Monday, September 28, 2015

Legends of Chief Cobmoosa & Pres. A.J. -27

       Cobmoosa never wore the attire of white men as an Indian.  Whenever he met someone and in talking he said " he would stay Indian and not be anything but Indian.  He had fought against offered clothing from friends and relatives for 92 years, but he didn't know that is own destiny would be reshaped soon after he was seen arriving in Grand Rapids.  People on the streets couldn't believe the old shuffling Indian Chief was still alive and walking on Division Street - walking in the biting cold and sleet in such ragged clothing befitting a hermit or homeless person.
       "Time and death had neglected" Cobmoosa.  The sight of Grand Rapids left him sad.  Gone were the sights and silence of the "rapids" village.  Wooden buildings replaced the natural environment.  The hustle and bustle of a booming lumber town was too much for him to accept.  Nothing of his youth remained.
       Shuffling through town, the cold winds, rain and sleet beat against his face.  He hurried along hoping he wouldn't be recognized.  He feared being arrested by government lawmen, but they greeted the old Indian Chief with respect.  They never harassed or intimidated him.  December was not the time of year to cross the Grand River in the shallows, but instead did walk across a bridge. Just before he started westward, the old hunched over man greeted an old friend with a firm handshake.  Cobmoosa turned his face away from the cold sleet and the man took pity on his friend that "death had neglected."
       Suddenly his friend unbuttoned his winter coat and placed it around and over Cobmoosa's shoulder and helped him slip his arms into the sleeves.  He for the first time in his long life didn't refuse the white man's clothing.  He accepted the coat for he needed warmth to conclude his journey to Grand Haven.  Without the white man's clothing old Cobmoosa would freeze to death somewhere along the trail.  Just because he accepted the coat doesn't mean he isn't Indian, but he was wise enough to accept the coat knowing without it he would surely die along the trail.
       Imagine visiting (time traveling 150 year future) your doctor for your dwindling health at 92 years old says you must start walking and exercising more, because frankly you are obese and gravity has settled your girth.  In a nutshell do you have the stamina and ability to walk from the Ionia area via Grand Rapids to Grand Haven, then northward to Pentwater.  That's an overland trek of more than 130 miles.  Would you ever attempt this at 70 years of age.  You must walk like Cobmoosa in old clothes - not Sunday or daily clothing of the 21st century.  You must look like the homeless street people you see living in paperboard boxes beneath bridge overhangs.  Could you survive?
      Cobmoosa was a man of courage, but he still feared he might get arrested for not leaving his homeland soon enough.  After all when he encountered his friend he still had a 35 mile walk to Grand Haven.  What an odd scene to see a lone bent over gray-haired Indian moving 'turtle' slow in early December. 
      He was spotted two weeks later near Christmas stumbling in wagon ruts near the Crockery Creek Crossing southwest of Ravenna.  Many settlers in wagons tried to give him a lift, but he refused and went on his way.  Eyewitness accounts say as they approached he disappeared into the brush when  remembering an old familiar trail.  He arrived in Grand Haven in early winter.   Eyewitness sightings place him in Grand Haven by the end of 1860. What an arduous task when 92 years old.  Only half of his journey was completed. (continued)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Legends of Chief Cobmoosa & Pres. A.J. - 26

