, and notwithstanding my own miserable and
debilitated condition, I hastened home. Only one of my children died. The
others though very sick, at last recovered. But I was not alone in this
affliction. Seven died out of the circle of my near relatives with whom I
then lived, and an alarming mortality prevailed throughout that part of
the state.

On the ensuing spring an attempt was made to recover something for my
benefit from the estate of my father; but my stepmother sent several of
the negroes, which it was thought might fall to me, to the island of
Cuba, where they were sold. This business is yet unsettled, and remains
in the hands of the lawyers.

In the spring of 1822, I started to go again to the north, not finding
that I was content among my friends in Kentucky. I went by the way of the
Grand Prairie, and having given my canoe to my brother, I took horses,
and putting my children on them, I came to St. Louis, thence by way of
the Illinois, towards Chikago.

The Indian agent for Fort Clark lived at this time at a place called Elk
Heart, some distance below. He, as well as most of the people on this
route, had been kind, and had shown a disposition to assist me whenever
I needed any thing. On this journey I stopped at Elk Heart, at the house
of the agent, and though he was not himself at home, I had my horses fed,
and was supplied with what refreshment I needed for myself and children,
free of expense. On the following day, I met the agent on his way home
from Fort Clark, and told him of the reception I had met at his house in
his absence. He was glad to hear of this, and he told me that I should
soon come to a bad river to cross; “but,” said he, “there is a boat now
on this side, in which I have just crossed. The man to whom it belongs,
lives on the other side. You must use the boat to cross, and then tell
him to take it around to the other river, which is beyond his house,
and help you to cross that, and I will pay him for his trouble.” We
crossed accordingly, but my daughter Martha being now sick, we stopped
all day near the house of the man to whom the canoe belonged. I had one
very handsome horse which had been given me by my brother, and which
this man said he was determined to have from me. He offered to buy it,
but I told him the horse was necessary to my journey, and I could by no
means part with it. Still he insisted, and said unless I would let him
have the horse, I should not have his canoe to cross the other river.
He cursed and abused me, but all the means he could use did not induce
me to give up the horse. The canoe had been taken around to the river I
had to cross for the use of some other person, and when I was ready to
go I started, expecting to find it there. But on my way to the ferry, I
met the man on horseback who said to me, “I have taken away the canoe,
and you cannot cross.” Without regarding this, I went on, and when I
arrived, I found the canoe was indeed gone, and that there were no logs,
or other materials to make a raft. Fearing to endanger the children by
swimming them across on the horse’s backs, I stood for some time in doubt
what to do. At last I recollected, that if he had hid the canoe, as was
most probably the case, his track would lead me to it. Then going back
to the road a considerable distance from the river, I found his track
coming into it. This I followed, until I found the canoe hid in thick
bushes, about a mile below the ferry. Taking it up to the crossing place,
I carried my children, and led the horses over; then giving the canoe a
push into the stream, I said to it, “go, and stay where your master hides

At Chikago, I was compelled to sell my horses for much less than their
value to Captain Bradley and a Mr. Kenzie, who was then agent in place
of Dr. Wolcott, as they told me I could not get them taken to Mackinac.
One old horse which I left as being of little or no value, I afterwards
received fifteen dollars for from some gentlemen who wished to make use
of him, but who might have had him for nothing. When Captain Keith, in
the schooner Jackson, arrived, he told me, on seeing the paper given me
by Governor Clark, that he would have taken my horses to Mackinac for
nothing; but it was now too late as they were sold.

A principal part of my design in returning to Mackinac was to engage
myself to Col. Boyd, the Indian agent there, as an interpreter; he having
very often expressed a wish that I should do so, whenever I had acquired
such a knowledge of the English language as would qualify me to discharge
the duties of that station. It was now, therefore, a disappointment
to me, to be informed that I had come too late, an interpreter having
recently been hired to fill the place. He informed me, however, that an
agent to be stationed at the Saut De St. Marie would probably arrive in
the steam boat which was expected immediately, and Col. Boyd thought I
might obtain the situation of interpreter for him. When Mr. Schoolcraft,
the gentleman expected, arrived at Mackinac, he readily accepted my
proposal. But as he was to stay but an hour or two on the island, he
directed me to make my preparations and follow him, allowing me four
days after his arrival at the Saut before it was necessary for me to
be there. I made my preparations accordingly, and was nearly ready to
start when a letter came from Mr. Schoolcraft, stating that he had found
an interpreter at the Saut, and therefore did not wish me to join him.
I carried back to the traders the furniture and other articles which I
had purchased with the expectation of residing at the Saut, and they
willingly restored me my money.


    Transactions of the agents and clerks of the American Fur
    Company, in the country about the Lake of the Woods—treachery
    of an Indian woman—misfortunes attendant on an attempt to bring
    my children from the Indian country.

Being now destitute of employment, I engaged to Mr. Stewart, the agent of
the American Fur Company, to go with the traders into the Indian country.
This I preferred to remaining with the Indian agent, though he again
proposed to hire me for a striker in his smith’s shop. For my services
with the people of the American Fur Company, I was to receive two hundred
and twenty-five dollars per year and a suit of clothes.

My children I placed at school at Mackinac, and went to the Saut De St.
Marie with Mr. Morrison, one of the company’s principal clerks. Thence
they sent me, in a boat with some Frenchmen, to Fond Du Lac. I was
unacquainted with the manners of these people, and should have suffered,
and perhaps perished for want of provisions, had I not purchased some
occasionally from the crew. From Fond du Lac I went to Rainy Lake with
Mr. Cote, but my ignorance of the business in which I had embarked
exposed me to much inconvenience. I had still some of my traps with me,
with which I took a considerable number of musk rats on this journey,
and I was not less surprised than displeased, to be told that the skins
did not belong to me. But I was not only compelled to give these up;
I was made to paddle by myself a canoe heavily loaded with wild rice,
and to submit to various other laborious employments which I did very

When we arrived at Rainy Lake, I went to hunt, but killed nothing. Soon
afterwards, they sent me to the rapids of Rainy Lake River, and before
the ice had formed so as to put an end to the fishing, I had taken one
hundred and fifty sturgeons. The winter had now commenced, and Mr. Cote
sent me with one clerk, four Frenchmen, and a small outfit of goods,
equal to one hundred and sixty dollars in value, to trade among the
Indians. We were furnished with no other food than wild rice at the
rate of eighteen quarts per man, and instructed not to return until we
should have exchanged for peltries all our goods. As I knew we should be
compelled to travel far before we found the Indians, I requested of Mr.
Cote permission to remain while I could prepare a train and harness for
two good dogs which belonged to me; also snow shoes for ourselves; but he
would not hear of a moment’s delay.

Four days after we started, a heavy snow fell, and our wild rice being
all expended, the clerk and three of the Frenchmen left me and returned
to the Fort. There was now only myself and one Frenchman named Veiage,
who however was a hardy, patient, and most excellent man, and we
struggled through the snow with our heavy loads as we might.

After some days, and when we were extremely reduced through want of
provisions, we found some lodges of Indians, but they also were in a
starving condition. With these I left Veiage, and with a few goods,
went to visit another encampment at some distance; these also I found
perishing of hunger. On my return to the place where I had left my
companion, the lodges were removed and no person remained. Here my
strength failed entirely, and I sat down expecting to perish, as the
night was very cold; but an Indian who had come back to look at his
traps, found me, made a fire, and after he had raised me up, assisted me
to his lodge. He had taken one beaver, and this was now to be divided
among twenty persons, not one of whom had eaten a mouthful in two days,
and all were in a starving condition.

Soon after this, as I continued on my journey according to my strength, I
found the lodge of my friend Oto-pun-ne-be, the man who had taken my part
in the affair with Waw-bebe-nais-sa. His wife began to cry when she saw
the extreme misery of my condition, so much was I reduced and changed
in appearance by hunger and fatigue. About this time eight starving
Frenchmen came upon us, who had been sent by Mr. Cote, he supposing that
I had found buffalo, and must by this time have meat in great abundance.
One of my dogs died, and we ate him. We were travelling on the old trail
of the Indians, but a deep snow had fallen since they passed. Under this
snow we found several dead dogs, and other things thrown away or left by
the Indians, such as bones, worn out moccasins, and pieces of leather.
With these we were able to sustain life. We killed also, and ate my last
dog; but we had yet a long distance to travel before we could reach the
buffalo, and as we were all rapidly failing, we consulted together, and
determined to kill one of the Fur Company’s dogs. We did so, and this
enabled us to reach the buffalo, when our distress was for the present at
an end.

After I had killed many buffaloes, and meat had for some time been plenty
in our camp, the Frenchmen became lazy and insolent, and refused to go
for meat, to carry packs, or render me any assistance whatever. When we
were ready to return to the trading house, every one of these men refused
to take any load but his own blanket and provisions, except Veiage, and
with him I divided our peltries, which in all weighed six hundred pounds.
We were of course a considerable time in carrying these heavy loads to
the Fort.

When I arrived, I accounted for my whole outfit; having the peltries
I had purchased in exchange for every article, except some powder and
shot which we had ourselves expended in hunting. The price of this
was deducted from my pay in my final settlement with the agent of the
American Fur Company. Then ten dollars as the price of the dog we had
killed in the extremity of our hunger, and which had been the means
of saving, not my life only, but that of the nine Frenchmen that were
with me. But Mr. Cote did not consider my return[37] a good one, and
complained of me for having refused to take whiskey with my outfit. I
told him that if I had taken whiskey, I could certainly have obtained a
much greater quantity of peltries, but I was averse to trading with the
Indians when intoxicated, and did not wish to be one, on any occasion, to
introduce whiskey among them. But as he had determined on sending me out
again, and insisted I should take whiskey, I told him I would for once
conform entirely to his instructions, which were “to use every method to
procure the greatest possible quantity of skins at the lowest price.”
This time I went to the country about the Lake of the Woods, and with an
outfit valued at two hundred dollars, I purchased by means of whiskey,
more than double the amount of peltries I had before brought in. Now Mr.
Cote expressed the highest satisfaction at my success, but I told him
if he wished to have his goods sold in that way, he must employ some
other person, as I could not consent to be the instrument of such fraud
and injustice. I had been so long among the Indians that many of them
were personally my friends, and having seen the extent of the mischiefs
occasioned by the introduction of intoxicating liquors, I had become
desirous of preventing it, as far as in my power, at least. I was not
willing to be myself active in spreading such poison among them, nor was
I willing to use the advantage their unconquerable appetite for spirits
might give me in bargaining with them, as I knew that though they might
easily be defrauded, any fraud thus practised must be known to them, and
they would feel resentment and dislike in proportion as they were made
to suffer; more particularly against me, whom they looked upon as one of
their own number.

I remained fifteen months in the American Fur Company’s employ, during
all which time I slept only thirteen nights in the house, so active
and laborious were my occupations. It had been an item in my agreement
with Mr. Stewart that I should be allowed to go to Red River to see my
children, and make an attempt to bring them out with me. Accordingly,
when the traders were about to make their yearly visit to Mackinac, I
was allowed to go by myself; but having been disappointed of moccasins
and other articles that had been promised me by Mr. Cote, I suffered
much inconvenience, travelling as I did by myself in a small canoe. My
children were three in number, two daughters and one son, and had been a
long time separated from me even before I first left the Indian country.

Mr. Clark, of the Hudson’s Bay Company, who was now stationed at Red
River, and to whom I had a letter, refused to give me any assistance in
recovering my children. In the morning, when I arrived there, I had left
my blanket in his house, expecting at least that I should sleep there;
but when at the approach of night I was about to go in, he sent the
blanket out to me. From the manner in which this was done, I knew if I
went in again, it would only be to be driven out, and I went immediately
to select a place to sleep in the woods at a little distance. But Mr.
Bruce, the interpreter whom I have before mentioned saw me, and calling
me into his lodge, invited me to remain, and while I did so, treated
me in the most friendly and hospitable manner. Knowing that I had no
reason to expect any assistance from Mr. Clark, who was soon to leave the
country, I went to Captain Bulger, the military commandant, to state my
business, and received from him a most attentive and friendly hearing.
Immediately on my calling to see him, he asked me where I had slept, as
he knew that I had arrived the day before. When he heard that I had been
refused a lodging in the trading house, he invited me to come and eat
with him, and sleep in his house as long as I should remain there. He
knew of my business to the country, and asked me if I could tell where my
children were. I had ascertained that they were with the Indians about
the Prairie Portage.

Some Indians about the Fort told me that those of the band with whom my
children were had heard of my arrival, and were determined to kill me if
I should attempt to take my children from them. Nevertheless, I visited
that band as soon as I could make the journey, and went into the lodge
of the principal chief, who treated me kindly. I remained some time,
always staying in the lodge with my children who appeared pleased to see
me; but I easily discovered that it was by no means the intention of the
Indians to suffer me to take them away. Giah-ge-wa-go-mo, the man who
had long before stolen away my son, and whom I had been compelled to
beat as well as to kill his horse, now treated me with some insolence,
and threatened even to take my life. I said to him, “If you had been a
man, you would have killed me long ago, instead of now threatening me.
I have no fear of you.” But being entirely alone, I could accomplish no
more at present than to induce the band to remove, and encamp near the
fort at Red River. This was a considerable journey, and on all of it, my
children and myself were made to carry heavy burthens, and were treated
like slaves. They did not indeed give me a load to carry, but they were
careful so far to overload my children, that when I had taken as much as
I could move under, there were heavy loads left for them. After they had
encamped near the fort, I asked them for my children, but they utterly
refused to give them up. Giah-ge-wa-go-mo was the principal man who was
active in resisting me, and with him the dispute had grown to so open a
quarrel, that I was about to proceed to violent measures, but I bethought
me that I should do wrong to attempt to shed blood without first making
my intention known to Captain Bulger, who had expressed so much friendly
feeling towards me. I went accordingly and told him my situation, and
that I was now convinced I could not take my children without using
violent measures with Giah-ge-wa-go-mo. He approved of my having told
him what I was about to do, and immediately sent Mr. Bruce to call my
children into the fort. They came accordingly, and stood before his
house, but with ten or twelve Indians accompanying them, and who were
careful to stand near by on each side of them. Having pointed out my
children to him, the captain directed his servant to feed them. Something
was accordingly brought from his own table, he having just then eaten,
and given to them; but the Indians immediately snatched it away, leaving
them not a mouthful. A loaf of bread was then brought, but it went in the
same way, not a particle of it being left to them. Captain Bulger now
directed a store house to be opened, and told me to go in and get them
something to eat. Finding there some bags of pemmican, I took the half
of one, about twenty pounds, and making them sit down, all partook of it.

The Indians refused the children to the demand of Capt. Bulger, as they
had done to me; but next day he called all the principal men, and among
others Giah-ge-wa-go-mo, to come and council with him. The chief man of
the band was very willing that I should take away the children, and when
we all went into the council room, he took a seat with Captain Bulger
and myself, thereby placing the four men who were principally active
in detaining them in the situation of persons who were acting in open
contravention to his wishes.

Presents to the amount of about one hundred dollars in value were brought
in, and placed on the floor between the two parties. Captain Bulger then
said to the Indians:

“My children, I have caused to be placed before you here, a pipe full of
tobacco, not because I am willing to have you suppose I would purchase
from you a right for this man to come and take what is his own, but to
signify to you that I still hold you by the hand, as long as you are
ready to listen attentively to my words. As for this man, he comes to you
not in his own name only, and speaking his own words; but he speaks the
words of your great father who is beyond the waters, and of the Great
Spirit in whose hand we all are, and who gave these children to be his.
You must, therefore, without venturing to give him any farther trouble,
deliver to him his children, and take these presents as a memorial of the
good will that subsists between us.”

The Indians began to deliberate, and were about to make a reply when
they saw a considerable armed force brought and paraded before the door
of the council house, and finding themselves completely surrounded, they
accepted the presents, and promised to surrender the children.

The mother of these children was now an old woman, and as she said she
wished to accompany them, I readily consented. The boy, who was of age
to act for himself, preferred to remain among the Indians, and as the
time for giving him an education, and fitting him to live in any other
manner than as the Indians do, had passed, I consented he should act as
he thought best. Several Indians accompanied us four days’ journey on our
return, then all went back, except my two daughters and their mother.

I did not return to the Lake of the Woods by the way of the
Be-gwi-o-nus-ko Se-be, but chose another route in which I had to travel
a part of the way by water, a part by land. In ascending the Bad River,
there is a short road by what is called Sturgeon River, and a portage
to come again into the principal river. Not far from the mouth of
Sturgeon River was, at this time, an encampment or village of six or
seven lodges. A young man belonging to that band, and whose name was
Ome-zhuh-gwut-oons, had not long previous to this been whipped by Mr.
Cote for some real or alleged misconduct about the trading-house, and
feeling dissatisfied, he, when he heard I had passed up Sturgeon River,
started after me in his little canoe, and soon overtook me. After he had
joined me, he showed, I thought an unusual disposition to talk to me, and
claimed to be, in some manner, related to me. He encamped with us that
night, and the next morning we started on together. This day, when we
stopped and were resting on shore, I noticed that he took an opportunity
to meet one of my daughters in the bushes, but she returned immediately,
somewhat agitated. Her mother, also, was several times, in the course of
the day, in close conversation with her; but the young woman continued
sad, and was several times crying.

At night, after we stopped to encamp, the young man very soon left us;
but as he remained at a little distance, apparently much busied about
something, I went and found him with his medicines all opened about
him, and he was inserting a thong of deer’s sinew, about five inches in
length, into a bullet. I said to him, “My brother,” (for this was the
name he had himself given me,) “if you want powder, or balls, or flints,
I have plenty, and will give you as much as you wish.” He said that he
also had plenty, and I left him and returned to camp. It was some time
before he came in. When at last he made his appearance, he was dressed
and ornamented as a warrior for battle. He continued, during the first
part of the night, to watch me much too closely, and my suspicions,
which had been already excited, were now more and more confirmed. But
he continued to be as talkative, and to seem as friendly as ever. He
asked me for my knife, as he said, to cut some tobacco, and instead of
returning it to me, slipped it into his own belt; but I thought, perhaps
he would return it to me in the morning.

I laid myself down at about the usual time, as I would not appear to
suspect his intentions. I had not put up my tent, having only the little
shelter afforded by a piece of painted cloth that had been given me at
Red River. When I lay down, I chose such a position as would enable me
to watch the young man’s motions. I could see, as he sat opposite the
fire, that his eyes were open and watchful, and that he felt not the
least inclination to sleep. When at length a thunder shower commenced,
he appeared more anxious and restless than before. When the rain began
to fall, I asked him to come and place himself near me, so as to enjoy
the benefit of my shelter, and he did so. The shower was very heavy,
and entirely extinguished our fire; but soon after it had ceased, the
mosquitoes becoming very troublesome, Ome-zhut-gwut-oons rekindled it,
and breaking off a branch of a bush, he sat and drove them away from me.
I was conscious that I ought not to sleep, but drowsiness was gaining
some hold on me when another thunder shower, more violent than the first,
arose. In the interval of the showers, I lay as one sleeping, but almost
without moving or opening my eyes. I watched the motions of the young
man. At one time, when an unusually loud clap of thunder alarmed him, he
would throw a little tobacco into the fire, as an offering; at another,
when he seemed to suppose me asleep, I saw him watching me like a cat
about to spring on its prey; but I did not suffer myself to sleep.

He breakfasted with us as usual, then started by himself before I
was quite ready. My daughter, whom he had met in the bushes, was now
apparently more alarmed than before, and absolutely refused to enter
the canoe; but her mother was very anxious to quiet her agitation, and
apparently very desirous to prevent my paying any particular attention
to her. At last she was induced to get into the canoe, and we went
on. The young man kept along before us and at a little distance, until
about ten o’clock, when, at turning a point in a difficult and rapid
part of the river, and gaining a view of a considerable reach above, I
was surprised that I could see neither him nor his canoe. At this place
the river is about eighty yards wide, and there is, about ten yards from
the point before mentioned, a small island of naked rock. I had taken
off my coat, and I was with great effort pushing up my canoe against the
powerful current which compelled me to keep very near the shore, when
the discharge of a gun at my side arrested my progress. I heard a bullet
whistle past my head, and felt my side touched, at the same instant
that the paddle fell from my right hand, and the hand itself dropped
powerless to my side. The bushes were obscured by the smoke of the gun,
but at a second look I saw Ome-zhut-gwut-oons escaping. At that time the
screams of my children drew my attention to the canoe, and I found every
part of it was becoming covered with blood. I endeavoured, with my left
hand, to push the canoe in shore that I might pursue after him; but the
current being too powerful for me, took my canoe on the other side, and
threw it against the small rocky island before mentioned. I now got out,
pulled the canoe a little on to the rock with my left hand, and then
made an attempt to load my gun. Before I could finish loading I fainted,
and fell on the rock. When I came to myself again, I was alone on the
island, and the canoe, with my daughters, was just going out of sight in
the river below. Soon after it disappeared I fainted a second time, but
consciousness at length returned.

As I believed that the man who had shot me was still watching from his
concealment, I examined my wounds, and finding my situation desperate,
my right arm being much shattered and the ball having entered my body
in the direction to reach my lungs and not having passed out, I called
to him, requesting him to come, and by putting an immediate end to my
life, to release me from the protracted suffering I had in prospect. “You
have killed me,” said I; “but though the hurt you have given me must be
mortal, I fear it may be some time before I shall die. Come, therefore,
if you are a man, and shoot me again.” Many times I called to him, but
he returned me no answer. My body was now almost naked, as I had on, when
shot, beside my pantaloons, only a very old and ragged shirt, and much of
this had been torn off in the course of the morning. I lay exposed to the
sun, and the black and green headed flies, on a naked rock, the greater
part of a day in July or August, and saw no prospect before me but that
of a lingering death; but as the sun went down, my hope and strength
began to revive, and plunging into the river, I swam across to the other
side. When I reached the shore, I could stand on my feet, and I raised
the sas-sah-kwi, or war whoop, as a cry of exultation and defiance to my
enemy. But the additional loss of blood occasioned by the exertion in
swimming the river caused me another fainting fit, after which, when I
recovered, I concealed myself near the bank, to watch for him. Presently
I saw Ome-zhuh-gwut-oons come from his hiding place, put his canoe into
the water, embark, and begin to descend the river. He came very near my
hiding place, and I felt tempted to make a spring, and endeavour to seize
and strangle him in the water; but fearing that my strength might not be
sufficient, I let him pass without discovering myself.

I was now tormented with the most excessive thirst, and as the bank was
steep and rocky, I could not, with my wounded arm, lie down to drink.
I was therefore compelled to go into the water, and let my body down
into it, until I brought my mouth to a level with the surface, and
thus I was able to drink. By this time, the evening growing somewhat
cooler, my strength was, in part, restored; but the blood seemed to
flow more freely. I now applied myself to dressing the wound in my arm.
I endeavoured, though the flesh was already much swollen, to replace
the fragments of the bone; to accomplish which, I tore in strips the
remainder of my shirt, and with my teeth and my left hand I contrived
to tie these around my arm, at first loosely, but by degrees tighter
and tighter, until I thought it had assumed, as nearly as I could give
it, the proper form. I then tied on small sticks, which I broke from
the branches of trees, to serve as splints, and then suspended my hand
in a string, which passed around my neck. After this was completed, I
took some of the bark of a choke cherry bush, which I observed there,
and chewing it fine applied it to the wounds, hoping thus to check the
flowing of the blood. The bushes about me, and for all the distance
between me and the river, were covered with blood. As night came on, I
chose a place where was plenty of moss to lie down on, with the trunk of
a fallen tree for my pillow. I was careful to select a place near the
river that I might have a chance of seeing any thing that might pass;
also to be near the water in case my thirst should again become urgent.
I knew that one trader’s canoe was expected about this time to pass this
place on the way towards Red River, and it was this canoe from which I
expected relief and assistance. There were no Indians nearer than the
village from which Ome-zhuh-gwut-oons had followed me, and he, with
my wife and daughters, were the only persons that I had any reason to
suppose were within many miles of me.

I laid myself down and prayed to the Great Spirit, that he would see and
pity my condition, and send help to me now in the time of my distress. As
I continued praying, the mosquitoes, which had settled on my naked body
in vast numbers, and were, by their stings, adding greatly to the torment
I suffered, began to rise, and after hovering at a little distance above
and around me, disappeared entirely. I did not attribute this, which was
so great a relief, to the immediate interposition of a Superior Power in
answer to my prayer, as the evening was at that time becoming something
cool, and I knew it was entirely the effect of change of temperature.
Nevertheless, I was conscious, as I have ever been in times of distress
and of danger, that the Master of my life, though invisible, was yet
near, and was looking upon me. I slept easily and quietly, but not
without interruption. Every time I awoke, I remembered to have seen, in
my dream, a canoe with white men in the river before me.

It was late in the night, probably after midnight, when I heard female
voices, which I supposed to be those of my daughters, not more than two
hundred yards from me, but partly across the river. I believed that
Ome-zhuh-gwut-oons had discovered their hiding place, and was, perhaps,
offering them some violence, as the cry was that of distress; but so
great was my weakness, that the attempt to afford them any relief seemed
wholly beyond my power. I learned afterwards that my children, as soon as
I fainted and fell on the rock, supposing me dead, had been influenced
by their mother to turn the canoe down the river, and exert themselves
to make their escape. They had not proceeded far, when the woman steered
the canoe into a low point of bushes, and threw out my coat, and some
other articles. They then ran on a considerable distance, and concealed
themselves; but here it occurred to the woman that she might have done
better to have kept the property belonging to me, and accordingly
returned to get it. It was when they came to see these things lying on
the shore, that the children burst out crying, and it was at this time
that I heard them.

Before ten o’clock next morning, I heard human voices on the river above
me, and from the situation I had chosen, I could see a canoe coming like
that I had seen in my dream, loaded with white men. They landed at a
little distance above me, and began to make preparations for breakfast.
I knew that this was the canoe belonging to Mr. Stewart of the Hudson’s
Bay Company, who, together with Mr. Grant, was expected about this time,
and being conscious that my appearance would make a painful impression
upon them, I determined to wait until they had breakfasted before I
showed myself to them. After they had eaten, and put their canoe again
in the water, I waded out a little distance into the river to attract
their attention. As soon as they saw me, the Frenchmen ceased paddling,
and they all gazed at me as if in doubt and amazement. As the current of
the river was carrying them rapidly past me, and my repeated calls, in
the Indian language, seemed to produce no effect, I called Mr. Stewart by
name, and spoke a few words of English which I could command, requesting
then to come and take me. In a moment their paddles were in the water,
and they brought the canoe so near where I stood that I was able to get
into it.

No one in the canoe recognised me, though Mr. Stewart and Mr. Grant were
both well known to me. I had not been able to wash the blood off my body,
and it is probable that the suffering I had undergone had much changed
my appearance. They were very eager and rapid in their inquiries, and
soon ascertained who I was, and also became acquainted with the principal
facts I have related. They made a bed for me in the canoe, and at my
urgent request went to search for my children in the direction where I
had heard them crying, and where I told them I feared we should find they
had been murdered; but we sought here, and in other places, to no purpose.

Having ascertained who it was that had wounded me, these two traders
agreed to take me immediately to the village of Ome-zhuh-gwut-oons,
and they were determined, in case of discovering and taking him, to
aid me in taking my revenge by putting him immediately to death. They
therefore concealed me in the canoe, and on landing near the lodges,
an old man came down to the shore, and asked them, “what was the news
in the country they came from?” “All is well there,” answered Mr.
Stewart; “we have no other news.” “This is the manner,” said the old
man, “in which white people always treat us. I know very well something
has happened in the country you have come from, but you will not tell
us of it. Ome-zhuh-gwut-oons, one of our young men, has been up the
river two or three days, and he tells us that the Long Knife, called
Shaw-shaw-wa-ne-ba-se, (the falcon,) who passed here a few days since,
with his wife and children, has murdered them all; but I am fearful
that he himself has been doing something wrong, for he is watchful and
restless, and has just fled from this place before you arrived.” Mr.
Stewart and Mr. Grant, notwithstanding this representation, sought for
him in all the lodges, and when convinced that he had indeed gone, said
to the old man, “It is very true that mischief has been done in the
country we come from; but the man whom Ome-zhuh-gwut-oons attempted to
kill is in our canoe with us; we do not yet know whether he will live or
die.” They then showed me to the Indians who had gathered on the shore.

We now took a little time to refresh ourselves and examine my wounds.
Finding that the ball had entered my body, immediately under the broken
part of my arm, and gone forward and lodged against the breast bone, I
tried to persuade Mr. Grant to cut it out; but neither he nor Mr. Stewart
being willing to make the attempt, I was compelled to do it myself, as
well as I could with my left hand. A lancet which Mr. Grant lent me
was broken immediately, as was a pen knife, the flesh of that part of
the body being very hard and tough. They next brought me a large white
handled razor, and with this I succeeded in extracting the ball. It
was very much flattened, and the thong of deer’s sinew, as well as the
medicines Ome-zhuh-gwut-oons had inserted in it, were left in my body.
Notwithstanding this, when I found that it had not passed under my ribs,
I began to hope that I should finally recover, though I had reason to
suppose that the wound being poisoned, it would be long in healing.

After this was done, and the wound in my breast taken care of, we went on
to Ah-kee-ko-bow-we-tig, (the Kettle Fall,) to the village of the chief
Waw-wish-e-gah-bo, the brother of Ome-zhuh-gwut-oons. Here Mr. Stewart
used the same precaution of hiding me in the canoe, and then giving
tobacco, which he called every man in the village, by name, to receive;
but when there appeared no prospect of finding him, they made me again
stand up in the canoe, and one of them told the chief that it was his
own brother who had attempted to kill me. The chief hung his head, and
to their inquiries about Ome-zhuh-gwut-oons he would make no answer. We,
however, ascertained from other Indians, that my daughters and their
mother had stopped here a moment in their way towards Rainy Lake.

When we arrived at the North West Company’s house at Rainy Lake, we found
that my daughters and their mother had been detained by the traders on
account of suspicions arising from their manifest agitation and terror,
and from the knowledge that I had passed up with them but a few days
before. Now when I first came in sight of the fort, the old woman fled to
the woods taking the two girls with her. But the Company’s people sent
out and brought them in again. Mr. Stewart and Mr. Grant now left it to
me to say what punishment should be inflicted on this woman, who, as we
all very well knew, had been guilty of aiding in an attempt to kill me.
They said they considered her equally criminal with Ome-zhuh-gwut-oons,
and thought her deserving of death, or any other punishment I might wish
to see inflicted. But I told them I wished she might be sent immediately,
and without any provisions, away from the fort, and never allowed to
return to it. As she was the mother of my children, I did not wish to see
her hung, or beaten to death by the labourers as they proposed; but as
the sight of her had become hateful to me, I wished she might be removed,
and they accordingly dismissed her without any punishment.

Mr. Stewart left me at the Rainy Lake trading house in the care of Simon
M’Gillevray, a son of him who many years ago was so important a partner
in the North West Company. He gave me a small room where my daughters
cooked for me, and dressed my wounds. I was very weak, and my arm badly
swollen, fragments of bone coming out from time to time. I had lain here
twenty-eight days when Major Delafield, the United States commissioner
for the boundary, came to the trading house, and having heard something
of my history, proposed to bring me in his canoe to Mackinac. But I was
too weak to undertake such a journey, though I wished to have accompanied
him. Finding that this was the case, Major Delafield gave me a large
supply of excellent provisions, two pounds of tea, some sugar and other
articles, a tent, and some clothing, and left me.

Two days after this, I pulled out of my arm the thong of deer’s sinew
which had been attached, as I have before stated, to the bullet. It was
still about five inches long, but nearly as large as my finger, and of a
green colour. Ome-zhuh-gwut-oons had two balls in his gun at the time he
shot me; one had passed near my head.

Immediately after the departure of Major Delafield, the unfriendly
disposition of Mr. M’Gillevray made itself manifest; it had been only
fear of Major Delafield that had induced him hitherto to treat me with
some attention. Insults and abuses were heaped upon me, and at last I
was forcibly turned out of the house. But some of the Frenchmen had so
much compassion as to steal out at night, and without Mr. M’Gillevray’s
knowledge, furnish tent poles and set up my tent. Thanks to the bounty of
Major Delafield, I had a supply of every thing needful, and my daughters
still remained with me, though Mr. M’Gillevray repeatedly threatened
that he would remove them. His persecutions did not abate when I left
the fort, and he went so far as to take my daughters from me, and send
them to sleep in the quarters of the men; but they escaped, and fled
to the house of an old Frenchman, near by, who was Mr. M’Gillevray’s
father-in-law, and with whose daughters mine had become intimate.

Forty-three days I had lain in and near this trading house, and was
now in a most miserable condition, having been for some time entirely
deprived of the assistance of my daughters, when my former acquaintance
and friend, Mr. Bruce, unexpectedly entered my tent late in the evening.
He was with Major Long and a party of gentlemen then returning from
Lake Winnipeg, who, as Mr. Bruce thought, would be willing and able to
afford me some assistance in taking my daughters out of the hands of Mr.
M’Gillevray, and perhaps in getting out to Mackinac.

Three times I visited Major Long at his camp at that late hour of the
night, though I was scarce able to walk, and each time he told me that
his canoes were full, and that he could do nothing for me; but at length
becoming a little acquainted with my history, he seemed to take more
interest in me, and when he saw the papers I had from Governor Clark and
others, he told me I was a fool not to have shown him these before. He
had, he said, taken me for one of those worthless white men who remain in
the Indian country from indolence, and for the sake of marrying squaws,
but now that he understood who I was, he would try to do something for
me. He went himself, with several men, and sought in the trading house
for my daughters. He had intended to start early the next morning after
his arrival, but having been stirring nearly all night in my affairs,
he determined to remain over the next day, and make farther exertions
for the recovery of my children. All the search we could make for my
daughters at and about the trading house resulted in the conviction,
that through the agency of Mr. M’Gillevray, and the family of his
father-in-law, they had fallen into the hands of Kaw-been-tush-kwaw-naw,
a chief of our village at Me-nau-zhe-tau-naung. This being the case, I
was compelled to relinquish the hope of bringing them out the present
year, and miserably as I was situated, I was anxious to come to my own
people, and to my three children at Mackinac, to spend the winter.

I knew the character of Mr. M’Gillevray, and also that the traders of
the North West Company generally had less cause to feel friendly towards
me than they might have had if I had not concerned myself with Lord
Selkirk’s party in the capture of their post at Red River. I knew also
that my peculiar situation with respect to the Indians would make it
very difficult for me to gain permission to remain at or near either of
the houses of the North West, or of the American Fur Company. I had been
severely and dangerously wounded by an Indian, and according to their
customs, I was bound, or at least expected, to avenge myself on any of
the same band that might fall in my way; and should it be known that
I was at either of the trading houses, very few Indians would venture
to visit it. Taking these things into consideration, I determined to
accept the friendly offer of Major Long to bring me to the States, and
accordingly took a place in one of his canoes. But after proceeding
on our way an hour or two, I became convinced, as did Major Long and
the gentlemen with him, that I could not safely undertake so long and
difficult a journey in my present situation. Accordingly they put me in
charge of some people belonging to the traders, and sent me back to the

I knew that the doors of the North West Company’s house would be closed
against me, and accordingly made application to my late employers, the
American Fur Company. Young Mr. Davenport, in whose care the house then
was, granted a ready compliance with my request, and gave me a room;
but as provisions were scarce on that side, I was supplied daily by
Dr. M’Laughlin of the North West, who had now taken the place of Mr.
M’Gillevray. He sent every day as much as sufficed to feed me and Mr.
Davenport, together with his wife.

