Page images
PDF
EPUB

glish at Michlemackinack ; on which he was dispatched with forty warriors. On his arrival, he was requested to lead them against the Americans." To this request he replied : -We have considered you and the Americans as one people. You are now at war ; how are we to know which has justice on their side ? Besides, you white people are, in number, like the leaves on the trees. Should I march, with my forty warriors to the field of battle, they, with their chief, will be swallowed up, as the big water embosoms the small rivulets which run into it. No! I will return to my country, where my warriors may be of service against our red enemies, and their actions commemorated in the dance of our nation.” Mr. Grant and the Chipeway chief not arriving at the station on the 15th, agreeably to their promise, Mr. Pike with his interpreter and one man, set out on a visit to Thomas, the Fols Avoine chief, who, with six other lodges of his nation, was encamped about twenty miles down the river. After passing a snowy night in the woods without any other covering than a blanket, they reached the place of destination on the following morning. The camp was situated in one of the finest sugar groves imaginable. They were received in a truly patriarchal style : the chief pulled off Mr. Pike's mocasins, assigned him the best place in the lodge, and offered dry cloaths. After being presented with the syrup of the maple to drink, the chief asked his guest which he preferred, beaver, swan, elk or deer, to eat. On giving preference to the first, a large kettle was filled by his wife ; and the soup being thickened with the flour which the visiting party carried with them, they had what was considered a delicious repast. Having taken this refreshment, they were asked by the chief, if they would visit his people at the other lodges : and, on signifying their assent, they went round the camp,-at each lodge of which they were presented with something to eat ; at one a bowl of sugar, -at another, the tail of a beaver :-generally, with what was esteemed a delicacy by their Indian friends. On returning to the lodge of the chief, they found a bed prepared for each of them, of good soft bear skins ; in addition to which Mr. Pike was furnished with a large feather pillow. An incident occurred here characteristick of the Indian hospitality : with the rigid moralist it will place the chief in the unfavourable light of an abandoned libertine ; but, the liberal mind will make allowance for the customs of society, and, perhaps, consider it as an extraordinary trait of generosity in this son of nature. In the course of the day, the chief had observed a ring on the finger of Mr. Pike : he enquired if it was gold : he was told it was, and the gift of a lady with whom the wearer would feel happy to be at that time. He appeared absorbed in thought; and at night said to the interpreter, that “ perhaps his father (a name by which the Indians designated Mr. Pike) felt much grieved, from the want of a woman: if it was so, he would furnish him with one.” The interpreter informed him that the Americans had each but one wife, to whom they considered it a duty to be faithful. “ He thought it strange, as he had three : besides, he knew some Americans at his nation, who had five or six wives during the course of the winter.” On the interpreter observing that these were men without character ; that all the great men had but one, the chief seemed satisfied, but said " he liked better to have as many as he pleased.” This conversation passed between the Indian and interpreter without any appeal to Mr. Pike, whose sentiments on the subject the interpreter knew : it also saved him from the refusal of what it was evident the chief considered as the greatest favour he could bestow.

The next morning Mr. Pike purchased two baskets of sugar ; and, after breakfasting on a swan, departed for the station on the river. The eagles, ravens, and the beasts of prey, had devoured a deer and two geese, which were killed on their march to the Indian lodges, and which they expected to Cake with them on their return.

On the 21st, a Fols Avoine chief, called Shawonoe, and six young men paid a visit to Mr. Pike, and informed him that a camp of Sauteurs were on the river, waiting for their chiefs to come down.

