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)