       Every three years, the Ottawa Indians would gather together to celebrate the "Feast of The Dead," which happened on Nov. 2nd.  Cobmoosa took it upon himself being the last Ottawa Indian Chief to honor the dearly departed.  The day long ceremony was arduous for him, but he mostly just sang and provided food for himself.  At age 92 time had passed him by for athletic events, dancing and offering a feast, but at least he remembered his forefathers, family and friends and honored their spirits one last time. 
       Usually at the conclusion of the feast of the dead, the bones of those who died three years past were buried in a common grave, which 'united the spirits of the dead' with 'joining the friendships of the living.'  Now you understand why it is that with all the housing developments being built around you excavators don't unearth departed Indians.
       The Yanonomi Indians of Brazil (1995) still cremate their dead to this day.  These cremation Indians are considered to be the richest in the world and yet at the turn of this century they do not know the value of money and modern man is prohibited from entering their tribal land.  They are protected by the Brazilian government and military forces.  They cremate the dead and gather the ashes.  They mix the ashes with flour and bake and break bread at a similar 'spirit of the dead'.  The spirit of the dead then lives within the living as they journey through life.  Hard to fathom the 'Spirit of The Dead' honors the dead in the 21st century.  Before the flotilla of Indians left the Grand and Flat River country Cobmoosa's goal was to celebrate the Feast of The Dead in their absence.  This he accomplished.
       Put yourself in Cobmoosa's life as a ghost shadow and walk beside him in old moccasins and ratty Indian attire in 92-year old feet.  The cold air challenged his nose and he knew Winter was not far off.  His bones ached and he trudged to graves of relatives and friends.  Sitting besides their graves he celebrates them in song chanting old familiar tunes of long ago for the last time in 1860.  Being 92 year old he didn't do much dancing because of a body that death had neglected.  He was about to undertake the pilgrimage of his life to the Pentwater Reservation just east of Hart, Michigan in Oceana County (Elbridge Township).  Still for  his ancient age he was a skillful athlete and hunter and carried food and provisions.
       The woodland forests were barren of leaves, the wind howled through the stark gray woods, the ground strewn with many colorful leaves that rustled in frosty morning breezes.  Each morning the air was colder,  the skies darker and Cobmoosa knew it was time to leave.  His bones felt the cold winds of change as dense fog hovered over the Grand River, the sun barely seen before noon.   He was leaving the land of his forefathers.  Unknown was his route to Grand Rapids or where he crossed the Grand River.  He could have crossed at Ada or Plainfield (bridges).
       Five years earlier (1855) when he signed the treaty of 1855 he was 87 years old and many saw him yet as a majestic in appearance meaning he was a man with a distinctive and identifying posture who walked and talked Indian.  He was offered settler attire many times but refused saying "he would stay Indian and not be anything but Indian.  He was a man of "mark or mein" (majestic).  
       At 92 (1860) his wrinkled facial expressions showed he was still comfortable in his old Indian skin for now he was hunchbacked and walked forward with deliberate purpose so he would stumble and fall.  The old Indian still could travel great distances more so than settlers.  He was blessed with knowledge and still took charge of his own life.  He spoke his mind to any man he met and would listen to his ramblings and it wouldn't fail him once the Civil War began.
       Cobmoosa couldn't believe his eyes wandering into Grand Rapids.  Gone were the sights and silence of his youth.  He couldn't find his birthplace - it was all buildings at the "rapids village" beside the Grand River.  His birthplace in 1768 didn't exist at the rapids.  His world ceased to exist, but at least he had his mind's eye memory of those he cherished.  His old eyes had seen the drastic changes of settler civilization. (continued)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Legends of Chief Cobmoosa & Pres. A.J. -25

       In 1858 it was quite the scene to witness the departure of 800 Indians in 300 canoes packed with possessions  down the Grand River to just about Grand Rapids.  They landed just south of Leonard and a little beyond the confluence of Coldbrook Creek and prepared to disembark and portage everything they owned about a half-mile around the Six Street Dam.  Why so far?
       Grand Rapids had displaced many remnants of Noondays village where Cobmoosa was born in 1768.  In the encampment in 1822 he stood at the "rapids" village and welcomed both Catholic and Baptist missionaries.  No longer could canoes pass over and down the spillway - they'd submerge in the violent water.  Indians had to portage around the new lock construction that were never completed for upriver steamboat traffic (from dam to Michigan Street) once the railroad arrived.  The quarry hole was where my cousin Mitch Idema drowned in the 1980's.  It was that deep stretch from the dam along the east wall where today the U.S. Post Office resides.  I honor his memory, too.
       Noonday's village was wall to wall buildings that now shield Monroe from the noise of the rapids.  In his day, it was not quiet.  From Leonard to Fulton the original riverbed dropped 21 feet making it a violent and turbulent river.  Not the best spot to arrive on shore in the middle of a raging river. Cobmoosa's phobia of water may have originated from the rapids - did he almost drown here or did he witness the drowning of family or friends.
       What the Indians found was no wilderness and now wooden buildings and commerce.  Directly across the river the Iron Horse spewing lots of dark smoke and sparks chugged up the tracks for further construction of the Grand Rapids and Indiana Rail Road from Ft. Wayne, Indiana northward towards Cadillac (White Pine Trail).  The RR was bringing up steel railroad tracks and ties for construction just north of Comstock Park.  Nothing looked the same to the Indians.  What they remembered was "gone-gone-gone."
       We would be no different if we were absent from our childhood home after 40 years?  We've all seen the degradation, economic advancements and environmental changes to the landscapes of our youth after 15-20 years. 
       Our cultures and traditions leave and return under good and bad moments in life.  It might be disheartening to witness the changes in childhood or adult life.  All the Indian villages north of the Grand River were vacant.  This was the last time any settlers would be threatened by the presence of bad Indians, but such would not be in the case of Chief John Wabasis at his Wabasis Lake encampment.  The renegades wouldn't permit him to leave.
       Cobmoosa was finally left alone for the last time when 87-90 years old.  What could be possibly have left undone from 1858-late 1860?  It's not what he couldn't do, but rather what he did do for his people left behind buried in cemeteries and Indian graves along the Grand River.  He simply thought it was his responsibility to honor his ancestors and friends in graves and making sure that when new settlers arrived that they didn't desecrate their graves along the Grand and Flat Rivers.
       The mass migration of Indian ceased in late summer.  The region was void of Indians - not all, the renegades near Greenville stayed behind to harass Wabasis and his family, but they never intentionally tried to harm Wabasis family.  Gone were the glowing orange skies on dark nights.  No more beating drums - only replaced with sounds of crickets, coyotes and wolves howling in distant forests.
       October's colorful leaves were beginning to fall.  Morning frost left a nip in the air until a couple hours after glorious sunrises.  Cobmoosa rose from his sleep to find another a morning sky azure blue with wisps of feathery white clouds barely moving.  A warm autumn breeze caressed his face as he wandered along the riverbank hedging towards the ancient burial grounds. 
       Showers of falling leaves to the forest floor made for difficult walking for a  90 year old man.  The fragrances of fall tickled his nose, but the sun felt good on his face and the warmth in afternoon sun felt good on his aching body.  He could hear the Manistee winds sighing thru pine needles, the whispers of winter announcing that snow would soon appear.
       Being old with age he probably sat down atop high hill to rest overlooking the river and smelled the fragrances of the river and ate an apple while resting.  Water wherever found has a particular fragrance.  The stronger breezes sent blizzards of red, orange and yellow leaves to the ground.  The sounds of swirling leaves clicked together as the hardened Aspen leaves struck each other with the sounds similar to raindrops striking water.  He had lived a long life a life that death had neglected.  His time along the Grand River valley was short, but he promised President Pierce he would leave before 1860 closed.  He would after he visited the graves of his ancestors and friends and celebrated for the last time the "Feast of The Dead.
       Feast of The Dead was a time of remembrance for all those Indians who passed away.  Some reached for the happy hunting ground while those who were Christians at time of death were dead in Christ.  Cobmoosa was at the graves of his ancestors.  Many died during several small pox epidemics, but he would remain vigilant to protect the burial sites.  That was his duty to the "People of Three Fires - Ottawa, Pottawatomie and Ojibway (Chippewa). (continued)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Legends of Chief Cobmoosa & Pres. A.J. - 24

       Cobmoosa despite being slowed by age took it upon himself to make sure no small skirmishes broke out between Indians or arriving settlers.  He welcomed settlers, farmers, timber spectators, missionaries and priests with firm handshakes, the same as Chief John Wabasis - his foster son.  Chief Wobwindigo was Wabasis' adopted son, but both Cobmoosa and Wabasis were half-breed Indians and eventually son-in-laws of Wobwindigo.  Wabasis married a daughter named Cononama and Cobmoosa married three daughters simultaneously, that is, before becoming a Christian.
       Jean Boshaw of Chief Hazy Cloud village was Cobmoosa's go-between half-breed, too.  He was fast to get to trouble spots. 
       From 1836-1855 many Indians remained and took up farming until Washington decided it was time to settle the Treaty of 1836 for Indian displacement to reservations.  Accordingly all Indians north of the Grand River were given five years to leave, but Cobmoosa wanted to make sure they left around 1858.
       Cobmoosa was 87 years old when he signed his name on the treaty, and yes, indeed he was known as the "Last Ottawa Chief of the Grand and Flat River bands."  No longer could the Indians remain on their birthplace lands or wander as free spirit Ottawas or mixed breeds.  The Indians didn't know what to expect as they traveled to Pentwater, Traverse or Mt. Pleasant reservations.
       Cobmoosa along with other Indians would meet several times at Indian council meeting to discuss departure of the main body and they all agreed it was time to make preparations for departure in the summer of 1858.  Several hundred Indians gathered in Ionia and set off for Detroit to pick up their last annuity payments.  When the men trickled back to Ionia they made hundreds of canoes for passage to Grand Haven then by steamers to Pentwater.
       One day the residents in the Ionia area were getting concerned with the large influx of Indians and were intimidated by the numbers swelling into town.  Fearing an Indian uprising was beginning several residents in town began ringing the church bells that summoned townsmen back from the outside farms.  Ringing church bells meant imminent danger and their families might be in jeopardy and rushed back to town to render aid, but such was not needed.
       When they returned they saw hundreds of Indians trickling into town and found the Indian encampment where the Ionia Free Fair is today getting larger as each day passed.  The bonfires at night cast an orange glow over the Grand River Valley.
       Then one morning Cobmoosa ordered 300 canoes be put in the water and loaded with all the possessions of 800 Indians for the journey to Grand Haven.  Wabasis and his family were not among them - he wouldn't risk loosing his life by leaving his wife.  He feared the renegades were watching so they could collect on his death warrant.  His people left room for Cobmoosa, but he refused to leave with them.  He told his friends and family members he would be along shortly, but he sort of fibbed and was maybe hoping to die so he could be buried in the river valley before he had to walk to the reservation.  Little did they know he wouldn't arrive until 1862. 
       Cobmoosa assured them he made other arrangements and needed time to stay and finish up he still needed to be taken care of.  He told them not to worry.  He did indeed leave and he kept his promise to President James Buchanan and did abide by treaty requirements for resettlement at Pentwater. (continued).

