Transcribers Note: This is a work in progress and only the first four chapters are included. More will be coming.









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The presentation, in a permanent form, of the history of the Ojibways is appropriate for the Minnesota Historical Society. Two hundred years ago the warriors of this people, by way of the river, in the State of Wisconsin, which still bears their name, sought their foes in the valley of the Mississippi. A century later, they had pushed out the Dakotas or Sioux from their old hunting-grounds in the Mille Lacs region of Minnesota, and at the time of the adoption of the Constitution of the United States of America were trapping, fishing, and making maple sugar on the shores of Red, Leech, and Sandy Lakes. While the Sioux and Winnebago Tribes have been removed to the Valley of the Missouri River, the Ojibways remain on or near certain reservations in Northern Minnesota.

The Society has been fortunate in receiving as a gift, from a former United States Senator, Henry M. Rice, the manuscript history of the Ojibways, based upon traditional and oral statements written by the late William W. Warren, some of whose ancestors had been distinguished chieftains of the tribe, and by its publication hopes to give some aid to the increasing number of students of the aboriginal races of America. Traditions gathered in the wigwams [pg 4] of those who, until recently, had no mode of preserving knowledge, for coming generations, necessarily lack precision of statement; and the old story-tellers of a tribe unconsciously repeat as ideas of their race, those which have been obtained by intercourse with white men. Sir William Johnson, Bt, British Superintendent of Indian Affairs, more than a hundred years ago, in a letter to the distinguished Virginian, Arthur Lee, M.D., F.R.S., wrote: "Relying solely on oral traditions for the support of their ancient usages they have blended some, with customs amongst ourselves, so as to render it exceedingly difficult, if not almost impossible, to trace their customs to their origin."

Prefixed to Mr. Warren's work has been placed a sketch of his life, and as a supplement has been added another article on the Ojibways, based upon official and other records. The intelligent reader will not be surprised by the discrepancies which he will notice between the traditional and documentary history.

Hoping that the Society, at no distant day, may issue a similar history of the Dakota people, this volume is submitted by the Committee of Publication.

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Memoir of William W. Warren, by J. Fletcher Williams7
History of the Ojibways, based upon Traditions and Oral Statements, by William W. Warren 21
History of the Ojibways, and their Connection with Fur Traders, based upon Official and other Records, By Edward D. Neill395
Officers of the Society511
Members of the Society513

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William Whipple Warren, whose work follows, was a descendant of Richard Warren, one of the "Mayflower" pilgrims, who landed at Plymouth in 1620. From this ancestor a large proportion of the persons bearing the name of Warren, in the United States, have descended. General Joseph Warren, who fell at Bunker Hill, was the descendant of a collateral line of the family. Abraham Warren, a descendant of Richard, born September 25, 1747, fought in the Revolutionary War, as did also his son, Stephen. Lyman Warren, son of Abraham, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, May 25, 1771, and was married in Berkshire, Massachusetts, to Mercy Whipple.

Their son, Lyman Marquis Warren, father of the subject of this memoir, was born at the latter place, Aug. 9, 1794. He came to the Lake Superior region in 1818, with his brother Truman A., younger than himself, to engage in the fur trade. The U. S. government having some time before enacted that no one, not a citizen of the United States, should engage in the fur trade, the British subjects, who were engaged in that trade, employed American clerks to take charge of their posts. The Warren brothers entered the service of Michel Cadotte, an old trader among the Ojibways at La Pointe, and soon became great favorites with the Ojibways. In 1821, each of the brothers married a daughter of Cadotte, and in 1823, the latter sold out all his trading outfit to them, and retired from [pg 10] the business. Truman Warren did not live long after this. He died on board a vessel on Lake Superior in 1825, from pneumonia, resulting from the hardship and exposure incident to a trader's life. Rev. Alfred Brunson, in his autobiographical reminiscences, entitled "A Western Pioneer," states that "Lyman M. Warren traded for several years in the Lac du Flambeau, Lac Coutereille and Saint Croix Departments, in opposition to the American Fur Company. He then entered into an arrangement with them and took charge of those three departments as partner and chief factor under a salary, making his depot at La Pointe. This arrangement continued until 1834." La Pointe appears to have been his permanent residence until his death.

The Cadottes, into which family the Warren brothers married, were descendants of a Mous. Cadeau, who, it is stated, came to the Ojibway country in 1671, in the train of the French envoy, Sieur de St. Lusson.1 His son, John Baptiste Cadotte (as the name was then and subsequently spelled) became a trader among the Ojibways, and was engaged for a time with Alexander Henry, who in his work mentions him very frequently. He was married by a Catholic priest to an Ojibway woman of the A-waus-e clan, and made his residence at Sault Ste Marie. Mrs. Cadotte is described by Henry as being a woman of great energy and tact, and force of character. She aided her husband in his trading operations, sometimes undertaking long expeditions with coureurs du bois for him. She bore him two sons, John Baptiste Cadotte, Jr., and Michel Cadotte, who also became traders among the Ojibways, and were men of energy and ability in their calling. Both of them were well educated and had great influence in the Lake Superior region, and northwest, where they were well [pg 11] known. Both J. B. and Michel Cadotte married Ojibway women, the latter the daughter of White Crane, hereditary chief of La Pointe Tillage. Their descendants are quite numerous, and are scattered throughout the northwest. Michel Cadotte died at La Pointe in 1836 aet. 72 years. Though he had once made large profits in the fur trade and was wealthy, he died poor, a result of the usual improvidence which that kind of life engenders, and of his generosity to his Indian relatives.

1 The full name and title of this officer, as given in a document in The Margry Papers, vol. 1. p. 96, is Simon-Francis Daumont, Sieur de St. Lusson.

In 1821, as before remarked, Lyman M. Warren married Mary, daughter of Michel Cadotte. The ceremony was performed by one of the missionaries at Mackinaw. Rev. A. Brunson, in his work before quoted, says of Mrs. Warren: "She was three-fourths Indian. She was an excellent cook, and a neat housekeeper, though she could not speak a word of English." Mrs. Elizabeth T. Ayer, of Belle Prairie, Minn., widow of Rev. Frederic Ayer, the missionary, states that "she was a woman of fine natural abilities, a good mother, though without the advantages of any education. They raised a large family. The children had, added to more than common intelligence, a large amount of go-ahead-activeness." Mrs. Warren was a believer in the Catholic faith. Mr. Warren, however, was an adherent of the common evangelical belief, and a member of the Presbyterian Church. Rev. Wm. T. Boutwell, the first missionary at Leech Lake, still living in Washington County, Minnesota, near Stillwater, says: "I knew him as a good Christian man, and as one desirous of giving his children the benefits of a Christian education." Mrs. Ayer says: "He was among the first to invite American missionaries into the region of Lake Superior, and he assisted them as he had opportunity, not only by his influence, but sometimes by his purse. He united with the mission church at Mackinaw, where he was married." Rev. Mr. Brunson, who visited him in 1843, says: "Mr. Warren had a large [pg 12] and select library, an unexpected sight in an Indian country, containing some books that I had never before seen."

After dissolving his connection with the American Fur Company, probably about the year 1838, he removed to the Chippewa River, Wisconsin, where he had been appointed as farmer, blacksmith, and sub-agent to the Ojibways, in that reservation. He located his post at a point a few miles above Chippewa Falls, at a place now known as Chippewa City. Here, in connection with Jean Brunett, he built a saw-mill and opened a farm, which was soon furnished with commodious buildings. His wife died there July 21, 1843, and the following winter he took her remains to La Pointe for interment. Mr. Warren died at La Pointe, Oct. 10, 1847, aet. 53. Of the eight children born to them, two died in infancy. Truman A. is now interpreter at White Earth Agency, Minn., and Mary, now Mrs. English, is a teacher at the Red Lake Mission School. Charlotte, Julia, and Sophia are married, and live on White Earth Reservation. Of William, their oldest son, we now propose to give a brief memoir.

William Whipple Warren was born at La Pointe, May 27, 1825. In his very earliest childhood, he learned to talk the Ojibway language, from playing with the Indian children. His father took every means to give him a good English education. Rev. Mr. Boutwell says: "In the winter of 1832, he was a pupil at my Indian School at La Pointe." He subsequently attended, for awhile, the mission school at Mackinaw, when he was only eight years old. In the summer of 1836, his grandfather, Lyman Warren, of New York, visited La Pointe, and on his return home took William with him to Clarkson, New York, where he attended school for two years, and afterwards, from 1838 to 1841, attended the Oneida Institute at Whitesborough, near Utica, a school then in charge of Rev. Beriah Green, a man noted for his anti-slavery views. William remained [pg 13] there until 1841, when he was sixteen years of age, and acquired a good scholastic training. He was then, and always subsequently, greatly devoted to reading, and read everything which he could get, with avidity. "While at school" (says one who knew him well) "he was greatly beloved for his amiable disposition, and genial, happy manners. He was always full of life, cheerfulness, and sociability, and insensibly attracted all who associated with him."

During his absence from home, he had, by disuse, forgotten some of the Ojibway tongue, but soon became again familiar with it, and acquired a remarkable command of it Speaking it fluently, and being connected with influential families of the tribe, he was always a welcome and petted guest at their lodge-fire circles, and it was here that his taste and fondness for the legends and traditions of the Ojibways were fostered. He speaks in his work of his love for the "lodge stories and legends of my Indian grandfathers, around whose lodge-fires I have passed many a winter evening, listening with parted lips and open ears to their interesting and most forcibly told tales." He was fond, too, of telling to the Indians stories which he had learned in his reading, and would for hours translate to them narratives from the Bible, and Arabian Nights, fairy stories, and other tales calculated to interest them. In return for this, they would narrate the legends of their race, and thus he obtained those traditions which he has, with such skill, woven into his book. He was always a great favorite with the Indians, not only on account of his relationship to them, but from his amiable and obliging disposition to them, and his interest in their welfare, being always anxious to help them in any way that he could.

His familiarity with the Ojibway tongue, and his popularity with that people, probably led him to adopt the profession [pg 14] of interpreter. When Rev. Alfred Brunson visited the Indians at La Pointe in the winter of 1842-3, on an embassy from the government, he selected young Warren, then seventeen years of age, as interpreter, and found him very ready and skillful. Hon. Henry M. Rice writes: "In the treaty of Fond du Lac, made by Gen. Isaac Verplank and myself in 1847, William was our interpreter. (See Statutes at Large.) He was one of the most eloquent and fluent speakers I ever heard. The Indians said he understood their language better than themselves. His command of the English language, also, was remarkable—in fact, musical."

In the summer of 1842, in his eighteenth year, Mr. Warren was married to Miss Matilda Aitkin, daughter of Wm. A. Aitkin, the well-known Indian trader, who had been educated at the Mackinaw Mission School. It was during his interpretership under I. P. Hays in 1844-45, his relatives say, that his health began to fail. Frequent exposures, long and severe winter expeditions, connected with the Indian service at that time, brought on those lung troubles, which subsequently ended his life so prematurely, after several years of suffering.

Warren came to what is now Minnesota, with his family, in the fall of 1845, first living at Crow Wing and Gull Lake, where he was employed as farmer and interpreter, by Major J. E. Fletcher, Winnebago agent, then also in charge of the Mississippi Ojibways. He was also employed as interpreter in the attempted removal of the Lake Superior Indians under J. S. Watrous — an act which he did not, however, approve of. After a year or two he established a home at Two Rivers, now in Morrison Co. In the fall of 1850, he was nominated and elected as a member of the Legislature from the district in which he lived — a district embracing more than one-half the present area of the State. In January following (1851), he appeared [pg 15] at St. Paul, and took his seat as a member of the House of Representatives. Up to this time he had been quite unknown to the public men and pioneers of the Territory, but by his engaging manners, and frank, candid disposition, soon won a large circle of friends.

Col. D. A. Robertson, of St. Paul, contributes the following reminiscence of Mr. Warren at this period: "I became acquainted with young Warren in the fall of 1850. I had shortly before established in St. Paul 'The Minnesota Democrat' newspaper. At the date mentioned, some one introduced Mr. Warren to me, and wishing to learn what I could regarding the customs, belief, and history of the Ojibways, I questioned him on these points, and he very lucidly and eloquently gave me the desired information. I was much pleased with him, and talked with him a great deal, at that and other times, on the subject. I was amazed at his information in regard to the Ojibway myths, as well as pleased with his style of narrative, so clear and graphic, which, with his musical voice, made his recitals really engrossing. I asked him, 'how did you get these myths?' He replied, from the old men of the tribe, and that he would go considerable distances sometimes to see them — that they always liked to talk with him about those matters, and that he would make notes of the principal points. He said this was a favorite pastime and pursuit of his. He had not at this time, it seems, attempted to write out anything connected, and the matter which he had written down was not much more than notes, or memoranda.

"In January, 1851, Mr. Warren took his seat as a member of the Legislature, and I renewed my talks with him about the Ojibway legends. I then said to him, write me out some articles on this subject, to which he consented, and began to do so during his leisure moments, when not engaged in the Legislature. He had up to that [pg 16] time, probably had little or no practice in writing such things, but soon acquired a good style. The first of his papers, or articles, was printed in the Democrat, Feb. 25, 1851, an article of several columns, entitled, 'a brief history of the Ojibways in Minnesota, as obtained from their old men.' This was followed by other chapters during the same year. These sketches took well, and seemed to please all who read them. I finally suggested to him that if he would gather them up, and with the other material which he had, work them into a book, it would sell readily, and possibly secure him some profits. The idea seemed to please him, and I am certain it never occurred to him before. He at once set about it, and from time to time when I saw him during the next two years, he assured me he was making good progress. At this period he was in poor health and much discouraged at times, suffering from occasional hemorrhages, as well as from financial straitness.

"During all my intercourse with Mr. Warren, for two or three years, I never saw the least blemish in his character. His habits were scrupulously correct, and his morals seemed unsullied. He appeared candid and truthful in everything, and of a most amiable disposition. Though about that time he was bitterly assailed by some whose schemes regarding the Indians he had opposed, he never spoke of them with any bitterness, but kindly, gently, and forgivingly. In fact, I never heard him speak ill of any one."

Mr. Warren's widow, now Mrs. Fontaine, of White Earth, states that when he had once set about writing his projected book, he pursued his work with an ardor that rapidly undermined his already feeble health. He read, studied, and wrote early and late, whenever his official duties or absence from home did not prevent, and even when suffering from pain and debility. During this period, a correspondent [pg 17] of "The Minnesota Democrat," who visited Mr. Warren, writes thus under date March 17, 1852: —

"I write you from a most lovely spot, the residence of my friend, Hon. W. W, Warren. Mr. Warren's house stands directly opposite the mouths of the two small rivers which empty into the Mississippi on the western side, a short distance apart, and hence the name, 'Two Rivers.' Opposite this point, in the river, is an island of great beauty of appearance. Nearby are countless sugar trees from which, last spring, Mr. Warren manufactured upwards of one thousand pounds of fine sugar. During my short sojourn here, I have been the attentive listener to many legendary traditions connected with the Chippewas, which Mr. Warren has, at my request, been kind enough to relate. They have been to me intensely interesting. He appears to be perfectly familiar with the history of these noted Indians from time immemorial.... Their language is his own, and I am informed that he speaks it with even more correctness and precision than they do themselves. This is doubtless true... As I write, he is conversing with Esh-ke-bug-e-coshe, or Flat Mouth, the far-famed old chief of the Pillagers. This old chief and warrior, now 78 years of age, has performed his long journey from Leech Lake, to visit 'his grandson,' as he calls Mr. Warren."

