Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Legend of Chief Wabasis' Lost Treasure - 129

Sub-Chief John Wabasis was proud of his achievements at keeping the peace in the Grand River valley and with the signing of the Treaty of 1836 he reaped a whirlwind of money from the Federal government. His services to the Indian nations made him a prominent figure among the Indians and the incoming settlers. With the passing of Wobwindigo he became chief of his own family tribe; his wife Cononoma, and three children before 1840 and Wabasis had already made several trips to Grand Rapids in late Spring to pickup his share of his annuity payments.

Many people believe he kept the different tribal shares, but he couldn't because each head of families was supposed to appear in person to pick up the family share - not the tribal share. When he returned home the Blackskins were insistant that he wasn't giving them enough money and each time Wabasis insisted 'this is all you get.' Well the Indians began to accuse him of hoarding their share and each time Wabasis insisted they didn't get so much because under the treaty agreement they had to prosper themselves instead of loafing and panhandling incoming settlers for handouts. This treaty was going to make sure that the Indians who lived according to how they were taught by the missionaries by investing in businesses and agriculture practices; farming, etc. would get the money. The Blackskins northeast of Wabasis Lake were known by many settlers as loafers and derelicts and didn't follow the treaty guidelines. These were the renegades who previously didn't want to sign the treaty.

Henry Schoolcraft, the Indian agent afloat had the discretion to award larger sums of money, but only to those the Chiefs said deserved the annuity payments. Schoolcraft reported his finding each year about those Indians they found disserving and the President could deny compensation to all Indians who didn't meet the expectations of the treaty language. Indian payments were further delayed to some because when diseases began killing the Indians individual tribes and families left with no known forwarding address. According to the Treaty of 1836, that's when the Indians signed it at Traverse City in Sept. 1836, no formal preparations were available for Indian removal, yet theoritic plans were for all those north of the Grand River to move west of the Mississippi. Many chose to go further north and settle on reservation land at Pentwater, Manistee, Traverse, or Mt. Pleasant.

However when some Indians got their first annuity payments they began investing their newly gotten gains in settler enterprises; steamboats and freighting businesses, and some purchased back their own individual pieces of land south of the Grand River. After everything was settled Congress got wind of the purchases and declared that wherever the Indians went to reservations they could only stay for five years and then had to remove themselves west of the Mississippi.

It wasn't until after 1836 that the Indians learned that Washington lawmakers spoke with "forked tongues" and the government broke their own treaty in 1837. The sounds of war drums beating at night, the glows of bonfires and angry distant voices worried settlers. The five year reservation occupation was never ratified with the Indians. The treaty was amended by Congress after the Indians signed the treaty papers. Those Indians who fought against the chiefs voiced their anger louder at the chiefs who signed the treaty. Word of broken treaty spread like wildfire among the tribes and those tribes that didn't sign the treaty refused to leave. The U.S. Army was dispatched with cannons in tow into the Michigan wilderness. It was a defensive move by President Andrew Jackson to make settlements feel safer. Ottawa leaders vehemently opposed the Senate amendment without their knowledge of the treaty change.

Thousands of Indians would remain as free roaming hunters and fishemen supporting individual groups of family members until 1860. They refused to leave and most settlers weren't going to pressure the Indians to leave or start a range war. Most of the early land sales were to speculators hoping to sell the timber rights. The lumber barons and speculators insisted the government had no right to let the Indians stay on reservation land, because that land had the richest timber on them and they wanted to harvest it. The great landsales for lands north of the Grand River began in 1839, but it wasn't until the mid 1840's that the Indians saw and influx of new settlers.

After a few years of Wabasis reportedly hoarding Blackskin and Ottawa annuity payments it was apparent that Wabasis' respect had fallen off sharply amongst certain tribes. Some declared that since he wasn't giving them their fair share of gold and silver they need to curtail his movements so they banished him to living on his 40-acre garden plot on the western shores of Wabasis Lake. To leave meant any Grand River valley Indian who didn't like him could kill him (death warrant if he strayed). Wabasis' wife and children could come and go as they pleased, but he was supposed to remain at his farm.

The Indians believe Wabasis buried his treasure trove on that 40-acre ancestral farm and he had full access to the limestone caves. These caves in the park were sealed to prevent spelunkers from exploring them. Wabasis reportedly always had money on his person and would jiggle it in his hands whenever settlers or Indians visited his homestead. He was banished to live here and was supposed to never go beyond Spring Creek, which flows into Wabasis Lake, however, what they actually said was he was "to remain on his parcel, but go no further than one mile from his homestead when hunting or fishing." They wanted to bottle him up. Over the last 150 years since his death, this legend has been shrunk so that only treasure hunters search by daylight or lantern light near Wabasis Park.

Disappointed and disgruntled the Blackskins protested loudly to Wabasis who kept insisting, "That's all there is, there isn't anymore!" Those who didn't like Wabasis after that exiled him and put a death warrant on his head and any Indian could kill him if he left his farm. Kewaycooshcum had just been murdered in 1839 north of Grand Rapids at the mouth of Coldbrook Creek (south of Leonard St. in GR). This stream receives its water from the overflow drainage of Fisk and Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids (it flows northwest). His body placed inside a crib in a sitting position, his head above ground looking south over the river valley he sold in 1821.

Chief Neogamah of Prairie Village and Chief Mucatasha (Mucatay) of the Blackskins in Montcalm County passed judgement on Chief Wabasis, which prohibited Wabasis from leaving his Wabasis Lake farm. No longer could he visit with friends, that's white or red men who highly respected him. For a man who reportedly hoarded the wealth of others he lived a simple life. He never flaunted any wealth and his wife and children had only their share of the funds. The Blackskins reportedly watched Wabasis trying to discover his hiding place, but they were seemingly lousy observationists since Wabasis escaped many times (12 times) till about 1850 to pick up his share of annuity payments and those of his family and return unharmed by accident, illness or design.

Wabasis exposed himself many times to the diseases ravaging Native Indians near Whitneyville in 1845. Chief Shonago was moving his Potawotomie tribe of 300-400 souls southward towards to Missouri, but instead the tribe was suffering from Black Tongue Disease. It was another disease encountered from white settlers and it reduced the tribe to 200 in a matter of weeks and within a month only 50 were left and they were sent to the Indian reservation at Mt. Pleasant.

Black Tongue disease is caused by insufficient oral hygiene (not brushing teeth). Its caused by overuse of tobacco products and drinking too much witch hazel herbal tea. The tongue grows hair (causes excessive gagging) and back then the tongue got raw and bled and since the Indians didn't have immunity to settler diseases this illness just ransacked their blood and immune systems causing death. Black tongue disease is spread by insufficient brushing of teeth, even today. It is treated with the use of antibiotics in people who chew tobacco. Witch hazel herbal tea is good for the body, but only in lesser amounts. The Indians used the herbal tea to combat Black Tongue disease, but in higher concentrations it makes people sick, too.

Half-breeds received their special payments for ten years, but Wabasis received family shares, inheritances and investments his entire life. He once owned all the islands in the Flat River who he acquired as inheritances from Wobwindigo and Cobmoosa. When he did return from journeys it was without any large sums of money. Where did it go? He came back with little money and supplies.

Over 150 years the legend and size of Wabasis' lost treasure has increased his 'POT of GOLD', but the government switched from gold to silver before 1847, because there was a government shortage of gold coinage. Still in over 150 years 'no pot or kettle of treasure' has ever been found - tangible proof of its existence and yet the treasure hunters still search for Wabasis' lost pot or kettle of treasure. Wabasis' travels were inside the 'triangle of treasure' that ran from Grand Rapids to Sheridan, to Ionia and back to Grand Rapids. The bulk of the treasure doesn't reside at Wabasis Lake, but somewhere between Prairie Village (Blythefield Country Club) and Wabasis Lake along the Plainfield-Sheridan Indian Trail. Where? As I said, repeating Wabasis' tale for 150 years is far removed from accuracy. Storytelling repeatedly embellishes (polishes) the legend. The brightness blinds treasure hunters.

The legend (150 year rumor) has Wabasis burying a huge kettle along the banks of Wabasis Creek or around the shore of Wabasis Lake, when in fact Wabasis real banishment area was that he couldn't go beyond one mile from its shore. Within this area are many limestone caves and eight lakes that have many limestone crevices. One should never concentrate on Wabasis treasure as being strictly golden. Don't forget to add 'silver' to that pot of treasure.

Wabasis escaped his death sentence for 24 years and the remaining Blackskins decided that after these lost years it was apparent that they'd never receive their share of the money so they conspired to kill him after they tricked him into going to a Green Corn Dance at Prairie Village, but few Indians showed up. Only Wabasis' family still resided on Stephen Towers property at Wabasis Lake. Wabasis wasn't murdered along the Coldwater River, but Rum Creek in Kent County. Chief Neogamah and Mucktasha... oops, got to ask yourself until next time if the treasure isn't buried near Wabasis Lake where might it be hidden? The legend is askew bigtime. You don't want to miss blog #130.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Legend of Chief Wabasis' Lost Treasure - 128

Watching from the high bluffs at Prairie Village John Wabasis watched a flotilla of rafts and long Indian canoes coming down the Grand River. Soon the Grand River valley chiefs would come ashore and he waited with anticipation to learn if indeed the chiefs agreed with Washington to sign the Treaty of 1836. He had fought valiantly to keep the Indians from starting any wars with incoming settlers. It became a bitter sweet reunion when several half-breeds objected to the chiefs agreement with President Andrew Jackson. They fumed with anger and told the chiefs loudly of their disapproval, but Chief Wobwindigo told them they got the best deal with Washington. Tempers flared around the bonefires at tribal councils, but cooler heads of Wabasis and Boshaw kept the hotheads from causing problems.

The Chiefs told them a census was to be taken of every man, woman and child, and the relationships to tribal leaders for they would get more money depending on the heirachy within the families. The chiefs would get more than the rest and educated half-breeds it turned out would receive more money than chiefs for services rendered for keeping peace with incoming settlers, but how much they received was at the discretion of the Chiefs and President.

It was a hot summer. Plenty of disagreements and the weather was meaner than normal. Violent storms racked the state. More than 200 tornadoes ravaged western Michigan in 1836. Everywhere the Indians went they witnessed the natural destruction and those Indians who were superstitious thought the Great Spirit was angered, because the Chiefs signed the treaty signing away the lands of their ancestors. The destruction seen caused many tribes to become nomads - strangers in unfamiliar lands. It wouldn't be long before they would have to remove themselves from the Grand River valley. Washington would only give them five years to removed themselves to far away reservations and so the Treaty of 1836 was signed September 28, 1836 by 25 tribal leaders out of the estimated 100 tribes north of the Grand River in Michigan and Wisconsin. It was thought the Grand River valley Indians, the southern most tribes, were the strongest tribes. Winning them over would "guarantee" the hearts of the minor majority. Incoming settler wouldn't have reason to fear the Ottawas and Chippewas.

