Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Legends of Chief Cobmoosa & Pres. A. J. - 17

        Between the years 1821-1833 Cobmoosa became more wealthy simply because he moved freely and was welcome in all Grand River valley Indian villages.  He could bed down just about anywhere and found much favor in the eyes of his father-in-law Chief Wobwindigo within his Flat River villages.  He invested in settler pursuits, too, such as fur trading, provisional goods, banking and steamboat building for river and Great Lakes travel.  As such he didn't have to scrounge for visible means of support for his growing family; three wives, the daughters of Chief Wobwindigo.  He never panhandled incoming settlers, but greeted them as friends.  He knew the value of money was as shrewd as President Andrew Jackson.
        Cobmoosa, from age 53-92 walked to Grand Rapids from Lowell or Ionia to pick up his annual annuity payments.  He was punctual and he frequently told the Black Skins living in the Greenville area and Plainfield's Chief Neogamah to show up in person for payment, but they refused and blamed others for their misfortunes.  Wabasis was a scapegoat.  The missionaries in frequent letters to President Jackson complained that no what they tried to teach; farming there were those Indians that were lazy who preferred to harass incoming settlers.  Pres. Jackson refused to pay those who were naughty and threatened bloodshed.
        After the signing of the 1821 treaty Cobmoosa was aware of those who were angry with Washington.  He reiterated at council meetings that the constant turmoil by renegades must stop, but Plainfield's Chief Neogamah along with Max Sauba refused to go get their annuity payments and began blaming Wabasis.  They were convinced that Wabasis was stealing their proxy money and demanded that Wabasis be sanctioned for death.  This wasn't approved by council chiefs.  Cobmoosa's breath was wasted on deaf ears.  They refused to listen and so Wabasis was banished to his agricultural plot at Wabasis Lake.
        With so many of Noon Days tribe leaving for reservations in southern Michigan and Missouri, Cobmoosa dissolved into tribes north of the Grand River.  From 1821-1836 he didn't want to leave the land of his forefathers and it became apparent after the 1836 treaty signing he stayed in the Flat River country protecting and paying yearly homage to those buried in Indian Cemeteries.  He had heard of the atrocities of those incoming settlers who were guilty of ransacking Indian burial grounds.  Each November 2nd he visited the graves of his ancestors; family and friends.  He guarded them until the time came for him to leave for the Pentwater Reservation in 1860 after signing the Treaty of  1855 that forced him to leave before the close of 1860.
        Cobmoosa over the years would trade and barter for Indian type goods in exchange for what he wanted; apples, squash and vegetables.  He even traded furs for a shotgun from Mrs. Sessions, east of Ionia, Muir and Portage so he could hunt game.  Old age was already claiming his arms and his strength for pulling back a bow string was getting more difficult with the passing of time.
         After returning from signing the Treaty of 1836 Chief Wobwindigo and Cobmoosa arrived in their village to find that two-thirds of Wobwindigo's people had died of small pox in their absence.  Two of Wobwindigo's sons and families had died and nowhere to be found was his last living son Sohnago.  His remaining people were sick with small pox.  Evidently Sohnago was starving and so terrified of the disease he abandoned the village and fled to Gull Prairie.
        Since Wobwindigo himself was so badly afflicted with small pox Cobmoosa took command and led a hunting party north up the Flat River and brought back food to feed his adopted Ottawa people.  Cobmoosa was immune to the disease.  His hunting party returned by canoe while he walked back to Wobwindigo's village.
        Wobwindigo died from complications associated with small pox in early 1837, but before he passed on Chief Wobwindigo made Cobmoosa, the Potawatomi half-breed son-in-law, the last Ottawa chief of the Grand River and Flat River region.  Cobmoosa, once the second in command of Noon Days "rapid village" in Grand Rapids on the shore of the Grand River became an Ottawa chief, the last by inheritance.
        Cobmoosa remembered that in the early days traders could not sell whiskey or any liquored firewater to Indians.  That was forbidden under government oversight, but there came the day when any settler could sell it on "credit" if they had it and this infuriated President Jackson.  He and Indian women knew the dangers facing me who drank liquor in excess and had guns in their possession.  Drinking parties ended in death to someone they didn't agree with like those who plied firewater with Chief Kewaycooshcum, then murdered him near the confluence of Coldbrook Creek and Grand River.  His body buried beneath the bluffs of the Plainfield village so his spirit could look down at what he sold (south of the Grand River in 1821).  (continued)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Legends of Chief Cobmoosa & Pres. A. J. - 16