I had not been long here when Mr. Cote arrived, and took charge of the
house in place of Mr. Davenport. Mr. Cote came to my room, and seeing
me on the bed, only remarked, “Well, you have been making a war by
yourself.” That night he allowed my supper to be brought me, and early
next morning turned me out of doors. But he was not content with driving
me from the house; he forbade me to remain on the United States side of
the boundary, and all my entreaties, together with the interference of
Dr. M’Laughlin, could not influence Mr. Cote to change his determination.
In this emergency, Dr. M’Laughlin, though he knew that the success of his
post in the winter’s trade must be injured by the measure, consented to
receive me on the British side where he fed and took care of me. Early
in the winter, my wounds had so far healed that I could hunt a little,
holding my gun in my left hand. But about new-years, I went out one
evening to bring water, slipped and fell on the ice, and not only broke
my arm in the old place, but also my collar bone. Dr. M’Laughlin now
took the management of my case into his own hands, it having been left
entirely to my own treatment before, and I was now confined as long as I
had been in the fall.

In the spring, I was again able to hunt. I killed considerable numbers
of rabbits, and some other animals, for the skins of which the Doctor
paid me in money a very liberal price. As the time approached for the
traders to leave the wintering grounds, he told me the North West had no
boats going to Mackinac, but that he would oblige Mr. Cote to carry me
out. It was accordingly so arranged, and Mr. Cote promised to take me to
Fond Du Lac in his own canoe. But instead of this, he sent me in a boat
with some Frenchmen. In the route from Fond Du Lac to the Saut De St.
Marie, I was dependent upon Mr. Morrison; but the treatment I received
from the boatmen was so rough that I induced them to put me on shore,
to walk thirty-five miles to the Saut. Mr. Schoolcraft now wished to
engage me as an interpreter, but as I heard that the little property I
had left at Mackinac had been seized to pay my children’s board, and as
I knew their situation required my presence, I went thither accordingly,
and was engaged by Col. Boyd as Indian interpreter, in which situation
I continued till summer of 1828, when being dissatisfied with his
treatment, I left Mackinac, and proceeded to New-York for the purpose
of making arrangements for the publication of my narrative; and upon my
return to the north, was employed by Mr. Schoolcraft, Indian agent at the
Saut De St. Marie, as his interpreter; to which place I took my family,
and have since resided there.

Three of my children are still among the Indians in the north. The two
daughters would, as I am informed, gladly join me, if it were in their
power to escape. The son is older, and is attached to the life he has so
long led as a hunter. I have some hope that I may be able to go and make
another effort to bring away my daughters.



    Of feasts—of fasts and dreaming—their idea of the human soul,
    and of a future existence—customs of burial—of their knowledge
    of astronomy—traditions concerning the sun and moon—of
    totems—of their acquaintance with plants, animals, and minerals.


Among the Indians, the man who gives many feasts, or who, in the
language of their songs, “causes the people to walk about continually,”
is accounted great. In times, therefore, when game is abundant, feasts
are multiplied. Before the whites introduced among them intoxicating
drinks, it is probable the assembling together for feasts, was their
principal and most favourite source of excitement in times of peace, and
comparative inactivity. They have several kinds of feasts:—

1st. METAI-WE-KOON-DE-WIN—Medicine feast, or that feasting which forms
a part of their great religious ceremony, the Metai. This is under the
direction of some old men, who are called chiefs for the Metai,[38]
and the initiated only are admitted. The guests are invited by a
Me-zhin-no-way, or chief’s man of business, who delivers to each of the
guests a small stick. In the south they use small pieces of cane; in the
north, quills are sometimes substituted, which are dyed and kept for the
purpose. No verbal message is delivered with this token. The numerous
preparatory measures, and the various steps in the performance of this
ceremony, need not be here detailed.[39] Dogs are always chosen for the
feast, from a belief, that as they are more sagacious and useful to men,
so they will be more acceptable to their divinities, than any other
animals. They believe that the food they eat, at this and some other of
their feasts, ascends, though in a form invisible to them, to the Great
Spirit. Besides the songs sang on occasion of this feast, and some of
which have been translated for this work, they have numerous exhortations
from the old men. Among much of unintelligible allusion, and ridiculous
boasting, these addresses contain some moral precepts and exhortations,
intermixed with their traditionary notions concerning Na-na-bush, and
other personages of their mythology. Whenever the name of the Great
Spirit is uttered by the speaker, all the audience, who, if they remain
sober, seem wrapped in the deepest attention, respond to it by the
interjection, Kwa-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho! the first syllable being uttered in a
quick and loud tone, and each of the additional syllables fainter and
quicker, until it ceases to be heard. They say the speaker touches the
Great Spirit, when he mentions the name, and the effect on the audience
may be compared to a blow on a tense string, which vibrates shorter and
shorter, until it is restored to rest. This peculiar interjection is also
used by the Ottawwaws, when they _blow_ or _shoot_ with their medicine
skins, at the persons to be initiated.

2d. WAIN-JE-TAH WE-KOON-DE-WIN—Feast called for by dreams. Feasts of
this kind may be held at any time, and no particular qualifications are
necessary in the entertainer or his guests. The word _wain-je-tah_ means
common, or true, as they often use it in connection with the names of
plants or animals, as _wain-je-tah o-muk-juk-ke_, means a right or proper
toad, in distinction from a tree frog, or a lizard.

3rd. WEEN-DAH-WAS-SO-WIN—Feast of giving names. These are had principally
on occasion of giving names to children, and the guests are expected
to eat all, be it more or less, that is put into their dish by the
entertainer. The reason they assign for requiring, at this and several
other feasts, all that has been cooked to be eaten, is, apparently, very
insufficient; namely, that they do so in imitation of hawks, and some
other birds of prey, who never return a second time to that they have

4th. MENIS-SE-NO WE-KOON-DE-WIN—War feast. These feasts are made before
starting, or on the way towards the enemy’s country. Two, four, eight,
or twelve men, may be called, but by no means an odd number. The whole
animal, whether deer, bear, or moose, or whatever it may be, is cooked,
and they are expected to eat it all; and, if it is in their power, they
have a large bowl of bear’s grease standing by, which they drink in place
of water. Notwithstanding that a man who fails to eat all his portion, is
liable to the ridicule of his more gormandizing companions, it frequently
happens that some of them are compelled to make a present of tobacco to
their entertainer, and beg him to permit that they may not eat all he has
given them. In this case, and when there is no one of the company willing
to eat it for him, some one is called from without. In every part of this
feast, when it is made after the warriors leave home, they take care that
_no bone of the animal eaten shall be broken_; but after stripping the
flesh from them, they are carefully tied up, and hung upon a tree. The
reason they assign for preserving, in this feast, the bones of the victim
unbroken, is, that thus they may signify to the Great Spirit, their
desire to return home to their own country, with their bones uninjured.

5th. GITCHE-WE-KOON-DE-WIN—The great feast. This is a feast of high
pretensions, which few men, in any band, and only those of principal
authority, can venture to make. The animal is cooked entire, as far as
they are able to do it. This kind is sometimes called _mez-ziz-z-kwa-win_.

6th. WAW-BUN-NO WE-KOON-DE-WIN—Wawbeno feast. This, and the other
mummeries of the Wawbeno, which is looked upon as a false and mischievous
heresy, are now laid aside by most respectable Indians. These feasts
were celebrated with much noise and disturbance; they were distinguished
from all other feasts, by being held commonly in the night time, and the
showing off of many tricks with fire.

7th. JE-BI NAW-KA-WIN—Feast with the dead. This feast is eaten at the
graves of their deceased friends. They kindle a fire, and each person,
before he begins to eat, cuts off a small piece of meat, which he casts
into the fire. The smoke and smell of this, they say, attracts the Je-bi
to come and eat with them.

8th. CHE-BAH-KOO-CHE-GA-WIN—Feast for his medicine. During one whole
day in spring, and another in autumn, every good hunter spreads out the
contents of his medicine bag in the back part of his lodge, and feasts
his neighbours, in honour of his medicine. This is considered a solemn
and important feast, like that of the Metai.

9th. O-SKIN-NE-GE-TAH-GA-WIN—Boy’s feast. This might be called the feast
of the first fruits, as it is made on occasion of a boy, or a young
hunter, killing his first animal, of any particular kind. From the
smallest bird, or a fish, to a moose, or buffalo, they are careful to
observe it. Numerous instances of it occur in the foregoing narrative,
therefore it need not be dwelt upon.


Rigorous and long continued fasting is enjoined upon young and unmarried
persons of both sexes, and they begin at a very early age. The parent,
in the morning, offers the child the usual breakfast in one hand,
and charcoals in the other; if the latter is accepted, the parent is
gratified, and some commendations, or marks of favour, are bestowed on
the child. To be able to continue long fasting, confers an enviable
distinction. They, therefore, inculcate upon their children the necessity
of remaining long without food. Sometimes the children fast three, five,
seven, and some, as is said, even ten days; in all of which time they
take only a little water, and that at very distant intervals. During
these fasts, they pay very particular attention to their dreams, and from
the character of these, their parents, to whom they relate them, form
an opinion of the future life of the child. Dreaming of things above,
as birds, clouds, the sky, etc. is considered favourable; and when the
child begins to relate any thing of this kind, the parent interrupts
him, saying, “it is well, my child, say no more of it.” In these dreams,
also, the children receive impressions, which continue to influence their
character through life. A man, an old and very distinguished warrior, who
was some years ago at Red River, dreamed, when fasting in his childhood,
that a bat came to him, and this little animal he chose for his medicine.
To all the costly medicines for war or hunting, used by other Indians,
he paid no attention. Throughout his life he wore the skin of a bat tied
to the crown of his head, and in his numerous war excursions, he went
into battle exulting in the confidence that the Sioux, who could not
hit a bat on the wing, would never be able to hit him. He distinguished
himself in many battles, and killed many of his enemies; but throughout
his long life, no bullet ever touched him, all of which he attributed to
the protecting influence of his medicine, revealed to him, in answer to
his fasting in boyhood. Of Net-no-kwa, his foster mother, the author
of the foregoing narrative relates, that at about twelve years of age,
she fasted ten successive days. In her dream, a man came down and stood
before her, and after speaking of many things, he gave her two sticks,
saying, “I give you these to walk upon, and your hair I give it to be
like snow.” In all her subsequent life, this excellent woman retained the
confident assurance, that she should live to extreme old age, and often,
in times of the greatest distress from hunger, and of apparent danger
from other causes, she cheered her family by the assurance, that it was
given to her to crawl on two sticks, and to have her head like the snow,
and roused them to exertion by infusing some part of her own confident
reliance upon the protection of a superior and invisible Power.

The belief, that communications take place in dreams from superior
beings to men, is not peculiar to this people, or this age of the world.
Men, particularly, when their minds are little cultivated, are ever
ready to believe themselves objects of particular attention, and the
subjects of especial solicitude to their divinities. Among the Indians
of the Algonkin stock, many, and perhaps all, believe that not only
their prayers, in times of distress, are heard and answered, but they
think, that to some among them, are communicated in dreams intimations
of things which are to happen in remote times, and even after death.
It is probable their traditional belief of a future state, and of the
circumstances attending it, have made so strong an impression on the
minds of children, that they may often dream of it, and continue to do
so, at intervals during life. Accordingly, several may be found among
them, who, having in extreme sickness had their thoughts particularly
directed to this subject, and having, perhaps, been reduced so low as to
be considered in a desperate condition—(of a person in which situation
they speak as of one dead)—may have dreamed, or imagined the impressions
of their early childhood to have been realized. Hence, we hear them
relating, with confidence, that such and such persons have been dead,
and have travelled along the path of the dead, till they have come to
the great strawberry, which lies by the road, this side the river; they
have seen the river itself, some have even passed over it, and arrived in
the villages of the dead. Dreams of this kind seem to have been frequent
among them. But they have, most commonly, to tell of vexation, annoyance,
and disappointment. They have come to the great strawberry, at which
the Je-bi-ug refresh themselves, on their journey; but on taking up the
spoon, and attempting to separate a part of it, the berry has become a
rock, (which, with the people about Lake Superior, is a soft, red sand
rock, because the type exists in their country.) They have then gone on,
have been much alarmed at the Me-tig-ush-e-po-kit, (the swinging log,) on
which they have to cross, or at the great dog, who stands beyond it. They
have received taunts, and gibes, and insults, among their friends; have
been sneered at, and called Je-bi! have had ashes and water given them,
in place of Mun-dah-min aw-bo, or corn broth, bark for dried meat, and
O-zhush-kwa-to-wuk, or the large puckwi, called puff balls, for squashes.
Some men have commonly seen, in that country, only squaws, numbers of
whom have competed for them, as a husband, and the dreams of all have
been tinged with some shade of colour, drawn from their own peculiar
situation. How these people came first in possession of their opinions
respecting the country of the dead, cannot, perhaps, be known; but having
it, we should not be surprised that it influences their dreams.


In connection with this subject, we may devote a moment to the
consideration of their idea of the human soul, or as they call it, the
shadow.[40] They think this becomes unsettled, or as it were detached
from the body in violent sickness; and they look upon a person who is
very low, as one already dead. Hence it is not unusual to hear them
speak of such and such a person, as being now dying, and yet to find
him survive, not only many days, but years; and when told of this, they
seem conscious of no impropriety in the expression: on the contrary,
they often say of a person, he _died_ at such a time, but _came again_.
I have also heard them reproach a sick person, for what they considered
imprudent exposure in convalescence; telling him that his shadow was not
well settled down in him, and that therefore he was in danger of losing
it. It would seem, however, that although they believe the soul leaves
the body previous to the commencement of dissolution in the former,
yet that it is not removed far from it until long after death. This is
manifest from their usage in the feast of Che-bah-koo-che-ga-win, and
from some of the ceremonies of interment, particularly in the case of
women, when their husbands are buried.

In the spring of the year 1826, a man of the Menomonies died and was
buried very near the encampment of a part of the fifth regiment of
United States infantry, on the high prairie in the rear of the village
of Prairie Du Chein, on the Mississippi. The body was attended to the
grave by a considerable number of the friends and relatives, and when it
was let down into the shallow grave, the wife of the deceased approached
the brink, and after looking down on the rude coffin, she stepped upon
it, and immediately across, taking her course over the plains, towards
the bluffs there, about a mile distant. This is a common practice of the
women of that tribe; and the mourner is careful, if she contemplates a
second marriage, never to look back towards the grave she has left, but
returns to her lodge by some devious and circuitous route. It is done, as
they say, that the Cha-pi (Je-bi of the Ojibbeways,) or the dead person,
may not be able to follow them afterwards. If the woman should look back,
they believe she would either fall dead immediately, or become insane,
and remain so ever after. On some occasions, but rarely, another person
accompanies the mourner, carrying a handful of small twigs, and following
immediately after her, flourishes it about her head, as if driving away
flies. The verb applicable to this action, is in the third person
singular, Wai-whai-na-how, the more general one applicable to the whole
ceremony, Ah-neuk-ken-new.

In the instance above mentioned, the woman walked rapidly, and without
looking back, across the wide prairie, in a direction almost opposite
that leading to her lodge; but her loud and bitter lamentings could be
heard at a great distance, seeming to contradict the action by which she
professed to seek an everlasting separation from the deceased.

The more common and well known observances paid to the dead by these
people, seem not to indicate such a destitution of affection as the
ceremony just described. In many of their customs relating to the
treatment of the dead, we can discover, not only the traces of kind
feeling, but a strong confidence in a future existence, and the belief
that their departed friends can know and estimate the value of friendly
offices rendered them after their departure. At the time of the great
council at Prairie Du Chein, in 1825, a Sioux chief, of the remote
band of the Sissitong, sickened and died of a bilious fever. He had
been a distinguished man among his own people, and, as he had come a
great distance from his own country, in obedience to the call of our
government, the military commandant at that post was induced to bury
him with the honours of war. The men of his band were gathered around
his body, in the lodge where he died, and when the escort arrived,
they raised him upon his bier, a hundred manly voices at the same time
chanting forth a requiem, thus rendered by a person well acquainted with
their language:

    Grieve not, our brother! the path thou art walking
    Is that in which we, and all men must follow.

And thus they continued to repeat, until they reached the grave. There
is something impressive and affecting in their habit of preserving and
dressing up the je-bi, or memorial of the dead, which, like our weeds
and crapes, finds a place in many a dwelling where little of mourning
is visible. Yet, though the place which death had made vacant in their
hearts, may have been filled, they seem never to forget the supply they
consider due the wants of the departed. Whenever they eat or drink
a portion is carefully set apart for the je-bi, and this observance
continues for years, should they not, in the mean time, have an
opportunity to send out this memorial with some war party; when, if it be
thrown down on the field of battle, as they aim always to do, then their
obligation to the departed ceases.

Of the Chippewyans, the Sarcees, the Strong Bows, and other tribes
inhabiting those dreary regions which border on the arctic circle, it
is related, that they in many instances omit to bury their dead, and
that they frequently desert their relatives and friends, whenever, from
sickness or old age, they become unable to endure the ordinary fatigues
of their manner of life. There is no more reason to question the accuracy
of these statements, than of those in relation to the cannibalism,
sodomy, and other shocking vices of more southern tribes. But as the
destitution of natural affection manifested in the conduct of many of
the American tribes towards their relatives in sickness and decrepitude,
is undoubtedly that among their vices, which is most abhorrent to the
feelings of civilized men, so we shall find the instances of rare
occurrence, except where the rigour of the climate, or other natural
causes, impose on them a necessity, to which we ourselves, in the same
circumstances, should probable yield as they do. The horrible practices
to which men of all races have been driven in besieged cities, in cases
of shipwreck, and other similar emergencies, should admonish us that the
Indians, as a race, deserve no peculiar detestation for crimes growing
unavoidably out of their situation.


_Found in the country of the Ojibbeways; with English names, as far as
these could be ascertained._


SHIN-GO-BEEK—Ever greens, or cone bearing trees.

    Ma-ni-hik—Norway pine.

    A-nee-naun-duk—Balsam fir.

    Kik-kaun-dug—Spruce. The black pheasant feeds on the leaves.

    Mus-keeg-wah-tick—Hackmatack, swamp wood.

    Kaw-waun-duk—Single spruce.

    Mis-kwaw-wauk—Red cedar.

    Ke-zhik—White cedar.

    Kaw-waw-zheek—Juniper bushes.

    Kaw-waw-zheen-sha, or Ah-kaw-wun-je—Yew.

    Kaw-kaw-ge-wingz—Hemlock spruce.

    Puk-gwun-nah-ga-muk—White pine, (peeling bark.)

    Shin-gwawk—Yellow pine.

NE-BISH-UN—Trees with broad leaves.

    Nin-au-tik—Sugar maple, (our own tree.)

    She-she-gum-maw-wis—River maple, (sap flows fast.)

    Shah-shah-go-be-muk—low-ground maple.

    Moons-omais—Striped maple, (Moose wood.)

    Shah-shah-go-be-muk-oons—Spiked maple, (little

    We-gwos—White birch.

    Ween-es-sik—Black birch.

    Buh-wi-e-me-nin aw-gaw-wunje—Red Cherry, (the wood of the
    shaken down fruit, or berry.)

    Sus-suh-way-meen ah-ga-wunje—Choke cherry.

    Buh-wi-me-nah-ne-gah-wunje—Black Cherry.

    Nai-go-wim-me-nah gaw-we-zheen—Sand-cherry bushes.

    Me-tik-o-meesh, (Mait-e-koma, Menomonie)—Black oak, (wood cup.)

    Meesh-a-mish—White oak.

    Ah-sah-tia—White poplar.

    Mah-nu-sah-tia—Balsam poplar, (ugly poplar.)
    Mat-heh-me-toos—Cree. Franklin’s narrative, p. 78.

    Be-zhew-au-tik—Coffee bean tree, (wild cat tree.) Found only in
    the south.

    Way-miche-ge-meen-ah-ga-wunje—Honey locust, southern.

    Uz-zhuh-way-mish—Beech; none northward of Mackinac.

    Me-tig-wawb-awk—Smooth hickory, (smooth wood bow tree.)

    Nas-kun-nuk-a-koosit Me-teg-waub-awk—Hickory, (rough bark bow

    A-neeb—Elm, white.

    O-shah-she-go-pe—Red elm, two varieties: the bark of one only
    used for sacks.

    Wa-go-be-mish—Linn, (bark tree.)

    Bug-gaun-awk—Black walnut.

    Ke-no-sha bug-gaun-awk—Butternut, (long walnut.)

    Ahn-za bug-gaun-awk—Pecan, southern.



    Boo-e-auk—White ash.

    We-sug-auk—Black ash.

    Bug-gaun-ne-me-zeesh-ah—Hazel bush.

    Waw-bun wah-ko-meezh—White arrow wood.

    We-ah-ko-meezh—Arrow wood.

    Mus-kwaw be-muk—Red ozier.

    O-to-pe—Alder. O-to-peen—Alders.


    Bug-ga-sah-ne-mish—Plum tree.

    Mish-she-min-nuh ga-wunje—Crab apple tree.

    Mish-she-min au-tik—Crab apple wood, or tree.

    Ne-be-min-ah-ga-wunje—High craneberry bush.

    Tah-tah-te-mun-ah-ga-wunje—Black haw bush.

    Ke-teg-ge-manito—New Jersey tea, (red root.)

    Koose-gwaw-ko-mizhe-ga-wunje—High blue berry bush.

    O-zhusk-ko-mi-zheen—Musk rat berries.


    We-gwos-be-mah-gwut—Birch grape.

    Manito-be-mah-gwut, or manito-meen-a-gah-wunje—Cissus, a
    climbing vine, with scattered berries, somewhat like grapes.

    Mus-ke-ge-min[41]—Cranberry, crane berries, (Swamp berries.)

    Sa-zah-ko-me-nah gah-wah-zheen, pl.—Saccacommis, or arbutus.
    The leaves of this plant, the _uva ursa_ of the shops, are
    commonly used by the Ojibbeways, in whose country it abounds,
    to mix with their tobacco.

    Waw-be-ko-meen-ah-ga-wunje—Nine bark, or spiraw.

    Wis-seg-ge-bug, sing., wis-seg-ge-bug-goon, pl.—Bitter leaf; an
    andromeda, very highly esteemed by the Indians, as a remedy,
    and by them said to grow only about the Grand Traverse, in Lake

    Ne-kim-me-nun—Swamp whortle berries.

    Shug-gus-kim-me-nun—Thimble berries, or flowering raspberries.

    Kaw-waw-be-ga-koo-zit—White bark, a small tree at Lake Traverse.

    Ut-tuh-be-ga-zhin-nah-gook—A shrub said to be found only in the

    Pah-posh-geshe-gun-au-tik—Red elder, (popgun wood,) very common
    about Me-nau-zhe-taun-naug, and the islands in the Lake of the

    Bwoi-jim-me-nah-ga-wunje—Whortleberry bush.

    Ne-kim-me-nah-ga-wunje—High blue berry bush.

    Mus-keeg o-bug-goan—Labrador tea, (swamp leaves,) one of the
    most esteemed of the products of cold and swampy regions; used
    in decoction as tea.

    Pe-boan-meen-ah-gaw-wunje—Winter berry bush, a prinos.

    Mun-no-mun-ne-chee-beeg[42]—Red paint root.

    Me-nais-sa gaw-wunje—Thorn apple.

    Buz-zuk-ko-me-nais, sing., buz-zuk-ko-me-nais-ug, pl.—A kind of
    thorn apple growing in the north, which sometimes kill bears
    when they eat them in large quantities. The Indians suppose
    that it is in consequence of the strongly adhesive quality of
    the pulp, that they have this deleterious property.

    Meen—Blue berry; mee-un—Blue berries, (fruit.) This is a word
    that enters into the composition of almost all which are used
    as the names of fruits or berries of any kind; as me-she-min,
    or me-she-meen, an apple, o-da-e-min, a strawberry, or heart
    berry, etc. The word ga-wunje, added to the name of any fruit
    or berry, indicates the wood or bush.

    Meen-ah-ga-wunje—Blue berry, or whortle berry bush.

    Ma-ko-meen-ah-ga-wunje—Black currant bush.

    Mish-e-je-min-ga-wunje—This is a bush growing at and about the
    Lake of the Woods, which bears red currants, like those of the
    gardens; but the currants are beset thickly with hairs.

    Shah-bo-min-nun—Goose berries; Shah-bo-min ga-wunje—the bushes.

    Mis-kwa-min—Raspberry; mis-kwa-min-nug—Raspberries.

    Gaw-waw-ko-meesh—Black raspberries.


    Muk-kwo-me-nug, or muk-kwaw-me-nug—Bear berries;
    Muk-ko-me-nah-ga-wunje—The mountain ash, or American service

    O-gin-ne-mee-nah-wa-wunje—Rose bush. The fruit is much eaten in
    winter by the starving Indians in the north.

    All these are called Me-tik-goag, or woody plants.

WEAH-GUSH-KOAN[43]—Weeds, or herbaceous plants.

    Me-zhus-keen, (Ma-zhus-koon on the Menomonies)—Grasses.

    Na-bug-us-koan—Coarse swamp grass.

    Anah-kun-us-koan—Bull rush, (matt grass.)

    Be-gwa-wun-us-koan—Soft coarse grass. The name of the
    Be-wi-o-nus-ko River and Lake, called Rush River on some of the
    maps, is from this word. This word seems, in some districts, to
    be used as the name of the cow parsley.



    O-zhusk-gwut-te-beeg—Muskrat root, (a grass.)

_The following are not called Me-zhus-keen._


    Skib-waw-we-gusk—Artichoke, a species of sun flower.


    O-kun-dum-moge—Pond lilies.

    Ma-ko-pin, Ma-ko-pin-eeg, sin. and pl.—Chinkapin, or cyamus.

    Waw-be-ze-pin-neeg—Arrow head, (swan potatoes.) The roots of
    the common saggittaria, as well as the bulbs of some of the
    crest flowering lilies, which are eaten by the Indians, receive
    this name.

    Mus-ko-ti-pe-neeg—Lily, (Prairie potatoes.)

    Sah-sah-way-suk—Turkey potatoes.


    Ma-ni-to O-kah-tahk—Sison? heracleum?

    O-saw-wus-kwun-wees—Green small balls.

    Sug-gut-ta-bo-way—Sticking burs; hounds tongues, etc.

    Nah-ma-wusk—Spear mint, (sturgeon medicine.)

    Wis-se-giche-bik—Indian’s physic, (bitter root; Callistachia.)

    Mis-kwe-wis-che-be-kug-guk—Blood root.

    A-zhush-a-way-skuk—Square stem scrophularia.

    Be-zhew-wusk—Wild cat medicine.

    Ke-na-beek-o-me-nun—Snake berries; Dracaena borealis.

    Mainwake—Angelica, or cow parsley.

    Me-tush-koo-se-min—Apple of the prairie of the Canadians,
    (Psoralia,) much eaten by the Crees and Assinneboins, in whose
    country it abounds.

    Mah-nom-o-ne gah-wah-zheen, pl.—Wild rice, (the grass.)

    Muk-koose-e-mee-nun—Young bear’s berries.


    Mus-kee-go-bug-goon—Swamp winter green; perhaps the little
    rough wintergreen.

    Be-na-bug-goon—Partridge flower.

    Mus-ke-gway-me-taus—Side saddle flower, (Swamp bottles, in
    allusion to the pitcher shaped leaves.)[44]

    Muk-kud-da-we-che-be-kug-guk—Black roots.

    Ta-ta-sis-koo-see-men—The flower that follows the sun.

    Pe-zhe-ke-wusk—Buffalo medicine. Wild carrot?

    She-wa-bug-goon—Sweet cicely, (sour leaf.)

    A-nich-e-me-nun—Wild pea vine.

    O-da-na-me-na-gaw-wun-zheen, pl.—Strawberry vines.

    Se-bwoi-gun-nuk—Corn stalks, (chaw sweet.)

    O-pin—Potato. O-pin-neeg—Potatoes.

    O-guis-e-maun—Squashes. O-zaw-waw-o-guis-se-maun—Yellow

    Mis-kwo-de-se-min—Bean. Mis-kwo-de-se-me-nug—Beans.


    Gitche-un-ne-beesh—Cabbage, (big leaf.)
    Gitche-ne-beesh-un—great leaves.

    Skush-kun-dah-min-ne-kwi-uk—Plantain; the leaves of this are
    particularly observed by hunter, as they show, better than any
    thing else, the age of the tracks of game.

    Shig-gau-ga-win-zheeg,[45] pl.—Onions, (skunk weeds.)


    Kitche-mus-ke-ke-meen—Red Pepper, (great medicine berry.)

    Ba-se-kwunk—This is a red astringent root, much valued by the
    Indians, as an application to wounds. Avens root?

    Shah-bo-ze-gun—Milkweed. The Ojibbeway word signifies

    Waw-be-no-wusk—Yarrow, (Wawbeno medicine.)

    Ke-zhe-bun-ush-kon-sun—Small rushes, in prairie.

    Nah-nah-gun-e-wushk—Fern. Nah-nah-gun-ne-wush-koan—Ferns.


    Wah-ko-nug—Lichens; the edible gyrophora.

    Ween-de-go-wah-ko-nug—Gyrophora inedible.

    Waw-bah-sah-ko-nick—Sphagnun, used by the women to make a bed
    for young children.

    Ah-sah-ko-mik—Marchantia, and green mosses, on the shady sides
    of trees.

    O-zhusk-kwa-toan-suk—Reindeer moss-citrariac, etc.


    Waw-but-to—Pine touch-wood.

    Me-tik-o-mish O-zhusk-kwa-to-wug—White oak touch-woods much
    used to burn mortars for pounding corn.


    Je-bi-e-push-kwa-e-gun—Zylostroma; dead people’s moccasin
    leather, is the literal meaning of this word, which is applied
    to the leather-like substance in the fissures of old trees.

    O-je-bi-e-muk-ke-zin—Ghost or spirit moccasin; puff ball; dead
    man’s shoe; sometimes called Anung-wug—stars.


    The diminutive termination is used for the young of animals,
    and is, in the Ottawwaw dialect, generally in the sound
    of _ns_, or _nce_, when the noun ends with a vowel. Thus,
    _gwin-gwaw-ah-ga_, a wolverene; _gwin-gwaw-ah-gaince_, a young
    wolverene; the _a_, in the last syllable, retaining the same
    sound as in the word without the diminutive termination. When
    any distinction of sex is made, it is commonly by prefixing the
    words _i-ah-ba_ and _no-zha_, very similar in signification to
    our _male_ and _female_; thus _i-ah-ba gwin-gwaw-ah-ga_, is a
    male wolverene; _no-zha gwin-gwaw-ah-ga_, a female wolverene.

    Gwin-gwaw-ah-ga—Wolverene, (tough beast.) Carcajou, French,
    _northern glutton_, a very sagacious and mischievous animal,
    but not of common occurrence; now principally found among the

    Na-nah-pah-je-ne-ka-se—A mole? (foot wrong way.)

    Bo-taich-che-pin-gwis-sa—Gopher, (blow up the ground.)

    Manito Muk-kwaw—Great grizzly bear, always found in the prairie.

    Ma-mis-ko-gah-zhe-muk-kwaw—Red nail bear; very fierce and
    dangerous, more feared by the Indians than the former, who very
    rarely attacks a man, unless wounded; but the red nailed bear
    attacks when unprovoked, and pursues with great speed. He lives
    in rocky places in woods.

    Muk-kwaw—Common bear; _ou-wash-ah_, of the Menomonies.

    Muk-koons, or Muk-koonce—Cub; _ou-wa-sha-sha_, of the

    _I-aw-ba-koons_ and _no-zha-koons_, are used by the Ottawwaws
    and Ojibbeways to distinguish the male and female bear,
    where the Menomonies would use _ou-wa-shah e-nai-ne-wow_ and
    _ou-wa-shah ma-tai-mo-shuh_.

    Me-tun-nusk, Ojib.—Toothless,            }
                                             } Badger.
    Mish-she-mo-nah-na, Ott.—Great burrower, }

    Mus-ko-tai Chit-ta-mo—Prairie squirrel.

    Mus-ko-tai Ah-gwin-gwoos—Prairie striped squirrel; small
    squirrel, with stripes and spots, burrowing in the prairie,
    sometimes with the _chittamo_.

    Ah-gwin-gwoos—Chipping squirrel.

    Atch-e-dah-mo—Red squirrel.

    O-zhug-gus-kon-dah-wa—Flying squirrel, (strikes flat on a tree.)

    Sun-nah-go, and Muk-kud-da As-sun-nah-go, and
    Mis-kwaw-sun-nah-go—The grey, black and fox squirrels, not
    found in the country north of Lake Superior.

    Uk-kuk-koo-jees—Ground hog, smaller than in the states.

    Me-sau-boos—Hare, white in winter.

    Waw-boos—Rabbit, Meezh-way, Meezh-way-ug, sin. and pl.—Southern

    Pish-tah-te-koosh—Antelope. This is reckoned the fleetest
    animal in the prairie country, about the Assinneboin.

    Pe-zhe-ke—Buffalo. No-zha-zha-pe-zhe-ke—A cow that has a young
    calf following her. O-neen-jah-nis-pe-zhe-ke—Farrow cow.

    Jah-ba-pe-zhe-ke—Bull. Pe-zhe-keence—A young calf. O-saw-waw
    Koo-shance—A calf while the hair is red. Poo-nah-koosh—Calf, a
    year old. Ah-ne-ka-boo-nah-koosh—two years old.

    Gitche-pe-zhe-ke—Fossil mammoth.

    Ma-nah-tik—Big horn.

    Gitche-mah-nish-tah-nish—Rocky mountain sheep.


    Na-ne-mo-why, Ott.       }
                             } Small wolf, in prairie countries.
    Mish-tuh-tah-si, Ojib.   }

    Mi-een-gun-nug—Common wolves.

    Mi-een-gun—Common wolf.

    Muk-hud-da-mi-een-gun—Black wolf.

    Waw-be-mi-een-gun—White wolf.

    Shoon-sho—Long eared hound.

    An-ne-moosh—Common dog.

    Ta-tah-koo-gaut-ta-was-sim—Short leg dog.

    Be-gwi-wa-was-sim—Long haired dog; Newfoundland.

    Ke-wis-kwa-mi-een-gun-nug—Mad wolves, sometimes seen, but
    rarely bite, unless attacked.


    O-saw-waw-goosh—Common red fox.

    Muk-kud-da-waw-goosh—Black fox.

    Muk-kud-da-waw-goo-shug—Black foxes.

    Wa-whaw-goosh—White fox, fur long, but of no value.

    Ne-ke-kwa-tug-gah-wa-waw-goosh—Grey fox.

    Pis-tat-te-moosh—Swift fox, (small dog.)

    Kah-zhe-gainse—Common house cat, (little glutton.)

    Pe-zhew—Wild cat.

    Ke-tah-gah-pe-zhew—Lynx, (spotted wild cat.)

    Me-she-pe-zhew—Panther, (big wild cat.)

    Ah-meek—Beaver. Naub-ah-meek—Male beaver. Noazh-ah-meek—Female
    beaver. An-meek-koanse—Young beaver.

    Kin-waw-no-wish-shug, Cree      }
                                    } Black tailed deer.
    Muk-kud-da-waw-wash-gais, Ojib. }

    Waw-wash-gais—Red or Virginian deer.