Much interest was felt at this period among Mr. Warren's personal friends, especially among such as had devoted any attention to the study of the Indian races, regarding his proposed publication, and he had the good wishes of all who knew him for its success, as well as their sympathies on account of his health and his pecuniary straits. In the preparation of his book, also (and he mentions this fact in his preface), he was much embarrassed for want of the works of other authors to refer to, for there were no public libraries in Minnesota at that time, while his lack [pg 18] of means prevented him from purchasing the desired books himself. It is gratifying to be able to state however, that some of his friends who felt an interest in him and his proposed work, generously aided him at this juncture. Among these should be prominently mentioned Hon. Henry M. Rice, to whose liberal help is probably owing the completion of the work, and into whose hands it subsequently passed, to be by him ultimately donated to this Society.

In the winter of 1852-63, Mr. Warren completed his manuscript, and in the latter part of the winter, proceeded to New York, in hopes of getting the work published there. He had also another object, to secure medical treatment for his rapidly failing health. In both objects he was doomed to disappointment. The physicians whom he consulted, failed to give him any relief, or but little encouragement, while the publishers to whom he applied would only agree to issue his work on the payment by him of a considerable sum. Believing that some of his friends in Minnesota, who had always expressed an interest in the work, might advance such aid, Mr. Warren resolved to return home and lay the case before them. There is little doubt that had he lived to do so, he would have promptly secured the means required. He reached St. Paul on his way home, in the latter part of May, 1853, very much exhausted. He went to the residence of his sister Charlotte, (Mrs. E. B. Price) and was intending to start for Two Rivers on the morning of June 1. Early on the morning of that day, however, he was attacked with a violent hemorrhage, and in a short time expired. His funeral took place the following day. Rev. E. D. Neill officiating, and the remains were laid to rest in the cemetery at St. Paul.

Thus was untimely cut off, at the early age of 28 years, one who, had his life and health been spared, would have made important contributions to the knowledge which we [pg 19] possess regarding the history, customs, and religion of the aboriginal inhabitants of Minnesota. He had projected at least two other works, as noted in his preface, and it is believed that he had the material, and the familiarity with the subject, to have completed them in a thorough manner.

The news of Mr. Warren's death was received with much sorrow by a large circle of friends, and especially by the Ojibways, to whom he was much endeared, and whom he had always so unselfishly befriended. They had always placed the most implicit confidence in him, and knew that he could be relied on. His generosity in sharing with them anything that he had, was one cause of his straitened circumstances.

His death was noticed by the press with just and appropriate eulogies. A memoir in the Democrat, July 6, 1853, written by the late Wm. H. Wood, Esq., of Sauk Rapids, says: —

"From his kindly and generous nature, he has ever been a favorite, especially with chiefs and old men. He spoke their language with a facility unknown even to themselves, and permitted no opportunity to pass, of learning from the old men of the nation, its history, customs and beliefs. He delighted to listen to their words. Often has the writer of this tribute found him seated at the foot of an old oak, with Flat Mouth, the Pillager chief, noting down upon paper the incidents of the old man's eventful life, as he related them. Having, by his steadfast friendship to the Indians, won their confidence, they fully communicated to him, not only the true history of their wars, as seen by themselves, and as learned from tradition, but also that of their peculiar religious beliefs, rites and ceremonies. Perhaps no man in the United States was so well acquainted with the interior life of the Indian, as was Mr. Warren, He studied it long and thoroughly. Investing [pg 20] Indian life with a romance perhaps too little appreciated by less imaginative minds, he devoted himself to the work of preparing and unfolding it, with a poet's enthusiasm.

"Thus animated, he could not be otherwise than enthusiastically attached to the Indians and their interests, and so he was. He was their true friend. While from the treachery of some and the cupidity of others, the Indians were often left with apparently no prospect but sudden destruction, in Mr. Warren they never failed of finding a brother, by whose kinds words of encouragement and sympathy, their hearts were ever gladdened. In his endeavors to contribute to their happiness, he sacrificed all personal interests and convenience, he, with his wife and children, often dividing with them their last morsel of subsistence. With a true philanthropist's heart, he literally went about among them doing good."

Of the four children born to Mr. Warren and his wife, two survive, a son, William Tyler Warren, and a daughter, Mrs. Madeline Uran, both residing on White Earth Reservation, Minn.

He was a firm believer in the truths of the Christian faith, and was a regular and interested student of the sacred Scriptures. He was accustomed, in his intercourse with the Indians, to enjoin upon them the duty and advantage of accepting the religion taught them by the missionaries, and it is believed that his advice had good effect upon them.

I must not close this imperfectly performed task, without acknowledging my obligations to Hon. H. M. Rice, Col. D. A. Robertson, Mrs. Elizabeth Ayer, Rev. W. T. Boutwell, and especially to Truman A. Warren, of White Earth, and Mrs. Mary C. [Warren] English, of Red Lake, for material and aid kindly furnished me in its preparation.

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[pg 23]


The red race of North America is fast disappearing before the onward resistless tread of the Anglo-Saxon. Once the vast tract of country lying between the Atlantic sea-board and the broad Mississippi, where a century since roamed numerous tribes of the wild sons of Nature, but a few — a very few, remnants now exist. Their former domains are now covered with the teeming towns and villages of the "pale face" and millions of happy free-men now enjoy the former home of these unhappy and fated people.

The few tribes and remnants of tribes who still exist on our western frontiers, truly deserve the sympathy and attention of the American people. We owe it to them as a duty, for are we not now the possessors of their former inheritance? Are not the bones of their ancestors sprinkled through the soil on which are now erected our happy homesteads? The red man has no powerful friends (such as the enslaved negro can boast), to rightly represent his miserable, sorrowing condition, his many wrongs, his wants and wishes. In fact, so feebly is the voice of philanthropy raised in his favor, that his existence appears to be hardly known to a large portion of the American people, or his condition and character has been so misrepresented [pg 24] that it has failed to secure the sympathy and help which he really deserves. We do not fully understand the nature and character of the Red Race. The Anglo-Americans have pressed on them so unmercifully — their intercourse with them has been of such a nature, that they have failed to secure their love and confidence.

1 Written in 1852, before the emancipation of negroes in the Southern States of the Republic.— E. D. N.

The heart of the red man has been shut against his white brother. We know him only by his exterior. We have judged of his manners and customs, and of his religious rights and beliefs, only from what we have seen. It remains yet for us to learn how these peculiar rites and beliefs originated, and to fathom the motives and true character of these anomalous people.

Much has been written concerning the red race by missionaries, travellers and some eminent authors; but the information respecting them which has thus far been collected, is mainly superficial. It has been obtained mostly by transient sojourners among the various tribes, who not having a full knowledge of their character and language, have obtained information through mere temporary observation — through the medium of careless and imperfect interpreters, or have taken the accounts of unreliable persons.

Notwithstanding all that has been written respecting these people since their discovery, yet the field for research, to a person who understands the subject, is still vast and almost limitless. And under the present condition of the red race, there is no time to lose. Whole tribes are daily disappearing, or are being so changed in character through a close contact with an evil white population, that their history will forever be a blank. There are but a few tribes residing west of the Mississippi and over its headwaters, who are comparatively still living in their primitive state — cherishing the beliefs, rites, customs, and traditions of their forefathers.

[pg 25] Among these may be mentioned the Ojibway, who are at the present day, the most numerous and important tribe of the formerly wide extended Algic family of tribes. They occupy the area of Lake Superior and the sources of the Mississippi, and as a general fact, they still live in the ways of their ancestors. Even among these, a change is so rapidly taking place, caused by a close contact with the white race, that ten years hence it will be too late to save the traditions of their forefathers from total oblivion. And even now, it is with great difficulty that genuine information can be obtained of them. Their aged men are fast falling into their graves, and they carry with them the records of the past history of their people; they are the initiators of the grand rite of religious belief which they believe the Great Spirit has granted to his red children to secure them long life on earth, and life hereafter; and in the bosoms of these old men are locked up the original causes and secrets of this, their most ancient belief.

The writer of the following pages was born, and has passed his lifetime, among the Ojibways of Lake Superior and the Upper Mississippi. His ancestors on the maternal side, have been in close connection with this tribe for the past one hundred and fifty years. Speaking their language perfectly, and connected with them through the strong ties of blood, he has ever felt a deep interest in their welfare and fate, and has deemed it a duty to save their traditions from oblivion, and to collect every fact concerning them, which the advantages he possesses have enabled him to procure.

The following pages are the result of a portion of his researches; the information and facts contained therein have been obtained during the course of several years of inquiry, and great care has been taken that nothing but the truth and actual fact should be presented to the reader.

[pg 26] In this volume, the writer has confined himself altogether to history; giving an account of the principal events which have occurred to the Ojibways within the past five centuries, as obtained from the lips of their old men and chiefs who are the repositories of the traditions of the tribe.

Through the somewhat uncertain manner in which the Indians count time, the dates of events which have occurred to them since their discovery, may differ slightly from those which have been given us by the early Jesuits and travellers, and endorsed by present standard historians as authentic.

Through the difficulty of obtaining the writings of the early travellers, in the wild country where the writer compiled this work, he has not had the advantage of rectifying any discrepancies in time or date which may occur in the oral information of the Indians, and the more authentic records of the whites.

The following work may not claim to be well and elaborately written, as it cannot be expected that a person who has passed most of his life among the wild Indians, even beyond what may be termed the frontiers of civilization, can wield the pen of an Irving or a Schoolcraft. But the work does claim to be one of truth, and the first work written from purely Indian sources, which has probably ever been presented to the public. Should the notice taken of it, by such as feel an interest in the welfare of the red race, warrant a continuation of his labors in this broad field of inquiry, the writer presents this volume as the first of a series.

He proposes in another work to present the customs, beliefs, and rites of the Ojibways as they are, and to give the secret motives and causes thereof, also giving a complete exposition of their grand religious rite, accompanied with the ancient and sacred hieroglyphics pertaining [pg 27] thereto, with their interpretation, specimens of their religions idiom, their common language, their song. Also their creed of spiritualism or communion with spirits, and jugglery which they have practiced for ages, and which resembles in many respects the creed and doctrines of the clairvoyants and spiritualists who are making such a stir in the midst of our most enlightened and civilized communities. Those who take an interest in the Indian, and are trying to study out his origin, will find much in these expositions which may tend to elucidate the grand mystery of their past.

Succeeding this, the writer proposes, if his precarious health holds out, and life is spared to him, to present a collection of their mythological traditions, on many of which their peculiar beliefs are founded. This may be termed the "Indian Bible." The history of their eccentric grand incarnation — the great uncle of the red man — whom they term Man-abo-sho, would fill a volume of itself, which would give a more complete insight into their real character, their mode of thought and expression, than any book which can be written concerning them.

A biography of their principal chiefs, and most noted warriors, would also form an interesting work.

The writer possesses not only the will, but every advantage requisite to procure information for the completion of this series of works. But whether he can devote his time and attention to the subject fully, depends on the help and encouragement he may receive from the public, and from those who may feel an anxiety to snatch from oblivion what may be yet learned of the fast disappearing red race.

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Divisions among the aboriginal Inhabitants of North America—The Algic family of tribes — Their geographical position at the time of the discovery— Their gradual disappearance, and remarks on their present fate—Ojibways form the most numerous tribe of the Algics—The names, with their significations, of the principal tribes of this family — Causes of the difference in their several idioms — The importance of the Totemic division among the Algics — Origin of the name Ojibway—Present geographical position of the Ojibways — Their numbers and principal villages — Subdivisions of the tribe— Nature and products of their country — Present mode of livelihood.

Before entering into the details of their past history, it is necessary that the writer should give a brief account of the present position and numbers of the Ojibways, and the connection existing between them and other tribes of the American Indians residing in their vicinity, within the limits of the United States, Canada, and the British possessions.

Reliable and learned authors who have made the aboriginal race of America an object of deep study and research, have arrived at the conclusion, that the numerous tribes into which they are divided, belong not to the same primitive family or generic stock, but are to be ranged under several well-defined heads or types. The well marked and total difference found existing between their several languages, has been the principal and guiding rule [pg 30] under which they have been ethnologically divided, one type or family from another.

The principal and most numerous of these several primitive stocks, comprising a large group of still existing tribes, have been euphoniously named by Henry R. Schoolcraft, with the generic term of Algic, derived from the word Algonquin, a name given by the early French discoverers to a tribe of this family living on the St. Lawrence River, near Quebec, whose descendants are now residing, partially civilized, at the Lake of the Two Mountains, in Canada.

Judging from their oral traditions, and the specimens of their different languages which have been made public by various writers, travellers, and missionaries, nearly every tribe originally first discovered by the Europeans residing on the shores of the Atlantic, from the Gulf of St Lawrence, south to the mouth of the James River in Virginia, and the different tribes occupying the vast area lying west and northwest of this eastern boundary to the banks of the Mississippi, from the mouth of the Ohio to Hudson Bay, belong to the Algic family. In this general area the Six Nations of New York, the Wyandots, and formerly the Winnebagoes, who, however, now reside west of the Mississippi, are the principal exceptions.

The red men who first greeted our Pilgrim Fathers on the rock-bound coast of Plymouth, and who are so vitally connected with their early history, were Algics. The people who treated with the good William Penn for the site of the present great city of Philadelphia, and who named him "me guon," meaning in the Ojibway language "a pen" or feather, were of the Algic stock.

The tribes over whom Pow-hat-tan (signifying "a dream") ruled as chief, and who are honored in the name of Po-ca-hon-tas (names so closely connected with that of Capt. John Smith, and the early Virginia colonists), belonged to this wide-spread family, whose former possessions [pg 31] are now covered with the towns and teeming cities of millions of happy freemen. But they — where are they? Almost forgotten even in name: whole tribes have become extinct, and passed away forever — none are left but a few remnants who are lingering out a miserable existence on our far western frontiers, pressed back — moved by the so called humane policy of our great and enlightened government — where, far away from a Christian and conscientious community, they can be made the easier victims of the unprincipled money-getter, the whiskey dealer, and the licentious dregs of civilized white men who have ever been first on our frontiers, and who are ever busy demoralizing the simple Indian, hovering around them like buzzards and crows around the remains of a deer's carcass, whom the wolves have chased, killed, gorged upon, and left.

This is a strong picture, but it is nevertheless a true one. A vast responsibility rests on the American people, for if their attention is not soon turned forcibly toward the fate of his fast disappearing red brother, and the American statesmen do not soon make a vast change for the better in their present Indian policy, our nation will make itself liable, at some future day, to hear the voice of the Great Creator demanding "Cain, where is Abel, thy brother? What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground." . . .

The Ojibways form one of the principal branches of the Algic stock, and they are a well-marked type, and at present the most numerous section or tribe of this grand division of the aboriginal inhabitants of North America. Next to them in numbers and importance, rank the tribes of the O-dah-waug1 (which name means trading people), best [pg 32] known as (Ottaways), Po-da-waud-um-eeg2 (Pottawatomies) (those who keep the fire), Waub-un-uk-eeg (Delawares) (Eastern earth dwellers), Shaw-un-oag3 (Shawnees) (Southerners), O-saug-eeg (Saukies4) (those who live at the entry), [pg 33] O-dish-qoag-um-eeg (Algonquins proper), (Last water people), O-mun-o-min-eeg5 (Minominies) (Wild rice people), O-dug-am-eeg6 (Foxes), (those who live on the opposite side), O-maum-eeg7 (Miamies or Maumies), (People who live on the peninsula).

