INDIAN TRIBES OF ST. JOSEPH VALLEY
"My soul seems caught in time's under-tow
And I'm floating again down the River St. Joe."
There is a quaint old Indian legend of the Sau-wau-see-bee which tells of the fate of two young Indian women, twin sisters of a chief. They were swimming in the clear waters of a river and the river-spirit, jealous of their beauty, took the maidens as tribute. So the Indians called the river the Sau-wau-see-bee--the "Fate-of-the-Sisters." The Pottawatomies called the same river the Sauwk Wauwk Sil Buck, and the Ottawas referred to it as the Sau-gan-see-pe.
When the French explorers came, the cruel Sau-wau-see-bee was blest by the devout priests and renamed "St. Joseph," in honor of the patron saint of New France--the saint who guards and guides the travelers. The fertile valley of uncertain extent which bordered the river became "The St. Joseph township of the Old Northwest" and later St. Joseph county and was given the name of the river which carries a blessing.
In "La Salle in the Valley of St. Joseph" by Bartlett and Lyon, we read: "In the picturesque highlands of southern Michigan, not far from the city of Hillsdale, two rivers have the same source. One flowing southward, reaches the Maumee at Fort Wayne-the little St. Joseph. The other, an outlet of Baw Beese, flows northwesterly, then winding southwesterly dips into Elkhart county, Indiana, then flowing northward again runs rapidly to the Great Lake. This is the big St. Joseph. St. Joseph of the Lakes-the explorers' river of the Miamis." To read of LaSalle and his picturesque followers on the St. Joseph river, seeking the portage to the Mississippi, is to recall the names of many Frenchmen "whose zeal was the transcendent glory of France in America," whose picturesque fearlessness as explorers, voyageurs and fur-traders are a joy to the fireside traveler of today.
"With the invincible LaSalle, the leader of the exploring expedition,
was Henri Tonty, the second in command, the latter a son of a noted financier of
France. LaSalle was a devout Catholic and so it is not surprising that his party
included three Recollect friars--Fr. Gabriel Ribourde, Lenobe Membre, missionary
among the Illinois and Louis Hennepin. Then there were Boisrondet and L.
Esperience, Jean Russel, a fur-trader on the St. Lawrence, Hillaret, master
shipbuilder, le Mire and la Blanc, carpenters, Milleur, the nail maker and White
Beaver the Mohican scout and hunter "who stood head and shoulders above the
motley crew, above most of them morally as well as physically." Next to
Tonty, he was the most reliable scout
ST. JOSEPH IN HOMESPUN
obtainable in all the highways and byways of New France and seems to have been a living prototype of Cooper's "Last of the Mohicans."
In 1781 the fort St. Joseph, which had been established by the French and which dominated the river valley, was captured by the Spanish. It was the second raid on the fort. Indians and Spaniards carried off the traders and their goods. When the commandant demanded an explanation, the Indians excused their failure to protect the fort in the following letter:
"Father, I am hired by the Pottawatomi near St. Joseph's to acquaint you with the reasons of having suffered the Spaniards to carry off the traders. They came to St. Josephs at a time that all Indians were yet at their hunt, excepting a few young Indians who could not oppose one hundred white people and eighty Indians led by Seguinack and Nakewine who deceived them on the sentiment of the Indians in general. Had we assembled in time we should have given them a stroke such as we gave on the St. Joseph a few moons before."
DePeyster indignantly answered: "They threaten to destroy you. They never can until you are simple enough to shake their hands."
DePeyster does not mention the Spanish and there is no proof that the flag of Spain floated more than twenty-four hours over the fort. But Spanish records claim a decided victory and much goods and a settled conquest of St. Joseph valley.
The Three Brothers Federation
Of the three tribes which in later times inhabited the St. Joseph river valley, the Ottawas were brave and war-like. They fought and vanquished all who opposed their westward progress; with those who were friendly, however, they smoked the pipe of peace.
Friendly communications with the Ottawas, Chippewas and Pottawatomies resulted in the formation of a loose confederacy. They styled themselves "Brothers of Three Fires." Tradition mentions another tribe, "Mus-quah-tas," who established themselves in St. Joseph river valley but were almost exterminated when they sought to give battle with bows and arrows to the challenging Ottawas who were newly armed with white man's axes.
The Jesuit Relations and later, the works of Parkman are filled with incident
and interesting legend of these nations but for the Indians of St. Joseph
county, Littlejohn's "Legends of Michigan and the Old Northwest" are
more than legend, though less than fact as they mirror the restless Indian life
in the early eighteen hundreds. The "Legends" were written by a man
educated as a lawyer who had served as a state represen-
INDIAN TRIBES OF ST. JOSEPH
tative and later, as a judge who presided over a territory which now comprises twenty Michigan counties.
To properly value the "Legends," it is necessary to know something of Flavius Josephus Littlejohn, the "Old Trailer", who is pictured by the pioneers of his day as a man of great personal integrity, one who understood and sympathized with the Indians. To regain his health, he became a surveyor and geologist in southwestern Michigan, avocations which necessitated his living among the Indians. For forty years, he had opportunity to study the race of whom he later wrote. He died in 1880 and perhaps the best impression of the integrity of this early author, may be obtained from the story of his burial at Allegan with the special trains brings hundreds who sought to pay tribute to a Mason of high standing, an eminent jurist and a politician whose integrity was unchallenged--though the opposition did most soundly berate his party.
A critic of his day says of the "Legends": "For data for delineation of character, for topography, the reader may well trust Littlejohn." With this in mind, the old "Legends" may be read with greater appreciation of their delineation of Indian character, may be read to gain pictures of faithful Indian friendships, for descriptions of the flower covered Edens, now more prosaically know as St. Joseph, Kalamazoo and other counties--the region at one time known as St. Joseph township, "the land lying north of South Bend, Indiana, including that which is south of the Grand river in Kent County, Michigan."
To Littlejohn's great command of the English language he added the fluent style of the Indian orators. He who has braved Littlejohn's long, rolling sentences has been thrilled at the exploits of Chief Pokagon, the mighty warrior of the St. Joseph river valley, a past-master of Indian strategy in the battle of Three Rivers, as he captures the charming Shawnee princess and, to insure an ally's participation in the war, places the princess in the safe keeping of an otherwise indifferent neighboring tribe.
Then there is Wakazoo, of the Kalamazoo valley, sagacious in his home policy, using keen diplomacy in his contact with neighbors who outnumbered him-Pottawatomies on the south and Chippewas on the north.
Okemos, the famous chief of the Grand river valley, a powerful Chippewa, nephew of Pokagon, who was made chief not through an inherited title, but because of his personal bravery and endurance on the war path. As the third chief of the federation he claims undivided attention, when with a thousand warriors, he leads towards Battle Creek to outwit and outflank the invaders.
ST. JOSEPH IN HOMESPUN
The invasion was prompted by the covetous Grand Sachem, Elkhart, who desired the fertile valley of St. Joseph. He was ruler over all the federated bands of Shawnees on the Wabash. He was accompanied on the invasion by his daughter, the lovely princess Mishawaha, who when her father fell wounded in battle took command of the invading forces and led the skirmish line. She was assisted by Grey Wing, the intrepid but unsuccessful lover. Then there are the four characters who are of interest to good scouts everywhere: Wakeshma, the Three Rivers scout, Seebewa, from the Grand river valley; Dead Shot, the white hunter, lover and scout; Lynx Eye, the formidable dwarf from the Kekalamazoo.
The old legends cover the period between 1779 and 1812. They begin with the story of an Ottawa Indian hunter, who, belated, made camp on Prairie Ronde, and was almost killed by wolves. He was rescued by the white scout, Dead Shot, who came from the great Horse Shoe Bend of the St. Joseph, now Allegan, and thereby began the friendship which runs through all the stories. Minutely the action is laid before the reader: fighting forces, strategy used, attacks, retreats, losses. They are the stories heard from the lips of the Indian orators or from aged story tellers around the lodge-fires, welded together by the imagination of Littlejohn and retold in fluent phrases "that could well bedeck the speech of half a dozen lawyers and orators of today. "A white man's attempt at an Indian's style of oratory and story telling.
For authentic history covering this period of Territorial Michigan, the best source of material is that of letters from commandants and agents. The most accessible copies of which are filed with the State Historical Association, and published in the Michigan Pioneer and Historical collections.
