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Chapter 4
Pages 589-590

From the book about Wabasha Co. Minnesota
Compiled by Dr. L. H. Bunnell
Published Chicago by H. H. Hill, Publishers, 1884
Republished Currently by Higginson Books

In 1830 steps were taken for a congress of tribes at Prairie du Chien, and at this council the M'dewakantonwan Dahkotahs made a treaty, and conveyed to their relatives of mixed blood that tract of land about Lake Pepin known as the "half-breed tract." The tract of said treaty is described as follows: "Beginning at a place called the barn, below and near the village of the Red Wing chief, and running back fifteen miles, thence in a parallel line with Lake Pepin and the Mississippi about thirty-two miles to a point opposite Au Boeuf river, thence fifteen miles to the grand Encampment opposite the river aforesaid." This is the tract upon which our annals are laid, and with which the history of the city of Wabasha is so closely connected. Oliver Cratte, of this place, asserts that he was present at that treaty, and that the above is a true rendition of it; also that these lands were intended for the half-breeds of that generation only, and that no "scrip" should ever have been placed upon them. The chiefs present upon that occasion, according to Mr. Cratte, were Red Wing, Black Dog, Little Crow (the father of the great Crow of Sioux massacre notoriety), Waconta and Wapashaw. In 1831, during the month of April, the authorities at Washington instructed the Indian agent at Sault Ste. Marie, H. R. Schoolcraft, to proceed to the upper Mississippi, and use his influence to make peace between the contending tribes, Dakotahs and Ojibways, in which he partly succeeded, and in 1832 he was again instructed to visit the tribes toward the sources of the Mississippi. In June of that year he arrived, in company of a military escort commanded by Lieut. James Allen, at the Fond du Lac trading-house on the St. Louis river, and, slowly making their way, in July they arrived at Elk Lake, which Mr. Schoolcraft names Itasca. The party were sure they had reached the true source of the great river at last, and geographers still mark Lake Itasca as the head and source of the Mississippi. The lake is about seven miles long, and varies from one to three miles broad, is of irregular shape, with no rock in place but some boulders on the shores.

The Indian trade of the northwest was found to be so completely in the hands of British subjects, that trade could not be carried on by the Americans without their assistance. The secretary of the treasury in consequence issued a circular allowing the agents to license interpreters and voyageurs, who might be employed by the American traders. Mr. Taliaferro was the first Indian agent in Minnesota, and he held the office twenty-one years, licensing traders at different points as occasion demanded at different times. In 1833 the licensed traders of Minnesota were: Alexis Bailly, Mendota; J. R. Browne, mouth of the St. Croix; J. B. Faribault, Little Rapids; Joseph Renville, Lac qui Parle; Louis Provencalle, Traverse des Sioux; Hazen Moores, Lac Traverse, and B. F. Baker at Fort Snelling. In 1835 we find Joseph R. Brown at Lac Traverse, the Coteau de Prairie, at the Lake of the Two Woods, and Alexander Faribault, son of J. B. Faribault, on the Cannon river. There were other prominent traders who came into the country in 1837, among whom were N. W. Kittson, Philander Prescott and Francois Labathe. Franklin Steele and Wm. H. Forbes also came to Minnesota in 1837, and H. M. Rice, who was at the head of an extensive trade with the Winnebagos and Chippewas, in 1839. In 1837 about twenty chiefs and traders, by direction of Gov. Dodge, proceeded to Washington to make a treaty ceding to the United States their lands east of the Mississippi. They were accompanied by Maj. Taliaferro, agent, and Scott Campbell as interpreter. The fur company was represented by H. H. Sibley, Alexis Bailly, Joseph La Framboise, Augustin Rocque, Labathe, the Faribaults, and others. Joel R. Poinsette, a special commissioner, represented the United States.