1 The Outouacs originally lived in the valley of Ottawa River, Canada, and the furs at first received by the French at Quebec and Montreal, came through them.

Duchesneau, Intendant of Canada, in one of his dispatches to France wrote: "The Outawas Indians who are divided into several tribes, and are nearest to us, are those of the greatest use, because through them we obtain beaver; and although they do not hunt generally, and have but a small portion of peltry in this country, they go in search of it to the most distant places, and exchange it for our merchandise"—N. Y. Col. Docs. ix. 160.— E. D. N.

2 The Pouteouatami, contracted by the French traders Poux, fled from the Iroquois, and the trader Nicolet, in the fall of 1634 or winter of 1635, found them in the vicinity of Green Bay, Wisconsin. After the French settled at Detroit, a portion of the tribe followed, while another band settled at St. Joseph, Michigan, and some stragglers near the present city of Milwaukee, Wis. In 1701, Ounanguisse, the Chief of the tribe, visited Montreal. In 1804, Thomas G. Anderson traded with the Pottawatomies of Milwaukee. The tribe was represented when the treaty was made in 1787, at Fort Harmer on the Muskingum, Ohio, by Governor Arthur St. Clair. By a treaty with them in October, 1832, the land around Chicago was ceded to the United States. In 1846 the different bands agreed to remove to a reservation in Kansas. In 1883 a remnant of 100 were living in Calhoun County, Michigan, but the tribe to the number of 410 persons were in the reservation in Jackson County, Kansas, while 280 wanderers were reported in Wisconsin, and 500 citizen Pottawatomies in the Indian Territory. — E, D. N.

3 The Shawnees, or Chaouanou of the French. Father Gravier in 1700 descended the Mississippi, and in the account of this voyage writes of the Chaouanoua living on a tributary of the Ohio which comes from the south-southwest, now known as the Tennessee. They now live on a reservation west of the Missouri and south of the Kansas Rivers. In 1883 they were estimated at 720 persons. — E. D. N.

4 The Sakis or Ousakis were found by the French near Green Bay, and spoke a difficult Algonquin dialect. The Jesuit Relation of 1666-7 speaks of them in these words: "As for the Ousaki, they may be called savage above all others; there are great numbers of them, but wandering in the forests without any permanent dwelling places."

The Outagomies, Renards or Foxes, driven by the Iroquois westward, and settled southwest of Green Bay, and were the allies of the Sakis. They gave the name to Fox River in Wisconsin, and for years were hostile to the French. By a treaty in 1804, the Sacs and Foxes ceded to the United States lands on both sides of the Mississippi. During the war of 1812, the Chief of the Sacs and Foxes. Black Hawk, assisted the British. In 1882 this Chief refused to comply with treaty stipulations and leave his village near Rock Island, Illinois, and after some hostilities delivered himself to the Winnebagoes at La Crosse, and they brought him to the United States authorities. After this in Sept. 21, 1832, the confederate tribes of Sacs and Foxes ceded all the eastern part of the State of Iowa. By a treaty of 1842, they agreed to remove to reservations on the Osage and Great Nemaha Rivera. For thirty years nearly all the Fox tribe have lived in Tama County, Iowa, and in 1883, 368 was the estimated population. In the Indian Territory a census of mixed Sacs and Foxes was made in 1883, and 437 was the number. — E. D. N.

5 The Menominies called by the French Maloumines, Maroumines, and Folles Avoines were found by the first explorers near Green Bay. In 1831 they ceded to the United States the lands between Green Bay, Lake Winnebago, and Milwaukee River. In 1848 they ceded their remaining lands In Wisconsin, and accepted a reservation above Crow Wing River In Minnesota. Upon examination they were not pleased, and gave it back, the United States giving them, from their old lands in Wisconsin, in 1854, a reservation of 432 square miles. Their number in 1883 was 1392.— E. D. N.

6 See note 3 on preceding page.

7 The Miamis, called by the French Oumamls, Oumamik, Miamioueck and Oumiamis, the prefix Ou being equivalent to the definite article in English, were composed of several bands. D'Iberville in 1701 mentions that they were 500 families in number. They belonged to the Illinois confederacy. In 1705 some of them were dwelling at St. Joseph and Detroit, Michigan. In 1751 they were on the Wabash. Selling their lands to the United States, with the exception of a few on Eel River, Indiana, the Miamis went to a reservation on the Osage River. They have dwindled down to 61 persons who live in the Indian Territory.— E. D. N.

Ke-nis-te-noag (Crees).

Omush-ke-goag (Musk-e-goes), (Swamp people).

These names are given in plural as pronounced by the Ojibways; annexed are their different significations.

The names of many lesser tribes, but who are now almost extinct, could be added to the catalogue. It has been assumed, however, that enough have been named to show the importance of the Algic family or group of tribes. It is supposed, through a similarity of language with the Ojibways, lately discovered, that the numerous and powerful tribe of the Blackfeet, occupying the northwestern prairies at the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains, [pg 34] above the head of the Missouri, also form a branch of this family.

The Ojibways term them Pe-gan-o, and know the Missouri River by the same name.

The difference between all these kindred tribes consists mostly in their speaking different dialects or idioms of the same generic language; between some of the tribes the difference lies mostly in the pronunciation, and between none of them is the difference of speech so wide, but a direct and certain analogy and affinity can be readily traced to connect them.

These variances occurring in the grammatical principles and pronunciation of their cognate dialects, has doubtless been caused by the different tribes occupying positions isolated from one another throughout the vast area of country over which they have been spread, in many instances separated by long distances, and communication being cut off by intervening hostile tribes.

The writer asserts positively, and it is believed the fact will surprise many who have made these Indians an object of inquiry and research, that the separation of the Algics into all these different and distinct tribes, is but a secondary division, which can be reached and accounted for, in their oral traditions: a division which has been caused by domestic quarrels, wide separations, and non-intercourse for generations together, brought about through various causes.

The first and principal division, and certainly the most ancient, is that of blood and kindred, embodied and rigidly enforced in the system which we shall denominate Totemic. The Algics as a body are divided into several grand families or clans, each of which is known and perpetuated by a symbol of some bird, animal, fish, or reptile which they denominate the Totem or Do-daim (as the Ojibways pronounce it) and which is equivalent, in some respects, to [pg 35] the coat of arms of the European nobility. The Totem descends invariably in the male line, and inter-marriages never take place between persons of the same symbol or family, even, should they belong to different and distinct tribes, as they consider one another related by the closest ties of blood and call one another by the nearest terms of consanguinity.

Under the head of "The Totemic System" this peculiar and important division of the Algics will be more fully explained and illustrated. It is mentioned here only to show the close ties which exist between the Ojibway and the other tribes, who belong with them to the same generic stock.

We have in the preceding remarks briefly explained the general connection which the Ojibways bear with other tribes, and indicated the grand section of which they form a principal part or branch. We will now more particularly treat of them, as a separate tribe, and state their present geographical position, numerical force, and intertribal divisions.

A few remarks will not be inappropriate respecting the definition of their tribal name.

Mr. Henry R. Schoolcraft, the learned author on Indians, who has written much concerning this tribe, says in one of his works: " They call themselves Od-jib-wag, which is the plural of Od-jib-wa — a term which appears to denote a peculiarity in their voice or manner of utterance." In another place he intimates that the word is derived from "bwa" denoting voice. From this, the writer, through his knowledge of the language, is constrained to differ, though acknowledging that so far as the mere word may be regarded, Mr. Schoolcraft has given what, in a measure, may be considered a natural definition; it is, however, improbable, for the reason that there is not the slightest perceivable pucker or "drawing up," in their manner of utterance, [pg 36] as the word O-jib would indicate. The word ojib or Ojibwa, means literally "puckered, or drawn up." The answer of their old men when questioned respecting the derivation of their tribal name, is generally evasive; when hard pressed, and surmises given them to go by, they assent in the conclusion that the name is derived from a peculiarity in the make or fashion of their moccasin, which has a puckered seam lengthways over the foot, and which is termed amongst themselves, and in other tribes, the O-jib-wa moccasin.

There is, however, another definition which the writer is disposed to consider the true one, and which has been corroborated to him by several of their most reliable old men.

The word is composed of O-jib, "pucker up," and ub-way, "to roast," and it means, "To roast till puckered up."

It is well authenticated by their traditions, and by the writings of their early white discoverers, that before they became acquainted with, and made use of the fire arm and other European deadly weapons of war, instead of their primitive bow and arrow and war-club, their wars with other tribes were less deadly, and they were more accustomed to secure captives, whom under the uncontrolled feeling incited by aggravated wrong, and revenge for similar injuries, they tortured by fire in various ways.

The name of Ab-boin-ug (roasters), which the Ojibways have given to the Dahcotas or Sioux, originate in their roasting their captives, and it is as likely that the word Ojibwa (to roast till puckered up), originated in the same manner. They have a tradition which will be given under the head of their wars with the Foxes, which is told by their old men as giving the origin of the practice of torturing by fire, and which will fully illustrate the meaning of their tribal name. The writer is even of the [pg 37] opinion that the name is derived from a circumstance which forms part of the tradition.1

The name does not date far back. As a race or distinct people they denominate themselves A-wish-in-aub-ay.

The name of the tribe has been most commonly spelt, Chippeway, and is thus laid down in our different treaties with them, and officially used by our Government

Mr. Schoolcraft presents it as Od-jib-wa, which is nearer the name as pronounced by themselves. The writer, however, makes use of O-jib-way as being simpler spelled, and embodying the truest pronunciation; where it is ended with wa as in Schoolcraft's spelling, the reader would naturally mispronounce it in the plural, which by adding the s, would spell was whereas by ending the word with y preserves its true pronunciation both in singular and plural. These are slight reasons for the slight variance, but as the writer has made it a rigid rule to present all his Indian words and names as they themselves pronounce them, he will be obliged often to differ from many long received O-jib-way terms, which have, from time to time, been presented by standard writers and travellers.

The O-jib-ways are scattered over, and occupy a large extent of country comprising all that portion of the State of Michigan lying north of Green Bay and west of the Straits of Michilirnackinac, bordering on Lake Superior, the northern half of Wisconsin and the northeastern half of Minnesota Territory. Besides this they occupy the country lying from the Lake of the Woods, over the entire north coast of Lake Superior, to the falls of St. Mary's and extending even east of this point into Upper Canada. They literally girdle the great "Father of Lakes," and the largest body of fresh water in the world may emphatically be called their own, Ke-che-gum-me, or " Great Water."

1 For other views as to the meaning of Ojibway, see another article in this volume.

[pg 38] They occupy, through conquest in war against the Dahcotas, all those numerous lakes from which the Mississippi and the Red River of the North derive their sources.

They number, scattered in different bands and villages over this wide domain, about fifteen thousand souls; including many of their people interspersed amongst other tribes, and being isolated from the main body, on the Missouri, in Canada and northward amongst the Crees and Assineboins, the tribe would probably number full twenty thousand souls.

Of this number, about nine thousand live within the limits of the United States, locally divided as follows:—

In Michigan, at their village of Bow-e-ting (Sault Ste Marie), We-qua-dong (Ance-ke-we-naw), and Ga-ta-ge-te-gaun-ing (Vieux Desert), they number about one thousand.

In the State of "Wisconsin, residing at La Pointe, and on the Wisconsin, Chippeway, and St. Croix Rivers, and their tributary streams and lakes, they number three thousand.

In the territory of Minnesota, residing at Fond du Lac, at Mille Lac, Gull Lake, Sandy Lake, Rabbit Lake, Leech, Ottertail, Red, Cass, Winnepeg, and Rainy Lake and Portage, they count full five thousand souls.

The tribe is subdivided into several sections, each of which is known by a name derived from some particular vocation, or peculiar mode of procuring food, or other characteristic.

Thus, those of the tribe who live on the immediate shores of Lake Superior are known by the name of Ke-che-gum-me-win-in-e-wug (Men of the Great Water). Those residing in the midland country, between Lake Superior and the Mississippi, are named Be-ton-uk-eeng-ain-ub-e-jig (Those who sit on the borders).

With these, are incorporated the Mun-o-min-ik-a-sheenh-ug (Rice makers), who live on the Rice lakes of the St. [pg 39] Croix River; also the Wah-suah-gun-e-win-in-e-wug (Men of the torches), who live on the Head lakes of the Wisconsin, and the Ottawa lake men, who occupy the headwaters of Chippeway River.

The bands residing immediately on the banks of the Mississippi are named Ke-che-se-be-win-in-e-wug (Great river men); those residing in Leech and Ottertail lakes, are known as Muk-me-dua-win-in-e-wug (Pillagers). A large body living on the north coast of Lake Superior, are named Sag-waun-dug-ah-win-in-e-wug (Men of the thick fir woods). The French have denominated them "Bois forts" (hardwoods).

These are the principal divisions of the Ojibway tribe, and there are some marked and peculiar differences existing between them, which enable one who is well acquainted with them, to tell readily to which division each man in the tribe belongs. The language is the same with all of them.

These several general divisions are again subdivided into smaller bands, having their villages on the bank of some beautiful lake or river, from which, again, as bands, they derive names.1

It is unnecessary, however, to enter into minute details, as the only object of this chapter is to give the reader a general knowledge of the people whose history we propose to present in the following chapters.

The O-jib-ways reside almost exclusively in a wooded country; their lands are covered with deep and interminable forests, abounding in beautiful lakes and murmuring streams, whose banks are edged with trees of the sweet maple, the useful birch, the tall pine, fir balsam, cedar, spruce, tamarac, poplar, oak, ash, elm, basswood, and [pg 40] all the plants indigenous to the climate in which they reside.

1 For a late census of the Ojibways, see the article in this volume, "History of the Ojibways based upon official and other records."

Their country is so interspersed with watercourses, that they travel about, up and down streams, from lake to lake, and along the shores of Lake Superior, in their light and ingeniously made birch-bark canoes. From the bark of this useful tree, and rushes, are made the light covering of their simple wigwams.

The bands who live on the extreme western borders of their country, reside on the borders of the vast western prairies, into which they have gradually driven the fierce Dahcotas. The Red Lake and Pembina bands, and also the Pillagers, hunt buffalo and other game on the prairies west of the Red River: thus, as it were, standing one foot on the deep eastern forests, and the other on the broad western prairies.

The O-jib-ways, with the exception of a few Lake Superior and Canada bands, live still in their primitive hunter state.

They have ceded to the United States and Great Britain large and valuable portions of their country, comprising most of the copper regions on Lake Superior and the vast Pineries in Wisconsin. From the scanty proceeds of these sales, with the fur of the marten, bear, otter, mink, lynx, coon, fisher, and muskrat, which are yet to be found in their forests, they manage to continue to live in the ways of their forefathers, though but poorly and scantily.

They procure food principally by fishing, also by gathering wild rice, hunting deer, and, in some bands, partially by agriculture.

[pg 41]



There is nothing so worthy of observation and study, in the peculiar customs and usages of the Algic type of the American aborigines, as their well-defined partition into several grand clans or families.