Letters of 1807 refer to a great council to be held at St. Joseph, where the Governor of Upper Canada and the Indian agents were to meet a large assembly of Indians, including the Indians of St. Joseph valley. From the letters, we infer that even among the young Indians of this period--long, long before words "socialist" and "Soviet" had assumed their direful meaning's, that the young Indians of St. Joseph county met the displeasure of their elders: "Were engaged the whole winter in parties and dances; and in open council listened to talk commandants and agents; the most accessible copies of which to assemble. There is mischief at bottom. Under pretense of restoring their independence and savage ancient character, it is in reality a general effort to strike somewhere a desperate blow".
It was a time of great uneasiness and it was with the true American ideal of
"adequate national defense" that the comadant wrote: "We are in
constant readiness to receive them,
INDIAN TRIBES OF ST. JOSEPH VALLEY
either with the Olive Branch or the Bayonet, as circumstances may require".
The genesis of the St. Joseph river valley is with the mound builders and their life in prehistoric times; with the Indian nations of the Lakes whose traditions have come down to us; with those epochs when St. Joseph, as a part of the Old Northwest, was under the flags of Spain, or France, or England; and that later period under the flag of our own United States when the husky pioneer followed fur trader and missionary along the well worn Indian trails to St. Joseph valley, in the Old Northwest.
"They were an agricultural people, having made considerable advancement in the arts of civilization. They manufactured pottery of clay and various implements, weapons and ornaments of copper and stone.
"They constructed extensive earthworks for religious uses. They worshiped the sun and offered sacrifices of their most valuable goods on altars made of burnt clay and then covered the altar and ashes and burned fragments of the offerings with mounds of earth.
"They laid their revered dead in shallow graves and heaped huge mounds of earth above them. The mysterious rites of burial were celebrated by the aid of fire and sometimes, we are told, a human victim was sacrificed above the grave. Many excavations in the mounds of St. Joseph county have furnished proof to the deductions of the antiquarians." Perhaps the largest unexplored mound remaining is at Fairfax. Something of its age is indicated by the large trees growing upon it. Many evidences of the mound builders' presence have been found in gravel pits in and near Three Rivers.
"The mound builders government was evidently strong enough to control large bodies of men in service to their government. They built extensive fortifications in positions well chosen for defense and in the primitive warfare, must have been almost impregnable. There is evidence that the mound builders worked the copper mines of the Lake Superior region. Antiquarians suggest that they only lived in the region of the mines in summer to obtain the copper and then came back to their homes in the more temperate climates, of the fertile river valleys. Northern Michigan has little evidence of their existence.
The garden beds of the mound builders of St. Joseph county, traces of which
but few remain, were described by Bela Hubbard before the State Pioneer Society
in 1877. He says of them: "They occupied the most fertile prairie land and
oak openings. The garden beds consisted of raised patches of
ST. JOSEPH IN HOMESPUN
ground, separated by sunken paths and were arranged in blocks of parallel beds, five to sixteen feet in width and in length from twelve to more than one hundred feet, and in height six to eighteen inches. For years the tough sod of the prairie preserved very sharply these beds which were fashioned with skill, order and symmetry. The types found near Three Rivers were an oval plane surrounded by burr oak and contained 300 acres. The garden itself about a half mile in length by one third in width, contained about 100 acres, regularly laid out in beds running north and south, in the form of parallelograms five feet in width and 100 in length and eighteen inches deep. The Three Rivers gardens differed in some ways from all others that have been found in the valleys of the Grand, the Kalamazoo and St. Joseph Rivers."
It is sometimes claimed that the Indians never used fertilizers in their agricultural work, though the Colonists found that for centuries fish had been so used on the lands of New England. It is not difficult to believe that the garden beds of the St. Joseph valley, lying in the immediate vicinity of lakes and rivers, may have been likewise enriched by the use of fish. Settlers in the vicinity tell us that for many years the crops raised by white men on the old garden beds of the mound builders were much more abundant than in other parts of the farmland in the same locality.
Mr. Hubbard's article discusses further the antiquity of the gardens and their use. Under the latter head he considers the possible crops: "Maize was grown and cultivated in hills, not rows, and was disposed of in an irregular way." He does not believe it was planted in the garden beds. He suggests that, like the gardens of more southern Indians, the St. Joseph gardens may have been for many vegetables and roots used by the Indians that are unknown to us.
In St. Joseph county, Mr. Hubbard discovered further, that in widely separated places, labor and skill were apparent in little gardens, laid out in different styles, with an eye to the picturesque, "as if each family had not only its separate garden patch, but used it for the display of its own particular task". Evidently we, of a later race and day, are but reverting to the type of the aborigines in our love and display of the little garden.
Though for two centuries France had claimed the Old Norhtwest by right of exploration, England by the might of conquest and the United States with the spirit of '76, it was not until 1821 that the three Indian nations whose right was that of actual ownership through occupation, ceded the land that now lies south of the Grand river, noth of the South Bend of the St. Joseph, east of the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, and west of the boundaries of Detroit and Saginaw treaties.
Rich in historical lore, southwestern Michigan presents no more picturesque scenes than the signing of the Indian treaties. In 1821 at Fort Dearborn (Chicago), within the old stockade, in all the gay splendor of beads and feathers and buckskin fringes, there were gathered the majority of the head chiefs of the Ottawa, Chippewa and Pottawatomie nations--for, according to their tribal laws, the consent of the majority of chiefs was necessary to legally dispose of their hunting lands.
We picture the chieftains in dignified council: Top-in-a-bee, Match-e-be-nash-she-wish, Met-tey-waw and others of high degree surrounded by their warriors, interpreters, Indian agents, fur traders, soldiers of the fort, and two white men, one of whom represents the white father at Washington, General Lewis Cass, whose years of contact with the Indians had proven him fearless, determined--a man who "valued his word as he valued his life." The second commissioner was Solomon Sibley, the man who saved Michigan from being merged with Indiana and who later supervised the building of the Chicago road along the old Chicagua trail.
In exchange for their lands, the government guaranteed certain rights that were to be the Indians forever, but the results were unexpected. In contrast with the honorable methods of Call and Sibley, the squatters and land speculators, with whiskey and trickery, obtained the choice lands within twelve years after the treaty was made, which had ceded it for Indian use forever.
The old Northwest furnishes no more vivid picture of Indian justice than that meted out by lawful Pottawatomie chiefs, who though they refused to sign the second treaty to cede the reservations, nevertheless fulfilled, peaceably, the terms of the treaty which had been fraudently signed by unauthorized warriors. The pledged word of the Pottawatomie nation had been given--but they killed the Indian signers.
Boy Scouts seeking Indian names may glory in some of the names of the Indian signers, though their deeds, of necessity, must be judged from the Indian's standpoint.
ST. JOSEPH IN HOMESPUN
The Pottawatomie signers of 1812 included: Top-in-a-bee, Mee-te-ay, Wee-saw, Waw-we-wek-ke-neck, She-shaw-gan, Waw-seb-ban, Aw-be-tone, Shaw-ko-te, Shee-shaw-gun, Shaw-was-nay-see and scores of others.
In the long list of signers of the later treaty one can but conjecture which ones were killed for signing. The only familiar name is that of Pierre Moreau, who was the unsurping head of the Nottawa Seepe band.
Our great highways over which the automobiles smoothly spin follow the old Indian trails.
St. Joseph county had three types of trails: hunting, trading or portage, and the war trails. The portage trail was followed by Indian, trader, missionary, surveyor and settler. The hunting trail originally followed the pathways made by game to salt licks and drinking places. The hunting grounds of each tribe were clearly defined and woe to the Indians who trespassed. In an article by Mrs. Susan Fisk Perrin, concerning the trails of St. Joseph county, Mrs. Perrin, describes the war trail as deeper and wider than the others and tells of cleared spaces which were made at certain distances along the war trail where the warriors could camp. There were thousands of places where the Indians could secrete themselves in times of danger.
Mrs. Perrin located many of the trails, and followed them. She found that there were three war trails running across the county besides the main portage and hunting trails. The most important trail was the old Chicagua trail, now U. S. 112, along which every year the Indians passed to receive their annuities from the government. The trail entered the county in the southeastern part of Burr Oak, passed southwesterly through Fawn River, between Honey and Sweet Lakes, then westerly through Sturgis, White Pigeon and Mottville.
