Imágenes de páginas

vres and machinations, political and personal, were brought to bear upon them on all sides. The French emissary plied them at one turn, and the English pedler at the next; and they talked and traded with either or both, as the case might be, with the same indolent imperturbable gravity. Each party went away, perhaps, chuckling over the ease with which he had imposed upon savage simplicity, and flattering himself that their opinion of his honesty was at least adequate to his own opinion of his shrewdness. But the event proved otherwise.

Decanesora once said to Major Schuyler, in reply to the latter's suggestion of fraud on the part of a Jesuit messenger of the French,—“We know that the priest favors his own nation. But it is not in his power to alter our affection to our brethren. We wish you would bury all the misunderstandings you have conceived on his account,—and we likewise wish you gave less credit to the RUM-CARRIERS than you do." This was a palpable hit, truly, and a deserved one. And thus, generally, were the Barbarian Orators, after all, upon the safe side. Nothing daunted their spirtt. Nothing deceived their sagacity.


Account of the Ottawas—Their first Chief-Sachem

known to the English, Pontiac—His interview with Major Rogers-Protects that officer and his troops— Saves Detroit from an army of Indians-Hos of the northern tribes to the English, after the conquest of Canada-Adventures of HENR—Anecdotes of MinaVAVANA-Supposed feelings of Pontiac towards the English-His great project of combination.

Having arrived regularly, according to the order observed in this work, at the commencement of the eighteenth century, we shall now turn our attention to a section of the continent hitherto mostly unnoticed, but which at that period began to be the theatre of important events, and to be illustrated by at least one character comparable to any in the whole compass of Indian annals. We refer to the vicinity of the Northern Lakes, to the numerous and powerful tribes resident in that region, and particularly to Pon

It has been stated by respectable authority, that this celebrated individual was a member of the tribe of Sacs, or Saukies; but there appears to us no sufficient reason for disputing the almost universal opinion which makes him an Ottawa. That tribe, when the commerce of the early French colonists of Canada first began to extend itself to the Upper Lakes, was found in their vicinity, in connection with two others, the Chippewas and the Pottawatamies. All three are supposed to have been originally a scion of the Algonquin stock,—that being the general name of the nation, which, in Champlain's time, was settled along the north banks of the St. Lawrence, between Quebec and Lake St. Peters. According to their own traditions, preserved to this day, the three tribes (as they afterwards became,) in their flight or emigra- ,


tion, went together from the East, as far as Lake Huron. A separation afterwards took place, the result of which was, that the Ottawas, being most inclined to agriculture, remained near what has since been Michilimackinac, while their companions preferred venturing to still more distant regions of the North and West.

Detroit was founded by the French in July, 1701, and from that time the Ottawas began to give frequent manifestations of a spirit which finally made them, respectively, an ally or an enemy of the first importance to the different civilized parties with whom they held intercourse. Only three years after the French settled in their vicinity, several of their chiefs were induced to visit the English at Albany. The almost inevitable consequence of the interview was, that they returned home with a firm persuasion that the French intended to subdue them. They attempted to fire the town, therefore, in one instance; and about the same time, a war-party, on their return from a successful expedition against the Iroquois,—whom they were bold enough to attack in their own country,-paraded in front of the Detroit fortress, and offered battle. After some hard fighting, they were defeated and driven off.

But the French have always effected more among the Indians in peace than in war, and thus it was with tne Ottawas; for, from the date of the skirmish just mentioned, they were almost uniformly among the best friends and even protectors of the colony. “When the French arrived at these falls,” said a Chippewa Chief at a Council held but a few years since,

they came and kissed us. They called us children, and we found them fathers. We lived like brethren in the same lodge," &c.* Such was the impression

* See a Discourse delivered before the Michigan Historical Society, in 1830, by Mr. Schoolcraft. We also acknowledge our obligations, in preparing our notice of Pontiac, to Governor Cass's Discourse of the year previous, before the same body.

made also upon the Ottawas; and we accordingly find them, in conjunction with the Chippewas, aiding the French on all occasions, until the latter surrendered the jurisdiction of the Canadas to the English. Several hundred of their warriors distinguished themselves at the disastrous defeat of Braddock.

Pontiac was probably at the head of this force. Several years before, he was known as a warrior of high standing and great success; and as early as 1746, he commanded a powerful body of Indians, mostly Ottawas, who gallantly defended the people of Detroit against the formidable attack of a number of combined Northern tribes. But a far more important trial, both of his principles and his talents, was yet to come, in the transfer of power from the French to the English, which took place at the termination of the long war between those nations, ending with the peace of 1761. The stations upon the Lakes were given up in 1760. The first detachment of British troops which ever penetrated into that region, was sent, during this year, for the purpose of taking formal possession. That force was commanded by Major Rogers, and from the “Concise Account of North America,” written by him,*« we obtain our knowledge of the earliest interview between Pontiac and the English. It is allowed to have the merit of authenticity; and although not so definite as might be desired, it furnishes a variety of characteristic and singular facts.

Major Rogers says, that on the way,'—meaning generally the route from Montreal to Detroit,- he was met by an embassy from Pontiac, consisting of some of his own warriors, together with several chiefs belonging to subordinate tribes. The object was, to inform him that Pontiac, in person, proposed to visit him; that he was then not far distant, coming peaceably; and that he desired the Major to halt his de

* Published in London : 1765. We have a 'Journal' of the same expedition, from the same pen.


tachment, 'till such time as he could see him with his own eyes.' The Deputies were also directed to represent their master as the King and Lord of the country which the English had now entered.

The Major drew up his troops as requested, and before long the Ottawa Chieftain made his appear.

He wore, we are told, an air of majesty and princely grandeur. After the first salutation, he sternly demanded of the Englishman his business in his territory, and how he had dared to venture upon it without his permission. Rogers was too prudent and too intelligent to take offence at this style of reception. Nor did he undertake to argue any question of actual or abstract right. He said that he had no design against the Indians, but, on the contrary, wished to remove from their country a nation who had been an obstacle to mutual friendship and commerce between them and the English. He also made known his commission to this effect, and concluded with a present of several belts of wampum. Pontiac received them with the single observation,—“I shall stand in the path you are walking till morning,”—and gave, at the same time, a small string of wampum. This, writes the Major, was as much as to say, 'I must not march farther without his leave.'

Such, undoubtedly, was the safest construction ; and the sequel shows that Pontiac considered it the most civil. On departing for the night, he asked Rogers whether he wanted any thing which his country afforded; if so, his warriors should bring it for him. The reply was discreet as the offer was generous,--that whatever provisions might be brought in, should be well paid for. Probably they were ; but the English were at all events supplied, the next morning, with several bags of parched corn and other necessaries. Pontiac himself, at the second meeting, offered the pipe of peace, and he and the English officer smoked it by turns. He declared that he thereby made peace with the Englishman and his troops; and that they should pass through his dominions, not only

« AnteriorContinuar »