Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything


Books Menu

Author Catalog
Title Catalog
Sectioned Catalog


- Minnesota and Dacotah - 10/37 -

intended next summer to connect Crow Wing with the flourishing town of Superior by stage. It will require considerable energy to do this thing; but if it can be done, it will be a great blessing to the traveller as well as a profit to the town. The journey from St. Paul to Lake Superior via Crow Wing can then be performed in three days, while on the usual route it now occupies a week. Such are some of the favorable circumstances which corroborate the expectation of the growth of this place. The southern or lower portion of the town is included within the Fort Ripley reserve, and though several residences are situated on it, no other buildings can be put up without a license from the commanding officer; nor can any lots be sold from that portion until the reserve is cut down. With the upper part of the town it is different. Mr. C. H. Beaulieu, long a resident of the place, is the proprietor of that part, and has already, I am informed, made some extensive sales of lots. He is one of those lucky individuals, who have sagacity to locate on an available spot, and patience to wait the opening of a splendid fortune.[1]

[1 Since this letter was written, Mr. Thomas Cathcart has purchased a valuable claim opposite Crow Wing at the mouth of the river, which I should think was an available town site.]

My observation and experience in regard to town sites have taught me an important fact: that as much depends on the public spirit, unity of action, and zeal of the early proprietors, as upon the locality itself. The one is useless without these helps. General Washington wrote an able essay to prove the availability of Norfolk, Va., as the great commercial metropolis of the country. He speculated upon its being the great market for the West. His imagination pictured out some such place as New York now is, as its future. The unequalled harbor of Norfolk, and the resources of the country all around it, extending as far, almost, as thought could reach, might well have encouraged the theory of Washington. But munificence and energy and labor have built up many cities since then, which had not half the natural advantages of Norfolk, while Norfolk is far behind. A little lack of enterprise, a little lack of harmony and liberality, may, in the early days of a town, divert business and improvements from a good location, till in a short time an unheard-of and inferior place totally eclipses it. Knowing this to be the case, I have been careful in my previous letters not to give too much importance to many of the town sites which have been commended to me along my journey. I do not discover any of these retarding circumstances about Crow Wing. I must conclude at this paragraph, however, in order to take a horseback ride to the Chippewa agency. In my next I intend to say something about the Indians, pine timber, and the country above here in general.



Description of the Chippewa tribes-- Their habits and customs-- Mission at Gull Late-- Progress in farming-- Visit to Hole-in-the-day-- His enlightened character-- Reflections on Indian character, and the practicability of their civilization-- Their education-- Mr. Manypenny's exertions.

CROW WING, October, 1856.

I CONSIDER myself exceedingly fortunate in having had a good opportunity for observing the condition of the Chippewa Indians. Sometime ago I saw enough of the Indians in another part of the country to gratify my curiosity as to their appearance and habits; and as I have always felt a peculiar interest in their destiny, my present observations have been with a view to derive information as to the best means for their improvement. The whole number of Chippewas in Minnesota is not much over 2200. They are divided into several bands, each band being located a considerable distance from the other. The Mississippi band live on their reservation, which begins a few miles above here across the river, while the Pillagor and Lake Winnibigoshish bands are some three hundred miles further north. The agency of the Chippewas is on the reservation referred to, a little north of the Crow Wing River, and six miles distant from this town. To come down more to particulars, however, and adopt words which people here would use, I might say that the agency is on Gull River, a very clear and pretty stream, which flows from a lake of that name, into the Crow Wing. I passed the agency yesterday, and two miles beyond, in order to visit Pug-o-na-ke-shick, or Hole-in-the-day, the principal and hereditary chief of the Chippewas. Mr. Herriman, the agent, resides at the agency, in compliance with the regulation of the Indian bureau, which requires agents to reside among the Indians. I strongly suspect there are many people who would think it unsafe to travel alone among the Chippewas. But people who live about here would ridicule the idea of being afraid of violence or the slightest molestation from them, unless indeed the fellows were intoxicated. For my part, a walk on Boston common on a summer morning could not seem more quiet and safe than a ramble on horseback among the homes of these Indians. I spoke to a good many. Though naturally reserved and silent, they return a friendly salutation with a pleasant smile.