        President Andrew Jackson was a shrewd military man.  Before he became President he availed himself to dealing with Indians, both friendly and hostile.  He knew from his earliest days that taking Indian lands by force led to much bloodshed and he would later in life like to avoid that travesty.
         Under the direction of President James Monroe he with his detachment of military men struck out for Florida to stop the Seminole raids on US territory in 1817 and was named provisional governor of Florida in 1821. At the time President Monroe was engaged in the Treaty of 1821 for lands south of the Grand River.  The primary chiefs would receive upwards of $1000.00 each, while their people only received a little more than 10 cents per year and the Indians could receive annuity payments by proxies. 
        The Indian proxies were stealing money from each other and tribal feuds were festering.  Indians were fighting each other and so when Jackson became President he gave the Twenty-Third Congress an ultimatum to change how Indians would be paid.  Congress in  1834 made it illegal for any one individual Indian to be a proxy for others, but many Indians knew nothing about this change.  Indians had to show up in person to claim their own annuity after the Treaty of was signed.  What chiefs and family members were paid was what Congress agreed to pay.  Educated half-breeds were paid exclusively by Presidents - sometimes depending on their services to Washington.
        President Andrew Jackson has been the only president to clear the national debt and he paid that last installment in 1835
        It was not uncommon to pay a half-breeds higher each year as opposed to chiefs that received less.  Under the newly signed 1836 Treaty the educated half-breeds could get $5000.00 a year as deemed applicable by missionary reports.  Six weeks after the treaty was signed President Andrew Jackson being frustrated how easy it was to fleece the Indians issued a 'specie circular' ordering that all Federal lands be purchased in gold and silver.
        Some historians for years stated America didn't have gold and silver to pay them, but whoever said the gold and silver was mined in America.  President Andrew Jackson purchased that minted gold and silver coins from Spain and Italy and it was shipped to Washington exclusively for Indian payment.  Mining of gold and silver wasn't a happening thing until the 1847 California gold rush.
        Under the 1836 treaty the chiefs got about got less, because in the old days since they were proxies they had to share it the tribe.  Under this treaty tribal members received $1.25 plus one blanket.  Since chiefs were no longer proxies they got less.  The President paid the half-breeds upwards of $5000.00 and Congress had no part in dictating how half-breeds like Cobmoosa, Boshaw and Wabasis, born of French Traders were paid.
        The differences between the 1821 and 1836 treaty is quite simple.  Under the 1821 Treaty they were paid 10 cent and 1836 paid $1.25.  Under the 1821 treaty it covered a much broader territory than the 1836 treaty.  Thousands more Indians lived south of the Grand River. 
        Prior to 1836 the Federal government estimated more than 17,000 lived in the western half of the lower Michigan and 4000 lived along the Grand River.  But with the influx of settlers came a wave of small pox epidemics that decreased the population by two-third.  As the disease spread thru villages many died and the shares of those who died were passed on to the living.  Those who left the area out of fear left no forwarding addresses so payments were greater to.
        What Indian half-breeds and chiefs were paid was also determined by 'spy reports' sent from missionaries within the Indian tribal villages to President Jackson.  They would report on who were considered friendly and those who the renegades.  Missionaries would write how they found the Indians and if they accepted religion - Baptist or Catholic.         
        President Jackson knew that to be successful during America's expansion period he had to pursue peaceful negotiations with the Indians.  He knew he couldn't steamroll them with broken promises.  He had to get them engaged in religion and farming.  (continued)

Legends of Chief Cobmoosa & Pres. A.J. -15

        About the time of Indian uprisings in 1835, the Grand River valley Indians heard of another battle taking place between settler Rix Robinson, Esq. and Norman Smith, as Ada Township's first supervisor.  No blood shed, but heated words between two men vying for the same job.  Robinson would lose by one vote (31) to Smith's 32 votes, which gives you the density of settlers in the wilderness south of the Grand River living in a wilderness area still teaming with Indians - a few hostile ones.  One hundred percent of the voters cast their ballot.
        Although well known as a good friend of the Indians and tribes still living along the Grand River at Ada Robinson still lost.  He had operated an Indian fur trading post at Ada for several years and was the first white man to live among the savages.  Earlier upon his arrival he paddled his own canoe laden with provisions up and down the wilderness rivers (trails) and traded his goods for wolf, bear, deer, beaver and muskrat pelts as did many Indians he met in his journeys.  Wild turkeys were plentiful until the early 1860's.  All kept many early settlers and Indians from starving to death.
        Shortly before election day Robinson married the sister of the great Indian Chief named Ma-oh-bin-na-kiz-hich, known as Chief Hazy Cloud of Ada.  Remember we time travel so "Zap" we arrive in the 1980's - 150 years into the future.  One evening I received a telephone call from a board member of the Green Ridge Country Club on Alpine Avenue between I-96 and Four Mile Road in Walker, Michigan.  They had just purchased a large parcel in Ada Township for a new golf course, but were stumped for a name. 
        A director wanted an Indian name, but since the Indian name (Maohbinnakizhich) wouldn't roll off the tip of your tongue or cause your brain to remember I advised them to name it Egypt Valley Country Club, because Egypt Valley Creek meanders thru the property.  This area was known for its hills of wheat - high country all the way to Ionia.  And so my legend goes that since nobody would remember that Indian name I labeled it Egypt Valley Country Club, which was majority voted as Egypt Valley Country Club. 
       This picturesque name sticks in your head.  Egypt Valley Creek and the Egypt River in Egypt both have opposite deltas.  The creek starts from delta like conditions and the river under the same name ends in a dense delta.  That's what make Egypt Valley Country Club so unique.
        Zap!  Back to 1835.  Chief Hazy Cloud's stature was small, but he had great influence upon his tribal village with the help of his own educated half-breed Indian known as Boshaw.  Like Cobmoosa and Wabasis, Hazy Cloud and Boshaw, all spearheaded the drive between other Algonquin nation chiefs, considered the most powerful tribes in Michigan in the Grand River Valley prior to signing the 1836 treaty.  Rix Robinson took Chief Hazy Cloud just as Noonday took Cobmoosa to Washington to sign that treaty.  Boshaw took command of Chief Hazy Cloud's village in his absence, but neither Boshaw, Cobmoosa or Wabasis sign the treaty.  These three were half-breed Indians, but paid with higher funds as dictated by Presidents and not Congress under the treaties.
        The chief Algonquin tribes  upon signing the treaty were comprised of mixed groups of Miami (MI), Sauk (SA), Mascoutin (MA), Menominee (ME), Ojibwa (OJ), Ottawa (OT), Potawatomi (PO).  Small groups of Huron (HU), Wyandots (WY) represented the Iroquois north of the Grand River.  Cobmoosa, Boshaw and Wabasis were widely respected among all these tribes and the population of all was about 17,000 prior to the small pox epidemics between  1831-1837. (continued)