The Life History and Travels of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh, 1847
We spent a few weeks at the Sault with the brethren, with whom we had some precious seasons. We were soon informed by our beloved Superintendent that three of us would have to go to Ottawa Lake:— Taunchey, Marksman, and myself. We had, as was supposed, provisions enough to last till we reached La Pointe, where we were to obtain a fresh supply for seven months. Brothers T’ay-yash, and Ma-mah-skah-wash i.e. Fast-sailer, accompanied us. We had a new canoe, good oars, and a new sail. After leaving, the first place which we arrived at was about six miles above the Sault St. Marie. We here saw a porcupine on the beach; and having beat it to death, we cooked and ate it for supper. After this we were wind-bound for several days, which delayed our arrival at the Ke-wa-wenon Mission, on our way to La Pointe. On entering Aunce Bay, we were in much danger. The wind rose, with a dense fog accompanying it, and we were without a compass. We steered our course by the wind. We were very near being dashed to pieces against a large rock a few feet from us, which we espied just in time to avoid. I had been on Lake Superior, but never saw the waves run so high as on the present occasion. It was truly wonderful that our bark canoe stood the sea so well. Nor could we see any prospect of landing. Still the spray of the gigantic waves continued to roll after us in terrific fury. The canoe still struggled between the mountain waves, and then would rise on the top. The sail spread itself like a duck just ready to fly. It appeared at times that we must all perish. But God was with us. O how kind and merciful is that Being who has the winds and waves in his hands! “O Lord I will praise thee,” etc. It is religion alone that can support in the time of danger. Faith lays hold on God. Yes, let distress, sickness, triuls, perils, and even death come, yet if in thy hands, O Lord, we are secure.
Through a kind providence, we arrived at last at Brother Herkimer’s, about ten o’clock, A. M. How we surprised them when they were told that we sailed all the morning through the fog. They at once saw the danger; but we could take no other course. mained here but a few days. On Tuesday we left for La Pointe, one hundred and sixty miles. Here was another tedious journey, for we were again wind-bound for three days; in consequence of this misfortune our provisions were exhausted. We went to Ah-too-nahkun River on Friday evening, and traveled all night to reach Porcupine Mountains, where we arrived at daylight. We stepped out of the canoe, took our blankets, wrapped them around us, and lay on the solid rocks, where we slept about an hour and a half. Saturday morning arrived, and found us with nothing but half a pound of tea; we were now eighty-eight miles from La Pointe. We rowed all the morning, when a favorable breeze sprung up, which enabled us to gain fifty miles during that day. After night-fall we toiled to reach La Pointe by twelve o’clock on Saturday night; but we were so fatigued, sleepy, and hungry, that it was impossible to continue rowing. Now and then a little land-breeze would help us along slowly, without rowing. At last we were obliged to give up rowing, as the oars were dragging in the water. I steered the boat as well as I could. We labored hard to keep awake. I thought of the tea; I chewed a mouthful of it and swallowed the juice; but in a few minutes I suffered so much from a griping pain that I was alarmed. Oh I was miserable, sick, and hungry. I could not wake any of the company; and when my pain ceased, I could scarcely keep myself awake. I now steered for the shore; it was about twelve o’clock. I threw my blanket around me, and left all bands sleeping in the boat. I threw up a little bank of sand for a pillow, and the soft wet sand was my bed. I was soon in the land of Nod.
Sabbath morning came. I had dreamed that we were just about sitting down to a warm breakfast, when Peter Marksman woke me, and said, “George, come, get up, blackfast (breakfast, he meant, he could speak but little English.) If it had not been the Sabbath, I might have been induced to retaliate. It was, indeed, a blackfast, dark enough; nothing to eat, and only tea to drink for breakfast, dinner and supper! and yet, only about fifteen miles from La Pointe; indeed, we could see the place; and had it not been that it was the Sabbath, feeble as we were, we would have proceeded. Here, then, we spent the Sabbath. I walked into the woods, and all that I could think of while reading my Bible, was home. I looked towards home, and wept at the thought of it. I said to myself, O my father, if you knew my situation to-day, you would feel for me, and fly, if possible, to assist me! I feel that your prayers ascend for me; and then descend like gentle rains, into my soul. Home! home! however humble, it is still home. This day, however, is a glorious day for my soul; but how insupportable for the body! We had a prayer meeting in the evening, which is still as fresh in my grateful memory as if it had but just taken place.
Monday morning, before the sun arose, we were on our way to La Pointe, where we arrived about ten o’clock. Mr. Warren, the trader at this place, supplied us with some necessaries. We breakfasted with him, and never did fish and potatoes taste half so sweet as now.