Their old costume is still retained as a general thing. The blanket is still worn instead of coats. Sometimes the men wear leggins, but often go with their legs naked. A band is generally worn upon the head with some ornament upon it. A feather of the war eagle worn in the head-band of a brave, denotes that he has taken the scalp of an enemy or performed some rare feat of daring. An Indian does not consider himself in full dress without his war hatchet or weapons. I meet many with long-stemmed pipes, which are also regarded as an ornamental part of dress. They appear pleased to have anything worn about them attract attention. They are of good size, taller than the Winnebagoes, and of much lighter complexion than tribes living five hundred miles further south. Herein the philosopher on the cooking of men is confirmed. Their hair is black, long, and straight; and some are really good-looking. There are but few who still paint. Those in mourning paint their faces black. What I have seen of their houses raises high hopes of their advancement in civilization. We can now begin to lay aside the word lodge and say house. Over a year ago, Mr. Herriman promised every one a good cooking stove who would build himself a comfortable house. This promise had a good effect, for several houses were built. But the want of windows and several other conveniences, which are proper fixtures, gives their dwellings a desolate appearance to one who looks to a higher standard of comfort. Of course I saw a few of the men at the store (for there is a store at the agency), spending their time, as too many white men do in country villages. Eight miles beyond the agency, on Gull Lake, is a mission. It has been under the charge of Rev. J. L. Breck, a gentleman of high culture, and whose enlightened and humane exertions in behalf of the Indians have received much commendation both from the agent and Gov. Gorman, the Superintendent. He has been at the mission four years. While he had the benefit of the school-fund, he had in his school, under his own roof, 35 pupils; since that was withheld, the number of pupils has been 22. Mr. Breck will soon remove to Leech Lake, and will be succeeded by a gentleman who comes well recommended from a theological institution in Wisconsin. I desired very much to go as far as the mission, but from Crow Wing and back it would have been thirty miles, and it was otherwise inconvenient on account of the rain. The Indians are beginning to farm a little. They begin with gardens. Their support is chiefly from the annuities paid by the United States, which are principally received in some sort of dry goods. The goods are furnished by contract, and the price paid for them is about enough, if all stories are true. They also derive some support from their fur hunts and by fishing. Buffaloes are still hunted successfully beyond the Red River of the North. They bring home the furs, and also the best parts of the meat. The meat is preserved by being partially cooked in buffalo fat, cut into small pieces, and sewed up very tight in the hide of the animal. It is called pemmican, and sells here for twenty-five cents a pound. It is broken to pieces like pork scraps, and the Indians regard it as a great luxury.

From the agency I hastened on to see Hole-in-the-day (Pug-o-na-ke-shick, his Indian name, means, literally, Hole-in-the-sky). He is a famous chief, having in his youth distinguished himself for bold exploits and severe endurance. But what most entitles him to attention is the very exemplary course he has pursued in attempting to carry out the wishes of the government in bringing his race to the habits of civilized life. It was principally through his influence that a treaty was made between his tribe and the United States, and after it went into effect he turned his attention to farming. Previous to the treaty he was supported as chief by the tribal revenue. He has succeeded well. Over a year ago the receipts of what he sold from his farm, aside from what his household needed, amounted to over two hundred dollars. At length, after riding a mile and a half without passing a habitation, over a fertile prairie, I came in sight of his house. He lives near a small lake, and north of him is a large belt of heavy pine timber. He has an excellent farm, well fenced and well cultivated. His house is in cottage style, and of considerable length; spacious, neat, and well furnished. Arriving at the door I dismounted, and inquired of his squaw if he was at home. She sent her little girl out into the field to call him. There, indeed, in his cornfield, was he at work. He met me very cordially; and invited me into a room, where he had an interpretor. We held a protracted and agreeable conversation on Indian matters. He invited me to dine with him, and nothing but want of time prevented my accepting his polite invitation. He was very neatly dressed, and is quite prepossessing in his appearance. He is younger than I supposed before seeing him. I judge him to be about thirty-four. He is a man of strong sense, of great sagacity, and considerable ambition.

There is no reason why the Indians should not speedily become civilized. Those who have longest lived amongst them, and who best understand their character, tell me so. I fully believe it. The Indian follows his wild habits because he has been educated to do so. The education of habit, familiar from infancy, and the influence of tradition, lead him to the hunt, and as much to despise manual labor. He does what he has been taught to consider as noble and honorable, and that is what the most enlightened do. Certainly his course of life is the most severe and exposed; it is not for comfort that he adheres to his wild habits. He regards it as noble to slay his hereditary foe. Hence the troubles which occasionally break out between the Chippewas and the Sioux. To gain the applause of their tribe they will incur almost any danger, and undergo almost any privation. Thus, we see that for those objects which their education has taught them to regard as first and best, they will sacrifice all their comforts. They have sense enough, and ambition enough, and fortitude enough. To those they love they are affectionate almost to excess. Only direct their ambition in the proper way, and they will at once rise. Teach them that it is noble to produce something useful by their labor, and to unite with the great family of man to expand arts and to improve the immortal mind-- teach them that it is noble, that there is more applause to be gained by it, as well as comfort, and they will change in a generation. They will then apply themselves to civilization with Spartan zeal and with Spartan virtues.

In a communication to the secretary of war by Gen. Cass in 1821, relative to his expedition to the sources of the Mississippi, he makes the following interesting extract from the journal of Mr. Doty, a gentleman who accompanied the expedition:-- "The Indians of the upper country consider those of the Fond-du-Lac as very stupid and dull, being but little given to war. They count the Sioux their enemies, but have heretofore made few war excursions.

Minnesota and Dacotah - 10/37

Previous Page     Next Page

  1    5    6    7    8    9   10   11   12   13   14   15   20   30   37 

Schulers Books Home

 Games Menu

Dice Poker
Tic Tac Toe


Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything