Monday, April 20, 2015

Legends of Chief Cobmoosa & Pres. A.J. - 13

        Chief Cobmoosa, Noonday & Kewaycooshcum were three Indians who never left for Indian Reservations from 1821-1833.  They remained until they heard there was the possibility that Washington wanted another treaty for the western half of territory between the north shore of the Grand River to Mackinaw.
        The settlers were already pushing against the south shore of the Grand River and so was born two equally dangerous renegades named Negake and Max Sauba who vowed a rein of terror against all they met.  Arriving settlers to the northern edge of the 1821 treaty were being verbally abused with death threats and these two could become a problem within the tribes.  They were constantly badgering settlers and in fact tensions were rising and when Cobmoosa heard rumblings in villages across the Grand River it was he who dampened the fires of the renegades. 
        Any settler who engaged Negake and Max Sauba would reap a world of intimidation and receive death threats if settlers violated Indian Territory north of the Grand River.  Luther Lincoln was the exception.  Negake was not a Grand River Indian, but was accepted in Potawatomi villages until they left for reservations.  He was from an Eastern war-like tribe and for that reason was not welcome in Chippewa or Ottawa villages.  He was constantly spewing his hatred for non-Indians and the missionaries knew he would be trouble for Washington.
       The mixed tribal villages feared retribution from Washington if renegades began terrorizing the northern frontier of the 1821 treaty.  Cobmoosa knew that Washington fathers took a dim view of any Indian aggression seriously.  Non-aggression Indians would get the lion's share of the blame if hostilities broke out no matter what Indian; good or bad was at fault.  Cobmoosa sprang to action and quelled the threats in the villages.  He countered that Indians couldn't win against Washington - to do otherwise would be futile.
        When the villages disbanded at the rapids villages Negake lived at Plainfield Village for a time and one day while out walking he came upon a Federal government surveyor who had accidentally gone across the river.  Negake confronted the trespassing surveyor and in a brawl killed him near the 43rd parallel.  Tribes within the Grand River valley were enraged and not impressed with Negake's actions and sanctioned him for death under Indian law.  Cobmoosa didn't like what he heard about the grizzly murder of the government surveyor.  He felt it was a senseless killing that could bring harm to those tribes who were friendly and trying to adopt to the farming ways of settlers.
        Two bad Indians, the interlopers from a distant tribe was all that was needed to turn the Grand River running red.  The renegades drifted back and forth between tribes spewing their hatred for settlers and constantly trying to spur on the tribes for war, but Cobmoosa and young Wabasis would show up to counter any gains they had made.  This infuriated the renegades and the hatred for Wabasis.
        One dark night the renegades on ponies began nightly rituals of threatening the homesteaders in the Thornapple and Coldwater River area in the mid 1830's.  Mrs. Thomson of Bowne Township got  a frightening surprise.  A drunken ex-Indian chief named Soh-na-go burst inside her crude cabin.  He sat down in her rocking chair drinking some rot-gut firewater.
         Nearly out of his head and finding her chair to his liking, he rocked it so hard he threw himself right out and into the fireplace.  Horrified Mrs. Thomson made a grab for him to pull him out, but he became belligerent and threatened to stab her with his knife.  She fearing for her life grabbed the fireplace axe and threatened to kill him if he advanced towards her.
        Sohnago sprang from the fire running past her.  He stood in the doorway yelling that within many moons there was going to be a great Indian battle against white settlers - to kill her and drive others from Indian lands.  Under the Treaty of 1821 any Indian still residing in the area was an illegal squatter and gave up the right to own land south of the Grand River.  He was resisting Washington's directives to leave.  Moving south Sohnago in his drunken stupor yelled his battle threats to other settlers, too, and they were afraid.
        News of an Indian uprising spread quickly by canoe down the Thornapple River and Grand River to all settlements within the Treaty of 1821 to beware of loudmouth renegade Indians.  Just the threats of an Indian attack at Lowell was enough to stop settlers and farmers from proceeding further towards Indian territory until the initial Treaty of 1836 was signed on March 28, 1836.
        Still the threats made by renegades was enough for President Andrew Jackson to dispatch a military detachment with 2 cannons in tow into the Michigan wilderness from Detroit. Jackson wanted to make sure no hostilities broke out after the treaty was signed.  Settlers needed assurances the government would act to protect them.
        Cobmoosa sprang to action and sent runners to Wabasis and both proceeded quickly to council meetings where the renegades were demanding that the tribes go to war. Wabasis would arrive first by canoe while Cobmoosa walked.  War drums beat louder each night, the sky ablaze with the bonfire light and towering smoke plumes in the north territory and again Cobmoosa and Wabasis with eloquence quelled the disturbances by renegade Indians.
        So who was Sohnago and what was his relationship with Cobmoosa?  (continued)


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