The Indians thought they had got the best deal, but Wabasis soon learned that wasn't the case. The Indians thought the government was going to pay lumps sums to just the Chiefs who would dispense individual payments to their people, but while they argued at tribal council meeting Congress in 1834 changed the way Indian were paid. Yes, the chiefs got lump sum payments (rich amounts) but so too, were head of the families to dispense money within their own unit. Each family head was expected to travel to the annual Indian Annuity Payment location each Spring. The Indians didn't know this until May 1837 when Wabasis arrived to pick up his money.

Because Wabasis was so well respected in 1836 shortly after signing of the treaty many of the Grand River chiefs elected Wabasis to pick up their shares, but the government refused to turn over other tribal money to him. They reasoned why should they all travel when the government handed out money to chiefs, but over the winter 1836-1837 the government hit a snag. Although the chiefs returned to their people they also brought in an abundance of white man diseases and again "death lurked in the shadows" and many would succumb to cholera, small pox, measles, chicken poxes and tuberculosis and the abundance of firewater and tobacco made things worse.

Thousands of Indians perished after the Dexter Party arrived in Grand Rapids in 1833. It seems that sickness was everywhere and before the first 1836 Indian annuity payment was paid out in May 1837 nearly one-third of the remaining Indian population had died. Squaws wailed in darkness as each family member passed away. The night skies were illuminated with the bonfires at Indian cemeteries. Chief Wobwindigo's was not immune to the sickness. He died before he could collect his first payment, but his share would be passed down to his sons; Shonago, Acango and Anish and adopted son Wabasis. Many in Wobwindigo's village departed, too, anyplace where the whitemans sickness hadn't reached.

Now all the chiefs who went to Washington returned and seeded the tribes with whiteman germs. Fear ran rampant among the tribes and tribes that weren't affected quickly dissapated; they simply left for unknown regions or they showed up at a reservation west of the Mississippi or farther north in Michigan. In June 1837), the the Ottawa Indians at Grand Rapids saw the first launching of a Steamboat called the "Governor Mason", but it was Chief Macitawsa (Macatawa) and Mexinini who loaned James Short approximately $2000 from their Indian payment the previous month to give Richard Godfry, the vessel owner money to purchase a boiler and engine.

Upon arrival and departure from Grand Rapids the Mason's bugler blasted his horn, which could be heard up and down the river. It was so loud the sound echoed up the valleys and into the woods and it caused much fear in Indians and settlers until they knew what the sound meant. It meant that soon Grand Rapids would be busting at the seams with commerce and a staggering influx of incoming settlers. The Governor Mason would be strictly a riverboat ferrying supplies up and down the river until May 1840 when it ran aground on a sand bar near the mouth of the river and was smashed to oblivion by giant waves during a sudden thunderstorm.

In 1838, the second steamer arrived known to the Indians as "Owashtenong" and "Poorhouse" to settlers. Two more steamers were plying the Grand River, the Patronage and the John Almy. The Indians camped still at Wobwindigo's village watched as the John Almy upon her maiden voyage struck an underwater object at the mouth of the Flat River and sank. That same summer, the State Legislature appropriated $30,000 to clear underwater obstructions (logs and channel boulders from Grand Haven to Lyons. After that Chief Shonago realized that his tribe must leave so they went further south and they knew it wouldn't be long before they'd have to remove themselves to west Mississippi reservations. Still there was no big hurry to leave.

Next time I'll start at 1838. Good morning! I've given you an "inkling' of what the powerful chiefs got for Indian annuity payments. So how much could have Wabasis amassed over twenty years if he was paid higher than Chiefs?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Legend of Chief Wabasis' Lost Treasure - 127

Sub-chief John Wabasis waited patiently for Chief Wobwindego's return from Washington. As a previous treaty signer surely Kewaycooshcum, another educated Indian could maintain civility among the chiefs while in the presence of President Andrew Jackson. Kewaycooschcum was impressed with Gen. Lewis Cass and both men treated each other and Congress with mutual respect. Wabasis' future looked promising. He had gained stature within the Ottawa tribes at council meetings in 1834-1835 as the peacemaker. Very seldom did he lash out when things looked darkest, but instead looked for the good of many and not just himself. It was important to serve others and maintaining his own identity within the various tribes. He gained favor among the chiefs and for that he would be amply rewarded as the richest treasure chief.

Standing on the knoll overlooking the Grand River valley in the fall of 1835 he couldn't help wondering how many years were left for visiting the graves of their ancestors. That fall nearly 3000 Native Americans comprised of Chippewas, Ottawas and remaining Potawatomies gathered at Plainfield's Prairie Village to celebrate the Feast of the Corn Dance. Each day more and more Indians arrived from all directions; by canoe river travel or land trails, such as the Plainfield-Sheridan Indian Trail or Newaygo Trail. After the council meetings they'd go their separate ways to celebrate the "Feast of the Dead", which was an event similar to "Christian All Soul's Day."

Before the Indians left they would hunt and fish so they would have enough food to feed their people and the departed spirits for Gee-bwa-gezhick meaning "Feast of the Dead" celebrated the second of November each year. On this day each tribe went to their respective Indian cemeteries to place wooden crosses over the dead. 'Crows' are said to roost in the vicinity of Indian graves. Each Indian family would go and take care of their own graves. Kewaycooshcum and Cobmoosa visited Potawotomie grave yards south of the Grand River. They maintained Indian graves until about 1860. Cobmoosa left in 1860-61 for the Pentwater Reservation.

Wabasis couldn't help but wonder how long it'd be before area Indians would be forced to reservations, too, but what mattered more to him was that his Indian friends, relatives and settlers wouldn't die needlessly and he also knew the government was going to pay them for their lands with annual payments, but he was unsure how much. Still he had gained the respect of two settlers named Michael Smith and Andrew House who built log houses just outside of Prairie Village. He visited both frequently on his journeys to council meetings.

Wabasis had much respect for Smith and House. Andrew's son James grew up with Native American Indians all around them. His children regarded the Indian children as friends and vice versa. They were almost inseparable (blood pals) and the House's built there cabin about a mile away from Prairie Village and they could see it. Blythefield Country Club of today was once Prairie Village. Standing outside of the House's front door Wabasis and House watched as the sky glowed a brilliant orange as the bonfires in the cemeteries grew larger. Smoke from burnt meat offerings tossed into the fire filled the cool nighttime air. Feeding the "Spirits of the Dead" was the yearly ritual they celebrated, but which Rev. Isaac McCoy frowned upon. Both men listened to the drum beating, the chanting and the silhouettes of Indians dancing around the graves while others in distant cemeteries poured whiskey and beer over the ground in the graveyards to give the "spirits a drink".

Wabasis told the story about how some Indian friends living as white settlers in a log cabin fed the children first, the adults eating last, then praying, singing songs they learned and dancing into the wee hours of the night. Before retiring for the evening the woman within would reset the table and leave food out all night for the departed spirits to eat. Many years later James House said the Indian children would tell him different versions of how they celebrated "Ghost Suppers", but they too, were ceremonies to "honor their dead."

Throughout the entire region the Indians would gather together to hold hands, offer prayers and continue with ceremonial singing accompanied by a fantastic feast to feed the spirits of the dead. The Indians would sit around the bonfires and smoke the sacred pipes as the "shamans" or the greatest of medicine men within the tribes would resort to trickery to create ghosts or sightings of ghosts of long departed spirits that rose in the smoke of the dwindling fires.

By the time James House was seven years old he fluently spoke Chippewa and Ottawa languages, but that's what happens when all your friends are Indians and the Indian children were educated in English. Anyone who learned the Algonquian language could travel freely for a thousand miles and didn't need to fear the Indians. James and Wabasis would tell you that although their was never any bloodshed between Indians and settlers there was bloodshed during a decisive Indian battle between remaining area Chippewas and a band of Snakeheads (Shawnee war party from central Illinois) in which the Snakes were severely beaten. The Shawnees were at War with most of the tribes that signed any peace treaties with Washington.

The Honey Creek/Ramsdell Road in Ada, Cannon and Oakfield Township was a Sioux/Sauk War Trail to Saginaw Bay and Skull's Island, but this was prior to the 1800's. James House witnessed the 1837 massacre about a half-mile north of Prairie Village (where the Plainfield Christian Reformed Church is today and an even bigger battle was in the vicinity of the Rockford High School complex before 1800). Indians fought Indians when the tribes didn't agree with treaties signed with Washington. Those white settlers whose children grew up with Indian children learned to never fear them. They learned to respect the views of others and to live peacefully whether black, red or white skinned. Each year James House watched as the Indians returned to the Plainfield area to celebrate "Feast of the Dead". Those that witnessed these ceremonies grew up accustomed to the cultures and ways of life and those that learned to respect the Indians found them useful in their later years as the settlers rushed westward.

Wabasis probably had tears in his eyes, too, just like Kewaycooshcum and Cobmoosa did when they realized it wouldn't be too long before the fall bonfires would be extinguished for good in the Plainfield Prairie Village area. The orangish-red glow in the dark night sky illuminating the graves of their dead would cease within ten years. Wabasis would live to see darker night skies each fall. In the spring of 1859 several thousand Ottawas - tribes in the Grand River valley left by canoe down the river. A U.S. government ship transpoted them to Pentwater from Grand Haven. Upon landing at Pentwater the Indians could choose their own 40-80 acre parcels for permanent occupancy. Single men got 40 acres, the heads of families 80 acres per the Treaty of 1855. They must be gone from the Grand River at the close of 1860. This is why the mass exodus.

Those that remained after the Treaty of 1836 was signed and didn't leave were forced to remove themselves after they signed the Treaty of 1855, which stipulated they must leave for reservations at Pentwater within five years. These were free-roaming trapping and hunting Indians. No longer did the orangish-red bonfires glow in the night sky in Kent and Montcalm areas in 1860. The "Ghost Suppers" northwest of Rockford ceased as did the "Feasts of the Dead" in Algoma Township's Hoskins Lake and Indian Lakes area, Half-Moon and Wabasis Lake areas. John Wabasis and a small band of other Ottawas remained, but so too, did a small band of 10-12 war-like Blackskins, the same Indians who threatend Wabasis with death. They lived a few mile northeast of Wabasis. One of them conspired to trick Wabasis into leaving his garden plot to kill him in 1863.

Wobwindigo and all the other Grand River valley chiefs returned in the late Spring of 1836. Wabasis spent many nights pondering if his peaceful negotations paid off and they did. It was a bitter-sweet return for the chiefs told of their Washington exploits, but many half-breeds were angry that the chiefs signed the Treaty of 1836 in March and formally in (September) and the uneducated were angered more when they learned they had to leave for the reservations west of the Mississippi.

No appropriations were made for Ottawas to remain in the land of their fathers and they couldn't understand why they must be enumerated. To receive annual payments they all had to be registered on a census - every man, woman and child before they'd receive payments in gold and silver starting in May 1837. This made the Indians fearful. They assumed they would be given equal shares as in the previous treaties, but the way in which Indians were paid changed in 1834.

Next time I'll we'll start in May 1836 with the return of Wobwindigo, Mexicini, Noonday, etc.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Legend of Chief Wabasis' Lost Treasure - 126

John Wabasis was instrumental in making sure no bloodshed ever occurred between the incoming settlers and Ottawa, Chippewa and Potawatomi Indians. His mentors were the most powerful chiefs of the Grand River Valley. Wobwindigo was his adopted father, Cobmoosa his foster father. Sub-chief Kewaycooschum and Noonday commanded all Indians in the watershed areas of the Washtanong, meaning "rapids" (Grand), Quab-quasha, meaning "current stream (Flat), and Kekezoo, meaning "boiling waters" Kalamazoo River.

Others were Nabbunegeezhug, son and sub-chief of Noonday and Shenogah, the son and sub-chief of Wobwindigo in 1827. About 1830 John Wabasis married one of Cobmoosa's daughter named Cononoma and to them a daughter named Macadefequa was born in 1832 and son Chinquana in 1834 in Wobwindigo's Village at the mouth of the Flat River. Unknown is when they moved to the ancient Indian village on the western shore of Wabasis Lake.

Area surrounding Wabasis Lake supported five different villages and one village west of Twin Lake. The oldest ceremonial site was the old cremation pits; from the Mound Builder era in north-central Grattan Township. The later was 5000-6000 b.c. because of an Indian princesses' skeleton unearthed near 9 Mile and Wabasis Lake when the road was under construction in 1910. Her wrists had copper band or bracelets (mineral mined from the U.P.) and her most prized possessions were trader items; jewelry (seashells found off the coast of South Carolina arranged in a circle around her head) signifying she was someone of importance).

John Wabasis was fluent in English and well liked among white men. Any wonder when Cobmoosa was known for his conservative ideas, majestic style, honest principals and was 'the heart of oak among his people'. Before he was converted to Christianity he had mastered six wives and 3 of which were sisters and daughters of Chief Wobwindigo. Three wives at the same time? Many men these days can't master one!

As the principal peacekeeper Wabasis did much of his traveling by canoe opposite of Cobmoosa who walked everywhere. Cobmoosa's biggest fear was traveling by canoe. Forget it, he walked everywhere. It took him days sometimes weeks to get to a council meeting. He was hydrophobic. That's why they called him "The Big Walker." He had an obssessive fear of water.

Wabasis appeared at many tribal council meeting during 1834 and 1835. He had to because of the renegade half-breed Indians who were threatening to riot and make the Grand River run red with spilled settler blood. The tiny hamlet of Kent at the 'rapids' was growing by leaps and bounds and Wabasis knew he had to keep pressure on the bigger chiefs to not start any wars. He knew they couldn't win and much bloodshed wasn't in the best interests of the Indians. Still he was surprised when U.S. Army detachment swooped in and escorted the chiefs away to Washington to negotiate the selling of their lands.

Washington was hoping that by rounding up the principal chiefs they could force the Indians to sign and if they failed to sign onto the treaty they could refuse to return them to Michigan and ship them off to Missouri reservations and the Indians in Michigan would be none the wiser. Kewaycooshcum felt something wasn't right with the forced arrangements and traveled with the chiefs. Kewaycooshcum was an Indian witness. He had already signed the Treaty of 1826 and was already receiving annuity payments and the Indians could only sign one treaty. Wabasis never signed any treaties.

Some counter that Wabasis did sign a treaty, the Treaty of Chicago, on Sept. 26, 1833, at the Skunk Water Place. The name Wah-bou-seh is the English interprestation for, but that was a variant name of Wabonsee or Waubaunsee who was a Kaskaskian Indian living in south-central Illinois. English names for Indians were often miss-spelled. Washington forced Indian removal to west of the Mississippi once the Indians signed the Treaty of 1821, but many Indians refused to leave and that is why it took more than 30 treaty signings from 1816-1833 to force them out to western reservations. Why because not all Indian tribes within the areas south of the Grand River signed the various treaties.

John Wabasis with name translation in English was Wa-ba-si or Wabahsee meaning "Little White Swan". He was born to a French Canadian Fur Trader and Indian mother therefore his skin complexion showed he was more white than dark skinned. That's presumably why so many white settlers trusted John. John Wabasis helped negotiate the Treaty of Chicago, but received no payments for treaties until the Treaty of 1836 was ratified by Wobwindigo, Cobmoosa, Mexicinini, Muccatay and Mukutayoguot (Blackskin tribes) and Noonday's tribes. He never actually sold anything except potatoes and corn he raised on his garden plot at Wabasis Lake.

Next time we'll pick up Wabasis Trail at Plainfield's Prairie Village. Oops, lest I forget there is no #125. I hit the wrong key and published only the title. Fumble fingered today. Sorry.

The Legend of Chief Wabasis' Lost Treasure - 125

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Legend of Chief Wabasis' Lost Treasure - 124

John Wabasis was the Grand and Flat River tribes peacemaker and was instrumental in negotiating the Treaty of 1836. He made sure no Indian wars with settlers broke out and it was an uphill battle especially when Max Sauba, the rattlesnake, was expounding his hatred of incoming settlers and the US government at tribal meetings. Young warriors wanted to fight against the missionaries and Washington and they put pressure on the chiefs, but Wabasis kept the chiefs peaceful. To fight would mean many deaths and Wabasis knew the Indians would not win. Incoming settlers supported Wabasis viewpoints and as such Wabasis was highly esteemed among them. Being educated also gave him respect.

Wabasis greeted settlers with firm handshakes and welcomed them to the new territory. Among many Indians this feeling wasn't shared. Those against the settlement invasion remembered their grandfathers past dealings with Washington - ' they speaketh with forked tongue'.

Because Wabasis and many other half-breeds were educated the President Andrew Jackson and Congress decided that respected half-breeds get a larger share of annuity payments as services rendered for keeping the peace and the various chiefs in the Grand River valley shared this opinion. Half-breed Ottawas like Wabasis and Boshaw were to be highly rewarded for their valuable service to Washington, but these Indians never sold anything and their names aren't among the signees of any treaties. When the Indians who purchased lands were given free firewater, they were often beaten, robbed and killed and thrown off their deeded land. They found American justice worthless and this is exactly what the warrior half-breeds were using against the chiefs judgements - to make the case for War with settlers.

President Andrew Jackson got letters from McCoy and Slater informing them that the only way to stop an Indian versus settler war was to remove the Indians for their own safety. Preferably west of the Mississippi, but Washington and Congress decided in 1834 to change the way Indians were paid in exchange for selling their land north of the Grand River and use of the Indian Removal Act would pave the way for Indian resettlement. Many of the oldest Indians said 'Beware' of signing treaties with white men who walk among them with Bible in one hand and firewater in the other hand. Old memories die hard and a case in point about Christianizing the Indians happened west of Long Island in the early 1740's.

A young Jesuit missionary named David Barnardt was invited by British American settlers to push into the interior of the country to bring Christianity to the wild savages. Barnardt being fresh out of seminary school wasn't exactly excited with his new missionary post by going into the wilds of New York, Maryland and Virginia and other mountainous areas of Appalachia south to North Carolina. This area was known as the 13 British American colonies. Going beyond these states was Indian territory that Britian and France were fighting over until the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763, which made all lands west of the 13 colony states to the Mississippi River, the British Indian Territories.

Twelve years later (1774) the American Tea party would start the Revolutionary War - an effort to overthrow the British and Paul Revere, riding his horse yelled, "The British are coming!" As Andy Griffith told Opie and his friends about history "Get ur' guns because we is gonna' have us a revolution." Now take that rope off my neck!

Barnardt sailing across the Atlantic Ocean was fed a daily diet of horror stories about Indian savagery - namely the Senecas, Shawnee and Delawares and various other tribes. He was going to establish contact and Christianize the Indians in advance of pre-settler occupation. All that Barnardt heard while being wracked with seasickness was how the Indians tortured their unwelcome captives. He contemplated quitting his missionary post before he set one foot down on British-American soil and exploring the wilds of Applachia. He was a humble man who doubted whether or not he was cut from the right cloth. He kept mumbling in his dilerium that he wasn't worth anything - no salt.

All that Barnardt lacked was confidence. He was fresh out of seminary and 'wet behind the ears'. He lacked personal confidence and self-esteem and he wondered why he never heard of British American Indian atrocities. But would you have pursued a missionary post had you heard the horror stories before you started your journey? He wrote down the stories in his personal diary and what he wrote showed his frame of mind as being poor and chock full of doubts.

From the time he first set foot in America until he left for the wilds he complained loudly he didn't want to go, but within a week he changed his attitude slowly. The scenery was breathetaking and he was greeted with open arms in some villages, not all, in those he got a lukewarm reception for these Indians had already been engaged in bad blood with settlers.

When he became sick with dysentary and got so weak he thought he was going to die, a Catholic Indian befriended him and brought him some herbal tea to make him well again. When stronger he broke camp and returned to England and told other seminary students about his travels and within two years after funding he returned America and was seeking an Indian guide to take him back into the wilderness to set up a Catholic mission. He built his mission and taught them the Ten Commandments and Christianized many Indians in the region, but incoming settlers started stealing, killing and robbing converted Indians, taking their land, burning their villages and possessions and telling the Indians to get out. It was their land now, the treaties were signed, but not by every tribe, because finding them all was like looking for needles in a haystack.

1749 saw the tribes on Long Island being forced off their lands. They too, didn't understand what gave the settlers the right in the name of Christianity to steal, rob and kill them and British American laws didn't protect them. It was like they had no rights and they thought the same rights that applied to settlers should be applied to them, too. British American laws were used against them. Even to shoot in defense of themselves and property any Indian that harmed, injured or killed a settler was quickly hung or shot to death in the name of civilization and the Indians were again called 'unruly savages'.

Since 1750 the words "missionaries and settlers speaketh with forked tongue" and this phrase spread thru the wilderness to distant tribes like wildfires from past the mighty Mississippi River country to the Great Lakes region. Barnardt was so overcome with grief and sorrow at the plight of the Indians that he returned to England several years before the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763. That treaty redistributed the Indian country from the Great Lakes southward to the Gulf of Mexico. This treaty was supposed to have confined white settlements to all areas east of the crest of the Appalachian Mountain range, but it was worthless to the Indians. This was the "Proclamation Line" that divided the 13 original colonies from the British Indian Territory.

