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)