Agreeably to promise, Mr. Pike, with his interpreter and one man, paid a visit to the old chief Shawonoe. They reached his camp in about two hours; and in their road met with a Fols Avoine chief, called Chien Blanche, who visited the station previous to the expedition from it to the head of the river. At the lodge of Shawonoe they were received with the usual Indian hospitality : yet very different from the polite reception they met with from Thomas.' Charlevoix and others have noticed the beauty of this nation ; as it respects the males in particular, they are correct. They are all straight, well made men, about the middle size, with an expression of countenance that inspires confidence and charms at first sight :-their complexions are fair, (for Indians) their teeth good, their eyes farge, and rather languishing, -in short, they would pass for handsome men, among those who are thought to be so. Forming his ideas of Indian women from those generally met with, Mr. Pike had not credited what travellers had said respecting the females of this nation ; in this lodge, however, were five that deserved the appellation of handsome women, when he arrived. In the evening there came in a couple, whom the interpreter said were considered the handsomest in the nation. The man was about five feet eléven inches high, with all that pleasantness of countenance, which distinguishes the people of this nation. His companion, in her twenty-second year, had dark brown eyes, jet hair, with an elegant neck. Her figure was genteel, and without that inclination to corpulency which the women generally have after they are married. The man appeared to attach himself particularly to Mr. Pike, whom he informed, that his wife was the daughter of an American who passed through the nation some years before, and spent a week or two in it. Having some biscuits with him, Mr. Pike presented them to her as his countrywoman: this created a laugh among the others, and she was called the Bostonian, during his stay.

These Indians are close in their dealings. For a little bear's oil, they charged at the rate of a dollar the gallon ; and even at this price wanted to adulterate it by the admixture of a portion of tallow. They asked ten dollars for a bear skin; it was a very fine one ; indeed, it is said that the traders sometimes give as high as sixteen dollars for the very best. These skins are infinitely superior here, to what are procured on the lower Mississippi.

In the evening they were entertained with the Calumet and dog dances ; as also the dance of the

Some of them struck the post, and told their war exploits ; but they spoke in the Menomene tongue, which the interpreter did not understand. · After the dance, followed the feast of the dead, as it is called ; at which, each two or three are served with a vessel full of meat. When all were ready the old chief delivered a prayer ; after which the eating begins, and it is expected that every portion will be eaten entirely up, care being taken not to drop even a bone. What is left is carefully gathered together, and put in the dish. The eating being over, they were treated with soup : this was followed by a prayer, or exhortation from the chief, which finished the ceremony. They are careful in gathering up the remains of this feast, which they throw into the water, lest the dogs, which are kept in great numbers, should get them. Burning these fragments is viewed in an equally sacrilegious light with giving them to the dogs. Mr. Pike, in his dog-sled, arrived at the station in the forenoon of the next day : after noon, Mr. Grant arrived with De Breche and some of his young men ; but the young warriors of Leech lake had returned to their homes. The Fols Avoine chiefs were informed of this circumstance : and both Thomas, and the old Shawonoe, the one accompanied by seven, and the other by six of their men, came to the station on the 26th. In the evening they danced until ten o'clock. The old Shawonoe, and the White Dog of the Fols Avoine, told their exploits, which however were unintelligible to the interpreter. When De Breche arose, he said, “I once killed a Sious, and cut off his head with such a spear as I now present to this Winebago," presenting one at the same time to a Winebago present, and with whom the Chipeways were then at war. This was considered as a great honour by the latter. The next morning the Chipeway chief made a speech, and presented his pipe to Mr. Pike, to be by him borne to the Sioux-seven strings of wampum were attached to it, showing his authority to be from seven bands of the Cipeways, to conclude a peace, or make war. He had chosen the former, and with his pipe requested that they might be informed that “ he, and his people would encamp at the mouth of the river de Corbeau, the ensuing summer, where they would see the United States flag flying: As a proof of his pacific disposition the Fols Avoine chief then rose and said, ** My nation is rendered small by its enemies ; only a remnant is left: -but we can boast of not having been slaves. For, in preference to having our women and children taken, we have killed them. Since our father (meaning Mr. Pike) has travelled so far, and taken such pains to prevent the Sioux and Chipeways from killing each other, it would be ungenerous in us not to listen to his words. I will report to the Sioux the pacifick propositions of the Sauteurs, and hope the peace will be firm and lasting." Mr. Pike then informed the Fols Avoine chief, that he would report his words to the Sauteurs, and should feel thankful to the two nations for having laid aside the tomahawk at his request. He thanked the Fols Avoine for his good wishes and the Parole he had given to the Sauteurs. This done, each chief was presented with a kettle of liquor to drink the others' healths in ; and the flag, which had been presented to De Breche, was displayed in the station. The Fols Avoine then departed; a circumstance not unpleasing to Mr. Pike, who had to find provision for them all; and they had already consumed what dried meat was laid in for his descending voyage. He was apprehensive, lest his hunters should not be able to furnish another supply.