    O-mush-koons, Ojib. }
    Me-sha-way, Ottaw.  } Elk. On Red River,
                        } Mouse River, the Saskawjawun, etc.
    Waw-was-kesh, Cree, }

    Ah-dik—Reindeer. Ca-ri-bou, French. The feet very large and
    broad, fitting the animal to travel over smooth ice, or deep
    snow; found on all the shores of Lake Superior, and sometimes
    at the upper end of Lake Huron; but most frequent farther north.

    Mooze, or Moonce, Ojib. } Moose. The nasal sound, at the end of this
                            } word is common in these dialects; but it is
    Moon-swah, Cree         } difficult to represent, by the letters of
                            } our alphabet.

    I-aw-ba-mooze—Buck moose. No-zha-mooze—Deer moose.
    Moonze-aince—Little moose, etc.

    A-yance—Opossum, only in the south. The word a-yance, means

    Shin-goos—Weasel, two kinds.


    Ne-gik—Otter. Ne-gik-wug—Otters.


    Keen-waw-no-wa waw-waw-be-gun-o-je—Long tail leaping mouse.


    Ah-mik-waw-waw-be-gun-o-je—Beaver, or diving mouse.

    Kah-ge-bin-gwaw-kwa—Shrew. Two species are common about St.
    Maries, in winter.

    Kahg—Porcupine.[47] Kahg-wug—Porcupines.


    Wah-be-zha-she—Marten. _Woapchees_, Z. p. 18.





    O-jeeg—Fisher weasel, a very stupid animal, easy to kill.


    Nau-to-way—Thick, short rattle snake. (Sha-no-we-naw—The

    She-she-gwa—Common rattle snake. Both these are occasionally
    kept tame by the Indians. They sometimes make feasts to them,
    and they are said to be very docile and intelligent.


    Na-wa—Moccasin snake.

    Pih-kun—Prairie snake. At the head of Mouse River, and in the
    prairies towards the Missouri, these snakes are more than six
    feet long, and proportionably large. Pih-kun-un are common
    snakes, but never half so large as the above.

    Mis-kwan-dib—Red head; copper snake?

    O-zha-wus-ko Ke-na-beek—Green snake.

    Muk-kud-da Ke-na-beek—Black snake.

    O-mus-sun-dum-mo—Water snake.

    Wa-in-je-tah Ke-na-beek—Garter snake, (right or true ge-na-bik.)

    O-kaute Ke-na-beek—Lizzard, (legged snake.)

    Gee-kut-tau-naung—Lizzard of some kind.

    Que-we-zains—Little boy, (also a lizzard.)

    Nib-be-ke O-muh-kuk-ke—Oribicular lizzard? (medicine frog.)

    Wain-je-tah O-muh-kuk-ke—Right frogs, or common frog.

    Dain-da—Bull frog, _and Hannie_, Z. 19.

    Mis-ko-muh-kuk-ke—Red toad.[48]

    Be-go-muh-kuk-ke—Common toads. These two last, at the approach
    of winter, place themselves erect on the surface of the ground,
    on their hams, and by turning themselves round and round, they
    sink into the ground, which closes over them, and they keep
    below the frost. They are often found, several within two or
    three feet of each other, buried deep in the earth, but keeping
    constantly their heads erect.

    O-shaw-wus-ko-muh-kuk-ke—Tree frog.

    Me-zhe-ka, Ottaw.  }
                       } Large tortoise.
    Me-kin-nauk, Ojib. }

    Ta-ta-be-ko-nauk—Soft shelled tortoise.

    Boos-kut-ta-wish—A tortoise with round deep shells.




    Ke-neu—War eagle; the master of all birds.

    Me-giz-ze—White headed eagle. Me-giz-ze-wug, plural.

    Ka-kaik—Spotted hawk.

    Be-bo-ne-sa, Ottaw. }
                        } Winter hawk.
    Ke-bu-nuz-ze, Ojib. }

    No-je-ke-na-beek-we-zis-se—Marsh hawk, (snake eating.)

    Wa-be-no-je Ke-na-beek-we-zis-se—White marsh hawk.

    Mis-ko-na-ne-sa—Red tail hawk.

    Pish-ke-neu—Black tail hawk.

    Muk-kud-da-ke-neu—Black hawk.

    Bub-be-nug-go—Spotted tail hawk.

    Be-na-seen’s—Small pheasant hawk.

    Cha-een-sa—A small hawk, so named from its cry.

    Pe-pe-ge-wiz-zain’s—Smallest hawk.

    We-nong-ga—Turkey buzzard.

    Kah-gah-ge, Ojib.    }
                         } Raven. Kah-gah-ge-wug—Ravens.
    Gau-gau-ge-she, Ott. }

    On-daig—Crow. On-daig-wug—Crows.

    As-sig-ge-nawk—Black bird.

    Mis-ko-min-gwe-gun-nah Sig-ge-nauk—Red wing black bird.

    O-pish-kah-gah-ge—Magpie. O-pish-kah-gah-ge-wug—Magpies.

    Gween-gwe-sha—Similar in habits and locality to the former, and
    closely resembling, in size and colour, the following.[49]

    Teen-de-se—Blue jay. These begin to lay their eggs before the
    snow is off the ground in the spring.

    Be-gwuk-ko-kwa o-wais-sa—Thrush.

    Ah-luk—Similar to the thrush in habits.

    Ween-de-go be-nais-sa—King bird, (the bird that eats his own


    Ma-mah-twa—Cat bird.

    Chaum-ma-wais-she—Another of the same size.

    Kos-kos-ko-na-ching—Ground bird? A small bird so named from its


    Waw-be-ning-ko-se—Snow birds.

    Che-ki-che-gau-na-sa—A very small lively bird, peculiar to the

    Mis-kobe-na-sa—Red bird.

    Sa-ga-bun-wau-nis-sa—Waxen chatterer.

    O-zhah-wus-kobe-na-sa—Green bird.

    O-zaw-we-be-na-sa—Yellow bird.

    Ma-ma—Red headed wood pecker.

    Paw-paw-sa—Spotted wood pecker.

    Muk-kud-da paw-paw-sa—Black pawpawsa. The male of this kind,
    has a bright yellow spot on the top of the head. They are found
    about Lake Superior in winter.

    Mo-ning-gwan-na—Yarril, (highhold.)

    Ke-ke-ba-na—small spotted wood pecker.

    Che-gaun-do-wais-sa—Brown wood pecker, confined to cedar

    Shin-go-beek-ai-sa—Cedar bird.

    Gitche-o-gish-ke-mun-ne-sa—Great king fisher.

    O-gish-ke-mun-ne-sa[51]—Common king fisher.



    O-kun-is-sa—Loxia enudeator, found at Lake Superior in February.

    Pe, sing. Pe-ug, pl.—A fringilla, smaller than the waxen
    chatterer. The female has a spot of red on the top of the head;
    the male, the whole head and neck of the same colour. The tail
    feathers are bent outwards near the ends. Found about Lake
    Superior in the winter.


    Bosh-kun-dum-moan—Parakeet, (croch perons.)

    Moash-kah-o-se We-kum-mo, (Menomonie)—Stake driver, (bittern.)

    Kun-nuh waw-be-mokee-zhis wais-sa—Fly up the creek, (sun gazer.)

    Me-mom-i-ne-ka-she—Rail, (rice bird.)


    Gitche-pud-dush-kon-zhe—Wood cock.


    Mo-voke—Curliew, (a foreign word.)

    Mus-ko-da che-chees-ke-wa—Upland plover.

    Wain-je-tah che-chees-ke-wa—Yellow leg plover.

    Che-to-waik—Bull head plover.


    Wawb-uh-che-chawk—White Crane.

    O-saw-waw-che-chawk—Sand hill crane.



    Mush-ko-da-sa—Grouse; confined to pine and cedar countries.

    Ah-gusk, (Ojib.) Ke-waw-ne, (Ott.)—Prairie hen.

    O-me-me—Pigeon; o-me-meeg—pigeons. Amemi, Z. 19.


    Waw-wain-je gun-no—Great horned owl.

    Wain-je-tah koko-koho—Right owl.

    Koko-oanse—Little owl; gokhotit, Z. 18.

    Bo-dah-wah doam-ba—Size of a pigeon, (membrum virile.)

    Kaw-kaw-be-sha—Brown owl.

    Waw-be-ko-ko—Snow owl, very large.


    Baish-kwa—Night hawk.


    Waw-be-zee—Great Swan.

    Mah-nah-be-zee—Smaller swan, not common. Their cry resembles
    the voice of a man. The word means ugly or ill looking swan.

    Ne-kuh—Brant, ne-kug, pl.

    Pish-ne-kuh—A smaller brant.

    Wa-wa—Goose; Wa-waig—Geese; Waw-be-wa-wa—White goose;
    Waw-be-wa-waig—White geese.

    An-ne-nish-sheeb—Duck and mallard.

    Tah-gwaw-ge she-sheeb—Fall duck, red neck.

    Mah-to-gun she-sheeb—Scrapper bill duck.

    Scah-mo—Wood duck.

    Wa-weeb-ge-won-ga—Blue wing teal, (swift winged.)

    Ke-nis-te-no-kwa sheeb—Cree woman duck.

    Muk-kud-da sheeb—Black duck.

    Kitche-waw-we-big-wa-wya—Large blue wing duck.

    Pe-gwuk-o-she sheeb—Large bill, or blunt arrow duck; from
    pe-gwuk, the blunt or unbarbed arrow. This species has a large
    bill, and head of a leaden colour. They are found throughout
    the winter, in the rapids between Lakes Superior and Huron.

    Ma-muh-tway-ah-ga—Whistling wing.

    Kee-no-gwaw-o-wa sheeb—Long neck duck.

    A-ha-wa—House duck.

    Wah-ka-we sheeb—White duck.

    Gaw-waw-zhe-koos—Shell duck.

    Ah-zig-wuk—Fishing duck.

    Sah-gah-ta—Mud hen.

    Shin-ge-bis—Greebe; Gitche-shin-ge-bis—Large greebe.


    A-sha-mahng—Small loon.

    Gau-gau-geshe sheeb—Cormorant.

    Sha-da—Pelican; sha-daig—Pelicans.

    Shuh-shuh-gah—Blue Heron.


    Gitche-gi-aushk—Great gull. Gi-as-koo-sha of the Ottawwaws.

    Paush-kaw gi-aushk—Black headed gull.

    Nas-so-waw-gwun-nus-kitte-kwah-gi-aushk—Fork tailed gull.

    Muk-kud-da gi-aushk—Black gull.


    Bo-dush-kwon-e-she—Large dragon fly.

    Bo-dus-kwon-e-sheense—Small dragon fly.

    Gitche-me-ze-zauk[54]—Large horse fly.

    Me-zauk—Common horse fly.

    Me-zauk-oons—Nat fly.

    Gitche-ah-mo—Humble bee. Amoe, a bee, Z. 19.

    Ah-mo, sing., ah-maag, pl.—Wasps, hornets, etc.

    Waw-waw-tais-sa—Lightning bug.

    An-ne-me-ke wid-de-koam[55]—Miller, sphinx, thunder’s louse.



    Mow-wytch-e-ka-se—Beetle, (dung worker.)

    Gitche-o-mis-kose—Great water bugs.

    O-mis—Common water bug.


    Metig-onishe-moan-ka-she—(He that sleeps in a stick.) Found in
    the bottom of springs.

    Sha-bo-e-ya-sa—Rowing water bug.

    Man-e-toanse o-ke-te-beeg pe-me-but-toan—Literally, the little
    (creature or) spirit that runs on the water.

    O-mush-ko-se-se-wug—Grass bugs.

    O-o-chug—Blowing flies and house flies.


    Pin-goosh, pin-goosh-ains-sug—Gnats and sand flies.

    Mat-wa-nuh-kai-moag—Swarming flies.

    Sub-be-ka-she—Spider, (net worker.) A-a-be-ko—Large black


    Mis-ko-manetoanse—A little red bug common in the north.

    Me-nah-koo-sit manetoanse—Strawberry bug.

    Puh-beeg—Flea; Puh-beeg-wug—Fleas.


    E-kwuh—Louse; E-kwug—Lice.


    O-zah-wash-ko-mo-sah—Green worm.

    Way-muk-kwah-na—Great caterpillar, (bear skin.)

    Gitche-mo-sa—Great white grub; gitche-mo-saig, plural.





    Mas-ke-no-zha—Maskenonge, or pike.

    O-zhaw-wush-ko ke-no-zha—Green pickerel, only found in the

    Ke-no-zha—Pickerel; from kenose, long.


    Na-zhum-ma-goosh—Brook trout.

    Ne-git-che—Buffalo fish.

    Bush-she-to—Sheeps head; bush-she-toag, plural.

    Mon-nuh-she-gun—Black bass.

    Ad-dik-kum-aig, (attai-kum-meeg, Menom.)—White fish, or
    rein-deer fish; from ad-dik, rein-deer, and gum-maig, water.

    Buh-pug-ga-sa—Large sucker.

    Mis-kwaw-zhe-gun-no—Red horse.

    Nah-ma-bin—Sucker; Mis-kwun nah-ma-bin—Red sucker.

    Ug-gud-dwawsh—Sun fish.

    Sah-wa—Perch, (yellow.) Sah-waig, pl.

    O-ka-ah-wis—Fresh water herring.

    We-be-chee—A flat fish larger than herring; only found in Red

    Mon-num-maig—Great cat fish.

    Ah-wa-sis-sie—Little catfish. The Indians say this fish hatches
    its young in a hole in the mud, and that they accompany her for
    some time afterwards.

    Ke-na-beek gwum-maig—Eel, (water snake.)


    Shig-gwum-maig—Shovel nose; only in the Mississippi.

    Kuk-kun-naun-gwi—Little toad fish; Lake Huron.

    O-gah-suk—Little dories; Lake Huron.


    Bug-gwut-tum-mo-goon-suk—These are small fishes, that make
    their appearance in ponds having no connection with rivers or
    lakes, and which are sometimes quite dry. But though they all
    perish in times of drought, they re-appear when the ponds are

    Shaw-ga-she—Craw fish.

    Ais—Clam; Ais-sug—Clams.

    Ais-ainse—Little clam.

    Mis-koan-sug—Red clams.


That the Indians are less observant of inanimate substances than of
organized beings, will be manifest from the following meagre catalogue of

    Bin-gwaw-beek—Lime stone, (ashes stone.)


    Muk-kud-dah-waw-beek—Black stone.

    Mik-kwum-me-waw-beek—White Flint, (ice stone.)

    Pish-ah-beek—Sulphuret of iron. They often find this passing
    into sulphate of iron, and make use of it for dying black.

    O-poih-gun-us-sin—Pipe stone; farther distinguished according
    to colour.

    O-skaw-shut-waw-beek—Gneiss, (vein stone.)

    Mis-kwaw-sin—Red sand stone.


    Waw-be-gun—White clay.


    Mis-kwaw-be-gun—Red earth.

    O-saw-waw-be-gun—Yellow earth.

    Muk-kud-da-wuk-kum-mik—Black mould.

    Waw-be-gun-uk-kaw—Clay ground.


Among the Indians of the Algonkin stock, every man receives from his
father a _totem_, or family name. They affirm that no man is, by
their customs, allowed to change his totem; and as this distinctive
mark descends to all the children a man may have, as well as to all
the prisoners he may take and adopt, it is manifest that, like the
genealogies of the Hebrews, these totems should afford a complete
enumeration of the stocks from which all the families have been
derived. It differs not from our institution of surnames, except that
the obligations of friendship and hospitality, and the restraint upon
intermarriage, which it imposes, are more scrupulously regarded. They
profess to consider it highly criminal for a man to marry a woman whose
totem is the same as his own; and they relate instances where young men,
for a violation of this rule, have been put to death by their nearest
relatives. They say, also, that those having the same totem are bound,
under whatever circumstances, as they meet, even though they should be of
different and hostile bands, to treat each other not only as friends, but
as brethren, sisters, and relatives of the same family.

Of the origin of this institution, and of the obligation to its strict
observance, the Indians profess to know nothing. They say they suppose
the totem was given them in the beginning, by their creator. Like
surnames among us, these marks are now numerous; and, as in the case of
our surnames, it is difficult to account for their multiplicity, without
supposing a time when they might have been changed, or new ones adopted,
more easily than at present.

It is not, as yet, well ascertained that any of the North American
Indians, except those of the Algonkin family, have these peculiar
genealogical marks. Those of the great Chippewyan family, in the north,
we are well assured, have them not. From long acquaintance with the
Dahcotah bands of the Mississippi and St. Peters, in which designation
we include the Hoochawgenah, or Winnebagoes, and the Ioways, and from a
more transient sojourning among the Otoes, the Kansas, the Omawhawes,
the Pawnees, and other western tribes, we have, with careful inquiry and
search, been able to collect no intimation of such a custom among them.
But of the western Indians we cannot speak with entire confidence, as we
recollect to have heard Renville, an interpreter for the Sioux, after
much puzzling and cross-examination, admit that something of the kind
might exist among that people. It may be observed, that the Algonkins
believe all other Indians to have totems, though, from the necessity they
are in general under, of remaining ignorant of those of hostile bands,
the omission of the totem in their picture writing serves to designate an
enemy. Thus, those bands of Ojibbeways who border on the country of the
Dahcotah, or Sioux, always understand the figure of a man without totem,
to mean one of that people.


_Among the Ottawaws and Ojibways with the names of some to whom they

    Muk-kwaw—Bear, the totem of Pe-ga-gun, O-shaw-wa-no, and
    O-ka-taw, chiefs of Waw-gun-nuk-kiz-ze.

    Ke-no-zha—Pickerel, of A-ke-win-de-ba.

    Ad-dik-kun-maig—White fish, of Wawb-o-jeeg, (the white fisher.)

    Moons—Moose, of Naw-o-gee-zhik, (in the middle of the sky.)
    This is said to be the original totem of the Ottawwaws; having
    received many accessions of people from other bands, many other
    totems have been derived from them, and are now intermixed with
    the original stock.

    Ad-dik—Rein deer, of Ma-mi-ah-jun, (he that goes.)

    Mahng—A loon, of Too-beesh.

    Me-giz-ze—White headed eagle, of Me-zhuk-kwun-na-no.

    Ka-kaik—Henhawk, of O-ge-mah-we-nin-ne.

    Pe-pe-ge-wiz-zains—Sparrow hawk, of Muk-kud-da-be-na-sa.

    Ah-meek—Beaver, of Wa-me-gon-a-biew and Net-no-kwa.

    Mus-sun-dum-mo—Water snake, of O-kin-je-wun-no, Sin-ne-way, etc.

    ——Forked tree, of Keme-wun-O-jeeg, etc.

    Gi-oshk—Gull, of Puh-koo-se-gun.

    Ad-je-jawk—Crane, of Au-da-mene.

    Nah-ma-bin—Sucker, of Nain-noh-we-ton.

    Pe-zhew—Wild cat; common totem among the Muskegoes.

    Ah-wa-sis-se—Small cat fish, of Matche-kwe-we-zainse. Sometimes
    they call the people of this totem, “those who carry their
    young,” from the habits of the small cat fish.

    She-she-gwun—Rattle snake; the totem of Gish-kaw-ko,
    Manito-o-geezhik, etc. and by them given to Tanner.

Many more might be enumerated, but these are sufficient to give an idea
of the kinds of objects from which they choose to derive their names.
The trivial or common name of a man may be, and often is, changed on his
going to war, or at the occurrence of any remarkable event; but the totem
is never changed. It is not true, that they have, in all instances, the
figure of whatever may be their totem always tattooed on some part of
their body, nor that they carry about them a skin, or any other mark,
by which it may be immediately recognised. Though they may sometimes
do this, they are, in other instances, when they meet as strangers,
compelled to inquire of each other their respective totems.[57]

The word _totem_ is of the Ojibbeway language, and, like almost all
others, is readily moulded into the form of a verb, as will appear from
the following examples:—

    Ah-neen en-dah che-un-net, O-to-tem-e-waun maun-duh-pe?
    How many are these are totems here?
    How many are the totems of this band?

    Wa-nain way-gi-osh-kun wa-to-ta-met?
    What      the gull    is his totem?
    What is the gull’s totem?


Of the opinions of the Indians respecting the heavenly bodies, little
need be said. An extensive acquaintance with the motions, figures,
distances, etc. of these bodies, could not have been expected from people
situated as they are, and deprived altogether of the aids of instruments,
and a written language. They pretend to no more knowledge on these
subjects than they possess.

Au-do-me-ne, an intelligent Ottawwaw of Wawgunuk-kizze, in answer to my
inquiries concerning their opinion of the sun and moon, related to me the
following fable:—

Long ago, an old Ojibbeway chief, and his wife, who lived on the
shore of Lake Huron, had one son, a very beautiful boy. His name was
Ono-wut-to-kwut-to, (he that catches clouds,) and his totem, after that
of his father, a beaver. He would have been a great favourite with them,
for he was, in the main, affectionate and dutiful, except that they could
never persuade him to fast. Though they gave him charcoal, in place of
his usual breakfast, he would never blacken his face, and if he could
find fish eggs, or the head of a fish, he would roast them, and have
something to eat. Once they took from him what he had thus cooked in
place of his accustomed breakfast, and threw him some coals instead of
it. But this was the last of many attempts to compel him to fast. He
took up the coals, blackened his face, went out, and lay down. At night,
he did not return into the lodge of his parents, but slept without. In
his dream he saw a very beautiful woman come down from above, and stand
at his feet. She said, “Ono-wut-to-kwut-to, I am come for you; see that
you step in my tracks.” The lad obeyed without hesitation, and stepping
carefully in her steps, he presently found himself ascending above the
tops of the trees, through the air, and beyond the clouds. His guide at
length passed through a small round hole, and he following her, found
himself standing on a beautiful and extensive prairie.

They followed the path, which led them to a large and rich looking
lodge; entering here, they saw on one side pipes and war clubs, bows,
arrows, and spears, with the various implements and ornaments of men.
At the other end of the lodge were the things belonging to women. Here
was the home of the beautiful girl who had been his companion, and she
had, on the sticks, a belt she had not finished weaving. She said to
him, “My brother is coming, and I must conceal you.” So putting him in
one corner, she spread the belt over him. Ono-wut-to-kwut-to, however,
watched what passed without, from his concealment, and saw the brother of
the young woman come in, most splendidly dressed, and take down a pipe
from the wall. After he had smoked, he laid aside his pipe, and the sack
containing his pah-koo-se-gun, and said, “When, my sister, will you cease
from these practices? Have you forgotten that the Greatest of the Spirits
has forbidden you to steal the children of those who live below? You
suppose you have concealed this that you have now brought, but do I not
know that he is here in the lodge? If you would not incur my displeasure,
you must send him immediately down to his friends.” But she would not.
He then said to the boy, when he found that his sister was determined
not to dismiss him, “You may as well come out from that place, where you
are not concealed from me, and walk about, for you will be lonesome and
hungry if you remain there.” He took down a bow and arrows, and a pipe of
red stone, richly ornamented, to give him. So the boy came out from under
the belt, and amused himself with the bow and pipe the man gave him, and
he became the husband of the young woman who had brought him up from the
woods near his father’s lodge.

He went abroad in the open prairie, but in all this fair and ample
country, he found no inhabitants, except his wife and her brother. The
plains were adorned with flowers, and garnished with bright and sparkling
streams, but the animals were not like those he had been accustomed to
see. Night followed day, as on the earth, but with the first appearance
of light, the brother-in-law of Ono-wut-to-kwut-to began to make his
preparations to leave the lodge. All day, and every day, he was absent,
and returned in the evening; his wife, also, though not so regular in
the time of her departure and return, was often absent great part of the

He was curious to know where they spent all the time of their absence,
and he obtained from his brother-in-law permission to accompany him
in one of his daily journeys. They went on in a smooth and open
path, through prairies, to which they could see no boundary, until
Ono-wut-to-kwut-to, becoming hungry, asked his companion if he did not
think he should find any game. “Be patient, my brother,” said he; “this
is my road in which I walk every day, and at no great distance is the
place where I constantly eat my dinner. When we arrive there you shall
see how I am supplied with food.”

They came at length to a place where were many fine mats to sit
down upon, and a hole through which to look down upon the earth.
Ono-wut-to-kwut-to, at the bidding of his companion, looked down through
this hole, and saw far beneath him the great lakes, and the villages, not
of the Ojibbeways only, but of all the red skins. In one place he saw
a war party, stealing silently along toward the hunting camp of their
enemies, and his companion told him what would be the result of the
attack they were about to make. In another place he saw people feasting
and dancing: young men were engaged at their sports, and here and there
women were labouring at their accustomed avocations.

The companion of Ono-wut-to-kwut-to called his attention to a group of
children playing beside a lodge. “Do you see,” said he, “that active and
beautiful boy?” at the same time throwing a very small stone, which hit
the child, who immediately fell to the ground, and presently they saw him
carried into the lodge. Then they saw people running about, and heard the
she-she-gwun, and the song and prayer of the medicine man, entreating
that the child’s life might be spared. To this request his companion made
answer, “Send me up the white dog.” Then they could distinguish the hurry
and bustle of preparation for a feast, a white dog killed and singed, and
the people, who were called, assembling at the lodge. While these things
were passing, he addressed himself to Ono-wut-to-kwut-to, saying, “There
are, among you in the lower world, some whom you call great medicine men;
but it is because their ears are open, and they hear my voice, when I
have struck any one, that they are able to give relief to the sick. They
direct the people to send me whatever I call for, and when they have sent
it, I remove my hand from those I had made sick.” When he had said this,
the white dog was parcelled out in dishes, for those that were at the
feast; then the medicine man, when they were about to begin to eat, said,
“We send thee this, Great Manito;” and immediately they saw the dog,
cooked, and ready to be eaten, rising to them through the air. After they
had dined, they returned home by another path.

In this manner they lived for some time, but Ono-wut-to-kwut-to had not
forgotten his friends, and the many pleasant things he had left in his
father’s village, and he longed to return to the earth. At last, his wife
consented to his request. “Since,” said she, “you are better pleased
with the poverty, the cares, and the miseries of the world beneath, then
with the peaceful and permanent delights of these prairies, go. I give
you permission to depart; not only so, but since I brought you hither, I
shall carry you back to the place where I found you, near your father’s
lodge; but remember, you are still my husband, and that my power over you
is in no manner diminished. You may return to your relatives, and live
to the common age of man by observing what I now say to you. Beware how
you venture to take a wife among men. Whenever you do so, you shall feel
my displeasure; and if you marry the second time, it is then you will be
called to return to me.”

Then Ono-wut-to-kwut-to awoke, and found himself on the ground, near
the door of his father’s lodge. Instead of the bright beings of his
vision, he saw about him his aged mother, and his relatives, who told
him he had been absent about a year. For some time he was serious and
abstracted; but, by degrees, the impression of his visit to the upper
world wore off. He began to doubt the reality of what he had heard and
seen. At length, forgetful of the admonitions of his spouse, he married a
beautiful young woman of his own tribe. Four days afterwards she was a
corpse. But even the effect of this fearful admonition was not permanent.
He again ventured to marry, and soon afterwards, going out of his lodge
one night, to listen to some unusual noise, he disappeared, to return no
more. It was believed that his wife from the upper world came to recall
him, according to her threat, and that he still remains in those upper
regions, and has taken the place of his brother-in-law, in overlooking
the affairs of men.

It appears from this tradition, that worship, or sacrifices, are, among
the Ottawwaws, sometimes made to the sun and moon; and they acknowledge
that these luminaries, or rather the man in the sun, and the woman in the
moon, keep watch over all our actions.

The various changes of the moon afford them a method of measuring time,
very definite as to the periods, but variable in the names they give
them. Their old men have many disputes about the number of moons in each
year, and they give different names to each of these. Some of the names
in common use are the following. The first words are in the Ottawwaw, and
the second in the Menomonie dialect.

    O-tu-hu-mene kee-zis—O-tai-hai-min ka-zho—Strawberry moon.

    Me-nes kee-zis—Main ka-zho—Whortleberry moon.

    Menomonie-ka-we kee-zis—Pohia-kun ka-zho—Wild rice gathering

    Be-nah-kwaw-we kee-zis—Paw-we-pe-muk ka-zho—Leaves falling moon.

    Gush-kut-te-ne kee-zis—Wun-nai ka-zho—Ice moon.

    Ah-gim-me-ka-we kee-zis—Wa-si-ko-si ka-zho—Snow shoes, Ojib;
    bright night, Menom.

    Mah-ko kee-zis—Wa-mun-nus-so ka-zho—(Manito o-kee-zis,
    Ojib.)—Bear moon, Ott.; deer rutting moon, Men.; (Spirit moon,

    Kitche-manito o-kee-zis—Ma-cha-ti-wuk wa-mun-nuz-so-wuk—Longest
    moon, good for hunting.[58]

    Me-giz-ze-we kee-zis—Na-ma-pin ka-zho—(Na-ma-bin kee-zis,
    Ott.)—Sucker moon.

    Ne-ke kee-zis—Sho-bo-maw-kun ka-zho—Brant moon, Ojib.; Sugar
    moon, Men.

    Maung-o kee-zis—As-sa-bun ka-zho—Loon’s moon, Ojib.; raccoon
    moon, Men.

    Sah-ge-bug-ah-we kee-zis—Pe-ke-pe-muk ka-zho—Leaves moon.

Another moon spoken of by the Menomonies, is Wai-to-ke Ka-zho, the snake
moon, which belongs to the spring season.

The following short catalogue of stars and constellations, will show that
they pay some attention to the more remote of the heavenly bodies. Some
few of their old men, it is said, have many more names.

    Waw-bun-an-nung—The morning star.

    Ke-wa-din-an-nung—The north star.

    Muk-koo-ste-gwon—The bear’s head. Three stars in the triangle.

    Muh-koo-zhe-gwun—Bear’s rump. Seven stars.

    Oj-eegan-nung-wug—Fisher stars. The bright stars in ursa major,
    and one beyond, which forms the point of the fisher’s nose.

    Mah-to-te-sun—The sweating lodge. One of the poles of this
    lodge is removed. They say the man whom they point out near by,
    was so overcome with the heat of the Mah-to-te-sun, that in his
    hurried attempt to escape, he pulled up this pole.

    Mahng—A loon.

    Nau-ge-maun-gwait—Man in a canoe hunting the loon.

    Ah-wah-to-wuh o-moag—The companions sailing.

    An-nung-o-skun-na—Comet. They have the opinion common among
    ignorant white people, that the appearance of a comet
    is an indication that war is to follow. The Ojibbeway
    An-nung-o-skun-na, seems to signify blazing star. The
    Menomonies call them Sko-tie-nah-mo-kin, the seeing fire. Some
    of the Ojibbeways, also, Wa-ween-e-zis-e-mah-guk Ish-koo-da,
    fire that has hair.

Of the true cause of the increase and decrease of the moon, of eclipses,
and of other phenomena which depend upon the motions of the heavenly
bodies, they have no correct conceptions. When the moon is in eclipse,
they say it is dying, and they load and discharge their guns at it; and
when they perceive the bright part becoming a little larger, they imagine
they have aided to drive away the sickness which was overpowering it.
Of the milky way, they sometimes say, that a turtle has been swimming
along the bottom of the sky, and disturbed the mud. Of the aurora
borealis, which they call the dance of the dead, their opinion, though
a little more poetic, is equally childish. Several meteoric phenomena
they distinguish from those remoter appearances which are beyond our
atmosphere, and of the former they sometimes say, “they belong to us.”

What was long ago stated by Roger Williams, of the mythology of the
Indians of Rhode Island, agrees but in part with the opinions of the
present day among the Ottawwaws. Of Cau-tan-to-wit, “the great south-west
god,” we hear nothing. Ning-gah-be-an-nong Manito, the western god, the
younger brother of Na-na-bon-jou, the god of the country of the dead,
has taken his place. In his Saw-waw-nand, we recognize the Shaw-wun-noug
Manito, the southern god of the Ottawwaws. But all these, Waw-bun-ong
Manito, the god of the morning, or of the east, Ke-way-tin-ong Manito,
the god of the north, with Ka-no-waw-bum-min-uk, “he that sees us,” whose
place is in the sun, are inferior in power to many others; even to the
Ke-zhe-ko-we-nin-ne-wug, the sky people; a race of small, but benevolent
and watchful beings, who are ever ready to do good to mankind.



1. Oto—From Say.


2. Konza.


3. Omawhaw.


4. Yauktong.


5. Dahkotah—Of Upper Mississippi.


6. Minnetahse.


7. Pawnee.


8. Choktaw.


9. Ojibbeway.

    Ning-gooj-waw, or Ba-zhik
    Neezh-waw, or Neezh
    Nis-swaw, or Nis-swe
    Shong-gus-swe, or shong
    Me-dos-swe, or kwaitch

10. Muskwake.

    Ne kot

11. Minsi—From Heckewelder.


12. Algonkin—From Heckewelder.


13. Delaware—From Heckewelder.


14. Mahnomonie.


15. Cree—From Say.


16. Winnebago.


17. Adage—From Duponceau.


18. Muskogee—From Adair.


19. Choktah and Chiksah—From Adair.


20. Cherokee—From Adair.

    So-at-too (11)
    Ta-ra-too (12)

21. Quaddies, (Maine.)—From Duponceau.


22. Quawpaw—From Duponceau’s MS.


23. Penobscot—From Duponceau’s MS.


24. Miami—From Duponceau’s MS.


25. Shawnese—From Duponceau’s MS.

    In-gut-i, or, n’gut-i

26. Unachog—From Duponceau’s MS.

    Pa, or, na-paa
    Na-cut-tah, or, cut-tah

27. Natick—From Elliot’s Bib.


28. Nousaghauset—From Elliot’s Bib. in MS.


29. Sourikwosiorum.—From John De Laet.


30. Canadenses, Ib.—From Auct. Lescarbot.


31. Saukikani—From J. Daet, Auct. Johan. Smith


32. Algonkin—From J. Long.


33. Chippeway—From J. Long.


34. New Stockbridge—From Kao-no-mut, a woman who had been living on Fox
River, 1827.


35. Mohegan.


36. Monsee—From an Indian at Buffaloe.


37. Naudoway—From Tanner.


38. Seneca—From an Indian at Buffaloe, 1827.


39. Potiwattomie—From an Indian at Detroit, 1827.


40. Ottawwaw—From Tanner.


41. Chippewyan—From a German Interpreter.


42. Chippewyan—From M’Kenzie.


43. Chippewyan—From a woman, a native of Churchill.

    Krah-ha, or tah-rhe

44. Anglo Saxon.

    Twe-gen, or, twa
    Threo, or, thry
    Feo-ther, or, feo-wer

45. Cree—From M’Kenzie.


46. Algonkin—From M’Kenzie.


47. Chippewyan—From a Chippewyan.


48. Winnebago—From a Winnebago.


49. Cree—From a native.


50. Mahnesheet, (slow-tongues,) residing on the St. Johns, N. B. From a




Here, it must be acknowledged, we enter a barren field, offering little
to excite industry, or to reward inquiry. Without literature to give
perpetuity to the creations of genius, or to bear to succeeding times
the record of remarkable events, the Americans have no store house of
ancient learning to open to the curiosity of the European race. They have
probably never thought like the Arabs, that the cultivation of their
language was an object of importance; and though the orator must at times
have experienced the effect of a happy choice of expression, he must
always have been confined to a narrow range, by the necessity of keeping
within the comprehension of his hearers. Hence their public speakers
appear to depend more on a certain vehemence and earnestness of manner,
which is intelligible without words, than upon any elegance of thought,
or refinement of diction.