The Washtenaw trail entered St. Joseph county from Calhoun county in the northeast corner of Leonidas township, ran southwest to Nottawa Prairie, via Centreville, through the southeast corner of Lockport township just south of Three Rivers, then to Mottville where all trails met at the "Grand Traverse." This trail became the Ypsilanti branch of the old Territorial Road.
Another old trail ran north from Mottville, forded the St. Joseph forty rods
above the mouth of the Rocky, at Three Rivers, then passed through the Zierle
and Null farms, and the Barnes estate, then paralleled for several miles that
which later became part of the Buckhorn road north. Down this trail is pictured
the Shawnee's headlong flight in the battle of Three Rivers. The tradition is
somewhat substantiated by the quan-
INDIAN TREATIES, TRAILS AND TRADERS
tities of arrow heads found in the fields which border the trail. Besides this trail in Park township stood the old Buckhorn tavern for which the road of later years was named.
Miss Hoppin wrote: "What pioneer does not remember the Buckhorn road as it wound through the forest from Three Rivers? The only houses for years were those of Joseph Sterling, Grant Brown, Abram Schoonmaker, and Reuben Bristol. The pole bridge on this road which crossed the great marsh just below the outlet of Goose lake was another landmark known all over the country. The Indian trail from the Marantette agency at Nottawa Seepe struck the main road just below the pole bridge. The trail passed across the Kellogg farm in Park and crossed the Portage river by the White Man's bridge about a mile below Portage lake."
Voyageurs And Fur-Traders "Dans mon chemin, Jai recontre "Troise Cavalieres, bein montees, L'on, ton laridon danee L'on, ton laridon, dai." So sang the voyageur. "Trois Cavalieres, bien montees, L'une a cheval, l'autra a pied, L'on, ton, laridon, dai." L'on, ton, laridon danee.To it's lilt, sturdy arms sent the batteaux along, for the years of Michigan's fur trade under the happy-go-lucky Frenchman was the period of greatest romance as well as greatest hardships. A time filled with hampering laws, but laws completely ignored by the picturesque courerus de bois who hunted the beaver with might and main.
In the currency of the trading post, "one beaver was worth one jug of brandy, four beaver worth eight pounds of powder, two beaver, one red blanket." Two words from the old currency survive as slang expressions in the speech of today: "doe" and "buck"---the latter a buckskin was the equivalent of one dollar.
The traders were divided into two classes: the coureurs de bois--the unlicensed, lawless trader, and the licensed trader who was more or less law abiding.
After the abandonment of LaSalle's fort at the mouth of the St. Joseph there
is no record of fur traders in St. Joseph river valley until about the close of
the Revolutionary war, which from New Jersey came William Burnette, an
independent trader, who located at the mouth of the river, but who covered the
territory of the entire St. Joseph river valley. His success brought him into
disfavor with the commandant at Michili-
ST. JOSEPH IN HOMESPUN PAGE 10
mackinac, who ordered him to report to the post. Burnette refused but, being threatened, agreed to try living at the post for a year. However, when he refused to stay longer than the year, he was sent to the guard house under arrest and then to Montreal to prison. When at last he was permitted to return to the St. Joseph valley, his property had been almost entirely confiscated by his clerks, and the other English traders had invaded his territory. But the quick witted Yankee wooed, won and married Princess Kakima, daughter of Headchief Amiquiba, two of whose children left indelible marks on the history of Michigan: Proncess Kakima, as the wife of Burnette, and her brother, Headchief Top-in-e-be, considered the greatest of Pottawatomie chieftains. He was the singer of all of the important treaties which granted cessions to the white people.
The old chronicles pictured the marriage of Burnette, the white fur trader, and his Indian princess. The ceremony performed by the Rev. Father La Vi Deaux, the Catholic missionary, with all the pomp and circumstance due so important an occasion. The marriage gave Burnette an influence among the Indians which no British trader could undermine, so for many years he remained unmolested, seldom leaving his home except to market his furs on an annual trip to Michilimackinac or Detroit.
Three of Burnette's old account books are on file in the Burton Collection, Detroit. Though figures are dull reading, it is most interesting to note the records for one year, of one trader's output from the St. Joseph river valley. For the year 1796-7, the old account books show the sale of "117 bever skins, 97 fishers, 1591 deer, 3127 doe, 5091 muskrats, 160 bears, 250 wolves, 1250 redskins, 215 cats, 280 foxes, 517 mink, 2899 bucks, 436 otter, 22,032 raccoons and 2680 "enfants du diable"--skunks."
Concerning William Burnett's family of seven children, but little is known except that James, the oldest son, succeeded to his father's business, having been given a white man's education at Detroit. Abraham Burnette became interpreter for Daniel McCoy, the founder of the mission. An amusing exploit of one of the sons--amusing for the reader--was of his bringing the wrath of the Indians upon himself for some youthful prank. They had bound him to be burned at the stake in the front yard of a trader named Godfroy. Mrs. Godfroy pertended to desire to take vengeance in her own hands, bought the boy for five gallons of whiskey and sent him in disguise to his people.
Concerning Princess Kakima, Burnett's Indian wife, to whom fell the task of
training five sons, who on the father's side inherited a white man's viewpoint,
and from their mother
INDIAN TREATIES, TRAILS AND TRADERS PAGE 11
an Indian's love of a wilderness life. Kakima, like her husband, must have been an unusual type, for from the evidence of her boys and of the chief men of her tribe, she was not only a princess and chief through inherited title but won an outstanding place through her influence toward their betterment. The place and time of her death are a mystery, though the old settlers' tradition places her burial place on an island in the St. Joseph river which, until the building of the Sturgis dam, was but a short distance above the covered bridge. The old island burial place is now many feet under water. It is said by old settlers that every year members of the tribe from across the Mississippi and from the far north quietly glided into the neighborhood of the burial place, left tributes of flowers or trinkets and as silently stole away.
The Burnettes were followed by many other fur traders in the St. Joseph valley but St. Joseph county records give few names: A. T. Hatch, near Appletree ford, Godfroy brothers, Pierre Navarre and Patrick Marantette are perhaps the most important.
The site of the Hatch trading post was located in 1920 by the Daughters of the American Revolution. It stood at the Ox-box, just across the river from the Pottawatomie reservation, on the Nottawa Seepe. Very little is known of Trader Hatch, except his marriage to an Indian woman, and that by his later marriage to a white woman, he has many descendants in the county.
The Cassoway and Gibson trading post on the St. Joseph "at the confluence of the rivers" was located by Dr. Blanche Moore Haines some years ago in LaSalle Park, Three Rivers. It was marked with a granite boulder by the Abiel Fellows Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.
Of Pierre Navarre, little is known other than his association with Burnette in his later years and of his location near Mendon. Tradition claims him as a descendant of the royal family of old France.
The Downing's trading post, now near Ketcham's Corners, was in territorial times on the Ypsilanti branch of the territorial road. It was on land first located by Lindsey Warfield in 1831. Little is known of this post other than the records in the probate court at Centreville filed in the early thirties. An old invoice of goods on hand at the death of Downing, itemized articles for whose use we of the present day can only guess: "Indian knee hands, footing, bobbinet footing, wampum, sneath, 20 yards barraze, sticks of twist, lute string, etc."
The probate records give an interesting list of names from Downing's ledger:
Morans--Wabega Ann, Isadore, Pierre, Nancy, Joseph, evidently the whole family.
Then we find Shobi Sparep, Ship-she-Manowoe, Sheano as typical In-
INDIAN TREATIES, TRAILS AND TRADERS PAGE 12
dian names and as proof of residences in 1831: Selden Martin, P. and J. J. Godfrey, A. L. Hatch, Stephen Downing (a Revolutionary soldier and father of Rufus) and the names of the Lairds, Moutons, Engles, Dushames, Shellhouse and a long list of other interesting characters of the times. The fur trader, however, whose life thrills the imagination is the sage and diplomat of Nottawa Seepe, Patrick Marantette, who to the St. Joseph valley Indians was counselor and friend.
Patrick Marantette, "a scion of the House of Navarre," a native of Detroit, where he had been educated under Father Gabriel Richard, came to Godfroy Trading Post at Nottawasippi in 1833. He preempted a section of land which included the post and an Indian village.
In 1833 he assisted Governor Porter in paying off the Indians when their land was sold. His descendants still have the cloverleaf mahogany table on which were heaped the money and merchandise for the payment.