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Legends of Chief Cobmoosa & Pres. A.J. - 23

       People in general are always talking about how bad the weather was in their own lifetime.  Cobmoosa lived with extremes in weather for nearly 98 years.  Noonday died at age 100.  Each generation has been battered by the weather.  The weather of today is the same weather of yesteryear.     
       Many think it is worse, but the reality is instead of living father apart we live like sardines packed into a tiny can (concrete and asphalt jungles).  The more condensed communities become the more damage tornadoes, hurricanes and typhoons, wind and thunderstorms, the more premature deaths. The weather is no more violent today than the past.  Mother Nature calls the shots.
       Whatever happened is constant only to the people who were living at that time.  As a historian I hear many people complain about how bad the 21st century weather is across America; the rainstorms, snowstorms, floods, firestorms, tornadoes, etc., but the weather today carries the same extremes in cold, heat and precipitation.   There was a time shortly after the Treaty of 1836 when Indians who were traveling felt the Great Spirit was furious at them for selling tribal land to the Federal government.
     The wacko fringe scientists today are alarmists and try to scare us about the extremes of "Global Warming or Climate Change" because of burning too much fossil fuel (hydrocarbons) creating ozone that keeps all the hot air from escaping.  They continually "say how cold or how hot it is" and are always citing temperature is increasing in summer and cold in winter - but it has risen less than 1 degree.  Weather extremes in recorded history are no worse today than yesterday.  The earth is not sick, the weather is no worse than 200 years ago depending on where you live in the summer and vacation in the winter.  The Indians considered the Grand River and Kalamazoo River valleys as tropical paradises, because within a half-a-mile of the river temperatures in winter are 10-15 degrees higher than inland.  Mackinaw Island Indians spent winters in the Grand River valley, because in the Straits region, the temperatures were sub-zero in the winter.
       Sure across the country in 2015  four hundred plus tornadoes have raked across the mid-west and Great Plains country, but that is normal each year.  Deluges of rain have flooded many towns, even deserts, and yes, there is an extreme drought in California and hundreds of forest fires.  Sorry water shortages occur when green golf courses are built in the desert - what a waste of Colorado river water.
       In the polar region, yes, ice is melting in the summer, but in the Arctic and Antarctica sorry to report the 90-95 degrees F. for one week in the Arctic and Antarctica is normal. Ice does melt at alarming rates, but what they don't tell you is that during previous winters cold below normal temperatures created twice the amount as lost ice.   When are people going to understand history - the earth is evolving the same as man.  Nothing stays the same - it is always changing for the good or bad. Yet they are quick to point out that since the ice is melting the west coast is going to be under water miles inland and for all the melting that has occurred already, the sea has risen less than one inch in 200 years, but now predict a rise of four to six feet before the 22nd century.  Must be  scientists don't understand condensation. 
       As I see it surface heat off of black asphalt highways - the more you create the more heat rises - well gosh it brings about more deluges and floods.   Warm air plus cold air make water.  I don't believe in global warming, but do agree we don't need more black asphalt roadways to spice up the atmosphere.  Black absorbs heat - concrete doesn't.  It isn't the people or the burning of fossil fuel that is the problem - the problem is climate change and man's need for money.
       You might not believe it but just because we've had many tornadoes over the mid-west this year it's a drop in the bucket for what happened in weather just after the Ottawa Indians signed the Treaty of  1836.  In the summer of 1836 more than 200 tornadoes ripped thru West Michigan in a months time.  Everywhere the Indians walked they saw the destruction of the forests - mangled and twisted trees, fields and forests obliterated as if a giant grinder passed by.  Some Indians were terrified by the howling winds at night.
       In 1847-49, the Grand River was but a trickle.  Summer of 1847 more than 100 degrees for more than 60 days.  The Grand River valley was scorched and tinder dry.  No 4th of July celebrations - so hot the leaves on trees fell and trees barren in July.  Indian's that had not yet removed to reservations couldn't recall anytime in their own history when it had been so hot.
       Leaves were on the trees in February 1848 and off before July at a time when America's railroad engines wherever traveling burned 47,000 cords of wood daily.  Heat rising.  During the mid 1860's tornadoes were on the increase, too.  From winter 1897 to 1901 it was so cold the temperature never got above -10 degrees F. for 40 days.  Cold killed most of the fruit trees in Michigan - hardest hit was the Traverse region.  The weather has always been as bad as those seeing it happen.
       When one or two tornadoes touch down in Michigan in one year we think devastation was bad, but it was nothing compared to the devastating years (1832-1901) in Michigan weather history.  I don't have faith in weather scientists not when in 1986, the water levels were the highest in history and those same scientists said it'd take more than 100 years to fall 4 feet - it fell 4 feet in four years.  It rose and fell again in the 1990's then rose up again slowly and now is higher in 2015 than the last record.  Lake Michigan was nearly 80% frozen in the winter of 2014 & 2015 so too in the late 1890's.  And for the past winter year it was El Nina and El Nino summer weather due to the warm than normal water temperatures near the equator.
       Mother Nature has dominion and there is nothing man can do, but complain about the weather in his part of the world.  Tell me what in life never changes?  (continued)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Legends of Chief Cobmoosa & Pres. A.J. - 22

