The Life History and Travels of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh, 1847
We were often delightfully associated with the Presbyterian Missionaries at La Pointe, the Rev. Messrs. Hall and Wheeler, and their amiable families. Their benevolence and Christian courtesy are above any praise that we can render; but we would acknowledge that our hearts overflow with great gratitude whenever we recall them to mind. It was here that I became acquainted with the Rev. Mr. Boutwell. I preached for these beloved brethren several times, and we enjoyed sweet communion, and some thrilling seasons together.
The Council of the Ojebwa nation assembled in this place about the first of October. The government agent, R. Stewart, of Detroit, treated with them for their mineral regions, for which the government gave them a large amount in money. From this time, I shall date the dissipation, misery, and ruin, of this part of our nation.
1. Because it induced speculators to visit them yearly to sell their goods at enormous prices; and their whiskey, which inevitably ruins both body and soul.
2. Because it opens the door for all sorts of unprincipled men and vagabonds. The miners, too, many of whom are no better than pickpockets.
3. Because, in possessing so much money, without any correct views of economy, utility, or prudence, it becomes to them the root of all evil” -a curse instead of a blessing.
In these appropriations, the American Government have grossly erred. What benefit can the many thousands of dollars, which are paid annually, be to the Indians, if they are not capable of exercising any judgment in relation to a proper use of money? The fact is, that, at the end of every year, they are sunk into deeper degradation. I would now ask, what are millions of money without education? I do not mean that an equivalent should not be given for lands ceded to the government. No; but I do mean that this equivalent should be appropriated in such a way as to produce the greatest benefits and the happiest results. If a certain amount had been given in cash, another amount in cattle and farmer’s utensils, another in clothing, another in houses and school houses, and the like; and with these, if a few mechanics, farmers and teachers, had been sent among them, the Indians might have become industrious, intelligent, and useful citizens. One-third of each annual payment would be sufficient to educate, and to supply all the wants of their children. It may be supposed by some, that the white people settled near them give them good advice, and urge upon them the propriety and necessity of appropriating their monies in the manner just suggested. Yet this is not only not the case, but these very whites, at least a large majority of them, are continually laying plans by which they can extort from these unlettered and ignorant Indians, whatever they possess. I write not at random, on these matters. I am too well acquainted with them from painful observation and bitter experience. I have been present at ten payments; viz. at Sault St. Marie, Mackinaw, Green Bay, Prairie Du Chien, and St. Peters. During these payments, quantities of whiskey were brought to the Indians, or else they were seduced to go elsewhere to purchase it ab, Poor untutored red men! you were deluded, and made drunk by white men, and then in your hellish and drunken passions, you turned around and imbrued your hands in the blood of your own relatives and brethren. And were I to narrate some of the scenes which occurred among the white faces (with black hearts) on these occasions, it would sicken the heart; nay, it would make mad the guilty, and appal the innocent. The very devil himself might shudder.
It was now two years since I left Canada; I received letters from there, from the Rev. Messrs. Stinson, Green, and Jones, requesting me to return home and labor with them. At first, I did not deem it advisable to go, because I felt under many obligations to those who had sent me to school for two years; and had rendered me other kind services. But it was not until after repeated solicitations had been made, and money to defray my traveling expenses had been remitted, that I consented. I obtained permission from my Superintendent, Rev. J. R. Goodrich, to depart. I left La Pointe, Oct. 10th, in the schooner Algonquin for Sault St. Marie. From there we took a row boat for Mackinaw, and at M. took a steamboat for Buffalo; we now proceeded onwards and arrived at Toronto on the 28th bi October. My wife’s parents and relatives, and very many dear friends were delighted to see us again, after an absence of two years. We found them all well, and felt grateful to God for another expression of his abundant goodness and mercy. I spent much of my time in narrating the scenes we had witnessed, and a full account of my mission.
In about a month, I was sent to Credit River, (Mrs. C. remained behind in her father’s family.) Here I taught school till Christmas, when I began traveling with Rev. Wm. Ryerson, on a missionary tour towards Montreal. We were absent about three months, and preached or spoke every day. We collected about a thousand dollars per month. The eloquence and piety of Brother R. seemed to be duly appreciated wherever we went. He is the best platform speaker, that I ever heard in the Methodist connexion. posed, however, that he would be dull and monotonous; but this was far, very far from the fact.
Having returned from this tour, to Toronto, I was next appointed by the Missionary Society to labor at the Saugeeng Mission, in the place of the Rev. Thomas Williams. On this journey my wife accompanied me. The distance was one hundred and sixty miles; and we reached there on the 12th of April, ’43. On our way, we stopped at Goderiche; and from thence we took a canoe about sixty-five miles.
I entered upon my duties as a missionary among the Christian Indians. I met with difficulties, for I could obtain nothing without money; and even when a request was made, it was not met by the Society. I could not be convinced that it was my duty to starve, and therefore concluded I must leave. My Indian brethren stepped forward at this time, and petitioned Governor Metcalf, to afford me a living from the Government. Their request was granted, and I was paid by Government $400 per year, for three years. I should have continued here, but the next year my services were demanded among my relatives at Rice Lake.
In the summer, I took Mrs. Copway to Toronto, and left her at her father’s, while I was absent at Montreal with the Rev. Mr. Jones. Here we waited on the Governor General, and presented our views, and those of our people, respecting the formation of a Manual Labor School for the benefit of the Indians. The Governor expressed himself as favorably disposed, but was too sick to take an active part in it. But before this, the Canada Conference had appointed Rev. P. Jones and myself, to visit the Missions, and ascertain how much each Mission was willing to contribute for this object. During this fall, Mr. Jones and family left for England.
I returned to Toronto and took my family back to Saugeeng Mission. While on our passage, in a schooner, our little son, who was about three years old, fell overboard; we heard him fall into the water. I ran immediately to the side of the vessel and jumped into the lake. The schooner was sailing quite rapidly, and had passed him about twenty yards. I swam as fast as possible, and saw him sink. When I reached the spot where he sank, I dove down about seven feet, seized hold of him, and brought him to the surface. As the waves were running high, it was with the greatest difficulty that I could keep him above the water so that he could breathe; and I was compelled at times to let him sink an instant, that I might breathe myself. I heard him cry, which was encouraging, for I was fearful that he was dying. At one time I almost despaired of saving either of our lives. I was about giving up all hope, when I saw the yawl boat near me, and I was told that I was just about sinking, when the captain rescued us from a watery grave. The captain, and all on board, were so frightened, that they lost some time in concluding what to do. Had they luffed at once, and despatched the yawl, two or three minutes might have been saved. But, I ought not to complain; our lives were spared, and thanks be to a kind Providence for his timely deliverance. I then gave him up to God, and prayed that he might be preserved, and be devoted to the cause of Christ.
We now resumed our labors at the Mission. While at this station there where many hopeful conversions. A remarkable circumstance is, that during the whole three years of my sojourn in this field of labor, I never knew but one single case in which fire-water was used. I must not omit noticing here, a very faithful teacher in my charge, Jacob Jackson; his influence was of the best kind; he was also a very pleasant and interesting singer. It has been but a few years since these Indians were converted. They now have good farms, dwellings, school houses, meeting houses, and a saw mill. How wonderful are the effects of the gospel! They also take delight in praying, and in singing the praises of God. Had the American Government adopted the same course towards the La Pointe Indians, that the British Government adopted toward these, the same lasting blessings would have ensued.
- The amount reported from the Indians alone, was $2,800 ↵