In the afternoon of the 28th, Mr. Grant and the Sauteurs took their departure, and were accompanied by Mr. Pike as far as the lodge of the Shawonoe, where they (ten in number) staid during the night. Here the Fols Avoine and the Sauteurs had a dance, and feasted on elk, sugar and syrup. Before their departure Mr. Pike demanded the medal and flag of the chief ; the former he delivered, but with a bad grace, and said the flag were in the land, when he left Lake de Sable.

They had thunder and lightning this evening:

In the morning they parted ; Mr. Grant and his party for Sandy lake, and Mr. Pike and his, to his hunting camp ; from which he was summoned to the station by a letter from Mr. Dickson. The person who brought the letter stated that a Sioux had arrived with Mr. Dickson's man. He took a man with him, and reached the station after midnight ; having travelled along the ice covered by nearly a foot of water, and through a tempest of lightning and rain. The Sioux finding the Sauteurs had left the station, returned immediately

As the ice was beginning to break, all their attention was directed to get ting their boats in order, and hunting for a supply of provisions. They caulk. ed the seams of their boats, and payed them with the tallow of their candles. The young Shawonoe arrived from above with their canoes and about one thousand pounds of furs, which he deposited in the station. The Fols Avoine chief, called the old Shawonoe, came and encamped near the station, and informed Mr. Pike that his nation had determined to send his son to Saint Louis in his place, and in whose favour he declined the voyage.

Having got every thing on board their boats, on the evening before, the party embarked at seven o'clock, on the morning of the 7th of April, in high spirits. They passed the grand rapids, and reached Mr. Dickson's before the sun set, where they were saluted with three rounds. The following day was spent in making a chart of the St. Peter's river, &c. and in settling the affairs of the Indian department with Mr. Dickson ; to whom Mr. Pike confesses himself greatly indebted for his communications. They left Mr. Dickson and Mr. de Paulire in the morning, and in the afternoon arrived at Mr. Paulire's house, where they were received with great politeness by his brother (to whom Mr. Pike had a letter) and a Mr. Vean, who winterednear him.

Thus had Mr. Pike been the harbinger of peace to the inhabitants on this river. The traders followed him and wintered in safety, giving articles of comfort to the Indians in exchange for the produce of their hunting excur. sions.

After leaving this house they discovered a bark canoe about three hun. dred yards ahead, which they lost sight of suddenly on turning a point of land, without being able to discover it again when they reached the same part of the river. This excited their attention ; Mr. Pike stood up in bis barge, and at last perceived it turned up in the grass of the prairie. After passing the place about a gun shot, the Indians made their appearance from under her, and launched their canoe into the river. They then came on,and when the party halted for the night at a vacant trading house, they halted likewise, addressing Mr. Pike with “Say go commandant,' or your servant, captain. When the motive for their concealing themselves was demanded, they replied-their canoe leaked, and they had turned her up to discharge the water. This could not be believed, and as their conduct was suspicious, they were received rather coolly : however, each of them had a piece of bread and a small dram given to them. They then re-embarked and continued down the river.