       "Those who quit learning get old, but those who keep learning are young forever," said Chief Seattle.  Cobmoosa never stopped moving and was quick to learn about Washington.
       So when father and mothers of the 21st century ask their young sons and daughters what they learned in public or private schools today never let them say "nothing".   Challenge them.  Nothing is the wrong answer. 
       They should be learning and memorizing 6 new things everyday of their life, because the older they get without instructions the harder it is to make sense out of life.  Young children should be like sponges and soaking up life lessons for future reference.  Learning nothing drives nails in their coffin before life began.  It shows lack of respect for elders, the cultures and tradition necessary for survival.
       This is why it is so important to learn lessons from past history - the good and bad times, but bad lessons learned are sometimes just as beneficial depending on what is remembered.  Just don't make the same mistakes twice as those who never learned the first time.
       Cobmoosa's life lesson with Chief Noonday and Chief Saginaw made him a better man of courage, skill and valor.  Courage was never in doubt.  He outperformed others and for that he became a trusted Indian who stood his ground in adversity.  He faced bigger threats, but he could hold his own when wrestling.  He taught Wabasis how to defend himself.  Both were tall with squared shoulders, bulky but a moving mass of muscles.  He was someone you didn't want to fight with in the dark.  He was built like Mr. T. only taller.
       In 1834, a tribal renegade named Maxsauba started thrusting tomahawks and spears into the ground besides a bonfire in the presence of Cobmoosa.  He wanted Ottawa power to strike down incoming settlers and wage war with Washington, but Maxsauba couldn't attain the power.  Screaming in defiance at Washington he did his own version of dancing around village campfires.  He tried acting like a "bigshot," but his appeals for war were met with sharp criticism from Chief Cobmoosa, Chief Kewaycooshcum prior to 1836, Jaun Boshaw and Chief Wabasis.  All except Boshaw were chiefs.
       Time and time again Maxsauba thrust tomahawks and spears into the ground near fires, but that was the chief's job and he wasn't chief of any tribe.  He tried to insight fear in newly arriving settlers with blood curdling thirsty talk, but failed miserably and gained a bad reputation as being a "weak mouse" or as some referred called him the savage "little Mississauga rattlesnake."  His soft rattle did scare a few incoming settlers.
       Still war words had gotten to President Andrew Jackson.  He received letters from missionaries (spies) at the "rapids" who stated their concerns and warned him that the nightly sounds of beating drums got louder and the bonfires were getting larger and the night sky was glowing orange. 
       Jackson felt Maxsauba could be arranging a war party and those in Michigan warranted a U.S. Army detachment from Washington.  A small detachment with two 4-pound cannons was dispatched and they made it to the banks of the Grand River  above Portland.  When crossing the thinning ice the two cannons fell through thin ice and lodged in the bottom.  The soldiers retrieved one,  which disappeared into the bush not knowing its true destination.  The other sank in the mud.
       When Cobmoosa heard about renegades inciting war he sent runners to Wabasis and Boshaw, too, for an impromptu council meeting.  Often they arrived within days by canoe or horseback and settled hostilities and stop the fighting before it began to avoid Washington interference.  Cobmoosa would arrive for weeks because he'd walk.
       History doesn't say why Cobmoosa was terrified of water.  Somewhere in his life he witnessed the drowning of friends, family member or the near drowning of himself.  Maybe something in his childhood frightened him.  Water had to be shallow - ankle to knee deep water that had no strong current otherwise he would not cross.  Not many of those locations in the Grand River.  Whatever the trouble Wabasis, Boshaw and Cobmoosa sprang into action.  Moss was trounced under their feet.  (continued)