John S. Barry, writing to his friend Lucius Lyon, presents a picture of the reservation when Governor Porter "came out." Representative Barry speaks plainly of the unpopular Governor Porter and graphically portrays a scene on the Indian reservation: "During the payment, two weeks ago, on the Nottawasippi, Governor Porter made even uncommon bluster. He broke in the heads of whiskey barrels with a sledge and swaggered and bullied in a manner quite unbecoming to a governor. Every person on the grounds was disgusted and incensed with him. He found such a current against him that he was alarmed for his personal safety and, being a coward, as you know, on the last day came armed, Cap-a-pie, sword and pistols by his side. He said though he had beenin the land of the Hoosiers and even at White Pigeon, yet people of Nottawasippi were the worst he had ever met and vowed to return in the spring with troops. One poor Justice (Coffinberry) must make acknowledgments to him. His crime was selling ginger cake. The justice refused to apologize, saying he would not hold office under such a '--------scoundrel."
In 1832 Patrick Marantette, at the age of twenty-six, was employed by Peter
and J. J. Godfroys, agents at the reservation at Nottawasippi. He succeeded Mons.
Francheval Navarre and John B. Ducharm, who were in possession from 1831 until
1833. In 1836 the post was purchased by Mr. Marantette. When he came as Indian
agent, there were 1,500 Indians on Gourdneck and Nottawa prairies. Mr.
Marantette says that their leading men at the time were: Pequi-te-ke-sie,
Swa-gah-maw, Swa-wah-quet, son of Peter Moran, and Pe-
INDIAN TREATIES, TRAILS AND TRADERS PAGE 13
ne-she, a celebrated orator, and She-pe-she-wah now, a great warrior--chief of the Pottawatomii, and Mac-caw-moot.
The trading post consisted of two buildings, one story in height, each 16X18 feet in dimensions, with a covered hall measuring 16X10 feet located between them, as a meeting place for the Indians. In the rear was a place for the reception of furs, about 30 feet in length. The Indians held some of their wildest festivities near the post on the banks of the St. Joseph.
In Mr. Marantett's first year he purchased 4,000 deer skins and gave in exchange for others furs over $16,000.
In his reminiscences published in the Michigan Pioneer and Historical collections, Mr. Marantette says:
"In the spring of each year, the red hunters of the forest and the trappers of the river, would set the grass of the marshes on fire, to cause the flight and appearance of game-deer, beaver, muskrat and otter-and the prairie would be a sea of flame. In the night time it was an awe-inspiring scene.
"Succeeding their fires, the month of May brought forth the sweet grass and Nature again again restored her bright carpet.
"The Indians had in their village thirty or forty huts made of poles laid up like log houses with bark roofs and a hole cut through the center for the smoke to escape. These were their permanent residences, their temporary ones while on their hunting expeditions being bark tepees. They raised corn, potatoes, and beans in a small way, but did not harvest very heavy crops owing to their method of cultivation and the trespassing of their white neighbor's cattle. In the winter they went into the heavy timber for a better protection from the cold and to make maple sugar in the spring, which was very fine, packing it in mokucks', a kind of flat basket of fifty or sixty pounds weight. They were very fond of gay attire, red and blue being their favorite colors."
When asked concerning incidents which had happened during his occupancy of the post, Mr. Marantette told many interesting stories, among them of the death of old Quicet: "The aged chief was a member of one of the wildest tribes. He was jealous, gloomy and very fond of liquor; very envious of the leading chiefs of the more civilized bands, and sought their downfall.
"One day in December, 1833, the Indians were gradually gathering around
the trading-post, to receive their annuity from the government. Sau-au-quette, a
large, tall, manly looking chief, came riding across the prairie mounted on a splendid
horse. The chief was arrayed in half
ST. JOSEPH IN HOMESPUN PAGE 14
American uniform, with pistols, sword, epaulettes-presenting to his people a very martial appearance. He was received with enthusiasm and being somewhat 'set-up', commenced at once his harangue-boasting of the great sale he had made of the reservation-land owned by the Great Spirit, and that for two quarts of whiskey he would sell the same again should opportunity occur.
"Hardly had he ceased, when Quicet stepped up to him in a shrewd, cautious manner and seizing one of his pistols snapped it at Sau-au-kette. The priming being damp, it did not ignite and the life of Sau-au-kette, as by a miracle, was saved. The feud was over the sale of the reservation by an unauthorized chief.
"Quicet in the meantime disappeared, but eighteen months afterward Sau-au-kette and Quicet again met. The latter was slightly intoxicated. Sau-au-kette's squaw came into the post and bought a knife. In a few moments she retuned and announced: 'Killed Quicet.' The startled trader demanded 'What for?' 'Quicet poison my husband Sau-au-kette, I kill.' "
Marantette feared more trouble. He hastily sent a message to Mocco-gah-mant, the "Chief of Bears" and son of Quicet, to come and bury his father. "Life for life" is the Indian's custom, but Mr. Marantette saved the life of Suu-au-quette's squaw by paying the chief at his 'father's burial a horse, saddle, rifle and blankets, in all about $150.00.
"The nearest white neighbor to the post was Francois Mouton, a Frenchman. He was an elderly man, possessed of an excellent French education. He came to St. Joseph in 1831 with his wife and seven children. The daughter, Frances, became the wife of Patrick Marantette in 1836."
Mr. Marantette held several responsible positions under the government. He surveyed and assisted in platting a new town, planted orchards, fenced fields and in 1846 was elected a representative from St. Joseph county to the state legislature.
An unpublished letter, written by Mr. Marantette, concerning affairs after the sale of the reservation was a gift to the public records department of the Three Rivers library, for the use of St. Joseph county research workers. The letter was written to Lucius Lyon and was the gift of Mrs. James H. Campbell of Grand Rapids, an able investigator, who rejoiced in the preservation of Michigan's priceless historical material. The letter voices a plea for the payment by the government of a just claim for 'goods necessary for the welfare of the Indians.'
INDIAN TREATIES, TRAILS AND TRADERS
"I frequently relieved the Indians' wants by giving them goods ....... furnished them with such articles as seemed indispensably necessary ..... My claim is different in many respects from others....I gave to them with the consent and approbation of government officers, assured that I would be speedily paid. I was instrumental in their peaceable embarkation. My house was the Indians' rendezvous." The letter vividly recalls the consequences of the treaty of 1833 when the Pottowatomies give up their lands and migrated to the west.
Victor H. Van Horn's interesting group of historical pictures on file at the library, includes one of Madame Patrick Marantette's room, with its huge fire place, its pictures and old furniture imported from France. Another picture is of the old account books which, as one reads them, induces a second look at the pictures in a quest of demijohns.
INDIAN MANNERS, CUSTOMS AND BELIEF'S
"In the golden hued Wa-za-pe-wee-----the moon when the wild rice is gathered; When the leaves on the tall sugar-tree are as red as the breast of the robin, And the red-oaks that border the lea are aflame with the fire of the sunset, From the wide-waving fields of wild-rice, from the meadows of Pain-ta-wak-pa-dan, Where the geese and mallards rejoice, and grow fat on the bountiful harvest, Came the hunters with saddles of moose and the flesh of the bear and the bison, Came the women in birchen canoes well laden with rice from the meadows"."Tell me what a man eats and I will tell you his manners", may be an outgrown proverb, but ethnologists, with the history of the Indian race before them, claim that the water-grown foods of the Michigan Pottawatomies had much to do with their quiet dispositions. The Pottawatomies were rice eaters. If they gathered more rice than they needed they stored it for the time of need, and "when the hungry primitive man began storing away food for future use, he took a highly important step in civilization."
The fertile land cultivated by the St. Joseph county Indians, produced many vegetables unknown to the white man's table, but the Indians were not limited to garden grown delicacies. Many of his most highly prized dishes came from the rivers and lakes. One of them is described by Peter Schall, son of Charles Schall, a pioneer from Northhumberland county, Pennsylvania, in the early "thirties". Mr. Schall tells of the "pond-lily" ovens found on his father's farm when they cleared the land located on the oxbow of the St. Joseph river in Constantine township, not far from Mottville. The ovens were usually found by the point of the plow or by the stumbling of a horse as he crashed through the top. The pond-lily ovens were about twenty-two inches in diameter and sixteen or eighteen inches deep. They were made by excavating a small hole in the ground which was then lined with stones and clay. In this were placed the pond-lily roots which had been covered with clay. When they were baked they were considered a great delicacy. The ovens were sometimes also used for corn and for the cooking of water fowl and prairie chickens.