This stock comprises a large group of tribes, distinct from each other, not only in name and locality, but also in the manner of uttering their common generic language. Yet this division, though an important one and strongly defined, is but a sub-division, which has been caused by domestic quarrels, necessity, or caprice, and perpetuated by long and wide separations and non-intercourse. These causes are related in their traditions, even where the greatest variance is found to exist between tribes. The separation does not date many centuries back. The first grand division is that of blood and kindred, which has been perpetuated amongst the different tribes by what they call the Totemic System, and dates back to the time "when the Earth was new."

[pg 42] Each grand family is known by a badge or symbol, taken from nature; being generally a quadruped, bird, fish, or reptile. The badge or Dodaimr (Totem, as it has been most commonly written), descends invariably in the male line; marriage is strictly forbidden between individuals of the same symbol. This is one of the greatest sins that can be committed in the Ojibway code of moral laws, and tradition says that in former times it was punishable with death.1

1 In the Iroquois Book of Rites, edited by Horatio Hale, Number 2 of Brinton's Library of Aboriginal American Literature, there is the following statement, pp. 51, 52, as to the clan system.

"There are many indications which seem to show that the system Is merely an artificial arrangement instituted for social convenience. It is natural, in the sense, that the desire for association is natural to man. The sentiment is one which manifests itself alike in all stages of society. The guilds of the Middle Ages, the Masonic and other secret brotherhoods, religious organizations, trade unions, clubs, and even political parties, are all manifestations of this associative instinct. The Indian clan was simply a brotherhood or aggregate of persons, united by a common tie. What the founders of the Iroquois league did, was to extend this system of social alliances through the entire confederacy. The Wolf clans-man of the Caniengas is deemed a brother of the Wolf clans-man of the Senecas, though originally there may have been no special connection between them."— E. D. N.

In the present somewhat degenerated times, when persons of the same Totem intermarry (which even now very seldom occurs), they become objects of reproach. It is an offence equivalent among the whites to the sin of a man marrying his own sister.

In this manner is the blood relationship strictly preserved among the several clans in each tribe, and is made to extend amongst the different tribes who claim to derive their origin from the same general root or stock, still perpetuating this ancient custom.

An individual of any one of the several Totems belonging to a distinct tribe, as for instance, the Ojibway, is a close blood relation to all other Indians of the same Totem, both in his own and all other tribes, though he may be [pg 43] divided from them by a long vista of years, interminable miles, and knows not even of their existence.

I am not possessed of sufficient general information respecting all the different groups of tribes in America, to enable me to state positively that the Algics are the only stock who have perpetuated and still recognize this division into families, nor have I even data sufficient to state that the Totemic System is as rigidly kept up among other tribes of the Algonquins, as it is among the Ojibways, Ottaways, and Potta-wat-om-ies,

From personal knowledge and inquiry, I can confidently assert that among the Dakotas the system is not known. There are a few who claim the Water Spirit or Merman as a symbol, but they are the descendants of Ojibways who have in former times of peace intermarried with them. The system among the Winnebagoes, which somewhat resembles this, they have borrowed or derived from the Ojibways during their long intercourse with them while residing about Green Bay and other portions of the present State of Wisconsin.

From these and many other facts which shall be enumerated, the writer is disposed to consider, and therefore presents, the Totemic division as more important and worthy of more consideration than has generally been accorded to it by standard authors who have studied and written respecting the Indians.

The Ojibways acknowledge in their secret beliefs, and teachings to each successive generation, five original Totems. The tradition in which this belief is embodied, is known only to their chief Medas, or priests. It is like all their ancient traditions, vague and unsatisfactory, but such as it is, I will here present it — verbatim — as I received it.

"When the Earth was new, the An-ish-in-aub-ag lived, congregated on the shores of a great salt water. From the [pg 44] bosom of the great deep there suddenly appeared six beings in human form, who entered their wigwams.

One of these six strangers kept a covering over his eyes, and he dared not look on the An-ish-in-aub-ag, though he showed the greatest anxiety to do so. At last he could no longer restrain his curiosity, and on one occasion he partially lifted his veil, and his eye fell on the form of a human being, who instantly fell dead as if struck by one of the thunderers. Though the intentions of this dread being were friendly to the An-ish-in-aub-ag, yet the glance of his eye was too strong, and inflicted certain death. His fellows, therefore, caused him to return into the bosom of the great water from which they had apparently emerged.

The others, who now numbered five, remained with the An-ish-in-aub-ag, and became a blessing to them; from them originate the five great clans or Totems, which are known among the Ojibways by the general terms of A-waus-e, Bus-in-aus-e, Ah-ah-wauk, Noka, and Monsone, or Waub-ish-ash-e. These are cognomens which are used only in connection with the Totemic system.

Though, according to this tradition, there were but five totems originally, yet, at the present day, the Ojibway tribe consists of no less than fifteen or twenty families, each claiming a different badge, as follows:—

1. Uj-e-jauk,Crane.
2. Man-um-aig, Catfish.
3. Mong, Loon.
4. Muk-wah, Bear.
5. Waub-ish-ash-e, Marten.
6. Addick, Rein Deer.
7. Mah-een-gun, Wolf.
8. Ne-baun-aub-ay, Merman.
9. Ke-noushay, Pike.
10. Be-sheu, Lynx.
11. Me-gizzee, Eagle.
12. Che-she-gwa, Rattlesnake.
13. Mous, Moose.
14. Muk-ad-a-shib, Black Duck or Cormorant
15. Ne-kah, Goose.
16. Numa-bin, Sucker.
17. Numa, Sturgeon.
18. Ude-kumaig, White Fish.
19. Amik, Beaver.
20. Gy-aushk, Gull.
21. Ka-kaik, Hawk.

[pg 45] I have here given a list of every badge that is known as a family totem among the Ojibways throughout their widespread villages and bands.

The crane, catfish, bear, marten, wolf, and loon, are the principal families, not only in a civil point of view, but in numbers, as they comprise eight-tenths of the whole tribe. Many of these Totems are not known to the tribe in general, and the writer has learned them only through close inquiry. Among these may be named the goose, beaver, sucker, sturgeon, gull, hawk, cormorant, and white-fish totems. They are only known on the remotest northern boundaries of the Ojibway country, among the Musk-keeg-oes and "Bois Forts."

The old men of the Ojibways whom I have particularly questioned on this subject, affirm that all these different badges are only subdivisions of the five great original totems of the An-ish-in-aub-ag, who have assumed separate minor badges, without losing sight or remembrance of the main stock or family to which they belong. These divisions have been gradually taking place, caused in the same manner as the division into distinct tribes. They are easily classed under the five great heads, the names of which we have given.

Aish-ke-bug-e-coshe, the old and reliable head chief of the Pillager and Northern Ojibways, has rendered me [pg 46] much information on this subject. He is the present living recognized head of the great A-waus-e family. He says that this clan claim the Me-she-num-aig-way (immense fish) which, according to their description, is equivalent or analogical, to the Leviathan mentioned in the Bible. This being is also one of the Spirits recognized in their grand Me-da-we rite. This clan comprises the several branches who claim the Catfish, Merman, Sturgeon, Pike, Whitefish, and Sucker Totems, and in fact, all the totems of the fish species may be classed under this general head. This family are physically noted for being long lived, and for the scantiness and fineness of their hair, especially in old age; if you see an old Indian of this tribe with a bald head, you may be certain that he is an A-waus-e.

Tradition says that many generations ago, all the different clans of the tribe, with the exception of the Ah-ah-wank, formed a league and made war on the Aw-aus-e with the intent to exterminate them. But the Aw-aus-e family proved too strong for their united brethren and prevailed against their efforts, and ever since this event, they have claimed a certain pre-eminence over them in the councils of the tribe. They also claim, that of the six beings who emerged from the great water, and originated the Totems, their progenitor was the first who appeared, and was leader of the others.

Of nine thousand of the Ojibways who reside within the limits of the United States, about the shores of Lake Superior and the headwaters of the Mississippi, full one thousand belong to the Aw-aus-e family.

The Bus-in-as-see, or Crane family, are also numerous, and form an important element of the Ojibway tribe. They reside mostly on the south shores of Lake Superior and toward the east in the Canadas, though they have representatives scattered in every spot where the Ojibways [pg 47] have set foot and lighted their fires. The literal meaning of their totemic name is, "Echo-maker," derived from the word Bus-wa-wag, "Echo," and pertaining to the loud, clear, and far reaching cry of the Crane. This clan are noted as possessing naturally a loud, ringing voice, and are the acknowledged orators of the tribe; in former times, when different tribes met in councils, they acted as interpreters of the wishes of their tribe. They claim, with some apparent justice, the chieftainship over the other clans of the Ojibways. The late lamented chief Shin-ga-ba-wos-sin, who resided at Sault Ste. Marie, belonged to this family. In Gov. Lewis Cass's treaty at Prairie du Chien in 1825, he was the acknowledged head chief of his tribe, and signed his name to that treaty as such. Ah-mous (the Little Bee), the son of the late worthy chief of Lac du Flambeau, Waub-ish-gaug-aug-e (or White Crow), may now be considered as head or principal chief of this family.

The old war chief Ba-be-sig-aun-dib-ay (Curly Head), whose name is linked with the history of his tribe, and who died on his way returning home from the Treaty of Prairie du Chien above mentioned, was also a Bus-in-aus-e, and the only representative of his clan amongst that section of his tribe, who so long bravely struggled with the fierce Dakotas for the mastery of the western banks of the Mississippi, which now form the home of the Winnebagoes. He was the civil and war chief of the Mississippi Ojibways. Hole-in-the-day 1st, of later notoriety, and his brother Song-uk-um-ig (Strong ground), inherited his chieftainship by his dying request, as he died childless. Weesh-e-da-mo, son of Aissance (Little Clam), late British Ojibway chief of Red River, is also a member of this family. He is a young man, but has already received two American medals, one from the hands of a colonel of our army, and the other from the hands of the Governor of Minnesota [pg 48] Territory. He is recognized by our government as chief of the Pembina section of the Ojibway tribe.

These facts are stated to show the importance of this family, and its wide extended influence over the tribe. It can be said of them that wherever they have planted their wigwam on the widespread territory of their people, they have been recognized as chieftains.

They also boast the names of Keesh-ke-mun, chief of the Lac du Flambeau section; Che-suh-yauh and "Waub-ij-e-jauk (White Crane), of La Pointe, Shaug-a-waum-ik-ong, all noted chiefs during their first intercourse with the white race.

The small clans who use the eagle as their Totem or badge, are a branch of the Bus-in-aus-e.

The Ah-ah-wauk, or loon totem, also form an important body in the Ojibway tribe; in fact, they also claim to be the chief or royal family, and one of their arguments to prove this position is that nature has placed a color [collar?] around the neck of the loon, which resembles the royal megis, or wampum, about the neck of a chief, which forms the badge of his honor. This dignity, however, is denied by the Cranes and other totems, who aver that the principal chiefs of the Ah-ah-wauk are descended from individuals who were on a certain occasion made chiefs by the French at Quebec, as will be related in the course of the following history. This family do not lack in chiefs who have acted a prominent part in the affairs of the tribe, and whose names are linked with its history.

Ke-che-waish-keenh (Great Buftalo), the respected and venerable chief of the La Pointe band, and principal chief of all the Lake Superior and Wisconsin bands, is the acknowledged head of this clan, and his importance as an individual in the tribe, strengthens the position of the Ah-ah-wauk. The chief of Sandy Lake on the upper Mississippi is also of this family. The Goose and Cormorant [pg 49] Totems are its subdivisions. The No-ka or Bear family are more numerous than any of the other clans of the Ojibways, forming fully one-sixth of the entire tribe.

In former times this numerous body was subdivided into many lesser clans, making only portions of the bear's body their Totems, as the head, the foot, the ribs, etc. They have all since united under one head, and the only shade of difference still recognized by them is the common and grizzly bear. They are the acknowledged war chiefs and warriors of the tribe, and are keepers of the war-pipe and war-club, and are often denominated the bulwarks of the tribe against its enemies.

It is a general saying, and an observable fact, amongst their fellows, that the Bear clan resemble the animal that forms their Totem in disposition. They are ill-tempered and fond of fighting, and consequently they are noted as ever having kept the tribe in difficulty and war with other tribes, in which, however, they have generally been the principal and foremost actors. They are physically noted, and the writer has observed the fact, that they are possessed of a long, thick, coarse head of the blackest hair, which seldom becomes thin or white in old age. Young Hole-in-the-day (son of the great war-chief of that name), the recognized chief of the Ojibways of the Mississippi, numbering about twelve hundred, is now [A. D. 1852] the most noted man of the No-ka family. Ka-kaik (the Hawk), of Chippeway River, and Be-she-ke (Buffalo), of Leech Lake, have extolled influence as war chiefs.

The Mah-een-gun, or Wolf totem family, are few in number, and reside mostly on the St. Croix River and at Mille Lac, They are looked upon by the tribe in general with much respect. The Ojibways of this totem derive their origin on the paternal side from the Dakotas. Na-guon-abe, the civil chief of Mille Lac, may be considered the principal man of this family. Mun-o-min-ik-a-she [pg 50] (Rice-maker), who has lately removed from the St. Croix to Mille Lac with his band, is a man of considerable importance amongst his fellows.

The Waub-ish-a-she, or Marten family, form a numerous body in the tribe, and is one of the leading clans. Tradition says that they are sprung from the remnant captives of a fierce and warlike tribe whom the coalesced Algic tribes have exterminated, and whom they denominate the Mun-dua. The chiefs Waub-ish-ash (the Marten), of Chippeway River, Shin-goob (Balsam), and Nug-aun-ub (Sitting-ahead), of Fond du Lac, are now the principal men of the clan. The celebrated Ke-che-waub-ish-ash, of Sandy Lake, Sha-wa-ke-shig, of Leech Lake, and Muk-ud-a-shib (or Black Duck), of Red River, were members of this family. In their days they conduced greatly towards wresting country from the Dakotas, and driving them westward. All three died on battle-fields — the first at Elk River fight, the second at Rum River massacre, and the third fell fighting on the western prairies against immense odds; but one out of forty, who fought with him, escaped a warrior's death.

Under the generic term of Mous-o-neeg, the families of the Marten, Moose, and Reindeer totems are included. Aish-ke-bug-e-coshe, the old Pillager chief, related to me the following tradition, accounting for the coalition or close affinity between the Moose and Marten totems:—

"The family of the Moose totem, denominated Mous-o-neeg, many centuries ago, when the Ojibways lived towards the rising sun, were numerous and powerful. They lived congregated by themselves in one great village, and were noted for their warlike and quarrelsome disposition. They were ill-tempered and proud of their strength and bravery. For some slight cause they commenced to make war on their brethren of the Marten totem. Severely suffering from the incursions, and unable to cope singly with the [pg 51] Mous-o-neeg, the Martens called together the different clans of the tribe to council, and called on them for help and protection. A general league was made between the different totems, and it was determined that the men of the obnoxious and quarrelsome family of the Moose badge should be exterminated.

"The plan for their sudden and total destruction was agreed upon, and a council lodge was ordered to be built, which was made narrow and just long enough to admit all the warriors of the Mous-o-neeg. The poles of this lodge were planted firmly and deep in the ground, and close together, and lapping over the top they were strongly twisted and fastened together. Over this frame were tied lengthways, and worked in like wicker-work, other green poles, and so close together that a man's hand could scarcely pass through any part of the frame, so close and strong was it constructed. Over this frame, and from the inside, leaving but a long narrow aperture in the top, was fastened a thick covering and lining of dried grass.