The conduct of these men reminded Mr. Pike of a visit made by the Fils de Pinechon to Mr. Dickson during the winter, the principal cause of which was, to give Mr. Pike notice that the seven Indians who had been met at the falls of Saint Anthony, when the party ascended the river, had since de clared that they would kill him, for agreeing to a peace between the Sioux and Sauteurs ; Mr. Pike for being the means of preventing them from taking revenge for relatives killed in August 1805, by the Sauteurs ; and Thomas, the Fols Avoine chief, for the support which he seemed disposed to afford. This information bad not received the attention it merited as coming from the first chief of the village ; but the conduct of these Indians put the party on their guard.

This day there was an appearance of returning vegetation, although in some places the snow remained a foot in depth.

They reached the falls of St. Anthony on the morning of the 10th, and got all their baggage and their canoes across the portage before night. These falls had a much more tremendous appearance now than when the party ascended the river. The ice continued floating in the river all day.

The next day the large boats were got over the portage, and the party de. scended to an island at the mouth of the St. Peter's river.

Mr. Pike went to the chiefs, and informed them that he had something to communicate. The Fils de Penechon said he would provide a place ; and accordingly a council was assembled at the setting of the sun, and Mr. Pike was sent for to attend. Here he found a great many chiefs of the As. susitones, Gens de Feuille, and the Gens de Lac : they were waiting for the Yanktons ; in all about one hundred lodges. As the party crossed the river, thcy were saluted, in the usual manner, with a discharge of ball. The council house consisted of two large lodges, capable of containing 300 men. In the upper lodge were forty chiefs, and as many pipes set against the poles ; along with which, Mr. Pike had the pipes of the Sauteurs arranged. He then informed them, in a short speech, of all that had occurred between him and these people. Finding it difficult to make himself understood through the medium of his interpreter, he was content with stating to them his wish that some of their chiefs should go to St. Louis ; and to such as chose to go to the Prairie des Chiens, he would there explain himself more fully. They then all smoked out of the Sauteurs pipes but three, who were painted black, were of those who had lost their relations last summer. When he departed, he invited the Fils de Pinechon, and the son of the Killein Rouge to cross the river and sup with him ; where, with Mr. Duncan, he endeav. oured to explain what he was unable to do in the council ; and stated to them, that at the prairie he would give his ideas fully to the chiefs, and hoped to be able to make a more favourable report than captain Lewis had done, of their treatment to him. The former of these chiefs was the son of him who had remained all winter near the station, and had treated the men left there well. They endeavoured to excuse their people from the charges made against them.

After leaving the river St. Peter's, they endeavoured to find the cave which Carver mentions, but in vain. The interpreter, who had been many times up the Mississippi, knew nothing of it.

As they were passing some lodges of Indians, a few miles below the St. Peter's, Mr. Pike received a particular invitation to go on shore, where he was kindly received, presented with sugar, &c. A dram was given in re. turn ; and when the party were departing, the owner of the lodge they had been in, demanded a kettle of liquor. On being refused, when the party left the shore, the Indian called out, and said, he did not like the arrangements which had been made, and would go to war in the summer. The interpreter was told to inform him, that if Mr. Pike returned to St. Peter's with the troops, he would then settie that affair with him.

On arriving at the St. Croix, they found the Petit Corbeau with his people, Mr. Frazer and Mr.Woods. In a conference which they had, the Petit Corbeau made many apologies for the disorderly conduct of his people. He said that his young warriors wanted to go to war, and that he had been much blamed for dismissing his party last fall; but, that he was determined to adhere, as far as he could, to Mr. Pike's wishes, and thought it best to remain where he was, and endeavoured to restrain the warriors. He presented his beaver robe and pipe, with a message to the general, that he was determined to preserve peace, and make the road clear ; also, as a remembrance of his promised medal. To this a reply was made calculated to confirm him in his good intentions ; and assuring him, that although not pres. ent, he would not be less remembered by his father than those that were.

Here Mr. Pike learned that Mordock Cameron, contrary to the directions of his licence, sold liquor to the Indians, on the river St. Peter's ; also, that his partner was acting with equal imprudence below. They were by this conduct the cause of much disorder, and great injury to the traders.

Vol. IV. Appendix.

« PreviousContinue »