INDIAN MANNERS, CUSTOMS AND BELIEFS
Wild rice was not so much a delicacy as it was a necessity. The United States Bureau of Ethnology gives an excellent description of the harvesting of the wild rice and gives an excellent description of the harvesting of the wild rice and gives something, also, of its effect as a food. It states:
"The Pottawatomies have a moon called 'manominikegises' (the moon-to-gather-the-wild-rice). It is the full October moon when the annual rice harvest takes place.
"In the St. Joseph river valley, with its fresh water streams and small alluvial lakes, there grew the wild-rice. Wherever the last glacier left little mud-bottomed, water filled hollows, there wild-rice established itself. Water-fowl had sown the rice in flight and the Indian had carried it to his favorite lakes and streams. Indian tradition first tells of the rice as being found in the Menominee river which flows between the states of Michigan and Wisconsin".
"The Pottawatomies gathered the grain by pushing the boat into the thick rice, bent the tops over the boat and pounded out the grains with a 'rawagikan', a stick made for the purpose. They sometimes pounded it in a sack, sometimes in a skin lined hole in the earth.
Carver wrote: "After the grain was cured, the Indians, wearing moccasins, trod off the hull. Wooden troughs, blankets, mats, woven bark, all were used to hold the grain. The birch bark boxes sewed together with 'bast' (the bark of the basswood) were called mococks and were the most ornamental, though smallest of the containers."
In gathering the rice, women did most of the work. They united and gathered it by groups. Chief Pokagon wrote: "Our people always divide everything when want comes. Each family, however, controls a certain amount if they have complied with a few requirements." Pokagon also stated: "Indians eat when hungry and trade at harvest time. A few save a little wild rice to eat in the spring with maple sugar." Early writers always spoke of the superior physical manhood of the Indians in Southern Michigan, as well as of their peaceful dispositions. Doubtless both, in no small measure, were due to food, to the rice and fish to be had in abundance. "The river influence in general tended toward peaceful living. It furnished quick, permanent and easy means of travel". "Out of kinship of the tribe grew patriotism for their home land which was very noticeable when the Indians pleaded that the government let them remain at Nottawa Seepe, the "land of their sugar orchards, their rice fields, and the graves of their fathers".
In Blair's Indian Tribes of the Great Lakes, we read: "It is to be
remembered that the Pottawatomies or Potawattomii (Potewa ronik) are members of
the great Algonquin
ST. JOSEPH IN HOMESPUN
stock which divided into three divisions at Sault-Ste-Marie. The present Potta-wat-um-ees or "Those-who-make-a-fire" came southward along Green Bay and Lake Michigan. In 1658 they reported at the head of Green Bay and were called Oupouteouatamik, numbering about 3000, which included 100 of the Petum (tobacco) tribes. Marquette's map of 1673 places the 'Pstestame', as he called them, on the shores of Green Bay. At this time they were noted traders and were the middle-men between the Indians farther inland and the French. Their trading instinct probably explains their following the French into St. Joseph county.
Hoffman, the traveler through Michigan in the "thirties", translated the word Pottawatomie as "We are making fire". He also classified the tribe as belonging to the numerous nations of the Algonquin origin. J. W. Powell, of the Bureau of Ethnology explains that the Algonquin family was the most extensive of all the linguistic stock. "Their territory reached from Labrador to the Rocky mountain and from Hudson Bay to Carolinas. Their related tribes were at the height of their power between 1500 and 1800". Hoffman writes that the Pottawatomies were rather a placid nation, not driven by the feverish activity of the Iroquois, though fleet and agile when necessity compelled. "Before the coming of the missionary, they believed in the existence of one God, whom they termed the Kasha Maneto. Kasha was never applied to any but the Supreme Being." He is the Kitchi Manitou of later authorities.
At heart the American Indian seems essentially religious. His sacrifices, his fasts, his ceremonies, most rigidly adhered to, take precedence over all else. This is especially true of the Pottawatomies of the St. Joseph valley.
Rev. William Metsdorf, in an address before the Michigan Pioneer Association stated:
"They believe in Kitchi Manito, the creator and benefactor of all mankind: they honor and adore Him as the sun, of moon. They express their worship by dances, which are to them devout religious ceremonies. They have three great dances, each one lasting from two to three weeks: First, the 'green bean' dance in early summer when the bean is first ready to be eaten; second, and the most elaborate, the 'green corn' dance, when the corn is first ripe. Later in the season is the third, a powwow, a celebration, which like our Thanksgiving day, includes a turkey in its ritual. However, they place their turkey in the center of the dancing ground, which to them is a sacred place.
"All of these feasts include speeches, singing and smoking. The latter being done with one pipe for the entire crowd of a hundred or more. During the powwow, they thank the sun for the crops which he has given them, and the weather which has given aid.
"On the last day of the powwow, there is a special ceremony over a sacred dog which has been killed and cooked. Loudly singing their songs, they circle in a dance around the skull of the dog. The dance ends with a final jump on the skull. The dog takes something of the place of the scape goat of Old Testament ritual. At this ceremony outlaws of the tribe, if penitent, may receive pardon by the chief and be reinstated in tribal membership.
"The Pottawatomies placed their dead seated in a shallow grave, and leaning against a tree, with a dog tied to a nearby tree as watchman. When the dog got loose and returned to the Indian village it was a sign that the spirit of the dead Indian was safe in the happy hunting ground." Reverend Metsdorf wrote: "Several times I made both the watch dog and the Indian village happy by surreptitiously releasing the dog."
Among the many special feasts which the Pottawatomies observed was the ceremony at the naming of the children. It consisted of a feast prepared by young, unmarried men, in a tepee especially erected for that purpose. After the feast, an old man, because of his wisdom, delivered an oration, and announced the name of the child. The name given at birth was changed at critical periods of life: puberty; the first bird or animal slain; first war expedition; elevation to a chieftainship, finally, when retiring from active life, he adopted the name of his son. Each Indian, however, had a name which he jealously guarded. It was one which he received or took after much prayer and fasting. It was considered identical with his most secret, innermost self and if anyone ever did find out, it was an unpardonable offense to call the person by it. It was the name by which he was personally known to the Great Spirit.
Rev. Metsdorf tells us:
"The Pottawatomies seldom quarrel in their homes. They are never cruel to their children. Their patience with children is astonishing. If a married pair have differences, are angered one of the two goes to stay with some neighbor until the other one in the quarrel asks him or her to return.
"They dislike water even for hygienic purposes and their passion for strong drink has become proverbial. "The Pottawatomie man has a peculiar abhorrence for sickness. If a member of his family became sick, he left the house to stay with a neighbor, sending the neighbor's wife to take care of his sick wife or child."
The Pottawatomies excelled in dice games, tops and
ST. JOSEPH IN HOMESPUN
archery. The Chippewas, who were a more active people, played the stick games, archery, hoop and pole, racket, snow snake, shinny, hand and foot ball and also the dice games. Of the games of chance, Pugasaing is the principal game played among all northern tribes. It is a dice game and is played with thirteen pieces, cut neatly from bone. The pieces are shaken in a wooden bowl, called onagun. Two of the pieces are called ininewug or men. They are wedge shaped so that in throwing them they may stand on end. Two are called gitshee kenabik, or great serpent-one of them fin tailed. They stand lengthwise on their wedgeshaped bases when thrown. Another piece is the war club; another is the keego or fish. There are four circular pieces of brass, slightly concave, with a flat surface on the apex-these are the ozawabiks, and lastly three bird shaped pieces called sheshebwug, or ducks. One side of all of the pieces is polished and one side painted red, with the exception of the brass pieces which are painted black on the reverse side.
In playing, if one of the ininewugs stands upright on the bright side of a brass piece it counts 158. When all pieces fall red side up and the gitshee kenebik with the tail stands on bright side of brass piece, it counts 138. When all turn up red it counts 38. When the two gitshee kenebik and the two ininewugs turn up white and the other pieces red, irrespective of the brasses, it counts 38. When all pieces turn up white it counts 38. When one of the ininewugs stands up it counts 50. When either of the gitshee bakenabiks stands up it counts 40. When all are white except on duck (sheshemug) and that is red, it wins 5. The game is won by the red pieces and goes to the first person winning 500 points.
Charlevoix, in describing the Pottawatomie Indians, told of their games; and explained in detail the game of straws which was usually played in the hut of a chief. The straws were the size of wheat straw, about two inches in length and a bundle contained 201. With many contortions and incantations to the spirits, the Indians separated the straws into bundles of ten, using a thorn or sharpened bit of bone. The stakes were their clothing.