"When this lodge had been completed, runners were sent to the village of the Moose Totem family, and all their chiefs and warriors solemnly invited to a national council and feast. This summons was made in such a manner that they could not refuse, even if they so felt disposed; and on the day fixed, the chiefs and all the men of war of the refractory clan arrived in a body at the village of their mortal foes (the Martens), where the council-lodge had been built and made ready.

"They were led into the lodge, where the old men and chiefs of the tribe had collected to receive them. The Mous-o-neeg entered unarmed, and as their great numbers gradually filled the lodge, the former inmates, as if through courtesy, arose and went out to give them room. Kettles full of cooked meat were brought in and placed before them, and they were requested to eat, after the fatigues of [pg 52] their journey. They entirely filled the long lodge; and when every one had left it but themselves, and while they were busy feasting on the good things that had been placed before them, the doors at each end were suddenly closed and fastened on them. A chief of the Marten Totem then addressed them in a loud voice, repeating over all the acts of blood and wickedness which they had enacted, and informing them that for these things the national council had decreed to sweep them from the face of the earth which they polluted. The lodge was surrounded by the warriors of the Marten, who acted as executioners; torches were applied to the thick and dry covering of grass, and, struggling in the flames unable to escape, the men of the Moose Totem were dispatched with barbed arrows shot through the narrow openings between the lodge-poles that confined them. In this fearful manner were the men of this wicked clan destroyed. Their women and children were captured by the Marten family, and adopted into their clan. In this manner the close consanguinity of these two Totems commenced, and at this day they are considered as one familv."

The Reindeer family, which is a branch of the Mous-o-neeg, are few in number, and they reside mostly on the north coast of Lake Superior. The celebrated Ojibway war-leader Waub-o-jeeg (White Fisher), whom Mr. Schoolcraft has noticed in his writings at some length, was a member of this family, descended from a branch who emigrated from the Grand Portage near the mouth of Pigeon River to La Pointe, Shag-a-waum-ik-ong, where he and his father, Ma-moug-e-se-do (Big-foot), flourished nearly a century ago as war-leaders and chiefs of their people.

The other badges or totemic symbols which I have enumerated, form inconsiderable families, and are but branches of the principal clans whom I have noticed in the foregoing pages.

[pg 53] It will be difficult, till a minute insight is obtained into the totemic history and organization of all the Algic tribes, to decide fully the number of generic or grand Totems which are recognized among them, and the numeric strength of each.

This subject is deserving of close research and study. I consider it a most important link in solving the deep mystery which covers their origin. Even with the imperfect insight which has been given on this subject by different writers, an analogy cannot but be noticed existing in many respects between the totemic division of the Algics, and the division of the Hebrews into tribes. And the remarkable purity with which the system has been kept up for ages, finds no other parallel in the history of mankind.

[pg 54]



Preliminary remarks— Belief of the Ojibways respecting their origin—Belief in, and causes of a deluge — A code of religion given to them by the Great Spirit — Analysis of their name as a people — Their original beliefs have become mixed with the teaching of the old Jesuit missionaries — Difficulty of obtaining their pure beliefs — Tales which they relate to the whites, not genuine — Non-unity of the human race — Effects of disbelieving the Bible— Differences between the American aborigines — Between the Ojibways and Dakotas — Surmise of their different origin— Belief of the Ojibways in a Great Spirit— Their extreme veneration — Sacrifice — Visions of the Great Spirit — Mode of obtaining guardian or dream Spirits — Fasts and dreams— Sacrificial feasts — Grand rite of the Me-da-we-win — It is not yet understood by the whites — Misrepresented by missionaries and writers — It contains their most ancient hieroglyphics, and the most ancient idiom of their language — Rules of the Me-da-we-win — Tradition of the snake-root — Ojibway medicine sack — Custom among the Black feet bearing a resemblance to the ark and the High Priesthood of the Hebrews— Totemic division into families — Their traditions bear a similitude to Bible history — Antagonistical position between the Ojibways and Dakotas — Belief of the Ojibways in a future state — Important facts deduced there from.

I AM fully aware that many learned and able writers have given to the world their opinions respecting the origin of the aboriginal inhabitants of the American Continent, and the manner in which they first obtained a footing and populated this important section of the earth, which, for so many thousand years, remained unknown to the major portion of mankind inhabiting the Old World.

It is, however, still a matter of doubt and perplexity; it is a book sealed to the eyes of man, for the time has not yet come when the Great Ruler of all things, in His wisdom, shall make answer through his inscrutable ways to the question which has puzzled, and still puzzles the minds of the learned civilized world. How came America to be [pg 55] first inhabited by man? What branch of the great human family are its aboriginal people descended from?

Ever having lived in the wilderness, even beyond what is known as the western frontiers of white immigration, where books are scarce and difficult to be procured, I have never had the coveted opportunity and advantage of reading the opinions of the various eminent authors who have written on this subject, to compare with them the crude impressions which have gradually, and I may say naturally, obtained possession in my own mind, during my whole life, which I have passed in a close connection of residence and blood with different sections of the Ojibway tribe.

The impressions and the principal causes which have led to their formation, I now give to the public to be taken for what they are considered worth. Clashing with the received opinions of more learned writers, whose words are taken as standard authority, they may be totally rejected, in which case the satisfaction will still be left me, that before the great problem had been fully solved, I, a person in language, thoughts, beliefs, and blood, partly an Indian, had made known my crude and humble opinion.

Respecting their own origin the Ojibways are even more totally ignorant than their white brethren, for they have no Bible to tell them that God originally made Adam, from whom the whole human race is sprung. They have their beliefs and oral traditions, but so obscure and unnatural, that nothing approximating to certainty can be drawn from them. They fully believe, and it forms part of their religion, that the world has once been covered by a deluge, and that we are now living on what they term the "new earth." This idea is fully accounted for by their vague traditions; and in their Me-da-we-win or Religion, hieroglyphics are used to denote this second earth.

[pg 56] They fully believe that the Red man mortally angered the Great Spirit which caused the deluge, and at the commencement of the new earth it was only through the medium and intercession of a powerful being, whom they denominate Man-ab-o-sho, that they were allowed to exist, and means were given them whereby to subsist and support life; and a code of religion was more lately bestowed on them, whereby they could commune with the offended Great Spirit, and ward off the approach and ravages of death. This they term Me-da-we-win.

Respecting their belief of their own first existence, I can give nothing more appropriate than a minute analysis of the name which they have given to their race — An-ish-in-aub-ag. This expressive word is derived from An-ish-aw, meaning without cause, or "spontaneous," and in-aub-a-we-se, meaning the "human body." The word An-ish-in-aub-ag, therefore, literally translated, signifies "spontaneous man."

Henry R. Schoolcraft (who has apparently studied this language, and has written respecting this people more than any other writer, and whose works as a whole, deserve the standard authority which is given to them by the literary world), has made the unaccountable mistake of giving as the meaning of this important name, "Common people." We can account for this only in his having studied the language through the medium of imperfect interpreters. In no respect can An-ish-in-aub-ag be twisted so as to include any portion of a word meaning "common."

Had he given the meaning of "original people," which he says is the interpretation of "Lenni Lenape," the name which the ancient Delawares and eastern sections of the Algic tribes call themselves, he would have hit nearer the mark. "Spontaneous man" is, however, the true literal translation, and I am of the impression that were the [pg 57] two apparently different names of Lenni Lenape and An-ish-in-aub-ag fully analyzed, and correctly pronounced by a person understanding fully the language of both sections of the same family, who call themselves respectively by these names, not only the meaning would be found exactly to coincide, but also the words, differing only slightly in pronunciation.

The belief of the Algics is, as their name denotes, that they are a spontaneous people. They do not pretend, as a people, to give any reliable account of their first creation. It is a subject which to them is buried in darkness and mystery, and of which they entertain but vague and uncertain notions; notions which are fully embodied in the word An-ish-in-aub-ag.

Since the white race have appeared amongst them, and since the persevering and hard-working Jesuit missionaries during the era of the French domination, carried the cross and their teachings into the heart of the remotest wilderness, and breathed a new belief and new tales into the ears of the wild sons of the forest, their ideas on this subject have become confused, and in many instances they have pretended to imbibe the beliefs thus early promulgated amongst them, connecting them with their own more crude and mythological ideas. It is difficult on this account, to procure from them what may have been their pure and original belief, apart from what is perpetuated by the name which we have analyzed. It requires a most intimate acquaintance with them as a people, and individually with their old story tellers, also with their language, beliefs, and customs, to procure their real beliefs and to analyze the tales they seldom refuse to tell, and separate the Indian or original from those portions which they have borrowed or imbibed from the whites. Their innate courtesy and politeness often carry them so far [pg 58] that they seldom, if ever, refuse to tell a story when asked by a white man, respecting their ideas of the creation and the origin of mankind.

These tales, though made up for the occasion by the Indian sage, are taken by his white hearers as their bona Fide belief, and, as such, many have been made public, and accepted by the civilized world. Some of their sages have been heard to say, that the "Great Spirit" from the earth originally made three different races of men — the white, the black, and red race. To the first he gave a book, denoting wisdom; to the second a hoe, denoting servitude and labor; to the third, or red race, he gave the bow and arrow, denoting the hunter state. To his red children the "Great Spirit" gave the great island on which the whites have found them; but because of having committed some great wickedness and angered their Maker, they are doomed to disappear before the rapid tread and advance of the wiser and more favored pale face. This, abbreviated and condensed into a few words, is the story, with variations, with which, as a general thing, the Indian has amused the curiosity of his inquisitive white brother.

It is, however, plainly to be seen that these are not their original ideas, for they knew not, till they came amongst them, of the existence of a white and black race, nor of their characteristic symbols of the book and the hoe.

Were we to entertain the new belief which is being advocated by able and learned men, who have closely studied the Biblical with the physical history of man, that the theory taught us in the Sacred Book, making mankind the descendants of one man — Adam — is false, and that the human family are derived originally from a multiplicity of progenitors, definitely marked by physical differences, it would be no difficult matter to arrive at once to certain conclusions respecting the manner in which America became populated. But a believing mind is loth [pg 59] to accept the assertions, arguments, and opinions of a set of men who would cast down at one fell swoop the widely-received beliefs inculcated in the minds of enlightened mankind by the sacred book of God. Men will not fall blindly into such a belief, not even with the most convincing arguments.

Throw down the testimony of the Bible, annul in your mind its sacred truths, and we are at once thrown into a perfect chaos of confusion and ignorance. Destroy the belief which has been entertained for ages by the enlightened portion of mankind, and we are thrown at once on a level with the ignorant son of the forest respecting our own origin. In his natural state he would even have the advantage of his more enlightened brother, for he deduces his beliefs from what he sees of nature and nature's work, and possessing no certain proof or knowledge of the manner of his creation, he simply but forcibly styles himself "spontaneous man." On the other hand, the white man, divested of Bible truths and history, yet possessing wisdom and learning, and a knowledge of the conflicting testimony of ages past, descended to him in manuscript and ancient monuments, possessing also a knowledge of the physical formation of all races of men and the geological formation of the earth, would still be at a loss to arrive at certain conclusions; and the deeper he bit into the apple of knowledge, the more confused would be his mind in attempting without the aid of God's word to solve the deep mysteries of Nature — to solve the mystery of the creation of a universe in which our earth is apparently but as a grain of sand, and to solve the problem of his own mysterious existence.

"We pause, therefore, before we take advantage of any apparent discrepancy or contradiction in the Bible which may be artfully shown to us by unbelieving writers, and to make use of it to more easily prove any favorite theory [pg 60] which we may imbibe respecting the manner in which America first became peopled.

Assume the ground that the human species does not come of one common head, and the existence of the red race is a problem no longer; but believe the word of the Holy Bible, and it will remain a mystery till God wills otherwise. In the mean time, we can but conjecture and surmise; each person has a right to form his own opinion. Some deduce from the writings of others, and others from personal observation, and by making known the causes which have led to the formation of his opinion, he will add to the general mass of information which has been and is gradually collecting, from which eventually more certain deductions will be arrived at.

Taking the ground that the theory respecting the origin of the human race taught us in the Holy Scriptures is true, I will proceed to express my humble opinion respecting the branch of the human race from which originates that particular type of the aboriginal race of America comprised by the term Algic or Algonquin, of which grand family the Ojibway tribe, of whom I shall more particularly treat, forms a numerous and important section.

During my long residence among the Ojibways, after numberless inquiries of their old men, I have never been able to learn, by tradition or otherwise, that they entertain the belief that all the tribes of the red race inhabiting America have ever been, at any time since the occupancy of this continent, one and the same people, speaking the same language, and practising the same beliefs and customs. The traditions of this tribe extend no further into the past than the once concentration or coalition under one head, of the different and now scattered tribes belonging to the Algic stock.

We have every reason to believe that America has not been peopled from one nation or tribe of the human family, [pg 61] for there are differences amongst its inhabitants and contrarieties as marked and fully developed as are to be found between European and Asiatic nations — wide differences in language, beliefs, and customs.

A close study of the dissimilarities existing between the Ojibways and Dakotas, who have more immediately come under my observation, has led me fully to believe that they are not descended from the same people of the Old World, nor have they ever in America formed one and the same nation or tribe. It is true that they assimilate in color and in their physical formation, which can be accounted for by their residence in the same climate, and sustaining life through the same means. Many of their customs are also alike, but these have been naturally similarized and entailed on them by living in the same wild hunter state, and many they have derived from one another during their short fitful terms of peace and intercourse. Here all similitude between the two tribes ends. They cannot differ more widely than they do in language; and the totemic system, which is an important and leading characteristic among the Ojibways, is not known to the Dakotas. They differ also widely in their religious beliefs, and as far back as their oral traditions descend with any certainty, they tell of even having been mortal enemies, waging against each other a bloody and exterminating warfare.

Assuming the ground which has been proved both probable and practicable by different eminent authors, that the American continent has been populated from the eastern and northeastern shores of Asia, it is easy to believe that not only one, but portions of different Asiatic tribes found their way thither, which will account for the radical differences to be found in the languages of the several stocks of the American aborigines.

Taking these grounds, the writer is disposed to entertain [pg 62] the belief that, while the original ancestors of the Dakota race might have formed a tribe or portion of a tribe of the roving sons of Tartary, whom they resemble in many essential respects, the Algics, on the other hand, may be descended from a portion of the ten lost tribes of Israel, whom they also resemble in many important particulars.

Of this latter stock only can I speak with any certainty. I am fully aware that the surmise which is here advanced is not new, but is one which has already elicited much discussion; and although later writers have presented it as an exploded idea, yet I cannot refrain from presenting the ideas on this subject which have gradually inducted themselves into my mind.

Boudinot and other learned writers, having at their command the books and observations on the Indian tribes which have been published from time to time since their first discovery, and possessing an intimate knowledge of Biblical history, have fallen into the same belief, and from a mass of book information they have been enabled to offer many able arguments to prove the Red Race of America descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. I have never had the advantage of seeing or reading these books, and only know of their existence from hearsay, and the casual remarks or references of the few authors I have been enabled to consult. The belief which I have now expressed has grown on me imperceptibly from my youth, ever since I could first read the Bible, and compare with it the lodge stories and legends of my Indian grandfathers, around whose lodge fires I have passed many a winter evening, listening with parted lips and open ears to their interesting and most forcibly told tales.

