Monday, October 19, 2015

Legends of Chief Cobmoosa & Pres. A.J. - 29

       Cobmoosa's stature, demeanor and manner of his walking abilities gave him his name, "The Great Grand Walker."  The Indians on the Pentwater Reservation waited patiently for the aged Cobmoosa to return.  His people of long ago led him personally to his knew log cabin built for the "Last Ottawa Chief of the Grand and Flat River valleys."
       On the day of arrival he stood at the cabin's threshold, but before he could go inside he had to provide his proof to his claim as Cobmoosa and President Andrew Jackson provided him with the key.  Standing outside the cabin door he greeted old friends and after a short visitation the day was at hand and he pulled out of his clothing a rawhide poke with drawstrings.  He spread the rawhide strings and poured out the contents in his hand to prove he indeed was Cobmoosa in the flesh and out tumbled proof positive he was Cobmoosa.  In his hands were minted coins dated 1836... but coins with a special inscription, but Cobmoosa didn't receive payment until two years after the Treaty of Washington - 1836 was signed.
        1836-1837 was a turbulent time in America.  It was a time of great prosperity under President Jackson's administration.  For the first and only time Jackson had entirely liquidated the National Debt and the U.S. Treasury had accumulated a surplus of 40 million dollars.  By an Act of Congress the vast sum was distributed to "Petty Banks" among several states.  With the abundance of money speculations of all sorts grew and it affected Indian life, too.  Land speculations went wild with the openings of new Federal lands purchased from the Indians.
       Credit for goods had been around for several years and from Jackson's spies within the tribes he knew the credit bartering for goods and services was fleecing the Indians, because they knew little nor understood if they were getting a good deal.  Unscrupulous traders were fleecing them of their annuity payments.  And so the government's policy in dealing with the Indian's under the Jackson administration was to buy them out not with paper currency, but gold and silver coinage.  Jackson had the foresight to understand that prior to 1836 and the signing of the latest treaties that the credit system had invaded every aspect of business.  Indians were disgruntled - so too many speculators whose fortunes would fall.
       It was the government and the peoples desire to expand westward into territories occupied by Indian tribes and so President Jackson lumped the desires of his people with Indian payments for land.  The petty banks thrived from a few in  1836 to more than 700 before the close of 1837.  The Indians perceived that payment would begin shortly after signing treaties, but it wasn't until 1838 and during that time the Indians were given credit for goods and supplies - the interest on such monies owed was 30%.  This is what increased the fraud against the Indians or anyone dickering without money.  Vast issues of irredeemable paper  currency stimulated the speculative spirit with increased the opportunities of fraud.
       The bills of these unsound  banks were receivable at land offices; and settlers and speculators made a mad rush to secure the public lands while the money was plentiful.  In receiving such an unsound currency in exchange for the national domain the government was more likely to be defrauded out of millions.  So six weeks after the Treaty of 1836 was signed President Jackson issued a species order called the 'Specie Circular', by which all land agents were directed to receive nothing, but coin in payment for public and Indian lands.  Jackson's circular order did not affect his presidency so much as that of President Van Buren's administration in 1837. 
       In the meantime the interests of the government had been secured through Jackson's vigilance.
       It is necessary for you to understand all the ramifications of Jackson's specie circular and then I will reveal what the coins in Cobmoosa's hands were to provide positive proof what Chiefs were paid for Indian lands. (continued).

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Legends of Chief Cobmoosa & Pres. A.J. -28

      The Ottawas that left the Ionia, Michigan area in 1858 and had been waiting for Chief Cobmoosa to arrive at the Pentwater Reservation before the end of 1860.  Since he didn't arrive they feared he may have died along the way, but such was not the case.  He pushed himself to exhaustion and had to stop his labored journey to regain his strength.  The brutal winds and blinding snowstorms got the best of him, but after a little rest he trudged onward towards Grand Haven.
       Strange as it might seem word of his arrival that year would be short lived at the reservation.  Indians on the reservation heard reports about his arrival at Grand Haven.  Those who knew Cobmoosa feared he might try walking to the Reservation, but some, too, knew his fear of water and hoped he would regain his courage and step onto a steamer and forget the perilous walk.  His people were waiting patiently for him to arrive in the Spring of 1861 and once the new shipping season commenced he hoped to board an upward bound Lake Michigan steamer.  From where he would originate was unknown.  What they did know was that he would arrive by foot on his own accord.
      Someone in Grand Haven gave the aged Chief Cobmoosa shelter at the docks in Grand Haven during the winter of 1861-62.  It was during that time he began to hear rumors that Washington was preparing for war shortly.  The docks were abuzz with talk about a Civil War - the northern states against the southern states.  Cobmoosa for the first time in his Indian life was really alone and was looking forward to greeting old friends at the reservation when he was told that on April 12, 1861 the attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina started the American Civil War.
       Within the first week hundreds, then thousands of volunteers for military duty appeared at the docks.  Because of shipping security for men, military provisions for distant military operations up and down the lakes his chances for booking passage up the lake had stalled.  Men from all walks of life some that Cobmoosa recognized were the newest volunteer enlistees for military training in the Union Army and Navy. 
       Cobmoosa watched and listened intently as they talked about how the war would go or not.  Cobmoosa was informed that because of the onslaught of the Civil War supplies he might have to spend the entire year in Grand Haven.  The old Indian began to feel his true age and exercised to keep his aged muscle in check so when time arrived he would appear on foot and reclaim his legendary title as the "Last Ottawa Chief of the Grand River Valley. Alas, the amount of military provisions and men going south necessitated that he remain in Grand Haven.  During the spring, summer and fall Cobmoosa who although was known as a man of "respect and courage" found it would take him that amount of time before he'd step onto a vessel.  This was the man who wouldn't even sit in a canoe or wade across a fast moving stream more than knee deep let alone take a steamer.
       Finally in the Spring of 1862, the buzz on Lake Michigan had tempered and the government wishing to get Cobmoosa (aged 94) on the reservation paid for his passage to Pentwater and he arrived four years after the flotilla left the Grand River Basin in 1858.  Upon landing in Pentwater those who remembered him waited patiently to great the old Chief and he undertook the last leg of his journey to the Indian Reservation in Elbridge Township (Oceana County) just east/southeast of Hart, Michigan.  He was nearly the last of the oldest living chiefs of his generation.
       The government was so moved by his stamina and stature they quickly built him a new log house since the old fashioned wigwams of his life didn't last long.  Wigwams were too cold and drafty for an old Indian of advanced age.  Washington respected Cobmoosa and felt he deserved a warm log house as opposed to a cold wigwam built of bark and cattail thatched roof.  Washington remembered him as the Grand River valley "peacekeeper." (continued)