The game of moccasin was their most universal gambling game. Each player
removed a moccasin and they were places in a row. The player skillfully placed a
counter-usually a small, polished bit of bone-in one of the moccasins. The other
players used two sticks or wands. The light colored one was used to touch the
moccasin in which he thought the counter was hidden, with the dark wand he
touched the moccasins which he believed did not contain it. Intense in
everything he does, the Indian loves gambling next to whiskey and
INDIAN MANNERS, CUSTOMS AND BELIEFS
it brought so much hardship to the losers that the government prohibited moccasin among the western tribes.
As a game of dexterity, archery included many forms. The target was, of course, an important feature. The Pottawatomies had a game in which they buried their bark target. The Indians on the old reservations called it ta-te-wan. Four Indians, each with a bow and two arrows, play partners. Two strips of bark about four inches wide are placed in mounds of earth, the mounds about 200 feet apart. One player of each side takes his place near a mound, A and C at one mound, B and D at the other. If A strikes near the target but misses with both arrows and C fails to strike nearer than A, it counts A one. If C strikes nearer it scores C one. If either arrow strikes the target it counts him five. If both arrows of either A or C strike the target the game is won (ten being out). If both A and C, hit the target neither counts and the arrows are returned by B and D.
Women And Children's Games
Much is written about the drudgery of the Indian women but they also had pastimes and games, which included hand ball, throwing sticks, hidden ball and different forms of the snow-snake. The latter was played on the snow or ice and the only thing necessary was a hard wooden stick, five feet long, with one end rounded. The player stooped toward the ground, held the snake horizontally from right to left and forced it towards the rounded end, skimming along rapidly. A bank of snow slightly inclined away from the player gave the snake and upward curve as it lift the hands, thus propelling it a considerable distance in the air before touching the ice. The snow bank corresponded, womewhat, to the tee in golf. Women sometimes played the snow-snake by using an animal rib, to one end of which two feathers had been attached. It was thrown as a glider.
A child was given a tiny bow and arrow just as soon as he could walk. The
children had a great variety of amusements, -top spinning, mimic fights and
sports, imitative of their elders. The men and boys, women and maidens had
innumerable games which they played at fixed seasons as an accompaniment to
festivals and religious rites. The Walter Culin report in the 24th Annual Report
of the Bureau of Ethnology records hundreds of interesting games played by the
Indian of the United States. Among all the games and sports recorded none were
more highly enjoyed than swimming and the water sports. "A strong and
vigorous Indian mother bearing her papoose upon her back, could tread water,
standing almost erect, without disturbing the sleeping child with
ST. JOSEPH IN HOMESPUN
even a drop of water. The little children swam like so many minnows.
Myths and Legends
Among the myths recorded in the Jesuit Relations, is a story of Manabozho, a mighty manito, who gave the gift of immortality to an Indian. The gift was tied in a bundle and Manabozho enjoined the Indian never to open it. The Indian's wife, however, impelled by curiosity, cut the string and the precious gift flew out so the Indians ever since have been subject to death. "The Pottawatomies believed that Death was the wife of Satan and that she wore a robe made of the hair of her victims. It was she whom they sought to frighten away by drumming and stamping and shouting beside the sick bed.
Just as the lovely old German legend of the "Marianzwirn'-the thread from the Mother Mary's robe-is the story of the gossamer cobweb which, in the hazy October air, floats invisibly and brushing across the face, blesses him whom it touches; so, in the Indian legend, the cobweb was believed to be a hair from "Deaths" robe, and it betokened that the spirit of a friend had broken away from his captor, Death, and was safely arrived in the realm of Kitchi Manito.
Quite illogically the student of Indian literature and speech is surprised at the beauty and imagery of the Indian race, which, vitally dependent on nature, "sees God in the clouds and hears him in the wind".
Lew Sarett, the poet, a student of Indian life and speech, has sought to bring to us something of the Indian imagery. To give us examples of the naiveté of speech-the simplicity, the broad but subtle humor, the tragedy, the wild crude beauty, which he tells us has been lost from Indian literature by the translators' sacrifice of metaphor for rhetorical elegance.
Sacrett gives us "The Indian Sleep-song" for the little brown chief as he brings the sleepy wind to rock the bough of the willow and croon to the little brown leaf on the bough:
"Hush.................hush, hush! My little brown fawn, The now-flakes are falling------ The winter-men yawn; They cover with white Their children to-night,----- O little brown fawn, Hush............hush, hush!" The characteristic note of sadness is noted in an Indian Love Song which closes with: "Shivering wolf and lonely loon Cry my sorrow to the moon------- O gone heart, O stone!"INDIAN MANNERS, CUSTOMS AND BELIEFS
The following, given in broken English, pictures the spirit of the snow: "Sh......sh...sh!.....Look, my frien'-------somebody's dere' Ain't? .....over dere? He's come from Land----of Winter! Wit' quilt he's cover-um up dose baby mink, Dose cub, dose wild arbutus, dose jump-up-Johnny...... He's keep hees chil'ens warm for long, long winter..... Sh.....sh.....sh! Sombody's dere on de white savanne! Somebody's dere! He's walk-um in de timber...... He's cover-um up hees chil'ens, soft.......soft......"Many of the Indian myths and legends told beside the lodge-fires on the reservations, were really nature stories. The story of the Fever-manito and the princess, modernized a bit, is a charming Pottawatomie myth of the marshland, of its flowers and of the miasma from the stagnant waters.
Once upon a time when all the world was new, the Fevermanito lay sleeping in his wigwam in the deep hot shade beside the stagnant waters of the marshland. Beside his doorway grew the largest of all the pitcher plants, for the Fever-manito was always thirsty and the pitcher plants, unless touched by mortal hands, were always filled with a deeply intoxicating beverage.
It so happened one day that a Pottawatomie princess, who worshipped Kitchi Manito, having placed her prayer sticks in order, chanted a prayer and went gaily forth, along the trail, that followed the shore of the Sau-gan-seepe. Spying the deep red blossoms of the pitcher plant growing in the marshland, she left the trail-though she had been warned that the pitcher plant was taboo-and began to pick the blossoms. Then the princess heard a terrifying voice and saw, coming towards her, the dreaded Fever-manito. His blanket was miry, his eyes were bloodshot, his breath was like the scorching, blazing prairie fire, misery followed in all of his steps. The princess dropped her blossoms and fled swiftly towards the Indian village. As she ran she breathed a prayer to Kitchi Manito for help. After her stamped the angry fever god. Faster and faster ran the princess, faster and faster came the Fever-manito. Again she prayed her prayer for help and Kitchi Manito, having just returned from a far journey, granted her prayer by blessing the little moccasins on her flying feet.
In and out among the wigwams ran the princess, and in and out among the
wigwams followed the Fever-manito. Suddenly from the low growing green herbs,
crushed by the
ST. JOSEPH IN HOMESPUN
Fever-manito, there rose a pungent odor which became a vapor. It enveloped the princess and encircled the village. It suffocated the Fever-manito and, as he swooning fell, Kitchi Manito, in the form of a great white stag, rolled the Fever-manito up on a river mist and bore him swiftly to the marshland where the tall pitcher plants grew.
In appreciation of her rescue, the princess hung her little magic moccasins on a slender plant and to this day wherever the pitcher plant grows there may be found the moccasin plant with its lovely blossoms as a reminder of Kitchi Manito's care. And the crushed leaves of the low growing herb of the peppermint even now vanquishes the marshland's dreaded fever god.
The Indian story tellers taught by parables. The following story told in many versions by different tribes conveys its own warning.
There was a time when the valley of the Sau-gan-seepe was a level prairie land. In all its length and breadth there were neither rocks nor stones to obstruct the pathway of the hunters. The whole valley was a mass of flowers. One day a bit of the prairie land hearing much talk of his beauty, raised himself on his elbow that he might see himself in the mirror of the lake. This obstructed the view of hunters so they could not see the game and a quarrel ensued. A feud resulted and the hill, which had risen higher and higher to see himself, called a magician to turn him into something which would permanently hinder the hunters from seeing their game and would protect his friends, and deer.