After reaching the age of maturity, I pursued my inquiries with more system, and the more information I have obtained from them — the more I have become acquainted [pg 63] with their anomalous and difficult to be understood characters — the more insight I have gained into their religious and secret rites and faith, the more strongly has it been impressed on my mind that they bear a close affinity or analogy to the chosen people of God, and they are either descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, or they have had, in some former era, a close contact and intercourse with the Hebrews, imbibing from them their beliefs and customs and the traditions of their patriarchs.

To enter into a detailed account of all the numerous and trivial causes which have induced me to entertain this idea, would take up much space, and as the subject has been so much dwelt upon, by those who, from having made the subject the study of their lives, and who by their researches have gathered much of the requisite information to arrive at more just conclusions than the humble writer, I will confine myself to stating a few general facts, some of which may have missed the attention of my predecessors on this road of inquiry, and which none but those intimately acquainted with the Indians, and possessing their fullest confidence, are able to obtain.

It is a general fact that most people who have been discovered living in a savage and unenlightened state, and even whole nations living in partial civilization, have been found to be idolaters — having no just conception of a great first Cause or Creator, invisible to human eyes, and pervading all space. With the Ojibways it is not so; the fact of their firm belief and great veneration, in an overruling Creator and Master of Life, has been noticed by all who have had close intercourse with them since their earliest discovery. It is true that they believe in a multiplicity of spirits which pervade all nature, yet all these are subordinate to the one Great Spirit of good.

This belief is as natural (if not more so), as the belief of the Catholics in their interceding saints, which in some [pg 64] respects it resembles, for in the same light as intercessors between him and the Great Spirit, does the more simple Red Man regard the spirits which in his imagination pervade all creation. The never-failing rigid fasts of first manhood, when they seek in dreams for a guardian spirit, illustrates this belief most forcibly.

Ke-che-mun-e-do (Great Spirit) is the name used by the Ojibways for the being equivalent to our God. They have another term which can hardly be surpassed by any one word in the English language, for force, condensity, and expression, namely: Ke-zha-mune-do, which means pitying, charitable, overruling, guardian and merciful Spirit; in fact, it expresses all the great attributes of the God of Israel. It is derived from Ke-zha-wand-e-se-roin, meaning charity, kindness— Ke-zha-wus-so expressing the guardian feeling, and solicitude of a parent toward its offspring, watching it with jealous vigilance from harm; and Shah-wau-je-gay, to take pity, merciful, with Mun-e-do (spirit). There is nothing to equal the veneration with which the Indian regards this unseen being. They seldom even ever mention his name unless in their Me-da-we and other religious rites, and in their sacrificial feasts; and then an address to him, however trivial, is always accompanied with a sacrifice of tobacco or some other article deemed precious by the Indian. They never use his name in vain, and there is no word in their language expressive of a profane oath, or equivalent to the many words used in profane swearing by their more enlightened white brethren.

Instances are told of persons while enduring almost superhuman fasts, obtaining a vision of him in their dreams; in such instances tne Great Spirit invariably appears to the dreamer in the shape of a beautifully and strongly-formed man. And it is a confirmed belief amongst them, that he or she who has once been blessed [pg 65] with this vision, is fated to live to a good old age and in enjoyment of ease and plenty.

All other minor or guardian spirits whom they court in their first dream of fasting appear to them in the shape of quadrupeds, birds, or some inanimate object in nature, as the moon, the stars, or the imaginary thunderers; and even this dream-spirit is never mentioned without sacrifice. The dream itself which has appeared to the faster, guides in a great measure his future course in life, and he never relates it without offering a sacrificial feast to the spirit of the dream. The bones of the animal which he offers are carefully gathered, unbroken, tied together, and either hung on a tree, thrown into deep water, or carefully burnt. Their beliefs and rites, connected with their fasts and dreams, are of great importance to themselves, more so than has been generally understood by writers who have treated of the Algics.

These facts are mentioned here to show an analogy with the ancient and primitive customs of the Hebrews — their faith in dreams, their knowledge and veneration of the unseen God, and the customs of fasting and sacrifice. Minor customs, equally similar with the usages of the Hebrews as we read in the Bible, might be enumerated; for instance, the never-failing separation of the female during the first period of menstruation, their war customs, etc. But it is not the intention of the writer to enter with prolixity on this field of inquiry which has been so often trod by able writers.

The grand rite of Me-da-we-win (or, as we have learned to term it, "Grand Medicine) and the beliefs incorporated therein, are not yet fully understood by the whites. This important custom is still shrouded in mystery, even to my own eyes, though I have taken much pains to inquire, and made use of every advantage, possessed by speaking their language perfectly, being related to them, possessing their [pg 66] friendship and intimate confidence, has given me, and yet I frankly acknowledge that I stand as yet, as it were, on the threshold of the Me-da-we lodge. I believe, however, that I have obtained full as much and more general and true information on this matter than any other person who has written on the subject, not excepting a great and standard author, who, to the surprise of many who know the Ojibways well, has boldly asserted in one of his works that he has been regularly initiated into the mysteries of this rite, and is a member of the Me-da-we Society. This is certainly an assertion hard to believe in the Indian country; and when the old initiators or Indian priests are told of it, they shake their heads in incredulity that a white man should ever have been allowed in truth to become a member of their Me-da-we lodge.

An entrance into the lodge itself, while the ceremonies are being enacted, has sometimes been granted through courtesy; but this does not initiate a person into the mysteries of the creed, nor does it make him a member of the society.

Amongst the Ojibways, the secrets of this grand rite are as sacredly kept as the secrets of the Masonic Lodge among the whites. Fear of threatened and certain death, either by poison or violence, seals the lips of the Me-da-we initiate, and this is the potent reason why it is still a secret to the white man, and why it is not more generally understood.

Missionaries, travellers, and transient sojourners amongst the Ojibways, who have witnessed the performance of the grand Me-da-we ceremonies, have represented and published that it is composed of foolish and unmeaning ceremonies. The writer begs leave to say that these superficial observers labor under a great mistake. The Indian has equal right, and may with equal truth (but in his utter ignorance is more excusable), to say, on viewing the rites of the [pg 67] Catholic and other churches, that they consist of unmeaning and nonsensical ceremonies. There is much yet to be learned from the wild and apparently simple son of the forest, and the most which remains to be learned is to be derived from their religious beliefs.

In the Me-da-we rite is incorporated most that is ancient amongst them — songs and traditions that have descended, not orally, but in hieroglyphics, for at least a long line of generations. In this rite is also perpetuated the purest and most ancient idioms of their language, which differs somewhat from that of the common every-day use. And if comparisons are to be made between the language of the Ojibways and the other languages, it must be with their religious idiom.

The writer has learned enough of the religion of the Ojibways to strengthen his belief of the analogy with the Hebrews. They assert that the Me-da-we rite was granted them by the Great Spirit in a time of trouble and death, through the intercession of Man-ab-osho, the universal uncle of the An-ish-in-aub-ag. Certain rules to guide their course in life were given them at the same time, and are represented in hieroglyphics. These great rules of life, which the writer has often heard inculcated by the Me-da-we initiators in their secret teachings to their novices, bear a strong likeness to the ten commandments revealed by the Almighty to the children of Israel, amidst the awful lightning and thunder of Mount Sinai.

They have a tradition telling of a great pestilence, which suddenly cut off many while encamped in one great village. They were saved by one of their number, to whom a spirit in the shape of a serpent discovered a certain root, which to this day they name the Ke-na-big-wushk or snakeroot. The songs and rites of this medicine are incorporated in the Me-da-we. The above circumstance is told to have happened when the "earth was new," [pg 68] and taking into consideration the lapse of ages, and their being greatly addicted to figurative modes of expression, this tradition bears some resemblance to the plague of the children of Israel in the wilderness, which was stopped by means of the brazen serpent of Moses.

The Ojibway pin-jig-o-saun, or as we term it, "medicine bag," contains all which he holds most sacred; it is preserved with great care, and seldom ever allowed a place in the common wigwam, but is generally left hanging in the open air on a tree, where even an ignorant child dare not touch it. The contents are never displayed without much ceremony. This too, however distant, still bears some analogy to the receptacle of the Holy of Holies of the Hebrews.

I have learned from people who have been resident amongst them, that the tribe known as the Blackfeet, living above the sources of the Missouri, practise a custom which bears a still stronger likeness to the sacred ark and priesthood, as used of old in Israel. The Blackfeet, by comparing portions of their language which has been published by the persevering Father do Smet, and portions that I have learned verbally from others, with the language of the Ojibways, has convinced me that they belong to the same family of tribes, and may be denominated Algics. Any portion, therefore, of their customs which may have fallen under our observation, may be appropriately mentioned here, to strengthen the grounds we have taken respecting their common origin.

A man is appointed by the elders and chiefs of the Blackfeet every four years to take charge of the sacred pipe, pipestem, mat, and other emblems of their religious beliefs. A lodge is allotted for his especial use, to contain these emblems and articles pertaining to his office. Four horses are given him to pack these things from place to place, following the erratic movements of the camp. This [pg 69] functionary is obliged to practise seven fasts, and to live during the term of his priesthood in entire celibacy. Even if he possesses a family, on his appointment as "Great Medicine" he must separate from them during his term, and the public supports them. All religious councils are held in his lodge, and disputes are generally adjusted by him as judge. His presence and voice are sufficient to quell all domestic disturbance, and altogether he holds more actual power and influence than even the civil and war chiefs. His face is always painted black, and he wears his hair tied in a large knot over his forehead, and through this knot is passed a sharp stick with which he scratches his body, should he have occasion, for he is not to use his finger nails for this purpose. None but he can or dare handle the sacred pipe and emblems. At the end of his term the tribe presents him with a new lodge, horses, and so forth, wherewith to commence life anew.

It cannot but strike the attention of an observer, that this custom, this peculiar personage with his lodge and sacred emblems, among the roving sons of the prairies, resembles forcibly the ark and high priesthood of the wandering Israelites of old. I wish again to remark that the fact of this custom being in use among the Blackfeet, has not been obtained under my own personal observation, and therefore I cannot vouch fully for its truth. Having learned it, however, of persons of undoubted veracity, I have deemed it worthy of insertion here. It was corroborated to me during the summer of 1849, by Paul Kane, Esq., a Canadian gentleman,1 while stopping at my house at Crow Wing on the Mississippi, with Sir Edward Poor and [pg 70] others, en route for Selkirk's Settlement, Oregon and California. He appeared a learned and much travelled man, and having been during the course of former travels, and during a long connection with the Hudson Bay Company, a sojourner more or less among the Blackfeet, he had learned of the existence of the above peculiar custom.

1 Paul Kane was an artist of Toronto. In the Parliament Library of the Dominion of Canada, at Ottawa, are twelve of his oil paintings representing Indian life toward the Rocky Mountains. In 1859 a book from his pen was published in London, with the title Wanderings of an Artist among the Indians of North America, from Canada to Van Conver's Island and Oregon — E. D. N.

Another peculiar trait among the Algics is that which has already been fully dwelt upon under the head of their Totemic division. There is nothing to which I can compare the purity and rigid conformity with which this division into families has been kept for centuries and probably ages, amongst the Ojibways, as the division of the Hebrews into tribes, originating from the twelve sons of Jacob. Another peculiarity which has most forcibly struck my mind as one worthy of notice, and which in fact first drew my attention to this subject, is the similitude which exists between the oral traditions and lodge stories of the Ojibways with the tales of the Hebrew patriarchs in the Old Testament.

They tell one set of traditions which treat of the adventures of eight, ten, and sometimes twelve brothers. The youngest of these brothers is represented in the many traditions which mention them, as the wisest and most beloved of their father, and lying under the special guardianship of the Great Spirit. In one tradition under the name of Wa-jeeg-e-wa-kon-ay (Fisher skin coat) he delivers his brethren from divers difficulties entailed on them from their own folly and disobedience. In another tradition he is made to supply his brethren with corn. The name of the father is sometimes given as Ge-tub-e. The similarity between these and other traditions, with the Bible stories of Jacob and his twelve sons, cannot fail to attract the attention of any person who is acquainted with both versions.

The tradition of the deluge, and traditions of wars [pg 71] between the different Totemic clans, all bear an analogy with tales of the Bible.

To satisfy my own curiosity I have sometimes interpreted to their old men, portions of Bible history, and their expression is invariably: "The book must be true, for our ancestors have told us similar stories, generation after generation, since the earth was new." It is a bold assertion, but it is nevertheless a true one, that were the traditions of the Ojibways written in order, and published in a book, it would as a whole bear a striking resemblance to the Old Testament, and would contain no greater improbabilities than may be accounted for by the loose manner in which these traditions have been perpetuated; naturally losing force and truth in descending orally through each succeeding generation. Discard, then, altogether the idea of any connection existing or having existed between the Ojibways and the Hebrews, and it will be found difficult to account for all the similarities existing between many of their rites, customs, and beliefs. Notwithstanding all that has been and may be advanced to prove the Ojibways descended from the lost tribes of Israel, or at least, their once having had close communion with them, yet I am aware that there are many stubborn facts and arguments against it, the principal of which is probably their total variance in language. Never having studied the Hebrew language, I have not had the advantage of comparing with it the Ojibway, and on this point I cannot express any opinion.

It is not supposable, however, that the ten lost tribes of Israel emigrated from the land of their captivity in one body, and proceeding direct to the eastern shores of Asia, crossed over to America (by some means which, through changes and convulsions in nature, have become extinct and unknown to the present age) there to resume the rites of their religion, practise the Mosaic laws, and isolated [pg 72] from the rest of mankind, perpetuated in their primitive purity their language and beliefs.

On the contrary, if the Algics are really descendants of these tribes, it must be only from a portion of them, as remnants of the lost tribes have been discovered in the Nestorians of Asia. To arrive in America, these portions must have passed through strange and hostile tribes of people, and in the course of their long wanderings and sojourns amongst them, they might have adopted portions of their languages and usages, losing thereby the purity of their own. It is natural to surmise that they were driven and followed into America by hostile tribes of Asia, and that they have been thus driven and followed till checked by the waves of the broad Atlantic. This would account for the antagonistical position in which they and the Dakotas were first discovered, and which, as the Algics are now being pressed back by the white race, on the track of their old emigration, has again been renewed more deadly than ever. Truly are they a wandering and accursed race! They now occupy a position wedged in as it were, between the onward resistless tide of European emigration, and the still powerful tribes of the Naud-o-wa-se-wug ("Like unto the Adders"), their inveterate and hereditary enemies. As a distinct people their final extinction appears inevitable, though their blood may still course on as long as mankind exists.

I cannot close these remarks on this subject (though they have already been lengthened further than was at first intended), without offering a few words respecting the belief of the Ojibways in a future state. Something can be deducted from this respecting their condition in former ages, and the direction from which they originally emigrated.

