INDIAN AGENTS.

EARLY VISITORS.

ORIGINAL INHABITANTS.

The origin of the first occupants of this region is shrouded in mystery.

Several writers have adopted the theory that they were descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, and they fortify their position with a variety of interesting facts.

The founder of our fair domain was a believer in this theory, and the archives of France contain a lengthy memorial written by Cadillac in which he distinctly asserts his belief that the Indians are descendants of the Hebrew race, strengthening his argument with statements of many remarkable coincidences and customs confirmatory of the idea.

The researches of Schoolcraft, Prescott, Pickering, and others, indicate that the first comers were from Asia, that they were driven by winds and waves over to the Pacific coast, or made their way by the Aleutian Islands or Behring's Strait to Alaska, and from thence southward to Mexico and South America, afterwards spreading northward and eastward over the American continent.

Elaborate and plausible arguments have been made to prove the converse theory, that the Chinese are descended from the Aztec race.

In support of this supposition, it is urged that the trade winds from the Peruvian coast pass directly to China, and that even frail vessels could easily be wafted thither.

Unique and ancient bronze implements are found alike in both countries; the picture-writings of the two countries are in many cases similar, and in others are exactly the same; and the Feast of Souls, as celebrated in Central America, is remarkably like certain of the Chinese ceremonies.

The order of the ancient occupancy of the country seems to have been, first the Olmec’s, then the Toltecs, then the Aztecs, or Aztecas.

Various reasons give rise to the theory that the Aztec race were the first occupants of this particular region.

Humboldt was of the opinion that the country of the Aztecas was in this latitude.

The meaning of their tribal name is "People of the Lakes;" and there is no place in the United States in which small lakes are so numerous as in Michigan, while the State is nearly surrounded by lakes, which are almost seas in extent.

The name Michigan is derived from two Chippewa words, Mitchaw, great, and Sagiegan, lake. Great Lake.

The so-called Indian mounds in various Western States, in their size, form, and contents, add force to the Aztecan theory.

In the township of Springwells, just below Detroit, were four of these mounds; one of them still remains inside the grounds of Fort Wayne; the second was on property now occupied by the Copper Smelting Works, and the third lay between the other two.

They were circular in form, from thirty to seventy feet in diameter, and varying from three to ten feet in height.

Two parallel embankments, about four feet high, led to them from the east.

One of these mounds was opened in 1837, and the one inside the fort, by permission of the War Department, on May 22, 1876.

Both were found to contain numerous skeletons, arrow-heads, and vases or pots of earthenware.

The one last opened contained also an iron vessel capable of holding two or three gallons, and several pounds of what appeared to be a sort of paint.

The Great Mound of the River Rouge, about half a mile below Fort Wayne, was at first, probably, fully three hundred feet long and two hundred feet wide.

In 1876 it was twenty feet high.

It has never been fully explored, but a partial investigation by Henry Gillman resulted in the discovery of stone axes, arrow-heads, fragments of pottery, and human bones much decayed.

An old Indian told a member of the Cicotte family that these mounds were erected as forts, at the time the tribes were fighting each other.

Indian tradition also ascribes these mounds to the Tuetle Indians, who preceded the Wyandotts.

The name Tuetle is believed to be a corruption of Tuteloes, a tribe once supposed to have emigrated from Virginia only as far north as the Susquehanna; but it now seems probable that some came as far as the Detroit.

Of the more modern Indian tribes who roamed over this region, the Algonquin race was the earliest.

They counted among their numbers in the northwest the tribes of the Ottawas, Menominees, Sacs, Foxes, and Chippewas.

There were also in this vicinity the tribes of the Miamis, Potowatamies, Winnebagoes, and the Ouendats, or Wyandotts.

The latter who came to this vicinity about 1680, excelled the other tribes in energy and progressiveness.

From time to time the Iroquois also appeared.

This nation was composed originally of the Onondagas, Cayugas, Senecas, Oneidas, and Mohawks.

In 1714, the Tuscaroras of North Carolina united with them, and they were afterward known as the Six Nations.

They claimed all of Michigan, and between them and the Algonquins warfare was frequent.

Indeed, the Iroquois were the enemies of all the Indians at or near Detroit, and in 1649 they drove the Algonquins from this region.

They were unfriendly to the French, and during the French and English war did good service for the English.

They were the cannibals of America, and French residents of Detroit, in 1756, stated that the Iroquois actually ate the flesh of persons slain in battle.

It was the settled policy of the French commandants to induce as many friendly Indians as possible to settle near their forts.

We find Cadillac, in 1703, urging the Ottawas to move to Detroit.

The French records of the same year show that several Miamis were already settled there, and that on June 28 thirty Hurons arrived from Mackinaw and erected wigwams near the fort.

The Potowatamies had their village west of the fort, near the mouth of what was afterwards called Knagg's Creek.