Already in 1762, the Indians in southeast Michigan were frustrated with the dictatorial British rule of government and were planning to toss the British out of the Great Lakes and upper Ohio River valley. At secret council meetins' in the Ottawas village opposite Detroit, local tribal leaders and others from as far away as Lake Superior met to discuss war. The Indians angered by British rule longed for the French traditional ways including religion. So in April 1763, Chief Pontiac summoned tribal leaders of the Potawatomies living two miles south of Detroit and the Ottawas and Wyandots living across the river from Ft. Detroit, a well fortified British garrison.

In a secret hut, Pontiac told young warriors about his vision-inspired message about a Delaware Indian prophet who was telling the Indians to drive out the British so they could return back to their own traditional and cultural lifestyles. Pontiac in defiance of the British rammed his message into the tribal leaders who sought action, not empty words, and they all outlined a course of action to overthrow the British garrison at Detroit. Surely it'd be easy to overrun a fort that numbered only 120 souls with 400 dedicated warriors. Pontiac's plan was to go inside the fort for a... oops, time to stop. Just when the story nears the climax I stop... you can look up the ending yourself. You'd probably like to "Hang me, hang me from a rope from the highest tree" as Roger Miller sang.

"Oh, fudge!" Pontiacs plan was to go inside the fort sit down with the commandant drinking firewater and pull kill them, but an Indian woman in love with a British soldier disclosed the trickery afoot the day before Pontiac's ruse. Major Gladwyn, the commander of the post, adorned with an Indian blanket stepped up to an Indian chief, threw aside the blanket disclosing his concealed musket. Pontiac, the brave man, taken by surprise turned pale and trembled and tried pinning the blame for his indescretion on others, but his compulsive guilt was evident and Gladwyn dealt him a severe reprimand (embarassed him) in front of the others and told him to never come inside the fortress again. Pontiac and his followers left, but immediately laid seige to the fort until the Treaty of Paris (1763) was signed and then Pontiac left and lived among the Kaskaskian Indians in south central Illinois. He tried to start an Indian/settler war near St. Louis in 1764-65, but was killed by a disgruntled Kaskaskinian. Pontiac's death was avenged by Northern Indians who laid seige on and nearly exterminated Illinois tribes. Fifty years later it was Davey Crockett who told the Kaskaskia's to keep peace with incoming settlers, but they too, learned that white men 'speak with forked tongue'.

Next time the nuts and bolts about John Wabasis' Lost Treasure.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Legend of Chief Wabasis' Lost Treasure - 123

John Wabasis saw and heard many different points of views of how to deal with incoming settlers and he probably heard Noonday (Naoqua Keshuck) say, "I am an Indian; nevertheless, I think of God and of religion, and had we a preacher amongs us, perhaps I could become good." He was speaking of the days he was a murderous Indian during the War of 1812 and shortly after that conflict he became a converted Protestant believer. Fifteen years later (1827) it was Noonday who under constant urging invited McCoy to build the first Protestant mission at the rapids between the Mound Builders. It had taken McCoy since 1821 to win the minds of the Ottawas to let him build north of the Grand River. This was Indian land not the government.

So it was that in 1827 the Baptist mission was built encompassing several log houses on 160 acres, some with glass windows and plank floors built by carpenters using farm and agricultural tools, who also built fenced pastures for 55 head of cattle supplied by the government. Another missionary named Leonard Slater was to attend to the Indians spiritual needs and oversee the mission in the wilderness.

For the Indians to receive any benefits from the mission all they had to do was profess Christian beliefs, attend chapel on a regular basis and get dunked (baptized) in a pond of water, the same ceremony the Catholics introduced in the mid 1600's when the Jesuits arrived. Many baptisms took place, but in many respects they didn't serve the purpose, because the baptismal services were held in English which many Indians couldn't understand. Nearly all the Indians living within the Great Lakes theatre spoke Algonquin languages. Canadian Fur traders who spoke Algonquin could travel at leisure for a thousand miles never fearing the Indians. To non-speaking English language Indians the baptismal services was a mute point. They couldn't understand a thing that McCoy and Slater said and when the Indians did show up for Protestant church services they found them to be lifeless, boring and tiresome.

When McCoy first encountered the Ottawa Indians living north of the Grand River he called them wild savages and he didn't appreciate the Ottawas religious ceremonies that involved dancing, singing and feasting. McCoy and Slater frowned upon this behavior; called them savage like acts. Because of this many Indians refused to accept the Protestant Christian teachings and they equally didn't like how Slater distributed government supplied goods and services. The Ottawas felt rejected and preserved their own concepts of religion and incorporated Catholic forms. Indian tribes living north of the Grand River beyond Ada held many Catholics - Roman Catholics who rejected McCoy and Slaters religion.

While Baptist missionaries did their best to uplift, protect, and educate the Indians, the Indians encountered many other white men coming into the river valley who were lax in their morals and left behind many half-breed Indians by inter-mingled blood marriages. Many were called "traders" and "Voyageurs", but both dishonored the Indian tribes with their stealing and killing for greed.

From 1827-1833 the religious battles raged between the Catholics and Baptists and their was much friction within the tribes and people. The sounds of war drums grew louder and settlers south of the Grand River got nervous. The Indians were being squeezed from all sides. The Indians were feeling oppression and they vehemently opposed Noonday and his dictatorial Protestant religion. Those who felt McCoy and Slater's anger returned to their Catholic ways of life of dancing, singing and feasting in honor of the Great Spirit.

An so it was in 1833, that Father Frederic Baraga invited some French speaking inhabitants in the Grand River valley to build a Catholic mission south of the Baptist mission in an Ottawas village. Religious tensions in the area mushroomed when the tribe was surrounded on the east and south by an influx of settlers eager to buy more Indian land. The new settlers cut the Indian forests for building steamboats, woodburning boilers to produce steam and timbers for building log homes. The settlers shot Indian game for food and the sounds of big guns chased their game away and when game got scarce they began robbing Christian and non-Christian Indians of their own personal possessions. The Indians felt threatened.

When the 1833 Dexter party arrived in Grand Rapids they brought in much sickness. Small pox epidemics were breaking out and death was everywhere. Sickness in nearly every tribe and many tribes panicked and left for other places, but the plague of sickeness was carried with them and small pox spread far and wide and the devestasting effects of it affected all colors of skin. Thousands of Indians were dying.

This preach the Ten Commandments from the Bible, but steal and kill was very unsettling to the Indians. They were beginning to distrust all white men and their treaties and religions were taking a beating, too. The Indians no longer had to buy firewater, it was given free to them and each night the drum beating got louder and angry voices could be heard as the drunken Indians shamefully and verbally attacked the integrity of Chief Kewaycooshcum who signed the Treaty of 1821 deeding all lands south of the Grand River to the US government. Fact is, the Potawatomies of southern Michigan signed thirty treaties between 1816-1833.

Father Baraga began ministering to the Ottawas in the Village of Kewaycooshcum in 1835, he saw the rising religious tensions between the chiefs, warriors and other tribal members and that all this infighting was weakening the bonds of traditional Ottawas to the point where they could no longer deal with the economic problems as a united force. The sons of chiefs didn't agree with tribal leaders. They opposed another treaty. The religious strife and alcohol dependencies of the Grand River valley Indians was so great, the Ottawa society almost exploded to war when Indian like Max Sauba started thumping his chest and tried to get the chiefs to halt negotiations with the US government. The drum beating was unnerving incoming settlers and word had gotten back to the President that not all was going according to plan so U.S. Army detachments were dispatched into the wilds of Michigan hauling cannons.

McCoy was quick to blame the traders, voyageurs and frontier ruffians for squelching his efforts to civilize and Christianize the Grand River valley Indians. In fact, in a letter to Congress and the President before 1833 that the only way now to save the Indians was to take them away from the evil men by forced removal if need be to government reservations west of the Mississippi River and that is exactly what happened to all those Potawotomies who signed the Treaty of 1821 and they were gone before 1835, but the Ottawas who remained scattered into the northern tribes or remained on the land until it was purchased by settlers. They weren't going to leave the land of their ancestors until they were forced out by provisions in the Treaty of 1836.

In the early 1830's, the entire Great Lakes regions had a total Indian population of roughly 72,000 with an additional 12,000 living in Canada. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 shifted Indian management from military to civilian administration, which formulated the new Indian reserve policies. It was also the first year when the government began to see a rapid decline in the fur trade east of the Mississippi. It was going to be inevitable that someday soon Indian wars might break out so it was important for Congress to put forth a way to maintain peace.

The government was actively engaged in relying heavily on Protestant missionaries to convert the wild savage like Indians to Christianity in the Great Lakes and upper Mississippi regions. What the government didn't have control over was the fact that the Protestant missionaries were calling the Catholic Indians "pagans" and this classification infuriated the Indians. Had the Protestant missionaries not so harshly criticized the devout Catholic Indians there would have not been such a revival in the Catholic faith among them and incoming settlers in Michigan or Canada. Technically the government messed where they didn't belong. They had involved themselves in a secular (Protestant) religious preoccupation of Native Americans - a 'father knows best' campaign. Today the government would call it a "sting" operation.

Funded by the government, the missionaries used the Holy Bible, and its teachings of the Ten Commandments, to show the Indians that they could live in harmony with the incoming Christian settlers. What the missionaries and government liasons forgot about were the filthy, rotten traders and no good half-breeds that infiltrated the Indian villages to stir up trouble.

All the best plans began to unravel when the incoming settlers brought with them diseases that the Indians had no immunity for or started stealing and killing to strip the Indians of their heritage and land. It is then so many Indians began questioning the dictatorial motives of Protestant missionaries. God and the Ten Commandments were drilled into their psyche, given food, goods, services and annuity payments. Some Indians purchased land from the US government, the same as settlers, and now they were being robbed, beaten, killed and thrown off their own deeded lands and American laws were found to be worthless and they soon learned that Americans, those in Washington and everywhere "speak with forked tongue - snakes and serpents to beware."

John Wabasis had deeded lands at Wabasis Lake and elsewhere. Next time I'll tell you what happend from about 1834-1848 so you can see what was different between the Treaty of 1821 and Treaty of 1836. How did Wabasis acquire his wealth?

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Legend of Chief Wabasis' Lost Treasure- 122

John Wabasis as a child grew up in a turbulent era of religious persecution in which Rev. McCoy pitted himself against Catholics living in Wobwindego's village. He witnessed the religious persecution among his own people. It was early 1821 when the first American Baptist Missionaries began to earnestly try to convert the Ottawa Indians along the lower Grand River to Protestant Christianity. Word spread about his possible arrival up the river.