When an Ojibway dies, his body is placed in a grave, generally in a sitting posture, facing the west. With the body are buried all the articles needed in life for a journey. [pg 73] If a man, his gun, blanket, kettle, fire steel, flint and moccasins; if a woman, her moccasins axe, portage collar, blanket and kettle. The soul is supposed to stand immediately after the death of the body, on a deep beaten path, which leads westward; the first object he comes to in following this path, is the great Oda-e-min (Heart berry), or strawberry, which stands on the roadside like a huge rock, and from which he takes a handful and eats on his way. He travels on till he reaches a deep, rapid stream of water, over which lies the much dreaded Ko-go-gaup-o-gun or rolling and sinking bridge; once safely over this as the traveller looks back it assumes the shape of a huge serpent swimming, twisting and untwisting its folds across the stream. After camping out four nights, and travelling each day through a prairie country, the soul arrives in the land of spirits, where he finds his relatives accumulated since mankind was first created; all is rejoicing, singing and dancing; they live in a beautiful country interspersed with clear lakes and streams, forests and prairies, and abounding in fruit and game to repletion— in a word, abounding in all that the red man most covets in this life, and which conduces most to his happiness. It is that kind of a paradise which he only by his manner of life on this earth, is fitted to enjoy. Without dwelling further on this belief, which if carried out in all its details would occupy under the head of this chapter much unnecessary space, I will now state the conclusions which may possibly be educed from it.

The Ojibway believes his home after death to lie westward. In their religious phraseology, the road of souls is sometimes called Ke-wa-kun-ah, "Homeward road." It is, however, oftener named Che-ba-kun-ah (road of souls). In the ceremony of addressing their dead before depositing them in the grave, I have often heard the old men use the word Ke-go-way-se-kah {you are going homeward). This [pg 74] road is represented as passing mostly through a prairie country.

Is it not probable from these beliefs that ages ago the Ojibways resided westward, and occupied a country "flowing in milk and honey" — a country abounding in all that tends to their enjoyment and happiness, and to which they look back as the tired traveller on a burning desert looks back to a beautiful oasis which he has once passed, or as the lonely wanderer looks back to the once happy home of his childhood? May they not forcibly have been driven from this former country by more powerful nations — have been pressed east and still further eastward from Asia in to America, and over its whole extent, arrested by the waves of the Atlantic Ocean? And, like a receding wave, they have turned their faces westward towards their former country, within the past four centuries forced back by European discovery and immigration.

With their mode of transmitting traditions from father to son orally, it is natural to suppose that their present belief in the westward destination of the soul has originated from the above-surmised era in their ancient history. And the tradition of a once happy home and country, being imperfectly transmitted to our times through long lines of generations, has at last merged into the simple and natural belief of a future state, which thoroughly pervades the Indian mind, and guides, in a measure, his actions in life, and enables him to smile at the approach of death.

They have traditions connected with this belief which forcibly illustrate the surmises we have advanced.

In conclusion, I will again remark that though I am fully aware that the subject, and much-disputed point, of the origin of the American Indian is far beyond my depth of understanding and limited knowledge, yet I have deemed it a duty to thus make known the facts embodied in this chapter, and ideas, however crude and conflicting with the [pg 75] received opinions of more learned authors. I offer them for what they may be worth, and if they be ever used towards elucidating this mystery by wise men who may make it an object of study and research, the end of making them public will be satisfactorily fulfilled.

The analogies which have been noticed as existing between the Hebrew and Algic tribes have not struck my attention individually; others whom I have consulted, living as isolated among the Ojibways as I have been, holding daily communion with them, speaking their language, hearing their legends and lodge stories, and, withal, readers of the Bible, have fallen into the same belief, and this simple fact is Itself full worthy of notice. [pg 76]



Tradition of the sea-shell— Tradition of the otter— Separation of the Ojibways, Potta-wat-umees and Ottaways at the straits of Michilimacinac—Origin of their tribal names—Causes of their emigration from the Atlantic seaboard— Ojibways settle at Sault Ste. Marie—They separate into two divisions— Movements of the northern division—Traditional anecdote of the war between the Marten and the Omush-kas families—Movements of the southern division—Allegory of the cranes—Copper-plate register of the Crane family— Era of their first occupation of Point 8haug-a-waum-ik-ong—Tradition of the extermination of the Mundua tribe.

The history of the Ojibway tribe, till within the past five centuries, lies buried in darkness and almost utter oblivion. In the preceding chapter we have feebly attempted to lift the veil which covers their past, by offering well-founded facts which can be excusably used in the formation of conjectures and probabilities. All is, however, still nothing but surmise and uncertainty, and what of this nature has been presented, has not been given, nor can it be considered as authentic history. We will now descend to times and events which are reached by their oral historic traditions, and which may be offered as certain, though not minute history. Through close inquiry and study of their vague figurative traditions, we have discovered that the Ojibways have attained to their present geographical position, nearly in the centre of the North American continent, from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, about the Gulf of the St. Lawrence River. The manner in which I first received a certain intimation of this fact, may [pg 77] illustrate it more forcibly to the reader, and is presented as follows:—

I was once standing near the entrance of an Ojibway Me-da-we-gaun, more commonly known as the "Grand Medicine Lodge," while the inmates were busy in the performance of the varied ceremonies of this, their chief medical and religious rite. The lodge measured in length about one hundred feet, and fifteen in width, was but partially covered along the sides with green boughs of the balsam tree, and the outside spectator could view without hindrance the different ceremonies enacting within. On a pole raised horizontally above its whole length were hung pieces of cloth, calico, handkerchiefs, blankets, etc.—the offerings or sacrifice of the novice who was about to be initiate into the mysteries of the Me-da-we society. The lodge was full of men and women who sat in a row along both of its sides. None but those who were members of the society and who had regularly been initiated, were allowed to enter. They were dressed and painted in their best and most fancy clothing and colors, and each held in his hand the Me-da-wi-aun or medicine sack, which consisted of bird skins, stuffed otter, beaver and snake skins.

The novice in the process of initiation, sat in the centre on a clean mat facing the Me-da-wautig, a cellar post planted in the centre of the lodge, daubed with vermilion and ornamented with tufts of birds' down. The four old and grave-looking We-kauns, or initiating priests, stood around him with their medicine sacks, drums, and rattles.

As I partially understood, and could therefore appreciate, the meaning and objects of their strange ceremonies, and could partially understand their peculiar religious idiom, I stood, watched, and listened with a far deeper interest than could be felt in the mind of a mere casual observer, who is both unacquainted with the objects of the rites or [pg 78] language of these simple children of nature, and who, in his greater wisdom, deems it but the unmeaning mummery and superstitious rites of an ignorant race, buried in heathenish darkness.

One of the four We-kauns, after addressing a few remarks to the novice in a low voice, took from his medicine sack, the Me-da-me-gis, a small white sea-shell, which is the chief emblem of the Me-da-we rite. Holding this on the palm of his hand, he ran slowly around the inside of the lodge, displaying it to the inmates, and followed by his fellow We-kauns swinging their rattles, and exclaiming in a deep guttural tone, "whe, whe, whe." Circling the lodge in this impressive manner, on coming again to the novice, they stopped running, uttering a deep, sonorous, "Whay-ho-ho-ho." They then quietly walked off, and taking their stand at the western end of the lodge, the leader still displaying the shell on the palm of his hand, delivered a loud and spirited harangue.

The language and phrases used were so obscure to a common listener, that it would be impossible to give a literal translation of the whole speech. The following passage, however, forcibly struck my attention:

"While our forefathers were living on the great salt water toward the rising sun, the great Megis (sea-shell) showed itself above the surface of the great water, and the rays of the sun for a long period were reflected from its glossy back. It gave warmth and light to the An-ish-in-aub-ag (red race). All at once it sank into the deep, and for a time our ancestors were not blessed with its light. It rose to the surface and appeared again on the great river which drains the waters of the Great Lakes, and again for a long time it gave life to our forefathers, and reflected back the rays of the sun. Again it disappeared from sight and it rose not, till it appeared to the eyes of the An-ish-in-aub-ag on the shores of the first great lake. Again it [pg 79] sank from sight, and death daily visited the wigwams of our forefathers, till it showed its back, and reflected the rays of the sun once more at Bow-e-ting (Sault Ste. Marie). Here it remained for a long time, but once more, and for the last time, it disappeared, and the An-ish-in-aub-ag was left in darkness and misery, till it floated and once more showed its bright back at Mo-ning-wun-a-kaun-ing (La Pointe Island), where it has ever since reflected back the rays of the sun, and blessed our ancestors with life, light, and wisdom. Its rays reach the remotest village of the wide spread Ojibways." As the old man delivered this talk, he continued to display the shell, which he represented as the emblem of the great megis of which he was speaking.

A few days after, anxious to learn the true meaning of this allegory, I proceeded one evening to the lodge of the old priest, and presenting him with some tobacco and cloth for a pair of leggings (which is an invariable custom when any genuine information is wanted of them, connected with their religious beliefs), I requested him to explain to me the meaning of his Me-da-we harangue.

After filling his pipe and smoking of the tobacco I had presented, he proceeded to give me the desired information as follows:—

"My grandson," said he, "the megis I spoke of, means the Me-da-we religion. Our forefathers, many string of lives ago, lived on the shores of the Great Salt Water in the east. Here it was, that while congregated in a great town, and while they were suffering the ravages of sickness and death, the Great Spirit, at the intercession of Man-ab-o-sho, the great common uncle of the An-ish-in-aub-ag, granted them this rite wherewith life is restored and prolonged. Our forefathers moved from the shores of the great water, and proceeded westward. The Me-da-we lodge was pulled down and it was not again erected, till [pg 80] our forefathers again took a stand on the shores of the great river near where Mo-ne-aung (Montreal) now stands.

"In the course of time this town was again deserted, and our forefathers still proceeding westward, lit not their fires till they reached the shores of Lake Huron, where again the rites of the Me-da-we were practised.

"Again these rites were forgotten, and the Me-da-we lodge was not built till the Ojibways found themselves congregated at Bow-e-tiug (outlet of Lake Superior), where it remained for many winters. Still the Ojibways moved westward, and for the last time the Me-da-we lodge was erected on the Island of La Pointe, and here, long before the pale face appeared among them, it was practised in its purest and most original form. Many of our fathers lived the full term of life granted to mankind by the Great Spirit, and the forms of many old people were mingled with each rising generation. This, my grandson, is the meaning of the words you did not understand; they have been repeated to us by our fathers for many generations."

Thus was it that I first received particular corroborating testimony to the somewhat mooted point of the direction from which the Ojibways have reached their present geographical position. It is only from such religious and genuine traditions that the fact is to be ascertained. The common class of the tribe who are spread in numerous villages north and west of Lake Superior, when asked where they originally came from, make answer that they originated from Mo-ning-wuna-kaun-ing (La Pointe), and the phrase is often used in their speeches to the whites, that "Mo-ning-wuna-kaun-ing" is the spot on which the Ojibway tribe first grew, and like a tree it has spread its branches in every direction, in the bands that now occupy the vast extent of the Ojibway earth; and also that "it is the root from which all the far scattered villages of the tribe have sprung."

[pg 81] A superficial inquirer would be easily misled by these assertions, and it is only through such vague and figurative traditions as the one we have related, that any degree of certainty can be arrived at, respecting their position and movements prior to the time when the tribe first lit their central fire, and built their Me-da-we lodge on the Island of La Pointe.

There is another tradition told by the old, men of the Ojibway village of Fond du Lac—Lake Superior, which tells of their former residence on the shores of the great salt water. It is, however, so similar in character to the one I have related, that its introduction here would occupy unnecessary space. The only difference between the two traditions, is that the otter, which is emblematical of one of the four Medicine spirits, who are believed to preside over the Medawe rites, is used in one, in the same figurative manner as the sea-shell is used in the other; first appearing to the ancient An-ish-in-aub-ag from the depths of the great salt water, again on the river St. Lawrence, then on Lake Huron at Sault Ste. Marie, again at La Pointe, but lastly at Fond du Lac, or end of Lake Superior, where it is said to have forced the sand bank at the mouth of the St Louis River. The place is still pointed out by the Indians where they believe the great otter broke through.

It is comparatively but a few generations back, that this tribe have been known by their present distinctive name of Ojibway. It is certainly not more than three centuries, and in all probability much less. It is only within this term of time, that they have been disconnected as a distinct or separate tribe from the Ottaways and Potta-wat-um-ies. The name by which they were known when incorporated in one body, is at the present day uncertain.

The final separation of these three tribes took place at the Straits of Michilimacinac from natural causes, and the [pg 82] partition has been more and more distinctly defined, and perpetuated through locality, and by each of the three divided sections assuming or receiving distinctive appellations:—

The Ottaways remaining about the spot of their final separation, and being thereby the most easterly section, were first discovered by the white race, who bartered with them their merchandise for furs. They for many years acted as a medium between the white traders and their more remote western brethren, providing them in turn at advanced prices, with their much desired commodities. They thus obtained the name of Ot-tah-way, "trader," which they have retained as their tribal name to the present day. The Potta-wat-um-ees moved up Lake Michigan, and by taking with them, or for a time perpetuating the national fire, which according to tradition was sacredly kept alive in their more primitive days, they have obtained the name of "those who make or keep the fire," which is the literal meaning of their tribal cognomen.

The Ojibways, pressing northward and westward, were soon known as an important and distinctive body or tribe, and meeting with fierce and inveterate enemies, the name of Ojibway, "to roast till puckered up," they soon obtained through practising the old custom of torturing prisoners of war by fire, as has already been mentioned more fully in a previous chapter. The original cause of their emigration from the shores of the Atlantic westward to the area of Lake Superior, is buried in uncertainty. If pressed or driven back by more powerful tribes, which is a most probable conjecture, they are not willing to acknowledge it.1

1 See History of Ojibways based upon documents, in this volume.

From the earliest period that their historical traditions treat of, they tell of having carried on an exterminating [pg 83] war with the Iroquois, or Six Nations of New York, whom they term Naud-o-waig, or Adders. The name indicates the deadly nature of these, their old and powerful antagonists, whose concentrated strength and numbers, and first acquaintance with the use of the white man's murderous fire arms, caused them to leave their ancient village sites and seek westward for new homes.

Sufficient has been seen and written since their discovery by the white race, of the antagonistical position of these two different families, or group of tribes, to prove the certainty of the above surmise. The name of Naud-o-wa-se-wug, which is sometimes applied to the Dakotas by the Ojibways, is derived from the name by which they have ever known the Iroquois.—Naud-o-waig; it implies "our enemies," but literally, means "like unto the adders." Various definitions have been given to this name by different writers; the above is now presented as the only true one.

It is a well-authenticated fact traditionally, that at the Falls of Sault Ste. Marie, the outlet of lake Superior, the Ojibways, after separating from the Ottaways and Pottawatumees, made a long and protracted stay. Their village occupied a large extent of ground, and their war-parties numbered many warriors who marched eastward against the Naudoways, and westward against the Dakotas, with whom at this point they first came into collision.

At this point the Ojibway tribe again separated into two divisions, which we will designate as the Northern and Southern. The Northern division formed the least numerous body, and consisted chiefly of the families claiming as Totems the reindeer, lynx, and pike. They proceeded gradually to occupy the north coast of Lake Superior, till they arrived at the mouth of Pigeon River (Kah-mau-a-tig-wa-aug). From this point they have spread over the country they occupy at the present day [pg 84] along the British and United States line, and north, for into the British possessions. A large band early occupied and formed a village at Rainy Lake. Here they first came in contact with the Assineboins (a tribe of seceding Dakotas), and from this point, after entering into a firm and lasting peace with the Assineboins and Knis-te-nos, they first joined their brethren of the Southern division in their wars against the fierce Dakotas. This band have to this day retained the cognomen of Ko-je-je-win-in-e-wug, from the numerous straits, bends, and turnings of the lakes and rivers which they occupy.