Their songs, whether of war or devotion, consist, for the most, of a
few words or short phrases many times repeated; and in their speeches,
they dwell long and vehemently on the same idea. One who hears an Indian
orator without comprehending his language, would confidently suppose
that his discourse abounded with meaning; but these speeches, like
their tedious and monotonous chants, when clearly understood, appear
so poor and jejune, that few white men would listen to either, were it
not with the hope of extracting information, of which the speaker, or
the singer himself, must be wholly unconscious. But after all is heard
and explained, and carefully examined in all its bearings, it must be
principally the business of a quick and fertile imagination, to find
in them moral instruction or historical information. If we find among
the American Indians traditional items, bearing manifest and strong
resemblance to those of the great Asiatic family, from whom we have
adopted many of our religious opinions, this can only be considered
as indicating what needed no proof; namely: That this people, as well
as ourselves, have descended from that primeval stock, which, planted
somewhere upon the mountains of Asia, has sent forth its branches into
all parts of the earth. Thither, we are taught by the most ancient human
records, and by the concurrent deductions of all sound philosophy, and
honest inquiry, to look for the great fountain of the human race: and
if some of the streams, in descending thence, have been concealed in
swamps, or sunk beneath sands, we ought not therefore to doubt that
their origin is to be thence deduced. But that existing or retrieveable
monuments or resemblances, will ever enable the curious satisfactorily
to trace the American branch to its origin, need not now be expected.
Nevertheless, this part of the subject may have interest for those who
love to trace the human character through all situations and exposures,
and to contemplate the effect of revolutions in external circumstances,
on manners, language, and metaphysical opinions.

Sufficient evidence probably exists, to convince many, that the natives
of the central regions of North America, whatever diversities of dialect
may now exist, are essentially of the same race with the Peruvians, the
Mexicans, and the Natchez; between whom and the ancient inhabitants of
Greece and Italy, and that portion of the present population of India
who worship Brama, Boudd, Ganesa, Iswara, etc. a near relationship
has already been ascertained. In the metamorphoses which the Indian
traditions assign to many trees, plants, animals, and other things, we
are strongly reminded of the similar superstitions preserved by the Roman
poets. We find, also, in the American traditions, distinct allusions
to a general deluge, and to several other particulars which we are
accustomed to consider as resting solely on the authority of the Mosaic
history. But when we reflect on the almost universal distribution of
these opinions, in some shape or other, among all known races of men, we
may admit a doubt whether they have been derived from the historical
books of the Hebrews, or whether they are not rather the glimmerings
of that primitive light, which, at the first great division after the
flood, into the families of Shem, Ham, and Japhet, and more recently at
the dispersion of Babel, must have been in possession of all mankind. We
find in the Mosaic history, written, as it was, long after the period
here spoken of, abundant evidence, not only that traditional remembrance
of the deluge, and other great events in the early history of mankind,
was still preserved; but that direct revelations of the mind and will
of the Creator had been, and were still made to men, at sundry times,
and in divers places. Within two or three hundred years of the deluge,
some knowledge of the mechanic arts, at least ship building and masonry,
must have remained, or so many men would not have been found ready to
undertake the erection of a tower whose top should reach _unto Heaven_.
At this time, Noah, the second father of mankind, and his three sons,
who, as well as himself, had known the “world before the flood,” were
still alive. Any branch, therefore, of the family of either of the three
sons of Noah, removed at this time to “the isles of the gentiles,” or to
whatever remote part of the earth their knowledge of navigation and other
arts might enable them to reach, would retain at least a traditional
cosmogony and theogony, which, after ever so many years, or ever so wide
and devious a wandering, must probably have preserved resemblance, in
some particulars, to the originals. Hence it will, we think, be evident,
that although we may find a strong resemblance between some of the
observances of the Indians and the Hebrews, we are by no means to infer,
that one of these races must have descended from the other. All that they
have in common, will probably be found to have grown out of similarity of
circumstances; or may be traced to times long previous to the calling of

But let us leave this profitless discussion, which has long since
received more attention than it deserves, and return to the subject
before us.

The poetry of the Indians, if they can properly be said to have any,
is the language of excitement, and the expression of passion; and if
whatever has this character, and is at the same time raised above the
tone and style of ordinary conversation, and is or may be sung to music,
is poetry, it cannot be denied that they have among them poetry and poets
in abundance. Excitement of whatever kind, calls forth a peculiar manner
of expression; and though measure and rhythm, polished and artificial
structure, equally balanced and harmonious periods, may be wanting, they
commonly accompany the utterance of their words by some modulation of
the voice, like what we call singing. In all their religious feasts and
solemnities, they address their prayers and praises to superior beings in
song. In all times of distress and danger, or when suffering under the
apprehension of immediate starvation, or awaiting the approach of death
in some more horrid form, the Indian expresses his anxiety, offers up
his petition, or perhaps recalls some favourite and cherished idea, his
boast in life, and his consolation in death, by a measured and monotonous
chant, in which the ear of the stranger distinguishes principally the
frequent repetition of the same word.

Nor is it on the serious and momentous occasions of life only, that
we witness these rude efforts at poetry and music. Love, in its
disappointment, or in its success; sorrow, hope, and intoxication,
choose the same method of utterance. When in a state of intoxication,
as they often are, the men, and more particularly the women of some
tribes, are heard by night, and often almost throughout the night,
singing in a plaintive and melancholy tone of the death of their friends,
or of other misfortunes. One who listens to these lamentations, while
darkness and distance interpose to conceal the too often disgusting
objects who utter them, and to soften down and mellow the tone of high
pitched voices, will often find something affecting in their honest
and unpremeditated complaints. Their voices are often fine, and the
sentences they utter, are the language, most commonly, of real suffering,
devested of affectation or art. From the great frequency with which
these melancholy chantings, and the profuse flow of tears occur, as the
consequences of intoxication among them, one might infer, either that
their condition has in it a greater share of sorrow and of suffering
than that of some other races, or that the excitement of strong drink
affects them in a different manner. A fair inference, at least, is, that
in their sober moments, they, like other men, wear a mask. Indeed, those
who best know the Indians, are best acquainted with the constant efforts
they make at concealment, and how well they at length teach the outward
aspect to conceal or misrepresent the internal emotions. But for these
unpremeditated effusions, particularly for the whining and drivelling
of intoxication, the most enthusiastic admirer of the Indians will not
claim the appellation of poetry. If any thing among them deserves this
name, we must search for it among those traditionary songs which descend
from father to son, and are transferred from man to man by purchase, to
be used in their feasts, in the administration of remedies to the sick,
and above all, in medicine hunting. That some of the songs thus preserved
have considerable antiquity, we do not doubt; that they have much merit
as poetical compositions, we are not disposed to assert. The poetry
of the Indians, like their eloquence, requires the assistance of able
translators, and those not too scrupulous to draw only from the materials
of the original.

The method of delineation, by which they aid the memory in retaining the
recalling, on occasion, these compositions, exhibits, perhaps, one of the
earliest steps towards a written language. Yet, from its existence among
them, in the present form, one would not hastily infer, that they had
never been intruded upon by men of another race, learning or arts would
finally have flourished among them. There are but too many evidences,
that the aboriginal Americans are, by temperament, by some peculiarity
of physical structure, or moral propensity, a more sluggish race, than
the European; consequently, destined to a slow advance, or, perhaps,
like most of the Asiatics, to be for ages stationary, or retrogradent,
in the journey of improvement. We would not risk the assertion, that the
Americans are an inferior race; the barrier to their improvement appears
to be that indolence which is not less a habit of their minds than of
their bodies, and which disqualifies them for spontaneous and long
continued and laborious thinking. Hunger may, and does, overcome the
habit of bodily indolence, or, at least, sometimes interrupts it; but,
in the Indian character, the tendency is always to quiescence. Instances
are infinitely rare, among them, of that restlessness of mind so common
in the European race, which is ever in quest of something beyond the
complete gratification of the wants of the body, and which has been the
true source of so many great and ennobling actions. The past history
of this race of men, is not wanting in instances of the manifestation
of that inherent sluggishness of disposition, which has kept them back
from the knowledge, the improvements, and the civilization, which have
been so long urged upon them. Let it be granted, as doubtless it should
be, that the Jesuits, and, to some extent, at least the Moravian, and
other protestant missionaries, commenced their labours where they should
have ended them, by offering to the benighted minds of the Indians, the
stupendous, and, to them, totally incomprehensible doctrines of the
christian religion; and that they, in a great measure, neglected to
teach them those arts, which, by ensuring an abundance of means for the
sustenance of life, might enable them, first of all, to fix in settled
habitations, and afterwards gradually to adopt those habits and opinions
which have ever been found indispensable in preparing the wilderness for
the reception of the good seed. Yet, must we not acknowledge, that the
descendants of those who were early received into intimate association
with the whites, and learned from them the mechanical, and all the common
arts of life, are, at this time, lamentably deficient in the virtues, as
well as the knowledge we might have expected from them?

It is no part of the design of these remarks, to discourage any
attempts that may be made to introduce the christian religion among
these people; on the contrary, we look upon these efforts as always,
in a greater or less degree, useful to the Indians; they originate as
well in a diffusive and amiable benevolence, as a feeling of justice,
and severe, though tardy compunction, which would seek, at this late
day, to render to the starved and shivering remnant of the people who
received us to their country in our day of small things, some recompense
for the fair inheritance which we have wrested from their forefathers.
The example of the Cherokees, and some others in the south, has been
sufficient to prove, that under the influence of a mild climate, and
a fertile soil, these people can be taught habits of settled, if not
of persevering industry. From this condition of things, we can already
see how, among that people, habits of mental enterprise and industry
are to spring up, and we look forward with confidence to a source of
continued improvement. That all the other bands and tribes, under similar
auspices, and similar influences, would pursue a similar course, cannot
be doubted. Philologists and speculative theorists may divide and class
as they please; to the patient and industrious observer, who has mingled
intimately with this race, in the low and fertile districts of the
Mississippi, in the broad and smiling plains of Arkansaw and Red River,
in the forests of the Upper Mississippi, and among the pines and the
mosses of the upper lakes, it will be evident that the aboriginal people
of the United States Territory, are all of one family, not by physical
constitution and habit only, but by the structure and temperament
of their minds; their modes of thinking and acting; and, indeed, in
all physical and mental peculiarities, which set them apart from the
remainder of the human family, as a peculiar people. Whatever course has,
in one situation, proved in any measure effectual, to reclaim them from
their vague and idle habits, will certainly succeed in another situation,
though perhaps more slowly, as they may be influenced by a less genial
climate, or a more barren soil.

_Song for the metai, or for medicine hunting._

[Illustration: Fig. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.]

Fig. 1. Shi-e-gwuh ne-no-no-nen-dum ah-me, Me-tai we-nin-ne-wug,
ne-kau-nug ane-mub-be-un-neh.[59]

Now I hear it, my friends, of the Metai, who are sitting about me.

This, and the three following, are sung by the principal chief of the
Metai, to the beat of his bwoin ah-keek, or drum. The lines from the
sides of the head of the figure indicate hearing.

2. O-wa-nain ba-me-je-waun-ga? Man-i-to O-ba-me-je-wa-un-ga.

Who makes this river flow? The Spirit, he makes this river flow.

The second figure is intended to represent a river, and a beaver swimming
down it.

3. Ka-weh-whau-bo-me-tai, ka-weh-whau-bo-me-tai neh-kau-nuk neej-huh
nish-a-nau-ba ka-ke-ka-ne-me-kwain neh-kau-nuk.

Look at me well, my friends; examine me, and let us understand that we
are all companions.

This translation is by no means literal. The words express the boastful
claims of a man, who sets himself up for the best and most skilful in the

4. O-wa-nain ba-bah-mis-sa-haht, weej-huh nish-a-nau-ba? Be-nais-se-wah
ba-bah-mo-sa-haht, weej-huh nish-a-nau-ba.

Who maketh to walk about, the social people? A bird maketh to walk about
the social people.

By the bird, the medicine man means himself; he says, that his voice
has called the people together. Weej-huh nish-a-nau-ba, or weej-a
nish-a-nau-ba, seems to have the first syllable from the verb, which
means, to accompany. The two lines drawn across, between this figure and
the next, indicate that here the dancing is to commence.

5. Neen ba-pah-mis-sa-gahn ne-goche ah-wes-sie neen-gah-kwa-tin ah-waw.

I fly about, and if any where I see an animal, I can shoot him.

This figure of a bird, (probably an eagle or hawk,) seems intended to
indicate the wakefulness of the senses, and the activity required to
ensure success in hunting. The figure of the moose, which immediately
follows, reminding the singer of the cunning and extreme shyness of that
animal, the most difficult of all to kill.

[Illustration: 6. 7. 8. 9.]

6. Neen-go-te-naun ke-da-ne,[60] ne-miz-zho-taun ke-da-ne, ah-wis-sie
ke-da-ne, ne-miz-zho-taun ke-da-ne.

I shoot your heart; I hit your heart, oh animal, your heart, I hit your

This apostrophe is mere boasting, and is sung with much gesticulation and

7. A-zhe-nahng gwit-to iah-na ish-ko-tang a-zhe-nahng gwit-to iah-na.

I make myself look like fire.

This is a medicine man, disguised in the skin of a bear. The small
parallelogram, under the bear, signifies fire, and they, by some
composition of gunpowder, or other means, contrive to give the appearance
of fire to the mouth and eyes of the bear skin, in which they go about
the village late at night, bent on deeds of mischief, oftentimes of
blood. We learn how mischievous are these superstitions, when we are
informed, that they are the principal men of the Metai, who thus wander
about the villages, in the disguise of a bear, to wreak their hatred on
a sleeping rival, or their malice on an unsuspecting adversary. But the
customs of the Indians require of any one who may see a medicine man on
one of these excursions, to take his life immediately, and whoever does
so is accounted guiltless.

8. Ga-tah e-no-tum mau-na ne-be-way me-ze-ween, ne-be-way neen-dai,
gin-no-tah mau-na.

I am able to call water from above, from beneath, and from around.

Here the medicine man boasts of his power over the elements, and his
ability to do injury or benefit. The segment of a circle with dots in it,
represents the water, and the two short lines touching the head of the
figure, indicate that he can draw it to him.

9. Yah-nah-we nah-gwe-hah-ga e-nai-ne-wah, kin-ne-nah.

Yah-nah-we nah-gwe-hah-ga ma-tai-mo-sah, kin-ne-nah.

Yah-nah-we nah-gwe-hah-ga o-ba-no-sah, kin-ne-nah.

I cause to look like the dead, a man I did.

I cause to look like the dead, a woman I did.

I cause to look like the dead, a child I did.

The lines drawn across the face of this figure, indicate poverty,
distress, and sickness; the person is supposed to have suffered from the
displeasure of the medicine man. Such is the religion of the Indians!
Its boast is to put into the hands of the devout, supernatural means, by
which he may wreak vengeance on his enemies, whether weak or powerful,
whether they be found among the foes of his tribe, or the people of
his own village. This Metai, so much valued and revered by them, seems
to be only the instrument, in the hands of the crafty, for keeping in
subjection the weak and the credulous, which may readily be supposed to
be the greater part of the people.

[Illustration: 10.]

10. Ain-de-aun, ain-de-aun, ne-kau-neh; ah-wes-sie, an-wes-sie,
ne-kau-neh, ne-mah-meek ko-naw-waw, ne-kau-neh.

I am such, I am such, my friends; any animal, any animal, my friends, I
hit him right, my friends.

This boast of certain success in hunting, is another method by which he
hopes to elevate himself in the estimation of his hearers. Having told
them that he has the power to put them all to death, he goes on to speak
of his infallible success in hunting, which will always enable him to be
a valuable friend to such as are careful to secure his good will.

_Song for the Metai only._

[Illustration: Fig. 1. 2. 3.]

Fig. 1. Nah-ne-bah o-sa aun neen-no ne-mah-che oos-sa ya-ah-ne-no.

I walk about in the night time.

This first figure represents the wild cat, to whom, on account of his
vigilance, the medicines for the cure of diseases were committed.
The meaning probably is, that to those who have the shrewdness, the
watchfulness, and intelligence of the wild cat, is entrusted the
knowledge of those powerful remedies, which, in the opinion of the
Indians, not only control life, and avail to the restoration of health,
but give an almost unlimited power over animals and birds.

2. Neen-none-da-aun ke-to-ne-a, ma-ni-to we-un-ne.

I hear your mouth, you are an ill (or evil) spirit.

The wild cat, (or the sensible and intelligent medicine man,) is always
awake; or if he seems to sleep, by means of the supernatural powers of
his medicine, he becomes acquainted with all that passes around him. If
one man speaks evil of another, to bring sickness upon him, the wild
cat hears and knows it; but confident in his own superior strength, he
disregards it. At the bar they begin to dance. The lines from the mouth
of the human figure, represent the speeches of the evil minded and

3. Shi-a ne-mo-kin-nuh-we, be-zhe-wa-wah[61] neah-wa. (Twice.)

Now I come up out of the ground; I am wild cat.

I am master of the wild cats; and having heard your talk, I come up
out of the ground to see what you do. This man, it appears, claims
superiority over the other medicine men, and now rouses himself to attend
to what is passing. The bar across the neck of the figure representing
the wild cat, indicates that he is just coming out of the earth.

[Illustration: 4. 5. 6.]

4. Bin-nah! neen be-zhe-wa-wah ke-meen-waw-bum-me-na.

Behold! I am wild cat; I am glad to see you all wild cats.

This figure, with open eyes and erect ears, denotes earnestness and

The word ke-meen-waw-bum-me-na, affords a strong instance of what
has been called the synthetic character of this language; _ke_,
the inseparable pronoun, in the accusative plural, _meen_, from
ne-mee-noan-dun, (I love, or am pleased,) and waw-bum from ne-waw-bo-maw,
(I see.)

5. Ne-man-i-to, o-wa-she-na a-ai-gah nee-na ketto-we goh-we-ke-na.

I am a spirit; what I have I give to you in your body.

This is the figure of a medicine man, with his pah-gah-ko-gua-un, or the
instrument with which he beats his drum, in his hand. He appears to be
boasting of his own powers.

6. Ah-ne ah-gah, kah-neen-na ke-taus-saw-wa-unna ke-nis-se-go-na.

Your own tongue kills you; you have too much tongue.

This is addressed to the malicious man, and the slanderer, one who speaks
evil of others. His crooked and double speech goes out of his mouth, but
is changed to an arrow in his hand, and turned against himself; his own
body bears the marks of the injuries he would have inflicted on others.
The lines across the chest are the traces of misfortune, brought on him
by the indulgence of his own malicious disposition. In the songs and
addresses of some of the most esteemed chiefs, or persons, who may be
considered in some measure set apart for the Metai, are many attempts to
convey and enforce moral instruction, or rather the inculcation of those
opinions and actions which constitute the virtues of savage life.

_Song for beaver hunting and the Metai._

[Illustration: Fig. 1. 2. 3. 4.]

Fig. 1. O-nub-be-tum-maun, Metai-we-gaun, Manito-we-ga-un.

I sit down in the lodge of the Metai, the lodge of the Spirit.

This figure is intended to represent the area of the Metai-we-gaun, or
medicine lodge, which is called also the lodge of the Manito, and two men
have taken their seats in it. The matter of the song seems to be merely

2. Neezh-o-go-na we-tah-bim mah-kum-ma ne-kaun; ne-o-go-na we-tah-bim
mah-kum-ma ne-ka-un.

Two days must you sit fast, my friend; four days must you sit fast, my

The two perpendicular lines on the breast of this figure, are read
neo-gone, (two days,) but are understood to mean two years; so of the
four lines drawn obliquely across the legs, these are four years. The
heart must be given to this business for two years, and the constrained
attitude of the legs indicates the rigid attention, and serious
consideration, which the subject requires.

3. Wha-be-nia, Meen-de-mo-sah, ke-ko-nia wha-be-nia.

Throw off, woman, thy garments, throw off.

The power of their medicines, and the incantations of the Metai, are
not confined in their effect to animals of the chase, to the lives and
the health of men; they control, also, the minds of all, and overcome
the modesty, as well as the antipathies of women. The Indians firmly
believe that many a woman, who has been unsuccessfully solicited by a
man, is not only, by the power of the Metai, made to yield, but even in a
state of madness, to tear off her garments, and pursue after the man she
before despised. These charms have greater power than those in the times
of superstition among the English, ascribed to the fairies, and they
need not, like the plant used by Puck, be applied to the person of the
unfortunate being who is to be transformed; they operate at a distance,
through the medium of the Miz-zin-ne-neens.

4. Na-wy-o-kun-ne-nah wun-nah-he-nun-ne-wah ba-mo-sa keen-nah-na.

Who makes the people walk about? It is I that calls you.

This is in praise of the virtue of hospitality, that man being most
esteemed among them, who most frequently calls his neighbours to his

[Illustration: 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.]

5. He-o-win-nah ha-ne-mo-we-tah neen-ge-te-mah-hah bo-che-ga-ha-ne
Mo-e-tah neen-ge-te-mah hah-nah.

Any thing I can shoot with it, (this medicine,) even a dog I can kill
with it.

6. Nin-goo-te-naun ke-ta-he, e-nah-ne-wah ke-ta-he.

I shoot thy heart, man, thy heart.

He means, perhaps, a buck moose by the word e-nah-ne-wah, or man.

7. Neen ne-na-sah waw-be-maung neen-ne-na-sah.

I can kill a white loon, I can kill.

The white loon, _rara avis nigroque simillino cygno_, is certainly a rare
and most difficult bird to kill; so we may infer, that this boaster can
kill any thing, which is the amount of the meaning intended in that part
of his song, recorded by the five last figures. Success in hunting they
look upon as a virtue of a higher character, if we may judge from this
song, than the patience under suffering, or the rakishness among women,
or even the hospitality recommended in the former part.

8. Ne-kau-nah-ga....

My friends....

This seems to be an attempt to delineate a man sitting with his hands
raised to address his friends; but the remainder of his speech is not
remembered. This is sufficient to show that the meaning of the characters
in this kind of picture writing is not well settled, and requires a
traditional interpretation to render it intelligible.

9. Shah bwo-ah-hah-mah ne-mow-why-waw-ne-no ah-buh-hah-mah

I open my wolf skin, and the death struggle must follow.

This is a wolf skin, used as a medicine bag, and he boasts, that whenever
he opens it, something must die in consequence.

_Song for medicine hunting—rarely for the Metai._

[Illustration: Fig. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.]

Fig. 1. Waw-ne-ge-ah-na gah-ne-geah-na Manito-wah-ga gah-ge-zhe-hah-gwaw

I wished to be born, I was born, and after I was born I made all spirits.

2. Gee-she-hah-ga manito-whah-ga.

I created the spirits.

The figures in the commencement of this long and much esteemed religious
song, represent Na-na-bush, the intercessor, the nephew of mankind.
They seem designed to carry back the thoughts towards the beginning of
time, and have a manifest allusion to a period when this mysterious and
powerful being exercised a wish to assume the form of a man. In the
second figure he is represented as holding a rattle snake in his hand,
and he calls himself the creator of the mani-toge. The Indians calling
invisible and spiritual beings by the same name which they give to the
lowest class of reptiles, it is doubtful whether Na-na-bush here claims
to have created intelligences superior to man, or only reptiles, insects,
and other small creatures, which they commonly call Mani-toag.

3. Na-hah-be-ah-na na-nah-boo-shoo, o-tish-ko-tahn ma-jhe-ke-sha.

He sat down Na-na-bush; his fire burns forever.

This figure appears to be descriptive of the first assumption by
Na-na-bush of his office, as the friend and patron of men. He is
represented as taking a seat on the ground. Fire, with the northern
Indians, is the emblem of peace, happiness, and abundance. When one band
goes against another, they go, according to their language, to put out
the fire of their enemies; therefore, it is probable that in speaking of
the perpetual fire of Na-na-bush, it is only intended to allude to his
great power, and the permanence of his independence and happiness.[62]

4. Tah-gwa ne-mah-go-so-me-go, ne-ah-ge-zhe-we ne-kaun, ne-kaun.

Notwithstanding you speak evil of me, from above are my friends, my

The fourth figure, which, in the original, is a priapus, indicates that
a man takes up the discourse. The circle about his head, but descending
no lower than his shoulders, shows that his help and his protection are
from above, and in the strength thus derived he is able to defy those who
speak evil of him, or seek, by the power of their medicines, to break his

5. Chaw-gaw ko-no mau-na se-maun-duk waw-wan-o-sa-wah.

I can use many kinds of wood to make a bear unable to walk.

The business of hunting is one of the first importance to the Indians,
consequently, it finds a place in his devotions; indeed, devotion itself
having apparently no object beyond the wants and weaknesses of this life,
relief in times of hunger, is one of the most important blessings they
ever ask for in their prayers. Accordingly, their young men are directed
never to use these songs, or to have recourse to the medicine hunt,
except in times of the extremest need.

6. Ke-te-na-ne-me-na we-nis-ze-bug-go-na an-no-kau-tum-mau-na,

Of you I think, that you use the We-nis-ze-bug-gone, I think this of you.

The common spicy wintergreen, a stalk of which this figure is intended
to represent, is much valued as a medicine by the Indians. It is called
_we-nis-se-bug-goon_, from _we-ne-sik_, the spicy birch, and _bug-goon_,
which in composition means leaf.

7. Ma-mo-yah-na, mis-kwe, ma-mo-yah-na.

That which I take (is) blood, that which I take.

Here is the figure of a bear lying dead on the ground, and a hand is
thrust into the body, to take out some of the blood. The instruction
communicated probably is, that when the prayers offered in the
preparation for the medicine hunt have been answered, and an animal
killed, offerings should be immediately made, by taking some of the blood
in the hand, and pouring it on the ground; or, as is more commonly done,
by throwing a handful of it towards each of the four cardinal points.

8. Hi-a-gwo ne-ma-nah-ho-gahn nah-we-he-a! whe-e-ya!

Now I have something to eat.

The two last words seem to have no very definite meaning; they are
repeated at the end of some of the sentences, apparently only to lengthen
out the sound. This figure is that of a lean and hungry man, who, having
asked for food, has been heard, and is now proceeding to allay his hunger.

[Illustration: 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.]

9. We-wah-kwa be-gah-na mani-to-ga.

I cover my head, sitting down to sleep, ye spirits.

The figure is that of a man, probably designed to be represented in a
recumbent position, and drawing his blanket over him. His prayer having
been answered, his wants supplied, he declares to the spirits his
intention to take repose.

10. Moosh-kin a guh-wah man-i-to-whah, whah-he-yah! whe-ha-ya! etc.

I fill my kettle for the spirit.

This is the hunter’s lodge, and the kettle hanging in it contains the
heart of the animal killed in the medicine hunt, of which none but a
man and a hunter must venture to taste. Should a woman or a dog even
touch this heart, or the blood of the animal, sudden death, or lingering
sickness, would follow it. This effect, as well as the dark colour which
the Indians say the skin of the females assumes, in instances of the
violation of this rule, they attribute to the effect of the medicine
applied by the hunter to the heart of the Me-ze-nin-ne-shah. They point
out instances of women, formerly distinguished among them for beauty, and
particularly for the fairness of the skin, who, by eating of the heart,
or touching the blood of an animal killed in medicine hunting, have not
only lost that enviable distinction, but have become disgusting and
frightful objects, the skin being blackened and covered with ulcers.

11. Nah-nah-wa-kum-me-ga wa-nuk-ke-she nah-neh keen-o-wah man-i-to-whah.

Long ago, in the old time, since I laid myself down, ye are spirits.

This is the figure of a snake running over the ground; but some are of
opinion that the delineation should be different, namely, an old woman
lying down in the middle of the ground. A new speaker is here introduced,
which is the mythological personage called Me-suk-kum-me-go-kwa, the
grand mother of mankind, to whom Na-na-bush gave in keeping, for the
use of his uncles and aunts, all roots and plants, and other medicines,
derived from the earth. She received, at the same time, especial
direction never to leave home, and always to surrender to men the
treasures deposited in her bosom, when they should be, in a suitable
manner, demanded of her. Hence it is, that the medicine men make an
address to Me-suk-kum-me-go-kwa, whenever they take any thing from the
earth, which is to be used as medicine.

12. Ne-mo-kin-nen-naun she-maun-duk kwun-ne-no nuh-pe-mo-ke-ne-naun.

I open you for a bear, I open you.

Me-suk-kum-me-go-kwa speaks to one of the medicines whose power she had
just acknowledged, by calling them spirits, and says, I disclose, or
reveal you for a bear, or to enable the hunter to kill a bear.

13. Me-too-ga man-i-to-too-ga, heo-yeo-yah-yoh! he-ge-tah-waw-kum-me-ga
wy-oan do-sa-jeek me-to-ga-nah, whe-i-ah! whe-i-ah!

That is a Spirit which comes both from above and below. (Here they begin
to dance.)

14. Whain-je-neen-da su-mah-ga chah-ge-mah-ni-to-whah-ga. (Twice.)

Neen-nis-sah ween-neen-dah so-mah-we-neen-nah chah-ga-to man-i-to
whah-ga, yah-we-he-ya! whe-ge-a! (Twice.)

I am he that giveth success, because all spirits help me.

15. Me-ge-ne-nah me-ge-ne-nah me-gwun-nah-ga me-ge-ne-nah, WHE-HE-YA!

The feather, the feather; it is the thing, the feather.

It sometimes happens that the hunter has wandered far from his lodge,
and has neither birch bark on which to delineate his Me-zen-ne-neens,
nor o-num-nu, or other powerful medicine to apply to its heart. In
these cases he takes some of the ashes of his fire, and spreading it
on a smooth place, he traces in it the figure of the animal; he then
takes a feather and sticks it in the heart, then applies fire until it
is consumed to the surface of the ashes, and on this he places the same
reliance as on the more common method of treating the Me-zen-ne-neens.

[Illustration: 16. 17. 18. 19. 20.]

16. Wha o-man-i-to-whah? HE-AH-E-WHE-YA! ma-she-ge-na pe-po-sa-jeek
wha-in-je man-i-to-whah, ah-keeng pa-mo-sah HAH-HE-WHE-YA!

Who is a spirit? He that walketh with the serpent, walking on the ground;
he is a spirit.

This figure is nearly the same as is given to Nana-bush, in the beginning
of the song, and an allusion is probably intended to the time when this
interpreter between mankind and the Supreme Spirit, the Creator of all
things, was driven from the presence of his father, to dwell with the
meanest things of this world. The allusions in the traditionary fables of
the Algonkins, to the quarrel between Na-na-bush and the Great Spirit,
are frequent, and cannot fail to remind any one of the most important
of the doctrines of the christian religion. It can scarce be doubted
that, from some source or other, these people have derived some obscure
conceptions of the incarnation and mediatorial office of the second
person in the Divine Trinity.[63]

17. He-ah gut-tah wees-sene, wun-no-kwa neen-nah neen-de-kwa-wug-ge-ga
ween-dum mah-wah neen-nah-hah neen-nah whe-he-ya!

Now they will eat something, my women; now I tell them they will eat.

This figure, with open mouth and distended belly, seems to speak the
language of human thanksgiving, and gratitude for favours conferred by a
superior power.

18. O-num-mun-nah nin-go-che-we-nah. (Twice.)

This yellow ochre, I will try it.

The o-num-mun, a yellowish earth, which they find in many places, and
which is particularly abundant on one of the branches of the Illinois
River, thence called O-num-mun-ne See-be, when roasted in the fire,
becomes red, and is a medicine to which they attribute great power. It is
a little sack of this which is disproportionately represented in the hand
of the figure.

19. Yah-hah nin-go-che-we-nah whe-he-ya-ha! be-nais-se-waw yah-hah
nin-go-tin-non-gay nin-go-che-hah-hah, yah-hah nin-go-te-non-ga.

Now I wish to try my bird; sometimes I used to try, and sometimes it used
to be something.

The figure is that of a bird’s skin, in which his medicine is contained,
and it is that, and not the skin itself, he wishes to try.

20. Ah-wes-sie nees-sah neen-no, ka-she-e-way ke-kaunne-nah; ah-wis-sie
nees-sah neen-no, whe-he-ya! He-whe ya!

I can kill any animal, because the loudspeaking thunder helps me; I can
kill any animal.

This large bird, whose open mouth indicates the power of his voice, is
not one who inhabits the earth, or is ever seen; he lives in the clouds,
and his voice is the thunder. He is more commonly called a-nim-me-kee,
but here ke-kaun; our loud sounding medicine is strong to give us wind or
rain, or whatever state of the air may be needful to ensure success in
the hunt.

[Illustration: 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.]

21. Mah-mo-yah-na hah-che-maun-duk hah-yo-ta-he mah-mo-yah-na.

I take a bear, his heart I take.

The allusion is here to the observances respecting the heart and blood of
animals killed in medicine hunting, and the sacrifices to be made in the
event of success.

22. O-she-she-gwa-waw-tun-wa-we-tun-ga neen-dah buh-zheen-ga
tun-wa-we-tun-ga, whe-he-ya!

A rattle snake makes a noise on the poles of my lodge; he makes a noise.

The jealousy of rival hunters is a frequent cause of quarrels and
troubles among the Indians. This man boasts that the rattle snake, which
always gives notice when danger is near, is on the poles of his lodge,
and no evil can come near him without his being informed of it. His life
is guarded by a superior power, and he fears not what his enemies can do
to him.

23. O-shaw-wah-no nah-o-bah-guh-he gun-nun-na, ho-kah-mik a-no-gweh,
whe-he-ya! Neen-da-bwa-wa se-to nah-na, whe-he! ya-ha!

To a Shawnee, the four sticks used in this song belonged. When struck
together they were heard all over the country.

This is the figure of a man holding in his left hand the four
nah-o-bah-e-gun-nun, or sticks, on which this song was recorded, and the
authorship is claimed by a Shawnee, from whom the Ojibbeways acknowledge
to have received it; and here, it is probable, the performance originally
concluded. The remaining figures appear to have been added from other

24. Hi-ah shah-we mah-mo-ke-ah-na Man-i-to ne-whaw-baw-maw ah-mik-kwug
ne-whaw-baw-maig, whe-ha-ya!

I come up from below; I come down from above; I see the spirit; I see

The design of this figure is to suggest to the mind, that the spirit, to
whom the prayers in the medicine hunting are addressed, not only knows
where animals are on the surface of the ground, but that so great is his
power, he can create them where they did not before exist, to supply the
wants of those that pray unto him, and can cause them to come up out of
the earth.

25. We-waw-bun-o-kah-tawn neen-gah-beah no-kwa-nah we-waw-bun o-kah-tawn,

I can make an east wind come and pass over the ground.

This is sung four times, the north, the west, and the south winds being
each, in turn, substituted for the east wind here spoken of. The meaning
is, that the spirit has power to give a wind in any direction that may be
necessary for the success of the hunter; that he controls all the changes
of the atmosphere, and will overrule them in such a manner as to ensure
the success of those whose medicine is strong; in other words, whose
prayer is effectual. They must therefore neither regard the wind nor the
sky, but go forward in confidence of success. The idea of the circle in
this figure, into which the winds are represented as rushing, is derived
from the apparent form of the visible horizon; the Indians neither know,
nor will they believe that the form of the earth is globular.

[Illustration: 26. 27.]

26. Na-nah nub-be-gah-ne-na ha-ge-tah wah-kum-me-ga uk-ke-ko-no-dah
go-na, neen-na-nah nah-be-yahn-ne-na, ke-na-nah nub-be-ah neen-na,
whe-he-yah! we-he-ya!

Thus have I sat down, and the earth above and below has listened to me
sitting here.

This is again the figure of Na-na-bush, sitting on the earth, in the same
attitude in which he is represented in the first part of the performance.
The meaning is, that all who join in these devotional exercises must,
throughout their continuance, which is for the greater part of the night,
retain immoveably the same attitude, and give a serious attention to the
performer, who must observe the same rule; and when all is finished, he,
without uttering a word to any of those about him, rises and walks out of
the lodge.

