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!

No comments:

Post a Comment