Legends of Chief Cobmoosa & Pres. A.J. - 21

       For the first time in Cobmoosa's entire life he signed the Treaty of 1855 as the "Last Chief of the Ottawa bands in the Grand and Flat River valleys.  He signed that document, a replacement for the flawed Treaty of  1836, but under the new treaty he knew all Indians had to move to reservations set aside for them at Pentwater, Traverse and Mt. Pleasant.
      Where they went didn't matter to Washington.  Leave within five years, which included Chief Cobmoosa. He was unsure of his final destination (life or death) in 1858.  He would have preferred being buried in the land of his forefathers.  Many that left as individual families left no forwarding address for annuity payment, but if they went to a reservation and registered they would receive payment.  Those that didn't sacrificed their annuity payments.  All this because Congress under President Andrew Jackson's administration on May 28, 1836 failed to relocate the Indians north of the Grand River.
       The earlier treaty made no provisions for where the Indians must go between 1836 and 1855.  The Twent-Fourth Congress, too, made no payment for the Natural Resources under tribal lands, which is why under rules and regulations the fishing industry in Michigan is regulated under state laws and Indian law - two conservation departments regulate fishing on Lake Michigan, Huron and Superior.
       Since the state never owned the natural resources, the Federal government lets them build casinos, but the state and local governments reap sizable benefits from these commercial businesses.
       Many Indians left for Missouri reservations under the Treaties of 1821 & 1836.  Whole families vanished from tribal lands and the government regulating annuity payments didn't know who, what, when, where they disappeared to.  They walked away from their annuity payments maybe to finally become successful farmers.  Some just walked into the bush and were never seen again.  Strange there never was a definitive trail to Indian villages.  Quite similar to nomad Korean peasants who encountered American soldiers and passed by on roads only to turn around and they vanished into the brush when they sensed North Korean soldier presence.
       Cobmoosa always walked to Grand Rapids for his annuity payment.  One day while talking with his friend, Louis Campau of Grand Rapids he said, "I wish my people and my children and grandchildren to be civilized."  He knew government ways "were far superior and his people must adopt their views or die."
       In almost the same breath he said, "I cannot change.  The young can adopt new ways; the old cannot."  Sounds the same nearly 180 years into the future (2016) just as it was in 1836.
       "You can bend the young tree, but not old oaks," said Cobmoosa.
       The old ones stand strong and stronger with passing years and are set in their ways, the young not so much.  (Remember that when you vote in 2016). 
       Cobmoosa was a visionary.  If the Indians fought against Washington they would perish before the light of dawn.  The dreams of his people would be disastrous.  To survive into the future they must all bend like mighty willows or be consumed by the storms of life to come.
       Our world spins faster today than anytime in past history.  What 21st century man knew five years ago is ancient history.  Can't sit and coast through life on what you learned yesterday.  We must continually look for ways to empower ourselves.  Got to keep learning and thinking forward.  Got to envision life in the future.  Life experiences and skills teach us how to fix what is wrong before life spiral's out of our grasp.  Those who fail to learn the real realities of life shrivel like over-ripening grapes on the vine to raisin mentality.  Those who fail to respect others for what they can offer are doomed to a life a complaining and misery. (Cobmoosa and I share the same philosophy).  Respect each other.  (continued).