The government was sponsoring a Baptist missionary and preacher, the Rev. Isaac McCoy to establish a mission at the 'rapids'. It believed many lost souls in the Ottawa, Ojibway (Chippewa) and Potawatomie tribes lived along the Grand River and might be trouble for settlement. But, many were already French Catholics. Catholic Indians thought Baptists would cause problems. No wonder when many Indian women were married off to educated French Canadian Fur Traders who traded whisky and tobacco for furs.

Wabasis' biological father was a French Canadian who married his Potawatomie mother, so too, was Daniel Marsac who married beautiful Janute in Wobwindego's village about 1832, a marriage ceremony Wabasis similar to his own marriage in Wobwindego's village a year earlier.

Under President James Monroe (1817-25), the US government hired McCoy to establish a permanent mission among the Ottawas near Grand Haven. He remained in that employ until 1833 under President James Quincy Adams (1825-29) and President Andrew Jackson (1829-37).

From this small mission, which was to include a school, blacksmith shop and model farm, it was the governments hope that Rev. McCoy could embark on an interior journey and establish another mission among the Ottawas at the rapids before 1821. Just as McCoy was to start his trip he received a personal invitation from an old acquaintance named Chief Nawequageezhik (Noon Day).

Nawequageezhik had been using the Kekemazoo (Kalamazoo) trail from Gun Lake to the rapids to visit and talk to his Baptist missionary friend on the west bank of the Grand River at the head of the rapids. The great Indian Chief Noon Day on behalf of the Gun Lake tribe of Ottawas and Potawatomies welcomed Rev. McCoy with open arms. Their day of jubilee at the 'rapids' was short lived.

The Blackskin tribe objected to McCoy's plan to build a mission north of the Grand River. They threatened 'war'. They believed it was only a matter of time before the US government forced themselves on tribes north of the Grand River. The Grand River was the 'demilitarized zone' between settlers and Indian nations and the Blackskins speaking on behalf of other tribes wanted nothing to do with the US government.

McCoy not satisfied with Blackskin objections sought out the celebrated warrior name Chief Kewaycooshcum, who was originally from the Grand Traverse Bay region and was chief of the Flat River tribes at Lowell. Rev. McCoy and his French interpreter asked Kewaycooshcum if he could build a Baptist mission on one-square miles of land at the 'rapids' north of the Grand in 1822, but the chief vehemently denied them permission, because it would have been built on Indian lands. Widespread religious friction began once the Indians signed the Treaty of 1821. Kewaycooshcum signed that treaty, but moved some of his tribe north of the Grand River and then refused McCoy from settling on Indian land. Kewaycooshcum was smart and was well respected among other Ottawa tribes.

Speaking on behalf of Catholics as he was a devout Catholic he didn't see the need for a Protestant mission and the French fur traders in the area were opposed to Baptist intrusions, because they would be scorned for selling whisky and tobacco to the Indians. Baptists had a habit of scorning whisky and expounding a 'one upmanship' of Bible or God's teachings, which do not say Christians may not partake of spirits and wine. Nothing in the Bible says Christians may not drink beer or other intoxicating liquors. Nothing in the Bible says that dancing is prohibited and the Baptist missionaries scorned the Indians for dancing at festivals and celebrations.

Although there were many Catholic Indians (Native Americans), the Baptist missionaries knew there were lots of other lost souls still to be saved within the Ottawa, Ojibway and Potawatomie tribes inhabiting the Grand River watershed. The government thought that Rev. Isaac McCoy might just be the Protestant missionary to turn the rest of the lost or savage tribes into civilized communities when the 160-acre mission was finally built in 1827 about where Fountain Street Church is today in Grand Rapids. McCoy had struggled to get his mission built for seven years.

In fact Chief Noonday was once a murderous Indian who was enticed by the British to wage war against the United States in the War of 1812, but who was converted and became a Protestant believer with Chief Gosam which helped them gain the trust of other tribes not yet Christianized and civilized. This made pre-settlement easier - no wars or bloodshed.

Noon Day was a man of vision. He thought it would be a good way to increase his own prestige, because he knew that Missionaries not only brought religion, but it was a way to get oxen and plows to clear the land for farming. Government treaties supplied them with provisions and material goods. Life would be easier. This would elevate his stature as the most powerful of Ottawa chief's in the Grand River valley. He could redistribute the goods to his people, but Mucktasha's tribe vehemently opposed any intrusions by Rev. McCoy becuase they knew McCoy disliked Catholics and there were many French Catholics scattered amongst the Blackskins and Ottawas.

McCoy regarded Catholics, Methodists and any other denominational Indians as enemies of his faith and he verbally scorned them as souls lost on a highway to eternal damnation. All the chiefs up the river heard about McCoys fiery attitude towards Catholics and many within their villages, their fathers and ancestors had been Catholics since the 1600's. It was the predominant religion in the northern tribal territory since the tribes in the Mackinaw Straits region were first introduced to Jesuit missionaries. We know this to be fact, not fiction, since an Indian gorget stone was found in Grattan Township in 1889 near Ten Mile Road and Lessiter Ave, which would be just south of Chief Wabasis' ancestral village. The gorget contained the engraved Christian date 1584 a.d. and found by a farmer tilling a cleared field.

The Ada and Lowell tribes were predominantly Roman Catholics and this remained until the Treaty of 1856 was signed, which forced all Indians out of the Grand River valley. All Indians that had not retired to Indian reservations were being evicted at the end of five years. (1861), but was interupted by the start of the Civil War. Many had become squatters seeking handouts from settlers who purchased the land upon which they lived, but refused to leave the region.

Had it not been for the financial crash of the economy in the mid 1820's, the Grand River valley would have seen an influx of white settlers, but this gave lots of time for all the tribes of Noon Day and Kewaycooshcum to head for Missouri reservations. Kewaycooschcum sent his tribes on the Trail of Tears to Missouri, but he stayed behind with some of his tribe who didn't want to leave, but intermingled with the Flat River tribes. Wobwindego had just made his son Showogeno sub-chief and standing next to him was Kewaycooschum, Wabasis and in the same camp that day there was born Moses Cougan in 1827. Moses would grow up in the shadow of Wabasis, the adopted son of Wobwindego, and Cobmoosa, the 'grand walker' who was Wabasis foster father. All red men of great courage and vision.

Time to stop now. Two more segments on the religious mindsets of the Ottawas and how Wabasis got his training for becoming such a respected chief. I'll let you stew on where the iron kettle of Wabasis' treasure is really hidden. I always like that printing on the passenger side mirror of an automobile "Objects may be closer than they appear!" If it isn't at Wabasis Lake, where is it buried?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Legend of Chief Wabasis' Lost Treasure - 121

Chief John Wabasis' iron kettle of lost treasure isn't at Wabasis Lake. For 150 years everyone with a yen to be a treasure hunter of his lost fortune has been wrong. You've yielded 150 years of fruitless rewards. Fact is, the treasure hunters who said they found Wabasis' treasure in the 1880's never mentioned any iron kettle. The find was verbal hersay and no proof was ever shown to the Greenville newspaper. It was circumstancial rumor meant to keep others from looking for the imaginary iron kettle. If anything you may find caches of coins hidden inside leather or sinew pouches, but not an iron kettle with Wabasis' lost treasure. The only pot you'll find is the 'family kettle', the cook pot. Find the old pot might yield a secondary stash. We will visit this topic again shortly on how much is out there in number 124. Amazed or dismazed?

The iron kettle isn't full of gold - the government didn't dispense gold, but silver coinage the Federal government Indian affairs commissioners paid to registered census Indian tribes who appeared each May in Grand Rapids for their share of the annuity payments. The Indians who sold their land north of the Grand River didn't start receiving money until 1838. Gold would be trader items - not dispensed. If he had gold it might have been gold mined in Michigan?

What many Indians failed to realize was the treaties contained 'strings'. Certain standards of responsibility and performance were a treaty pre-requisite for getting paid. That was especially true for half-breed compensation. If the Indian braves appeared to be of savage, renegade or beligerent critics of the treaty they got less. If they tried to incite uprisings they wouldn't share the $150,000 allotment equally with those of high respect. At behest of the Chief's orders, they got less only because of their savage behavior by threatening incoming white settlers and refusal to accept conditions for payment. Today if anyone challenges the will of how much each heir gets you usually lose your portion or you'll get less or a pittance. Be satisfied with what you get. Challenging authority is why some half-breeds got little or nothing and in Wabasis' case this is what angered threatening half-breeds (less for them and more for others they didn't like).

Chiefs like Wobwindego, Mexinini, Cobmoosa, Kewaycooschum, Wasogenaw or Nawequaggeezhik (Noon-Day) bestowed upon the respected half-breeds like Wabasis, Canote of the Plainfield tribe, Pegu of the Flat River tribes, Pokanomino representing the Chippewa's Saginaw tribe and Jean Boshaw, the Ada tribe of Ottawas more money than they themselves were paid. Being unfriendly to white or other red men and showing no progress towards being civilized got less money. If they accepted no education it showed they couldn't handle what they might get. As a result they got less and the commissioners got yearly updates on what bad acting Indians should or shouldn't receive. Those who lost funds, well, the more respectful got larger payments. Trouble is, those Indians who didn't accept religious beliefs of Protestant and Catholic missionaries continued to create lots of mixed half-breed children for which they got less money.

Who were the renegades, the savage Indians in the Grand River valley? The worst was sub-chief Maxsauba. He claimed he was the last of the Indian warriors of the Holland band in the 1830's. Maxsauba along with Neegake, a vicious renegade; and Makkotiosha or Muctasha, of the Black Skin upper Flat River tribe irritated Chief Wobwindego, Cobmoosa, Wabasis , Kewaycooshcum and Mexinini with their temper tantrums on the Lower Grand River. When these renegades learned the chiefs signed the Washington Treaty in March 1836 they went beserk. They swore blood shed would follow. These three half-breed Indians caused the drum beats to get louder at night along the river and those in Grand Rapids heard the drumming. They were worried.

It was here that Rev. McCoy began to doubt whether bringing Protestant religion to the chiefs would pay off. He had worked so feverishly to make sure no Indian war would make the Grand River valley flow red with white settler blood. When President Andrew Jackson got wind of the potential Indian uprisings he dispatched a U.S. Army detachment into southern Michigan hauling two cannons in Feb. 1836 a month before the treaty was to be signed. Settlers in the Grand River valley were being threatened with possible 'War' if the Indians didn't sign the treaty.

Sub-chiefs John Wabasis, Canote, Boshaw and Astoquet, the later of the Grandville tribe, were those half-breeds who got the chiefs to stand firm and resist the renagades attempts to fight against the early settlers. John Wabasis got the highest praise and he won the hearts and respect of many Indians and white settlers. He was the Indian everyone could trust. He got his training from the greatest chiefs in southern Michigan. What could have gone so terribly wrong over the next 28 years and why?