The Ottawa settlement was where Windsor now is, and the Hurons were gathered on the Canada side, opposite the Cass Farm.

In 1705 about two hundred Indians had been persuaded by Cadillac to settle in the vicinity.

In furtherance of his plans a great council of chiefs was held, continuing from August 6 to August 10, 1707.

The following translation from a French Colonial Memoir, written in 1707, and preserved at Paris, gives a vivid picture of Indian life at this period:

The village of the Pottowatamies adjoins the fort; they lodge partly under Apaquois, which are made of mat-grass.

The women do all this work.

The men belonging to that nation are well clothed, like our domiciliated Indians at Montreal; their entire occupation is hunting and dress ; they make use of a great deal of vermilion, and in winter wear buffalo robes richly painted, and in summer either blue or red cloth.

They play a good deal at la crosse in summer, twenty or more on each side.

Their bat is a sort of little racket, and the ball with which they play is made of very heavy wood, somewhat larger than the balls used at tennis; when playing they are entirely naked, except a breech cloth, and moccasins on their feet.

Their body is completely painted with all sorts of colors.

Some, with white clay, trace white lace on their bodies, as if on all the seams of a coat, and at a distance it would be apt to be taken for silver lace.

They play very deep {gros j'eu) and often.

The bets sometimes amount to more than eight hundred livres.

They set up two poles and commence the game from the center; one party propels the ball from one side and the other from the opposite, and which ever reaches the goal, wins.

This is fine recreation and worth seeing.

They often play village against village, the Poux against the Outaoues or the Hurons, and lay heavy stakes.

Sometimes Frenchmen join in the game with them.

The women cultivate Indian corn, beans, peas, squashes, and melons, which come up very fine.

The women and girls dance at night; adorn themselves considerably, grease their hair, put on a white shift, paint their cheeks with vermilion, and wear whatever wampum they possess, and are very tidy in their way.

They dance to the sound of the drum and sisiquoi, which is a sort of a gourd containing some grains of shot.

Four or five young girls sing, and beat time with the drum and sisiquoi, and the women keep time and do not lose a step ; it is very entertaining, and lasts almost the entire night.

The old men often dance the Medelinne (Medicine Dance); they resemble a set of demons, and all this takes place during the night.

The young men often dance in a circle {le tour) and strike posts; it is then they recount their achievements, and dance, at the same time, the war dance (des decouvertes), and whenever they act thus they are highly ornamented.

It is altogether very curious.

They often perform these things for tobacco. When they go hunting, which is every fall, they carry their Apaquois with them to hut under at night.

Everybody follows, men, women, and children, and winter in the forest and return in the spring.

The Hurons are also near, perhaps the eighth of a league from the French fort.

This is the most industrious nation that can be seen.

They scarcely ever dance, and are always at work; raise a very large amount of Indian corn, peas, beans; some grow wheat.

They construct their huts entirely of bark, very strong and solid; very lofty and very long, and arched like arbors.

Their fort is strongly encircled with pickets and bastions, well redoubted, and has strong gates.

They are the most faithful nation to the French, and the most expert hunters that we have.

Their cabins are divided into sleeping compartments, which contain their misirague, and are very clean.

They are the bravest of all the nations and possess considerable talent.

They are well clad; some of them wear close overcoats {juste au corps de capot).

The men are always hunting, summer and winter, and the women work.

When they go hunting in the fall, a goodly number of them remain to guard their fort.

The old women, and throughout the winter those women who remain, collect wood in very large quantity.

The soil is very fertile; Indian corn grows there to the height of ten to twelve feet.

Their fields are very clean, and very extensive; not the smallest weed is to be seen in them.

The Outaoues are on the opposite of the river, over against the French fort ; they, likewise, have a picket fort.

Their cabins resemble somewhat those of the Hurons.

They do not make use of Apaquois except when out hunting: their cabins in this fort are all of bark, but not so clean nor so well made as those of the Hurons.

They are as well dressed and very laborious, both in their agriculture and hunting.

Their dances, juggleries, and games of ball (la crosse) and of the bowl, are the same as those of the Poux.

Their game of the bowl consists of eight small pebbles (noyaux), which are red or black on one side, and yellow or white on the other; these are tossed up in a bowl, and when he who holds the vessel tosses them and finds seven of the whole eight of the same color he gains, and continues playing as long as he receives the same thing.

When the result is different, the adverse party takes the bowl and plays next, and they risk heavy stakes on all these games.

They have likewise the game of the straws, and all the nations gamble in like manner.

In 1736 there were five hundred Indian warriors at Detroit,—two hundred each from the Huron and Ottawa tribes and one hundred from the Potowatamies.

Bougainville, who was here in 1757,says:

The Indians who usually come to trade at Detroit are the Hurons of the same tribe of those of Lorette, near Quebec, a perfidious and deceitful nation in whom we must never put confidence.

There are also the Ottawas, the Sauteux, and the Potowatamies; these last named are of all the Indians the most faithful and the most attached to our interests.

