Friday, March 27, 2015

Legends of Chief Cobmoosa and Pres. Andrew Jackson - 1

     This new series is primarily about the life and legends of two equally educated, but important men in Michigan and American history; namely Chief Cobmoosa of the Ottawa Indians, the people of two fires, the Ottawa and Potawatomi of Michigan's Grand River Valley.  Along with Cobmoosa is the 7th President of the United States - Andrew Jackson.  Both of these men dedicated their lives to the preservation of life for their respective nations.
     Other important legendary names  in Michigan history will from time to time surface briefly such as Luther Lincoln, Chief John Wabasis, Chief Wobwindigo (Odawa), Chief Noonday (Potawatomi) and Chief Hazy Cloud.  These men were all essential mentors, partners, friends and relatives of Cobmoosa.

     Chief Cobmoosa was known as the "Great Grand Walker."  He was the last Ottawa Indian Chief to leave the Grand River Valley and Flat River Country in Michigan after signing the Treaty of 1855, the only treaty he signed after being made chief upon the death of his father-in-law Chief Wobwindigo in 1837. 
     The Treaty of 1836 contained no stipulation when the Indians were to uproot themselves and  leave for unknown reservations.  The Treaty of 1855 made sure they left before 1860 and gave them three options: the reservations at Pentwater, Mt. Pleasant and Traverse City area.
     Cobmoosa left in the fall of 1860 at age 92 to begin hopefully his last winter journey via Grand Rapids, his ancestral home territory on his way to Grand Haven.  He didn't arrive until 1861.  He was an aged man who was terrified of water travel - he walked and government Indian Agents didn't push him to walk faster.  Townspeople in Grand Rapids at first didn't recognize him as he walked down the street in ragged white man clothing, his feet wrapped with old cloth around his moccasins. 
     Time had neglected to take him to his happy hunting ground.  His walk was labored, but he shuffled along destined to arrive in Grand Haven and rested trying for several months to get up the nerve to arrange steamer passage, but not until 1862.  Could you could walk a hundred miles or more on wagon rutted trails or through the bush at 92 years of age?
     Cobmoosa arrived in Pentwater in 1862.  History doesn't say exactly when.  From Pentwater he put his possessions on his back and walked 15 miles or so southeast to his chosen property the government had deeded to him on the reservation.  It was approximately 8 miles east of Hart, Michigan (Oceana County) and arrived at his newly erected log home in Elbridge Township by the Federal government in 1862. 
     He was 94 years of age and died at age 98 (1866) on the reservation.  He had outlived everybody he ever knew.  Living on the reservation broke his spirit.  He longed for the days of his youth in the "rapids" village at Grand Rapids and in adulthood the beautiful sight and sounds of the Flat River basin and Grand River Valley.  Old age, depression and alcohol consumed his remaining days.  When younger he swore himself to never dress as a white man nor drink his intoxicating firewater that had robbed many men of their sanity and ruined their life. (continued)

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