Sub-chief Maxsauba had the hottest temper. His bloodcurdling ranting towards white settlers was disturbing. Settlers nicknamed him "Massasauga" meaning rattlesnake and it is thought this is how the little 24-40" rattlesnake in southern Michigan gots its name. The venom isn't that dangerous, it just threatens to kill you. It might if you were a child.

If Maxsauba saw a settler he ranted like a lunatic and threatened bodily harm to settlers, and yet, this vicious Indian would not shake hands, nor touch the skin of a white man, and for all his yelling, he never harmed a single white settler. In the eyes of red men he was called "the mouse."

Maxsauba and Muctasha were destined to be the thorns in Wabasis hide for the rest of Wabasis' continued existence. If fact, the watershed around Wabasis Lake is known to support a sizable population to this day of Massasauga rattlesnakes and on average 12-20 are killed each summer. On the southeast shore of Muskrat Lake rises towering "Rattlesnake Hill" in Grattan Township.

In "The Legend of Chief Wabasis" Lost Treasure 122-123 I'm going to give you a different perspective of what was happening in John Wabasis' life. Up until now I've given you a one sided Protestant viewpoint of religious attempts to capture the Indian hearts. President James Monroe and President Jacksons views on how to handle the peaceful negotiations leading up to the Treaty of 1836 were slightly different, but it was the Indians who wanted Catholic missions, too, and created different opinions. John Wabasis stood firm in his religious beliefs.

As Paul Harvey, the Chicago radio announcer said frequently after his noon hour broadcast - G-o-o-d Day!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Legend of Chief Wabasis' Lost Treasure - 120

Chief John Wabasis' life was intermingled with some of the greatest Indian Chief's of the Flat River and Grand River tribes. He was well accepted in the 'rapid' villages all the way down to Grand Haven and beyond to the "Skunk water city" of Chicago and Wisconsin tribes north of their Grand River, too. Wabasis over the years had gained the respect of everyone he met whether white or red and always extended his hand of friendship.

Indian populations rose and fell with the changing seasons. During Wabasis' childhood he spent many summers in the villages near lakes, such as Wabasis Lake, the largest body of water in northeastern Kent County. The fishing was good and where life was easy for his squaw Cononoma to raise agricultural crops. To Indians this was the norm, but the various Indian tribes always knew when it was time to retire to the old villages at the mouths of the Flat, Thornapple and Rogue River connections to the Grand River. In winter the villages increased in population, not just from the tribes residing near lakes, but from the 'snowbirds' from the Mackinaw region. Prairie Village at Plainfield swelled to nearly 1000 as did at the 'rapids' and 400-800 at the villages at Ada, Lowell, Ionia, Lyons, Muir. It was a bee-hive of activity.

The Indians of the 1800's were similar to all the 'snowbirds' now who flew the coop before December and descended upon the extreme southern states; Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Anyplace warmer will suffice where snow is but a memory. They consider this a true tropical paradise, but to the Ottawas and Chippewa Indians living in the northern wilderness from Traverse City to Sault Ste. Marie in the 1820-1840's, their 'tropical paradise' was anywhere along the Grand (Wastenong) and Kalamazoo ('Boiling waters')Rivers.

Indians in the Summer lake villages knew exactly when to leave, because 90 days after the first ground fog appears in July is the meteorological forecast for when to expect the first killing freezes and crops would be harvested before that date as they prepared for the journey southward. They wanted to be canoeing southward on Lake Michigan in October and not during the turbulent days of November gales.

Indians from northern Michigan preferred living where it was moist cold, where temperatures fluctuated from -20 to + 50 degrees in winter. To them this was the tropical paradise they sought. The cold in the north above the Straits of Mackinaw is a dry bitter cold with many days below zero. That's because in the Upper Peninsula, the land is ravaged by the savage and bitter winds that sweep across the continental U.S. and the winter season lasts longer; 8 months as opposed to the 5-6 months in southern Michigan. It was intolerable weather for women and children even for the most seasoned trapper and trader. Life on Mackinaw Island or Sault Ste. Marie was cruel and many soldiers; British, French and Americans suffered many hardships and starvation in the forts during winter months. Those Indians who retired to the Grand and Kalamazoo Rivers felt warmed. To them life along these rivers was good, but in our minds (2010) we'd rather like living in Palm Beach. The Grand and Kalamazoo Rivers were their 'Winter Havens'.

The Indians would pack themselves in 30-foot long birch barke canoes; the men at the helm seizing command of the canoes forward movements while the women and children paddled strenuously. Indian squaw's and children did most of the arduous paddling. The only time the men paddled was in 'War' canoes. The notion that the squaws and children did nothing is poppycock and far removed from how Hollywood depicts Indian movements to wintering grounds. Everyone was expected to provide for themselves; to educate themselves and work for benefit of family and tribe. Children worked and played little; just the opposite of today. Our children are full of the "I wants" but do nothing to help the family unit. It's gimme' this and when they don't get what they feel they deserve they show disrespect by saying "Well, why did have me? I didn't ask to be born!" The Indian units 200 years ago were leagues ahead of us in proper training and raising children. When children today don't get what they 'demand' isn't it any wonder that they show disrespect and turn out as prodical children? Indian families were stircter, yet sometimes cruel, but they didn't treat their parents with ill regard.

The Indian women and children learned to raise and harvest crops and dry fish caught by the men at area lakes; to carry water which they hauled from lakes and streams. They had no irrigation sprinklers or potable water tanks. Southern Michigan weather was brutal, the hot, humid extremes made it necessary to keep the crops well hydrated and this is why the migrating Indians returned to Mackinaw in summer. Braves were the hunters scouting for game, fishing and fur trading provided them with the staples of Indian life. The men killed the critters, but it was the squaws and children who dressed them out and carried them back to camp. Men were treated as 'kings'. Thousands of Ottawas, Chippewas and Potawatomies migrated down Lake Michigan and entered the Grand River. No wintering villages on the Muskegon; the winter weather was too hostile, but when the Dogwoods bloomed in May, the Indians migrated northward back to the Mackinaw region, because they didn't like the heat and humidity of southern Michigan climate, but loved the warm days and cool nights.

Once the canoes came ashore at Grand at Kalamazoo winter villages, the entire families would disembark. The women would find the 'family kettle' that had been hibernating in a secret place for the summer. The men would build a 'bark home' and all would set in for a warm Winter of dried corn and venison. In the Spring the men speared Sturgeon and Muskellunges in the rivers and creeks and when the birds began returning and the Dogwoods bloomed the tribes trickled down the river to the mouths of the rivers for their annual get-together before returning to Mackinaw or wherever they spent the summer months. According to Indian legends Easter (the first sign of Christianity in the Indians 1800-1870) was seen when the white flowers were streaked with red. This they said was 'Christ's blood shed for them' and it was time for them to migrate northward.

Upon Chief Kewaycooshcums death it was then customary that before any pow-wows or get together parties, the braves were to surrender all of their axes, knives, spears and large clubs to their respective wives should they embibe in alcholic celebratory drinking. This the squaws thought was the safest way to protect family and others; only headaches and hangovers, no deaths or injuries from brandishing weapons while drunk. When clear minds prevailed the spouses returned their weapons. Rev. Isaac McCoy's fruits of labor had come full circle, but not until ten years after he left the Grand River Valley mission at the 'rapids'.

Wait just a minute' minute. Did you understand the part about the 'family kettle.' Every family unit had a kettle that was hidden for winter safekeepping when they returned. Each family had their own 'cook pot' or kettle so don't just go believing the only "kettle" hidden was the one Wabasis buried the treasure in. It is a misnomer to believe that the only 'pot o' treasure' out there contains his buried treasure. Finding the right 'kettle' is the key to understanding if it was Wabasis' hidden pot or that of another Indian family. The area around Wabasis Lake was the ancestral homeland of 5-8 different villages within a mile of Wabasis Lake. That's upwards of 500 Indians from the 1800-1860 era. Lots of treasure hunters are mistaking the legend of Chief Wabasis' if they think the chief and region was the bearer of one kettle. Sorry to say, no Indian would ever bury his money near his own domocile and Mucktasha and Chief Neogamah from Plainfield had reportedly spyed on Wabasis for nearly 24 years without Wabasis tipping off the burial site. How can this be if Wabasis was banished to live on the west end of Wabasis Lake since 1836, but he wasn't banished here that year, but not until 1850?

Old Joe Cizaukas, the Lithuanian immigrant, who was the once the former owner (1986) of the Frederik Meijer Pickerel Lake Park in Cannon Township, was considered an Indian. He said he didn't believe in bank investments and buried lots of his money he got from selling Christmas trees in Mason jars and burying them in discreet places. By the way, you'll end up in jail if sheriff deputies catch you with metal detectors in that Kent County park. To find it without modern marvels think like an Indian - you can't because Indians were smarter than you and he was smarter than Wabasis.

That's one reason why the bulk of Chief John Wabasis' lost treasure is still missing. You've still got a chance of finding it. He was a shrewd, intelligent Indian who knew exactly where to hide the kettle from prying eyes, but it wasn't the 'family kettle' of Indian treasure he buried. The treasure was in a white man's kettle, not his 'family kettle' that is supposedly buried somewhere along the shores of Wabasis Lake or within one mile of it. Too many twisted rumors made legend have left it in this vicinity, but that's an inaccurate assumption and I'm going to let you hang out with that thought until next time. I've left a cliffhanger -- a legend alteration is about to be exposed giving you time to put on your thinking bonnet. I brought you to the precipice of understanding the true nature of Wabasis, but it's a long way down should you fall off the cliff that overlooks Wabasis Lake.

My halo still flickers! I'm snickering like that idiot Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrain in the Hollywood produced series, 'The Dukes of Hazzard'.

The Legend of Chief Wabasis' Lost Treasure - 119

Chief John Wabasis was the Flat River tribes wealthiest Indian and he did it without signing any treaties. Most of the money he received was legally obtained through inheritances and being an educated half-breed who knew how to handle money and people. His biggest mentors were his father, a French Canadian Fur Trader and his Potawatomie Indian Mother, his adopted Chief Wobwindego, his real sons; Shogwogeno, Acongo and Anish all Ottawas. Another was Wabasis foster father Cobmoosa (P) and Chief Kewaygooshcum (O), and Mexinini all which helped Wabasis gain the respect of the other Grand River valley tribes at the 'rapids.'

Wabasis was a shrewd businessman and his education helped guarantee he would probably become one of Michigan's most colorful characters especially when it came to "lost treasures." To understand what was happening and how Chief Wabasis became a thorn in the hides of other tribes you need to know what was really happening between 1836-1863. Only then can you see how easily Wabasis fell out of favor with other tribal leaders and why they banished him to his 40-acre garden plot on western Wabasis Lake. Trouble is they banished him post haste, because they were bullheaded, stubborn and ignorant of treaty stipulations.