The magician turned the hill into a steep stone mountain, but warned him never to feel angry. If he did find himself growing angry, instantly he was to make a wish. Moons passed by and all was peaceful along the Sau-gan-seepe. One day the stone mountain saw hunters coming, they were as fleet as the deer and were slaying them. Angered at the slaughter, the mountain cried: "I wish I could crush them!" Instantly he blew up. Far and wide flew his pieces and that is the way it happened that there are boulders, field stones and rocky places all over Michigan which form steep places where game may hide from the fleet footed hunters.
Ethnologists tell us that the literature of all nations, preserves in some versions a story of the flood. The Pottawatomie version is recorded in the Jesuit Relations.
All Algonquin nations believed in Manabozho, the Great Hare, who was king of all the animals and possessed a marvelous court of quadrupeds.
He was believed to be a son of the West-wind and of the great-granddaughter of the Moon. It was he who restored the world after it had been submerged in a deluge. Because Manabozho had killed a serpent, the lesser manitos, in rage, had , in the form of serpents, caused the waters of a lake to rise until all the world was submerged. Manabozho climbed a tree which, in answer to his prayer, grew as the floods rose around it and thus saved him.
Submerged to the neck, he looked abroad and spied the loon to whom he appealed for aid in restoring the world. The loon dived in search of a little mud but could not reach bottom. A muskrat made the attempt by reappeared, floating as if dead. Manabozho, however, discovered between the muskrat's paws, a particle of mud. This added to the body of the loon, was the material with which he recreated the world.
The specific words in which the Indian myths are given are often few, crude and inadequate but they represent keen observation and vivid imagination. The following is the Myth of Falling Star retold with the imagery unchanged from the ten or twelve words of the original story.
In the high, high heavens there lived a lonely star who, when the hush of night brought friendly eyes looking earthward, found her own image glowing brightly in the heart of a quiet lake. He lay sleeping where giant pines stand sentinel. Quickly the star sped to the Council Grove of Kitchi Manito for permission to wed the quiet lake. But Kitchi Manito did not approve, would not listen. Pale and dim grew the star with weeping. Then one day, in sudden anger at her persistence, Kitchi Manito dropped her, as a falling star into the arms of her lover, the lake, and now when the fragrant breath of summer steals over woodland and water, the lake and his bride may be recognized, for Kitchi Manito turned the pale little star into the wax-white water lily.
NOTED INDIANS OF THE ST. JOSEPH VALLEY
The pride of birth and the love of ancestral homes is as deeply enshrined in the heart of the Indian as in that of his paler brother. The earliest records picture the Indian's intense love of the homeland of his fathers.
Following the old Indian trails across St. Joseph county to the former Nottawa Seepe reservation, of which Bennett's grove is a part, the Abiel Fellows Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, out on an historical pilgrimage, had as guest of honor Chief Samuel Manadoka and his family from Indian Town. After the basket dinner, Chief Manadoka, dressed in beaded buckskin clothes and moccasins and a huge feathered bonnet, told with true pride the story of the Pottawatomie nation which came from the northland to the St. Joseph; of the Three Fires federation who were brothers; of his father, who built the first hearth fire on the Nottawa Seepe reservation; of Marchia, a beautiful woman, renowned for her goodness, and as a doctor, greatly revered by the Indians of Athens because she cured by the laying on of hands.
Chief Manadoka spoke of Ponseekman, his father's sister, and then with eyes that betrayed a deeper feeling told of the service of his own sons overseas in the World war.
When asked what the word Pottawatomie meant, Chief Manadoka explained: "It means fiery ones, not elbow-out fiery but hearth-fire building fiery". He explained that as a rule the Pottawatomie Indian men married between the ages of sixteen and twenty and the girls between fourteen and eighteen. Before the tribes were Christianized, the young man's parents purchased a wife, then she became at once his property, but usually he procured her by servitude. From time of purchase until the birth of the first child, neither the young brave nor his young wife had any possessions of their own. They both served the parents of the girl. At the birth of the child they set up housekeeping for themselves. The women of the entire village contributed to the new household. It was customary for each woman of the tribe to carry a huge armload of wood and assist in building the first hearth fire for the young couple. If later the young husband wished another wife, he usually took a sister of his wife "that there be no discord in the home". The mother had all care and training of the children.
Chief Manadoka told many interesting stories of life on the Nottawa Seepe
reservation-of hunting, of their games of quoits, ball, moccasin, dice,
lacrosse; explained the calendar
NOTED INDIANS OF THE ST. JOSEPH VALLEY
with its notches on a stick; and of observations based on the phases of the moon.
The day, filled with all the gaiety of an old fashioned picnic in the woods, culminated when in single file, each person doing his best to catch the quick, short step of the Pottawatomie chieftian who lead with his band of Indians the entire company marked the site of the old "Apple tree" ford. Each individual carried the largest stone he could find and deposited it on the growing stone pile. At the close of the ceremony Chief Manadoka said to the regent: "White woman thank red brother for good talk, red man thank white brother for good time, nobody thank the Father." The startled regent asked: "What would you do about it?" To which the chief promptly responded: "Me- I talk;" and swinging his long arms out, he stood the image of dignified reverence, while the laughing picnickers, surprised into silence and prayer, heard him simply , quietly, as one "face to face", tell "the Father" of the happy day, of the fine spirit in the heart of the white friends and of the gratitude in the heart of their red brother.
The old Nottawa Seepe reservation furnished many Indian celebrities, including the chieftain, Pierre Morreau, the polished Frenchman and his Indian wife; their son, Sau-au-kette, who usurped the places of the legitimate chiefs, Cush-ee-wees and Pee-quoit-ah-kiss-ee. At Sau-au-kette's death "Old John Ma-gua-go", Jr. and he by Phineas Bamp-ta-na-by.
John Ma-gua-go had three sons, Man-do-ka, Mo-qua and Me-mie. Mar-chee-o-no-que was the chief's sister. She and her dusky daughter, Pont-sig-na, were considered very beautiful. "Mar-chee" married as her second husband, the fur trader, Capt. Hatch. Pont-sig-na was educated at Albion.
About 1840 the Methodist Episcopal church established a mission at the reservation, with Rev. Mannassah Hickey in charge. His sister assisted him. Mandoka's wife, Mary, was interpreter. She, also, had been educated at Albion. Rev. A. D. P. VanBuren, in his "Indian Reminiscences", vividly pictures the old mission and Rev. Hickey, with sonorous voice, speaking to the settlers. Then paragraph by paragraph, the sermon repeated in Mary's musical voice. "Of the two sermons, Mary's seemed the more effective because the Indians were the more gifted listeners". "From oldest patriarch to youngest child, their worship began the moment they entered the chapel."
Of the St. Joseph valley Indians, the settlers tell many stories. Among them,
amusing ones about Chief Wee Saw, who seems to have been a man of parts. He had
a village in Berrien county, farms in Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Cass
ST. JOSEPH IN HOMESPUN
counties. He was blest with three wives. In the spring he went to Prairie Ronde and from there directed the raising of corn in Kalamazoo county and vegetables in St. Joseph county then moved to the northwest in proper season for maple sugar. His hunting grounds in Volinca were visited every third year, allowing the intervals for the restoration of game. We Saw was a superb specimen, six feet four, muscular, dignified. He deemed himself every inch a king. He adored splendid attire: leggings bordered with little bells, head adorned with the most brilliant of turbans, waist with a gay sash; silver amulet, ear and nose rings. Sometimes he changed to a blue broad cloth coat and the effect was indeed marvelous. His favorite wife, a niece of Top-in-a-bee, was equally gorgeous in her attire. She was permitted to walk immediately behind him and ahead of the other two wives.
Head chief Top-in-a-bee died at Niles in 1826. He was a son of Aniqjuiba, whose village was near Niles. Top-in-a-bee was hereditary title and probably the signature of Top-in-a-bee was made by different Indians who held the title of Top-in-a-bee. However, "Old Top-in-a-bee" of the Grandville treaty, of the Chicago and later treaties, was all one and the same person. McCoy, the missionary, said of him in 1822: "Top-in-a-bee is upward of eighty years, a man of much nobility of character with unusual friendships for the whites." It was he who sent warning to Fort Dearborn of the intended massacre. After the signing of the Chicago treaty in 1821, he became hopelessly enslaved by alcohol. When General Cass urged him to keep sober that he might make better terms for his people, he replied: "Father, we do not care for land nor the money, nor the goods. What we want is whiskey. Give us whiskey."
A letter from the missionary in 1826 finished the brief biography of Top-in-a-bee :
"Poor old Top-in-a-bee is near his end. He fell from his horse and received such injury that he cannot live".
