Friday, January 14, 2011

The Legend of Chief Wabasis' Lost Treasure - 132

Chief Wabasis' banishment to his farm property at Wabasis Lake was a livesaver. Mucktasha was hoping to get a more favorable response out of the Grand River chiefs. He argued against sparing Wabasis' life. He sought revenge against Wabasis for his portrayal of Wabasis as a scoundrel and thief, but Wabasis at the council meetings defended himself repeatedly with "That's all the money there is and no more." It was 'tit for tat' and most of the chiefs refused to believe that John Wabasis, the pillar of Indian honesty would do otherwise. The chiefs knew of Mucktasha's hatred for Wabasis and incoming settlers and did their best to neutralize the situation.

Mucktasha wanted retribution for Wabasis helping the Grand River chiefs cede their lands to the U.S. government or sold to settlers. Legend has it that Wabasis didn't share the money, but kept it for himself, burying it, which earned him the fury of Mucktasha's tribe and a few other outlying chiefs. The biggest tribal chiefs chose to spare his life so that Wabasis in a moment of weakness would hopefully lead them to recover the gold and silver he supposedly stashed. To step off Wabasis' property meant instant death by any Indian.

Wabasis remained on his property for twenty-four years. His wife and children could come and go and they remained at his side until his death. Muctasha arrived each May for his share of money, but Wabasis stated there wasn't any and after many more years of Wabasis silence, the blackskin chief became more enraged by his failure to collect his money and he convinced Chief Neogamah, that it was hightime to carry out Indian justice and pass sentence and execute Wabasis. Both Indians in a visit to Wabasis lake enticed Wabasis to go to a corn festival at Prairie Indian village at Plainfield. What they never told Wabasis was that Prairie Village had been deserted since 1860. The Treaty of 1855 ended Indian occupation of any lands north of the Grand River. Most of the Indians went either to Mt. Pleasant, Pentwater or Petoskey. Muctasha and his band were considered derelicts or renegades who had always been trouble makers and who didn't abide with any treaties.

Chief Neogamah and Mucktasha convinced the depressed Wabasis in a friendly sort of way to trick him into leaving his property. Under whiteman law it'd be known as premeditated murder, but under Indian law it was justifiable execution. So in May 1863 Wabasis left by way of the Plainfield-Sheridan Trail, but he only walked about 10 miles when he met Neogamah and Muctasha at the Rum Creek crossing (Kies Rd.). As they sat in the lite of the campfire they all drank firewater in excess until liquor seized their minds and then the two stood angrily above Wabasis and beat the life out of him with firebrands and rocks. It was a violent death scene. No longer were they interested in finding the treasure, but revenge.

The next morning two farmers traveling down the trail noticed the smoldering fire and checked it out and found the bloodied body of Wabasis lying on the blank. Albert Pickett, the Marshal in Rockford and a Cannon Township Constable arrived and they confirmed it was Wabasis and the lawmen told the farmers Indian justice had finally been dealt out and it was none of their business to interfer. Wabasis was executed with the help of whiteman firewater, but if his death sentence were carried out in 1848, the outcome would have been even more brutal.

If Wabasis would have been sentenced and executed by the chiefs, they would have put a hatchet in his hands and led him to a large hollow log for which he was to fashion his own coffin to admit his body. He was then led away and tied to a tree and for the next several days to a week was tortured nightly in firelight, his skin burned by flames as drunken Indians took turns flitting arrows at his standing body. They'd have cut off his ears and nose and more cruel torture by liquor ensued until at last his head drooped towards the earth. Indian justice was mutilation.

Wabasis' body was removed by Indians and taken reportedly to Prairie Village. Legends say he was buried inside a crib with his head above ground and his knife at his side to display Indian retribution. His head could look out over the land he helped cede to the US government, but Wabasis wasn't buried looking south from the bluffs.

Wabasis was buried south of the Grand River looking north. In fact, I visited his monument in the late 1950's in Plainfield Township. Wabasis' monument was in the island south of where Plainfield Avenue meets the East Beltline that forms Northland Drive. The bronze marker plaque on a large granite stone was vandalized and removed by hoodlums in the early 1960's. The stone was then removed over to the Grand Rapids Gravel Company (where Walgreen's and Wendy's is today). Chief Kewaycooshcum's grave does look south from the bluffs of Prairie Village, but not Wabasis'. Kewaycooshcum signed the Treaty of 1821 ceding all lands south of the Grand River, but Wabasis wasn't a signee of the Treaty of 1836 or any treaties.

The Legend of Chief Wabasis' lost treasure didn't end here, but ever since 1863 wandering Indians and treasure hunters with greedy glints in their eyes with lanterns, picks, shovels, metal detectors and flashlights in hand have been seeking Wabasis' treasure troves. Upon hearing of Wabasis' death other Indians were angier at those who killed Wabasis so viciously. Down thru the years many have searched for Wabasis' gold, but what they encountered on dark nights has scared the living daylights out of some by Wabasis' angry ghost. Indian legends foretell how an angry ghost scared them, too.

Sightings of Wabasis' ghost rise to haunt the living when someone gets too close. Whether Wabasis' spirit is being used for 'evil' or good depends on the searcher for Wabasis' treasure trove. His violent death would indicate that on certain occasions his spirit is seeking revenge against those who killed him. His strong emotions at the time of his death may have left an imprint on the locality because he felt he was wrongly judged. Ghosts seem to only inhabit sites where there was lots of misery and violence or murder, but one would think that his ghost would be where he was murdered. Some believe the whole of the past is recorded somewhere in spacetime as though it were on film to be shown in the future. Those who see Wabasis ghost are caught in a momentary time-warp (trap) that if one were thinking as a treasure hunter might get a quick glimpse of the past in rerun time.

Shortly after Wabasis' death the Mucktasha tribe descended upon Wabasis property and searched nightly, but each time Wabasis angry ghost appeared spooking their horses, which in turn made them run, too. What they saw rattled their bones. Other treasure hunters report when Wabasis' angry ghost appears the hairs on their flesh stands at attention causing them to tremble and shake violently as if Wabasis' ghost has beseiged them. Don't laugh for legend has it that Caesar's ghost haunted Brutus who plotted his assassination. In the Holy Bible even Job saw a ghost that caused him much fear. Ghosts appear in darkness, not by light of day.

There is another legend within Wabasis' legend that fortells that when Chief Neogamah and Muctashas visited him to entice him to leave his property he was depressed. In the mid 1850's Wabasis' daughter who was in here early twenties had fallen in love with an Indian brave whom he didn't approve of. He forbid her to marry him, but she fell out of love for her father and reportedly stole the hidden stash and ran off with her lover. It is said she broke her father's heart and will to survive. Whether this legend is true is unknown. It has been said that ghosts are often associated with dire warnings for the living, but sometimes ghosts can save lives, so be careful where and what you do as you search for Chief John Wabasis' lost treasure. History has shown that when you mix Indians with treasures to be found they come with curses so beware!

Maybe the reason why Wabasis' lost treasure has never been found is because that's the way his ghost wants it. To my knowledge nobody has ever found anything of value, but just because you haven't found it doesn't mean it never existed.

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