27. Pa-mo-ta-yah-na che-maun duh-kwa pa-mo-ta-yah-ga, whe-he-ya-ha!

I make to crawl, a bear, I make to crawl.

Probably the meaning is, that by these observances and by this prayer,
the hunter may cause to crawl (kill) a bear, or any animal. It is to be
observed, that a bear is never, in these songs, called by the common
name, but always che-mahn-duk.

It requires two years of attentive study, in the intervals of leisure
that occur in the life of a hunter, to learn this song, and he must pay
his instructor the value of many beaver skins. It was first introduced
into the band to which Mr. Tanner belonged, by an Ojibbeway of the
village of Was-waw-gun-nink. Our narrator, as well as his foster brother,
Wa-me-gon-a-biew, had paid this man, whose name was Ke-zha-shoosh, great
sums for his medicines, and it was a quarrel originating in this subject,
which ended in his assassination by Wa-me-gon-a-biew, as related in the
preceding narrative. The Ojibbeways of Red River relate, and _some of
them believe_, that very wonderful effects have been produced by this
song, and the medicine belonging to it, such as, that after using it for
four days one man succeeded in bringing a live moose into the midst of
the village at Was-waw-gun-nink in such a state of fatuity, that he made,
though uninjured, no effort to escape. These extravagant fables remind
us of the powers attributed by the ancients to the music of Orpheus, and
others of the earliest poets.

One of the established customs of the Indians, in relation to hunting,
though not immediately connected with the subject of the preceding song,
may be here mentioned. As in the case of many other customs, its origin
is unknown, but its tendency seems to be to encourage the spirit of
generous hospitality, and to render the proceeds of the chase the common
property of the band to which the hunter belongs. The custom is, that if
any man, in returning from his hunt, no matter how long and laborious it
may have been, or how great may be the necessities of his own family,
meet another just starting out to hunt, or even a little boy walking from
the camp or village, he is bound to throw down at his feet, and give
him whatever he may have brought. It is partly to avoid the effect of
this custom, that the men oftentimes leave their game on the spot where
they killed it, and the women are sent to bring in the meat. In other
instances the hunter carries the animal on his back as far as he thinks
he can without the risk of meeting men, then conceals it, and goes home.
No difference is said to be made when game is taken which is not needed
in the village for food; beavers, otters, martins, or whatever the hunter
may have taken, he is expected to relinquish to the person who meets him.

[Illustration: _Iswara of India, the Saturn of Italy, the Nanabush of the

[See Asiatic Researches, Vol. I. p. 249]]

_Song for the medicine hunting, particularly for beavers._

[Illustration: Fig. 1. 2. 3. 4.]

Fig. 1. Che-mahn-duk-kwa ne-muh-kwi-o-sa ne-ah-hah-wa, ne-an-hah-wa,
ne-muh-kwi-o-sa, HE-AH-WHE-HE-AH!

A bear, I walk like a bear myself; myself, I walk like a bear.

The medicine man here speaks in his disguise of a bear skin.
Ne-muh-kwi-o-sa might be more literally translated “I walk a bear;” it
is the compound of neen-muk-kwaw and pa-pah-mo-sa, or ba-bah-mo-sa.
Che-mahn-duk is commonly used, in these songs, for a bear.

2. Ah-wes-sie hi-ah-wa-nah bah-twa-we-tahng-gah? Waw-wash-kesh e-wah

A beast, what beast comes calling? It is a deer comes calling.

The word bah-twa-we-tahng-gah is expressive not only of the peculiar call
of the male deer, at the rutting season, but also of the circumstance
that the animal is approaching the speaker: were he going the other way,
or even standing still, the word would be different.

3. O-num-mun-nah nin-go-che-we-nah. (Twice.)

This yellow ochre, I will try it.

This is the same, in all respects, as No. 18, in the preceding song to

4. Wun-ne ho-i-yahn, wun-ne ho-i-ah-na nah-we-he-a he-o-ge-mah-wah
ka-be-waw-bum-me-kwain wun-ne-hoi-yah nah-we-ne-a.

I disguise myself to cheat you, so that only a chief, if he sees me, can
know who I am.

The hunter, to deceive the animal he wishes to kill puts on the dress
of a white man, or assumes the appearance of some harmless creature,
and he boasts that his disguise is so perfect as to deceive any but a
chief medicine man, or a great hunter. It should be remembered, that the
language of these songs is commonly that of distant allusion, rather than
direct figure; hence, though the words may seem unmeaning to us, they
always convey much signification to the Indians. Thus, in this instance,
though the hunter says he puts on the appearance of a white man, it is
probable he means that he disguises himself as a bear, or some other
animal, equally harmless with a man who wears a hat, or a white man. That
the Indians should think little of the white man’s skill in hunting, is
by no means surprising.

[Illustration: 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.]

5. I-ah-ne-wah-ho go-mo-yaun, i-ah-ne-wah-ho go-mo-yaun!
i-am-mik-gung-ga-nah; i-ah-ne-wah-ho go-mo-yaun.

Can any one remain longer under water than me? I am beaver, and I can
remain longer than any under water.

This language, descriptive of the difficulties in taking beaver, is put
into the mouth of the animal himself.

6. I-an-we-be-ah-ne ne-hub-be-ah-na be-ah-na. (Many times repeated.)

I am well loaded; I sit down to rest; I am loaded.

The hunter hears, but he regards not the boasting language of the beaver.
The evidence of his skill and success is on his back, suspended by a
strap passing round his forehead; and to signify that his load is heavy,
he sits down to rest.

7. Mah-mo-ke-hea hi-ah-maung-wug-e-he-a man-i-to we-he-tah.

He must come up, even the loon, though he is Manito.

This is another answer of the hunter to the boast of the beaver. Are
you a greater diver than the loon? Yet even he must rise to the surface
after a certain time. The country of the Ojibbeways abounding in small
lakes, which sometimes lie very near each other, without any visible
communication, they have taken up the idea that communications exist
under ground, and they believe a loon can dive down in one, and come up
in another of them. They think, also, that the beaver can carry down so
much air entangled in his coat, that if left undisturbed at the bottom,
he can thrust his nose into his fur, and breathe for some time.

8. Whe-gah ween-ah-waw sah-ge-mah-tik-o-waw, hio-ge-mah-waw,

I can cut down that chief tree, though it be the tree of a chief.

The beaver says he can cut down any tree. Though a great hunter, and
a man of medicine, may claim the tree, though he may have placed it
there, the beaver can cut it down. Sah-gem-ah-tik reminds us of the word
Sa-chem, derived from some of the eastern dialects of the Algonkin.

9. Neen-dah no-je-ah we-ah-wing man-i-to-we-tah we-ah-wing, etc.

Though he is Manito, I can work to take his body.

This is the hunter, cutting open the ice, or breaking up the beaver’s
lodge, in pursuit of him. (At the bar they begin to dance.)

[Illustration: 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.]

10. N’whe-go-tin-no-waw a-zhe-un-na chaw-gaw-wais-sie a-zhe-un-na.

I would shoot, as you told me, any animal; as you told me.

This is addressed to Na-na-bush, and the hunter professes his desire
to follow his advice in every thing, that he may be assured success in
hunting. Na-na-bush is particularly the hunter’s god, and from him his
best skill is derived.

11. Neen n’buh-we-hah he-na-ne-whaw, na-ne-buh-we-hah. Neen n’buh-we-hah
meen-da-mo-sah, na-ne-buh-we-hah.

I make to stand, a man, I make him stand.

The words e-na-ne-wah and meen-da-mo-sah, mean here the male or female
of the animals hunted; and as, at some seasons, only the males are fat,
and at others only the females, the one line or the other is sung first,
according to the season. The word n’buh-we-hah is more commonly spoken,
particularly by the Mississippi Indians, n’po-we-ah.

12. Ne-ah-wa een-da-be-to-na ne-ah-how.

Myself, I do good to myself.

It is certainly politic for the medicine men, who receive extravagant
fees not only for teaching their songs but for the medicines used
conjointly with them, to remind their employers that all the expenditures
they make are not unavailing. Here, then, is a figure which seems to be
that of a female, covered profusely with the clothing purchased from the
proceeds of the medicine hunts; over the head of the figure are blankets
and cloth, and around the waist is suspended an ample garment, belonging
to a woman.

13. Ne-kaun-naw nin-go-che-hah ne-kaun-naw.

My friends, I will try, my friends.

Prosperity, as among other men, leads to insolence and the abuse of
power. This man, who, in imagination, has been successful in his
pursuits, whose medicine has made him rich, and clothed his family, now
proposes to turn its power against his fellows. The victim of his malice
lies on the ground, transfixed with an enormous arrow.

14. Na-wi-ahn, na-wi-ah-na, o-ho-o wun-nah he-na-ne-waw we-gah-be-waw

A moccasin snake; a moccasin snake’s skin is my medicine bag; let any man
come to see me that will.

If any man is jealous of my success in hunting, let him know that a
moccasin snake skin is my medicine bag; let him know that he cannot,
without danger, come in my way.

[Illustration: 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21.]

15. Ne-ah-we-na, ne-ah-we-na, waw-bun-dum-mo a-zhe-nah-gwuk ne-ah-we-na.

Myself, myself, behold me, and see that I look like myself.

This is some great medicine man, probably the author of the song, who
shows himself to the people.

16. Che-be-gau-ze-naung gwit-to-i-ah-na maun-dah-ween ah-kee-ge
neen-wa-nah gua-kwaik ke-nah gwit-to-i-ah-na.

I come to change the appearance of the ground, this ground; I make it
look different in each season.

This is a Manito, who, on account of his immensity of tail, and other
peculiarities, has no prototype. He claims to be the ruler over the
seasons. He is probably Gitche-a-nah-mi-e-be-zhew, (great under-ground
wild cat.)

17. Ka-whaw-bum-me-ta he-ah ne-haun-na che-mo-ke ah-na he-ah ne-haun-na.

You may see me, my friends; I have risen, my friends.

This is the Manito of the ground, who puts only his head above the
surface to speak; but in this figure his horns are omitted, perhaps by

18. Muk-ko-we-tah-wa neen-dah-nees-sah e-kwuh-e-tah-wa.

Were he a bear, I could kill him, were he a louse.

Thus aided by the Manito of the seasons, or of the weather, and by him of
the ground, as is expressed by the two preceding figures, the hunter says
he could find and kill whatever was a bear, though it were no bigger than
a louse. The figure is that of a bear, with a louse on it.

19. O-ta-nuh we-yo che-mahn-duk o-ta-nuh-we-yo.

His tongue, a bear, his tongue.

The tongue, like the heart and blood in the other song, is now to be kept
from the profane touch of a woman or a dog.

20. Man-i-to uh-we-she-nah-na io-kun-na man-i-to we-she-nah-na.

A spirit is what I use; a spirit do thou use.

The speaker, in this instance, is Na-na-bush, who gave mankind an arrow;
that is, all those arms which give man dominion over the brutes. He used
these things before us, and we must use them agreeably to his instruction
and example.

21. We-ah-hah muk-ko-we-e-tah yah nah-mah kummig, ain-dah-zheesh
she-no-gwain muh-ko-we-tah.

Although it were a bear concealed under the ground, I could find him.

Thus aided by the Manitoag, and armed with the weapons of Na-na-bush,
what animal shall be able to escape from the hunter?

_Medicine song, for hunting, and sometimes for making love._

[Illustration: Fig. 1. 2. 3. 4.]

Fig. 1. Neen-nah-hah ah-ne-an-do-gwain ga-no-zei wain-je man-i-to
whe-gwain, we-hi-yah, we-he-ya!

What I know not makes gano-zhe (the long moon) Manito.

One of the winter moons, commonly called Gitche-manito-o-gee-zis,
(the Great Spirit’s moon,) which corresponds to our month January, is
considered particularly favourable for hunting. Children born in that
month are reckoned long lived.

2. He-ah neen-gwi-o-ho o-ho man-i-to-we-tah-hah gah-neen-gwi-o
we-i-ah-nah we-he-a!

My painting, that makes me a Manito.

One of the particular kinds of medicine to be used with this song, is
mixed with o-num-un, and used in painting the face. The Indians attribute
to it the greatest efficacy in giving immediate success; but many of them
fear to use it, from a belief that it will have an injurious effect on
them after death. A man who has used it will, they say, in the country
to which we go after death, have no flesh upon those parts of his face
where the medicine has touched. It is rare to observe, among the Indians,
any ideas which would lead to the belief, that they look upon a future
state as one of retribution. The innocent are those who fail to reach
the villages of the dead; and the unfortunate are those who, when they
arrive there, are distinguished from others, by being compelled to dance
on their heads. As might be expected from a people in such profound
ignorance, it is not to those actions which are pernicious to happiness,
and the true well being of the society, or the individual here, that the
idea of future punishment is attached.

3. (The words belonging to this figure are lost. He seems to be beating
the Me-tig-waw-keek, or metai drum, and is doubtless boasting of his
great medicine.)

4. Yah-hah-ween-gah we-ah-hah ye-hi-ah-yah we-he-a? yah-hah o-ge-mah-waw
goan-dum-mo-nah o-ge-mah-waw.

I am able to make a chief swallow an arrow.

This has allusion to the thrusting of arrows, and similar instruments,
into the stomach, by the medicine men. The words are put, perhaps, into
the mouth of the medicine. Tricks of this kind are often exhibited in
the Metai, as well as several miserable sleight of hand tricks, which
all the initiated, at least, seem willing to look upon as miracles. A
common performance is that of suffering one’s self to be shot at with a
marked bullet, which had previously been shown to all the persons sitting
in the lodge. The medicine man stands at one end of the lodge, with a
small wooden bowl in his hand, and his companion, after having exhibited
the bullet, loads the gun in the sight of all present; then dancing and
singing backwards and forwards, discharges the piece, apparently at the
head, but taking particular care not to hit him. As soon as the smoke
is dispersed, the one who had stood to receive the fire is seen with a
ball in his dish, marked accurately like the one which had been put in
the gun. With this he dances, exulting and shouting, three or four times
around the lodge. Other tricks are played with little puppets of wood and
feathers moved by strings, but kept concealed in sacks, or otherwise.
Many of these things, too childish and trifling to be minutely described,
are the standing wonders of the boasted ceremonies of the Metai, or grand
medicine, the principal religious ceremony of the Indians.

[Illustration: 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.]

5. Wuh-we-kwa-be-yah neen-na neen-go-che meen-da-mo-sah nei-an dun-nub

I cover over myself, sitting down in a secret place with a woman.

6. Hug-ge-ta a-a-ho ke-ta-nee-na ke-ta-nee-na.

I speak of your heart; (to a moose.)

7. Do-je-teem mam-mo-e-yahn ween-e-se mam-mo-e-yahn o-nah-ge-che

Your tripe, I take your melt, I take; your straight gut I take.

These are the choice parts of a moose; the attitude of the hunter is
expressive of his exultation; it is the o-nah-ge-che which he holds in
his hands. It is this part of which those delicious sausages, called
_Hunter’s Puddings_, are made.

8. Neen-dai-yah gutche-hah hi-e-kwa-waw-hah, neen-nonadah-waw sah-ween
a-ye-ke-tote whe-i-ah-hah whe-he-ya!

I can make her ashamed, because I hear what she says of me.

9. Waus-suh wa-kum-me-ga na-bah-gwaim, whe-ah whe-he-a yag-gah-ming-go

Though you slept very far off, though you slept on the other side.

He boasts of his success with women. If his mistress slept ever so far
off, even across a lake, his arm is long enough to reach her, and she
will hear his voice.

[Illustration: 10. 11. 12. 13.]

10. Neen-nah-mah neen-nah-je-ta-ha-zwaw-ga, neen-nah-mah n’do-to
waw-wha-to-ga n’do-to waw-wa-we-hia-ah, ya-we-he-a!

I draw your heart up, that is what I do to you.

It is intended here to represent a moose at a distance; and the line
from his heart to the lodge of the Indian, indicates that he draws it,
or by means of the power of his medicine controls the inclination of the
animal, and brings him to a situation where he can easily be found.

11. Ne-we-nah neezh-wah neen-nah hi-ah-wa-sah (a-wes-sie,) ne-wa
neezh-wah neen-nah.

I can kill any animal, I can kill.

His large knife seems intended to represent his confidence of success,
and the animal is before him which he cannot only kill, but cut up.

12. O-jee-bi-yahn man-i-to, yeo-wah-ne-he-e-nah, yeo-wah-ha o-jee-bi-yahn
man-i-to, whe-he-ya!

A dead man’s skin is Manito.

Sometimes they use sacks of human skin to contain their medicines, and
they fancy that something is thus added to their efficacy.

13. Me-nee-sing, a-be-gwain neen-ge-wun-naijh che-hah-ga-to-ga
me-nee-sing a-be-gwain, whe-he-ya!

Were she on a distant island, I can make her crazy to swim over, were she
on a distant island.

Here he again boasts of the power of his medicine over the inclinations
of females. This song seems to present a fair view of the state of the
_passion of love_ among the Ojibbeways.

_Song of a medicine man, at the giving of medicine to a sick person._

[Illustration: Fig. 1. 2. 3. 4.]

Fig. 1. Neen-gaw-gaw wain-e-me-ko o-ho-i-ah a-nish-a nau-ba.

I say some person has injured your life.

Among the Indians, when a doctor is called for the sick, it is usual
to present him, on his entering the lodge of his patient, a kettle of
the best food they are able to procure; and it is probable he commonly
commences his treatment, as in this instance, by assuring his patient
that he is suffering from the malice of some enemy, who has _shot
medicine at him_, or practised upon his _me-zin-ne-neens_, to make him a
victim of disease. Complaints of whatever kind, are commonly among them,
if not always, attributed to _bad medicine_, under which comprehensive
term they include every thing, except open violence, which can be the
consequence of human malice and envy. The medicine man will generally go
much farther than to tell his patient that he is under the influence of
the incantations of somebody; he will name some person, either his own or
his patient’s enemy, as he may think most for his interest. This point
is fully illustrated in the history of Ais-kaw-ba-wis, in the preceding
narrative. The figure has a little sack of medicine, and his song is
represented by the two lines coming out of his mouth.

2. Bin-nah neen-ne-kaun, ne-mah-tah-ho-ne-go-ka. (Twice.)

Behold me, my friends, I distribute.

He directs his Me-zhin-no-way, or attendant, to distribute to his
friends, and whatever persons may have assembled in the lodge on this
occasion, the kettle which he holds in his hand, and which is a part of
his fee.

3. Hah-we-yah be-zin-duh-wug-ga ha-be-zin-duh-wug-ga neej-a-nish-a-nau-ba

There is talking, there is talking, but I will eat my people.

Many diseases the Indians suppose to exist within the body, in form of a
worm, or something similar, and it is a being of this kind who now speaks
from the stomach of the sick person. He says, “I hear your threatening
and confident words, but it is not in your power to displace me. I will
devour my own, or those people that belong to me.” The medicines which
this song is intended to accompany, are often given in cases of a malady,
to which white men are rarely subject. It commences by a swelling of a
toe, or on some part of the foot, sometimes of the knee, and this at
length comes to a suppuration. An indolent and tumid ulcer gradually
takes possession of the whole foot, extending to the ankle and leg,
and life at length yields to it, though usually after many years. Two
distinguished men of the Sioux, namely, the son of the Red Wing, of the
village at Lake Pepin, and Tah-tunk-ah-nah-zhe, a chief from the plains,
were suffering with this complaint in 1825. The latter, who had lately
been attacked, found some benefit from the application, in various forms,
of the nitro-muriatic acid. The Indians look upon the complaint as
incurable, except by the extirpation of the diseased bone; and the author
of the foregoing narrative has known one successful instance of this
treatment. The Indian himself amputated the bone both above and below the
knee joint, preserving the muscles of the leg. He survived and recovered,
but his leg was of course useless. (At the bar they begin to dance.)

4. Hah-go-way ke-new-wug-ga ki-ah-ga ga-to-che-ga ki-ah-go ga-to-che-ga.

This is the gray eagle talking; he will talk.

Here the doctor speaks in his own person. He compares himself to the
gray eagle, whom the Ojibbeways consider undisputed sovereign among the

[Illustration: 5. 6. 7.]

5. This figure represents the sun, but the song is lost.

6. Ka-moke-yah-hah ka-moke-yah waw-be-gaw-gaw-ge waw-ga.

Come ye up, come ye up, white crows.

7. Ka-kaik koi-ah-na bub-bah mis-sa-wuh.

My henhawk’s skin will fly about.

_Song of Chi-ah-ba, a celebrated Ojibbeway Medicine man, at the
administration of his remedies._

[Illustration: Fig. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.]

Fig. 1. Ah-way-ah noan-dah-wug-ga muk-kud-da ge-na-beek goo-we-ah-we-aun

Some one, I hear him; but I make myself black snake, my friend.

The medicine man speaks in his own person. He hears some one; he knows
who it is that has used bad medicine to break his patient’s life; but he
brings, to oppose it, the power and craftiness of the black snake.

2. Ain-dun wa-we-tum-maun o-ge-tah-kum-maig ke-he-a. Ain-dun
wa-we-tum-maun, etc.

I myself speak, standing here on the ground.

He takes a bold and open stand against his enemies, and those of his

3. We-go-nain-wa-we-ow we-he-naun? O-ge-na-beek-o-ga wa-we-yah we-he-nah.

What is this I put in your body? Snake skins I put in your body.

The two first verses are sung on entering the lodge, and before he
commences giving his medicine. The third accompanies the exhibition of
the first dose, which consists either of eight snake skins tied together,
and the foremost having a small frog fastened to the head of it, as in
the figure, or of eight fathoms of a small cord, or thong of leather,
and eight wild cat’s claws fastened at equal intervals. Difficult as the
swallowing of this prescription may appear to us, and as it doubtless
is, the patient receives and swallows it, all the time on his knees, and
the doctor stands by singing the above song, and occasionally aiding
with his finger, or a little water, in the inglutition of his formidable
remedy. After this has remained a shorter or longer time in the stomach,
according to the inclination of the medicine man, it is to be withdrawn;
and it is in this operation, particularly when the cat’s claws are used,
that the patient suffers the most excruciating torture. The end which is
first given up is put into the hand of some of the attendants, and they
dance and sing with it about the lodge, as the remainder is gradually
given back. Then the medicine man sings the following, while the dance
becomes general.

4. Ne-man-i-to-we-tah hi-yo-che-be-kun-na on-je-man-i-to-wee-yaun

I am Manito, the roots of shrubs and weeds make me Manito.

5. O-ge-na-beek-o-ga ne-kau-naug.

Snakes (are) my friends.

[Illustration: 6.]

6. A-nah-me be-zhe ne-kau-naw.

Under-ground wild cat, is my friend.

At the fourth verse, he exhibits his medicines, which he says are the
roots of shrubs, and of We-ug-gusk-oan, or herbs, and from these he
derives his power, at least in part; but lest his claim, founded on a
knowledge of these, should not be considered of sufficient importance,
he proceeds to say, in the fifth and sixth verses, that the snakes
and the under-ground wild cat are among his helpers and friends. The
ferocity and cunning, as well as the activity of the feline animals,
have not escaped the notice of the Indians, and very commonly they
give the form of animals of this family to those imaginary beings whose
attributes bear, in their opinion, some resemblance to the qualities of
these animals. Most of them have heard of the lion, the largest of the
cats known to white men, and all have heard of the devil; they consider
them the same. The wild cat here figured has horns, and his residence
is under the ground; but he has a master, Gitche-a-nah-mi-e-be-zhew,
(the great under-ground wild cat,) who is, as some think, Matche-Manito
himself, their evil spirit, or devil. Of this last they speak but rarely.
Gitche-a-nah-mi-e is a compound epithet, and in this application can
scarce fail to remind the Greek scholar of many similarly compounded
words in that language. The English reader will perceive the resemblance
in the following “most heroic” line, preserved by Cowper:—

    “To whom replied the Devil yard-long tailed.”

There was never any thing more truly Grecian, says the learned translator
of the Iliad, than this triple epithet.

_War medicine song._

[Illustration: Fig. 1. 2. 3. 4.]

Fig. 1. Che-be-moke sa-aun.

I am rising.

This figure represents the rising sun, and intimates to the warrior the
vigilance and activity required in the business on which he goes.

2. Ma-mo-yah-na ge-zhik ma-mo-yah-na. Ma-mo-yah-na ah-ke ma-mo-yah-na.

I take the sky, I take. I take the earth, I take.

This is all grasping ambition; with one hand he seizes the earth, with
the other the sky, or the son, for ge-zhik means either.

He thinks it were an easy leap

                            it were an easy leap
    To pluck bright honour from the pale faced moon;

but this effervescence of valour is apt to be of short duration, showing
itself more in words than in deeds.

3. Ba-mo-sa-yah-na kee-zhik-onk ba-mo-sah-yah-na.

I walk through the sky, I walk.

This figure is to represent the moon, and may be designed to intimate to
the warrior that his business is principally to be done in the night time.

4. Waw-bun-onk tuz-zhe-kwa[64] ne-waw-ween ne-go-ho-ga.

The eastern woman calls me.

This is, perhaps, some local allusion, or it may have been appended to
the song in those times when the idea of taking prisoners of white women
may have been a spur to the valour and enterprise of the Indian warrior.
Admiration of the beauty of white women, on the part of the Indians, is
not exclusively confined to the narratives of romance writers.


5. This figure, the words for which are lost, or purposely withheld,
represents a lodge, a kettle, and a boy, who is a prisoner. The line
from his heart to the kettle, indicates too plainly the meaning of the
song. I know not whether any still doubt that the North American Indians
are cannibals; if so, they are only those who have taken little pains to
be correctly informed. The author of the preceding narrative had spent
the best years of his life among the Ojibbeways; a woman of that tribe
was, as he somewhere says, “the mother of his children;” and we need not
wonder that, after becoming aware of the strong feeling of white men on
this subject, he should be reluctant in speaking of it. Yet he makes
no hesitation in saying, that the Sioux eat their enemies, and he once
admitted, that in the large Ottawwaw settlement of Waw-gun-uk-ke-zie, he
believed there were few, if any, persons living in the late war, who did
not, at some time or other, eat the flesh of some people belonging to the
United States. I see no reason why we should disbelieve the assertions
of the Indians, and those who know them best, on this subject, or why we
should expect from this race a degree of refinement and humanity, which
we, and all who possess it, owe to a state of advanced civilization, and
the influence of the christian religion. We doubt not that our pagan
forefathers, in the wilds of Scotland, Ireland, or Hungary, ate the
flesh, and particularly the hearts, of their enemies slain in battle. Why
should we not believe this of the savages of our own continent?

_Song of the warriors about to start on a war party._

1. Ka-go sah-ween mow-we me-zhe-kain e-kwa-we-un-na ne-boi-ah-na mow-we

Do not mourn, my women, for me, who am about to die.

2. Hah-me-ge-neen a-na-ne-mo-e-yahn a-bitche e-nin-neeng a-na-ne-mo-kwain
ah-me-ge-neen a-na-ne-mo-e-yahn.

If any man thinks himself a great warrior, I think myself the same.

(This song has been published, and illustrated, by Mr. Schoolcraft.)



Of a subject so imperfectly understood as that now before us, little
can be said, without some risk of falling into error. It is probable
that the threefold division, long since made by Mr. Heckewelder, of the
Indian languages, spoken within the territory of the United States, may
be well founded; and every advance of discovery has but confirmed the
views respecting the character of these languages, which were long since
elicited and announced in the correspondence between Heckewelder and Mr.
Duponceau. We may speak with confidence in relation to all the dialects
of the Algonkin, or Lenni Lennape, by which we mean all those having a
manifest resemblance to the Delaware, or the Ojibbeway, not only in all
the principal peculiarities of structure and idiom, but also in the sound
of words. But whenever assertions, founded on an acquaintance with the
languages of this family, are, without careful examination, extended to
other branches of the American race, they should doubtless be received
with caution. It may very probably be true, that the American languages,
from one extremity of the continent to the other, have the family
resemblance which is so manifest in the physical peculiarities of the
race; but this should neither be assumed nor admitted until it has been

That etymology has been of some use in historical inquiries, no one will
doubt; but the evidence it affords is commonly fallacious, and where it
elucidates one fact, it obscures a thousand. We know, says Sir William
Jones, _a posteriori_, that _fitz_ and _hijo_, by the nature of two
several dialects, are derived from _jilius_; that _uncle_ comes from
_avus_, and _stranger_ from _extra_; that _jour_ is deducible, through
the Italian, from _dies_, and _rossignol_ from _luscinia_, or the _singer
in groves_: that _sciuro ecureuil_, and _squirrel_, are compounded of two
Greek words, descriptive of the animal; which etymologies, though they
could not have been demonstrated _a priori_, might serve to confirm, if
any such confirmation were necessary, the proofs of a connection between
the members of one great empire.

Philogists, on the ground solely of etymology, or rather of similarity
and dissimilarity of sound, assign to the limited territory of the United
States, many different languages; and if they are content to assign
these different languages, as they are pleased to call them, a common
origin, and that at no very remote period, it is a matter of indifference
how many stocks they enumerate. But if they would claim for each stock
a different origin, the sober inquirer will certainly receive their
opinions with caution.

It has been stated, that the languages of North America are not only
etymologically different from those of Europe and Asia, but that their
grammatical forms are also essentially unlike. Either to support or to
controvert this assertion, would require a more extensive acquaintance
both with American and European languages, than it falls to the lot
of many to possess. We may remark, however, that the _synthetic_,
or _agglutinated_ structure, is met with in many other languages.
_Riggajuhsamat’haroa_, according to Goverdhan Caul, is a compound word
in the Sanscrit, made up of _rich_, _yajush_, _saman_; and _at’harvan_,
_gauripituriswaren-draciranaihpushyat-sitimnogireh_, is a word in the
same language, which may challenge comparison with any of the long and
unutterable compounds in the Indian tongues; and at page 361, Vol. I. of
the Asiatic Researches, we have the translation of a word which reaches
_one hundred and fifty-two syllables_. Some of the compound words in the
Greek and Latin, as well as in the English, seem to be formed in a manner
precisely analogous to corresponding words in the American dialects.
Resemblances and disagreements of this kind, as well as those purely
etymological, doubtless may be traced between all languages. _Awight_,
the Saxon word equivalent to _aliquid_, has certainly an etymological
resemblance to _ahwao_, the same word in the Menomonie dialect; but it
will not be inferred from this, or many similar instances, that the
Menomonies are of Saxon origin. When we read the conjectures of the most
learned and sagacious etymologists, that not only _qualis_ and _talis_;
but πηλιος, and τηλιος, have been supposed to come from the Moeso-Gothic
_leiks_, and immediately from _guhdeiks_ and _thalik_, whence came also
the Anglo-Saxon _thylic_, _lic_, _like_. We shall scarce wish to base
upon such a foundation our opinions concerning the early history, or
the subsequent migrations of nations. It is admitted that many of the
American languages are similar in construction and general outline,
and when we see how wide and devious have been the wanderings of the
_roots_, even in written languages, we shall cease to expect uniformity
of sound, or similar etymology in the various members of a race exposed
to numberless and diversified influences in the widely separated parts of
our vast continent.

Of two great families of Asiatic languages, or dialects, one abounds
in polysyllabic and compound words, and inflected verbs, like the more
commonly known American tongues. This family includes the _Persian_,
_Sanscrit_, and many others. The second, to use the language of the
learned President of the Asiatic Society, _abhors the composition of
words_, and also the inflection of verbs. To the latter class belong the
Hebrew, the Arabic, and some others; and between these and our dialects
strong resemblances have been pointed out, or may be easily discovered
from the Hebrew, or some of its kindred idioms, from the Sanscrit,
or from the Tartar stock, it is probable the American languages must
originally have been derived. But when we have good reason to believe
that a rude and wholly illiterate people, removed from a low and
fertile, to a cold and mountainous country, will, in the course of a few
centuries, entirely change their language, why should we hope to be able
to trace the dialects of our Indians satisfactorily to their parent stock?

In a great measure, if not equally vague, must be all conjectures based
on mythological opinions and traditionary customs. We believe that
those who have been extensively acquainted with our Indians, and have
witnessed the variety of forms and dresses in which the same tradition
appears, when related in different dialects, will place little reliance
on opinions concerning remote history, deduced from such traditions.

One species of relics, found westward of the Mississippi, and perhaps
elsewhere, may be thought to afford more conclusive evidence than all
derived from language and customs, that the race of Ham have, for
immemorial ages, inhabited our country. I allude to those rocks bearing
very distinct and deeply indented figures, resembling the impressions of
human feet. That these are works of art, is unquestionable, and being
found in mountainous and scarce accessible parts of the country, remote
from any of the present seats of population, or routes of communication,
they afford, by their aspect of undoubted antiquity, conclusive evidence,
that in ages long since elapsed, regions now desolate were tenanted,
and that a wandering and hunter-population, has succeeded to one whose
habits of settled industry enabled them to leave such durable monuments.
I am satisfied that a person, in any measure familiar with the valuable
records of the Asiatic Society, cannot visit a locality of these ancient
relics, without being reminded of a passage in the _Puranes_, where King
_Stravana_ is described “on the _white mountains_, meditating on the
traces of the _divine foot_.” We are assured, by credible travellers,
that this language is not understood figuratively, but that the people
of the east boast of stones in their country, on which footsteps are
discernible, which they assert are those of _Vishnu_. What is more
probable, on the supposition that a branch of this race early found their
way to America, than that crafty priests, or persons still possessing
some of the arts of the east, should have engraved these figures from the
same motives that have supplied similar memorials for the worshippers of
_Vishnu_ and _Satyavrata_?