Tragedies of Not Knowing The Way

     Odd title, don't ya think?
     Haven't written much due to hectic warm weather work schedule, but only when I play do I realize that knowing the way means "passing of time is fleeting."  We seem to rush towards the ends of our lives, and yet sometimes we get the notion for a little fun and some older folks forget where they are going or how to get there unnoticed.
     They rush around trying to get where they can slowly relax and go to sporting events with their children to watch the grandchildren excel.  But, as always from time to time the oldest are put on the back burner when life's maladies appear and the children forget that just as their parents took care of them they forget to pay attention to the needs of the oldest married couples."
     I once heard a song sung by Fastball called "The Way."  It's a true life tragic story about a couple who are approaching the end of life who desire maybe one last fun day together, because they are ignored by their children.  As the story goes they are an aging couple still madly in love with each other who without telling anyone, even the children, that they've decided to "give it all away" and packing up and going for a fun drive.
     They were leaving for a few days of fun at a Pioneer Days Festival in Temple, Texas about 30 miles or so from Salado, Texas.  The old married couple, Lela and Raymond Howard, who left home in June 1997 didn't know the way they often traveled and disappeared from sight for two weeks.  They had a love for driving highways and vanished and they never told anyone when or where we they going nor how long they would be gone - not even their children until they went searching for them. Hundreds of rescuers were searching for them.
     Sitting in the car the old man is scans thru FM Radio stations and among the songs being played are Roy Orbison's 'You've Got It," Jewel's 'Foolish Games' and Madonna's 'Vogue.' Now you've got to look up the lyrics for "The Way" by Fastball.  To listen to the song my karaoke listeners thinks the song tells how the 'old and gray' couple, whose car breaks down were hit walking along the highway by a passing or drunk motorist.
     Alas, such is not the case.  The married couple had lived a good life, but in the end the children and rescuers couldn't find them, until someone saw their bodies lying next to each other down in deep ravine near Hot Springs, Arkansas, some 300 miles from where they were going.  They weren't hijacked driven someplace and bodies dumped.  Their car did break down, they did walk to find help, but they simply got tired and stumbled down the embankment to their deaths.  As I said, this loving couple left everything behind so they could have some fun - you could say they were neglected and nobody knew where they went.  They had the desire to leave everything behind and spend their last moments together.  So why didn't they arrive in Temple, Texas?
     You see Lela suffered from Alzheimer's and Raymond was recovering from recent brain surgery.  The couple loved each other dearly, but they missed having fun while driving the open road. Doctor visits, getting more pills and procedures and friends and family ignoring them-well they needed to leave - they were sandburs to those who were all into themselves.  Nobody checked on them - they were in all essence divorced from family gatherings, by those who should be taking care of them.  It's a sad song, but it is replayed over and over by grown children who ignore the oldest married couples needs for a little fun, too.

Legends of Chief Cobmoosa & Pres. A.J. -20

     All of humanity has had mentors that us valuable lessons about respect for elders and possible changes to come in a future world that seemingly went crazy with the quick passage of time.  Cobmoosa's mentors were the great Pottawatomie warrior Chief Noonday who learned his skills from Shawnee Chief Tecumseh and likewise from the greatest Chief of the Ottawa bands Chief Pontiac, but some referred to call him "Pondiac."  Strange how an automobile carries the name Pontiac.
     Noonday in the early 1820's after Christian baptism in the rapids said, "Had I found religion earlier in life I wouldn't have become such a blood thirsty savage" during the American Revolutionary War, the Indian Wars and the War of 1812.  Chief Tecumseh died in battle and Pontiac in 1766 signed a peace treaty with the British and together they fought against the Americans during the American Revolutionary War.
     Cobmoosa didn't relish the stories told when Noonday returned from war.  He often boasted of the atrocities committed, which Cobmoosa disliked and refused to engage in and for that reason Cobmoosa never became a Pottawatomie warrior.  Instead Noonday made him second in command of Noonday's two villages;  the "Rapids" and Kalamazoo Bands of Pottawatomie villages.  Through the mistakes of his mentors Cobmoosa learned from the past mistakes of others and did the opposite of what he felt erroneous mistakes by warriors.  Past evil things are better left forgotten, but under certain conditions bad things can teach us lessons to make us better.
     Cobmoosa used his social skills and historical knowledge to impress everyone that influenced his life.  He spoke with eloquence to Presidents and Congressmen and any Indian who would listen.  He with his closest assistants; Wabasis and Boshaw, both educated half-breeds like himself tempered the flares of wanna-be blood thirsty renegades who hated Washington for trying to purchase tribal lands.
     Cobmoosa mindset was razor sharp his entire life like his hunting knife.  It was used to harvest game for Pottawatomie and Ottawa people and used never to take a human life.  He used his persuasive speech to thwart the instigators - the renegades like Maxsauba stoking the "People of Three Fires" living in villages along the "Owashtenong" or Grand and Flat River valleys.
     His primary function under Chief Noonday was to keep his village people safe and to participate and teach his people how to provide them with food, shelter and protection in Noonday's absence.  Whenever Noonday's war party left he was in charge and did everything Noonday expected him to carry out.  Cobmoosa had earned respect.  No different than 179+ years into the future (2015).
     Life can change in an instant and it happened to Cobmoosa once Chief Noonday and Chief Kewaycooshcum of the Thornapple Village signed the Treaty of 1821 deeding tribal lands south of the Grand River to Washington under President James Monroe (1817-25).  The result the Indian had to remove to Missouri reservations, but Cobmoosa who had earned the reputation as the most respected chief in the river valley.  While most of his friends left for Missouri he was welcomed with open invitations to intermittently reside in the  Ottawa village of Chief Hazy Clound at Ada and Chief Wobwindigo's village at Lowell.
     He was a man of respect, but a new chapter in his life was about to unfold.  His destiny would forever change after Chief Wobwindigo signed the in Washington the Treaty of 1836.  That treaty was destined to displace the remaining Indians north of the Grand River.  Cobmoosa always cherished the memories imparted to him by his forefathers and families and he remained steadfast and vigilant for 19 years later (1855) and more.
     Correction from the last post (19), Cobmoosa saw the rise to power of 16 presidents (Washington thru Lincoln).  Not 15.  (continued)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Legends of Chief Cobmoosa & Pres. A.J.-19

