« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
Temperance Society-Night in the Council Lodge-Breakfast at the "Striped Apron"- Council Extraordinary - The halfbreed question-Coron, the Orator-An Indian heiress-Her Portrait-A Council-Debate upon claims-A fortunate Trader and happy Attorney-Prayer-meeting on Sunday-Indian Superstitions-Potwalloping affair-Shift my quarters to a Pottawattomie wigwam-Cattle shooting-Butchers put to flight-A negro Barber-Wolf River Ranger3-Payment day—A Pottawattomie warrior-American flag hauled down-Agent retreats —Drunken Indians-Last night with the Savages-My host invites me to visit Calumet, or Pipe Town.
A MEETING of all the traders has been held in front of the Council Lodge, and they have one and all signed a paper, or mutual agreement, not to sell whisky to the Indians till the payment has been made, and then they may all start fair. Osh Cosh and the Grignons are the prime movers of this good measure; and the better to carry it into effect, all the whisky barrels are to be stored in the bush at the other side of the river, and every drop seized on this, or the Indian side, is to be thrown into the river. We will see how long this good resolution will be kept.
The first night I slept in the Council Lodge was bitter cold; the keen frosty air whistled freely through the chinks in the frail sides of our lodge; the dogs fre
quently broke through the mats at the door, and prowled The Indians also kept up a perpetual howling, singing, and flute blowing, round the embers of the fire, in front of the wigwam. The agent, poor man, was grievously disturbed by this noise; and frequently, during the night, he started up from his bed, blankets, and sheets, (which he had taken the wise. precaution to bring along with the money boxes,) and thrusting his head out of the lodge, he would roar at the Indians, tell them to "Stop that noise! make less noise there!" then, groping his way back to bed again, he sometimes stumbled over the snoring clerk, who would awake in a great fright, and halloo, "Thieves! mind the boxes! murder!" &c. It was next to impossible to sleep for an hour without being routed up, by some vile noise either within or without, and in the morning I rose up far from being refreshed with my first night's bivouac on Indian ground.
Got some savoury stew for breakfast this morning, down town, at the sign of the "Striped Apron," which floated gracefully above six wigwams thrown into one, by a spirited New England pedler, from the Bay. He has got together sundry cooking utensils, and a barrel of flour, some pork, and, mirabile dictu! coffee. He thinks he will clear his expenses, and perhaps a little more, as he charges half-a-dollar a meal. The long wigwam is the rendezvous of all the traders and loafers in the place, though the Indians seldom pass the threshold.
A great commotion broke out to day, when it was understood that the half-breeds would be excluded from the pay list, for such of the Pottawattomies, Winnebagos, and other Indians, as had taken wives from amongst
the Menomenees, had hitherto been paid a share; and several of the Pottawattomies attended the payment. Their wives, and some of the Chippewa half-breeds, excited the sympathy of their red kinswomen; the squaws stirred up their husbands, the men stirred up the chiefs, the chiefs appealed to Osh Cosh, and the affair is to be settled to-day in full council.
The Pottawattomies say, if any of the half-breeds are to be excluded, all must be excluded, from the payment. They insist that the white faces have no right to interfere between the tribes--and that the children of white fathers and red mothers ought to be supported by the white fathers alone. Passing near the wigwam of Osh Cosh, I was not a little surprised to find a great, big, swaggering Frenchman, from Milwaukee, on his knees before that chief, soliciting that his wife and twelve half-breed children be put upon the pay-list, with great earnestness. Anxious to secure a good place, I hastened back to the Council Lodge, and found it beset in every direction; and way being cleared for Osh Cosh, I slipped in, and found the lodge crammed, as full as it could hold, of chiefs, and braves, and half-breeds. The agent made an abortive attempt to "clar de kitchen," and get the half-breeds out, but found it impossible. It was a very sore subject for the Indians to broach, as every white man on the ground, except myself, was connected, more or less, with Indians and half-breeds.
Osh Cosh declined making a speech: he had evidently been brought over by the half-breeds, and, during the stormy debate, lay back, resting on his elbows, eyeing the several speakers with the greatest disdain. His son, and heir-apparent, a fine young painted savage, sat behind him, and seemed sadly per
plexed at having his plumed head and scalp lock crushed against the sides of our vast bee-hive.
A loud and angry debate was carried on between several chiefs, which was not translated by the interpreters. All of a sudden, up jumped a chief-strode over to the agent, and shook hands with him. He was received by the agent with cool surprise, and by the half-breeds with murmurs. A trader who sat next me interpreted part of his speech, which the halfbreed's interpreter sadly changed, and hashed up for the agent's ear.
A better model of a bold and fearless orator I had never seen, on or off the stage, in ancient or modern painting or sculpture, than Coron, the red speaker before us-in the meridian of life, in the full vigour of manhood, his athletic form lightly draped with a simple blanket-now grasped on his broad chest with one hand, while the other was held forth with bold and graceful action. The classic contour of his head, piercing black eyes, aquiline nose, small, though changeable mouth
"As sunbeams chasing shadows o'er the hill"—
the strong relief and beautiful play into which the muscles of the neck and bare throat were thrownthe whole man, reminded me of the justice of West's exclamation, when he first beheld the Apollo Belvedere in the Vatican-" a young Mohawk warrior."
He said he was the friend and well-wisher of the pale-faces, but denounced their encroachments; they were never satisfied, still crying "More land, more land!”—still forcing the red men further west, further from their great father beyond the great waters. He remembered the Green Bay treaty, and knew how it had been brought about. Osh Cosh was nothing be