But though we cannot reasonably hope to derive from the study of the
American languages and dialects, any very important assistance to aid
inquiries into the remote history and connections of the various tribes
who speak them, yet there is one view in which these languages will
always excite a degree of interest. In them we have an authentic record
of a portion of the history of the human mind. To the inquirer of any
age, or any nation, who would enlarge his acquaintance with the powers
and properties, the capabilities and the propensities of the minds of
men, this field can never be entirely uninviting. Human language, it
is probable, must ever vary with the degree of refinement, the various
revolutions in the manner of thinking, and the endless variations of
external influence, to which, in progress of time, they must be exposed.
It is well known to every one conversant with the subject of languages
generally, that, viewed summarily and superficially, language presents a
great, not to say an infinite number of families and dialects. But the
Mosaic account of creation, as well as the conclusions of the more sane
of the physiologists and natural historians, assure us that all mankind
are descended from a single pair, who could consequently have spoken but
one language. It is by many supposed that some of the existing dialects
spoken as mother tongues at the present day, must have been in being in
the ages immediately succeeding the general deluge. At the time of this
great catastrophe, it may perhaps be safely supposed, that among the
eight persons saved in the ark, but one dialect was commonly spoken, as
we have the positive assurance of the inspired historian, that until
some time after the deluge, all the earth was of one speech and of one
language; according to the computation commonly received in Europe,
it is not more than four thousand years since all men spoke a common
language. The inquiry which naturally presents itself is, whether the
existing ramifications can be satisfactorily traced through any common
branches, or directly to their union with the primeval trunk. It may be
difficult to clear up this question, as the investigation presupposes a
more extensive acquaintance with ancient and modern languages, than falls
to the share of many to possess. Yet if, upon careful examination, we
find a part, or all the dialects of the American race agreeing, not in
the sound of words, but in certain grammatical peculiarities, which have
an intimate and inseparable connection with the structure and genius of
the language, as some of the physical peculiarities of the race depend
unalterably on temperament and peculiarity of structure, co-extensive
with the race, we shall then be compelled to adopt one or the other of
these conclusions, namely, that all these dialects, or languages, have
been derived from the same stock; or, secondly, if, with Malte Brun and
others, we admit a number of different emigrations from remote parts of
the world, we must then conclude that not only language, but physical
conformation, is modified, moulded, and revolutionized by the influence
of situation and external causes. If we admit the latter conclusion, and
believe that our American race are the descendants of people who came at
different and remote periods, from Asia, from Africa, and from Europe, we
may then dismiss the inquiry at once. Having admitted the position, that
the American languages are now all of the same family, that is, that they
resemble each other as much as the men of the different bands and tribes,
in external aspect, physical constitution, and moral character, resemble
each other, we may cease to inquire whence they derive the peculiarities
of person and language, by which they are distinguished from all other
men. But we believe that an hypothesis of this kind will gain few
advocates among considerate and well-informed inquirers. We believe there
will be found in the languages, manners, traditions, as well as in the
physical conformation and character of our Indians, proofs sufficient
to satisfy the candid inquirer, that they are derived from the Asiatic
stock, but not from that branch of it to which belonged the haughty, the
noble, the unconquered race of Ishmael; or to that race, more interesting
by their history, but less pleasing in person, manners, and character,
to which were committed the premises, and from which, according to the
flesh, sprang the Saviour of the world. The idea has been a favourite
one with many ingenious and pious men, that in our native Americans we
see the long lost tribes of Israel. Ingenuity and argument, as far as
they can be carried, unsupported by a firm basis of facts, have been
exhausted in the discussion of this question. We propose not to enter the
field of argument. We admit that several of the usages of the Indians,
such as their rigid separation of females during menstruation, the care
with which they, in certain feasts or sacrifices, watch that no bone
of the victim shall be broken, and many others, form points of strong
resemblance between this race and the Hebrews. Yet the one fact, that
their languages all delight in the composition of words, sufficiently
satisfies us that they cannot have been derived from that stock to which
belongs the Hebrew, the Chaldaic, and the Arabic. Other arguments, which,
to many minds, will not appear equally conclusive, may be derived from
their total ignorance of the rite of circumcision, their considering the
flesh of dogs as acceptable, in sacrifice, to their deities, etc. etc.
The two facts last mentioned may be allowed to have as much weight in an
argument against Hebrew original, as the separation of females, and the
practice of preserving entire the bones of animals eaten in war feasts,
can have for it. And thus would it be easy to bring some countervailing
objection to answer every one of the arguments founded on the customs
and opinions of the Indians. It is not, I believe, at this time
considered necessary to meet such proofs as those of Adair, which never
had any other existence than in his own fancy, nor need we take into
consideration the multiplied arguments, and the ingenious speculations
of others, who, without sufficient acquaintance with the habits,
languages, and opinions either of the remote Hebrews or of our own
Indians, have gone about to establish the belief of a strong similarity
between them. In the way of a summary answer to all the arguments of
these men, we may be allowed to state, that in language, rather than
in any other character, would the descendants of a people retain some
resemblance to their remote ancestors. Religious ceremonies, civil and
domestic customs, in the exposed and wandering life of barbarians,
all whose thoughts must often, and perhaps for a greater part of the
time, be absorbed in the necessary, and sometimes painful and laborious
struggle for self-preservation, often would be intermitted and dispensed
with. Previous usages would change to suit the new and ever varying
condition of the people. So might language. But being indispensable to
the intercourse of every day and every moment, in all situations and
emergencies, and unlike religious observances of such a nature, that what
is spoken to-day may, under any circumstances, with equal convenience, be
spoken to-morrow, and with infinitely more facility than new signs can be
invented or understood, is it not reasonable that language, of all those
things pertaining to men, by which their family identity might be marked,
should change slowest and last?

No extensive acquaintance with our Indians, and their languages, is
required to perceive, that in all emergencies of necessity, as in those
instances where they are compelled to exchange ideas with foreigners,
they readily adopt any terms in a foreign idiom, for which they may
not find a corresponding sign in their own; and words thus adopted
becoming parts of their own language, are subject to all the inflections
and modifications of sound of those which appertain originally to
their tongue. Hence that diversity in sound of words in the various
dialects, which bids defiance to etymological, or rather phonological
investigation. But though sounds, which, for the sake of illustration,
may be compared to planks on the frame of a vessel, or shingles on
the roof of a house, may be, one by one, removed and substituted by
new ones, still the original frame of the language, the grammatical
construction, the idiomatic forms, remaining the same, the language
certainly remains the same language, though altogether changed in sound,
as a vessel, covered with new planks of a different colour and aspect,
would still be the same vessel. Therefore, we think that if the American
languages can be proved closely and entirely to resemble each other in
grammatical forms and general arrangement, we may safely consider them
all as dialects of the same stock, though they should now present wide
and apparently unaccountable diversities in the sounds of words. How
much more easily the sounds of words, standing for the ideas we have
in our minds, may be changed, than the grammatical structure and idiom
of language, we may every day observe in foreigners, who, though they
may ever so carefully and perfectly have learned our language, rarely,
if ever, attain to some of the niceties peculiar to our tongue, or ever
lay entirely aside some of the characteristic peculiarities of their
own. If we reflect on the habits of the life the Indians lead, their
frequent migrations, intermarriages with distant bands, their conquests,
the numbers of prisoners they adopt, and, more than all, the want of
any written characters to represent sounds of what are acknowledged to
be the same words in different dialects of the same tongue; nor shall
we hastily, on the foundation of mere diversity of sound, attempt to
establish a multiplicity of different stocks. It is to be remembered,
that the Americans have never, like the ancient Arabs, made the
improvement of their idiom a common, or, in any shape, a general or
public concern; they have never appointed solemn assemblies for the
purpose of exercising their poetical talents, or held it a duty to make
their children acquainted with traditionary compositions of any sort,
which measures, even had they been adopted, could not have effectually
secured their languages against mutations of sound or structure.

But although we can by no means pretend either to trace the American
languages to the remote parent stock, or to assert that they have or
have not been derived from existing and known languages, we may easily
group together those which have manifest resemblance equally in structure
and in the sound of words, and the groups thus formed will always be
found to bring together assemblages of people, showing strong family
resemblance to each other. The threefold division which was long since
made by Mr. Heckewelder, of the languages within the United States’
territory, is probably founded in correct observation of the district
at that time known. The Lenni Lennape, or Algonkin, the Iroquois, and
the Floridian, presenting each numerous and widely dissimilar dialects,
occupy all the country from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Cape Florida, and
westward to and beyond the Mississippi. Of the languages spoken in the
remote and almost unexplored countries about the Rocky Mountains, too
little information has been obtained, to enable us to indicate to what
extent the dialects of either of the above mentioned groups may prevail
in that direction. Toward the north the Iroquois seem to be limited to
a few remaining in the settled parts of Canada, and to the Dahcotah
bands extending northward, in the direction of the upper branches of the
Mississippi, but scarce reaching the parallel of forty degrees north.
Beyond this the Algonkin dialects, particularly the Ojibbeway and Cree,
and the Muskegoe, expand through all the country, from near the base of
the Rocky Mountains to the south western shores of Hudson’s Bay, and even
in the vast peninsula of Labrador.

Westward of Hudson’s Bay, from the Churchill River to the Pacific coast,
and northward to the country of the Esquimaux, are found the languages
of the Chip-pe-wi-yan[65] group, including the people commonly called
Chippewyans, the Sarcess, the Beaver, Red Knife, Strong Bow Indians, and
many other tribes. Here we meet with a language far more monosyllabic
than any hitherto known among the North Americans; one possessing a dual
termination for substantives, but no plural, and whose verbs are nearly
or quite incapable of inflection. Yet in the circumstance of a tendency
to compounding, we find it not unlike other dialects. The peculiarities
of these languages are as yet too little understood to enable the
philologist to pronounce with confidence that they have any nearer
resemblance to the Algonkin or the Iroquois, than to the Erse or German.
Yet the people who speak them have, in their persons, all the prominent
peculiarities of the American race.

Of all the remaining parts of North America, information is too scanty to
justify any attempt to class the dialects.

In the present state of information on these subjects, more important
service will be rendered to philology, by adding to the mass of
materials, than by any vague and general discussions; we shall
therefore devote the remainder of this chapter to such specimens of
Indian languages as have fallen in our way, premising that our aim
has been to conform, as nearly as possible, to the orthography of the
English language.[66] This orthography is liable to many objections; so
also would be any other that could be devised. The sounds of letters
must always be somewhat arbitrary, inasmuch as there is no manner of
resemblance between the sign and the thing signified.


_Ottawwaw._—_Menomonie._—_English._—_Free translation, etc._

    Me-notch-pun-gee—Me-na-wutch—A little.

    O-ta-me-ne-kwain—Kut-tai-me-no—He will drink. He will drink a


    Mow-wy-un?—Us-moke?—Doth he cry?

    Ka-gaw-pung-ge-zhe-moke—Ka-zho-nicut—Near sun set. Almost sun


    Neen-dah-koose-se—Ne-wa-suk-ko-si-nun—I was not sick.

    Ke-tah-koose-nah?—Ke-wa-suk-ko-si-met?—Art thou sick?

    Kuh-kish-pin-at-tone-nah?—Kau-to-te-pai-hai-met?—Wilt thou
    buy? For substances inanimate, or animals not entire, except a
    stone is spoken of. In the case of entire, or living bodies,
    Kuh-kish-pin-a-nah-nah, etc.

    Ke-pe-nu-gin-nah—Ke-pe-now-wuk-ket—Doest thou bring


    Ke-pe-nu-gin-nah—Ke-pe-now-wuk-ket—Dost thou bring

    She-sheeb?—Sha-shaip?—a duck? More commonly the order of
    arrangement is the reverse; Sha-shaip-ke-pe-now, etc.

    En-to-kwain—Nin-nauk—I know not.

    Ga-get-nah—Kat-ten-nah—Indeed (is)

    O-ke-mah-ow?—O-ko-mow-waw-wew?—he is a chief? Is he indeed
    a chief? or, doth he chief? The resemblance to the Greek
    Βασιλενω, and the Latin _Regno_, both in composition and
    signification, need not be pointed out to the philologist.


    Gos-kitche-ah-na-pwa-ot?—Skesh-suk-ke-poutch?—bit his nose off?

    Nish-a-nau-ba—Ma-cha-ti (adj.?)—An Indian

    We-ko-mi-ko-onk—We-ko-mik-ko—at the lodge

    We-tush-e—Owa—he will be

    Ke-wus-kwa-be—Ke-wus-ke-pe-nun—drunk. He will be drunk at the
    Indian lodge.

    Een-gah-ke-way—Nuh-ke-waim—I will go home. For the ideas of
    fitness, propriety, personal beauty, and fine quality, as of a
    blanket, etc., they commonly use the same word.

    Bo-zin—Po-she-nun—Embark, (imper.)

    Kitche-kwi-naitch—Na-sha-wis-ke-wuh—it is very well

    Bo-au-zi-un—Us-hab-po-si-un—that you embark.

    O-wa-nain-waw-te-ga-mut?—Wah-wia-ke-mut?[67]—With whom lives he?

    Ke-wus-shiz-ze-wuk—Ka-wis-so-wuk ah-wuk—They are orphans.

    Ke-we-ah-m’woi-gin-nah?—Push-ke-mwow-wuk-ket?—Will you eat?


    Maung—Mouk—A loon.

    Ma-za-tah-go-zit—Kou-ke-to—he yells. A loon yells.

    We’metai-we-wug—Kut-tai-metai-we-wuk—They will have metai.

    A-gaw-mink—A-gaw-me—on the other side. They are about to have a
    medicine dance and feast on the other side of the river.

    Kitche—Ketch—Very much

    Ke-te-mah-ki-zhe—Ka-ti-mok-ka-zhit—he is poor. He is very poor.

    A-gaw-mink—A-gaw-me-um—From the other side

    Ne-to-an-je-bah—Ne-to-pe-um—I came. I came across, or from the
    other side.

    Win-ne-ba-go-kwi—Win-ne-ba-go-ke-wun—A Winnebago woman

    Mi-uk-e-kway-wan—Wa-wa—he wives;

    _Pun-gee_ Ome-nom-o-ne-wew—_Me-na-wutch_ ah-wew—a little, he
    Menomonies. A Winnebago woman is his wife, himself is a sort
    of a Menomonie. The arrangement of the words differs in the
    two dialects. The termination _ah-wew_, which marks the verb,
    being separated in the Menomonie.

    Ah-gwut-ching—A-guat-chew—Without. Out side of the lodge.


    Ta-kosh-in-oag—Pe-wuk—they come,

    Che-to-wug—Ah-wauk—they say. Indians are coming, they say; or,
    it is said, Indians are coming.

    Ke-ke-waw-nem—Ke-ka-no-kim—Thou liest,

    Ke-sa-ah-gis-in-nah?—Ke-ko-ti-met?—Dost thou fear?


    Ke-zhe-kah—Ke-she-ah—he is swift. He is swifter.

    U-ne-shaw—Ne-shup-naip—Without cause,

    Tah-neen-a-ke-toi-un?—Kis-ke-zha-met? what sayest thou?
    Εμισησαν με δωρεαν, John xv. 25. “They hated me, _without
    cause_,” is a form of expression similar to this in the dialect
    of the Monomonies. _Nas-kup-nai_ ke-pe-um-met? _Without cause,
    or for nothing_, didst thou come?

    Tah-neen a-ke-tote?—Kus-ha-wat-to?—What saith he?


    Ke-zhik—ka-zhik—the day.

    Kom-ma-cee, or, kaw-ma-cie—Kun-ne-mah-shew—Not yet

    Ne-we-she-ne-se—Ne-meet-che-shim—I eat. I have not yet eaten,
    or, it is before I have eaten.


    Pe-po-nish-she—Kin-nuh-pe-po-nup-pa—thou wilt winter. The
    Ottawwaw is in the imperative mood; the Menomonie, in the
    future, used as imperative.

    _Tau-ne-pe_—Ko-pai-pe-pone—All winter,

    Ke-pe-po-ne-sheak?—_Tae_ s-kesh-pe-po-na-piak?—when did ye
    winter? There is here some difference in the arrangement of the



    Ke-ne-bin-e-she?—O-e-at-ne-bin ah-kwo?—didst thou summer?
    Where didst thou remain throughout the summer? is the
    translation of the sentence in Menomonie.

    Pe-kwut-tinn-onk—Pe-kwut-ti-no—At Peguttino

    Ko-pa-een-je-tah—Ne-kes-kim-me-no ko-pa-ne-bin—I remained all

    Tau-ne-pe ke-pe-po-ne-shit—Tas-kesh-pe-po-nup-pet—Where did he

    Ke-si-ah?—Ka-sha—thy elder brother? Where did thy elder brother
    pass the winter?

    Tau-ne-pe as-hi-at—Tas-e-et—where remains


    Ke-si-ah?—Ka-sha?—thy elder brother? Where is now your elder


    Neen-gah-waw-bo-maw—Nuh-nah-wow—I shall see

    Ne-si-ah—Na-sha—my elder brother.

    Paw-ne-maw—Kun-new—By and by

    Neen-gah—Nuh—I shall

    Kus-kau-dum—Kus-kai-ne-tum—sorrow. By and by I shall be sorry.

    No-pe-mik—No-pa-ma—From back

    Nee’toan-je-bah—Ne-to-pe-um—I came. I came from _the lands_, or
    from the interior.

    Ke-ke-pe-mish kaw-nah?—Oos-ke-pish o-met-us-pe-um?—Didst thou
    paddle? Didst thou come by water? The expressions are not
    similar in the two dialects.


    Pazh-ko-ka-she—Pazh-ko-ka-she—a horse

    Neen-pe-pa-mo-mik—Ne-pish-nio-nik—me did bring. No; I came on
    horse back.



    Kah-pe-we-je-wuh-jik?—Pish-we-je-waw-wuk-ket?—did they
    accompany thee? Did many persons come with thee? _Ket_, at the
    end of the Menomonie verb, has the force of _in-nah_, or _nah_,
    which is the mark of interrogation in the Ottawwaw.


    Neen-ge-pe-we-je-wauk—Pish-we-je-waw-wuk—accompanied. Five
    persons came with me.

    ‘Nin-ne’ wi-gun—Match-o-to o-kau-nun—Man’s bones

    Neen-ge-me-kah-nun—Ne-mah-kun-un—I found. I found human bones,
    or, the bones of a man.

    Tau-ne-pe-ke-ke muh-kum-un—Tas-kesh mak-kaw-mun—Where didst find

    O-kun-nun?[69]—O-kau-nun?—bones? Where did you find bones?

    Pe-guh-kum-me-gah-sink—Spaw-ke-uh—On a mound

    Neen-ge-me-kaw-nun—Ne-mah-kun—I found

    O-kun-nun—O-kau-nun—bones. _Ne-nah-kun_, in the Menomonie,
    appears to be in the past time, without the usual syllable to
    mark it.


    Ne-kish-pin-at-to-nun—Ne-kesh-tah-pah-hak-wuk—I bought them.
    These examples are not entirely similar; the verb used in
    the Menomonie being found also in the other dialect, and in
    both meaning TO PAY, though it is commonly thus used by the


    Me-na-sun—Me-na-sun—thorn apples

    Tumm-wow-waun—Ke-me-wuk—they eat. Porcupines eat thorn apples.

    Maung—Mouk—A loon

    Wi-e-buh be-che-sa—Os-ke-pew—comes early—A loon comes early in

    Mau-na-sheens—Mau-na-sha-sha—A fawn


    Ke-pe-nau?—Ke-pe-now?—dost thou bring? Have you brought a fawn?


    Nah-ke-pe-naug?—Ke-pe-now-wuk-ket?—dost thou bring? Have you
    brought fawns?


    Ke-pe-tone?—Ke-pe-to-met?—dost thou bring? Do you bring meat?

    O-pe-neeg in-nah—O-pai-neuk—Potatoes

    Ke-pe-naug?—Ke-pe-now-wuk-ket?—dost thou bring? Do you bring

    Waw-was-kesh—Pah-zhus—Red deer.

    Ka-go—Poan—Do not.

    Gi-as-koo-sha—Pas-ke—A gull.

    O-nu-mun—O-nah-mum—Red paint.

    Min-ne-kwain—Me-nai-nun—Drink thou.


    O-way-o—Way-uk—Some one

    Ne-ke-me-nik—Ne-kesh-ma-nik—me did give. Some one gave it me.



    Wa-che-mau-net?—O-tos-hiah-wik?[70]—is that canoe? Whose canoe
    is that?

    Neesh o-ke-maig—Neesh o-ka-mow-wuk—Two chiefs

    Che-mau-ne-wah—O-to-now—it is their canoe. It is the canoe of
    two chiefs.

    Bo-che-kwet—Bo-che-kwet-to—To Green Bay

    We-shaw-wuk—Kut-tai we-she-wuk—they will go. They will go to
    Green Bay, or, Bo-che-kwet.


    At-ta o-nis-he-shin—Pus ne-ma-no—could I well


    Je-ba-gom-mi-gonk—Je-pi me-ne-kaw-ne—in the town of the dead.
    I could be more happy to die; or, in the village of the dead I
    could live better.

    Kee-ta-ne-mo-siew-nah?—A-na-mo-neen ke-tai-wim-met?—Art thou a

    Ah neet-ane-moose—On-kah’a-nam ne-tai-wim—Yes, I am a dog.

    Je-bu-ka-nong—Je-pi e-mik-kun—Road of the dead.


    Fire—Ish-koo-da. Fires—Ish-koo-daig.

    Smoke of a distant fire—Puk-kwa-na.





    A little ground—Pun-ge-sha-ah-ke.

    Big, big lake—Gitche-gitche-gum-me.[71]

    Wave—Tego. Waves—Te-go-wug.



    On the shore—Cheeg-a-beeg.

    Island—Me-nis. Islands—Me-nis-un.

    River—Se-be. Rivers—Se-be-wun.

    Dirty pond—Pe-to-beeg. Small clear pond—Ne-bis.


    Rivulet, or small River—Se-be-ainse.

    Up the river—O-ge-tah-je-wun.

    Down the river—Nees-sah-je-wun.



    Boiling spring—Mo-kid-je-wun ne-beeg.

    Crossing place—Ah-zhug-ga-win.

    Banks of a river—Kosh-kut-te-naunk.


    Left hand side—Mum-mun-je-nik e-nuh-kuh-ka-yah.

    Right hand—Gitche-nik.



    Mountain—Wud-ju. Mountains—Mud-ju-wun.




    War road—Nun-do-bun-ne me-kun-nuh.

    Stone—Us-sin. Stones—Us-sin-neeg.




    Dirt of houses—We-ah-gus-se.


    Cavern in rock—Ween-bah-zho-ke-kah.

    Cavern, or hole in ground—Weem-baiah.


    Salt spring—She-we-tau-gun e-mo-gitche-wun-ne-beeg.

    Deer lick—Om-waush ke-wa-wa.









    Birth—Mah-chees-kunk pe-mah-te-se-win.






    Blacking, or fasting—Muk-kud-da ka-win.



    A word—Ke-ke-to-win.







    Height, or tallness—Ke-no-ze-win.







    A measure—Te-bi-e-gun.

    A hole—No-ko-na-ah.

    Calamity, _Bad Look_—Mah-nah-bo-wa-wis.



    Mind—Gaun-nug-gus-ke wa-shie.








    A person—Ah-we-ah.

    A thing—Ka-go-shis.



    A shriek—We-suk-wa-win.



    White (animate)—Waw-biz-ze.

    White (in)—Waw-bish-kaw.



    Blue—Me-zhuh-kwod—oong; a-zhe-nah-guwt, like the sky.



    Great—Mit-chaw, _Animate_.

    Greater—Nah-wud mit-chaw.

    Greatest—Mi-ah-mo mit-chaw.


    Smaller—Nah-wuj ah-gah-saw.

    Smallest—Mi-ah-ma ah-gah-saw.

    Strong—Soang-gun (tough.)







    Thick—Kip-pug-gah, as a board.

    Thick—Pus-sug-gwaw-gum-me, thick as mush.

    Thick—Kip-pug-ge-gut, as cloth.

    Thick—Kip-pug-ga-big-gut, as iron.



    Brave—Soan-ge-ta-ha; _Strong Hearted_.

    Brave—Mahn-go-ta-sie; _Loon Heart_.

    Coward—Shah-go-ta-a; _Weak Heart_.




    Bad—Mah-nah-tut, _Inanimate_.

    Bad—Mah-nah-diz-ze, _Animate_.














    Warm—Ke-zho-ze, _Animate_; Ke-zho-yah, _Inanimate_.




    First—Neet-tum, (_wy-aizsh-kut_.)


    Long—Keen-waw; _keen-waizh_, long in time.


    Deep—Keen-ween-dum-mo, (_as water_.)






    We—Neen-ah-wind, (excluding the person addressed.)

    We—Keen-ah-wind, (including the person addressed.)

    They—E-gieu, or, ween-ah-waw.

    Them—E-gieu, (to persons;) e-nieu, (to things.)

    My—Our,    }
    Thy—Your,  } (None.)
    His—Their, }
    Its,       }

    That—E-eu, _Animate_. That—Wah-ow, _Inanimate_.

    This—Mahn-dun, or, O-o, (to things.)

    This—Wah-ow, or Mah-bum, (to persons.)

    This person—Mah-bum, if near.

    This person—Ah-weh, if far off.

    These—Ah-noon-dah, if near.

    These—An-ne-weh, if far off.





    Other—(None,) ah-ne-we, (nearly.)





    A little—(The same.)




















    Never—Kah-we-kaw, or kaw-ween-we-kaw.




    Long ago—Shah-shiah.







    Well—Kwi-uk, strait.








    Towards—(None.) Ah-che-waw?

    Yes—Uh. Certainly—Me-nung-a-hah.






    Perhaps—Go-ne-mah, or, kah-nah-butch.











    To eat—Che-we-sin-it.

    To be hungry—Che-we-buk-kud-dit.

    To drink—Che-min-ne-kwait.

    To walk—Che-pe-mo-sait.

    To run—Che-pe-me-bat-toan.

    To sit down—Che-nam-mad-a-bit.[72]

    To lie down—Che-shin-ge-skink.

    To stand—Che-ne-bo-wit.

    To stay—Cha-ah-bit.[73]

    To dance—Cha-ne-mit.

    To go—Cha-mah-chaht.

    To come—Cha-tah-ko-shink.

    To ride—Che-me-zhug-gaut.

    To ride—Che-pe-mah-bi-o-goat.

    To hunt—Che-ke-o-sait.

    To fight—Che-me-kwa-zoat.

    To smoke—Che-sug-gus-swawt.

    To sing—Che-nug-gah-moat.

    To smoke—Che-been-dah-kwait.

    To sleep—Che-ne-baht.

    To die—Che-ne-bote.

    To say—Che-e-ke-doat.

    To speak—Che-keke doat.

    To treat—Che-to-to-waut.

    To marry—Che-we-wit.

    To think—Che-nain-dunk.

    To know—Che-ke-ken-dunk.

    To wish—(This is not a regular verb, in the Ottawwaw.)

    To see—Che-wau-bit.

    To hear—Che-non-dunk.

    To taste—Che-ko-tun-dunk.

    To smell—Che-me-non-dunk.

    To touch—Che-tahn-je-nunk.

    To love—Che-san-gi-unk.

    To hate—Che-shin-ga-ne-maut.

    To kill—Che-nis-saut.

    To scalp—Che-mah-miz-zhwaut.

    To give—Che-me-naut.

    To take—Che-o-tau-pe-naut.

    To bring—Che-be-naut.

    To carry—Che-mah-che-naht.

    To cut—Che-kis-ke-shunk.

    To stick—Che-wa-po-to-waut.

    To plant—Che-ke-te-gait.

    To burn—Che-chau-ge-zung.

    To bury—Che-ning-wo-waut.

    To sow—Che-kus-ke-gaw-saut.

    To blow—Che-pe-me-bo-tote.

    To hide—Che-guk-ket-tote.

    To cook—Che-che-bah-kwait.

    To melt—Che-nin-ge-taik.

    To subdue—Che-muk-dwait.

    To have—Che-iaht.

    To be—Che-iaht.

    He is—Ween-sah.

    I am—Neen-sah.

    I am cold—Neen-ge-kudj.

    I am warm—Neen-ge-zho-se.

    I am young—Neen-do-ske-neeg.

    I am old—Neen-ge-kaw.

    I am good—Ne-meen-no-zhe-wa-bis.

    I am strong—Ne-mush-kaw-wees.

    I am hungry—Ne-buk-kud-da.

    I am sick—Neen-dah-kooz.

    It rains—Ke-me-wun.

    It is cold—Kis-se-nah.





    Give me—Me-zhe-shin.

    Take him—O-tah-pin.

    Take it—O-tah-pe-nun.

    He drinks—Ween-min-ne-kwa.

    He runs—Ween-pe-me-bat-to.

    He sings—Ween-nug-gah-mo.

    I sing—Neen-nug-gah-mo.

    We eat—We-sin-ne.

    I eat—Ne-wee-sin.

    I came—Neen-ge-tuh-koo-shin.

    He came—Ween-ge-tuh-koo-shin.

    We came—Neen-ge-tuh-koo-shin-noam.

    I have eat—Ne-ke-we-sin.

    Thou hast eat—Ke-ke-we-sin.

    He has eat—O-ke-we-sinne.

    He saw—O-ke-waw-bo-maun.

    He is dead—Ween-ke-ne-bo.

    He has been seen—Ke-waw-bo-maw.

    He shall speak—Oan-jit-tah kah-ge-e-ke-to, (I make.)

    He shall go—Oan-jit-tah tah-mah-jah, (I make, etc.)

    He may go—Tah-mah-jah.

    We may go—Tah-mah-jah-men.

    This dog—Maw-buh-an-ne-moosh.

    These dogs—Ah-goon-dah-an-ne-moag.

    This is mine—Neen-een-di-eem, (mine it remains.)

    That is thine—Keen-ke-ti-eme, (it belongs to thee.)

    Whose dog is this?—Wha-nain-wha-ti-et?

    What is thy name?—Ah-neen-a-zhe-ne-kah-so-yun.

    What do you call this?—Ah-neen-a-zhe-ne-kah-dah-mun?

    To whom shall he speak?—O-wa-na-nan ka-kun-no-nah-jit?

    Which of us shall go?—O-wa-nain ka-e-shaut?

    Who shall go?—Tah-neen-a-ow-ka-e-shaut-shaut?

    Either of us shall go—Ne-got-wa-hi-ao o-tai-a-shon.

    Who saw these?—Wa-ne-wi-ah-bo-mik?


    My father—Nos-a.

    My brother—Ne-kau-nis; n’dah-wa-mah, by the women.



    My sister—N’dah-wa-mah.



    My son—Ne-gwis.

    My daughter—Ne-dan-nis.

    My child—Ne-en-jah-nis.

    My head—Ne-o-ste-gwon.

    My feet—Ne-o-zit-tun.

    My dog—Neen-di.

    My shoes—Ne-muk-ke-zin-nun.

    I saw you—Nee-ke-waw-bo-min.

    I love you—Ke-zaw-ge-in; to a woman only, ne-ma-ne-ne-min.

    I will marry thee, (a man to a woman)—Neen-gah-we-te-ga-mah; (a
    woman to a man,) kuh-we-te-ge-min.

    He is taller than me—Nah-wudj-ween ke-nose-a-ko-zeaun.

    He is a stranger in the village—Mi-ah-mah-mush-kaw-e-zeet

    My wife is called handsomer—Ne-wish nah-wuj kwo-nahj

    Your wife is younger than mine—Ke-wis nah-wudj os-ke ne-ge

    My brother is with his wife—Ne-kaun-nis o-we-je-waun we-wun.

    My hatchet is in there—Ne-waw-gaw-kwut-peen-dig at-ta.

    Where is he?—To-ne-e-peezh at-taik?

    I am here—Maun-di-pe een-di-ah.

    I am a man—Een-da-nin-ne-ne-ew.

    I am a good man—Ne-min-no a-nin-ew.

    Thou art a woman—Keet-e-kwa-o.

    There is a God—Man-i-to sah-iah.

    I am that I am—Neen-goo-sah-neen.[74]

    He sings well—Ne-tah-nug-gah-mo.

    He sings ill—Kaw’nit-tah nug-gah-mo-se.

    He sings slow—Se-bis-kautch e-nug-gah-mo.

    He sings quick—Ka-tah-tub-buh-um.

    He sings his death song—O-be-mah-tuh-se-win e-nug-gah-mo-toan.

    I see him—Ne-waw-bo-maw.

    I see a man—E-nin-ne ne-waw-bo-maw.

    I see near—Pa-show n’duk-wawb.

    I see far off—Was-saw n’duk-wawb.

    He came on foot—Ke-bim-me-to-sa.

    He came on horseback Ke-be-pe-mom-mi-co.

    You came on horseback—Ke-ke-be-pe-mo-mik.

    He came by land—Ah-keeng ke-pe-e-zhaw.

    He came by water—Ke-be-pe-mish-kaw-nah.

    He came before me—Ke-be-ne-kaune.

    He came last—Skwi-ahtch ke-ta-koo-shin.

    He came without me—Kaw’neen-ge-we-je-we-goo-se.

    I struck him—Neen-ge-wa-po-to-waw.

    I struck him with my foot—Neen-ge-tun-gish-ko-waw; (I kicked

    I struck him with a stone—Us-sin neen-ge-wa-po-to-waw.

    I struck him with a hatchet—Waw-gaw-kwut neen-ge-wa-po-to-waw.

    I gave it to him—Neen-ge-me-nah.

    I did not give it to thee—Ka-ween-keen ke-ke-me-nis-se-noan.

    He gave it to me—Neen-neen-ge-me-nik.

    What I gave him—Wa-go-to-gwain e-to-ge-gaw-me-nuk.

    What he gave me—Wa-go-to-gwain e-to-ge-gaw-me-zhit.

    And did he give it to thee?—Ke-ge-me-nik-in-nah?

    Hast thou given it to him?—Ke-ge-me-nah-nah? (Didst thou give?)

    Wilt thou give it to me?—Ke-kah-me-shin-nah?

    May I give it to him?—Kaw-nuh neen-dah-me-nah-se?

    I wish to go with thee and catch his horse—Op-pa-tus
    we-je-win-naun che-tah-ko-nuk o-ba-zheek-o-guh zhe-mun.

    Give me some venison to put in his kettle—Me-she-shin we-yos,
    che-po-tah kwi-aun o-tah-ke-koonk.

    We conquered our country by our bravery, we will defend it
    with our strength—Ne-munk-kund-wa-min ain-dun-uk-ke-ung,
    e-zhin-ne-ne-wi-aung, (our manliness,) or, ne-mahn-go
    tah-se-we-win-ne-naun, (our loon heartedness,)
    ne-kah-ko-no-ain-dah-men ne-mus-kaw wiz-ze-win-ne-naun.

    Good morning—Me-gwaitch wi-ah-bah-me-non; (I am glad to see

    How is it with thee?—Tah-neen keen-o-waw
    aiz-zhe-be-mah-te-ze-aik?—(If two or more, ke-me-no be-nah
    te-ze-nah?—how dost thou live?)

    He is a good man—Me-no-pa-mah-tiz-ze e-nin-ne.

    Dost thou live well?—Ke-men-no-pe-mah-tiz-ze-nah!

    What news?—Ah-heen ain e-kum-me-guk?

    I know him—Ne-ke-ken-ne-maw.

    I understand—Ne-ke-ken-dum; (weeds and small things; of a tree,
    or a large stone, they say, ne-ke-ken-ne-maw.)

    She is a good woman—Men-no-pa-mah-te-se.

    It is a large tree—Gitche-me-tik: (large tree.)

    I see it—Ne-waw-bo-maw, if a man, a tree, or a large stone;
    Ne-waw bun-daun, if inanimate, or a very small animate object.

    I give you this canoe—Ke-me-nin[75] maun-dun che-maun.

    Take it—O-tau-pe-nun.

    I give you this deer—Ke-me-nin maw-buh waw-waw-wash-gais.

    Take him—O-tau-pin.

    Give me meat—Me-zhe-shinwe-yos; give or hand to me, pe-doan.

    Give me that dog—Me-zhe-shin owan-e-moose.

    Bring water—Ne-beesh nah-din.

    Bring the prisoners—Beesh a-wuh-kau-nug.

    This is my father’s canoe—No-si-ah maun-dun o-che-maun.

    I gave corn to my father—Mun-dah-me-nun neen-ge-me-nah noas.

    I planted corn for my father—Neen-ge ke-te-go-waw noas.

    I love my father—Ne-sah-ge-ah noas.

    I took corn from my father—Neen-ge o-tah-pe-nun-no-waw noas

    I came with my father—Ne-pe-we je-waw noas. (I accompanied my

    I saw a deer—Neen-ge-waw-bo-mo waw-wash-gais.

    I saw two deer—Neesh-waw-wash-gais-e-wug ne-waw-bo-maig.

    I killed a deer—Waw-wash-gais neen-ge-ne-sah.

    I killed him with my hatchet—Ne-waw-gaw-kwut-ne-ke

    I took the skin from the deer—Neen-ge puk-ko-nah, (if he saved
    the meat;) neen-ge-gitche ke-zwo-ah, (if he threw it away.)


    To tie—Tah-ko-pitche ga-wing.[76]

    Tie him—Tah-ko-pish.

