The Life History and Travels of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh, 1847
The traditions handed down from father to son, were held very sacred; one half of these are not known by the white people, however far their researches may have extended. There is an unwillingness, on the part of the Indians to communicate many of their traditions. The only way to come at these is, to educate the Indians, so that they may be able to write out what they have heard, or may hear, and publish it. Should I be spared till next summer, I design to visit my people in the far west, and abide with them long enough to learn the rest of their traditions, with an account of their migration to this country. My own belief is, that they came to this country, and fought with the original inhabitants; and having overpowered them, became the owners of the soil. I will not now give my reasons for this belief, as I expect at some future day to collect all the necessary information for this purpose, from histories and discoveries, corroborated by these traditions. My readers will then be able to judge whether we are to be identified with the dispersed and “lost tribes of Israel.” Can it be possible, that, had we sprung from any of the Hebrew tribes, we should be so completely ignorant of a Messiah, a Sabbath, or a single vestige of the Levitical Law? But enough of this for the present.
As far as I am able to learn, our nation has never been conquered; and have maintained their ground wherever they have conquered. The Saxe tribe have tried their ingenuity, power and bravery, to drive them from the south shore of Lake Superior. The Hurons mustered their warriors against the aggressions made by the Ojebwa nation. Their war-canoes were once directed against the Ojebwa nation, but they were obliged to turn back, and flee for protection, to the Shawnee nation. The sound of the war whoop which once rang all around the shores of Lake Huron, receded, and died away on the waters of Sandusky. The arms that once wielded the war-club, were strewed about their grounds, on account of broken treaties made in former days, and massacres at the mouth of French river. The Iraquois, who struck terror wherever their mere names were men. tioned, also tried to check our progress, after we had conquered the Hurons. Their war whoops resounded over the dismal regions of the conquered land; but they too shared the same fate. They went as spies as far as La Pointe, on the south shore of Lake Superior; but not with their armies any farther than Ke-wa-o-non, in the copper regions. Here they were massacred by hundreds, and fell in their canoes at one of the narrow passes, on their way to the Portage, about fourteen miles from the Bay of Aunce. After these fruitless attempts to drive the Ojebwas from their land, they fought many battles with them in the regions now called Canada West; but in these they suffered much, and were defeated. It was then, probably, that the Hurons and Iraquois leagued together, hoping by their combined forces to conquer us. This accounts for the confederacy that existed when the whites came among them.
The migration of the Ojebwas has been traced from the upper part of Lake Superior, and even several hundred miles above its head, along the shore of Lake Superior, down to Lake Huron, St. Clair, the foot of Lake Michigan, north of Lakes Erie and Ontario, and some distance down the St. Lawrence.
They now inhabit a portion of land extending about two thousand miles east and west, and from two hundred and fifty to three hundred miles from north to south. They have in each village, a chief who governs them, besides a great number of war chiefs. Each village has a council of its own, made up of the different tribes. A tribe is a band of Indians whose sign or mark is the same; for example, such as wear the sign of the crane, recognize each other as relatives; and although each village may be composed of different tribes, yet they unust be of the same nation.
Councils of peace must be held by two nations. These councils are held in high esteem. When two nations are at war, if either sues for peace, they hand to each other some token, such as a belt of wampuin (or beads,) or a calumet (a long pipe.)
There was once a general council held, between the Hurons and the Ojebwas; it was conducted in the following manner:- They came together near Sault St. Marie, and agreed upon a peace for five years. After the pipe of peace was prepared, the Ojebwa and Huron warriors arranged themselves in two lines, on each side of their chiefs, and said that they must ascertain whether the Great Spirit would approve of their proceedings. Two from each nation were chosen; the Hurons held the pipe filled with tobacco, the Ojebwas, the steel, flint, and spunk. The steel was then struck against the flint, and if, on the first stroke, the spunk was ignited, so as to fire the tobacco, and thus enable the warrior to draw in, and to emit, a volume of smoke, then the evidence was complete that the Great Spirit approved of their plans and proceedings; and the whole assembly now would set up the most tremendous shout of joy. The two nations were successful in this. The shout was given, peace was secured, and these two powerful nations separated for their own homes. For three years no dark cloud hung over the two nations.