Top-in-a-bee was succeeded by Pokagon, second in rank to Top-in-a-bee. Pokagon's name was originally Sag-a-quick. After an Indian victory he became "Pokagon" who, as head of the St. Joseph valley Indians, led to victory against the invasion of the Shawnees from the Wabash.
Pokagon's son, Pokagon, Jr., was an educated Indian and when invited to take part in the anniversary celebration at Chicago in commemoration of the coming of Columbus, issued the "Red Man's Rebuke." His plea for his people was sent as his "regrets" for not attending the celebration. It is an oration worthy of a statesman. It was printed on white birch bark "In loyalty to my own people and gratitude to the Great Spirit who gave a natural writing material that cannot be injured by sun or rain." The "Rebuke" is too long to quote in its entirety. Something of his style is indicated in: "And as the young nestling, while yet blind, swallows each morsel given by the parent bird, so drank we all they said.
"As the fear of the fox in the duckling is hatched, so the wrongs we have suffered are transmitted to our children".
In the closing paragraphs, Pokagon's denunciation reaches a climax as he pictures the white race before the Great Spirit on Judgment Day. "He will hurl them headlong to that place where they may never touch, taste, handle, make, buy or sell the cup that doth damn a human soul."
The oration suggests the Talk by Chief Le Maigouis or the Trout, who spoke to his followers in the first personas the Great Spirit. He addressed them: "My Children". Stern indeed are his admonitions, scathing his denunciation of the "Children of the Evil Spirit". "They grew from the forth of the waters when troubled by the Evil One. The Froth was driven to our shores by a strong East Wind. They are numerous, unjust. They have taken. My Children-No Indian must sell rum to Indians. It makes him rich but when he dies he becomes very wretched. You bury him with his wealth and ornaments. Ashes grow along the path, they fall on him. He stoops to pick them up and they become dust. He arrives almost at the place of rest then crumbles into dust himself. But those who furnish themselves with necessaries only, when they die are happy and will find their wigwams furnished with everything they had on earth.
"I could not come to you myself, because of the World is changed. It is broken and leans down, and as it declines, the Chippewas and all beyond will fall off and die. Therefore, you must come and see me and be instructed to prevent it. Those villages which do not listen to this talk and send me two deputies will be cut off from the face of the earth Forever."
Sau-ga-nash, the half breed chieftain, sometimes known as Billy Caldwell, a
hero of Fort Dearborn massacre, is claimed as a St. Joseph county Indian, at
least in his burial place beside the old Sac' war trail which once ran through
the village of Eschol. His grave was located through the testimony of old
settlers, who lived in the neighborhood when the chief was buried and the
records were compiled by Mrs. H. P. Barrows, whose father's farm bordered the
deserted village of Eschol. The Chicago Hisorical Society quite indignantly
repudiates this claim and points to his grave in Illinois. Other old settlers
claim the Indian buried at Eschol was Sau-ga-mow, or Sag-a-mon and buries
Sau-ga-nash in Wisconsin. All are
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united in a desire, however, to honor a man who gave his life in an endeavor to befriend his white friends. The grave was marked with a plain granite headstone by the Abiel Fellows chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution in 1916.
The Sau-ga-nash Country Club, a part of the old Fitch farm, lies just across the river from the old chieftain's grave.
No sketch of St. Joseph county Indian life would be complete without a special mention of Wah-be-me-me, Chief White Pigeon, of the Pottawatomies, whose love for his friends of the prairie settlements, cost him his life and gave both city and township his name. The story is told that about 1830, Chief White Pigeon, while on a hunting expedition learned of the resentment of the Indians over depredations of the white man, that they had planned to attack the settlement on the prairie. Wah-be-me-me had smoked the pipe of friendship with these settlers and his warning has been voiced in a commemorative poem and issued as an official tribute to the red chieftain by the City of White Pigeon. The following is condensed from the last part of the poem:
"Louder, fiercer, sounds the war-cry, Wilder, madder, grows the war-dance, Firelight gleams on painted bodies-------- Leaping, writhing, twisting, turning. Wah-be-me-me, Chief White Pigeon, Visions pale-faced friends who trust him. Breathes an earnest, short petition, Simple, childlike, fervent, hearfelt, To the white man's God and Savior. Then the voice of gentle Southwind Comes to him from 'mong the branches, Whispers gently as in answer: "Redman ne'er betrays a friendship, "Redman ne'er forgets a friend." Swiftly vanishes the vision From the heart of Wah-be-me-me And as mists from off the meadow Fades his dream of love and glory. Quick he turns, and never faltering, Bids farewell to Mich-e-wa-ka: Leaves the camp upon the lake shore, Leaves the nation of his fathers, Leaves his love, his dream of glory. Through the forests and the marshes, Fording creeks and swimming rivers, O'er the level, grassy prairies O'er the barren, hilly uplands, Wah-be-me-me rushes onward------- Never halting, never pausing, Heeding neither thirst nor hunger. Blind and deaf to all about him, Save the impulse urging onward: "Redman ne'er betrays a friendship, Redman ne'er forgets a friend." Panting, struggling, halting, stumbling, Just as day's last glow is fading, He draws near the white men's dwellings, Sees them gathered 'round their campfires, Hears their cheerful jest and laughter; Fainting from his long exertion, Reels into their midst, and tells them Of their peril from the redman; Tells them of his peoples' anger Warns them to prepare for danger. Then, his deed of love completed, Gasping, sinks to earth before them. Gently, tenderly, they raise him. From his pale lips comes the whisper: "Mich-e-wa-ka, truest sweetheart!" Then, with one last mighty effort, As his spirit wings its parting. Breathes he once again the watchword That sustained him on his journey: "Redman ne'er betrays a friendship, Redman ne'er forgets a friend."Wah-be-me-me's grave, marked by the people of White Pigeon through the efforts of the Albe Columba Club, stands on the north side of U. S. 131 at the intersection with U. S. 112. The monument bears the inscription: "Wah-be-me-me, Chief White Pigeon". And on the base of the monument is the quotation: "Greater love hath no man than this , that he lay down his life for his friends."
Perhaps no more suitable conclusion to the chapter on St. Joseph County Indians may be found than that of "The Last Indian Council" featured by the White Pigeon Republican, in its issue of August 28, 1839. It is a picture of the last council of Nottawa Seepe Indians with the United States Government. The Pottawatomie tribe had Red Bird, a chief, as spokesman, and the government was represented by Isaac Ketchum, the Indian Agent.
Red Bird was a splendid specimen of the Indian warriors. With calm assurance
he greeted Mr. Ketchum: "Father: You have waited with patience for us to
come to the council and most of us are now here. We are happy to meet you all
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ourselves and our children are well. Today we have dry ground, bright sun, clear sky, and the Great Spirit be with us all. We are now ready to hear you and by ten o'clock tomorrow we will be ready to give answer."
Mr. Ketchum explained in detail the terms of the treaty; reminded them that they had signed away the reservation; that the government would take them, free of charge, to their homes in the west; He praised the land to which they were going, and closed by saying: "Your Great Father is determined to carry out his part of the treaty. It is hoped, therefore, that you will be willing to go. He knows that you will be better off on your own lands than here."
After much consultation, Chief Muchmote replied: "We have held our consultation with the three nations, and what you said to us does not please us at all. You told us that we must go west of the Mississippi. In our councils we have said we will not go and our minds have not changed. At council at Niles same question asked and we said we will not go. You wish to know when we would be ready to go. We say again, we will not go. We wish to die where our forefathers died. You say government protect on our way west and leave us there to our destruction. No one of us is daring to go. We are very poor. In the west there is no bark to build lodges. We not able to build houses like your white children. Many white people want us stay here. They hunt with us. We divide game. We stay here among white people. Therefore we not go."
Mr. Ketchum told the Indians that they were greatly mistaken about the white people wishing them to stay and to prove his assertion asked all the settlers present who wished the Indians to go to raise their hands-which everyone did. Again Mr. Ketchum pictured the benefits of the removal and urged them to reconsider.
Chief Red Bird closed the council: "Father, you have heard our decision, we shall never go. The reason the white people lifted hands is because they are afraid of you. We will never meet in council again. We will remain in the land of our sugar orchards, by shore of our rice fields and by the graves of our fathers."
When the soldiers came to enforce the treaty, many families of the Indians had escaped to Canada. Some of these later, returned and purchased farm land near Athens, now called "Indian Town". Among them were the Pamp family and the Manadoka's.