    Tie them—Tah-ko-bish ah-giew.

    I tie—N’tah-ko-pe-toon.

    Thou tiest—Ke-ta-ko-pe-toon in-a-nim.

    He ties—O-tah-ko-pe-toon.

    We (two) tie—Neen-dah-ko-pe-do-men.

    We tie—(The same.)

    You (two) tie—Ke-tah-ko-pe-toan-ah-waw.

    They tie—O-tuh-ko-pe-toan-ah-waw.

    He ties me—Neen-dah-ko-be-nik.

    He ties thee—Ke-tah-ko-be-nik.

    He ties him—O-tah-ko-be-naun.

    He ties her—(The same.)

    He ties us (two)—Ke-tah-ko-be-nik o-naun.

    He ties us (all)—(The same.)

    He ties you (two)—Ke-tah-ko-be-nik-o-waw.

    He ties you (all)—(The same.)

    He ties them—O-tah-ko-bin-naun.

    They tie me—Ne-dah-ko-bin-ne-goag.

    They tie thee—Ke-tah-ko-bin-ne-goag.

    They tie him—O-tah-ko-bin-ah-waun.

    They tie her—(The same.)

    They tie us (two)—Ke-tah-ko-bin-ne-ko-nah-nik.

    They tie us (all)—(The same.)

    They tie you (two)—Ke-tah-ko-bin-ne-go-waug.

    They tie you (all)—(The same.)

    They tie them—O-tah-ko-bin-nah-waun, (the same as one.)

    I tie thee—Ke-tah-ko-be-nin.

    I tie him—Neen-dah-ko-be-naun.

    I tie you (two)—Ke-tah-ko-be-ne-nim.

    I tie you (all)—(The same.)

    I tie them—Neen-dah-ko-be-naug.

    We (two) tie thee—Ke-tah-ko-bin-ne ne-nin-ne-min.

    We (two) tie him—Ne-dah-ko-be nah-naun.

    We (two) tie you (two)—Ke-tah-ko-bin-ne nin-ne-min.

    We (two) tie you (all)—(The same.)

    We (all) tie them—Ke-tah-ko-bin-nah-nah-nik.

    Thou tiest me—Ke-tah-ko-bish.

    Thou tiest him—Ke-tah-ko-bin-nah.

    Thou tiest us (two)—Ke-tah-ko-bish-e-min.

    Thou tiest us (all)—(The same.)

    Thou tiest them—Ke-tah-ko-bin-naug.

    We (all) tie thee—Ke-tah-ko-be-nin-ne-min.

    We (all) tie him—Neen-dah-ko-bin-nah-naun.

    We (all) tie you (two)—Ke-tah-ko-bin-nun-ne-min.

    We (all) tie you (all)—(The same.)

    You (two) tie me—Ke-tah-ko-biz-zhim.

    You (two) tie him—Ke-tah-ko-bin-nah-waw.

    You (two) tie us (two)—Ke-tah-ke biz-zhe-min.

    You (two) tie us (all)—(The same.)

    You (two) tie them—Ke-tah-ko-bin-nah-waug.

    You (two) tie me—Ke-tah-ko-be-zhim.

    You (all) tie him—Ke-tah-ko-bin-ah-waw.

    You (all) tie us—Ke-tah-ko-biz-zhe-min.

    You (all) tie them—Ke-tah-ko-bin-nah-waug.

    He has tied us—Een-ge-tah ko-bin-ne-ko-nahn.

    He has tied thee—Ke-ke-tah-ko-be-nik.

    He has tied him—O-ke-tah-ko-be-nahn.

    He has tied us (two)—Een-ge-tah-ko-bin-ne-ko-nahn.

    He has tied us (all)—(The same.)

    He has tied you (two)—Ke-ke-tah-ko be-nik-o-waw.

    He has tied you (all)—(The same.)

    He has tied them—O-ke-tah-ko-be-naun.

    They have tied me—Neen-ge-tah ko-bin-ne-goag.

    They have tied him—O-ke-tah-ko-bin-nah-waun.

    They have tied us (two)—Ke-ge-tah-ko-bin-nik o-nah-nik, or,
    neen-ge, if a third person is addressed.

    They have tied us (all)—(The same.)

    They have tied you (two)—Ke-ke-tah-ko-bin-nih-o-waug.

    They have tied you (all)—(The same.)

    They have tied them—O-ke-tah-ko-bin-nah-waun.

    I have tied him—Neen-ge-tah-ko-bin-nah.

    I have tied them—Neen-ge-tah-ko-bin-nahg.

    Thou hast tied me—Ke-ke-tah-ko-bish.

    Thou hast tied him—Ke-ke-tah-ko-be-nah.

    Thou hast tied us (two)—Ke-ke-tah-ko-biz-zhe-min.

    Thou has tied us (all)—(The same.)

    Thou hast tied them—Ke-ke-tah-ko-be-nahg.

    We have tied him—Neen-ge-tah ko-be-nah-nahn.

    We (all) have tied him—(The same.)

    You (two) have tied him—Ke-tah-ko-be-nah-waw.

    You (all) have tied him—(The same.)

    He will tie me—Neen-gah-tah-ko-be-nik.

    He will tie thee—Ke-gah-tah-ko-be-nik.

    He will tie him—O-gah-tah-ko-be-nahn.

    He will tie us (all)—Ke-gah-tah-ko-be-nik-ah-nahn, to the
    second person; to a third, Nin-gah-tah-ko-bin-nik-ah-nahn.

    He will tie them—O-kah-tah-ko-be-nahn.

    They will tie me—Neen-gah-tah-ko-bin-ne-goag.

    They will tie thee—Ke-gah-tah-ko-bin-ne-goag.

    They will tie him—O-gah-tah-go-bin-nah-waun.

    They will tie us (two)—Ke-gah-tah-ko-bin-ne-ko-nah-nik, to the
    second person.

    They will tie you (two)—Ke-gah-tah-ko-bin-ne-ko-waug.

    They will tie them—O-gah-tah-ko-bin-nah-waun.

    I will tie him—Neen-gah-tah-ko-bin-nah.

    I will tie them—Neen-gah-tah-ko-bin-nahg.

    Thou wilt tie me—Ke-gah-tah-ko-bish.

    Thou wilt tie him—Ke-gah-tah-ko-be-nah.

    Thou wilt tie them—Ke-gah-tah-ko-be-nahg.

    We (two) will tie him—Neen-gah-tah-ko-be-nah-nahn, to the third

    We (all) will tie him—(The same.)

    You (two) will tie him—Ke-gah-tah-ko-be-nah-nahn.

    You (all) will tie him—(The same.)

    I would tie thee—Ke-tah-tah-ko-be-nin.

    I would tie him—Neen-dah-tah-ko-be-nah.

    I would tie them—Neen-dah-tah-ko-be-nahg.

    He would tie thee—Ke-tah-tah-ko-be-nik.

    He would tie him—O-dah-tah-ko-be-nahn.

    He would tie them—(The same.)

    I might tie thee—Tah-ko-be-nin-naun.

    I might tie him—Tah-ko-be-nug.

    I might tie them—Tah-ko-bin-nug-waw.

    He might tie thee—Tah-ko-bin-naut.

    He might tie them—(The same.)

    I ought to tie thee—Tah-ko-bin-ne-nahm-bahn.

    I ought to tie him—Tah-ko-bin-nug-ge-bun.

    He ought to tie thee—Tah-ko-bin-nik-e-bun.

    He ought to tie them—Tah-ko-bin-nut-waw-bun.

    That I may tie thee—Go-mah-tah-ko-be-nin-nahn.

    That I may tie him—Go-mah-tah-ko-bin-nuk.

    That I may tie them—Go-mah-tah-ko-bin-nuk-waw.

    That he may tie thee—Go-mah-tah-ko-be-zhit.

    That he may tie him—Go-mah-ween-tah-ko-be-naht.

    That he may tie them—(The same.)

    If I tie thee—Tah-ko-bin-ne-naun.

    If I tie him—Tah-ko-be-nug.

    If I tie them—Tah-ko-be-nug-waw.

    If he tie thee—Tah-ko-be-nik-e-bun.

    If he tie him—Tah-ko-be-nau-pun.

    If he tie them—(The same.)

    I make thee tie them—Oon-jit-tah ke-kah-tah-ko-bin-nahg.

    I make him tie them—Oon-jit-tah o-kah-tah-ko-be-naun.

    I make them tie thee—Oon-jit-tah ke-kah-tah-ko-bin-ne-goge.

    He makes me tie them—Ne-kah-gau-zo-nick, tah-ko-be-nug-waw.

    He does not tie me—Kaw’neen-dah-ko-bin-ne-ko-se.

    He does not tie thee—Kaw’ke-tah-ko-bin-ne-ko-se.

    He does not tie him—Kaw’o-tah-ko-bin-nah-zeen.

    They do not tie me—Kaw’neen-dah-bo-bin-ne-ko-seeg.

    They do not tie him—Kaw’o-tah-ko-bin-nah-se-waun.

    He has not tied me—Kaw’neen-ge-tah-ko-bin-ne-ko-se.

    He will not tie me—Kaw-ween nun-gah-tah-ko-bin-ne-ko-ze.

    He shall not tie me—Kaw-pau-pish neen-dah-tah-ko-bin-ne-ko-se.

    That he may not tie me—Ga-mah-tah-ko-biz-zhe-sik.

    If he does not tie thee—Tah-ko-be-nis-se-nook.

    I will make him tie you—Oon-jit-tah ke-kah-tuh-ko-be-nik.

    I will not make him tie thee—Kaw’ne-kah-gah-gaw-zo-mah-se

    He made me tie thee—Ne-ke-gah-gau-zo-mik

    He did not make me tie thee—Kaw’neege-e-go-so jit-tah-ko

    I am tied—Neen-dah-ko-bees.

    Thou art tied—Ke-tah-ko-bees.

    He is tied—Tah-ko-biz-zo.

    We (two) are tied—Ke-tah-ko-biz-zo-min; to the second person,

    We (all) are tied—(The same.)

    You (two) are tied—Ke-tah-ko-biz-zoom.

    You (all) are tied—(The same.)

    They are tied—Tah-ko-biz-zo-wug.

    I was tied—Een-ge-tah-ko-bis.

    I was tied by thee—Keen-gah oon-je-tah-ko-biz-zo-yahn.

    I was tied by him—Ween-gah oon-je-tah-ko-biz-zo-yahn.

    He shall be tied—Oon-jit-tah tah-tah-ko-be-zoo.

    That he may be tied—Kut-tah tah-ko-be-zo.

    I am not tied—Kaw’n’dah-ko-biz-zo-ze.

    He is not tied—Kaw’tah-ko-biz-zo-ze.

    I was not tied—Kaw’ne-ke-tah-ko-biz-zo-ze.

    He shall not be tied—Kaw’tah tah-ko-biz-zo-ze.

    He who is tying thee—Ai-neen a-piz-zoi-un.

    We tie each other—Mah-ma-ash-kote guh-tah-ko-bin-ne-te-min.

    You tie each other—Mah-ma-ash-kote tah-ko-bin-ne-tik.

    They tie one another—Tah-ko-bin-ne-te-wug.

    I tie myself—N’tah-ko-bin-ne-tis.

    He ties himself—Tah-ko-bin-ne-tiz-zo.

    We tie ourselves—Nid-dah-ko-bin-ne-tiz-zo-min.

    They tie themselves—Tah-ko-bin-ne-tiz-zo-wug.

    Does he tie thee?—Ke-tah-ko-bin-nik-in-nah?

    Has he tied thee?—Ke-ke-tah-ko-bin-nik-in-nah?

    Shall he tie thee?—Ke-kah-tah-ko-be-nik-in-nah?

    Do they tie him?—O-tah-ho-bin-nah-waun-in-nah?

    Have they tied him?—O-ke-tah-ko-bin-nah-waun-in-nah?

    Will they tie him?—O-we-tah-ko-bin-nah-waun-in-nah?

    Shall I tie them?—Een-gah-tah-ko-bin-nahg-in-nah?

    Wilt thou tie them?—Ke-kah-tah-ko-bin-nahg-in-nah?

    Will thou tie him?—Ke-kah-tah-ko-bin-nahn-nah?


Ko-se-naun, (our Father,) o-wa-nain, (who,) ish-pe-ming, (above,)
ain-daut, (liveth,) mah-no-ti esh-she-wa-but, (what you wish to be
done,) wah-e-she wa-be-to-e-yun, (let it be done,) Kaw-taw-paw-pish
zhin-dah-zeem, (let us not play with thy name,) mah-no-be-zhe
nah-zhi-yun nah-gah-muk sa-ne-guk, (let thy great power come,)
me-zhe-shin-naung ka-me-je-yaun nong-goom ge-zhe-gut, (give us our
food this day,) me-zhe-shin-naung o-ma-ze-naw-o-mon-aung, (give us
our debts,) a-zhe-ko-te-bah-mah-tink, (as we give our debtors,) Ka-go
e-zhe-wizh-zhis, zhe-kaun-gain mi-ah nah-tuk, (do not lead us into
bad things,) kun-no-wa-no mish-she-naung mi-ah-nah-tuk, (keep us from
bad things,) naw-gau-ne-zit ta-ba-ne-mut (power belongs to thee,) gia
mash-kaw-e-zeet, (and strength,) kau-gin-neek, (for ever.)


Kosenaun owanain ishpeming aindaut mahnoti eshshewabut waheshewabetoeyun
kawtawpawpish zhindahzheem mahnobezhe nahzhiyun nahgahmuk saneguk
mezheshinnaung, kamejeyaun nonggoom gezhegut mezheshinnaung
omazenawomonaung azhekotebahmahtink; Kago ezhewizhzhis zhekaungain
miahnahtuk; kunnowano mishshenaung mishnahtuk; nawgaunezit tabanemut gia
mashkawezeet, kauginneek.



    Ne-oh-ke-oo-ook[77]—Me-nik ka-ah-ko pe-mah-tug ah-ke—As long as
    the ground lives.

    Oh-ke-ko-nah-kah—O-pe-ga-to-gonk-gia—planting time and

    Ke-pe-num-mun-at—O-pe-ma-maung—gathering time,

    Toh-koi-hah-kus-si-teau—Kis-se-nah-gia-ke-shaut-ta—cold and

    Ne-pun-nah—Ne-bin-gia—summer and


    Ke-su-kod-kah—Ke-zhi-kut-gia—day and



    Jeish-ah-kwoh-ta-noo—Ta-pun-nah tis-se-noan—shall cease.

    While the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, cold and
    heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not fail.—Gen.
    viii. 22.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Ne-tah-tup—E-she-way-buk—Even so


    Wun-ne-gen ma-tug—Way-nish-she-shit-me-tik—good tree


    Wun-ne-ge-nash mec-chum-mu-on-gash—Mo-zhe-ka-ko-mah-jink—every
    kind of food,

    Gut-match-tit matug—Koo-shah matche-me-tik—but a bad tree

    Ad-tan-ne-gen _match-te-toash_—Na-tah-we-git—beareth

    _Me-chum-mu-on-gash_—_Mat-che-me-nun_—bad berries.

    Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a
    corrupt tree evil fruit. Matt. vii. 17.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Kah o-moh-ku—Gia-pus-e-gwe—And he arose,

    Kah _mon-chu-en_ we-kit—Gia-we-ke-wa-mink _e-zhaw_—and to his
    house he went.

    And he arose and went to his house.—Matt. ix. 2.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Mat-ta-pish koo-mit-tam-wus-sis-su—Kaw-ween
    ke-kah-we-wis-sis-se—Not shalt thou wive,

    Kah-mat-ta-pish koo-nau-mo-ni-yeu—Gia-kaw’ke-kah
    o-kwis-sis-se—and not shalt thou son,

    A-suh-koo-taun-i-yeu—Kaw-ke-kah o-dau-nis-sis-se—not shalt thou

    Yeu-ut-a-yeu-on-ga-nit[78]—Maun-di-pe nuk-ka-kum-mik—here in
    the place.

    Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons
    or daughters in this place.—Jer. xvi. 2.


Of two existing versions of the Bible, or parts of it, in dialects
similar to the Ojibbeway, that of Mr. Elliot, made in 1661, would be
most easily adapted to the use of the Ottawwaws and Ojibbeways, in the
country about the lakes. The Delaware of Mr. Deuke’s version, printed at
New-York, 1818, whether owing to difference of orthography, or some other
cause, seems widely unlike any of the Algonkin dialects we have heard
spoken. The following comparison with the Ottawwaw of the present day,
will perhaps scarce afford a single point of resemblance.

Ehoalachgik? jukwe metschi ktelli wundamemensineen Gelanitawitink;
schuk neskwe majawii elsi jauktsch, schuk ktelli majaweten dameneen,
nkwuttentsch woachkwake ktellitsch linanizeen elinaxit ktellilsch
newoaneen elinaxit.—1 _John iii._ 2. [_Deuche’s version._]

Sah-git-te-wun-nun! (ye beloved!) gee-no-wind (are we)
Gitche-Manito, (the great God,) o-gwis-sun (his sons) kaw-ween (not)
ke-ke-ken-dun-se-min (ye understand) ka-iz-zhe-wa-biz-zhe-wunk (how we
shall be) koo-shah (but) ke-ken-dah-min (we know) ope-che-waw-bu-muk
(when he appeareth) ah-yeesh na-she-nah-koo-se-min (we shall resemble
him) ke-kah-waw-bo-maw-naun (we shall see him) a-zhe-nah-koo-zit (which
he is like.)—Ottawwaw.

Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we
shall be, but we know that, when he shall appear we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.—_English version._

The following are comparisons of passages from Mr. Elliot’s Bible, with
the same dialect.


    Onk-as-kook[79]—Gia-ke-na-beek—And the snake

    Un-nan—O-ge-gah-no-naun—said to

    Mit-tam-mo-sis-soh—E-kwa-wun—the woman,


    Woh-nup-poo-e ke-mup-poo—O-jit-tah-ke-kah-ne-boas[80]—shall you

    And the serpent said unto the woman, thou shalt not surely
    die.—_Eng. ver. Gen._ iii. 4.

(Elliot, Cotton Mather, and other early protestant divines, thought it
not best to attempt translating any of the names of the divinity into
the Indian, for the obvious reason, that their language affords no word
which would not awake associations in the minds of the natives, very
inconsistent with the character of the true and holy God. They thought
it better to retain the English appellations, and attempt gradually to
elevate the conceptions of the Indians to our standard, than incur the
risk of perpetuating their ideas of the characters attributed to their
deities, by introducing their original names into the new version of the


αἰ αλωπεκες, [The foxes]—Waw-goo-shug, [foxes]

φωλεους, [holes]—Waw-zhe-wug, [hole, v. a.]

εχονσι, [they possess,]—Gia-nun-nuh-ke-zhik, [and between sky adj.]

χαιτα ῳετειυα, [and the birds]—Be-nais-se-wug, [birds]

του ουρανου, [of heaven]—O-wus-sis-so-ne-wug, [nest, v. a.]

χατασχηνῳσσεις, [nests,]—Koo-shah, [but]

ο δε νιος, [the but son]—O-nin-ne o-gwis, [man his son]

του ανθρωπου, [of man]—Kaw’nin-goo-che, [not any where]

ουκ εχει, [not possesseth]—In-ne-kwa-shin-she, [may lie down.]

ωον, [where]

την κεφαλην, [his head]

κλιην, [he may lay.]

The foxes have dens, and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of
man hath not where to lay his head.—Matt viii. 20.


1. Wi-azh-kut Man-e-do wa-zhe-toan mahn-dun Ge-zhik gia Ak-ke.

2. Gia pa-bunk ak-ke at-tah go-bun gia kah-ga-go at-ta-sin o-go-bun,
gia tib-be-kut o-kit-te-beeg, gia man-e-do o-pug-git-to nah-mo-win
o-mam-mah-je-mug-gut o-kit-te-beeg.

3. Man-e-do ke-e-ke-do to-we-was-siah; gia ge-was-siah.

4. Gia man-e-do o-waw-ben-daun was-siah, ge-o-nish-she-shin gia man-e-do
o-nah-nah-we-nahn was-siah gia tib-be-kut.

5. Gia ma-ne-do o-ke-shinne-kau-taun was-siah, Ge-zhe-gut gia
tib-bik-nis-se o-ke-shinne-kau-taun tib-be-kut, Gia o-nah-koo-shig
ke-ke-zhaib ne-tum ke-ge-zhe-guk.

6. Gia man-e-do ke-e-ke-do Kut-ti e-she-wa-bug mahn-dun nun-nuh ge-zeik
nus-sow-wi-a-e ne-bish ush-uh-ko-taig, gia aut-taush-ke-no-mink
e-toi’a-e, ne-bish e-toi-wi-a-e gitche, te-go-mug-guk ish-pe-ming

7. Gia man-e-do o-ke o-zhe-toan nun-nuh-ge-zhe-gut gia o-na-nah-we-naun
ne-beesh ish-pe-ming gitche-tah-goak gia tub-bush-shish gitche-tah-goak,

8. Gia man-e-do o-ge-zhin-ne-kau-taun nun-nuh-ge-zhik Ge-zhik
a-nah-koo-zhik Ke-ke-zhaib wi-ah-ne-ka-ge-zhe-gut.

9. Gia man-e-do ke-e-ke-do mahn-dun-ne-beesh an-nah-mi-a-e at-taig
tum-mah-wun dosh-kah ah-ke-kut tuh-bung-wun, me-kah e-zhe-wa-buk.

10. Gia man-e-do o-ke-zhin-ne-kau-taun ak-ke gia kaw-mow aun-dos-kaug
ne-beesh o-ge-zhin-ne-kau-taun Gitche-gum-me gia man-e-do o-waw-ben-daun

11. Gia man-e-do ke-e-ke-do ak-ke kut-ti on-je-ne-tah-we-gin
me-zhus-keen, gia me-zhus-keen tu-e-me-ne-kau-ne-wun-nong, gia me-tig
mah-jink wain-je-we-tah-we-gi-uk me-ne-kaun me-tig-goank at-ta
on-jit-tah-gum-mig me-kah e-she-wa-buk.

12. Gia shi-a ke-ne-tah we-gin-noan me-zhus-keen gia me-ne
kaw-ne-wun-noan mo-zhuk-keen tib-bin-no-wa-go zhe-nah-gwut gia me-tig
me-ne-ne kau-ne-we tib-bin-no-wa me-ne-kaw-ne-we tib-bin-no-wa
o-ke-tah-kum-mig, Gia man-e-do o-ge-waw-bun-daun uz-zho nish-she-shing.

13. Gia an-nah-koo-zhik Ke-ge-zhaib me-nis-swo ge-zhe-guk.

14. Gia man-e-do ke-e-ke-do tuh-we wah-si-ahn nun-nuh-ge-zhik
uh-ge-zhik-oank che-na-nah-we-num-ming ge-zhe-gud gia tib-be-kud, tuh-we
ke-kin-no-wautch che-gau-ta gia ke-ke no-no-win-nun ge-zhe-gud gia

15. Gia tuh-we was-si-ahn nun-nuh-we ge-zhik o-ke-tah-kum-mik
che-was-siag o-ke-tah-kum-mik, me-kah e-she-wa-bug.

16. Gia man-e-do o-ge-o-zhe-toan neezh gitche was-si-ahn, gitche
was-si-ah che-te-ban-dung ge-zhe-gut gia a-gaw-sing was-si-ah
che-te-ban-dung tib-be-kut, gia o-ke-o-zhe-naun an-nung-wun.

17. Gia man-e-do puk-kit-te-naun was-si-ah nun-nuh ke-zhik, onk gitche
was-si-aig o-ge-tah-kum-mig.

18. Gia che-mus-ko-kung ge-zhe-gut gia tib-be-kut, gia che-na-nau-we
num-ming was-si-ah ge-zhe-gut gia tib-be-kut gia man-e-do o-waw-bun-daun

19. Gia an-nah-koo-zhik ke-ke-zhaib-ne-o-ko-ni-guk.

20. Gia man-edo ke-e-ke-do, ne-beeng tuh-we oan-je ne-tah-we-ga
ba-mah-de-zeet mah-nah-cheet gia be-nais-se-wug, ka-pa-ba-buh me-so-jig
nun-nuh ke-zhik.

21. Gia man-e-do o-to-zheaun Gitche-mah-nuh-maig-wun, gia kok-kin-nuh
ba-mah-de-zid ma-mah-cheet ne-beeng on-je ne-tah-we-kwug, gia ba-ba-zhik
wa-nin-gwe kwun-nah-jik be-nais-se-wug, gia man-e-do o-waw-bun-daun

22. Gia man-e-do o-gug-guh-no-naun e-ke-tong, tuh-oan-je ne-gin gia
gitche-ne-bin-nah moosh-kin-nah-toag, gitche-gum-me, tuh-we bah-te-no-wug
be-nais-se-wug o-ge-tak kummig.

23. Gia an-nah-koo-zhig ke-ke-zhaib ni-ah-no ko-ni-guk.

24. Gia man-e-do ke-e-ke-do ak-ke tuh-we oan-je ne-ton-we-go-be
mah-de-zit ah-wes-se-ug gia ba-bah-ma-to-jig ah-wes-se o-ke-tah-kum-mig
me-gah esh-e-wa-buk.

25. Gia man-e-do o-ke-o-zhe-aun ah-wes-se-ug che-she-nah-koo-ze-nit, gia
ba-me-nint ah-wes-se, gia kok-kin-nuh a-zhe-nah-koo-zit ba-bah-mo-tait,
gia man-e-do o-waw-ben-daun o-nish-she-sheng.

26. Gia man-e-do ke-e-ke-do, gah o-zhe-ah-naun e-nin-ne,
a-zhe-nah-koo-ze-unk che-me-nah-koo-zit, a-zhe kok-kin-nuh
wautch-che-yah-zho-yunk che-she-nah-goo-zit, gia o-kah te-ba-ne-mah-waun
kok-kin-nuh ke-goi-yug gitche-gum-mig gia be-nais-se-wug nun-nuh
he-zhik-koank, gia a-wes-se-yug, gia kok-kin-nuh ak-ke, gia kok-kin-nuh
ba-bah-mo-ta-jig o-ke-tah-kum-mig.

27. Ge man-e-ko o-ke-o-zhe-aun e-nin-ne-wun a-zhe-nah-koos-nit,
a-zhe-nah-ko-zit man-e-do o-ke-e-zhe-aun e-nin-ne-wun, e-kwa-wun

28. Gia man-e-do o-gug-guh-no-naun gia, man-e-do o-din-naun
tuh-oan-je ne-tah-we-gin, che-bah-ti-e-no-waud che-moosh-ke-naig
ak-ke gich-e-ta-tum-mo-waut, gia, et-be-ne-nah-waut ke-goi-yug, gia
be-na-se-wug nun-nuh ke-zhik-koank, gia kok-kin-nuh ba-mah-ta-zit

29. Gia man-e-do ke-e-ke-do—ke-me-nin kok-kin-nuh maun-dun,
na-tah-we-gi-uk o-ke-tah-kum-mig, gia pa-pa-zhik me-tig, wain-je
ne-tah-we gwi-uk ka-ko mah-ji-uk, ke-nah-waw wain-je-ne-tah-we-gi-uk

30. Gia kok-kin-nuh a-wes-se-yug o-ke-tah-kum-mig, gia be-na-se-wug
nun-nuh-ke-zhik, gia ba-bah-mo-ta-jig o-ke-tah-kum-mig,
kok-kin-nuh ne-men-aug-we-ug o-me-zhuh-keen, che-nin-je-ga-waut,

31. Gia man-e-do o-waw-bun-daun kok-kin-nuh maun-dun wa-zhe-to-te
o-nish-she-she-shing, gia an-nah-koo-zhik ke-ke-zhaib
ne-kot-wa-as-so-ko-ni guk.


[1] N. A. Review, No. 60, p. 101.

[2] “The little _kingdoms_ and _glories_,” says Cotton Mather, “of the
great men among the _Indians_, was a powerful obstacle to the success
of _Mr. Elliot’s_ ministry; and it is observable, that several of those
nations who thus refused the gospel, were quickly after so _devil-driven_
as to begin an unjust and bloody war upon the English, which issued
in their speedy and utter extirpation from the face of God’s earth.
It was particularly remarkable in Philip, the ring leader of the most
calamitous war ever made upon us; our Elliot made a tender of the
_everlasting salvation_ unto that king, but the monster entertained it
with contempt and anger, and after the _Indian_ mode of joining signs
with words, he took a button upon the coat of the reverend man, adding,
that _he cared for his gospel as much as he cared for that button_. The
world has heard what terrible ruins soon came upon that monarch and upon
all his people. It was not long before the hand that now writes, upon
a certain occasion, took off the jaw from the exposed _skull_ of that
_blasphemous leviathan_, and the renowned Samuel Lee hath since been
a pastor of an English congregation, sounding and showing the praises
of heaven upon that very spot of ground where Philip and his Indians
were lately worshipping the Devil.” Christian Magazine, p. 514. Vol. I.
Boston. Many passages, breathing the same spirit, will at once occur to
the recollection of those who are familiar with the writings of the early
puritans of New England. When such was the language learned divines chose
to record for posterity, it is not difficult to discover what must have
been the general tone of feeling toward the Indians.

[3] Letter to Col. McKenney, from the Principal of the Lancasterian
Chocktaw School at the Great Crossings, Kentucky, in the National
Intelligencer, July, 1828.

[4] “There are no beggars among them, nor fatherless children unprovided
for.” Roger William’s Key, ch. 5.

“_Obs._ They are as full of business, and as impatient of hinderance, (in
their kind,) as any merchant in _Europe_. Many of them naturally princes,
or else industrious persons, are rich; and the poor amongst them will say
they want nothing.” Williams, ch. 7. “_Obs._ The women of the family will
commonly raise two or three heaps (of corn) of twelve, fifteen, or twenty
bushels a heap, which they dry in round broad heaps; and if she has help
of her children or friends, much more.” Ch. 16. “I could never discern
that excess of scandalous sins amongst them which Europe aboundeth with.
Drunkenness and gluttony generally they know not what sins they be. And
although they have not so much to restrain them (both in respect of
knowledge of God and laws of men) as the English have, yet a man shall
never hear of such crimes among them, of robberies, murders, adulteries.”
Ch. 22. Quotations to the same effect might be adduced from nearly all
the early writers. Yet we are told that in all that regards their moral
condition, the Indians have been gainers by their intercourse with the

It is probably within the recollection of many persons now living, when
the very considerable quantities of corn required for the fur trade in
the country about Lake Superior, were purchased from the Indians, by whom
it was raised at a place called _Ketekawwe Seebee_, or Garden river, a
small stream falling into the strait between Lakes Superior and Huron,
about six miles below the Saut St. Marie. “The Indians at the first
settlement of the English, performed many acts of kindness towards them:
they instructed them in the manner of planting and dressing the Indian
corn,” and “by selling them corn when pinched with famine, they relieved
their distresses, and prevented them from perishing in a strange land,
and uncultivated wilderness.” _Trumbull’s History of Connecticut_, Vol.
I. Ch. 3. In another place, speaking of a famine among the colonists, he
says, “In this distressful situation a committee was sent to an Indian
settlement called Pocomtock, where they purchased such quantities, that
the Indians came down to Windsor and Hartford with fifty canoes at one
time laden with Indian corn.” Vol. I. Ch. 6. The Indians on Block Island,
according to the same authority, “had about two hundred acres of corn.”
This the English, after two days spent on the Island “burning wigwams,”
and “staving canoes,” destroyed, and then sailed for the Pequot country.
Ib. Ch. 5. Charlevoix, a less exceptionable authority than most of the
early French writers, says, that in an incursion into the country of the
Senecas, the French destroyed four hundred thousand minots (1,200,000
bushels) of corn. “They also killed a prodigious number of swine,
which caused much sickness.” _Hist. de la Nouvelle France_, liv. XI.
It is unnecessary to cite passages, hundreds of which might be adduced
to prove, what few, except the reviewer above quoted ever considered

[5] The name of this man Tanner pronounces _Gish-gau-go_. He has
subsequently been well known in Michigan, and other portions of the
north-western frontier, by his numerous murders and depredations. He died
in prison at Detroit, as lately as the fall of 1825.

[6] _Sa-gui-na_. The word _Sau-ge-nong_, appears to mean, “the town of
the Saukees.”

[7] Tanner has much of the Indian habit of concealing emotion; but when
he related the above to me, the glimmering of his eye, and a convulsive
movement of his upper lip, betrayed sufficiently, that he is not without
the enduring thirst for revenge which belongs to the people among whom he
has spent his life. “As soon,” said he, in connection with this anecdote,
“as I landed in Detroit on my return from Red River, and found a man who
could speak with me, I said ‘where is Kish-kau-ko?’ ‘He is in prison.’
‘Where is Manito-o-geezhik, his father?’ ‘Dead two months since.’ ‘It
is well he is dead.’” Intimating that though more than thirty years had
elapsed, he intended now to have avenged himself for the injury done him
when a boy not eleven years of age.—Ed.

[8] _War-gun-uk-ke-zee_ means, as Tanner says, the bent tree; and the
pine, which gave name to the place called by the French _L’Arbre Croche_,
was standing when he first visited that village. He spoke with great
indignation of the Indian who, through mere wantonness, cut down this
remarkable tree.

[9] _Pe-twaw-we-ninne._—This, however, is a Cree word; the name among the
Ojibbeways, is _Sug-guo-swaw-we-ninne_. Muskegoe is from _Mus-keek_, a
swamp, and is applied to a band of the Ojibbeways, enjoying in general no
very good name.

[10] This word, Win-ne-peg, is derived from _win-ne-be-a_, “dirty water,”
or _ween-au-gum-ma_, which has nearly the same meaning. The lake is
called by the Indians _Win-ne-be-a Sau-gie-gun_, “Dirty Water Lake.”

[11] _Puk-kwi_, the cat-tail flag, (_Typha Latifolia_,) of which we made
the coarse mats called by the Menomonies _O-pah-keuk_, by the Ojibbeways
of the Upper Mississippi, _O-pah-kwi-wuk._ There is a lake on the route
from Green Bay to the Wisconsan, called on the maps _Puck-away_, but the
word is, in the country, pronounced _Puk-kwi_.

[12] Or Spit Roasters, so called from their roasting meats on wooden

[13] Assinneboins, Stone Roasters, from using heated stones to boil their

[14] _A-gutch-a-ninne-wug_, the settled people, called by the white

[15] Lakes of the largest class are called by the Ottawwaws, Kitchegawme;
of these they reckon five; one which they commonly call Ojibbeway
Kitchegawme, Lake Superior, two Ottawwaw Kitchegawme, Huron and Michigan,
and Erie and Ontario. Lake Winnipeg, and the countless lakes in the
north-west, they call Sahkiegunnun.

[16] Naw-we-sah-ki-e-gun.

[17] Nebeninnah-ne-sebee—High Craneberry River; since called Pembinah.
The Indian name is derived from that of the viburnum, with large red
edible berries, somewhat resembling the craneberry; thence called v.
oxycoccus. “Red River” is from the Indian Miskwawgumme-wesebee.

[18] Pronounced by the Indians, We-ge-wham.

[19] Needjee—my friend, is commonly used in friendly conversation; but,
as in our language, is often used with a peculiar tone and manner, when a
threat is intended.

[20] Jebiug-neezh-o-shin-naut—Two dead lie there.

[21] From _tub-buz-zeen_, imperative, “Do thou dodge down.”

[22] _An-nim-me-keeg wus-re-tah goos-e-wuk_, (Ottawwaw,) _it
thunders_.—_na-mah-ke-wuk kau-ke-to-wuk_, (Menomine,) it thunders.—they
are both, however, plural nominations, and have verbs in the plural.

