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!