     Cobmoosa was the most colorful and well respected Potawatomie in the Grand River Valley until after the Treaty of 1836 was formally signed at the Straits of Mackinaw on May 28, 1836.  Chief Wobwindigo whose health was still in jeopardy made the trip.  Getting close to death after signing it Wobwindigo relinquished his control of the Flat River Bands of Ottawa Indians bands to Cobmoosa, his son-in-law and this is how Cobmoosa became Chief of the Ottawas.  He inherited the title "Last of the Ottawa Chiefs" living in the Grand River Valley.  Wobwindigo had two villages.   
     The Federal government brokered this treaty, but failed to abide with its directives about Indian removal.  No stipulation called for a timetable for Indian removal - where they were to remove to or a reservation.  Washington failed to put language in the treaty about Indian dispersal from Michigan land. Jackson was ticked off.  The powers added reservation language after the Treaty was formally signed and tried to pass it off as being in the details upon signature signing. 
     Cobmoosa, and his foster son Chief Wabasis, explained at a council meeting to those that signed the Washington treaty that Washington broke their own treaty rendering it void.  Washington also failed to include payment for natural resources.   They changed and added language that did not appear on the formal signing.  Cobmoosa and other educated Indians accused Washington congressmen of lying to save their own embarrassment over Indian removal.
     When Cobmoosa attended council meetings it was apparent that Washington left no directive for where or when the Indians of the Grand River Valley were to leave.  Washington surveyors were already drawing township and county borders, but the Indians were not moving.  They remained and roamed freely for about 19 years (1855).  When Cobmoosa began talking the Indians listened for he was considered to be full of wisdom and during his life he learned from past mistakes and wouldn't make mistakes ever again.
     Although Chief John Wabasis was banished to his Wabasis Lake garden plot for 27 years he did leave to attend council meetings even under the threat of death by renegades.  Wabasis and Cobmoosa tempered the fires of hostile Indians and Wabasis would arrive by horseback within days.  Cobmoosa, the Grand Walker, took sometimes weeks to get to impromptu council meeting.  When together they  were powerful chiefs and Chief Wabasis mentors were Cobmoosa and Chief Wobwindigo.  Wabasis had the ability to quash unfounded rumors and keep the peace while Washington licked its self inflicted wounds.
     Cobmoosa's life was an Indian testament on how to survive with incoming settlers in the land of "The People of Three Fires," the Ottawa, Pottawatomie and Ojibwa" in Michigan.  Cobmoosa carried lots of respect among Washington forefathers and President Jackson.  Wherever he walked he was held in high esteem.
     In Cobmoosa's lifespan he had seen the rise to power of 15 Presidents of the United States of America and he was legendary figure.  He admired President Andrew Jackson.  He learned how to deal with many government officials along with Jesuit, Baptist and Catholic missionaries and had witnessed much change in the Grand and Flat River watersheds before he left the Grand and Flat River valleys in 1860.
     Who would have thought that Chief Cobmoosa and President Andrew Jackson would share something in common?  Although separated by culture and heritage these two men; had gained the respect of many friends and foe thru such turbulent times.  They were driven by the mentorship, those they admired, to accomplish more for the good of others instead of finding ways to kill each other.  Along with Chief John Wabasis they all had hearts of gold for their own people.  Some they encountered didn't share the same thoughts when Washington failed to address their own failures and invented a lie to cover what they missed.
     Who mentored you to become what you are today?  Who taught you life skills or took you under their wings and taught you that culture and heritage were important along life's journey.  From turmoil during the American Revolutionary War, Indian Wars and the War of 1812 came lasting friendships for Cobmoosa, John Wabasis and President Andrew Jackson.  (continued)