[23] The name of this distinguished chief is spelt in “Major Long’s
Second Expedition,” _Wa-no-tan_. To an English reader, this orthography
conveys as incorrect an idea of the sound of his name, as the engraved
portrait in that work, does of his handsome face and person.

[24] This is one of the species of Psoralea, so abundant in the open
countries of the Missouri. When boiled or roasted, the roots are
exceedingly palatable and nutritious; but the exclusive use of them
commonly occasions derangement of the bowels.

[25] _Gah-menomonie gah-wun-zhe-gaw-wie see-bee_, (the river of the wild
rice straw.) _Gaw-wun-je_, or _Gaw-wunzk_, is applicable to the stalks or
trunks of many plants, shrubs, etc. as _Mee-na-gaw-wunge_, (whortleberry
bush,) or, in the plural, _Mee-na-gaw-wa-cheen_, (whortleberry bushes.)

[26] _Devil Lake_, and on the North West Company’s map, _God’s Lake_.

[27] _Muz-zin-ne-neen_, _muz-zin-ne-neen-sug_—singular and plural.
_Meshe-nin-ne-shah_, _Meshe-nin-ne-shuk_—Menomonie dialect. These little
images, or drawings, for they are called by the same names, whether of
carved wood, or rags, or only rudely sketched on birch bark, or even
traced in sand, are much in use among several, and probably all the
Algonkin tribes. Their use is not confined to hunting, but extends to
the making of love, and the gratification of hatred, revenge, and all
malignant passions.

It is a prevailing belief, to which the influence of established
superstition has given an astonishing power, that the necromancers, men
and women of medicine, or those who are acquainted with the hidden powers
of their _wusks_, can, by practising upon the Muz-zin-ne-neence, exercise
an unlimited control over the body and mind of the person represented.
As it may have been, in former times, among the people of our race, many
a simple Indian girl gives to some crafty old squaw her most valued
ornaments, or whatever property she may possess, to purchase from her
the love of the man she is most anxious to please. The old woman, in a
case of this kind, commonly makes up a little image of stained wood and
rags, to which she gives the name of the person whose inclinations she is
expected to control; and to the heart, the eyes, or to some other part of
this, she, from time to time, applies her medicine, or professes to have
done so, as she may find necessary to dupe and encourage her credulous

But the influence of these images and conjurations, is more frequently
tested in cases of an opposite character; where the inciting cause is
not love, but hatred, and the object to be attained, the gratification
of a deadly revenge. In cases of this kind, the practices are similar to
those above mentioned, only different medicines are used. Sometimes the
Muz-zin-ne-neence is pricked with a pin, or needle, in various parts, and
pain or disease is supposed to be produced in the corresponding part of
the person practiced upon. Sometimes they blacken the hands and mouth of
the image, and the effect expected, is the change which marks the near
approach of death.

In the sanguinary chapter of the Calica Puran, we find reference to a
similar superstition among the Asiatics.

“Let a figure be made, either of barley meal or earth, representing the
person with whom the sacrificer is at variance, and the head of the
figure struck off. After the usual texts have been used, the following is
to be used in invoking the axe on the occasion: _Effuse, effuse blood!
be terrific, be terrific! seize, seize! destroy, for the love of Ambica,
the head of this enemy._ Having struck off the head let him present it,
using the texts laid down hereafter for the occasion, concluding with
the word PHAT. Water must be sprinkled on the meal or earthen victim,
which represents the sacrificer’s enemy, using the text commencing with
_Racta draibaih_, (i. e. by streams of blood,) and marks must be made on
the forehead with red sanders; garlands of red flowers must be put round
the neck of the image, and it must be dressed in red garments, tied with
red cords, and girt with a red girdle. Then placing the head towards the
north, let it be struck off with an axe, using the _Scanda_ text.”

So general and prevalent, among the Indians, is the confidence in the
efficacy of these charms, and of those practised by means of a hair from
the head of the intended victim, that the belief in them has extended to
many of the more ignorant of the Canadians who reside with the Indians,
and even to some of the traders. Instances in which a hair is used in
place of the image, or mus-zin-ne-neence, are frequently those of young
women; and various, and sometimes dreadful, are the consequences supposed
to result. So confident are the representations of whites, and those even
of some shrewdness, and so strong the belief of the Indians, in the power
of these drawings, as to enforce the conviction that effects have been
produced in connection with these mummeries, either by the influence of
imagination, or the still more powerful and certain operation of poison,
administered secretly. Poisoning is a crime of perhaps greater frequency
among the Indians than could have been expected from their situation;
and they attribute equal guilt to the poisoner, whether he actually and
craftily administers some powerful drug, or whether, at the distance of
one or two hundred miles, or at any place, however remote, he so applies
medicine to the Muz-zin-ne-neence, or to a hair, as to produce pain,
sickness, death, or other suffering, in his enemy. The influence of these
superstitions and absurd fears is boundless, and would, perhaps, surpass
comprehension and belief if we could not look back to the time when the
minds of our own race were similarly enthralled, and when the dread
of supernatural powers in the hands of the malicious or the envious,
formed one among the most serious and real evils in the life even of the
most enlightened and independent. Many cases of sudden sickness occur
among them, and many deaths happen entirely in the way of nature, which
they, being ignorant of the true cause, attribute to poison, or more
frequently to bad medicine; but enough of well authenticated instances
exist to prove that they, in some cases, practice upon each other by
poison; sometimes using such noxious plants, or other substances as
their own country affords, and in other instances procuring arsenic, or
other drugs, from the whites. To destroy life in this way is perfectly
in accordance with their ideas of bravery, or toughness of heart,
(Soug-ge-da-win;) he being often esteemed the bravest man who destroys
his enemy with least risk to his own life.

The Chippewyans, whose bleak and inhospitable country, affords neither
birch bark nor other similar article, indeed nothing from the vegetable
kingdom to serve as a substitute for the birch bark, and whose extreme
rudeness has left them ignorant of any method of preparing from stones
or earth any things suitable to write or delineate figures upon, use,
in their preparations for the medicine hunt, the scapular bone of the
rein deer, or such other animals as are found in their country. With an
apparent poverty of language, corresponding to the meagerness of their
soil, and the bluntness of their intellects, they denominate the drawing
used in this kind of hunting, _El-kul-lah ke-eet-ze_, (the shoulder blade
bone.) It would appear, also, that the accompanying ceremonies of this
superstition are proportionately rude and inartificial. After awkwardly
sketching the rein deer, or whatever animal they may happen to consider
as indicated to them by their dream, they cast the bone on which the
drawing is made into the fire, if, by chance, they happen to have one,
and this fulfills all those important ends, which, in the imagination of
the Ojibbeway hunter, are dependent upon the proper application of his
medicines, and the patient chanting of his prayers.

[28] _Match-a-to-ge-wub_, (in the Cree, _Mait-cha-to-ke-wub_,) in the
Ojibbeway, means nearly “Many Eagles sitting.”

[29] _Ne-je_, my friend, used to males; and _nin-dong-gwa_, used by
females to one another.

[30] Some of the circumstances of this murder seem to identify it with
that of Keveny, for which Charles De Reinhard and Archibald M’Lellan
were tried at Quebec, in 1818, and the former condemned to death. De
Reinhard, Mainville, and Jose, or Joseph, an Indian, otherwise called the
Son of the White Partridge, seem to have been the immediate actors in
this affair. It is not surprising that Tanner, who was then, as far as
opportunities for particular information on this subject were concerned,
on a par with the wildest Indian, should have mistaken foreign names, as
well as the comparative rank and importance of foreigners in the country.

[31] Many of the names of white men in the northwest and in other parts
of the country, which are mentioned in this narrative, are grossly
misspelt; the same principle having been followed in writing both foreign
and Indian names, in all instances where the name the narrator intended
to mention did not immediately recur to the recollection of the writer.
Thus Codman is here written for _Coltman_: in other places, Maveen for
_Mainville_; Tussenon for _D’Orsonnens_, etc. It is also not improbable
that names may have become confounded in the mind of our hunter himself,
who appears to have been more conversant with Indians than white men.
Thus, in his account of the murder of a governor of the Hudson’s Bay
Company, of the name of M’Donald, or M’Dolland, he may possibly have used
one of these names in place of that of Mr. Semple, who was one of the
victims to that spirit of bloody rivalry which occasioned these troubles
between the trading companies. This want of precision, particularly in
the spelling of names, will not, with the candid, impair the credibility
of this humble narrative.

[32] O-poih-gun—pipe; O-poih-gun-nun—pipes.

[33] _Nin-us-kun-je-ga kwi-uk we-ke-wah-mik._ See note at the end of the
volume on the Menominie word _Ke-kish-kosh-kaw-pe-nin_.

[34] The painful topic of domestic troubles, and the misconduct of
persons nearly allied to him, seems to be the only one on which the
narrator has not spoken with clearness. There is, in relation to this
subject, some want of distinctness; but it is believed this will not
be thought to affect the credibility of the narrative, inasmuch as we
discover no departure from truth, unless the suppression of some facts
can be considered such.

[35] Sug-gus-swaw-waw—the Smoker, in Ojibbeway.

[36] _Ka-gah-gum-ming_, almost water.

[37] This word, in the language of the fur traders, signifies not the
coming back of the clerk or person sent out but the peltries acquired by
the outfit, and is equally used if the trader never returns in person to
his employer.

[38] Some discussion has heretofore taken place concerning the existence
of a priesthood among the Indians. A little inquiry will convince any
one, that the medicine men are a set of crafty impostors, who subsist,
in a great measure, by practising on their credulity; by selling them
medicines, or charms, for ensuring success in hunting, for enticing the
females, and for other purposes. When one of these has been so fortunate
as to gain an ascendance over their superstitious and credulous minds, he
sometimes sets up for a prophet, and claims intercourse with superior and
invisible beings.

[39] A copious account of the Medicine Dance, or Metai, as it exists
among the Me-no-mo-nies, is contained in a manuscript paper, entitled,
“Remarks on the Mythology of the Algonkins,” etc. communicated to the
New-York Historical Society, in 1827, by the Editor of this narrative.

[40] _O-jee-chau-go-mau_—Schoolcraft. This is the substantive without
any inseparable pronoun. It is commonly used in combination, as
_Ne-tah-chuk_, my shadow; _Ke-tah-chuk_, thy shadow; _O-tah-chuk_, his
shadow, among the Menomonies.

[41] Mas-ge-kwi-min-all—Zeis. p. 83.

[42] A substance is brought by the Indians from a place called
Na-kaw-wudj, on the shores of Lake Superior, which, when bruised, imparts
a bright carnation colour. It is a small root, probably that of a species
of Chenopodium, which is sometimes met with on the borders of swamps
about St. Marks.

[43] Probably from _Weah-gush-ke_, dust; or that which is mixed together.

[44] More probably compounded of Mus-keeg, (a swamp,) and Me-taus, (a
leggin,) from its resemblance to the leggins worn by the Indians.

[45] From _Shig-gau-ga-winje_, this word, in the singular number, some
derive the name Chikago, which is commonly pronounced by the Indians
_Shig-gau-go_—_Shig-gau-go-ong_, at Chikago.

[46] _A-wes-sis-sac_, Del. Zeisb. 2d ed. p. 46.

[47] The young of this animal, if taken out of the uterus with care
immediately on killing the dam, and put upon a tree, will cling to it,
and often live. The Indians relate, that the porcupines, in the prairie
countries of the north, pass the winters on oak trees, where they
oftentimes have no hole, or any other protection from the weather, than
is afforded by the trunk of the tree. They strip all the bark off one
tree, before they go to search for another, and one may pass the greater
part of the winter on a single tree, if it happens to be a large one.
They also pretend to fatten the porcupine in the summer, whenever they
can find him in some hole, where he has constructed his nest, which is of
his own excrement. This, they say, he eats, and never fails, when thus
confined, to become very fat. The porcupine is not disposed to make any
other resistance, when attacked by a man, than his spiny skin affords,
and the Indians have a saying of this animal, and of the rabbit, that
those whom they bite will live to a great age.

[48] From _O-muk-kuk-ke_, (toad,) and _Ah-koo-se-win_, (sickness,) is
probably derived the word _Ma-muk-ke-ze-win_, (the small pox.)

[49] The Gween-gwe-sha is met with about the Saut De St. Marie, in the
winter season. It is a little smaller than the blue jay, and of a leaden
colour on the back, the lower part of the neck, and the wings; a few
of the feathers about the belly are a dirty white above, but plumbeous
below, as are those on the forward part of the neck, and about the
insertion of the beak. It appears to be the _Corous Canadensis_ of Rees’
Cyclop. It is said to have been found as far south in the United States,
as the Little Falls of the Mohawk.

[50] This social little bird seems to be not less the favourite and
companion of the Indian than of the white man. They relate, that long
ago, soon after Nanabush had made the ground, there was an old chief, a
great and good man, who, with his wife, had one son. But this young man
disregarded the advice and admonitions of his parents; particularly he
neglected to fast and pray, as all young men and women are enjoined to
do. For many successive days, had his father presented him his breakfast
in one hand, and in the other offered charcoals with which to paint
his face; but the ungracious son had steadily preferred the venison,
or the broth, to the coals. One morning he directed the old woman to
make a choice kettle of Mun-dah-min-aw-bo, or corn broth, and taking a
bowl full of it in one hand, and as usual some coals in the other, he
presented them both to his son. The young man choosing the broth, the
father returned to the fire place, and taking a handful of ashes, threw
it into the bowl. The young man then took the coals, and rubbing them in
his hands, painted his face, and retired to the bushes near by. After he
had lain three or four days, his father offered him something to eat,
but he would not accept it. This was repeated from time to time, until
the tenth day; then the young man still remaining in the bushes, called
his father, and his mother, and his relatives, and addressed them thus:
“My friends, it has been unpleasant to you to see me eat so much as I
have eaten; hereafter I shall eat less; but although I can no longer
live with you in the lodge, I shall remain near you, and it shall be
my business to forwarn you when any stranger is approaching.” He then
took some red paint, and put it on his face and his breast, to signify
that his fast was finished, and was immediately changed to a bird called
O-pe-che. Still he delights to live near the lodges of those who were his
relatives; and oftentimes taking a stand on the highest branch of a tree,
he cries out n’doan-watch-e-go, n’doan-watch-e-go, to foretell that some
one is coming. But having found that his prediction often proves false,
he is ashamed as soon as he has uttered it, and flying down, he hides
himself in thick bushes, or on the ground, crying out che! che! che! che!

[51] Ziskemanis, Zeis. 66.

[52] Gok-hos, Z. 11.

[53] Man-e-toanse-sug, or man-e-toanse-ug, small spirits; not exactly
synonymous in this application with our word insects, but used to
designate, indiscriminately, all very small animals.

[54] Mesissachowak, Zeis. 84.

[55] This is one of those clumsy sphinxes, or moths, that are found on
the ground in damp weather, or after showers of rain, and the Indians
imagine that they fall from the _Annimekeeg_, the beings whose voice is
the thunder.

[56] The Nautoway Indians have a fable, of an old man and woman who
watched an ant heap until they saw the little insects changed to
white men, and the eggs which they carry in their mouths, to bales of

[57] The tribes known to the Ottawwaws, are by them denominated as

    1. Ottawwawwug, Ottawwaws,       }
                                     } Close allies in all past times,
    2. Ojibbewaig, Ojibbeways,       } and their
                                     } dialects very similar.
    3. Potiwattimeeg, Potiwattomies, }

4. Kekaupoag, Kickapoos.

5. Oshawanoag, Shawneese, or southern people.

6. Wawbunukkeeg, Stockbridge, or white tops.

7. Muskotanje, Muskantins of the early French writers; formerly lived at
Wawkwunkizze, whence they were driven by the Ottawwaws, and the latter
now consider them as lost. By some they are supposed to have been a band
of Potiwattomies; but the Ottawwaws enumerate them as a distinct people.

8. Osaugeeg, Sankewi.

9. Mahnomoneeg, Menomonies, (wild rice people.)

10. Kneestenoag, Crees. They are said to call themselves Nah-hahwuk.

11. Muskegoag, Muskegoes, (swamp people.)

12. Muskegoag, Nopemit Azhinneneeg, or Nopemetus Anineeg, (back woods
people,) a second relationship of Muskegoes.

13. Sheshebug, Ducks.

14. Bowwetegoweninnewug, Fall Indians.

15. Tuskwawomeeg, Uskwawgomees; near Montreal.

The above fifteen tribes are thought to speak languages which resemble

16. Nautowaig, Naudoways, (rattle snakes.)

17. Mat-che-naw-to-waig, Bad Naudoways.

18. Ioewaig, Ioways.

19. Nabuggindebaig, Flat heads; said to have lived below the Illinois

20. Winnebagoag, Winnebagoes, or Puants.

21. Bwoinug, Sioux; Naudowesseeg, Ott., Roasters.

22. Ussinebwoinug, Assinneboins, (stone roasters.)

23. Agutchaninnewug, Minnetahres, (settled people.)

24. Kwowahtewug, Mandans.

25. Ahmeekkwun Eninnewug, Beaver People; among the Fall Indians.

26. Mukkudda Ozitunnug, Black Feet.

27. Ussinnewudj Eninnewug, Rocky Mountain Indians.

28. Pahneug, Pawnees.

29. Wamussonewug.

30. Kokoskeeg.

31. Aguskemaig, Esquimaux, (those who eat their food raw.)

32. Weendegoag, Cannibals. This last is an imaginary race, said to
inhabit an island in Hudson’s Bay. They are of gigantic dimension, and
extremely given to cannibalism. The Muskegoes, who inhabit the low
and cheerless swamps on the borders of Hudson’s Bay, are themselves
reproached by other tribes as cannibals, are said to live in constant
fear of the Weendegoag.

33. Ojeeg Wyahnug, Fisher Skins.

[58] A person born in this moon, (January,) will be long lived.

[59] These rude pictures are carved on a flat piece of wood, and serve to
suggest to the minds of those who have learned the songs, the ideas, and
their order of succession; the words are not variable, but a man must be
taught them, otherwise, though from an inspection of the figure he might
comprehend the idea, he would not know what to sing.

[60] _Ke-da-ne_, _ke-da_, (thy heart;) but a syllable is added in singing.

[61] The sound of B and P are used indiscriminately in many words, thus:
_bena_, _pena_, for the word meaning a pheasant.

[62] In the sitting figures of Na-na-bush, as rudely delineated by
the Indians, there is some resemblance to the Asiatic _Iswara_, or
_Satyavrata_, who, in the eastern mythology, is connected with one of
their deluges. Like Noah, like Saturn, and like Iswara, Na-na-bush
preserved, during the inundation, those animals and plants, which were
afterwards to be useful to mankind; and his addresses to the animals,
which the Indians often repeat, remind us of the age when one language
was common to men and brutes. (Tooke’s Pantheon, p. 118. Am. ed.) It is
true, that, like the Ovidian Deucalion, Na-na-bush reproduced men, the
old stock having been entirely destroyed; but it is to be remembered,
that any resemblance, however strong, between these traditions, have had
ample time to be obliterated. Instead of complaining that the similarity
in the opinions of these people to ancient fables, is no stronger, we
ought, perhaps, to be surprised that any resemblance exists. If any one
would attempt a comparison between the opinions of the Americans and the
Pagans of former ages, or of any other race, he should bear in mind how
vague and mutable must be all such traditions, in an unwritten language.
He must not be surprised to find, on close examination, that the
characters of all pagan deities, male and female, melt into each other,
and, at last, into one or two, for it seems a well founded opinion, that
the whole crowd of gods and goddesses of ancient _Rome_, the modern
_Váránes_ of the east, and _Mani-toag_ of the west, mean, originally,
only the powers of nature, and principally those of the sun, expressed
in a variety of ways, and by a number of fanciful names. (Asiatic
Researches, Vol. I. p. 267, Lond. ed.)

The resemblance between the Algonkin deity, (Na-na-bush,) and Saturn and
_Satyavrata_, or _Iswara_, of the Sanscrit, may be farther traced in each
being figured with a serpent, sometimes held in the hand, and in other
instances, as in many of the Roman figures of Saturn, in the mouth. This
resemblance is, perhaps, the more worthy of remark, as the Americans
seem not to have retained any very satisfactory explanation of this

It will not be supposed that these vague resemblances in religious
opinions, if they may be so called, afford the means of tracing the
American tribes to their origin. That these people have customs and
opinions closely resembling those of the Asiatics, particularly of the
Hebrews, previous to the Christian dispensation, will not be denied; but
the final result of all inquiries into this subject will, perhaps, be the
adoption of the opinion of _Bryant_, of _Sir William Jones_, and other
men of profound research, that Egyptians, Greeks, and Italians, Persians,
Ethiopians, Phenecians, Celts, and Tuscans, proceeded, originally, from
one central place, and that the same people carried their religion and
sciences into China and Japan, to Mexico and Peru, and, we may add, to
the banks of the Mississippi, and the coasts of Hudson’s Bay.

Some of the arguments adduced in support of the favourite opinion,
that the American tribes are the long lost remnant of the children of
Israel, certainly require no answer. An intimate acquaintance with many
languages is now so widely diffused, as to supersede the necessity of
remarking, or of proving, that a strong similarity in the sound of some
few words of different languages, even though they should be found
similar in meaning, does not establish the fact of community of origin;
and the wide dissimilarity between the American and the Hebrew, and its
cognate dialects, in the one particular, of the compounding of words, is
probably, to the learned, conclusive proof that our tribes are, in no
sort, derived from the Hebrew stock.

[63] In Mr. M’Kenney’s “Tour of the Lakes,” p. 202, 205, some account
is given of _Na-na-bou-jou_, and the renovation of the earth after
the deluge, which agrees, in most particulars, very closely with the
traditions among the Attawwaws and Menomonies. But these last relate it
with the following addition: “When the earth, which was found in the
claws and in the mouth of the muskrat, began to expand itself upon the
surface of the water, Na-na-bou-jou sat, day after day, watching its
enlargement. When he was no longer able to see the extent of it, he sent
out a wolf, and told him to run around all the ground, and then return to
him, that he might thus know how large it had become. The wolf was absent
only a short time, and returned. After some time he sent him out the
second time, with similar directions, and he was gone two years. Again,
after this, he sent him out, and he returned no more. Then Na-na-bou-jou
gave the animals, all of whom he called Ne-she-mah, (my younger brother,)
each his own peculiar kind of food. He also told such of them as were to
be for food for men, that he had given them to his uncles, and they must
expect, from time to time, to be hunted and killed; he also enjoined it
upon them, that as long as men should choose a speedy and merciful method
of killing them, they should make no resistance; but, in cases of wanton
and cruel injury, they might turn to resist.”

It is also to be observed, that this renovation of the earth is clearly
distinguished, in the traditions of the Attawwaws, from the original
creation, which was long previous. How much of the instructions of the
Jesuits, and of other whites, may now be combined in these legends, it
is difficult to say. But they relate that men, before the flood, though
they had been long before upright and good, had now become exceedingly
degenerate; but they do not assign this as the cause for which the
deluge was brought upon the earth. They say that the younger brother of
Na-na-bou-jou was slain by the Great Spirit, the father of both, and it
was in grief and in anger that Na-na-bou-jou himself caused the earth to
be overwhelmed. To so great an extent did he carry his resentment against
the Great Spirit, and the other Spirits, that they, with the hope of
appeasing him, restored his brother to life. But Na-na-bou-jou said, “No,
my brother, this cannot be, that any should die and come again to live
here as before; return again to the place to which they had sent you; it
is there that many of my uncles and aunts must come every year. You shall
be the friend and the protector of those, as I am of the living, who are
here on this earth.” He returned accordingly, and it is this brother of
Na-na-bou-jou, who is now spoken of as _Ning-gah-be-ar-nong Man-i-to_,
(the western god,) though this is not his name, by which he was known to
his brother. He is the god of the country of the dead, the towns of the
Je-bi-ug, which are always towards the setting sun.

[64] Waw-bun-oank-tus-e-kwa.

[65] Of the origin of the name Chip-pe-wi-yan, by which, since Hearne
and M’Kenzie, these people have been called, it may now be difficult
to give any satisfactory account. A very intelligent person among the
Ojibbeways asserts, that the name is derived from that language, and
is only a vicious pronunciation of the compound word _O-jee-gwi-yan_,
which means the skin of the fisher weasel. But the Chip-pe-wi-yans, in
their own country, have no knowledge of the animal, and it is not easy
to imagine how the name of its skin should have been fixed upon by them
as a distinctive appellation. They are called by the Canadians, and
many white men residing in the Athavasca country, “Mountaineers,” which
appellation they derive from the country of bleak and snowy rocks, which
they inhabit. Tanner thinks the name _O-jee-gwi-yah-nug_ may be derived
from a word which means, “_To pierce with an awl a fold of skin_.”

[66] _A_ is to be sounded as in fate; _ah_ as in father; the still
broader sound is marked by _aw_, or _au_. The other English vowels are
less ambiguous. _C_ only used before _h_, and the sound thus indicated is
never to be compounded with that of _K_. _G_ is always hard, as in _go_;
_J_ always soft, as in _June_. At the end of words it has the sound of
the English _dge_, as in knowledge; _zh_ sounds as _s_ in pleasure.

Several of the consonant sounds are used interchangeably, not only in
different dialects, but even in the same, and by people of the same band:
thus, _m_ for _n_, _g_ for _k_, or _t_ for either, _b_ for _p_, _d_ for
_t_, _l_ for _n_, and _r_ for either of these. In the Cree dialect,
for example, the word, _e-rin-ne_ signifies man; in the Ojibbeway it
is _e-nin-ne_; in some other dialect approaching the Delaware, it is
_il-len-ni_; in the Delaware, according to Zeisberger, _len-no_; in
the Menomonie _e-nain_, or _e-nai-new_, when the meaning of the verb
substantive is combined. This observation should be borne in mind by
all who take the trouble to compare and examine the written words of
any Indian language. To many of the Algonkin dialects the sound of
_b_ is entirely foreign; others have no _r_. Many of the guttural and
nondescript sounds of the Chippewyan, as well as several of those in the
Winnebago, and the nasal in the Algonkin, cannot be represented by our

[67] _Wah-wia-ke-mut_? With whom doth he _We-ge-wam_? This is similar to
the Greek in John i. 14. “The word was made flesh, and dwelt among us;
εσκηνωσεν εν ημιν, literally, tabernacled among us.”

[68] This word, which means, as here used, _back_, or off the routes of
communication, has been translated, or rather paraphrased by the traders,
_in the lands_. _No-pe-mik_ means, also, at the back side of a house, etc.

[69] From this example compared with the preceding, we may see how
flexible are the words in these dialects, when used in combination;
_nin-ne-wy-gun_ instead of _a-nin-ne o-kun-nun_.

[70] _Wah-o-tos-hi-ah-wik?_ is pronounced by the Menomonies as one word;
it is probable that the interrogative pronoun _wah_ should be considered
separate. Of the remaining syllables, the prefix _o_ seems used to
indicate the third person; the next syllable, _to_, pronounced _toe_,
is the word _oos_, meaning canoe; and _iahwik_ implies possession. The
whole sentence is similar in form and signification to what we often
hear from Canadians, or persons very imperfectly acquainted with the
English language. “Who belongs that canoe?” The word _neen-di-ah_,
which has by some been thought to afford an affirmative answer to the
question, whether these languages have the verb substantive, to me
appears to correspond very accurately with the Latin _habeo_, _Iche
iah’t_, _habere_, and like that verb, it may be used for the true verb

[71] _Gitche-gitche-gum-me_, (far, far across.) This seems to be the
only word the western Indians have for the ocean, a circumstance which
would induce one to believe, (could any reliance be placed upon a
language preserved only by the memories, and consequently depending on
the external circumstances of a few rude men,) that these tribes are
not the remains of those formerly driven west, but have long occupied
their present position. The manner of expressing the superlative degree
appears similar to that in the Hebrew, where we are informed the degrees
of comparison are made sometimes by prefixing certain syllables, or by
repeating the word expressing quality, whether substantive or adjective.
By some the word _Gitche-gum-me_ is considered a compound of _Gitche_,
(great,) and _gum-maig_, (water.)

[72] _Lemattachpin_, Del. Zeisb. 51, second edition. _Pom-mis-so-wak_,
(they walk), Ib. 62. All these words here given as infinitives, have not
a form and termination analogous to those of the Delaware infinitives,
as given in Zeisberger’s Grammar, but they resemble very closely those
of the Massachusetts language, as represented by Mr. Elliot. Infinitives
appear not to be used with great frequency by the Chippeways; some
examples, however, occur, in which we can scarce suppose ourselves
mistaken respecting the mood of the verb; such as this, _n’noan-do-waw
a-ne-moose-me-gid_. (I hear a dog bark.) The preposition _to_ appears to
have no other signification that our _to_, with infinitives, their _local
case_, as it has been called, affording a substitute for it, in all cases
where we should prefix _to_ to a substantive, as, _to the house_, _to the
town_, _to the substantive_, etc. if they had any such words.

[73] The final _t_ in many of these words would, to many, appear more
closely to resemble our consonant sound _d_; but so unsteady is the
practice of the Indians themselves in this particular, that the ear must
be far nicer than ordinary, that can distinguish, in the language of
the best speakers, any steady and invariable usage in pronouncing the
same word. It is allowable, in attempting to give a written form to any
language, to decide a little arbitrarily in such cases. We may, perhaps,
have been influenced to give preference, in some instances, to the sound
of _t_, as the termination for this mood, by the example of Mr. Elliot,
who steadily gives it in the infinitive forms of the Massachusetts
dialect; and we are convinced that no Chippeway will ever mistake any
word, on account of its having the final sound _t_, instead of _d_. They
are, in the main, perfectly interchangeable.

[74] Neither _i-ah_ nor _goo-sah_, are thought to be the verb substantive
in these examples. The former seems to approach, in signification, very
closely to the Latin habeo.

[75] _Gemilelen_, Del. Zeib. 2d ed. p. 46.

[76] _Tah-ko-bitche-gum_, (prisoner string,) _Tah-ko-bitche-gun-un_,
(prisoner strings.) These cords are made of the bark of the elm tree, by
boiling, and then immersing it in cold water; they are from twenty-five
to fifty feet in length, and though less than half an inch in diameter,
strong enough to hold the stoutest man. They are commonly ornamented with
porcupine quills; and _se-bas-kwi-a-gun-un_, or rattles are attached at
each end, not only for ornament, but to give notice of any attempt the
prisoner may make to escape. The leader of a war-party commonly carries
several _Tah-ko-bitche-gun-un’s_ fastened about his waist, and, if in the
course of the fight any one of his young men takes a prisoner, it is his
duty to bring him immediately to the chief, to be tied, and the latter is
responsible for his safe keeping.

[77] Mr. Elliot seems to have used _oh-ke-oo-ook_ as a verb, as if he had
said, while the earth _earth’s_, or, “is the earth,” which is perfectly
in accordance with the principles of these dialects.

[78] These two examples will be found, in almost every respect,
entirely similar, and they afford striking instances of the tendency
of these dialects to crowd together, and to change all words to verbs.
_Wun-au-mon_, in Elliot’s Bible, means a son.

[79] Many instances might be adduced, to show the close affinity between
the language of Mr. Elliot’s version of the Bible, and several of the
dialects of the present day. The termination in _wug_ is found among the
Crees, and, as in that translation, it is used in speaking of animate
objects. _We-at-ehim-me-nash_ (corn,) in the plural number, is the same
in both, and the same forms of expression: as, _No-wad-cha-num-un-neek_,
(I keep my house,) _No-wad-cha-num-un-ash-noo-we-at-chim-ne-nash_, (I keep
my corn). Gram. p. 10, precisely analagous to _n’ko-noan-dun new-ke-wam_,
(I keep my house,) _n’ko-no-wa-ne-maug ne-man-dah-min-e-wug_, (I keep my
corn of the harvest day.)

[80] Ojibbeway—Me-tus-uh ge-na-beek a-naut a-new-e-kwa-wun,
kaw-ween-go-sah ke-kah-ne-boas.—C.J.


      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber’s note:

The following changes have been made to the text to correct suspected
printing errors. Minor changes of punctuation and formatting are
not noted; spelling and hyphenation are simply inconsistent.

    Page xxi, “forgotton” changed to “forgotten” (it should not be

    Page xxiii, “then” changed to “than” (of more value than all
    that has been effected)

    Page xxv, “subsistance” changed to “subsistence” (the means of
    subsistence it offers them)

    Page xxvi, “demonds” changed to “demons” (_wild beasts_,
    _bloodhounds_, _heathen demons_)

    Page xxxiv, “meaures” changed to “measures” (By a system of
    measures of this kind)

    Page 14, “run” changed to “ran” (he cut himself loose, and
    immediately ran)

    Page 27, “the” changed to “to” (we continued on to the Lake of
    the Woods)

    Page 75, “hestiate” changed to “hesitate” (I did not hesitate
    to carry)

    Page 79, “pusilanimity” changed to “pusillanimity” (I
    reproached him for pusillanimity)

    Page 84, “abut” changed to “about” (do all that is needful
    about your lodge)

    Page 85, “a” added (where we spent a great part of the summer)

    Page 107, “repluse” changed to “repulse” (The Indians laughed
    heartily at my repulse)

    Page 140, “Ba-gis-kun-mung” changed to “Ba-gis-kun-nung” (the
    band to whom Ba-gis-kun-nung belonged)

    Page 145, “Diety” changed to “Deity” (if the Deity had any
    communications to make)

    Page 153, “they” changed to “them” (telling them they preferred)

    Page 160, “retured” changed to “returned” (and had returned

    Page 244, “a” added (the house of a man, whose name, ... was

    Page 251, “set” changed to “sit” (as long as I was able to sit

    Page 255, “An-num-mun-se” changed to “An-num-mun-ne” (the mouth
    of the An-num-mun-ne Se-be)

    Page 267, “he” changed to “the” (they accepted the presents)

    Page 279, “aproached” changed to “approached” (As the time

    Page 300, “Wolverne” changed to “Wolverene”
    (Gwin-gwaw-ah-ga—Wolverene, (tough beast.))

    Page 321, “Beer” changed to “Bear” and “dear” changed to “deer”
    (Bear moon, Ott.; deer rutting moon, Men.)

    Page 337, “artifical” changed to “artificial” (polished and
    artificial structure)

    Page 343, “mischeivous” changed to “mischievous” (We learn how
    mischievous are these superstitions)

    Page 377, “occasionlly” changed to “occasionally” (occasionally
    aiding with his finger)

    Page 377, “fifty” changed to “fifth” (in the fifth and sixth

    Page 395, “Εμισησαν με διοξεχν, John xvi. 25.” changed to
    “Εμισησαν με δωρεαν, John xv. 25.”

    Footnote 27, “instatnces” changed to “instances” (enough of
    well authenticated instances exist)

    Footnote 27, “prorportionately” changed to “proportionately”
    (proportionately rude and inartificial)

    Footnote 50, “foretel” changed to “foretell” (to foretell that
    some one is coming)

    Footnote 62, “innundation” changed to “inundation” (during the

    Footnote 62, “bo” changed to “be” (have had ample time to be

    Footnote 62, “godesses” changed to “goddesses” (gods and
    goddesses of ancient _Rome_)

    Footnote 62, “Persions” changed to “Persians” (Italians,
    Persians, Ethiopians, Phenecians)

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Narrative of the Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner (U.S. Interpreter at the Saut de Ste. Marie) - During Thirty Years Residence among the Indians in the Interior of North America" ***

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