A large body of this Northern division residing immediately on the north shores of the Great Lake, at Grand Portage and Thunder Bay, and claiming the Totem of the Ke-nouzhay or Pike, were formerly denominated O-mush-kas-ug. Tradition says that at one time their fellow Ojibways made war on them. This war was brought about by persons belonging to the Pike family murdering some members of the Marten Totem family. It was but the carrying out of their custom of "blood for blood." It was neither very deadly nor of long duration, and to illustrate its character more fully, I will introduce the following traditional anecdote:—

A party consisting of warriors belonging to the Martin family was at one time collected at Fond du Lac. They proceeded on the war-path against the family of the Omush-kas, living on the north shore of the Great Lake, for this family had lately spilled their blood. They discovered a single wigwam standing on the sandy shores of the lake, and the Martens, having stealthily approached, raised the war-whoop, and as was the custom in battle (to show their greater manhood), they threw off every article of clothing, and thus, perfectly naked, rushed furiously to the attack. The Omush-kas, head of the family occupying the threatened lodge, was busy arranging his fishnet, [pg 85] and not aware that war had been declared, he paid no attention to his yelling visitors, but calmly continued his peaceful occupation.

One of the Martens, rushing into the lodge, and, throwing his arms about him, exclaimed, "Ene-ne-nin-duk-o-nah" (a man I hold), meaning that he took him captive.

The simple Omushkas, looking up, merely remarked, "Let me go; you are tangling my net." Still the Marten, keeping his hold, more loudly exclaimed, "Ene-ne-nin-duk-o-nah." The Omushkas, now perceiving his nakedness, grasped a sensitive part of his person, in turn jokingly exclaimed, "Nin-sah-eta-in-ne-ne-nin-duk-o-nah" ("tis only I who truly hold a man"), and the simple man continued to consider the attack as a mere farce. The war-club, however, of the enraged Marten now descended with fearful force on his head, and he died exclaiming, "Verily they are killing me."

A considerable body of the Northern Ojibways are denominated by their fellow-tribesmen Sug-wau-dug-ah-win-in-e-wug (men of the thick firwoods), derived from the interminable forests of balsam, spruce, pine, and tamarac trees which cover their hunting-grounds. Their early French discoverers named them "Bois Forts," or Hardwoods.

Another section forming the most northern branch of this tribe are denominated Omushke-goes (Swamp-people), derived also from the nature of the country they occupy.

The Northern division, which comprises these different sections, having been separated from the main body of the tribe forming the Southern division, now upwards of eight generations, a difference (though not a radical one), has become perceptible in their common language. This consists mostly in the pronunciation, and so slight is the difference in idiom that one good interpreter, speaking the language of each division, may suffice for both.

[pg 86] The characteristics, also of the northern section of the tribe, differ materially in some important respects from those of their southern and western brethren. Not having been opposed by enemies in the course of their northern emigration, they are consequently not warlike, and the name of Waub-ose (Rabbit), is often applied to them by their more warlike fellows, on account of their mild and harmless disposition.

At the partition of the Ojibway tribe into two divisions, at Sault Ste. Marie, the main body pressed their way gradually up along the southern shores of Lake Superior. They made a temporary stand at Grand Island, near the Pictured Rocks, again at L'Anse Bay, or as they more euphoniously name it, We-qua-dong. This grand division consisted principally of the Crane Totem family, the Bear, the Catfish, the Loon, and the allied Marten and Moose clans. These great families with their several branches, form at least eight-tenths of the whole Ojibway tribe.

The Cranes claim the honor of first having pitched their wigwams, and lighted the fire of the Ojibways, at Shaug-ah-waum-ik-ong, a sand point or peninsula lying two miles immediately opposite the Island of La Pointe. This fact is illustrated by the following highly allegorical and characteristic tradition:—

As a preliminary remark, it is necessary to state that there exists quite a variance between three or four of the principal Totems, as to which is hereditarily entitled to the chief place in the tribe.

At a council (in which the writer acted as interpreter), held some years ago at La Pointe, between the principal chiefs of the Ojibways and the United States Government Agent, the following allegory was delivered by an old chief named Tug-waug-aun-ay, in answer to the mooted question of "who was the hereditary chief of La Pointe?"

Ke-che-wash-keenh (Great Buffalo), the grandson of the [pg 87] celebrated chief Au-daig-we-os (mentioned in Schoolcraft's works), head of the Loon Totem clan, was at this time, though stricken with years, still in the prime of his great oratorical powers.

On this occasion he opened the council by delivering a most eloquent harangue in praise of his own immediate ancestors, and claiming for the Loon family the first place and chieftainship among the Ojibways. After he had finished and again resumed his seat, Tug-waug-aun-ay, the head chief of the Crane family, a very modest and retiring man, seldom induced to speak in council, calmly arose, and gracefully wrapping his blanket about his body, leaving but the right arm free, he pointed toward the eastern skies, and exclaimed: "The Great Spirit once made a bird, and he sent it from the skies to make its abode on earth. The bird came, and when it reached half way down, among the clouds, it sent forth a loud and far sounding cry, which was heard by all who resided on the earth, and even by the spirits who make their abode within its bosom. When the bird reached within sight of the earth, it circled slowly above the Great Fresh Water Lakes, and again it uttered its echoing cry. Nearer and nearer it circled, looking for a resting place, till it lit on a hill overlooking Boweting (Sault Ste. Marie); here it chose its first resting place, pleased with the numerous white fish that glanced and swam in the clear waters and sparkling foam of the rapids. Satisfied with its chosen seat, again the bird sent forth its loud but solitary cry; and the No-kaig (Bear clan), A-waus-e-wug (Catfish), Ah-auh-wauh-ug (Loon), and Mous-o-neeg (Moose and Marten clan), gathered at his call. A large town was soon congregated, and the bird whom the Great Spirit sent presided over all.

"Once again it took its flight, and the bird flew slowly over the waters of Lake Superior. Pleased with the sand point of Shaug-ah-waum-ik-ong, it circled over it, and [pg 88] viewed the numerous fish as they swam about in the clear depths of the Great Lake. It lit on Shaugnah-waum-ik-ong, and from thence again it uttered its solitary cry. A voice came from the calm bosom of the lake, in answer; the bird pleased with the musical sound of the voice, again sent forth its cry, and the answering bird made its appearance in the wampum-breasted Ah-auh-wauh (Loon). The bird spoke to it in a gentle tone, 'Is it thou that gives answer to my cry?' The Loon answered, 'It is I.' The bird then said to him, 'Thy voice is music—it is melody—it sounds sweet in my ear, from henceforth I appoint thee to answer my voice in Council.'

"Thus," continued the chief, "the Loon became the first in council, but he who made him chief was the Bus-in-aus-e (Echo Maker), or Crane. These are the words of my ancestors, who, from generation to generation, have repeated them into the ears of their children. I have done."

The old man took his seat in silence, and not a chief in that stricken and listening crowd arose to gainsay his words. All understood the allegory perfectly well, and as the curling smoke of their pipes arose from the lips and nostrils of the quiet listeners, there ascended with it the universal whisper, "It is true; it is true."

As an explanation of the figures used in the above traditional allegory, we will add, that the crane, commonly named in the Ojibway language Uj-e-jauk, is the symbol or totem of a large section of the tribe. This bird loves to soar among the clouds, and its cry can be heard when flying above, beyond the orbit of human vision. From this "far-sounding cry" the family who claim it as their totem derive their generic name of Bus-in-aus-e-wug (Echo Makers). This family claim, by this allegory, to have been the first discoverers and pioneer settlers at Sault Ste. Marie, and again at Pt. Shaug-ah-waum-ik-ong.

The Loon is the Totem also of a large clan. This bird [pg 89] is denominated by the Ojibways, Mong, but the family who claim it as their badge, are known by the generic name of Ah-auh-wauh, which is derived by imitating its peculiar cry. This family claim the hereditary first chieftainship in the tribe, but they cannot substantiate their pretensions farther back than their first intercourse with the old French discoverers and traders, who, on a certain occasion, appointed some of their principal men as chiefs, and endowed them with flags and medals. Strictly confined to their own primitive tribal polity, the allegory of the Cranes cannot be controverted, nor has it ever been gainsaid.

To support their pretensions, this family hold in their possession a circular plate of virgin copper, on which is rudely marked indentations and hieroglyjducs denoting the number of generations of the family who have passed away since they first pitched their lodges at Shaug-a-waum-ik-ong and took possession of the adjacent country, including the Island of La Pointe or Mo-ning-wun-a-kaun-ing.

When I witnessed this curious family register in 1842, it was exhibited by Tug-waug-aun-ay to my father. The old chief kept it carefully buried in the ground, and seldom displayed it. On this occasion he only brought it to view at the entreaty of my mother, whose maternal uncle he was. Father, mother, and the old chief, have all since gone to the land of spirits, and I am the only one still living who witnessed, on that occasion, this sacred relic of former days.

On this plate of copper was marked eight deep indentations, denoting the number of his ancestors who had passed away since they first lighted their fire at Shaug-a-waum-ik-ong. They had all lived to a good old age.

By the rude figure of a man with a hat on its head, placed opposite one of these indentations, was denoted the [pg 90] period when the white race first made his appearance among them. This mark occurred in the third generation, leaving five generations which had passed away since that important era in their history.

Tug-waug-aun-ay was about sixty years of age at the time he showed this plate of copper, which he said had descended to him direct through a long line of ancestors. He died two years since, and his death has added the ninth indentation thereon; making, at this period, nine generations since the Ojibways first resided at La Pointe, and six generations since their first intercourse with the whites.

From the manner in which they estimate their generations, they may be counted as comprising a little over half the full term of years allotted to mankind, which will materially exceed the white man's generation. The Ojibways never count a generation as passed away till the oldest man in the family has died, and the writer assumes from these, and other facts obtained through observation and inquiry, forty years as the term of an Indian generation. It is necessary to state, however, for the benefit of those who may consider this as an over-estimate, that, since the introduction of intoxicating drinks and diseases of the whites, the former well-authenticated longevity of the Indians has been materially lessened.

According to this estimate, it is now three hundred and sixty years since the Ojibways first collected in one grand central town on the Island of La Pointe, and two hundred and forty years since they were first discovered by the white race.

Seventy-seven years after, Jacques Cartier, representing the French nation, obtained his "first formal meeting with the Indians of the interior of Canada," and fifty-six years before Father Claude Allouez (as mentioned in Bancroft's History of America), first discovered the Ojibways congregated [pg 91] in the Bay of Shang-a-waum-ik-ong, preparing to go on a war excursion against their enemies the Dakotas.

From this period the Ojibways are traditionally well possessed of the most important events which have happened to them as a tribe, and from nine generations back, I am prepared to give, as obtained from their most veracious, reliable, and oldest men, their history, which may be considered as authentic.

In this chapter we have noted the course of their migrations, which, in all likelihood, occupied nearly two centuries prior to their final occupation of the shores of Lake Superior.

These movements were made while they were living in their primitive state, when they possessed nothing but the bow and arrow, sharpened stones, and bones of animals wherewith to kill game and fight their enemies. During this period they were surrounded by inveterate foes, and war was their chief pastime; but so dreamy and confused are their accounts of the battles which their ancestors fought, and the exploits they enacted, that the writer has refrained from dwelling on them with any particularity. One tradition, however, is deemed full worthy of notice, and while offering it as an historical fact, it will at the same time answer as a specimen of the mythological character of their tales which reach as far back as this period.

During their residence in the East, the Ojibways have a distinct tradition of having annihilated a tribe whom they denominate Mun-dua. Their old men, whom I have questioned on this subject, do not all agree in the location nor details. Their disagreements, however, are not very material, and I will proceed to give, verbatim, the version of Kah-nin-dum-a-win-so, the old chief of Sandy Lake:

"There was at one time living on the shores of a great lake, a numerous and powerful tribe of people; they lived congregated in one single town, which was so large that a [pg 92] person standing on a hill which stood in its centre, could not see the limits of it.

"This tribe, whose name was Mun-dua, were fierce and warlike; their hand was against every other tribe, and the captives whom they took in war were burned with fire as offerings to their spirits.

"A11 the surrounding tribes lived in great fear of them, till their Ojibway brothers called them to council, and sent the wampum and warclub, to collect the warriors of all the tribes with whom they were related. A war party was thus raised, whose line of warriors reached, as they marched in single file, as far as the eye could see. They proceeded against the great town of their common enemy, to put out their fire forever. They surrounded and attacked them from all quarters where their town was not bounded by the lake shore, and though overwhelming in their numbers, yet the Mun-dua had such confidence in their own force and prowess, that on the first day, they sent only their boys to repel the attack. The boys being defeated and driven back, on the second day the young men turned out to beat back their assailants. Still the Ojibways and their allies stood their ground and gradually drove them in, till on the eve of the second day, they found themselves in possession of half the great town. The Mun-duas now became awake to their danger, and on the third day, beginning to consider it a serious business, their old and tried warriors, 'mighty men of valor,' sang their war songs, and putting on their paints and ornaments of battle, they turned out to repel their invaders.

"The fight this day was hand to hand. There is nothing in their traditionary accounts, to equal the fierceness of the struggle described in this battle. The bravest men, probably, in America, had met—one party fighting for vengeance, glory, and renown; and the other for everything dear to man, home, family, for vary existence itself!

[pg 93] "The Mun-dua were obliged at last to give way, and hotly pressed by their foes, women and children threw themselves into, and perished in the lake. At this juncture their aged chief, who had witnessed the unavailing defence of his people, and who saw the ground covered with the bodies of his greatest warriors, called with a loud voice on the 'Great Spirit' for help (for besides being chief of the Mun-duas, he was also a great medicine man and juggler).

"Being a wicked people, the Great Spirit did not listen to the prayer of their chief for deliverance. The aged medicine man then called upon the spirits of the water and of the earth, who are the under spirits of the 'Great Spirit of Evil,' and immediately a dark and heavy fog arose from the bosom of the lake, and covered in folds of darkness the site of the vanquished town, and the scene of the bloody battle. The old chieftain by his voice gathered together the remnants of his slaughtered tribe, and under cover of the Evil Spirit's fog, they left their homes forever. The whole day and ensuing night they travelled to escape from their enemies, until a gale of wind, which the medicine men of the Ojibways had asked the Great Spirit to raise, drove away the fog; the surprise of the fleeing Mun-duas was extreme when they found themselves standing on a hill back of their deserted town, and in plain view of their enemies.

"'It is the will of the Great Spirit that we should perish,' exclaimed their old chief; but once more they dragged their wearied limbs in hopeless flight. They ran into an adjacent forest where they buried the women and children in the ground, leaving but a small aperture to enable them to breathe. The men then turned back, and once more they met their pursuing foes in a last mortal combat. They fought stoutly for a while, when again overpowered by numbers, they turned and fled, but in a [pg 94] different direction from the spot where they had secreted their families: but a few men escaped, who afterward returned, and disinterred the women and children. This small remnant of a once powerful tribe were the next year attacked by an Ojibway war-party, taken captive, and incorporated in this tribe. Individuals are pointed out to this day who are of Mun-dua descent, and who are members of the respected family whose totem is the Marten."

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