We called on the Rev. Mr. Hall, and others of the Presbyterian Mission. How kindly they received and entertained us; they compelled us to live in their families, while we remained in that place. We had now to prepare to depart for Ottawa Lake, where we had been appointed by Brother Clark to spend the winter, in teaching the Indians. O what a field of labor in all these regions! Indians, from every direction, congregate here every summer; those, too, who have never beard of a Saviour!
When will all my poor people “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” When will they cease to offer up to the Bad Spirit all they possess?’ Shall these also perish as did the Indians on the eastern coast? The red men of the forest were then unconscious that the white man would at some future day spread his white sails on these waters, and claim their native woods; that a steamboat would make its appearance, like a monster from the deep, snorting fire and smoke, near their shores. God of mercy, save, save my poor people.
We started for the Ottawa Lake about the eighth of October, 1835. We had to carry our canoes, with the rest of our articles, over eight portages, or carrying, places, one of which was nine, and another five miles long. No language can convey an idea of the hardships and toil to which we were exposed, before we reached there; for we had to carry all our things over the carrying places; and as it was too late in the fall, and on account of the disagreeableness of the weather, we were obliged to return to La Pointe. The winter set in, and we travelled one hundred and seventy miles by land. It was on one of these carrying places that I carried the heavy load mentioned on page 19.
When we arrived at Ottawa Lake, the Indians were glad to see us. The Chief, Moose Ogeed, Moose tail, was particularly kind. Here we laboured with success, though at the time many of them were absent hunting. I commenced a day-school with few scholars. During the winter our provision gave out; for seven weeks we had nothing, except what we caught by spearing and shooting; but in the latter part of the winter we could neither shoot rabbits, nor spear fish. What now to be done, except to go to La Pointe, one hundred and seventy miles, and obtain some flour. We ran nearly all day through the woods, and the next day my feet were blistered, occasioned by the strap of my snow shoes. The young man who accompanied me, suffered was still more, for the blood was oozing out through his moccasons At the expiration of two days, at about ten o’clock in the morning, we were at Rev. Mr. Hall’s, at La Pointe. Brother Hall could hardly credit the fact that we had walked one hundred and seventy miles in less than two days.
On returning to the mission, we were one week on our journey. I had over seventy pounds of provisions to carry when I left, and my friend and companion, whom I hired, had eighty-five pounds. The Indians too were almost starving, but the spring opened just in time to save them. In their journey, down the river, we accompanied them, and had an opportunity to converse with them about religion. On our way, the Indians pointed to the battle grounds of the Ojebwas and the Sioux. How dreadful and awful was their description. The Chief, pointing to a certain spot, observed, “There I killed two Sioux, about thirteen winters ago; I cut open one of them; and when I reflected that the Sioux had cut up my own cousin, but a year before, I took out his heart, cut a piece from it, and swallowed it whole. I scooped some of his blood, while warm, with my hand, and drank as many draughts as the number of friends who had perished by their hands.” As he spoke, the fierceness of the Indian gleamed from his countenance. Every half mile, trees were blazed (barked,) and notches made according to the number that had been killed.
The Sioux and the Ojebwas have been at war from time immemorial. The neutral ground of these two nations, is full of game, such as deer, bears, elks, etc. We went down to the Me-no-me-nee Mills, on the Chippewa River, where the whites were cutting down pine trees. We then returned to Ottawa Lake, and afterwards, to La Pointe.
During this winter I was with the Rev. Mr. Hall, at La Pointe, and assisted him in translating the Gospel of St. Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles, into the Ojebwa tongue. Although I have sat hour after hour in assisting him in his good work in the west, yet I can never, never repay him for the kindness and affection shown to me. May God reward him for his labors of love, and for his Christian benevolence. He is like a pure and limpid stream which is ever running, and which never dries up. He is like a high rock on the sea shore, when the storms and waves have passed by, unchanging and unchanged. He is in all respects the most suitable man for this work, being devoted, humble, kind, affectionate, and benevolent, and is master of our language. I hope to see him once, if not many times more, that I may thank him again and again for his Christian goodness. May his holy and arduous life, and health, be precious in God’s sight.
Here I must make a remark. In that country, we ought not to know each other as Presbyterians, Methodists, or Baptists, but only as missionaries of the cross. We should labor with and for each other; and do all the good we can. Our language should always be, “come, brethren, let us labor side by side, hold up each others hands in the work, share each others trials and privations; and spread the gospel of the blessed God.” May many brother Halls be raised up for these stations; so that the poor outcast red man may soon take his station among Christians of every civilized clime. Should these observations fall under the eye of dear brother Hall, he will, I am sure, forgive me for the warm and candid confessions of a sincere heart.