They have never murdered any Frenchmen, and have often warned us of the plots of other tribes.

Cadillac says that the Ottawas wore, as an ornament, a little stone suspended from their nose, and that "Ottawa," the name of the tribe, signified "the nation with a hole in their nose."

The French gave nicknames to most of the tribes in this region.

The Wyandotts they designated as Hurons, because of their fierce aspect, comparing them to a wild boar; the Chippewas, as Sauteurs, from their residence near the Sault St. Marie; the Menominees were called Folles Avoines, from "wild rice," one of their principal articles of food.

The name Potowatamie was abbreviated into Poux.

This nation was very uncleanly.

All of the tribes known to the Americans, north of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi, had their council-fire at the village of the Wyandotts, near the mouth of the Detroit River.

The Wyandotts alone had the power to convene the tribes, and when a council was to be held, application was made to them, and it was held at their village.

This fact gave the locality a peculiar importance and made it familiar to all the Indians.

At various times nearly all the noted Indian leaders visited this post.

Pontiac, Tecumseh, and his brother The Prophet, were frequent visitors. John Logan, the Cayuga chief, whose speech to Lord Dunmore, Governor of Virginia, is familiar to every schoolboy, was here in 1774, and after the treaty of Chillicothe, he resided for many years in this vicinity.

He became a drunkard, and was killed, between Detroit and Miami, by an Indian.

The French trusted the Indians almost without fear.

No seals or locks were placed on the storehouses, and the Indians came and went as they pleased. Under English and American rule the Indians were welcomed inside the stockade during the day, but at night all were turned out except those who were entertained by private persons.

The Indians were always persistent beggars, and no Arab of the present day demands backsheesh more clamorously than did the red men of their French and English "brothers."

Their requests were generally acceded to, and the presents given them in some measure made up for the exorbitant prices charged them for articles offered in exchange for furs.

Their likes and dislikes turned, like a pair of scales, according as they had free range or were restricted in their visitations to the houses.

On September 18, 1770, Captain Stephenson, of the Eighteenth Regiment, then in command, wrote to Sir William Johnson:

My children here are quiet at present.

They have all been to pay me a visit and suck my breast, to which they made so close an application that I told them I was afraid they would throw me in a consumption.

They are very happy at having free access to my house, which my predecessor's delicacy would not admit.

Even after this region was surrendered, the English Government sought the favor of the Indians by annual gifts; and year by year up to 1836 thousands from various tribes gathered at Detroit, Sandwich, or Maiden to receive the presents of their Great Father, the King.

The American Government was compelled to follow this precedent.

On November 24, 1807, Governor Hull wrote to the Secretary of War that within the two or three days previous seven or eight hundred Indians had called at Detroit, on the way to their villages, and that he had been compelled to feed them.

In the autumn of 1812, while the city was in possession of the British, the Indians committed many outrages.

A party of them went in a body to rob Colonel Lambert Beaubien's orchard, but the Colonel attacked them with his fists, and made so courageous a defense that he drove them from his premises.

After the city again passed under American control, Colonel Cass was obliged to feed great numbers of the Indians.

In one communication to the War Department he states that for several years he fed an average of four hundred Indians per day.

Between 1814 and 1817, he disbursed $200,000 for the benefit of the Indians.

To divide and distribute among them the goods and bounty of the Government was a task vexatious in the extreme, and almost unbearable, for it was impossible to satisfy the stupid and stolid savages.

All the year round they came and went, and the agent's family was "driven from one extremity of the house to the other by them."

In addition to the annuities the "government blacksmith" repaired, free of charge, their guns and traps.

There was always some excuse for their coming, and citizens were not surprised at any time to see a swarthy face at the window-pane; oftentimes the click of the latch was the only warning of the entrance of one of the nation's wards.

Some of them were gayly dressed with blankets of scarlet broadcloth, and strings of silver half-moons graduated in size from one to several inches in length, hung from neck to ankles, both in front and down the back.

Their moccasins and leggins were gay with beads and the stained quills of the porcupine.

The heads of the war chiefs were frequently gayer still with the vermilion and bear's grease which had been rubbed thereon.

The squaws were not left behind.

There was always some burden for them to carry, and the procession ceased on one day only to begin the next.

Indians and more Indians, and still they came! Indians lazy and Indians drunk, Indians sick and Indians hungry, all crying "Give! give!"

After receiving their payments, hundreds of them would lie about the city stupidly drunk; in August, 1825, they so disturbed the peace of the city, that the Council, through the mayor, sought aid from the governor to quiet and control them.

A few of these Indians came to buy goods, and were really trustworthy.

An old account book of that period contains charges made against Indians called "Saw Goose's Wife," "Big Wind's Daughter," "The Rat," "The White Devil," " The Old Cow," "The Cow's Sister," "The Old Eagle and Son," "The Red Bird," and "The Turtle."