The Ojebwas began to trade with the whites at Quebec. It usually required all the summer to journey from the shore of Lake Superior to that place and back again. These were tedious and perilous journeys; but they were determined to obtain “the snake which spit fire, smoke and death;” this was their description of a gun to their brethren.
It was during these journeys that forty of them were massacred by the Hurons, at the mouth of French River, without the least provocation; plunder alone was their object. This, in connection with similar acts, occasioned that war which resulted in their complete extermination from Canada by our nation.
The future state of the Ojebwas, was in the Far West. They described that state or country, as being full of game, and with trees loaded with fruit of every description.
When an Indian warrior died on the field of battle, his soul, it was said, took its immediate flight to this paradise. The souls of those, however, who died in other circumstances, it was believed, departed from the grave, and journeyed in the ordinary way, although unseen by mortals, to this same land.
There was a difficult bridge near this land, over which the soul was to cross. A warrior, hunter, or medicine man, would have no difficulty in crossing this bridge. Under this bridge was a rapid stream, and he who was not a good warrior, hunter or medicine man, would either fall into the water, or lose his way, after having crossed, in some barren country, where there was no game, or fruit, although there might be, occasionally, a deer, or the like. O how barren! How dismal! A place where distress, want, and despair would continue! On the other hand, the favored warrior entered the fields of paradise, amidst the shouts and welcome of his fellow warriors, who had preceded him to this land of plenty. The deer, the moose, the elk, and all kinds of animals, fruits, flowers, and the singing of birds fill and charm the land. While the ever rolling valleys are visited with delightful and refreshing winds. To kill, eat, and shoot, are their only employments. No sickness, no fatigue, no death, will ever visit them. The valleys and the mountains are to be clothed with evergreens. No winter to chill the earth. A carnal heaven indeed! A sensual paradise! Oh! the credulous and misguided Indian.
“Lo! the poor Indian whose untutored mind,
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;
Whose soul proud science never taught to stray
Beyond the solar walk or milky way.
Yet simple nature to his hopes has given,
Beyond the cloud top’d hill, a humble heaven,
Some safer world in depths of woods embrace,
Some distant Island in the watery waste.
Where slaves once more their native land behold,
Nor fiends torment, nor Christian thirsts for gold.”
My father often spoke of that country, while I was young. He informed me, that if I should become a great warrior, a hunter, or a medicine man, I would have no difficulty in reaching that happy spot. Little then did he know of a heaven revealed in the gospel. That heaven, where angels and pure spirits dwell, and where we shall see the blessed Jesus as he is, and, what is still a greater honor, be like him.
“O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise!
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of his grace!
“My gracious Master, and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of thy Name.
“Jesus! the Name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
‘Tis life, and health, and peace.”
“Oh uh pa-gish ke che ingo’ dwok,
Neej uh ne she nab baig,
Che nuh nuh guh mo tuh wah wod
Ning e zha Mun e.doom.
“Ning e che Noo sa weej e shin,
Che ween duh mah ga yon,
O mah a ne gook kuh me gog
A zhe wa be ze yun.
“Jesus ! kah be ‘non duh we ‘nung,
Kah gah see beeng wa ’nung;
Ka gait ‘che me no ne kah zo,
‘Kah noo je mo e nung.”
When our warriors were dying, they told their children that they would soon reach the happy country. Their eyeballs, rolling in death, were turned towards the setting sun. O white man! why did you not tell us before, that there was a better heaven than that of the Indian’s? Did not the blessed Saviour command, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature?” Reader, almost by the door of your churches, my forefathers perished for the lack of the bread of life, while you have reached out your arms, and extended your means for the relief of those in distant lands! O what a thought! Thousands have already perished, and thousands more will yet perish, unless converted to God. The thought of perishing! how insufferable! O how intolerable!
“O mercy, O mercy, look down from above;
Great Creator, on us, thy sad children, with love ;
When beneath to their darkness the wicked are driven,
May our justified souls find a welcome in heaven.”