Wabasis was scorned by the Indians, especially the Blackskins for almost 25 years, but he was well respected by white settlers. Although a wealthy half-breed his lifestyle was described as poor and yet to some extent he was perhaps the smartest and richest of the Flat River tribes for he knew the value of white man's money. He kept little money on his person when he traveled to pick up his annuities in Grand Rapids for ten years which ended in 1848 for half-breed compensation. Other tribal stipends were for twenty years or forever depending on what treaty was signed.

Wabasis lived with his death sentence from 1838-1863. Area tribal Indians passed judgement upon Wabasis prematurely. In 1838 they thought Wabasis was hoarding their annuity payments for himself for two years when treaty monies were not dispensed from the Federal government until 1838. 1839 saw the first lands being sold north of the Grand River. Preparations were already being made to remove the Indians from the Grand River and Flat River country to Pentwater, Mt. Pleasant and Traverse City reservations. Wabasis was banished to live on ancestral land that was set aside, but the land was deeded to Wabasis and in fact he held the deeds to most of the islands in the Flat River. He even inherited purchased land at Lowell from Wobwindego and Shogwogeno.

The only Indians who were receiving money in 1836 were those left-over Potawatomie and Ottawa Indians who were supposed to have left for the reservations west of the Mississippi River after the Treaty of 1821 was signed, but they refused to go. Chief Cobmoosa and Kewaygooshcum dissolved into the Flat River tribes to protect their hunting and burial grounds south of the Grand River and their tribe intermingled with Wobwindego known as the 'White Giant' of the Flat River and Lowell tribes. Saginaw tribes knew him as 'Wobskindip." The later chiefs couldn't sign the Treaty of 1836.

Wobwindego made his eldest son, Shogwogeno, his sub-chief in 1827. Advanced years were making life difficult and he realized it was important for him to assume a more leadership role within the tribe. Chief Kewaycooshcum did travel with Rix Robinson and Wobwindego to Washington , because Kewaycooshcum was a great admirer of Gen. Lewis Cass and wished to meet him again. Kewaycooshcum found favor with President James Monroe.

Chief Mexinini (English interpretation) was easier than trying to prononunce his real name as Meccissininni. Mexinini was a powerful Ottawa chief who succeeded Kewaycooshcum. Mexinini was very dark skinned and was thought to have been a Negro slave kidnapped from his childhood home in Virginia during Indian Wars about 1812. President Andrew Jackson was impressed with Mexinini and before the chief returned from Washington he thought he would dress like the President in white mens clothing. Jackson gave him a black frock coat, black satin vest, black pantaloons, sil stockings and pumps. When Mexinini met Gen. Jackson, the President was wearing a hite bell-crowned hat with a weed on it. President Jackson's wife had passed away and this was his mourning hat. Mexinini didn't know the 'weed was a badge or mourning' and unknowing of white men cultures had a weed on his hat, which the President and his cabinet were not amused, and yet, they treated him with respect. Mexinini was widely accepted in small towns when he was returning to his village. He had sold their lands north of the Grand River and they must move west of the Mississippi within the next several years. This infuriated other tribal members, but through his oratorys telling them advantages of this treaty this cunning Indian had won over a reluctant acceptance of the treaty. Mexinini became a civilized red man. While most of the tribe left he stayed behind and appreciated civilization to a higher degree. He died in 1843 at age 50 and many Grand Rapidians and his tribe returned for his funeral. He had made preparations for his people to stay at reservations in Michigan instead of going to Missouri.

Wobwindego, Kewaycooshcum, Mexinini, Mucktasha, and Wasogenaw, Wapoos returned home and told the tribes that they had sold their lands to the U.S. Federal government. All were scorned for giving away their tribal lands and were dissatisfied with the preparations being undetaken to remove them from their ancestral lands to reservations. It would be only a matter of a few short years before the pilgramage began. Nobody knew, Indians or settlers could never have imagined what was about to befall them.

Small pox epidemics broke out in the Grand River valley and many Indians were dying of white man diseases. The Indians broke camp scattering in loose groups and others simply packing up and to and away from reservations. Fear was gripping the river valleys, but wherever the tribes went the sickness was claiming more lives. Hundreds and thousands of Indians succumbed to the small pox epidemic. For all intense purposes it was getting hard to know what Indian families registered on the census were still alive or dead, but this wasn't the worst for one of Michigan's most meteorological disaster was dogging the Indians.

In 1836 the west Michigan territory saw the ravages of over 200 Spring and Summer tornadoes that ripped across the state. The territory was laid to ruin. Wherever the Indians went they found destruction left behind by these violent menacing storms. Indians and settlers alike had never seen, heard or been exposed to such violent weather. To the Indian it was if the Great Spirit or God was wreaking vengance on the Chiefs and tribes for selling their ancestral lands to the Federal government. They felt the Great Spirit was dealing out punishment and once they encountered the destruction of forests they moved out fearing the return of the Great Spirits wrath. Being racked with sickness, disease and devestation caused much fear. Renegade half-breeds said the wisest chiefs were fools to trust Kewaycooschcum and Wabasis. They in the eyes of renegade half-breeds were responsible for whatever was wrong and what was happening to their tribal homes. 'They sold us out!'

Indians south of the Grand River were forever mad at Kewaycooshcum and Chief Wasogenaw would murder Kewaycooshcum in 1839. There were two kinds of justice in the Grand River valley after 1836. The white man's justice or Indian justice and the two never intermingled. Murders happened and whitemen law never interferred in Indian matters. It is important that you understand how Indian justice was dealt out by those Indians who felt robbed and to understand the reason behind Wabasis murder.

Chief Kewaycooshcum (Long Nose), Wasogenaw, Ka-she-wa and Wapoos, with a boy and girl were encamped at the mouth of Coldbrook Creek above Kent (Grand Rapids). The boy and girl stayed in the canoe off the mouth of the creek while the chiefs sat around the campfire drinking whisky and assorted spirits. The whisky dwindled and Ka-she-was and Wapoos went to get replentishment of their drinks. The children stayed behind in the anchored canoe, the girl sleeping.

While they were gone old Wasogenaw got beligerent and started quarreling with Kewaycooshcum. The firewater had unleashed pent up years of hatred and the Indian boy heard and saw them quarreling in the firelight and watched in horror as the old chief meted out Indian justice against Kewaycooshcum. The boy whittling a stick with his knife heard Wasogenaw shout, "You old fool! Did you not know any better than to sell this whole territory and impoverish your Nation! I am going to take your life!"

Kewaycooshcum fearing for his life pulled out and flourished his knife and said, "You can't do that! Do you see this?" Wasogenaw bent down and replied to the boy, 'Do you see that man?' He is what impoverished you. Let me take that knife you've got; I am going to kill him. Then you can help me put him in his canoe and we will take him to the middle of the river (Wastenong) and throw him in'. The boy was so scared he dropped his knife into the river, and said, 'I have no knife'. Old Wasogenaw said, 'I thought I saw you peeling a turnip with a knife'?

Showing him a sliver of wood, I said, 'No, I only had this.' The old man became furious; and ranted about angrily, went to the bank of the river, and pulled out a Maple club about two feet long, with a knot at one end. He brandished it swinging it wildly and shouting at me, 'This is the way you kill something,' and then he rushed up on Kewaycooshcum in wild abandon and viciously struck his head with the club. Kewaycooshcum threw up his hands and feet, dropped his knife and begged for his life. Wasogenaw continued his assault until Kewaycooshcum's pleading ceased.

The boy jumped out of the canoe and ran towards the village light. Wasogenaw told me to stop, but I ran faster, he in hot pursuit. I jumped across the stream and fell in the mud. Old Wasogenaw stood over me with the club, but I sprang up and evaded him, ran and met the other chiefs returning with whisky. I told them, 'The old men are killing each other.' A son of Wasogenaw said to me, 'I will go and pacify him' (his father). He walked up to his father and patted his cheek, and said 'You fool! Can't you be satisfied with committing one murder, without taking the life of the boy?' The old man fell on the ground and cried. The others returned to camp and found Kewaycooshcum dead. They put him in a canoe and carried him to Plainfield."
This story was a first hand account as told by the boy to Seth Robinson in 1839. Seth found him in a Flat River village.

Kewaycooshcum was buried at the top of Prairie village with his head above ground so that his spirit could look out over the land he sold in the Treaty of 1821. Blythefield Country Clubhouse and the Country Club of 2010 was once where that Indian Village was up until the early 1840's when the newest settlers arrived. Many Indians expressed the desire that when they died they be buried in a sitting position so their spirit can continually watch over the land of their ancestors. They preferred burial in the Norton Mounds, but no skeletons have been unearthed.

President Gerald R. Fords coffin buried at the Ford Museum is slightly raised so that his spirit can catch the first morning sunlight as it comes over Prospect Hill. This rite is what is what Gerry Ford loved as an Eagle Scout. It's to see his Savior's returns to earth. Old legends about Indian way of life live forever!

Next time more exciting tales and legends about Wabasis and his people.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Legend of Chief Wabasis' Lost Treasure - 118

"Ugg!" That's what Chief Wabasis and most Baptists would say instead of the four letter colorful metaphors others use today. Ugg! I made a boner mistake and published the incorrect title as "Chief John Wabasis led and interesting life growin..." which correctly should have been "The Legend of Chief Wabasis' Lost Treasure - 117". To find the missing cyber space segment check out my blog titles under first quotation in this paragraph. UGG!

Chief Wobwindego, Mexinini and others from north of the Grand River went to Washington to sign the Treaty of 1836 during the winter just like Kewaygooshcum did in Chicago of 1821. Now you might think the Indians in the previous 1821 treaty got lots of money, but the Ottawa and Potawatomies were robbed and that's one reason why President James Monroe and President Andrew Jackson encouraged Rev. Isaac McCoy to bring religion to the Indians north of the Grand River. Blood shed they didn't want with incoming settlers. It was the economic depression and financial crash in the mid 1820's that stopped new settlers from arriving in the Grand Rapids territory until 1831-33. Westward sprawl from Detroit was stopped in its tracks, a situation similar to the financial collapse from 2007 -. The previous Presidents understood the needs to treat the Indians of this region with compassion and provide for them once they got to reservations. Of what good was money to Indians if they didn't know how to spend it for goods and services.

In the 1821 treaty the Ottawa nation was to receive $1000 in annual specie forever, $1500 for a term of 10 years for a blacksmith and teacher under the Presidents direction to teach the Indians agricultural methods; purchasing of cattle and farming equipment. The Potawatomie Nation (Cobmoosa) was to receive $5000 in specie, annually, for 20 years, and for a term of 15 years $1000 yearly for blacksmith and teacher as the President directs. No Chippewas south of the Grand River. Most of the Potawatomies left on the Trail of Tears to Missouri and died along the way of disease. Cobmoosa stayed behind. He said that someone had to stay behind to take care of those who had died previously. He simply crossed to the other side of Grand River and lived amongst Wobwindigo's tribe and married the Chief's daughters. The Ottawas removed to north of the Grand River and farther north and that is one of the primary reasons why when the Treaty of 1836 was signed there were approximately 25 tribes from Grand River to Sault Ste. Marie.

Between 1833-36 the area south of the Grand River was busting with incoming settlers and the tribes knew they'd eventually be squeezed out. Drum beating was heard frequently as the tribal councils met to discuss signing a treaty with the US government for land north of the Grand River. Saubo was threatening "war" but Chief Wobwindigo, Sub-chief Cobmoosa, Wabasis all who were widely respected gave glowing testimonies that said it served no useful purpose to start a war with Washington because the Indians would lose. All said it was time to take what they could get and move as the President directed. This time the Ottawas and Chippewas would get a better deal and half-breed Indians who were well respected would receive better payment, because they were held in high regard and were educated and helped to get the treaty finalized without blood shed.

So the following tribes consisted of approximately 8000 Indians. These are Indians who signed the final treaty papers on Sept. 24, 1836 at Michilimackinac. At L'Arbre Croche: Apawkozigun, Nisowakeout, Kemmechanegun. Of Point Traverse: Aishquagonabee, Chabawusson, Mikenok. On Moskego (Muskegon): Osawya, Owun Aishkum. On Grand River: Nawequa Geezhig (Noon Day), Namattipy, Winnimissagee, Nabbun Egeezhug, Wabi Windego, Cawpee Mosay (Old Moses?) Mukutay Oguot, Megiss Ininee (Mexinini), Muccutay Osha. On the Manistee North: Mukons Ewyan. At Oak Point: Ains. At the Cheneaux: Chabowaywa. At Sault Ste. Marie: Iawbawabick, Kewayzi Shawano. At Gr - Oshawa Eponbaysee and Chingassamo and miscellanoeus unreadable due to deterioration. At no other time had so many Indians inhabited the region. This was the census register of names signed in person at Michilimackinac on September 24, 1836

According to Article Sixth of the Treaty of 1836 the Chiefs desired provisions for their half-breed relatives, but the President determined there shall not be any individual reservations, but $150,000 shall be set apart as a fund for said half-breeds. (Often respected half-breeds were paid upon the Chief's direction at higher rates). To receive any funds they must be of Indian descent and have lived within the boundaries of the treaty boundary. First the President directed a census be taken of every man, woman and child. Nothing shall be paid to any person, who has received an allowance from a previous Indian treaty (Kewaygooshcum). For the purpose of clarity from here on I'll let the treaty speak for itself so that you may understand what and who received payments.

..."As the Indians hold in higher consideration, so of their half-breeds than others, and as there is much difference in their capacity to use and take care of property, and consequently, in their power to aid their Indian connexions, which furnishes a strong ground for this claim, it is therefore, agreed, that at the council to be held upon this subject, the commissioner shall call upon the Indian chiefs to designate, if they require it, three classes of these claimants, the first of which, shall received one-half more than the second, and the second, double the third.

Each man, woman, and child shall be enumerated, and an equal share, in the respective classes, shall be allowed to each. If the father is living with the family, he shall receive the shares of himself, wife and children. If the father is dead, or separated from the family, and the mother is living with the family, she shall have her own share, and that of the children. If the father or mother are neither living with the family, or if the children are orphans, their share shall be retained till they are twenty-one years of age; provided, that such portions of it as may be necessary may, under direction of the President, be from time to time supplied for their support. All other persons at the age of twenty-one years, shall receive their shares agreeably to the proper class. Out of the said fund of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000), the sum of five thousand dollars ($5000) shall be reserved to be applied, under the direction of the President, to the support of such of the poor half-breeds, as may require assistance, to be expended in annual installmetns for the term of ten years, commencing the second year. Such of the half-breeds, as may be judged incapable of making a proper use ot the money, allowed them by the commissioner, shall receive the same installments, as the President may direct."

Next time I'll explain what Wabasis got out of the Treaty of 1836.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chief John Wabasis led and interesting life growing up in the villages of Kewaycooshcum, Wobwindigo and Cobmoosa. These were civilized Indians who understood that someday the white settlers were coming and they'd have to sign peace treaties to keep the river valleys from running red with the blood of each culture. Daniel Marsac took advantage of his relationship with the Ottawa Indians living in the vicinity of Lowell. Taking and Indian squaw for his wife had kept his wallet full of money making it easy for him to travel back and forth from Detroit, but his success actually became his downfall. He had an eye for other women when he traveled back to Detroit previously before he returned with the Dexter Party in 1833. Marsac felt what Janute hadn't seen won't be bothersome to her.

Luther Lincoln watched as more white settlers began streaming into Grandville and had started a city at the 'rapids' known as Kent. Isaac McCoy's mission was well established and he had time to wonder among the Indian villages north of the Grand River and begin surveying. Not all the Indians he met were friendly and finding drinkable water was hard especially when the whole area was infested with Ague Fever. It affected man and beasts. Although the Treaty of 1821 had been signed 12 years ago from 1833 provisions were made to reserve several tracts for Indian villages, but none were made south of the Grand River. In fact other than Lincoln, Marsac, McCoy and Leonard Slater no white settlers arrived to settle south of the Grand River until the arrival of the Dexter Party. Indian were encountered everywhere.

Previously in 1821 the President James Monroe granted personal tracts of property to earlier traders who had intermarried with the tribes located along the Grand River. John Riley, son of Menawcumagoquoi, one section of land at the mouth of the river Au Foin on the Grand River, (Holland tribe), Theresa Chandler or To-e-ak-qui, a Potawatomie woman with her daughter Betsey Fisher, one section of land along south side of the Grand River opposite Spruce Swamp; with provisions for Joseph La Framboise and William Knoggs of Indian blood. Chief Kewaygooshcum and Chief Kay-nee-wee's tribe and each individual received about $1.50 each year in silver. Why so little? This treaty extended south and took in all Indian tribes of Indiana, Illinois, too, not just the Ottawa and Potawatomie tribes of Michigan.

Until 1833 the Grand River valley was inhabited by thousands of Indians from the Potawatomie, Ottawa and Chippewa nations, the Three Fires. Kewaycooshcums tribe contained 700 Ottawas and Chippewas. Chief Noonday's tribe had roughly 600 at the "rapids" and 1000 at Prairie Village and many more tribes northward. Indians outnumbered settlers.

Other than Rev. Thomas and Carey's Baptist mission and Rev. McCoy's Baptist mission only a few fur traders lived among the Indians. McCoy moved further westward before the arrival of the Dexter Party. He felt his work in Michigan paved the way for the peaceful resolution in Washington for the Treaty of 1836. McCoy felt that if he didn't bring Christianity to the Indians all they had to look forward to was being robbed of their culture. He wanted to make sure the Indians were paid for their lands, but they were to be treated with compassion and kindness. Despite this not all the Indians wanted to sign that treaty such as the vehement renagade Saubo of the Holland tribes. Whenever Saubo met a white settler they got no handsake from him like Wobwindigo, Cobmoosa, Mexinini or Wabasis gave with a friendly smile. Indians were no different than those in Washington. Indians never saw eye-to-eye either.

Saubo threatend the white settlers he met with bodily harm and even the fur traders felt Saubo's rath and feared for their lives. Wobwindigo, Cobmoosa, Kewaycooshcum with Wabasis in tow attended a pow wow near Holland. Kewaygooshcum laid out the treaty plans with the grand councils, but he was met with great disapproval. Many savage coucilmen delivered long and eloquent speeches about the disadvantages of leaving homes of the heart -- "Here we buried our dead...and here we should stay... and here we should remain to protect their graves." But Kewaygooshcum gave the advantages; blacksmiths, schools, agriculture implements and money, but many like Saubo disapproved because of the stipulation they'd have to remove themselves to reservations west of the Mississippi deamed a hostile worthless land. With help from Mexinini, Wobwindigo and half-breed Indian John Wabasis the treaty was accepted with the provision they removed to three reservations in Michigan at Pentwater, Mt. Pleasant and Traverse City region.

In 1834-35 Saubo entertained the idea that all white settlers should be killed to stop the incoming invasion of settlers. Saubo was an angry half-breed, but big on fiery indignation and shouting, but never made any trouble and for that reason he was called the "mouse." Saubo said he didn't like that the U.S. government sent missionaries into the region with a Bible in one hand and when treaties were signed the other hand held whiskey bottles. President Andrew Jackson upon hearing about possible Indian uprisings and half-breeds threatening war dispatched a U.S. Army detachment into Michigan with two cannons in tow in March 1836 to protect new settlers. Destination was unknown, but only one cannon got to where it was going. One fell thru thin ice on the Grand River east of Ionia and wasn't retrieved.

The pow wow was successful and Wobwindigo and Mexinini were dispatched to Washington to sign the treaty along with about 25 other chiefs whose villages were north of the Grand River to Sault Ste. Marie. In total they represented about 8000 Indians all who would get an annuity for 20 years and half-breeds for 10 years paid with half silver dollars. Cobmoosa couldn't sign the treaty. He was already receiving his annuity payment forever from signing the Treaty of 1821, because he was a Potawatomie by birth and lived south of the Grand River. He couldn't leave his homeland culture to white settlers. He had to protect Indian cemeteries from desecration, the looters and treasure seekers. Most of the Potawatomie tribe left for Missouri reservations, but he stayed behind and married three different daughters of Chief Wobwindigo and remained in the Ottawa villages north of the Grand River. Up until he professed Christianity Cobmoosa had six wives and lifestyle of a mormon.

While the Ottawas and Chippewas negotiated the upcoming Treaty of 1836 Rix Robinson and his brothers arrive in the Grand River valley about the time Joseph La Framboise is killed near Grand Haven and his wife Madam La Framboise takes over his fur trading businesses, the American Fur Company. Rix Robinson a man of importance and means trades with the Indians and journeys to Washington with the great Chief Kewaygooshcum, Mexinini (Meccissininni) and 20 other Indian Chiefs that make up the Ottawa and Chippewa nations north of the Grand River.

President Andrew Jackson entertained Mexinini and gave him a fine black coat and tall silk hat. Mexinini was so proud that when he returned to Michigan and whenever he had to deal with white settlers he wore the hat and coat. He assumed the habits of settlers and preferred wearing settler attire over his cultural heritage. When Mexinini died many white settlers attended his funeral in Grand Rapids.

Next time a little sneak peak into how much the Indian received in payment. Silver or gold and who received the most money for Indian land north of the Grand River. How did Wabasis get so rich if he didn't sign the treaty? Good day!